First impressions of this camera are that it must be highly specified due to the number of buttons and controls compared to the alternatives. This is slightly misleading because its specification apart from a couple of areas like a panoramic format option, is on par with the other models tested. It feels well made a nice combination between size and weight and fitted with a 38mm to 165mm lens of f/6.7 to f/13.1 lens, focused with a useful combination of a five point multi autofocus area or a central spot. Both have their usefulness in general picture taking.
Markings for these and parallax indications may make the viewfinder sound cluttered, but it works well enough and often you are not overly aware of them. The sharpness of the finder can be adjusted by a -3 to +1 diopter, but sadly, like the Olympus this was too easily knocked off of position in use. The Zoomate 165E uses only a single green LED outside of the eye piece to show autofocus and flash readiness, and was not best at allowing pre focus then composition as the release is very light. The LED is steady when focus has been set and the flash is charged, but confusingly pulsates for too close a subject and when the flash needs to recycle. Thankfully the topping up of the flash between shots can be heard which helps get things clear in the users mind. The CR123A battery gives a decent recharge time and number of flashes. A remote control (R-4) is available as an optional extra operating up to 4m away.
The shutter range is from 2 seconds to 1/300th second except, strangely, in Nighttime Portrait mode when the longest speed becomes one second. A sliding switch changes via a mask from the full 35mm frame to one for panoramic's, and should find some appeal for landscape photography. A nice touch was that the camera switched off after approximately 120 seconds shorter than the rest but not too short. One problem we encountered though was on film loading you must make sure you do not pull too much film over the start mark otherwise it will not be taken up but the camera still fires.
The results were not bad at all, not quite up to the standard of some in resolution and contrast terms, but sharp enough to satisfy most expectations. This is made up for however by that combination of spot or wide area autofocus. A nice package with a case strap and battery supplied and the camera is finished in a nce looking champagne colour.