Photography

Bold color at the Indiana State Fair

Kodak EasyShare Z730It’s too big to fit into my front pants pocket. It feels clunky in the hand. Its smallish screen washes out in direct sunlight. Its on-off-mode dial is fiddly and inconvenient.

So why do I still occasionally shoot my Kodak EasyShare Z730?

Because I love the colors I get with it!

So good, they ought to be illegal

I took the Z730 to the Indiana State Fair last month. My Canon PowerShot S95 is vastly superior in many ways, but it can’t compete with the Z730’s bright, cheerful color rendition.

Bracelets for sale

The Z730 was introduced in 2005, making it ancient in digital-camera history. Ah, 2005, a time when cameras like these had not yet been supplanted by everybody’s phone.

Horse barns

It amuses me that even my three-year-old iPhone 5 is technically more capable than my Z730. But it just doesn’t have Kodak’s great color signature, which I think was common to all of Kodak’s digital cameras. My youngest son has an EasyShare C613, Kodak’s entry-level digital camera back in 2007, and it grabs gobs of brilliant color just like this.

Oliver Row Crop 88

What separated the Z730 from lesser Kodak digicams was its fine Schneider-Kreuznach lens. Just look at all the great detail it can capture.

Hats

Unfortunately, the Z730 starts to fall down on the job when you take it inside. I shoot in available light as much as I can, because I don’t like the quality of light most flashes deliver. This shot would have been impossible with flash: these items were behind glass. But the Z730’s maximum ISO of 400 led to longish exposure times, even with the lens wide open at f/2.8. I shot this six or seven times before getting one that wasn’t obviously blurry.

For Baby

Even then, most of my indoors shots suffered from a little camera shake. I used Photoshop’s sharpening tools to help them along.

Wizard Oil

The light was so challenging in the animal barns that only a few of my many photos there turned out. None of them are stellar compositions.

Monochrome horse

Here’s where my Canon S95 shines: its f/2 lens and ISO up to 3,200 let me get almost every shot indoors.

Resting horse

But I don’t carry the S95 everywhere. And while I do carry my iPhone everywhere, the lens on its camera has gotten a few scratches that leave marks on my photos that I can’t always fix in Photoshop. For that and a few other reasons, it’s time for a new iPhone. But meanwhile, I’ve placed my Z730 is the glove box of my car. I’ve already put it to use a few times photographing things interesting to me while I’m out and about.

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16 thoughts on “Bold color at the Indiana State Fair

  1. My first digital cam was a Kodak DC 280i with 2 Megapixel and it made terrible pictures, very unsharp and without nice colors! Don’t know the year I bought it, I think 1998, but it costs a lot of money: 999 Deutsche Mark. I only knew the quality of an SLR and I almost gave up photography in frustration. My next cam, an Panasonic DMC FZ 2 with its Leica Lenses, bought in 2003, was the salvation and I kept on taking photographs ;-) Never again Kodak cams, I swore – but I love Kodak 35mm Films, specially the Kodak Gold 200

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    • 1998 was the dark ages in digital photography! My ex-wife was a pro photographer and in those days she told me that digital was just awful, and it would have to get a million percent better before she could see switching.

      The Kodak Z730 was my first digital camera. I stepped up to a Canon PowerShot S80 and then to the S95. I love the S95 but miss the color the Z730 delivers. That’s why I keep it.

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  2. Sure know what you mean, Jim. :) I used to carry around a Kodak CX7330 when I really started toting a camera on me all the time. I still remember how vivid the saturation of the colours was.

    I think I’d have to agree with your ex. I was a relatively early adopter and I started with Kodak… a DC 25 back in 1997. Awful resolution, only held a couple of dozen shots or so (as I recall)… but what magic! No film to develop, no need to scan the prints to get a digital image. Straight to digital uses. I had a DC4800 eventually when we finally got megapixel cameras (it was 3.1), but I don’t think we really hit our stride till we were ready for DSLRs. The good quality we got from those made its way into the P&Ss and then suddenly we had portable gold like the beloved S80s. :)

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    • I gather that Fuji and Sony have upped the game in P&S cameras and that the PowerShot S series now must play catch-up. I really want my everyday camera to be a solid digital P&S for how easy it is to carry. I keep looking at mirrorless or DSLR and just can’t make myself do it. I have so many film SLRs that when I want that level of control, I can just load film into one and get busy.

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      • I’ve had the Rebel XT for ten years as of this summer. I got some great great work out of it over the years. But the sad fact is, all the things that make DSLR cameras awesome… the size of the sensor, the high quality lenses, the ability to swap them out… they’re also the big limiting factors. I found I had to plan to use the XT, and when I did, try to guess which lenses I’d want and then lug around a bag with 5-10 lbs of equipment. Dear as it was (in both senses of the word), I found myself leaving it behind most of the time even back then in favour of the S80, which tucked into a fanny pack I carried all the time, and did at least 80% of anything the XT could, and some besides (like video and audio). Now I don’t even carry my S series cameras around anymore… I see something, I take out the Smartphone and click. Send to friends or Flickr right away if I like. No matter how great the image is from the XT, or even the S-100, that kind of utility is just hard to beat. I have a feeling that convergent technologies will make dedicated cameras a real niche market in a few years.

        I haven’t been keeping up with changes in P&S cameras since the S-100. What have Fuji and Sony done to steal a march on Canon?

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        • I have found with my film SLRs that the trick is to take one and only one lens, and make it work for everything you shoot. I also say choose a lens that doesn’t make the camera front heavy, i.e., not a deep zoom lens. Most of the time a standard prime does the trick. For a DSLR I’d choose a 35mm lens; for a film SLR, 50mm.

          But even then, you can’t beat an S camera — image quality not quite at DSLR level and not quite DSLR versatility, but darn close — and it fits in your jeans pocket.

          Here’s deets on what Fuji and Sony are up to:

          http://www.kenrockwell.com/fuji/x100t.htm

          http://www.kenrockwell.com/sony/rx100-mk-iv.htm

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  3. My first thought was ‘Boy, that’s one ugly camera’. (Obviously I wouldn’t say that out loud to it’s face), but moving down I can absolutely see why you use it. That first shot and the tractor are particularly superb.

    You don’t mention how old it is. I have to admit I’m curious to see which (if any) vintage digital cameras will become sought after in 10 or 20 years time, and the reasons why. I can see this being a contender due to that very nice colour signature. So hang on it it, some trendy dude might pay a couple of hundred bucks for it on Ebay in 30 years time!

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    • The Z730 was introduced in 2005. I got my first one refurbed from Kodak in 2007 I think, and after dropping it and breaking it bought a used one off eBay.

      Here’s the problem with “vintage” digital cameras: batteries. The Z730 takes a proprietary battery. I have two. They will one day cease to hold a charge, and by then I doubt new batteries will be available for purchase. Seriously, the digicams that take AAs are more likely to survive.

      I shot an event with my son’s Kodak C613 and it’s got the same color signature: https://blog.jimgrey.net/2009/09/28/afternoon-of-awe/

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  4. Steve Miller says:

    In ’98, the only digital worth working with was a back for a studio camera — as long as we could get into the studio, we could achieve some incredible results. This summer’s vacation in Venice was shot on a little Canon that cost €127 (don’t ask why I had to buy a camera there…). I use my iPhone for nearly everything else.

    This Kodak you’ve shown off is about a close to the saturated colors we got from Kodachrome.

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  5. Excellent shots Jim, the colors are really great! I do have a couple of really old Kodak point and shoot digitals that I hang on to for the same reasons. I hope to get around to posting about them. Glad to see another fan of these older “vintage” digital cameras and those Kodak colors!

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