I had a camera.

When the Micro Four Thirds mirrorless digital cameras first came out, I decided I was going to take the plunge and get myself a “good” camera. The one I ended up buying was an Olympus E-PL1. I guess camera geeks recognize that model as not being great, but at the time, it took what I thought were pretty amazing photos.

Over the years though, I didn’t really spend as much time as I thought I would taking pictures, and once cell phones started to have decent cameras, the E-PL1 got relegated to a shelf, except when Deb was using it to do product shots for Sheep’s Ahoy.

Today when I was cleaning up my stash of old USB cables — a bigger task than it might seem; I ended throwing out close to 50(!) — I actually found the camera’s custom USB cable, which had been missing for years. This sparked my interest in the old beast enough to recharge it’s battery and take some shots, to see how it compares to my iPhone’s camera.

I won’t keep you in suspense: The iPhone 8P’s photos were better. I thought that the larger sensor in the E-PL1 might let it take better low light photos, but the images were just as noisy as the iPhone’s, if not worse.

As a quick comparison, here’s one representative photo from each:

By just about any measure, the iPhone picture is better: warmer, less noise, sharper. Oh well. And Deb’s XR takes even better pictures than the 8P! I can’t even say that the E-PL1 had better manual shooting features, since at least for my amateur needs Halide does just as much, and I could even get additional lenses if I wanted to.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize there are still digital cameras out there that take much better photos than any cell phone. They’re just not priced to make sense for anyone who isn’t going to make a serious commitment to photography (like my friend John). I’m happy with the pictures I take on my phone, and I’m sure when I upgrade to the iPhone 12 Pro (or whatever it ends up being called) they’ll be even better. 😉

Good Service Alert

When Deb and I were in Halifax last Summer, I purchased a Kodak Playsport Zx3 video camera. It proved to be a perfectly capable little outdoor camera, with 1080p recording capability, image stabilization and a waterproof shell, all for $130. Not bad. Since then, I have also pressed it into service to record numerous family events, and except for a bit too much color noise in low light situations, it has worked well.

Unfortunately, about a week ago, it developed a dark spot in the image sensor as you can see from this still frame from a test movie I shot:

A spot on the frame

The weird thing about this is, if I pointed the camera at a bright light source and then back where it was originally, the spot would disappear and would stay gone even if I waited until the light level stabilized again. However, a minute or so after that point, the dark area would reappear.

Given that I only paid $130 for the camera, I figured it probably wouldn’t make sense to try to get it repaired — most camera places won’t even assess a camera repair for less than $75, let alone do the work — but just as I was about to toss it on my “junk tech toy” pile I remembered that I had actually spent the extra $20 for an extended warrantee for it. So, instead of junking it, I hunted around for the original receipt and then headed off to the local Staples.

Now, remember the Staples where I originally bought the camera was in Halifax, so I wasn’t confident that they were going to be able to do anything for me in any case, but as soon as I walked into the one in Barrhaven I was met by someone who listened to my explanation of the problem, took a quick look at my bill, and then simply handed me a new camera. They didn’t even make me hang around while they did the associated paperwork, but simply initialed my bill to indicate that an exchange had been made and then sent me on my way.

I must say first that the $20 was apparently money well spent, but more than that, I can honestly say that I have never had a better customer service experience. If only all stores dealt with customers this well! GJ, Staples. Thanks.