I Bought a New Camera – Pentax Espio

July 27, 2018

A shot from my test roll using the Pentax Espio around Cammo (Scotland) last week.

Unless I’m heading out on a shoot, I don’t like taking my film cameras out as they are heavy and cumbersome. After some missed photographic opportunities and a nagging feeling of guilt (photographers should always have their camera with them), I was on the lookout for something lightweight and portable, with decent image quality.

“The best camera is the one that’s with you” and my iPhone is always with me and it works well. But I never want to share anything I shoot on it, except with family and friends or sometimes Instagram Stories. I just love the process and aesthetic of film photography and it’s what keeps me interested.

When I saw Harry F Conway speaking about the portable 35mm cameras he thinks are best (on his Instagram Stories), the Pentax Espio jumped out to me for 2 reasons: I knew about all the other cameras he mentioned and my two workhorse cameras are also Pentax.

I found one on eBay for a very reasonable £20, including a new battery and a roll of film (FujiColor x24). Here are some thoughts I have from my test roll:

Detail outtake from a recent street profile shoot for Chronicles of Her.

My favourite characteristic is the quality of the image with forced flash outside, as seen in this outtake above. The nails and the dress (by Mimi Wade) accentuate this look, which reminds me of the 80s and trashy (but fun) movies.

Another thing I like is the data back, which allows the date or the time to be imprinted permanently onto the image, as seen above. It’s something I’ve always wanted – I’ve often almost bought a Canon Command Back for my main 35mm camera for this very reason. However, the years digit on the Espio only goes up to ’19 and then jumps back to ’87, so I should use this feature while we’re still living within the available year range (another 18 months). I’m also disappointed it doesn’t start at ’86 (my year of birth) so I could at least put in my birthday as a replacement signature.

It’s small enough to fit in my pocket (or a bumbag which I’ve recently taken to wearing over the shoulder) and I’ve already taken it out with me more than any other camera. I’m looking forward to testing it with film that I like better and in different situations.

The two shots above are from a pond I visited regularly as a kid. It used to be filled with tadpoles and I’d grab a few in a cup and take them home and build a mini-pond from a plastic sand pit and try to grow frogs.

I hope you have a fab weekend.