Digicam Diaries Ep. 01

I can’t just have one nice camera, I have to have eleventy-threeve cameras in varying degrees of what the hell possessed you to buy that piece of crap ? I have no real justification other than curiosity or the occasional coveting of my neighbors toys. Well, neighbors being relatively quiet and kinda scared of a 6’2″ 250lb bearded dude leaves me with just my curiosity. My neighbors are super cool, though.

Introducing another horribly pointless digicam from a thrift store. This time it’s a branded camera, the Nikon Coolpix S220. The S stands for stinker because this thing is a pocketable piece of S(crap). All kidding aside, it gets 3 stars on its own manufacturer website if that tells you anything about it.

Lens barrel is so bad, even pictures of the camera bow outward at the edges!

The Full Monty (aka the geeky stuff)

Without any real investigation into the actual camera specs, and reading the focal length from the camera, I’d say this has a sensor about the same size as a smartphone. The 6.3 – 18.9mm roughly translates to a 28-80mm (35mm equiv). The zoom feature is just the full extent of the focal length – so something like 28mm to 50mm to 80mm seems to be about how it goes. It has 10 Megapixels, but can be programmed to go down to 3 Megapixels in the settings menu. Don’t let Megapixels be a detractor or a distraction. I’ve gone over this before in some rant or another that 10 million pixels on a peanut heart and 10 million pixels on a postage stamp are going to give you different results. This camera is the former.

It does have a really nice menu, though, with a few color options (standard, vivid, pastel, sepia, etc.) The standard and vivid settings don’t really give the JPEGs much noticeable difference, but the interesting one is the Cyanotype. Yeppers, it emulates sun printing, that thing from your childhood where you leave a few objects on special paper in the sun and wait for some cool image to appear in all blue. Sadly, it looks more blue in the camera than in the JPEG. The actual image just looks like a monochrome image. See below.

Cyanotype filter

One of the more interesting features of the camera is not it’s horrible lens barrel due to the obnoxiously super-wide lens against a tiny sensor, but the software in-camera that corrects it. I know, right ? I’m guessing that when new this camera came in plastic anti-theft packaging and hung next to the instant cameras and 3-packs of consumer film. I just can’t give any serious consideration to a camera the size of a credit card.

Seriously, go grab your Kodak Ektar H35 — you know you have one, everybody has one — and compare.

The size is actually the really awkward part of using this camera. Well, that and I have to reset all the settings every time I swap the battery. I should take it apart and put a new CR battery in it some day, but I don’t know that my aging eyes can manage it without breaking out the watchmaking tools and magnifying loupes. It’s so tiny!!

Tiny, but it actually doesn’t take half-bad photos! With the lens correction off, one can grab some interesting shots giving a pseudo-fisheye perspective. This is easiest to see in vertical lines.

It also has the capability to shoot up to iso 2000 which is cool in another dimension where super-noisy and completely useless images are desirable. For the rest of us, we leave it at Auto and turn off the flash for our night photography, appreciating the results.

This is the next one getting printed

It even offers software-based image stabilization, called VR, and it kinda works pretty good for most images, especially with my palsy-like coffee-stained fingers trying to daintily hold the camera steady in my big man-hands. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but even those aren’t always wasted shots — even if they’re just filler so you’ll keep reading to the end of this post.

What it lacks in features, this little gem of a camera makes up for by being a camera you can truly carry everywhere. It has a fully collapsible lens, so it fits nicely in the pocket. It has a lanyard loop that could probably be used to hook it to your car keys. It’s the perfect camera for “f/8 and be there.” I took it with me when I went to the store the other night to get dinner for the family, and I’m glad I did!

Thankfully, I’ve found the perfect digicam, so I won’t be buying anymore. Yeah, that’s a lie. I’ve already got a Canon SD400 (aka, the Ixy 55) on a Fedex plane headed to Memphis tonight. Don’t give me that look. I need material for the blog. It probably will be my last one, unless somebody comes up and hands me a deal on a Olympus C5XXX or a Stylus D, or maybe even an Epson RD-1…


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