Anyone still use an old camera?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
RetCapt Regular Member • Posts: 402
Re: Anyone still use an old camera?
2

The majority of my digital cameras are now 10+ years old and still in regular use. The photographs I took then are still outstanding today, so for my types of photography these cameras still get the job done. I edit all my photographs that I will print, so I like to think I am doing all that can be done to get the best out of these cameras. Plus, I like them. They have earned their way into being trustworthy and reliable tools in which I have great confidence.

For the purposes of this discourse, I have one camera that might be old enough to merit mention. It is a Pentax Optio 555. This was Pentax' top level compact travel camera in 2003. My wife came downstairs from our guest bedroom (also the main photo gallery) with it in late 2018. She had found it in a bureau drawer. It looked NIB in the box with the original paperwork. We believe a relative had brought it here, intending to give it to me as she had a couple of others, and then in the press of family socializing had forgotten about it. So it had sat in the bureau for however many years. It looks as if the relative used it very little, if even at all beyond testing, for whatever reason(s), and had returned it to its box.

It was/is a very nice looking unit. The all aluminum body has a brushed chrome finish. The lens optical zoom range (35mm equivalent) is 37.5 to 187.5mm. It even has an eye level viewfinder. The elephant-in-the-room problem was that it was only 5 megapixels. Given that low mp number I knew the images would be pretty dismal. So I was looking at a very nice little camera that I otherwise would have enjoyed using, were it not for the unacceptably low number of megapixels.

I was wrong.

But before I could get what this camera could give, I had to deal with various limitations and eccentricities.

The instruction booklet said to use TIFF rather than JPEG for the highest image quality, and at 5 megapixels I needed everything the camera could give. With the two 512mb cards that were with the camera I found that each card would hold just over 30 TIFF images. Ah, the nostalgia of film. What I finally did learn was that the camera would accommodate a maximum 2gb card, but no greater. But that was some relief as each 2gb card would hold 130 images. I still only use TIFF with this camera. Fortunately I have found TIFF images very easy to post process in PSE.

The TIFF images take forever (ok, maybe around 10 seconds) to write to the memory card, so there is no such thing as a quick follow up shot. This processing soaks up a lot of battery power, so battery life is low. Besides the two original batteries, which definitely show their age, I also have three new ones (from Wasabi as Pentax no longer offers originals). The years long lack of use of this camera killed the internal memory battery. That means every time I change batteries in the camera I have to reset my menu settings.

But these drawbacks pale in comparison to the image quality this little camera can produce. The subject in the attached photo is a wonderful old Lab, who has since passed on. (I converted the TIFF image to JPEG to be able to post here). We had been babysitting him his whole life and we were his second home. In spring of 2019 while we were babysitting him I wanted to get an candid image that I hoped might show the character and wisdom in his face as we knew his time was short. I printed this one to 8.5X11", framed it, and gave it to his owner when she stayed with us to pick him up. When she unwrapped it, she teared up. The photo succeeded.

FWIW, The finished TIFF image is much sharper on my computer screen and on the print than what shows here, so this is, at best, a representation. I have since used this camera under a variety of circumstances and the image quality still amazes me.

I was a late convert to to digital (2009) because I had been convinced that digital would never equal, let alone exceed 35mm film in image quality, so there was no reason to change. Then, much, much later, I find out that this threshold had been exceeded at least as far back as 2003, so I could have gotten involved with digital six years earlier. Admittedly the MSRP price of the camera at introduction ($599) would have been a chunk to commit to an uncertainty, but given what I have seen this camera do, I would have made the jump then.

Great little machine.

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