5 Frames with the MiniCam 100k – My Jankuary project

By Steven G

I liked the idea of Jankuary when the first posts appeared, and started wondering what I could use. Ideally without buying anything! I considered my early Fujifilm bridge camera, but after using it a bit decided it wasn’t janky enough… I mentioned the project to my dad, who thought about it and asked if I still had this camera, which to be honest I had completely forgotten about.

Introducing the Complete Digital Highresolution Camera System.

Ahem…

I still have the original packaging…

It was in fact the very first digital camera I ever owned, and came free in 2004 (I think) as a promotional item with a Bosch power tool, an electric drill if I remember right. As you will have gathered, I do indeed still own it, and surprisingly for me it wasn’t even hard to find!

I popped a AAA battery in (just one!), and found it still worked.
100 kilopixels. Wow…

For scale, that is the standard size CD case for the software CD on the left. The camera is tiny.

It has no card slot and the images (all 19 of them!) are stored in volatile memory so they are lost when the battery goes flat or is removed. Quite anachronistic in today’s world.
To transfer images to a computer, you use a USB cable – with a rather peculiar plug at the camera end – but it doesn’t conform to normal modern USB standards, so to the to the best of my knowledge, the specific drivers and software are a must.

Now… that was designed for Windows XP or earlier, but I tried installing it on my Windows 11 PC, with a predictable lack of success however.

I posted about the camera and my problem on the discuss.pixls.us forum and had a few suggestions, one being to install Windows XP in a virtual machine. That was something I’d never done before, but after a bit of research I decided to give it a go. I used my laptop running Q4OS (Debian based lightweight Linux distro) and set up VirtualBox on it, then after some hunting found a copy of Windows XP Pro complete with serial code.

The install actually went pretty smoothly – VirtualBox does a good job of tricking Windows XP into thinking it’s installing onto a real XP-era machine. Love the XP startup/shutdown sounds too!

A bit more configuration was needed to get the USB port ‘passthrough’ to the virtual machine to work, but I was then able to install the original camera software successfully from a USB stick. Good.

The original software running on the Window XP virtual machine, in turn running in VirtualBox, running on the Debian based Q4OS on my laptop!

Even better… when I plugged the camera in, the software was able to communicate and download the images, in all their low-res, lo-fi glory!

TBH, this level of lo-fi is a step too far. Fun, but hard to imagine any images that would be the better for being shot with this camera. But as a subject for Jankuary? Fits the bill I think…

The first of my 5 frames is a stitched panorama… which was surprisingly hard to stitch. I think the low resolution makes it hard for software to find points to align. My usual favorite software, Microsoft ICE, metaphorically threw it’s hands in the air and gave up, but the rather new – and free – app, Xpano, was able to stitch it in two parts which I then merged manually in GIMP. Not perfect. But then nothing about this camera is.

The rest are straightforward snaps, of, to be honest, not very exciting subjects. I seem to find this quality level a little uninspiring.

On the day I submitted this, I spent a couple of hours exploring Parliament House in Canberra, the home of the Australian national government, and this is the subject of the title image and the last frame. I felt a little weird using that tiny camera! This is part of the entrance hall of Parliament House, viewed from the gallery.

In conclusion, all I can say is that I’m glad I have better cameras to use – but it’s nice to have a little reminder of what giveaway “noughties” technology was capable of.
I think…

Thanks for reading!

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Comments

Scott Gitlin on 5 Frames with the MiniCam 100k – My Jankuary project

Comment posted: 16/02/2024

A successful time-travel journey. The pictures have a unique feel about them and just like toy film cameras the right scene can give special results.
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Robyn on 5 Frames with the MiniCam 100k – My Jankuary project

Comment posted: 14/02/2024

As I've been reading the Jankuary posts, I was thinking to myself "I'm sure I've got something far worse than all of these", remembering my first little digital camera that I think I paid about $20 for. Then you pop up with this article and BAM, there it is...I remember this software interface so well! My camera was slightly different (not a Bosch, wouldn't have a clue what it was actually), but I'm sure it's the same camera guts inside. Congratulations in overcoming your technical issues to get it to work. Perhaps somewhat as evidence of my hoarder tendencies, if I am able to find my camera, I've also got a Windows XP machine sitting here ready to fire up...although I'm not sure I'd have the patience to use the camera in the way you did. Good on you for persevering!
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Stevenson G replied:

Comment posted: 14/02/2024

Thanks Robyn! That's so cool that you have one too - never seen it anywhere else. I did consider hunting out my families first Win XP laptop but it had issues when it was replaced so I didn't bother... Would be nice to see what you can do with it!

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