Pentax Zoom 70 range

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by Ian Rance, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. As a regular user and enthusiast of the 35mm 'Zoom 70' cameras I am wondering
    if there are any other users of this model in the Pentax lineup here - and if
    so if they would care to share experiences and perhaps add something. I tried
    to do a little searching on the net but there appears to be very little about
    these wonderful cameras out there. I will try to put that right now.

    OK. The start of the range was the Zoom 70 in 1986. This camera was the very
    first compact camera with built in zoom and flash by ANY manufacturer. It won
    awards for innovation and its 199 UK pound pricetag did not put people off -
    it was a low price to pay for such an item. The 35mm zoom lens was sharp and
    contrasty and the camera offered full automation with some overrides (such as
    backlight compensation and forced flash). The build quality was very good and
    all operations took place smoothly without grinding or whining motors like
    some more modern cameras. The style was typical 80's, with bold, clean lines
    and some red 'highlights'. The flash unit was powerful but did not zoom with
    the lens. Daylight synchro was possible. A small LCD on top informs the user
    of the film frame number but of nothing else. The shutter operates with the
    typical Pentax quiet 'stutter' sound which I like - and it is very reliable
    too. The macro mode is actuated by sliding the power button over a bit further
    from the 'on' position and the viewfinder takes on a green hue at this point
    due to a swing-in filter. This camera takes both AAA and single 6 volt lithium

    The 70 was on the market for 2 years until replaced by the Zoom 70-S in 1988.
    This was almost identical in it's workings to the earlier model, but it has
    smoother lines with a more rounded and contemporary look. The late 1980's were
    a time of swift change in design or all items - cars and other goods - and the
    angular look was swept aside (rather sadly I feel). The flash button moved
    from the front of the camera to the rear panel but the LCD and backlight
    button stayed the same as the original model. The lens assembly does not fully
    retract into the body and you are left with a small bulge even when the camera
    is turned off. The Zoom 70-S is not a common model and according to my
    information was only marketed from '88-'89. The sounds of operation are
    identical to the first model.

    In 1989 came what I feel was the best model in the range - the Zoom 70-X. This
    offered a whole raft of new and improved features such as an enlarged
    viewfinder and an LCD display which showed which functions were in use (such
    as multiple exposure and flash - which by now zoomed with the lens, but did
    not have anti-redeye). The biggest change perhaps was the use of an aspheric
    lens to allow the lens to retract right into the body when not in use. This
    enamoured it to reviewers in the early part of summer '89 and it was noted
    that it was not possible to know how a compact camera could be improved from
    this point onwards. The pictures taken on the 70-X have real 'bite' and
    sharpness - even at the frame edges. Exposure accuracy is good enough to use
    transparency film if desired. Along with it's soft pouch it makes for a high
    quality outfit, ideal for holidays and day-trips. In 1992 it was itself in
    turn replaced by the Zoom 70-R with anti-redeye flash and a more 'modern' look
    but I have not yet worked with this model.

    I would write more, but don't want to bore you all too much ;-)

    Does anybody here on the Pentax forum also enjoy working with these cameras
    from the first days of Zoom compacts? Comments really welcomed.

    Ian, UK
  2. No users of the Zoom 70? Please do step forward with your experiences.
  3. I was given this camera by my dad when he upgraded to a much smaller APS (it looked good at the time :S).

    surprisingly it is the apparently rare Zoom 70-S and is great, and it set up my love of photography. I am now in my late teens and, although not earning enough to buy top of the range new stuff, I stuck with the Pentax 35mm idea and bought a second hand MZ-30 SLR, which is a quality piece of kit imo. The old 70-S still has a special place in my heart though, and not wanting to let it rot in a drawer somewhere, still often pack it in the camera bag and use it for b/w film, for which it performs equally well.
  4. Ian - I picked up one of these robust cameras at a local thrift shop for literally peanuts, and was really pleasantly surprised at the sharp and well-exposed photos I got from it. The first roll was taken indoors at a local motorcycle show - lots of chrome and shiny painted gas tanks. There's some light fall-off at the edges of the wider-angle shots when using flash, and although the flash is fairly powerful, I wasn't expecting any miracles. All the shots came out fine.
    I've been really amazed at how well various P&S cameras work - many of them get a greater number of useful shots out of a roll of film than I usually get with my SLR's - some operator failure involved there.
    So, yes, although this might be a rare bird by this point, there's one enthusiast getting good mileage from a Pentax Zoom 70 still.
    Cheers - Hal
  5. grd


