What has been your least successful camera?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
RetCapt Regular Member • Posts: 402
Re: What has been your least successful camera?

Spoiler alert: The closest I am going to be able to approach the intent of this thread is one possible contender.

That contender was a Pentax Optio 555, circa 2003, a compact travel zoom p/s. List price at time of introduction was $599, and it was Pentax' top camera in this category.

Some posters have listed unsuccessful film cameras. My principal film system was Canon/Leica screw thread (LTM) bodies and lenses. But I also had a first generation Leicaflex, a Contarex (plus lenses) and a Nikonos V system. Given that line up it is not surprising that I had zero least successful film cameras. I still have all of this gear, and everything worked when parked some 10+ years ago.

Posters have also submitted least successful tales of digital cameras that were handicapped by early available digital photography technology. Since I only converted to digital a little over ten years ago, I was, fortunately, too late for this.

A couple of years ago my wife came downstairs from our guest room with that Pentax, looking brand new, in its original box with manual, two batteries, two 512mb cards, and a charger. I think it had been left some time prior by the other grandmother on one of her visits. She had given me a couple of travel zoom cameras she no longer was using as she was always on the the lookout for the next iteration of tele length. I still have these cameras, and they work extremely well for me. This Pentax was by far the oldest.

I looked the camera over and was impressed. Aluminum alloy body, excellent build quality feel, built in rangefinder that zoomed with the lens, and a maximum lens speed of f2.8. But it was 5mp, half of any other older camera (2009 era) I had. Since I had everything to use the camera just by charging the batteries, I decided to play with it. Being the photographic expert I like to think I am, I knew the results would be pretty dismal. I could not have been more wrong.

The manual said that for maximum image quality, select TIFF rather than JPEG, so I did. We had an old black Labrador Retriever staying with us, who we knew was not going to be around too much longer. I started informally taking portraits of this wonderful old boy at night in our living room, using flash. I ended up with a shot I particularly liked because it really showed the character and wisdom in his eyes (dog people will understand this). I ended up making an 8.5X11" print for his owner, and she teared up when we gave it to her. His eyes, whiskers and individual hairs were extremely sharp in perfect focus. I was amazed at the image quality this 5mp camera set to TIFF could give me. Since then it has had other outings, including night photography, and my amazement at its image quality still holds. My usual maximum small sensor enlargement size, due primarily to available wall space, is 11X14". So far the max I have gone to this camera is 8.5X11", but given the results at that size, I am confident 11X14" will be consistent with my greater mp cameras

But there are some limitations:

-TIFF files are large. The largest capacity memory card the camera will accommodate is 2GB, which will hold 130 images. So I always carry several cards.

-Given the size of those TIFF files, writing to memory takes a few seconds. This is not a camera for rapid follow up shots.

-The write time sucks up battery power. Pentax no longer makes batteries for this camera. Wasabi does, and I have several, all of which I carry when the camera goes out.

-The internal memory storage battery is deceased. That means every time I change batteries I have to reset all my settings.

So why use it? In a single term, image quality, which is all out of proportion to what I would have expected from a camera of this era with only 5mp. It is just too good not to use.

So like Terry Malloy in 'On the Waterfront', this camera was destined not to be a contender.

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