Reviewing the Pentax Zoom 90-WR

The Pentax Zoom 90-WR is a fully automatic point-and-shoot 35mm camera. For a casual P&S launched in 1991, it offers lots of unique features, making it a fun and durable camera perfect for everyday carriage. The “WR” stands for weather-resistant, meaning all the buttons are sealed and also the back features splash-proof sealing.

However, rubber seals of this age are known to deteriorate over time, so you shouldn’t trust them too much. With prices being as low as $10-$15 on eBay and a very good availability you could still give it a try though.

Until now light rain and dirt haven’t been a problem for me, so it is still a lot more durable than other point-and-shoot cameras in this segment.


For a cheap consumer camera, the Pentax 90-WR is loaded with features. It uses two CR123A batteries which (according to the manual) should last for around 30-40 rolls of film, depending on flash usage. Small features like being able to open the battery lid by using your camera strap are making the Pentax a fun-to-use point-and-shoot camera. The buttons themselves don’t feel too good when you use them because they’re covered in weatherproof sealing, which makes them feel squishy and unresponsive when you press them hard.

Lens & Modes

The Pentax 90-WR features a 38-90mm f/3.5 to f/7.8 zoom lens made of 8 elements in 7 groups. Autofocus ranges from 0.8m to infinity, and shutter speeds 1/5 to 1/400 seconds, it also features a Bulb mode. The zoom lens gives a lot of flexibility and the lens quality and glass is decent for an automatic point-and-shoot camera. The Autofocus system offers focus lock and spot AF mode.

You can use normal self-timer mode with a delay of 10 seconds and two-shot self-timer mode, meaning the camera will take another picture with a delay of 5 seconds. It also offers continuous shooting with a speed of one frame per 1.6 seconds and also interval shooting. Multiple exposures are also possible. In order to change the mode, you have to use the mode button until you see the desired mode on the LCD Screen. The camera offers two separate buttons for landscape photography and macro photography. A green lamp next to the viewfinder will show you whether your picture is in focus or not. When not in focus the lamp will blink and you won’t be able to fire the shutter.

The flash is rather bright and there are several modes to choose from, for example, pre-flash to avoid red eyes or daylight synchronization and long time exposure synchronization. For more details, you should take a look at the manual.

Loading and Unloading

In order to load the film you’ll need to pull the film leader far enough to reach the take-up spool until it reaches the end mark . Make sure the film lays flat an close the door, the camera will automatically advance to the first frame. The LCD screen should now display “1”, if you see a blinking “E” the film is not properly loaded. Once the roll has been exposed it rewinds on it’s own. In general you can get around 38 to 39 images out of a normal 36 exposure film. You can also rewind mid roll by pressing the small button that’s hidden under the remote. On the cameras strap you’ll find a small knob that will help you to press the button. The Pentax 90-WR is compatible with all DX encoded films from 25 to 3200 ISO, just load up the roll and the ISO will set itself. Non-coded films are automatically set to 25 ISO.

The Remote

Another very nice feature is the remote control. The slide-out remote sits on the left and you can use it to change the zoom, fire the shutter, or focus. The camera itself features two receivers for the remote, one on the front with a range of 5 meters and one on the back with a range of 0,7 meters. I didn’t really use the remote control, but it’s still a nice detail. When looking for used models make sure that the remote is also included.

Dimensions & Look

For a point-and-shoot camera, the Pentax 90-WR is pretty big and also very heavy, It is even comparable to some very small SLRs. I like the smooth and round curves and the overall design, but I’ve also heard people tell me it’s a pretty ugly piece of plastic, so it’s rather a personal choice.


The Pentax 90-WR makes for a great beginner’s camera or a durable point-and-shoot that you can take everywhere you want. It’s a bit to big for carrying inside your pocket all the time, but still a great travel camera for hiking trips or anything outdoors.

The price-performance ratio is amazing and it’s not hard to find one below $15. Of course, it doesn’t compare to a big SLR with expensive glass, but this is also not what it has been made for. Overall a camera I can definitely recommend.