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18 September 2010

Remember how it used to be? Just the thing for older folks who, as everyone knows, just canít get the hang of these new fangled computer machine contraptions
I actually think this is kind of nice. Of course, no one who doesn't feel they need it won't buy it. I just wonder if they help people find a place to get film processed, because that's not as easy as it used to be.

It's too bad they didn't re-engineer the film camera to work more like a digital camera. Everybody loves digital preview, and in my film shooting days I would have found that an immensely good aid to learning composition. It's a thousand times easier to frame and properly light a shot when you can see how the lens perceives it. Being able to use the telephoto, autoadjusting, and preview tools in an easy snapshot film camera would be awesome. You can get high-end cameras that do all that, but not cheapies.

It's true that lots of older people can breeze through uploading and photo editing and organization, and this becomes more true as the older generation is increasingly composed of people who dealt with technology in their working life, but for a lot of people, this kind of process is still problematic. The cable for my camera is pretty small and fiddly - I sometimes fumble the USB end trying to plug it in, and I don't have arthritis or numbness in my hands or vision trouble. Working with photoediting software isn't intuitive unless you've grown up with it - there are a lot of enhancement options, some shown only with an icon. It could be bewildering. Where word processing/emailing at least have an analogue in, well, analog technology (typewriters, documents, letters) film processing has always been pretty opaque to people who never got into a photo lab themselves. To learn it at the age of 70 might be a fun project for some, but others would just decide they don't have the time, interest, or aptitude, and just give up in frustration like the dude in the video. If you already know a Qwerty keyboard and know how to write and can learn a few file commands, you can go from typing to word processing. But it's a bigger leap from dropping off your film to uploading, editing, titling, sorting, saving, and sharing photos.

I think this points more to a serious need for accessible design for new technology than to old people and their befuddlement. Yeah, it's ridiculous how they're calling this a "new camera" when you could grab something similar at a flea market, or probably have one in your closet. But it has made me think about the difficulties that a digital camera might pose for some older folks.

posted by Miko 18 September | 08:50
I'm not exactly old (well, 52) and I have real issues with the surface finish on a lot of digital point-and-shoots. That is, the slick anodized surfaces of so many cameras makes it extremely difficult to get a secure grip on them. I can't imagine someone with even slight arthritis trying to hang on to these slippery little boxes. Add to that the problem that a lot of these same cameras offer only meager finger holds, or other raised areas for gaining a finger-hold. It's almost as if some of these cameras are designed to be dropped.
posted by Thorzdad 18 September | 10:23
I never noticed that, but my wife commented about that with her cell phone which she frequently drops.

As for the video, they lost me at, "inexpensive 35mm film." When you take into account processing, you could almost buy a color printer for every three rolls of film.
posted by Doohickie 18 September | 11:11
Everybody loves digital preview, and in my film shooting days I would have found that an immensely good aid to learning composition.

This was the thing that sold me on digital cameras. The first time a friend snapped a shot of me and then showed me the photo, I was sold. That, and the ability to snapsnapsnap until the memory is full, which I can't get used to. I think of each shot as a piece of film used up.

Thorzdad, I always find a little spot designed to slip a piece of cord through, which I can then put around my wrist. Grew up sailing = habitually tether valuable items to my body. Have I just been lucky that every digital camera I've used has one? I kind of assumed it was near-universal.
posted by Elsa 18 September | 11:34
Yeah, I was expecting this to have digital preview but use regular film, which would be neat for people that would like that. But it's just a camera like any other cheap camera you probably already own, that's gathering dust somewhere in your house. Nothing new about it.

I would never, never go back to film. I love being able to take a bunch of shots and delete all but the best of them. (I hate pictures of myself so this is super-valuable to me.) And you can know right away if you need to take more pictures to get a good one or if you're fine and you have a good one already (necessary for family pictures, I find, to know right away if the pic is great but someone's making a goofy face and you need to retake it). It's just so much cheaper and so much more immediate. And you don't ever have to worry about your local drugstore thinking bathtub pics of your babies are child pr0n. =P
posted by flex 18 September | 12:03
I... I... I just don't know what to say.

My 59-year-old mother, who enjoys being a victim of This Modern World We Live In, uses her 1972 Nikomat for artistic pictures of what I like to refer as "vegetables in compromising positions." But I think it's just because she likes keeping the grocery store photo kiosk in business.
posted by Madamina 18 September | 13:17
For those who did not read the full description:
This video has not been posted as a commercial for the product featured. It was posted by Blue Moon Studios, the company that produced the commercial. This is not an advertisement.
posted by Ardiril 18 September | 13:31
I used to love 35mm film and cameras, but I am never going back. I love the previewing, the ability to upload, the ability to take enormous numbers of pictures, the tweaking I can do on my own computer, and the speed and control I get over printing them myself (which I do very rarely anymore.) If you really want to pass your photos around, you can get your digital pictures put into an album through one of the online services. That's what I did to show people my dog's progression from rescue to now, for example.
posted by bearwife 18 September | 16:15
This is a guy who used to make ads with Billy Mays. The Vivitar 35mm does appear to be a real product albeit with the name licensed to something called "Telebrands" aka "the original As Seen on TV company" (the real Vivitar appears to be exclusively digital, surprise surprise). In other words, this is neither spec material nor ironic dorkiness -- it's sheer unvarnished dorkiness in service of volume merchandising.

There is something about this -- it even undercuts the Lomography cameras in price point, and competes with single-use cameras like the venerable Kodak Fun Saver.
posted by dhartung 18 September | 17:08
I was fan early adopter to digital and would never go back to film, if only because you end up missing so many good shots for fear of wasting film. It was like heaven to me when I bought my latest digital camera that can hold several hundred photos as well as HD video in a card.
posted by dg 18 September | 19:50
I love film. I love not being able to see my picture right away, and I love that I have to carefully edit myself when I choose how to commit a scene to film. I love black and white film, I love the darkroom, I love the smelly chemicals - all of it. (I don't, however, love the expense.) I'm 21.

(I also do digital, so I'm not a technophobe or anything, but there's just something about film.)
posted by unsurprising 18 September | 20:21
3D Printer || The Chessboard Killer