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.
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.
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…