Pentax Espio 120 SW: A Worthy Street Companion

2014-03-06 2

For years, I’ve relied on my trusty Lomo LC-A+ and Nikon FE2 for many photo opportunities, including snapping away out in the streets. But, turns out that I’ve had another impressive handy street companion all along.

Some years ago, I spotted a sleek Pentax Espio 120 SW in a Japan surplus shop and did not hesitate to get it since it was priced dirt cheap. I’ve shot with it sporadically over the next few months, then completely forgot about it. Fast-forward to early this year, I decided to bring it along with me for my birthday trip to Penang, and I’m now glad that I did.

Before anything else, let me introduce you to this tiny snapper with big features. Introduced in 2001, this Espio was among the more expensive Pentax point-and-shoot models, according to Collection Appareils. It has a compact aluminum body, a 28mm wide angle to 120mm telephoto lens with super multi-coating (SMC), spot AF, and a viewfinder with adjustable diopter. Underneath the camera and next to the tripod mount is a switch for Panoramic Mode. Interestingly, the Espio 120 SW also has a bulb mode and a provision for remote release — which means long exposures and light paintings, baby! I found that the remote from my old Pentax Espio 115 also works perfectly fine for this camera.

I remember taking this camera out for a test run as soon as I bought it to see if it works perfectly fine, then brought it on a trip to the beach in June last year. Strangely, however, despite its quiet operation and super handy size, it never crossed my mind to take it out in the streets. I had my first street photography attempt with it during my trip to Penang this January, and I must say that it was a breeze shooting street scenes with it. After seeing some of the snaps I took, I decided that it’s going to be one of my staple snappers for street photography from now on:

Credits: plasticpopsicle

Other photographs who have used this compact camera also noted the SLR-like quality of its images, and I have to agree. The photos are surprisingly crisp and vibrant, even with the plain and simple Kodak Color Plus 200 color negative film. The night shots could have been better, though, had I used 400 ISO film. I am yet to see what the black and white street photos I took with it using an Ilford Delta 400 film are like, though. I’ll make sure to update this post with those!

Meanwhile, here are some other travel photos I took with this award-winning (yes, it won the TIPA award for 35mm compact camera in 2001) compact camera:

Credits: plasticpopsicle

Update (March 24, 2014):

Finally, here are the photos from the roll of very expired Ilford Delta 400 that I shot with this camera in Penang:

Credits: plasticpopsicle

You may also want to check out the reviews on Filmwasters and Photography Review to know more about technical specifications and such.

written by plasticpopsicle on 2014-03-06 #gear #review #reviews #pentax #film-camera #compact-camera #espio #pentax-espio-120-sw


  1. jonasfx
    jonasfx ·

    I'll be looking forwrd to the bw shots :)
    I've had this camera for a while and it's a 50/50 for me. sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it.

  2. plasticpopsicle
    plasticpopsicle ·

    Hello @jonasfx! Here's the album of b&w shots taken using a very expired Ilford Delta 400:…

    Not sure if I like them, though! I think this camera works best with fresh films, or not so expired films. Also, I like the color negative shots better.

    Let me know what you think! :)

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