Notes from underground

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Archive for the tag “cameras”

A tale of two cameras — or is it three?

In August 2008 I bought a new digital camera. It was a discontinued model, a Samsung S630, going cheap. It was an improvement on the one we had, though. It had a zoom lens and autofocus, and 6 megapixels, whereas the old one was fixed focal length, fixed focus, and 4 megapixels.

It worked fine for a couple of years, and then started to get unreliable. It wouldn’t take photos, it wouldn’t shut down half the time, and so my wife and I bought a couple of new ones to take on our holiday last year, Olympus X44. They were similar to the Samsung, but had 14 megapixels, though we kept them set on 8 megapixels for ordinary shooting to save disk space.

Here they are:

Cameras1

That one was taken with my HTC ChaCha cell phone.

But I have since discovered that that the Olympus has its own problems. The autofocus seems to be pretty erratic, and produces pictures like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Samsung, on the other hand, seems to have started working again. Replacing the batteries, rather than simply recharging them, seemed to do the trick.

The Samsung is also easier to operate.

It has a knob on the top that you turn for the main settings — auto everything, movies, reduce camera shake, manual setting and so on.

On the Olympus, these settings appear on the screen, except that in bright sunlight you can’t see a thing on the screen, not even the picture you’re trying to take, so you just have to hope for the best. Even when you can see the screen, finding the setting you want can take a long time, by which time whatever you want to take may have vanished. A killer wildebeest could have cantered away. The hit-and-run driver could have run long ago. With the Samsung, one turn of the knob and you’re there — movie, still, whatever.

But the cell phone camera seems to be more reliable than either! It even takes movies, with sound.

Cellphone cameras

I was playing around with my cellphone camera a couple of days ago, late one night when we stopped at a garage to buy some cold drinks. While my wife was in the shop I took some available light photos with my cell phone just to see what happened.

Here is the garage forecourt:

I then rested the camera on the steering wheel and took the car instrument panel, less than a foot away. I expected an out-of focus underexposed blur (it was lit only by the forecourt lighting), but the result was actually quite readable.

I’m impressed.

For those interested in such things the phone is a Nokia 2760, which I think is pretty near the bottom of the range. I got it free when I switched my account from MTN to Vodacom at the beginning of the year, but have only just worked out how to get the photos off the phone, so I hadn’t used the camera much.

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