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Pentax Espio : The $2 Wonder

What was the cheapest camera you ever bought? Was it worth the buy? Read on about the story of the cheapest camera I ever bought.

Photo by walasiteodito

I often come around Japanese surplus shops here in Manila, hunting cameras, toys, and all sort of stuffs. One of my cheapest find is this compact Pentax Espio 35-70mm af zoom camera, complete with leather case, and panoramic mask. At first the guy was selling it to me for 200 Pesos (4$) but lucky enough, we made a deal at 100 pesos (2$) since it wasn’t tested and there is a chance that it was not working. The camera is in very good physical condition, the lens is scratch-less as hell.

Photo by walasiteodito

When I got home I immediately put a cr123a battery in the gear then it suddenly winded. I started testing the shutter, it was opening, then the flash, it fires. Though I don’t have any idea about this camera, there is only one thing left to do to really test the quality of this item, that is to load it with a roll of film.

Photo by walasiteodito

Before I started clicking, I googled about the camera first. It seems that this camera has many other siblings like the much more famous Pentax Espio mini, I believe that mine was one of the first editions. There was a manual in the web, after reading, I learned a few quirks about the camera.

Photo by walasiteodito

The camera is fully automatic, the gadget will be the one to choose the shutter speed and aperture to use in a certain situation. The ISO cannot also be changed, though you can cheat the DX coding of your film spool. It has a 35-70mm af zoom lens, and I was surprised that the viewfinder also zooms and focuses as close as 0.6m. There is a light indicator in the viewfinder if the flash needs to fire (red) and if the camera focuses (green, blinks if unsuccessful in focusing). And let’s not forget, a tripod thread.

Photo by walasiteodito

Now about the quirks. It has a lot of settings, more than you expected. Flash, nighttime without flash, nighttime with flash, backlight compensation, Bulb mode, and Bulb mode without flash. There is a separate button for red eye reduction and for landscape setting. There is a button for timer too that will also enable other modes. It has 2 timer length to choose from, it also has a timer that will automatically shoot twice, continuous mode, multiple exposure, 3 second interval, and 60 second interval. OK, Enough of the technicalities, let’s start shooting!

Photo by walasiteodito

I took it to the street, It has an almost perfect autofocus, let’s say 98% of the time it is correct.

The exposure is superb, I love the way it exposes even in low light situations.

One of my favorite quirks is the double exposure capabilities, just look at the photos.

I think this camera is suited for street photography, because it is quiet and fast.

Photo by walasiteodito

All in all, this is worth every cent. So if ever you came across one with a good price, do not hesitate to grab it.

Photo by walasiteodito

written by walasiteodito


  1. dbuckle

    Good review and photos. I found one of these in a Thrift Store for $1. Good little camera.
    7 months ago · report as spam
  2. guanatos


    great review!

    7 months ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch & Spanish.