Unlike most of my camera purchases, the Panasonic DMC-FZ5 was not a replacement but an addition. The Canon A75 was still functioning and I intended it to be my “pocket camera”. That didn’t last long. After the cap popped off of the shutter button, taking a picture required pushing something into the small hole that had been below the cap. Although the camera otherwise functioned quite well, digging up and inserting a paper clip for every picture was a serious impediment to spontaneity. In March of 2006, I gave the A75 away and, still believing I needed a true pocket camera, bought a slightly used Nikon Coolpix 3200 for $70. The model had been on the market for a couple of years with an initial list price around $300. It runs on good old AA batteries, uses SD memory, and even has some built-in memory to store several images if necessary. It has 3.2 megapixel resolution and a a 3X zoom. Particularly endearing to me is the fact that it has something becoming quite rare in small digital cameras: a viewfinder.
I still have the 3200 and it still works. I still carry it in my computer bag but it has been a long time since I slipped it into a pocket. One reason is that the FZ5 and its immediate successor fit comfortably in a belt bag that I wear a lot. A second is that cell phone cameras have long been capable of meeting my “I’d rather have a crappy picture than no picture” requirements. I have a vague recollection of actually using a cell phone photo in a trip report but I can’t remember what it was so maybe I really didn’t.
I have used quite a few pictures from the 3200. In the days before I realized how easy it was to carry the FZ5 in the belt bag, the 3200 was in my pocket a lot and got used a little. Then, on a trip in Missouri, it got a field promotion to Number One Image Recording Device.
It was the third day of a four day outing on Boone’s Lick Road. The FZ5 came with a fairly nice neck strap but that seemed unnecessarily awkward to me so I fitted the lightweight Panasonic with a wrist strap. The strap was around my right wrist and the camera in my hand as I headed down the path to the spring at Boone’s Lick. The path was basically dirt and gravel but there were a few wood fronted steps at the steeper parts. It had been raining, the wood was wet, and I slipped on one of the steps. No prizes will be awarded for guessing which hand I used to catch myself or what I banged against the ground. The lens had been extended and that’s the way it has stayed to this very day. Cycling power on the camera triggers a soft whir as it attempts to retract the lens but it soon gives up and shuts down.
The little 3200 answered the call and performed admirably through the remainder of the trip. Among the images it captured are the only pictures I have of the Missouri Madonna of the Trail Monument in Lexington.
I acquired some new gear today by joining the Mug Club at the Flipdaddy’s down the street; The one with 36 taps. There’s no price break but member’s mugs are several ounces larger than the standard glasses which means I can now get drunker and fatter at no extra cost.