    I'm in on this conversation a little late. Nonetheless, I will share the following. I buy and sell cameras to sell on eBay. I found the Pentax 70R two weeks back at a St. Vincent De Paul second hand store in Eugene, Oregon. It is literally in mint condition. There is not one scratch on it anywhere, and the lens is clear of dust and mold. I bought some batteries for it off eBay for $3 less than I found them in the stores. That includes with shipping. I inserted the batteries today and the 70R woke up. It seems everything is in working order. I will need to buy some DX film for it. I enjoy taking b/w photos. BTW, I paid $2 for the tax. They don't sell for much on eBay. From what I've read here, people don't appreciate the camera as they should. So, this one is a keeper. I look forward to seeing how it stands up to my favorite camera, the Minolta SRT 102. It will get a fair amount of use.
  6. Well done GR D - you did well there. The zoom 70-R is identical to the 70-X, but included anti-red eye flash, and a different body colour IIRC. Your camera was made around 1992-1993. If you use b/w film, you will really enjoy the 70-R, the lens is contrasty and sharp. Use 200-400 speed film to keep the aperture working in the middle range (optimum). They were a favourite camera of the press back in the day - the photos they took printed up really well in the newspapers.

    Keep us updated about how you find it!

    Ian, UK
  7. Kind of late on this thread as well. Picked mine up for $1.89 at the local thrift shop. It is kind of rough, but cleaned up nicely. I rather like the battery arrangement. You can use a 6 volt 123 battery or use a built in template and use 4 AAA batteries. Very convenient if you ask me! Once the AAA's were in place, it came alive right away. I guess it was svelte in its day, but it looks more tank-like to me. Well, just put some 400 ASA black and white film in it. We'll see how it does.

    Little confused about the macro feature. Just what distance should I be from the subject? Will the focus light tell me?
  8. Well done - a good price. Well, macro works from around 0.6 meters to 1 meter. Too close, and the AF light will flash a warning. The macro feature is fairly good (crisp results) but framing is a bit vague - the viewfinder can only compensate so much. Frame a bit loosely as you may not get exactly what you see down the finder.

    Yes, they are a bit brick-like, but then the camera is a product of over 20 years ago. Remember the square autos, boom boxes and home appliances from that era? As I am from that era, I have a soft spot for the cameras and other items from those times :)

  9. Thanks for the info Ian. Well, at current exchange rates, mine was less than a pound! I ran a roll of bulk rolled T-MAX 400 through it yesterday. I don't usually deal with DX sensor equipped cameras, so I had to do some scraping and painting to get the right ASA on the can. The ergonomics of the camera were easy to get use to. The flash fires like a nuclear blast. I guess that the viewfinder so close to the flash makes it seem that way. My reflex cameras never let me see the flash so I'm not exactly use to it. I'll try and post a few photos when I develop them.
    Ranssu1 likes this.
  10. Hello, I just inherited this camera from my mothers estate. I noticed film in the camera but the battery was dead. I replaced battery and rewound film thinking the camera, which certainly felt solid, was still working. When I reloaded film and tried to take photos it stuck and wont either take photos or close its lens cover. The battery was supposed to be good to 2016 so I can only put it down to a problem with camera itself.
    I read it is supposed to be a good camera and wonder whether other users consider it worth repairing. Its more for sentimental reasons .
    Any thoughts would be appreciated.


  11. Is there a quiet sound of a motor running inside but nothing actually happening wit the lens when you turn on/zoom/turn off?

    I think I know what is wrong, but let me know if this is happening.

  12. Hi Ian,
    When you turn it on there is a sound of a motor but there is nothing happening. The lens cap is in the half-open position and I am unable to take pictures.


