The Freedom Zoom 105i. This is a really strange looking camera. It’s about the size of a brick, just as heavy, and less ergonomic.
When Cody at Dot Dotson’s Camera handed me this camera. I was a little taken back. He said they wanted to give it to me, but I didn’t want to take it at first. Then I said what the Hell and I bought a roll of film on the spot and took it for a test drive.
I love point and shoot cameras. While this is technically a point and shoot, it’s not a small camera.
This camera has a zoom range from 35mm through 105mm. It uses a power zoom with a APZ system. I can only assume that APZ stands for Auto Power Zoom. Which is perhaps the strangest thing I have ever seen in a camera.
Most point and shoot cameras can easily be operated with one hand if you absolutely need to. This massive machine really does require two hands. Your hands are placed on both sides of the camera, like you’re holding binoculars. The eyepiece in the center and is really bright. It zooms with the lens. The zoom control is in the left hand and the shutter is on the right side. It’s easy enough to take a picture with this camera. once you get used to the APZ system.
Auto Power Zoom
This will drive any experienced photographer absolutely batty.
The camera will automatically zoom if it thinks your subject is far away. It tries to predict what your subject is if it sees an object in the frame that is closer than infinity. It is extremely annoying when you turn on the camera and it starts zooming as you are pointing the camera at scene.
After a few frames you get the hang of deactivating it. You press the W button then you can zoom to where you want to.
After reading the manual, I found that pressing both the W and T buttons you can deactivate the auto zoom feature. However, once you turn off the camera and turn it on again it is reactivated. You can find the manual here.
Load the camera just like any point and shoot camera. Turn it on, point, shoot. Easy peasy.
A few things to note. If you get one with the original lens cap, you should be stoked. It covers the lens and the viewfinder. This is great because you can see if you left the cap on. I think it would be nice to have an automatic lens cover.
If you shoot black and white film, just be aware that the camera requires DX coded film. There is no overriding the ISO.
The camera also has a databack. I’ve never liked those but I have a friend that loves that on her cameras. I guess I could see the value of it. I would like to see a databack that could be programmed with custom text.
Like so many other point and shoot cameras, the flash defaults to on when the camera is powered up. It takes three presses of the button to turn off the flash.
There are three flash modes: is red eye reduction using a pre-flash in auto mode, flash in auto mode, and full power forced flash.
Not horrible. Not horrible at all.
I dropped the film off at Dot’s and got it back while I was still in the shop ogling some lenses.
After I loaded it into my scanner and I saw the first preview, I immediately noticed that these didn’t look too bad. I brought the first frame I scanned into Photoshop and I am really impressed. I had low expectations for the image quality. Most of my cheap-ish point and shoots have terrible image quality.
Don’t get me wrong, the lens isn’t perfect, but I really liked the images I got. There is plenty of vignetting, and the lens flares when direct light hits the front element. And there is definitely some distortion. Still, the sharpness and contrast are much better than expected.
The images below were shot on Fujicolor 200 Superia color film.
This is a clunky camera. It’s not stealthy, it’s not fast. It’s kinda of fun though.
It uses a 2CR5 battery, which are not too hard to come by, but they can get expensive. I buy mine in multi packs on Amazon, so that brings the cost down.
This would be a fine party camera, not great for taking to the bar with friends. It’s too big. If someone gives this too you, take it, but you may not use it very often.