Photos with Crappy Cameras

Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend over a couple of new beer. It was certainly an enjoyable time and we talked about some of our favourite topics: the state of business (for him), the state of business (for me), and photography. Both of us are in IT full time and photography is just a side-passion, but it was photography that generated the most discussion.

An incredibly effective gate.

A lot of the conversation was very similar to ones I’ve had with people online, in that modern phones are not “real” cameras at all, but rather fancy toys that many people use to take photos. My buddy, in fact, went so far to say that a phone camera simply cannot take as good a picture as a modern dSLR, but since he has it with him all the time, he uses it for a camera, but only for black and white pictures. Interesting.

This got me thinking about the photography process as a whole. Does a shitty camera always make a shitty photo? What if it’s in the hands of a good photographer? A professional? We know that a good camera doesn’t always equate to a good picture, but does a “bad” camera always mean a bad picture?

So I’ve decided to test this out! And with it start a new hashtag: #crappycamerapictures. You’re welcome.

And now, introducing my crappy cameras.

Crappy Camera 1, and this is a doozy. I found this bad boy at a thrift shop just last week for a whopping $5.00. Let’s take a look at what this can do.

It’s a generic camera with no discernible markings as to its origination at all. Powered by two AA batteries! But it does use an SD card for memory at least, and not something really exotic.

The back has a 1 inch view finder. I tried it. It’s about useless. I had to spend some time figuring out the configuration button. It looks like the camera has the ability to turn the flash on/off, take video (seriously!), and save higher or lower quality pictures. I’m sticking with high quality for this knockout.

I had to take a picture to determine how many pixels. It appears to be a 1 Megapixel sensor. One. One megapixel. But the best part is that it was constructed with a tripod attachment on the bottom! Whoever designed this glorious piece of technology was actually thinking someone would attach it to a tripod. And that might be a necessity to avoid shake! We shall see.

Camera number two in my list is actually a phone: An Alcatel Pixie OneTouch. I am actually rather fond of this phone. Several years ago my Samsung Galaxy 7 took a swim in a river with me. I emerged from the river in much better shape than the phone. Being that I still had about half a year to pay it off, and I was on vacation at the time, I found this Pixie at a nearby Wal-Mart for something like $70. I was not disappointed. It only features a 2 Megapixel camera, but the phone runs Android, supports data, apps, etc etc and so on. This is the type of phone that is seriously going to democratise the world by bringing connectivity to every corner of the globe. It’s inexpensive, small, portable, and by being able to properly connect to the internet still manages to contain and make available communication and provide the entirety of human knowledge to it’s holder. The camera still isn’t the best, but I will forever like this phone.

Number 3! The Kodak EasyShare C713. 7 Megapixels of imaging goodness, all brought to you by the power of 2 AA batteries. It’s interesting that the literature for the camera states “7-megapixel resolution for stunning prints up to 20×30 inches.” Um… no. It might print out a 3×5 or 4×6. Yet, 7 megapixels isn’t awful. This may begin to blur the line between “crappy camera” and “less crappy camera.”

Unpictured is a Samsung Galaxy Note 2. I also like this phone a lot. It boasts an 8 megapixel camera sensor. Not bad. I used this phone successfully for several years and had zero complaints about it at all.

Finally, the last camera on my list is a Samsung SL600. This is powered by it’s on lithium ion battery and needs a custom charger (ordered on Amazon for $13). It holds a 12 megapixel sensor

The candidates

It’s a truism that “the best camera is the one you have with you.” I’m not, however, going to put that to the test. Instead, I plan on using these cameras in very specific circumstances and, to keep all photos as “legitimate” as possible, I will use zoom on none of them.

A good photo is comprised of at a minimum of three elements:

  1. Composition
  2. Subject
  3. Lighting

I will probably start by building a still-life scene in which I can easily control all three of those elements, and then branch out from there.

#crappycamerapictures; coming soon to a blog near you.