Older cameras (a retrospective)

Even though I have started this new passion of mine only a year ago or so, I liked to play with cameras since I was a kid. Nothing serious and I don’t remember taking any stunning picture back then, but I still remember the cameras of my past and I’d like to spend a couple lines talking about them (just for fun and to review what features they had, as I didn’t really understand them back then).

First family camera: the Olympus AF-1


Olympus Infinity (aka the US model of the AF-1). Mine was just like this one, apart from the model tag. Photo by E. Magnuson, Wikimedia Commons .

I still have this beauty somewhere in Italy, I remember finding it recently in a box of old stuff. I think battery corrosion had the best of it, never managed to make it work again. This is the first camera our family owned (at least, since I was born – I don’t know about before). It has been released by Olympus in 1986 and was the world’s first complete waterproof automatic 35mm camera. It is likely that we had it already in 1991 when I was born.

I haven’t many memories of using it, most recent ones probably date back to 1996-1997 when I was at the first year of elementary school. Among the many features, it has 35mm Zuiko lens f/2.8, autofocus (man, I did not even know what focus was), self timer (never managed to activate it), DX-encoding (makes sense, since I never remembered setting an ISO on a film camera before 2017) and… it was waterproof. I had absolutely no idea. I need to bring her here next time I visit my family.

My first personal camera: Yashica Clearlook AF


A Yashica Clearlook AF, silver model (just like mine). This one is from eBay. I personally think it’s neither rare nor lomographic.

Just an ordinary, cheap point and shoot camera from the end of the 90s/beginning of the 2000s. Someone on eBay considers it rare: I highly doubt it is as for my Christening back in 2001 I managed to receive TWO of them (probably some sale of some sorts going on).

This camera has been my first personal camera, and I brought it with me to every school trip until I got my first digital point and shoot. Had no idea how to load the film, that was my sister’s duty.

It is a quite compact camera, simple to use, with autofocus, self timer and a flash. Everything that my 10 year old self could possibly need. It features 30mm lens with aperture of f/5.6 (I expected slightly better), DX encoding from 100 to 400 ISO and a complementary case. It still works, but unlike the Olympus AF-1 I can’t think of any reason why I would like to play with it now, really.

My first digital point and shoot: Olympus Camedia C-120 Digital Zoom


Olympus CAMEDIA C-120. This actually says D-380, but as far as I know they are the exact same camera. Mine looked just like this one. Photo by Fletcher6, Wikimedia Commons

Ah, I remember the joy of waking up and finding the box for this camera hidden behind a vase on our shoe rack. It was my 11th birthday, back in 2003. My parents gave this camera to me as a birthday gift and I was electrified. It was digital. It had a cool design. It had a screen. And it was all MINE.

The C-120 has been a budget camera from the start, but I didn’t really care. I had huge fun with it. It came with me on every school trip, family holiday, event, party… until 2005, when we had to replace it as the memory card reader was broken. The camera featured a 2-megapixel CCD sensor, a 35mm equivalent lens, flash, automatic light metering, some basic scene modes and a panorama function which was my favourite. It had a very small internal memory (I think 2 MB but not sure), which was complemented by a SmartMedia 8MB card. I remember I usually had to take pictures in 800×600 or 640×480 pixel resolutions due to limited space. My parents never bought me a bigger card.

It also had the function of recording small 60s clips in QuickTime Motion JPEG format, with no audio as the camera had no microphone. Among the missing things, AV out connection was missing as well.

I liked this camera, I remember I played a lot with it and with the bundled software. In 2005 the camera’s SmartMedia slot stopped reading-writing cards, so we replaced it.

My second point and shoot: Canon PowerShot A420


The A420 in all its glory. Ah, the memories…

A notch above the Olympus C-120, this point and shoot camera has followed me for at least 3 years or so. It was more compact than the C-120 and had some extra features like Composite video out (with an adapter, that is), standard MMC/SD card (came with a 32 meg MultiMediaCard which I soon replaced with a 512MB SecureDigital), optical zoom (up to 3.2x) but… still no sound in video clips.

Probably the result of another bargain sale, I have good memories of it. It was small enough to be carried everywhere, had lots of picture settings and modes to play with, has been reliable and took decent pictures. It has an equivalent lens of 39-125mm f/2.8-5.1, LCD screen, ISO sensitivity from 64 to 400, PictBridge compatibility and all the bits and bobs that make this camera an automatic point and shoot.

.I think I did use PictBridge once.

Second last one: Nikon Coolpix S210


The S210, courtesy of Amazon.

This came as a natural upgrade to the A420. For some reason, for a long time I always stuck with entry level models. Can’t really say I have good memories of this one, despite being daughter of a proud heritage of camera makers. Ironically, I still have it.

The S210 costed something around € 129 when I got it. It is a very compact camera which I carried around with me often, as it is also quite light and fits nicely in every pocket.

Technically it is no masterpiece, but did its job. It had, however some flaws in term of lens and, possibly, CCD sensor that made it a pain to shoot picture above 400 ISO and in low light settings. Even pictures in bright day weren’t that wonderful either.

The sensor is a 8 megapixel CCD, coupled with a NIKKOR 6.3-18.9 mm lens with 3x optical zoom. SD card support, rechargable Li-ion battery, no viewfinder (everything through the LCD screen) and no mode select gear – all menu driven (and it drove me mad).

Overall… why did I buy this, I don’t know.

Last one: Canon PowerShot SX150 IS


The PowerShot SX150 IS. A proof that all that glitters is not gold. Picture courtesy of Juzaphoto.com.

A notch above, my last point and shoot, the SX150 IS by Canon.

It was given to me as a gift and I welcomed it as a nice upgrade as it has some features that I always missed in a camera and wanted to tinker with (namely aperture and shutter speed control).

At first it got me excited but said excitement did not last long. It runs on two AA batteries and it eats the shit out of them. I had to purchase rechargeable ones as I kept running out of power very frequently.

It features a 12x optical zoom lens 5.0-60.0mm 3.4-5.6, but every time I pushed the zoom above 3x, pictures tended to be quite blurry due to the shake. The camera has some image stabiliser technology inside but it does not work wonders.

Manual controls are limited and I never found them particularly easy to access. The camera has Manual, Aperture priority, Speed priority and Program modes. There are also Auto, intelligent Auto, Scene, Effect, Discreet and Video mode. It can shoot 720p HD video in AVI format. Plus a plethora of bells and whistles that I never really used.

This has been my last digital point and shoot camera. I never used it much, there was something about it that made taking pictures with it awkward. I still have it. It stares at me with its empty eyes…..