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Pentax Espio 160 Film Compact Review

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Category: Film Compacts
Product: Pentax Espio 160

Pentax Espio 160 - Pentax Espio 160 mini view

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While it was not the most attractive, this was the nicest camera to use. It had the desirable characteristic of not really needing an instruction book as it is sensibly designed. The longer end of the zoom may have an immediate appeal compared to some other cameras and importantly it does not sacrifice the wider focal length setting to reach it with the widest aperture of f4.5/12. However, the Espio 160 is not strictly a pocket able camera, but because of this may appeal to those with bigger hands as a consequence. It is in direct comparison to the Olympus that reaches the same telephoto focal length but goes for a petit package.

Pentax have used a feature common to other cameras in their line up with a pop out flash that extends horizontally from the body regardless of flash use or not, as soon as the camera is switched on. It then becomes a good inhibitor to getting your fingers in its way. Operating modes are set on the top plate control dial; off, auto, flash on, flash off, slow sync, bulb with and without flash. Bulb operates from 1/2th sec to 5 minuets. But presumedly in order not to clutter up the dial, there are further control buttons nearby on the top plate. These are for red eye reduction, one for self timer and multiple exposures and optional remote control, plus a third for focusing options either a spot focus area, a wide area or infinity focus.

Another unique aspect is the parallax guide in the finder. As the focus becomes closer, a mask automatically appears to show the approximate recording area. It is too light for some conditions, but it works well compared to alternative designs and somehow is easier to note as it is not a permanent fixture in the finder. This is carried to its most noticeable when the panoramic format is activated by a lever on the rear of the body next to the eye piece then the mask crops for that indication.

The two auto focus areas were really useful and quick to set. But the smallest of things can make a camera pleasant in use and in this case that was the automatic low light illumination of the top plate LCD. In dark interiors it meant this camera could be adjusted and the frame count read when others could not.

Other things were also confidence inducing, like a six zone metering pattern that gave some fine exposures. It was also good to know that the top shutter speed was a decent 1/400th sec so would enable sharp telephoto shots to be hand held comfortably. Not so good is a non DX coding setting for 25 ISO film only. A well thought out and capable camera, not the best lens but the best overall package. It is supplied with battery, case and strap and is our recommendation.

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