A Bad Day With A Camera

First Olympus SP-510UZ Walkabout

The day started with a solid grey overcast that finally showed signs of breaking up about noon. I have some flexibility as to when I take my lunch hour so I decided to wait until the clouds popped with a bit more character.

It’s a grey day, Thornbriar Green, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-13
Playing peek-a-boo, Downtown, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-13

The clouds eventually relented and allowed the sun to peek out. I fired off a perfunctory email saying I was taking my lunch break and cruised out the door with camera in hand. Unfortunately, when I got downtown…

That’s a nope, Downtown, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-02-13
That’s an even bigger nope, Downtown, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-02-13

My excitement about the character in the sky disappeared. Third Avenue in downtown Strathmore was crufty and gross and I just wasn’t feeling it. I decided to check out the back alley to see if anything was happening there and it was even worse. I seriously considered going home and trying again later in the evening. The problem was that I had gotten a camera I hadn’t used yet ready to go and it would have sucked to give up so quickly.

The camera in question is an Olympus SP-510UZ. It’s a 7.1 MP prosumer-level digital camera that was released in mid-2006. I would have been thrilled to have had this as my first digital camera in 2001. It shoots in JPEG and RAW. The RAW files have some depth to them and you can pull back blowouts quite well. There is a super macro function I have yet to test, but I’m sure it will work. Olympus has always done lenses well.

Put a lid on it, Downtown, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-13

I found the camera to be, sloooowwwww… It takes half a second to respond when you depress the shutter. It takes about three seconds to write a RAW file to the proprietary XD card. It takes about two seconds to view a saved file. This was excusable in 2001, somewhat embarrassing in 2006 when the camera was put to market, and is aggravating in 2024. All new cameras are so much more responsive now.

They paid extra for the view, Downtown, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-13

That being said, I’m a contemplative shooter. I don’t have to worry about catching action and the waits imposed by the camera aren’t that big of a deal so they didn’t stop me from enjoying my photo shoot. And I did get a photo shoot in anyhow.

I have learned over the years that the expectations I have going into any situation aren’t that important. They can get in my way if I let them. It’s a matter of dumping the bin in your head and doing your best to be in the moment. Become aware of what is around you. I waited for a couple of minutes and I started seeing lines and shapes and repeating elements.

Hook me up to the flow, Downtown, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-13
Bricked in, Downtown, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-02-13
Shades of Grey, Downtown, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-02-13
Colourful Personality, Downtown, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-13

I could not get the electronic viewfinder on the camera to work. It could be disabled or it could be broken. I’ll have to look into it. I pulled my usual stunt of heading out the door with just the camera and some spare batteries and no idea how to work it. I find cameras are like cars in that they mostly have all the same controls, they’re just in different spots and you may have to look hard for a few of them.

The display on the back of the camera is not wonderful, so that was challenging. It actually may be developing some issues. I’ll hopefully have more to report on that in future outings. I wouldn’t say that the Olympus SP-510UZ is a great camera – not even when new – but it’s good enough and it was charming to take it on a walkabout.

More power to you, I say, Downtown, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-13
Traction action, Downtown, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-13

I rounded the block and found one last image on the way back home. The pavement on Third Avenue was poured with alternating colours and it caught my interest. It is very subtle in real life, but I don’t do subtle so Photoshop exists for people like me.

Pretty pavement, Downtown, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-13

As for today, it was a pleasure to dust off an old digital camera and breathe some new life into it. It’s a shame when a camera that can be used, isn’t. It’s even more of a shame to just give up and go home when there are still some good photographs to be captured. I’m glad I took the five minutes needed to re-center myself and push past my frustration and urge to pack it in. It feels great to come home with some images I like even though I was reaching for the white towel at the start.

All of the images in this diary entry were produced using the Olympus SP-510UZ save for the three faux Polaroid images of the camera itself.

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© 2024 Sean D. McCormick

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