Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A brief attack of the oldies

This one’s going to be tricky. I distrust Golden Eras (“Those Edwardian summers when the afternoons were long and sunny and the gels so pretty…”) but here I am, harking back.

Several blogs and/or comments I’ve read recently speak fondly about digital cameras. Blogging wouldn’t be the same without them. No delay waiting for prints. Lots of technology easily accessed. Zero overheads. Good quality for low outlay. All good stuff.

My 6 megapixel Traveller DC-6900 cost £69 at Aldi and its only fault (rechargeable batteries last about 20 shots) may not be attributable to the camera. Yet who could love this Christmas cracker toy? This deformed Easter Egg?

While still gainfully employed I used a Fuji battery-powered non-digital camera and clearly advancing the film threatened the battery’s capacity. The unease became reality at a T. J. Maxx warehouse in remotest Canada when I ceased to be a photo-journalist and was reduced to my notebook alone. The Pentax replaced the Fuji and my thumb now advanced the film. Speed had to be balanced with aperture. For two years after I retired I did freelance work which meant using a tripod and long long exposures in stygian industrial buildings. I could never have trusted the Traveller.

The Pentax doesn’t do “instant”. It’s heavy too. But it’s beautifully made, the lens is gin-clear and, I’m afraid, I love it. It deserves an ode, if not an eclogue. On verra.

8 comments:

Relucent Reader said...

I have a Pentax K1000.I have taken many slides with it on personal trips and for academic projects .
The K1000 and similar are legendary in their popularity. I once Googled it, and got many results (good ones, with manuals and notes).
The Kodak Z1012IS we took on our trip to Italy enjoyed a steady diet of batteries. It's addiction to 'em got me out and about, tracking them down; met an interesting retired photographer/ storekeeper in Sorrento while looking for batteries. On the other hand, the damn things would give up at the most unfortunate moments.The results with the Kodak can be seen on my Flickr account.
Always enjoy your posts, and look forward to them.

marja-leena said...

You should see the collection of old cameras that we have, some inherited from my late father-in-law. You had to use a separate light meter, remember those days? When we bought our SLR Pentax around 1970, he was not pleased at the ease of it, thinking it was a toy. I wonder what he'd say about today's digital cameras!

I'm a little confused here...I did not know non-digital cameras had batteries.

Our first digital camera was a terrible battery hog but the later ones are just fine, the batteries are much improved and recharge quickly enough.

Barrett Bonden said...

RR: I should have been more specific: mine is an ME Super. A rather lumbering guide to the camera associated with ebay advises on how to pronounce this ("emm-ee super") since many users apparently believe the phrase is synonymous with "I am great". Although I had other options I took the Pentax on all all three trips to NZ where - the country being as beautiful as it is - I took hundreds of shots. Looking around for new batteries in a place where it's quite easy to run out of gas was not an option.

I see you use non-rechargeable batteries with your voracious Kodak. A great way of widening your social circle.

I enjoy your blog immensely, for its US resonances and the fact that we are both capable of enjoying books and wheels that go round. I notice you apply a certain degree of Keynesianism too; rarity pushes up the value.

M-L: In pre-digital cameras batteries advanced and rewound the film. This was usually only significant with top-end Canons and Nikons with very fast shutter speeds, since it allowed press photographers to take a sequence of stills in a couple of seconds and hope that one at least had the shot they wanted. These so-called motor drives were particularly good at capturing changes of expression in a person who was otherwise static and not visually interesting.

I'm interested to hear about these improved rechargeable batteries. I haven't found any yet.

Julia said...

I switched to digital only a few years ago, holding onto my mother's 1970 Canon SLR until it started to become nearly impossible to process film here (I still have the dear thing wrapped up and waiting in case I ever convert our bathroom into a dark room ;-). But six years, and two digital cameras later, I'm pretty sure that my results are better than those of a decade ago, when I used film sparingly. Mostly this is about practice, which is what digital so beautifully affords.

One thing - the digital camera does matter. My latest digital camera is a Panasonic Lumix. I use it with a memory card that holds 500 pictures, and it takes nearly that many clicks to wear the rechargeable battery out (especially if I keep it cold).

Lucy said...

Today I picked up the latest Nikon bridge, a coolpix p8o, 10 mpixels, 18x zoom (that's about as technical as I get with cameras) belonging to a young student of mine, and was overwhelmed with the kind of envy and craving that always takes me by surprise when I experience it, because it happens rarely and I don't approve of it.

I know I don't need this thing, but I also know I would take better pictures with it, and it felt like a silky feather in my hands; the Canon feels clunky and plasticcy by comparison.

I tormented myself by researching it on-line, and found it would cost a couple of hundred quid, which seems a snip, but like I say, I don't really need it. Rats! I found myself having unworthy thoughts like I wished the Canon would just die.

Phew, I feel better for getting that off my chest...

Julia said...

Lucy, I so know the feeling!

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy/Julia: The desire can be experienced physically. A genuine twitching at the finger-ends, plus the need to stroke.

As to battery-life the key issue is screen usage. I'm assuming these batteries with greater durability are built into the camera. Does this mean having to buy a spare?

Avus said...

I loved the "gin clear" description, BB. As I look through my favourite drink I can appreciate the clarity of the Pentax lens. (Hic!)
I also know what you mean about the quality and "chunkiness" of these old cameras. I have a twin lens Rolleiflex in the cupboard.
I have just upgraded my digital to a Fuji F8000fd (8mb and 18 x zoom). This latter has all the bells and whistles and will take superb pictures in difficult conditions.
However, the Rollei is cherished, the Fuji is an impersonal tool. The former was my partner in getting a good shot; the latter practically does it all for me.