Fun with Old Cameras

nikon_d70Well, old is perhaps a bit much. I should say, old for the digital era. It’s the Nikon D70 I’m speaking of, which was our first, and last, Nikon digital SLR before dad jumped ship to Canon. It is a tank of a camera, with a strong polycarbonate body which is very well proportioned, and fairly hefty. It has a 6.1 megapixel sensor, which may seem paltry in comparison to even mobile phone cameras, but you’ve got to remember that megapixels aren’t everything. The sensor size coupled with a good lens means that this almost 10 year old camera still has potential to take some great photos. It takes a bit more work than current DSLRs, and isn’t quite as point and shoot, but if you can navigate around manual controls it has a lot of potential. I was just messing around with an old Nikkor 50mm f2.0, but the shots I got were sharp and punchy, though without live view focusing can be tricky at times. Using the camera feels closer to traditional film SLRs, and one of the best parts about it, now that compact flash cards are so cheap and the 6.1 MP files are relatively small, you can shoot in raw until you go blue in the face but you still will struggle to fill up a 2GB CF card. Again, this gives you more flexibility in Photoshop, allowing you to play about with the exposure and colours that you would not be able to achieve with JPEGs.

Demijohns, taken with Nikon D70 and 50mm f/2.0

Demijohns, taken with Nikon D70 and 50mm f/2.0

Sometimes I disregard the D70, lying in the corner, just because it is old. Being old has not impacted on its ability to take quality shots, so it has definitely tempted me to make it my main camera. At least until I cave and buy a Canon 100D. For the moment though, the D70 will do just fine. The photo in the header was taken with the same camera and lens, looking at my reflection in a humbucker pickup cover of my Epiphone Les Paul guitar.

If you haven’t played it, you should definitely go and play the Curse of Monkey Island. It is a point and click adventure game designed by LucasArts, and a breath of fresh air compared with most modern titles. It takes a while getting used to the slower pace and endless puzzles, but it is very rewarding when you figure out the solution. This seems to happen rarely for me, and most of my time is spent wandering back and forth hoping someone hints at what to do next, or failing that, sneakily alt-tabbing into the  walkthrough opened in Chrome. Like the other games in the series, you play Guybrush Threepwood, a sort-of mighty pirate, who has just escaped capture from the dread (dead) pirate LeChuck, and met up with his girlfriend. Thanks to a cursed ring, however, she is promptly turned into a solid gold statue. Guybrush sets out to figure what’s going on, and to lift the curse.

Choose your weapon: gun...or banjo

Choose your weapon: gun…or banjo

Some of the puzzles are just plain mad, and next to impossible to figure out initially, though when you see the solution they are often incredibly simple. The strategy is to investigate absolutely everything, and talk to every character about every little thing, because deep in their rambling (but often hilarious) conversations, there may be some key truth to figuring out the next step. The dialogue is very well written, and there are an abundance of options. Characters react too if you change the environment, for example, if you’re supposed to be stealing a gold tooth and you pick it up from the floor, you can’t leave without being questioned about it. Therefore you have to devise an elaborate plan to remove it from the premises without it being in your inventory. And then there is the downright absurd – the banjo duel, just one particular example. If you have no patience, I’d say steer well clear, but if you stick at it, it is a fantastic game and well worth the effort. Just like Grim Fandango, which is another LucasArts classic (and referenced a few times in this game!).

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