Wet Weather Warrior: Pentax Zoom 90WR

Oh Pentax Zoom 90-WR, it wasn't supposed to lead to anything...

In my mind, you were supposed to be a one time thing, a flight of fancy, a spontaneous "sure why not" amid a flurry of other priorities that were more in line with my typical tastes. 

To my way of thinking, you were a consolation prize, as the second-best item of a half-hearted pity bid on a multi-piece lot that I snapped up at a low opening bid simply because I could, and since the main item of interest, the Pentax SF-1 SLR, was to be nothing more than a spare to me. 

But when the package was laid upon my doorstep, that spare SF-1 was DOA. You knew that didn't you?  And you must have somehow known that I hate complete failure, and that I'll do what I can to make the best out of a tricky situation.  

So I gave you a good look over, and supplied you with some fresh batteries, and unlike your SLR cousin, you rewarded me with what appeared to be functionality.  I wanted to know more about you, but you were and are decidedly enigmatic.  I failed to track down a users manual for you online, but at least a few other souls had some tales to tell of what sort of things you were in to. 

I loaded you up with one of my favorite color films, and using a piece of painting tape, I even tricked you into thinking it was a 25 speed film.  But you didn't judge me.  You simply seemed happy to have the opportunity again to record moments, and you made me just as happy to record those moments with you.  

You gradually tell me more and more about you each time, though to be perfectly honest, I monitor the small bits of gossip shared by a few others to learn some of these things.  I had no idea you had a remote control cleverly laid into your one side.  Even sneakier on your part are those two handy concealed buttons that sit beneath this remote, and enable different flash options, as well as slick features like your multi-exposure capability and an intervalometer.

Still other things I've learned with you over three successive rolls of trial and error, such as the wise decision to use your Spot AF function quite regularly, particularly when using your macro function.  Or that when I leave you on and let you turn off on your own, you'll recall my last settings for about 20-30 minutes or so when I turn you on again.  Well played. 

You seem to like Kodak's Tri-X, and it seems to like you.  You may underexpose a shot or two here and there in dim light when I force your flash off, but you manage to give me some very good and very sharp results.

You've taken me out of my comfort zone, a little more each time I use you.  When my other cameras see rain and know it'll be a day off for them, you ask me "Wanna go out and shoot some photos?" and I surprisingly oblige to the point where I actually look forward to rainy days spent with you.  You may not be my sexiest camera, but you are fast becoming a companion that I take to places and settings that I'd never waste my time with others in my collection.

You're not perfect.  You've occasionally fooled me - telling me you'd gotten macro focus when you hadn't, which has led to me learning to use the Spot function more regularly.  And let's not forget that you started the roll of Tri-X at around shot 9 - what was that about?!?  I also wish you had some form of exposure compensation, even if only a backlight control or manual ISO setting. 

But in spite of your occasional lapses, I now find you to be awesome.  If for some reason, I want to do multiple exposures in an late evening rain on Bulb setting with red-eye reduction flash turned on, you'll willingly oblige me.  But more fittingly, you're at the ready to pull off quality shots through a wide range of settings.  Loaded with the proper film, you can pretty much handle everything I might toss your way. 

And when I load you with the newly re-introduced Kodak TMAX P3200, you absolutely rock, cementing your place as the most "anywhere, anyplace" camera in my entire collection.  I can shoot the same roll of film in a driving rain at night, in a subway station, or in a meadow on a sunny afternoon.  You can handle it all when you're paired with this film to become my "dream team" of sorts. 

I figured you might do well with some faster color film, and I dissected a disposable camera to extract the Ferrania 800 film buried within.  You handled this film pretty well, though to be fair, I wasn't exactly on my A-Game as I shot through the roll. 

And just to give it one more go, I dropped a short roll of Superia 800 in you, which you seemed to like a lot better than the Ferrania, delivering some generally great results, though you still like to tease me into thinking you've got that close focus thing down, though not quite.  Some day I'll master that. 

I know I push you past your limits at times, but I can't help it.  I'd love a bit better way to confirm focus of something close, or some display to tell me that I need to hold REALLY still for this shot you're about to take, but you seem to like to live a bit dangerously, and don't care to offer reassurances.  

You've got a sibling in the Zoom 105R that is supposed to have bested you in a number of features - a longer zoom, exposure compensation, and a Super Macro that locks focus at 19" albeit while locking the flash on, but your weather resistance and easy operation have me loyal and happy with you by my side, with no need to look further. 

It's still a bit early to use the "L" word when referring to you, though I am willing to profess an extremely strong liking to you that only seems to get stronger with each passing roll. I look forward to some long walks on the beach, some moonlight strolls, and some fun times spent getting doused in some passing showers.  

I'm very glad to have met you!   


  1. A very fun read, and some great photos too! I've had this camera for a while now and just recently bought some film for it, but before I head out to snap some photos I'd like to ask you about the flash.

    Did you ever feel you had to cover or defuse it, or did you let it fire all the time?

    I figure the night feature which shuts it off will slow down the shutter and result in blur, or would it not if the light was bright enough?

  2. i just picked mine up today for free on Craigslist. I have absolutely no idea how to do anything with a real camera, but I'm so excited to play! I love your style of writing. I also like how your photos have that film frame around them, hope I can figure that out!!

    a sad iphone photo user