A couple of days ago, I featured a photo from a mystery camera. It was part of my blog post “The Silliness of Most Camera Reviews”, where I took camera reviewers to task. A friend guessed that I used an E-P1, which is Olympus’ first mirrorless camera from 2009. Good guess, but he didn’t go back far enough. I used an E-300 from 2004. It’s Olympus’ second DSLR after the E-1, which was the world’s first purpose-built digital SLR.
Recently, a couple of bloggers that I follow have featured worthwhile retro digital cameras. Here in Austin, Kirk Tuck has nice things to say about his Nikon D700. Over in Asia, Robin Wong did a review of the original Canon 5D.
Both the Nikon D700 (from 2008) and the Canon 5D (from 2005) are more capable than my Olympus D-300 (from 2004), but this Olympus has a noteworthy feature. Unlike those other cameras that sport a modern CMOS sensor, this one has a CCD sensor. One designed by Kodak, to boot. Some say the old Kodak CCD sensors have a more analog, almost film-like appearance. I’m not sure about that. But I do feel there is a mellow-ness to CCD that looks different from the clinical looking CMOS.
Playing with old digital cameras can be fun and they can be surprisingly good. More importantly, the old technology forces you to work a bit harder for your image. Like film, limitations imposed on you make you a better photographer. Modern cameras are so capable, there’s not much sport in making a technically strong image.
You probably have an old digital lying around. Or, like me, you can buy classic digitals for pennies on the dollar. People rightly think I’m crazy for owning over fifty cameras, but most are very inexpensive film and digitals. I bought the Olympus E-300 three years ago for about $60 – $70, as I recall. It’s even less now.
I shot today’s photo back in 2015 and I really like the color rendered by Olympus E-300. The battery is all charged up and the 14-year-old camera is ready to go. Perhaps a photowalk with a classic 50mm equivalent might be a welcome change from the uber, do everything cameras of today.
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