June 17, 2022

retro digital [part two]

Picking up where we left off: let’s talk about more “old” cameras! In case you haven’t read part one, I won’t be going into the specifications of each camera, as I picked these up for fun. As a recap: I favor CCD sensors, although I have a camera or two in the “retro digital” series that have CMOS sensors. Now that that's out of the way, let’s look at some more photos!

Olympus EVOLT E-500 (2005)

I was really excited to have this camera in my hand. Specifically, I was really excited about its Kodak 4/3 CCD sensor. I'm already an Olympus fangirl, and I love Olympus color science, so getting the chance to own something that Kodak also played a role in is really neat. As far as limitations, it's similar to those I faced with the C5050Z, in that a memory card hinders my freedom. I had to use the same 512Mb CF card that my C5050Z uses. The shots shown here are of the two lowest in-camera image size/quality settings. Once I find something a bit larger I'll be able to shoot in HQ/SHQ and RAW without worrying about using up the entire memory card within a few shots. 

Canon A570 IS (2007)

This was the only camera that I had the pleasure of finding myself in a thrift store. I was browsing the Goodwill electronics section when I came across it in a bin, and it seemed to be in good shape. Luckily, the camera uses a standard SD card and AA batteries. I was willing to risk the $4.99 price tag in case the camera turned out to not work after all. I managed to get it up and running in just a few minutes. This camera is such fun to use and the photos have a ton of character straight out of the camera. The images below required only minor tweaks in lightroom-- some are even completely untouched. The colors are rich and saturated, the camera has good dynamic range (most of the time), and it's extremely easy to use. Even its auto setting produces great photos.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 (2012)

I'm not exaggerating when I say that this camera is now my go-to. I even opt for it over my DSLR which is only a few years old today. This camera was my introduction to the micro 4/3 system, and while it took some getting used to (having to buy all new lenses, for example), this is now the camera that I bring with me anytime we're leaving the apartment. I ordered a 14-45mm kit lens separately, as well as a 35mm f1.7 manual prime lens. I've since found that 25 - 35mm is my preferred focal length and I'm now in the market for an AF prime. Although it's an older camera today, I certainly understand its original quadruple-digit price point. Simply handling the camera feels high-end to me-- but, then again, I'm someone who is really only used to plastic fantastic. And not only does the camera handle nicely, but I'm also constantly in awe of its photos and the details it's able to capture. 

I’ve had a lot of fun already, and I still pick these cameras up daily. Since I’ve started collecting these, I’ve noticed a huge uptick in the photos I’ve taken and my own creativity. They’re easy to pop in a bag and they yield great (sometimes unexpected) results. If you want to give your smartphone a break, or if you just want to have some fun with some inexpensive cameras, I highly suggest checking your local thrift stores or eBay. There are TONS of cameras just like these that are waiting for a good home and a second life. These cameras— and many like them— are still good. Are they going to suit the pixel peeper? Not likely. But, if you want to have some fun and take photos with some character, an older digital camera may be just what you’re looking for! Most use batteries and memory cards that are widely available today, so getting them up and running won’t be a massive undertaking. I can’t recommend these enough. Let me know if you guys use any old cameras or have any interesting finds in the comment section below!

June 7, 2022

retro digital [part one]

I grew up shooting film, and while I still do today, the hobby has become increasingly expensive. I know I can edit photos to ~look~ a certain way, but I like the idea of photos organically having certain characteristics instead of editing them in in post. Last month I became captivated with the idea of older digital cameras. I don't know how the idea didn't occur to me sooner-- I've been taking photos since I was a kid. I know how cameras work. In today's world of modern, high-tech cameras and the cult following that ~actually old~ film cameras have, I completely overlooked an entire era of digital cameras, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Fast forward about a month and a half, and I'm sitting here surrounded by wires, batteries, adapters, and memory cards from yesteryear. This is my new normal.

I'll provide a quick note about each camera, but expect mostly photos. I won't go into the specifications of each one, as that's not really the point. I have to emphasize that I got these cameras to have fun. I got them because after the hours of research I put into each one, I decided that each could give me something I wanted. I saved these cameras from thrift stores, estate sales, and eBay sellers looking to clear out their attics. Most of the cameras that I've picked up are from the mid-2000s or early 2010s. The oldest one I own was released in 2001, while the most modern one I have was released in 2012. Most have CCD sensors (my favorite), but one has an older CMOS sensor. I've accumulated quite a few cameras, so I'll be breaking this series down into two or three parts. I've been having so much fun over the last several weeks, so let's jump into it!

Olympus Camedia 5050 Zoom (2001)

This camera is built like an absolute tank, and I'm so excited to own it. It's really fun to use and to see what this 21-year-old camera and its 5 megapixels can do. As with any older piece of tech, you have to have the patience to learn its quirks. It required me to pick up a specific card reader as it takes either Compact Flash and/or an xD picture card. Luckily, getting ahold of a CF card isn't difficult or expensive, so I've been able to use it with relative ease. The only limitation I've faced is that the camera can't handle "high" capacity memory cards, so I have to unload my 256MB card fairly often when using the camera for any prolonged period. Regardless, I love the photos it takes and the character they have, and I think having something from this time period in camera history is really, really neat. 

Canon G10 (2008)

This was the camera that I was most excited to get my hands on when I was initially shopping around. I love its shape and size, and it's just a great camera to have on hand. I love that it's relatively small but still allows you to use a camera strap to go hands-free. It has really great manual controls-- reminiscent of a DSLR-- and a nice sized LCD. This is probably the camera that I reach for most often because of its versatility and portability (albeit not exactly being pocketable).

Sony CyberShot DSC-H20 (2009)

The H20 was one of Sony's higher-end "prosumer" point and shoots. The rear LCD quality doesn't do the actual photos justice. I was a bit apprehensive when first shooting, but once I pulled the photos up on my computer, I was pleasantly surprised.

Nikon CoolPix S9100 (2011)

This camera is the only traditional point-and-shoot I own, and it's the only one that has a CMOS sensor. It's nice and compact without any part of the camera sticking out dramatically. It's very pocketable and it's the one I reach for most often when walking my dogs because of how easily I can stick it in a pocket or hip bag. It has such a nice balance between its ease of use and photo quality, so I can be confident in getting a solid shot when being pulled in different directions by my dogs. 

This is a closeup of a black cherry tree using the camera's optical zoom on a particularly windy spring day. I was standing several meters away and each of these closeups of the trees are just as crisp. I was so impressed!

I'm still using all of these cameras regularly, and I've been taking more and more photo walks with them. Most of the photos in my blog posts from here on out will undoubtedly be from some combination of these cameras. 

Be sure to stick around for part two where I cover the rest of my retro digital collection!