Cameras, Recommended

Traveling Camera Project

Way back in July, the Feeling Negative? blog started their Traveling Camera Project.  The concept was that a cheapo 35mm camera would be mailed from person to person around the world with each person shooting a roll of film in the same camera.  It sounded like fun, so I signed up to take part.  The map of where the camera has been so far can be found here, but I’m not sure how well it’s been kept up to date.

I received the camera from Janne in Osaka who blogged about his experience, too.  The camera being used for this project is the Vivitar Mariner, available at Amazon in a waterproof case for the extraordinary price of $100, used.  Ours was missing the waterproof case and only cost $5.  After using it I can say the value is much closer to $5 than $100.  It’s basically a disposable camera that you can reload film into.  The Mariner is fixed-focus with only one aperture and shutter speed setting.  You truly do just point and shoot.  Where you’re pointing is not so precise, however, since the tiny viewfinder covers maybe 70% of the image captured on the film.  The lens is 28mm and has the typical chromatic aberration and blurry corners of all plastic lenses.  Of course, blurry corners implies that something in the image is sharp, which requires luck.  It’s a fun camera to shoot with and is capable of some nice lo-fi shots, if you’re into that sort of thing.

If you read camera reviews of modern DSLR’s, you’ll often come across complaints about entry-level cameras having poor build quality and employing too much plastic in their construction.  They obviously have never used the Mariner.  Without batteries (batteries are optional), the camera feels like it could break at any second.  Luckily, simplicity comes to the rescue, so the only things that could break are the shutter, the winding knob, or the light seals.  I think the winding knob and the light seals were broken.  The frame counter stayed at “1” after I had taken at least 5 shots and then it all of a sudden jumped to “6” on the next shot.  Advancing the film in between shots is…imprecise.  I was shocked when all of my photos came back and weren’t half overlapping.  You can see in this shot that the camera is prone to light leaks, but this was the only picture where it showed up.

It was fun to take part in the Traveling Camera Project.  I can’t pass up an opportunity to try out a new camera and it’s fun to watch it make its way around the world.

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2 thoughts on “Traveling Camera Project

  1. Mmm…Steak & Shake. Living in South Korea for a year, I find myself drooling a little without even realizing it. And I didn’t realize you were so tall, but looking at the shadow photo I can tell you are probably much taller than me.

    On the serious side, I love a couple of the beach photos. They feel like they should be printed on those little 3×5 rounded corner prints from the ’70s and early ’80s. Very cool that you participated in the project. I know about the project but haven’t really kept up with it.

    On a side note, what do you think about the site update over at Feeling Negative?(?) I like that it makes things a little more accessible and easy to find.

  2. My wife and I ate at the Steak & Shake in Florida. I had eaten there lots when I’d visit my family in the midwest, but I had no idea they had a presence in Florida. Delicious.

    I traveled a bit myself with the traveling camera and I’m amazed at the exposure latitude of color negative film. Using the exact same exposure, I took shots in overcast Seattle and on a sunny beach in Florida. I’m glad you liked the beach shots. I’m really on the fence about the lo-fi style stuff. It’s just too easy to use a lo-fi setup to add character to a dull shot and call it a day.

    I usually read the articles from Feeling Negative? in a feed reader, so I didn’t notice the update, but it looks like it’s organized really well. I think the home page is a little cluttered, though, and would be intimidating for a first-time visitor. The layout works better on the individual blog post pages where it’s easy to navigate without looking so cluttered.

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