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I have owned Pentax zoom camera's for a number of years. I bought the Pentax 200 as a replacement for my previous camera which had been stolen on a holiday in the Alps. My previous Pentax Espio had had a 150mm zoom and I found for taking close up's of mountains and panorama's this wasn't sufficient so I was drawn to the 200mm zoom of this model. ----Style---- I was attracted to this model partially by its undeniably good styling... at least it looked the part! It looked and felt chunky and well built when compared to other similar offerings in Jessops. It was also on special offer at the time (just after Christmas 2002) for £200. The only slight downside was that this was one heavy camera 345g. After weighing up the pros and cons I found the pros for buying this camera massively outweighed the cons and I ended up exchanging my cash for this camera. ----Functions---- Like most cameras of this price the Pentax 200 Zoom has a normal flash (apart from the fact that the flash pops out from the side of the camera when the camera is initially turned on) band a red eye reduction flash along with DX coding, automatic exposure, automatic film transport and self timer. The features that made this camera stand out from the rest were almost similar to those on some SLR's. On the top of the Camera on the left of a small auto illuminated LCD display there is the mode dial for turning the camera on and off amongst other things. This dial also controls most of the other functions of the camera. These functions take the form of six segment multi pattern metering. The various modes are: Auto - This is the normal mode for taking pictures Daylight Sync - If you want to override the normal sensored auto flash settings this mode will manually put the flash on Slow Shutter Speed (flash off)- For taking pictures in a situation were a flash cannot be used ie. in museums, churches etc. After
using this modes on a number of occasions I have always got shaky pictures. I think its best to use a tripod when using this mode. Slow Speed Sync (flash on) - A slow shutter speed and the benefits of the flash to light up the fore ground, may also be worth using a tripod here. Bulb Mode (without flash) - For night photography. Use of tripod recommended in this mode. Bulb Mode (with flash) - The same as above but with flash to light up foreground. Use of tripod recommended in this mode. Around the LCD display are located three butttons these control the: Red Eye Reduction Mode Infinity Landscape Mode - this overrides the autofocus and is used primarily for taking pictures of landscapes or distant scenes. Spot AF Mode - in the viewfinder this reduces the area enclosed by by the black box to a circle and is used specifically to produce a clear picture of a person. Multi Exposure Mode - This mode is for those of you who are artistic and wish to impose an image over a previous image. This Mode stops the film advancing until after your second shot. On the rear of the camera just above where you load the film are located the three final functions of the camera. The first of these is the: Panoramic Mode - This gives you a much wider view than normal photos and gives you great panoramas of Mountains (I use it often). Its the visible in the viewfinder through two black stripes at the top and bottom. When processing photos taken in panoramic mode please be aware that unless you specifically tell the film processor there are panormaic photos on the film your panormaic shots will come back normal size with two thick black lines on the top and bottom of the photo, like you see in widescreen films. Panoramic developing will cost more and is really only worth it if you have taken a number of shots in this mode. The second of these functions is the: Viewfinder diop
ter adjustment (-3 to +1 diopter). Use this to either blur or make the picture clear and sharp when looking through the viewfinder. Its primary purpose is to adjust the viewfinder to your eye strength so that when you look through it whatever the quality of your eyes the picture is clear. The final function of this camera is the zoom. This is operated through a toggle switch on the top rear right of the camera. Use the viewfinder and toggle switch to find the zoom you want. if your short on space then you could always use the zoom of this camera to replace a pair of binoculars (It works! particulary if the binoculars are of a low strength!) --Battery-- At present I have a 3v Panasonic CR123A Lithium battery in the camera. In just over a year of camera use Iam still on the battery that came with the camera. I think thats pretty good considering I regulary use the camera and the flash. Replacement costs for this battery are around the £10 mark. --Any Other Information-- On the base of the camera you access the battery slot through a device included on your camera cord or through a pencil or pen. On the other side of the base is the rewind button. If you want to rewind you film for any reason before it's finished press this with a pencil/pen and it will rewind the film to the start. There is also a hole on the base to screw a tripod into. The camera comes with a wrist cord, Lithium battery, black leather case and a free film (at least when you buy it from Jessops!). I also purchased a padded waterproof Lowe Pro bag to give the camera added protection and to cushion it when I drop it...I always do! I think its a worthwhile purchase as the black leather case supplied with the camera is not padded. Hopefully that covers everything! ---To Conclude-- The main drawback of this camera is the lack of sharpness it gives to some of my pictures though many of the pictures suffering from thi
s lack of sharpness were taken on the full 200mm zoom. After a year of use I really only use the auto mode even though Iam sure that some other modes will give better picture quality. This is primarily because of the poor instruction manual which does'nt make it particulary clear on how to use the other modes successfully. I don't believe the lens quality of this camera is quite as good as my previous Cannon, and I have tried all the modes. Generally though I would recommend this camera as it packs an almighty punch with its zoom and good looks...the flash even pops out of the side when you turn it on!! If you are after a serious photographers tool buy an SLR as they produce significantly better picture clarity and you can pick them up for not more than the RRP of this camera...though for the sheer compactness and zoom of this camera its a close run thing. This is also one seriously funky camera!!