Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Film’s Last (Hawaii) Hurrah


The camera gremlins were hard at work prior to our recent Hawaii vacation. Both of my working digital cameras were stolen at the Denver dog show in February. I do intend to get another Canon mid-size eventually, probably the G11, but in shopping for new pocket units I found that Best Buy had no Kodaks, and (worse) every damned pocket camera they sold requires that the battery be removed for recharging. The chap there had no idea why this was so, and I still don’t have a good explanation. But that’s idiotic, especially if (as I suspect) it was done to save a quarter’s worth of interior parts in a $500 camera.

My 2005-vintage Kodak V530 pocket camera had both a charger dock and a wall-wart, and the battery never needs to emerge from the camera until you carry it out in its coffin. Alas, the whole camera got carried out in its coffin last fall. My solution was to find a used or (hopefully) NOS Kodak V530 on eBay, and while I looked, I didn’t nail one until just last night, and that didn’t help us with Hawaii. Carol has a Kodak digital camera, but we’ve lost the portable charger, and the only way to recharge it is using her printer dock, which isn’t designed for lugging around.

So about all we could do was dig Carol’s 2001-era Kodak Advantix film camera out of the junk cabinet to see if it still lived. And mirabile dictu! The little CR2 3V battery wasn’t even dead, after not having been used for at least six years.


We put a new battery in it anyway, and it handled the bulk of the photography on our Hawaii adventure. (We bought an underwater film camera for our very corkybobby snorkel trip.) Walgreens no longer has Kodak machines, but Target does, and we got the pictures back a few days ago.

It was interesting to compare digital photos from our 2004 Hawaii trip and our 2005 Bermuda trip to the Advantix film photos. It’s obvious why film is barely twitching: The colors were brighter on the digital shots, and the resolution noticeably better. The photo above is typical; in bright light, Advantix does pretty well. (That’s me in the open car of the Sugar Cane Train, waiting to pull out of Lahaina.) In low light, Advantix got very grainy, and the colors lost most of their subtlety.

Carol paid for digital images on CD, which saved me having to scan prints into our photo archives, and that was quite welcome. One annoyance: The digital images were numbered 1-25, but in reverse order. In other words, photo 25 was the first photo taken on the roll, photo 24 the second taken, and so on. I don’t know if a tech at Target messed this up, or if it was an engineering brainfart associated with the machines.

No matter. My NOS Kodak V530 is on its way, and I’ll be getting a G11 one of these days. But Hawaii reminded us that film is mostly dead for a reason: Color, resolution, convenience, immediacy, and probably a few more. There are probably circumstances where film can still shine, but tourist photography is not one of them.

Boy. Keith and I talked about starting a magazine called Digital Camera Techniques in 1996. We didn’t. Talk about opportunities missed.


  1. Kevin says:

    The biggest advantage for me in digital – the ability to shoot scads of photos indiscriminately. The key to taking good photos is to take many photos.

  2. Erbo says:

    “…every damned pocket camera they sold requires that the battery be removed for recharging.”

    This is why I personally like the Canon PowerShot A-series…they run on bog-standard AA batteries that you can find anywhere, rechargable or not. My old A80 has gotten feeble, though, so it needs replacement one of these days. I bought Pamela a slightly-newer model (that uses SD cards instead of CompactFlash, and only 2 AA batteries instead of 4), which she took with her when she left for Finland.

  3. Jon says:

    The Advantix numbers are probably reversed since APS advances the film all the way to the end and retracts it into the cannister as you shoot.

    As for requiring an external charger, that has the advantage of letting you leave one battery charging while the second’s in the camera and the third’s ready to go. If I needed to charge in the camera I wouldn’t be able to do that. I’d hate to have a camera where I had to pay extra for an external charger. For that matter, I’ve also (twice, for unrelated reasons) had chargers die while I was traveling. I carry backup chargers now.

  4. Tom R. says:

    I second Erbo’s comment about the Canon A series Powershot. We have two, an A540 and an A590 and you can feed them almost anything AA. I bought some good 2600 mah NiMH batteries at a hamfest last fall and charge them in a little wall charger. They seem to last forever between charges. You can swap batteries in about 10 seconds with no tools.

    Although I have not tried it yet I am really amazed by what additional capabilities CHDK add to many of these cameras. Here is a link to their Wiki: It is a hackers dream.

  5. David Grenewetzki says:


    I’ve been totally digital for a long while, but your mention of scanning reminded me of a great service that I used recently to scan all of the 10,000+ pre-digital photos I had sitting in shoe boxes around the house.

    It’s called and they were amazing. The best part is that they almost always have a special posted on their blog page that gives you your first 1,000 scans to CD for free — as I recall you have to pay for postage, but that’s it.

    It’s great to get my old photos into my photo archives where I can easily access them and the guys mentioned above did a great job for me.

    BTW, I’m not associated with them at all other than being a satisfied customer.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *