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Digital Cameras Go Disposable 221

iforgotmyfirstlogon writes: "Three Japanese companies are trying to make money off "disposable" digital cameras. You pay for using the camera, take it back to the store to get your pictures, and they recycle the camera so someone else can use it CNN story here. I think it's just a matter of (little) time before hordes of enterprising geeks figure out how to get the pics out and reuse it without paying the fee, or simply gut the camera for parts. Can't see how they'll make money..." And at $16 for .3 megapixels, this sounds like more of a novelty than a bargain, considering that 4-megapixel cameras are available now for less than a thousand dollars.
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Digital Cameras Go Disposable

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  • I've got a disposable digital camera right here. My friend called it an "Imac", but whatever.
    • LOL, this is really funny. Mod this parent up.

      Seriously, though, I'm an aspiring EE, it couldn't be hard to tear that thing down. This is, without a doubt, one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard of. As a matter of fact, this is right up there with the infamous list:

      Copy-protected CDs

      the RIAA legally hacking your boxen for mp3s

      DoS'ing your boxen if you trade mp3s, moviez, et al

      There are 2^1024 stupid people in the world. The list above is a marginal fraction of that number.

  • I agree, these will not be around long. They are not a terrible idea though, someone just needs to make ones out of better technology. Right now the picture is probably on par with a webcam.
  • A similar cost argument could have applied to disposable cameras and yet they do have their uses and have a real market. I think this could be a great replacement for those disposable cameras, although I agree that there may be a problem with people hacking them. Perhaps they'll use a "deposit" like for bottles or credit card guarantee like for hotel rooms.
    • Re:economics (Score:2, Insightful)

      I have to disagree. One of the great selling points of a disposable camera is that you can bring it somewhere and you don't have to worry about losing or breaking it. If you do you've lost a few pictures and you're out $10-$15. I can't imagine the digital camera renter's being as forgiving, even if it is a low-end model.

    • Nah, the beauty of disposable 35mm cameras is that I can buy one at the gift shop in the airport in Cincinnati during my layover on the way to Ft. Lauderdale, then wait to get the pics developed when I get to Denver instead of having to make a trip back to where I bought the camera. The only way this'll be a real moneymaker is if some big chain (think Wal-mart, Texaco, etc.) does a nationwide thing and lets you get the prints printed at any location.
  • Cassio released a few days ago, and cheaper too.

    and is not wrist mounted...
  • What's the point? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dark Legend ( 125785 )
    What's the point? if you have to take it back to the shop U might as well use a normal camera and get the pics developed in 1hr??? just why???
  • "Profit-making relies on how many cameras we can collect and how many times we can recycle them, which can be recycled for several times," says Katsuhiko Miyata, an Asahi Optical spokesperson, noting that the manufacturing cost of the camera, even at this quality level, is still more than the service fee.

    This is going to have the same problem those subscription-based internet appliances had. As soon as someone figures out how to hack these into a webcam, people are going to buy them and not return them.

    As the company spokesperson admitted, the problem is the cost differential. They're depending on a certain percentage of customers actually returning the cameras X number of times. If they can hit that percentage and that X, they're good.

    My guess is the first person to put out information on how to hack one of these is going to get slapped with a lawsuit.
    • Unless they ask for credit card number before you return it. Keep it, and they charge you.

      Honestly, I don't see the difference in this and just renting one...
      • My guess is the first person to put out information on how to hack one of these is going to get slapped with a lawsuit.

      Please, try to remember this. Not all the countries have stupid laws (like DMCA or SSSCA) to avoid this kind of hacking.

      There are many other places where you have the right of full free speech (different from limited free speech, AKA as DMCA limitations).

      I don't think Dmitri was dumb, he just haven't even imagined that in the so called country of freedom he would have full free speech, just like he have now a days in Russia.

    • My guess is the first person to put out information on how to hack one of these is going to get slapped with a lawsuit

      Perhaps to make it harder to crack whenever you fail to give the camera the right handshake it dumps the charge it normally uses to fire the flash (speedlight) into the I/O port frying everything on the other side...


    • Not really, the Iopener and other net appliences have all had the same problems.
      Bad advertising. Every person interested in computer I know have heard of these things, but not one person who would actually be in the demograpihic for these ever heard of one. A net applience would be great for my mother, and her friends, but that demographic wasn't marketed to.
      Net apppliences locked you into one dial-up.
      Some people will hack these cameras, but I will wager the end product from hacking just won't be worth the effors, except as an intellectual exercise. As opposed to hacking something and getting something you can use regularly to replace a more expencive item.
      The current market for regular cameras that are disposable is huge, and they can be hacked.
      Most people will be attracted to there convience. pay 3 bucks, snap you pictures drop them off in the mail, get a disk with the picturs on it before you get home from vacation.
    • Or another way of thinking about it, if you were a competitor, what's the best way to crush your competition?

      Buy lots of their cameras and junk them!
  • by WillSeattle ( 239206 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:05PM (#2447697) Homepage
    Seriously, I'd love to rent a high-end digital camera, cause I can't justify wasting more than $300 on buying something I don't use that often.

    But I'd love to rent one when I have guests from out of town, fill it up with pictures of us doing the town, take it back and get the pictures.

    Will they be offering those digital movie cameras too? This is something I'd also be willing to rent, take it on a short trip, maybe film a ski trip with friends, then turn it in.

    • I don't think that the issue is whether or not people will pay the $16 or what have you for the camera. The issue is whether the company will lose money on people hacking the cameras. Remember, if they can get in to get your pics (even if they encrypt the data), you can get in too. It's only a matter of time before someone figures out how to get the pics out, and/or bypass whatever security measures are in place.

