My first digital camera, the Kodak DC-40, which was one of the first consumer digital cameras available, was purchased in 1995 as I was preparing to launch SantaBarbara.com. Until the Kodak DC-40 arrived people would usually scan prints or negatives to put photos on the web. Needless to say that was a pain in the a** and having a digital camera made life much easier. Even though the camera was only 0.3 megapixels (less than a third of one megapixel), could only hold 32 pictures, had a memory chip that was not removable, and cost $700, it really made photo-centric SantaBarbara.com possible.
My actual Kodak DC-40 camera ended up at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, of all places. My friend Doug worked there periodically in the 1990′s and found that my Kodak DC-40 was built like a tank and survived the cold very well because it had no moving parts. He borrowed it during each research trip. The picture of penguins above was taken with my camera. Click here to see more pictures from Antarctica taken with my Kodak DC-40 (look in the Gallery section). Kodak eventually got word that their DC-40 camera was being used for research in Antarctica and they mentioned it in their national advertising campaign.
Time and technology marches on so in 1999 I “upgraded” to the Sony Mavica FD that stored pictures on a 1.44MB floppy disc (this is what the world used before the invention of USB flash drives). The greatest thing about the Mavica was, for the first time, you could get pictures easily out of the camera and into your computer, without the need of a special cable and software that all other digital cameras required at the time. It was a dream come true.
After the Sony Mavica FD, in 2001 I moved on to the Sony Mavica CD which stored all the pictures on a mini-CDROM. This was a big leap forward because you could shoot a lot more pictures before the camera filled up. After the Sony Mavica CD I graduated to a series of Sony pocket cameras that stored pictures on flash RAM like is commonly done today.
Since the inception of this blog I have been using the same Sony W300 digital camera (my 7th). It worked well but it is now battered worse than a dog-on-a-stick. And it is missing many features common in today’s camera such as automatically detecting that your photo subject includes people and optimizing the settings accordingly, panoramas, and the ability to zoom while filming a digital movie.
Last week I did some research and purchased my 8th digital camera, the 14.1MP Sony T99, which arrived last night. Needless to say it is the best pocket digital camera I have ever owned and hopefully will enhance the quality of the pictures I take for this web site and blog. The T99 has a protective panel that runs the length of the camera that slides up and down to protect the lens. The last 4 cameras I owned used an iris-style lense cover that would contantly stick shut when they got dust in them. Then I would smudge the lense with my finger while trying to pry it open. Plus the settings knob on previous cameras would get bumped in my pocket and the first few pictures I took would be horrific until I put it back in automatic mode. The T99 has no knobs – it’s touch screen, which is disabled when the power is off. Plus it does panoramas and shoots HD video which is a common feature today that my old one lacked.
I bought the new camera just in time for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival which begins this week. Expect to see new pictures and movies of the Film Fest courtesy of the T99. If I see any waddling through downtown Santa Barbara, I’ll be sure to snap some photos of penguins.