  13. Ted,

    What is wrong with your camera is that the little brass gear that drives the lens, zoom and lens cover has fallen off of its motor spindle. I have seen this fault now several times and have taken cameras apart to fix this fault, but sadly when the gear is pushed back on the spindle it just comes off again. Pentax UK no longer stocks the gears (not sure about Pentax US). To get to the gear is also quite involved and you have to peel one of the front sticky panels off to get to one of the screws. I have a few Zoom 70's with this problem - all needing a new gear :-(

    So, my suggestion to you is to keep your Mother's camera (for sentimantal reasons if you so wish) and get yourself a used Zoom 70 S. These are the same camera, but with some mechanical improvements. You can then take some great photos whilst getting the same result as the earlier Zoom 70 model. They are great cameras to use (with Fuji Superia 400 film) and will take good photos for you.

    If you have any more questions, do ask me - I'm always happy to answer them!

  14. Hi Ian,
    Just got it back from Just Cameras who replaced main circuit, cleaned and tested everything. $150. and it is as good as new. Heavy, solid but works great and look forward to seeing the quality of prints. Makes a nice change from the digital cameras which I am used to.
    Thanks again & Seasons Greetings.
  15. Well done Ted - great to hear that you have got it working. Please do upload some photos from your camera for us to see when you get a chance.
    All the best of luck with it.
  16. Hi Ian,
    After accidently destroying my very first camera (a Kodak S100), I managed to pick up a second hand Pentax Zoom-70 for $300.00AU way back in 1990! It was my main camera from that year until I got into digital photography in 2006. I have many hundreds of images taken from this versatile compact and I was always pleased with the quality and consistency of the shots it produced. It worked well with landscape, portrait and action photography from memory. One thing I haven't tried is B&W film, so I might try that I'm sure it will perform well. Great to see some fellow admirers of this classic camera (I thought I was the only one!)
  17. Glad it is working well for you Mike. As long as the lens is not bumped when extended (knocks sharpness off one side of the image), the Zoom 70 will keep on delivering. The lens when tested was found to be contrasty, and the press used it with 400 B&W film for covering events where SLR's were not allowed. 50mm setting is the highest resolving point, so for critical use, zoom out a little.
    These cameras are a wonder of Japanese engineering, and beneath the 80's plastic shell lurks an all metal chassis with lashings of brass and nicely finished metal components.
  18. I have found this set of responses by accident and thought I should say that I have just purchased a Pentax 70 Zoom in job lot at an auction in the UK for a £1.00. The battery has been replaced and a roll of black & white film loaded, with some exposures made.
    Having read the reviews it will be interesting to see just want transpires from this old 'brick' style camera. Ian if you are still active on this site, I'll upload any worthwhile images.
  19. I purchased a Pentax Zoom 70-X at Value Village in Toronto a couple of days ago for CDN$6 and am so happy to have found this thread. Bought new batteries this morning, the camera came to life! Currently have a roll of color film but from what I've read here, I can't wait to try out black and white film on it!
    I do get an "E9" error (apparently something to do with the zoom lens) when I zoom the lens all the way out, but I don't think I'll be zooming too much with it. I'm just excited to have a simple point and shoot camera for my street photography where I'm forced to not worry about settings and just capture, capture, capture.
    In case anyone is interested, here is a link to the error codes:
  20. Good to see this response from Heidi. From my memory of a visit to Toronto in 2012 there is still photo shops that will sell film, so I hope you can get a black and white film to shot. I have got a Kodak TMax 100 ASA loaded in my Pentax Zoom 70 at the moment. When the roll is finished I will upload any half decent shots. Films worth considering for use in the camera are Kodak Professional BW400CN which can be processed with C41 colour processing and Ilford HP5 plus 400 ASA. You should be able to get the latter film by mail order from Harman Technology Ltd, Mobberly, Cheshire, UK I look forward to seeing the your photos on this 'revived' link.
  21. Thank you Michael! I actually have a pack of the Kodak BW400 that I'm currently shooting on an Olympus OM-2S/P.
