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10/16/08
Pen Cam Slam-a-rama
Filed under: general, pencams
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:18 pm

Knew it before I even heard it. 

Got to work a little late, and whipped off my jersey to change.  As it passed over my head I felt a subtle change in the mass of the garment, a slight fluctuation in the air pressure, thought, “oh.  crud”,  and then the sound came - “twack”

Not a large sound, mind you.  Just a definite ceasing of vertical motion of a small plastic housing upon a reasonably solid concrete floor. Only one part jettisoned.  The battery housing contact plate. Ever hopeful, I  placed it back where it went and closed the cover.

Nuthin’.

There was as small impact gouge at one end, and that was pretty much all it took.  Certainly, taking the jersey off had jettisoned the pencam in an upward arc, so it was a little more than just a clumsy drop-to-the-ground. I tried a few little digital-device CPR tricks, but it was to naught. 

So, that makes - what? - five I’ve munched. 

I’ve found myself thinking about this too much in the last 24 hours. My spirally recursive thought loop goes something like this: I bought the pencam so I wouldn’t have to worry about breaking a good digital camera.  But, because the pencam doesn’t cost much, I’m more prone to putting in into a jersey pocket so I can easily get to it to snap a photo or two. The inexpensiveness of the pencam encourages me to engage in risky behavior. If I used a higher quality piece of gear, it might lead me to use more care in its protection - putting it into my bag, for example. But then, I’d take fewer photos.  Of course, if I had to pay for film and processing, I’d probably take fewer photos.  So, the whole cycle begins with supreme ease of snagging digital images, which is in turn amplified by the attractiive venues for sharing them. Which leads me to want to have a method for taking them.  Since using my camphone is reasonably high-risk, using my regular digital camera is slightly less so, we’re back again to wanting a cheap camera to have at the ready.

The problem is that this is also making me realize why I don’t really like cheap stuff.  It too easily becomes disposable. And as Annie Leonard articulated all too well, disposable has real costs. So I find myself fantasizing about an impact-resistant camera (or phone), kinda like those Panasonic Toughbooks. Maybe there out there already. 

But then again, so is another pencam. Cripes, maybe I should just start numbering ‘em like Pete Townshend. Or, I guess I could be a bit more careful next time.

6 Responses to “Pen Cam Slam-a-rama”

  1. Bob D Says:
    Olympus Stylus Series http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_digital.asp Not as inexpensive as the Pen Cam, but a tough little camera. Check out the Cnet review: http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras/olympus-stylus-1030-sw/4505-6501_7-32818788.html?tag=mncol;lst
  2. beth h Says:
    These are small enough to turn into some seriously PUNK jewelry. String ‘em up and make a gigantic voodoo necklace out of them. Or take two and make earrings. Turn one into a bodacious belt buckle (perhaps with an old sew-up tire as the belt material). You’re creative and you’ve got tools; there’s no need to send these dead cameras to a landfill. They’re art waiting to happen.
  3. Hal Says:
    I can’t say which phones are tougher, but I have to carry a blackberry for work, and after having it scraped off my hip during a spill on a recent ride, I invested in an Otterbox case (http://www.otterbox.com). I then inadvertantly tested it out by taking a similar spill the following week. The first time I trashed the BB-supplied case and seriously gouged the BB itself, while the second time, neither case nor BB suffered any observable damage. I think the Otterbox products are good value for the money, and you can get them pretty cheaply if you shop around. Cheers, hal.
  4. The Cyclofiend Says:
    beth - I like the voodoo necklace idea. hal & bob - Thanks for both those recommendations!
  5. Jim G Says:
    Jim, there is a simple answer to you woes: use the lanyard that comes with the camera! And also: If you’ve now got FIVE defunct pencams, perhaps you can make 1/2 workables out of pieces/parts of the broken ones. ;) For the record, I am still on my first Pencam SD — mine’s been dropped once or twice, but is still going strong.
  6. The Cyclofiend Says:
    I’ve actually dug into the guts of a couple. The casing really does not like to come apart, plus, the focus ring on the body doesn’t really line up on anything with the actual lens attached to the motherboard, so it gets easily tweaked if you aren’t smart enough to put a reference dot on it when you first open it. I actually returned one to Aiptek to see if they could refurb it, but never heard back from them. I’m thinking more about making the voodoo necklace that Beth suggested.