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                   Wednesday, May 2, 2007 - 2:40PM

End of a free digital camera era

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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My old Fuji Finepix 4700 (4.7 megapixel) digital camera finally breathed its last on the way out west for our first Plains trip last week. The gears inside the lens mechanism have evidently stripped or jammed, as the lens will not focus, zoom or retract back inside the camera. This ends quite an impressive 7-year run for this otherwise unremarkable electronic device.


RIP: Fuji FinePix 4700

Possibly the greatest thing about this camera is that it was free. I purchased it online in 2000 from the site of a company called 'First Auction' for $650. That sounds expensive, but remember, that was 7 years ago. Back then, this camera was cutting-edge in terms of resolution. About two weeks after the camera arrived, I noticed that First Auction had not charged my credit card for it. I went back to their web site to get a phone number, and was greeted by a page that said they were now out of business! Nevertheless, I dug deeper and found an email address and phone number. The phone number didn't work, and my emails to them over the next two weeks went unanswered. That sounds noble of me, but in reality I just didn't want to be hit with the $650 charge months or more later. In the end, I was never charged for the camera!

My friends have been bugging me for a long time to get a digital SLR, and now it seems would be the time to do it. But besides not really having the money for a nice DSLR now, I'm definately become more of a video guy. That's where my focus has been, where my money has been invested, and what I expect to be focusing on for the forseeable future. However, that being said, I do need a digital still camera. Even though the old 4700 was a piece of junk compared to what is available now, I still used it frequently for web, graphics, and general scenic photography, and it did just fine right up until the end of its life.

So, today I'm heading to Best Buy and Circuit City to shop for a new camera. I'm not ordering it online because I want to have it for the next Plains trip, which I may be leaving for tomorrow. My budget for this is small, only $250 or so - but from what I've seen online, even that can get me a nice model that has nearly twice the resolution that my old one did. And for now and in the near future, that's all I can see myself needing. My old Pentax K1000 35mm film SLR still serves lightning duty when needed.

In a final 'memorial' to the old 4700, here are a few notable shots from the camera over the years (scaled down for this page, not full resolution!).


Pittsburgh at sunset


New River rafters


May 29, 2001 supercell, Texas


Perfect weather & Nebraska highway


Forest fire on mountains at night, WV


Car anemometer and Sears Tower


World Trade Center, October 2001


June 12, 2005 Texas tornado


Matt and I shooting Pittsburgh photos


Pittsburgh fireworks


Mulvane, Kansas tornado


Implosion dust from Three Rivers Stadium


WV road after thunderstorm

25 Years of Storm Observing
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