retro digital [part one]

June 7, 2022

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!