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01/14/10
Out, Old - In, New
Filed under: general, photos
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 1:03 am

The pencam is dead.

Also, the Pencam is dead.

My pencam had been slowly, steadily going the way of all things. The last one I got (fifth?) was never really that great.  I  half-thought that maybe they’d just sent me back one of the dead ones I sent their way.  The shutter was always very vague, and unless there was a thunderous amount of light on the subject, it tended to add striations to the image. 

Like in this one - sun behind me, bright day -

But, it was down to about $15 by the time I bought the last one.  You can’t get too mad at anything except your intrinsic cheapness when you’ve paid $15 for a digital camera.

A few weeks before Christmas, it made a truly forlorn electrobeep sound when I plugged it in for a download, coughed up the images to the hard drive, and then never turned back on again. New batteries.  A good shake.  Nothing.  I quietly borrowed my wife’s pocket camera (a nice Minolta Dimage which we’d bought in the dawn of time), but didn’t feel particularly easy about using it on the road and trail, and stowing it in a sweaty jersey pocket.

I finally decided that the pencam wasn’t going to heal itself, and with credit card in hand, wandered over to the Aiptek store to get another one, hoping that this time it might be of better behavior, or perhaps, the PocketCam-X which JimG was using might actually be available to purchase.

But, ’twas not to be - the Pencam as a genre appears to have gone the way of the dodo.  As the price on pocket video cameras has fallen, they have replaced any of the still camera offerings on the Aiptek site.  The only remaining simple still camera they had was an old MegaCam 1.3, the weird little vertical camera which I’d started on.  No expandalble memory, somewhere around 16 frames storage…. nope. 

Poked around a bit online and found something which I think is a viable replacement for it — snagged a Nikon Coolpix L20 for about $15 less than they seem to be going for this week - I think it was a combination of coupon and the red color of the case through.  But, it arrived yesterday, I dinked around with it for a while and it seems pretty impressive.

It has 10 point something megapixels - an utterly ridiculous amount in a (now) sub-$85 camera.  Runs on AA’s, so I can use rechargeables from my stash and grab some on the road if they zap out for some reason. It has a screen a little larger than my first Macintosh computer, plus it’s in color.  It takes SD cards (and they offered me a 4GB card for another $7, which is shipping separately.)  Just because I was feeling frisky, I put in the SD card from the pencam - a 512mb card which I’d never been able to actually max out on the pencam. It actually read the old pencam images from the card - which was cool but redundant - and when I cleared off the memory, it suggests that I can take 155 images at the “Good” quality setting.   The “good” quality setting is something north of 3600 pixels at 72 dpi.  Yeah, it shoots video too. (And does all kinds of daffy things in software - multi-shot mode, cyanotype option, etc.)

It’s a little idiosyncratic, of course - for some reason when I plug it in on either my old Cube or newer imac, it doesn’t show up on the desktop (haven’t gone looking for it in system profiler, and there’s some software that Nikon included I haven’t looked at), but it does fire up iPhoto.  There’s no viewfinder - you have to use the screen to frame up your image.  But, that’s probably a plus for my eyes and the efficacy of peering through a small aperture while operating a bicycle at speed.

Brought it along on the ride in to work today -

(For some reason the x-if data isn’t showing up with these, but they were there on earlier images…oh! I saved these through photoshop!)

Anyway, we’ll see how this one holds up. I’m going to have to get used to a camera that actually focuses…

And I may have to knock the image resolution back a bit (so I’ll get, what? 310 images on the 512mb SD?).  I’m not sure I want that much detail knocking about the interwebs…

7 Responses to “Out, Old - In, New”

  1. Jim G Says:
    Cool — I was wondering if the SD cards from the pencams might work!
  2. The Cyclofiend Says:
    Yes, that they do. I wasn’t sure how many images they’d store. The “normal” resolution is 3648, and there’s a “high” 3648, which I’m guessing is uncompressed jpeg. They say that it will print 31″ x 23″ at 300 dpi.

    And in case it wasn’t clear - I had some old images on the card and they read through the camera. Not really important, but it was interesting to see images pop up on the 3″ diagonally measured screen.

    You can also crop inside the camera, there’s a white balance mode (auto and manual), and you can override exposure by a couple of stops each direction.
  3. Chris B. Says:
    I wonder if this camera will “warp” as well as a Pencam!
  4. beth h Says:
    I still have two pencams and would be happy to send you one to fart around with if you’re really missing it. In truth, I haven’t used mine more than half a dozen times since getting the free “real” camera last year from Pal Dave. But lemme know.
  5. The Cyclofiend Says:
    Thanks beth! I’ll pass. I think it’s time for a change.
  6. Brian Says:
    Hi. What bag are you using?
  7. The Cyclofiend Says:
    Brian - The front bag is a Zugster Rando Bag. I got it last April - http://ramblings.cyclofiend.com/?p=353 There are a bunch more images of it in my Flickr stream. http://www.flickr.com/photos/cyclofiend/sets/72157617134694243/