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Pentax IQZoom 170SL (Pic: Jim Grey)
Jim’s travel-happy Pentax IQZoom 170SL (All pics: Jim Grey)

By Jim Grey

Last August I was sent to my company’s office in Aalborg, Denmark for several days. I make film photographs as a hobby, but I manage software developers for a living, and I have a team there.

Aalborg is Denmark’s fourth-largest city, located in the far north of the country. It’s an old city, with beginnings that go back at least a thousand years. The Limfjord forms Aalborg’s northern border, and the city radiates from it in all directions to the south.

Even though I was there to work, I made sure my trip spanned a weekend so I could be a tourist. My hotel had bicycles guests could borrow, so I bicycled all over to see what the city had to offer.

I brought my Pentax IQZoom 170SL along with a roll of Kosmo Foto Agent Shadow inside. The IQZoom series of compact 35mm point-and-shoot cameras is a mixed bag. Several have passed through my hands over the years, and most of them were so-so. But the 170SL is a gem. It packs a terrific 35-170mm SMC Pentax zoom lens that’s plenty sharp while being largely free of distortion and vignetting. That deep zoom makes it a versatile choice when traveling.

Aalborg’s lovely city centre offers plenty of shopping and dining.

People on shopping street (Pic: Jim Grey)
Shopping district, Aalborg

Around the corner from the main shopping avenue is Hjelmerstald, a well-preserved street with buildings that date to the mid 17th Century. It’s always astonishing to me to see a built environment that has survived this long – I’m from the midwestern United States, where it’s rare to find anything older than about 1850.

Old Aalborg buildings (Pic: Jim Grey)
Cobblestone street in Aalborg

All through the shopping district are arches like this one, which lead to little courtyards. Many of the buildings contain apartments, which I presume were originally for shopkeepers. These courtyards provided a little private outdoor space for them.

Aalborg courtyard entrance (Pic: Jim Gey)
Entry to a courtyard in Aalborg

The streets in Aalborg’s city centre wind and turn, and you never know when you’ll suddenly encounter a little fountain or statue.


Aalborf Greek-style statue (Pic: Jim Grey)
Statue in Aalborg

Aalborg’s big department store is Salling, where you can ride the elevator up to the rooftop for sweeping views of the city.

Rooftops of Aalborg (Pic: Jim Grey)
From the roof at Salling in Aalborg

Looking north from the Salling rooftop, the fjord comes into view. Every time I visited the city centre, plenty of boats went this way and that along the fjord.

Buildings and Aalborg harbour (Pic: Jim Grey)
From the roof at Salling in Aalborg


People in Aalborg really use their fjord, kayaking and swimming in it. In a park along the fjord on the city’s northwest side, there’s a platform from which people climb down into the water and even jump off to take their swims. I’m told that it’s not uncommon to see people doing that starkers. That’s shocking to us puritanical Americans!

Kayakers on harbour (Pic: Jim Grey)
At the fjord in Aalborg

Of course, wherever there’s water, you’ll find seagulls. These gulls were not afraid of people as they strutted about among plenty of people gathered at water’s edge. They were more reserved, however, than the seagulls at Lake Michigan nearer my home. Those gulls will waddle right up to you and chatter at you, demanding whatever food you have in your hands.

Seagull on sea edge (Pic: Jim Grey)

The IQZoom 170SL was an easy companion on this trip. Walking around, I just carried it in my hand. On the bike, I slipped it into a small sling bag strapped to my back and I hardly knew it was there. It’s a responsive camera, with fast autofocus and fast enough zoom.

As you can see, the Kosmo Foto Agent Shadow returned great tonality, contrast, and detail with pleasing grain. I shot it at box speed, which worked out fine given that some days were sunny and some were grey. It’s a lovely film to bring along on a trip.

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