Join me on my trip in the Way-Back Machine to the year 2000. I am wandering through the aisles of a big-box retailer and naturally gravitate to the camera department. There I see a camera that does not require film – A Kodak DC3200. The latest thing in camera design – the embossed word “M E G A P I X E L” is wrapped around the lens. No need to say how many megapixels since reaching ONE megapixel was understood to be quite a milestone back then! I purchased the camera including a service policy. The salesperson convinced me if the camera ever broke down in the future, it would most likely not be repaired but replaced by a camera with an even higher MP value. Higher than 1 megapixel? Was that even possible? The total price – about $300. And as with my many GAS acquisitions, it was closely examined, test fired, and put in a drawer with thoughts of being used sometime soon. Translation: forgotten.
The Kodak DC3200 reminds me of their iconic Bakelite Brownie Hawkeye camera made during the 1950’s. I like the retro design and for me most times design overrules function. But let’s get to the functions. Can you adjust the shutter speed or f-stop? No, the camera will do both automatically within the range of ¼ – 1/500 second and f/3.6 – f/8. The ASA/ISO remains constant at 100 and it shows up on my metadata as 1. The lens? It is a 39 mm (35 mm equivalent) fixed focus (2 ft. – infinity) glass lens or as the manual says, “Optical quality glass.” How many lens elements? Doesn’t say but at least one is optical quality. The sensor is CCD but no mention of its size. You can control the jpeg output quality – Good, Better, or Best but only Best will return a 1 MP capture with limited compression. There is a 2x telephoto option which can be used with the “Good” quality setting. White balance can be controlled with choices – AUTO, Daylight, Fluorescent, and Tungsten. Preview (on/off) will turn on the LCD screen before capture and Quickview (on/off) will display the capture for a few seconds afterwards. However, the LCD screen in daylight is unusable. There is a built in flash with selections, AUTO, Off, and always fire. Close to the lens, limiting parallax, is an optical tunnel viewfinder. There are some websites claiming the DC3200 has +- 2 stops exposure compensation – the manual does not mention this and it does not appear in the menu choices. The camera uses compact flash cards and also has 2 MB internal memory. A serial cable along with software would have transmitted the files to a computer and a special video cable would allow you to view the captures on your television.
Back to the present time. After 23 years, I was curious to see what kind of results could be obtained with the DC3200. The camera takes 4 AA batteries. No problem – I have batteries. The serial cable and software are out of the question with my computer of the future – but I do have a 4 GB compact flash card. This caused the camera much agitation – it refused to recognize such an impossible storage size – there must be some mistake! Next step – purchase a 128 MB card which gives me the ability to take close to 400 snaps using the “Best” setting. All systems GO. Onwards!
Here are some captures (all using the “Best” quality feature). Camera determines f-stop and shutter speed with ASA/ISO constant at 100:
Some afterthoughts: Normally, I like taking pictures in RAW format and then making adjustments afterwards using Photoshop and sometimes film emulation software. But there was something about these jpeg files – I did not want to make any adjustments other than “Recovery” on the histogram’s right side. The captures seem to have a pleasing light airy feel about them with a slight magenta cast. As is, a print would be about 3.5 x 4.5 inches which led me to do some research on how to get larger prints without pixilation. One technique is to print the original file, then scan the print, and let the scanner increase the resolution. Another idea is using an image editor (I use Photoshop CS4) and change the image size to 300 ppi and then adjust the dimensions. I picked 8.5 x 11 inches and on screen it seems OK but I need to experiment more.
So there you have it. Kodak’s digital automatic box camera presented for your enjoyment. If you would like to view more of my captures using other cameras, I am on flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sgitlin/albums
Contribute to 35mmc for an Ad-free Experience
There are two ways to experience 35mmc without the adverts:
Paid Subscription - £2.99 per month and you'll never see an advert again! (Free 3-day trial).
Content contributor - become a part of the world’s biggest film and alternative photography community blog. All our Contributors have an ad-free experience for life.
Sign up here.