Saturday, April 11, 2020

Old Cameras Getting A New Life

Agfa ePhoto 1280 and Nikon Coolpix 4500

Larry Wolf, Two Old Friends (2020)

Back in February of 1998, I purchased an Agfa ePhoto 1280. I had taken a Photoshop course at Santa Fe Photographic Workshop with John Paul Caponigro in 1997. I was scanning film and prints for a while and I was excited to have an actual digital camera. A new era was dawning. 

I particularly liked the design concept of the Agfa; it was reinventing the camera around its components: the lens and flash in one module, the LCD display, batteries and memory card in the other, connected with a swivel. This was not the eyeball-to-viewfinder of all the 35mm film cameras I had used, but a new design for the new technology. It was an "arms length" camera, with an experience much like our current phones, although the swivel allowed for having the lens pointed one way with the display screen another - good for overhead, low angle and self portraits. The camera fit well in my hands, the controls were easy to use. Here's an enthusiastic review from Steve's Digicam from 1997.

The Agfa took remarkably good photos (1024x768 with a 3x optical zoom) but it ate up batteries. Even with double sets of batteries (it uses AAs), it was painful to use. Sadly, I went back to film and scanning for a while. 

In 2002, I gave the design another go, this time with the Nikon Coolpix 4500. It's a bigger image (2272x1704 with a 4x optical zoom). This was a workable camera where I wasn't fighting with the technology (specifically the batteries). Here's the Digital Photography Review from 2002.

The Nikon completely shifted my photography away from film. I was a very happy user of this camera for several years. 

New Life Coming

I've ordered a card reader for the SmartMedia cards that the Agfa uses and the CompactFlash cards that the Nikon uses. There is a fresh set of AA rechargeable batteries coming for the Agfa. The batteries for the Nikon are charging as I write this. I'm looking forward to using both cameras in the near future.

Some Images From The Agfa 1280 From 1998

Larry Wolf, Agfa Unboxed (1998)

Larry Wolf, Self Portrait (1998)

Larry Wolf, Self Portrait (1998)

Larry Wolf, Blossoms (1998)

Larry Wolf, Red Hawk Zendo (1998)

Larry Wolf, View from Sean's Car (1998)

Larry Wolf, Floral Arrangement (1998) 
Larry Wolf, At Home (1998)

Larry Wolf, At Home (1998)

There is a playfulness in these images, an exploration of what's possible with this camera, embracing its capabilities and limitations.

Some Images From The Nikon 4500 From 2002

Larry Wolf, Self Portrait (2002)

Larry Wolf, Eric (2002)

Larry Wolf, Eric (2002)

Larry Wolf, Eric (2002)

Larry Wolf, Airport (2002)

Larry Wolf, Tea House Pond (2002

Larry Wolf, Man and Dog (2002)

Larry Wolf, Flat Iron and Obelisk (2002)

[updated April 12, 2020 with images from the Nikon 4500]

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