    Toronto does still have some shops that develop film, although the shop closest to my house doesn't develop black and white negatives, and from what the owner told me, the only place in Toronto that develops black and white negatives is a place called Imageworks.
    Looking forward to your images too!
  22. I'm still here! Please do share your zoom 70 photos - I'm always interested. I've not
    used mine in the last few months but it is all ready to go and I can rely on it to give a
    roll of nicely exposed colour negative film that scans well. Sadly the faulty zoom
    mechanism is not an easy fix.
  23. Ian & Heidi thank you for your remarks, I think we have duty to upload some shots from our respective Zoom 70's. It is really nice see interest in film and this little discussed camera. The serial number on my camera is 6074038, I am not sure what information this gives about the age, maybe someone on this site will know.
    Heidi, when I was in Toronto, there was big shop called 'Henry's' I think which still had real cameras and film. Hope to see more Zoom 70s posts soon.
  24. Hello gentleman, I finally developed my first roll of film from the Zoom 70-X, and here are a few I thought were half-decent and scan-worthy (and barely at that - I was mainly excited to see some prints so I just went through the roll quickly walking around my block):
    I have to say the scans are really not very good, as my scanner is a budget all-in-one printer/scanner. The actual photos are sharper and cleaner than what I'm able to digitize at this point, but the colors are pretty much how they are, which I quite like. It's got a rather rustic, 70s feel. The contrast in the photos are indeed very nice. I may likely invest in a photo scanner that may do justice to future prints (my dad just told me he's got a Pentax SLR stored in a box, which I remember using for high school art class, which I believe is a Pentax MX or something very similar). In the mean time, I would love some feedback on these! I've tagged the photos with "Pentax Zoom 70" so you can see some other photos from the Zoom in the Flickr website.
    I've got a roll of BCW400 in the camera right now and am looking forward to develop those in the next week or two.
    And Michael, Henry's is still alive and well in Toronto. :)
  25. Hello Heidi,
    I have look at you photos on my Tablet and like very much the wire mesh and leaves [school yard 3]. The detail and colour is good, given what you say about your scanner. I am still not finished with my black & white film, but hope to send for processing this week. As a collector of film cameras I note with interest the Pentax MX, I have this model with the Pentax A lens. Other Pentax classics in my collection include the ME Super and 110 Auto SLR [taking 110 cartridge film]. When I visited Toronto I spent a lot of time on the water front near a centre for cats! There was big red cat out side! Lots of shots of that area, using a Canon EOS IX7 which takes APS film - great camera if you see one second hand. Look forward to seeing you next set of photos from the Zoom 70.
  26. Hi Michael & Ian,
    Bad news - Yesterday I went on a hike in downtown Toronto, and while I was trying to do a *little* zooming, my camera got stuck at the farthest zoom position with an "E9" error which doesn't allow me to take pictures anymore. Normally I could turn off the camera, turn it on again, and it will reset itself to the normal position, but this time the camera just kept going to the maximum zoom position whenever I turned it back on. So I did some googling on this E9 error, camera repairs in Toronto, potentially how much it would cost to get it fixed, and it turns out to be something around $80-90, which I wasn't ready to pay for a camera I bought for $6. So I decided to let the camera go and took it apart for learning and fun's sake. Well, I did manage to use up most of the b&w roll that was in the camera before it "died."
    So, in case you ever wondered what the inside of the camera looked like:
    I'm still keen on arming myself with a point & shoot film camera because my passion is street photography, so I may pick another Pentax zoom in the future if I see a good deal. Will post the b&w photos when i get the roll developed (and if there's anything good in it!). Cheers!
  27. Hi guys, I was wondering if you can help me. I've just bought a 70-X for peanuts. It came with an old film in it. Everything works well, except when I press shutter button nothing happens apart from AF light flashing. I thought it might be somehow blocked by this film of uncertain age and condition, but nothing changed after removing it. Does anyone know, if the shutter activates only with the film in the camera, or it doesn't make a difference? Shoud I bother trying with a new film? I would really appreciate any help.

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