Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Old Fashioned

I've been playing around with a weird lungfish of a digital camera as part of a project to revive a moribund blog.

Digital cameras of that vintage can be hard to use. Some used built-in flash memory and required specialized cables or docking stations to get the images off. Others used defunct memory card formats that can be hard to find these days or, even if they use a card format that's still around, are limited to tiny card sizes that are almost as difficult to source. Power-wise, while some used simple CR123 or AA batteries, many used specialized battery packs that are currently unobtainium.

The Mavica FD-88, though, records its images on 3.5" 1.44MB floppies. If you haven't thrown away all your old AOL Free Trial Install discs or used them as beer coasters, they can be formatted and pressed into use. Also, while ten-packs of Verbatim floppies may not be on the shelf at the corner drug store, they're still available on Amazon. While we're a long way from the days where every desktop tower had a floppy drive for emergency boot purposes, you can get USB-powered 3.5" external drives easily enough. Be aware, however, that while they'll run fine off a desktop or laptop, your iPad probably doesn't have enough ass to spin a 3.5" floppy drive.

Further, while the Mavica does use a proprietary Sony battery pack rather than a double handful of AA batteries, the NP-F550 was used as a common power source for consumer and professional Sony video equipment and is still widely available. It even uses the same "InfoLithium" technology used on current Sony camera batteries.

Even if you get your Mavica FD88 off eBay or out of the bargain bin at your local camera shop, the instruction manual is still available in PDF on Sony's site.

If you want to amaze your friends by recording photos or low res 320x240 MPEG video on a giant plastic SAVE icon, it's pretty inexpensive and accessible fun.