      The only way I see this working is if they place a hold on your credit card for the value of the camera. The problem is, most people won't want a $300+ hold on their card just for this.

      Besides, at $10 to $20 per use, you could've bought your own unlimited use digital camera after 15 or so uses of which you would probably need 4 or so uses per trip. It just doesn't pay.
    • Seriously, I'd love to rent a high-end digital camera, cause I can't justify wasting more than $300 on buying something I don't use that often

      These are not high end, 0.3Mpixels is not enough to make a good 4x6 print (2.1Mpixels is more then enough).

      Places like Penn camera do rent high end digital cameras (Nikon D1, D1h, D1x, Canon EOS-D30, and I would assume the EOS-1D in a few months), but they run more like $100 to $300 a day (oddly enough a weekend is one "day").

      I think you are going to be better off "renting" one of the disposable film cameras. The quality from them is pretty bad (far worse then a good $100 film P&S like the Stylus, or T4), but a lot better then 0.3Mpixels!

    • I'd love to rent a high-end digital camera

      The problem is that these are not high-end.

      They're very low end. I have a D-link with more than double the resolution that cost me $120 Canadian - that's about $65 US.. at that rate, you rent the thing 4 times and you might as well have bought one (and have a better camera to boot!)

      Agred, if you could rent a high-end one, that MIGHT make it work better, but the current cost is way too high for what you're getting.
  • Bargains (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dmorin ( 25609 ) < minus bsd> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:07PM (#2447711) Homepage Journal
    You're telling me that of all the people who might benefit from a digital camera, that the majority will see 4megapixels for "under a thousand" as the better buy? For a large part of the universe, "under a thousand" could very well mean "more than I paid for the whole PC in the first place". When the heck did our perspective on price get to be Rain-Man? How much is geek toy X? Bout a thousand dollars.....

    We got my dad his digital camera about 4 years ago. Cost like $400. I'm sure its resolution is a tiny fraction of what can be done now. But he's gotten 4 years out of it and is still going strong. He's still the hit of the family parties. Still the only one in the immediate fam that even has one. If we're at a point now where the disposal version can do even a piece of what his can, I'm sure they will be an instant best seller, not a novelty.

    • Exactly.

      Would this camera find a market where under $1000 is a years income.
      • Oh yeah, there's a huge market for digital cameras in Albania. People display the pictures on their PCs.

        Oh wait. Most places where the yearly wage is under USD1000, most people won't have PCs and will be buying food instead of renting cameras.

        This rental scheme might be good if you needed a Camera *now* and didn't care about quality. But the resolution is low and the price doesn't look much better than film. If it allows people to browse the pictures and delete crap to make room for more shots it might be good.

        But anyways, if you're willing to pay $15 or so to rent a camera, you're probably in the market to buy one. The fact that 3Mp cameras are under a grand makes 1Mp cameras about $150...
    • You can now get 2megapixels for about $200 US. I got one a couple of weeks ago, and I don't think I could find a use for anything greater. 2megapixels is 1200x1600, which is full screen at the resolution I run at.
      • Re:Bargains (Score:3, Interesting)

        by stripes ( 3681 )
        I don't think I could find a use for anything greater. 2megapixels is 1200x1600, which is full screen at the resolution I run at

        In a word: printing

        2Megapixels from most digital cameras (say the Canon PowerShot 100) will not make a good 8x10 print. The Nikon D1 is a pretty big exception, it's 2.7Mpixels can make decent 8x10 prints, you have probably seen some on the cover of Newsweek or Time. However it has exceptionally noise free images (as does the EOS-D30, Nikon D1x, and Nikon D1h, and some of the other $2000+ digital cameras).

        Another good reason to have excess pixels is for cropping. Most good photos have their subject off center, like about 1/3rd over and up or down. Most cameras either only have a central focus point, or have the best focus point at the center, so cropping is useful. It is also useful if your viewfinder doesn't show a 100% view...

        Wander over to DP review [] (digital photography, not double penetration) and see how disappointed people are that the new Canon EOS-1D has only 4.1Mpixels!

        • But not many people print 8x10s. 4x5 or 5x6 is as big as the average person goes.
          • Re:Bargains (Score:3, Interesting)

            by stripes ( 3681 )
            But not many people print 8x10s. 4x5 or 5x6 is as big as the average person goes.

            Yes, but see my reply to the other message almost like yours []. Also for no apparent reason large digital prints seem to cost less then large wet prints, er film prints. Like $10+ for a 8x10 or 8x12 from film, vs. $3 at,, or any of a dozen (down from 100 last year) other places. Oh wait, that's the reason ".com" :-)

            The lower cost may give some incentive to having larger prints made.

            Even if not, it is pretty nice for ray tracings (my former hobby), ofoto even does 16x20 prints now...

    • I too gagged on the notion that "less than a thousand dollars" enough of a bargain to squeeze a $16 product out of the market.

      I see this a the Polaroid of the future, and part of the reason that the Polaroid of the past is circling the drain.

      It used to be that if you were headed to a wedding or to the beach or to a graduation and you wanted a cheap way to take some pictures and make prints with no hassles, you could go to a drug store, pay $30 bucks or so for a cheap Polaroid and a cartridge or two of film, and you were in business. No advanced planning required. No photographic ability. Just point, shoot and share pictures.

      This product seems to have the same virtues, so I don't see why it doesn't have a decent chance of success.
      • Re:Bargains (Score:2, Insightful)

        by swv3752 ( 187722 )
        Except that one can get a $50-$100 camera that is three times what that one is. Plus, you can save your pictures to a Flopy or cd or whatever and have some kodak film place develop them if you want. Or just do it online. Remember the Kodak & Microsoft spat a few weeks ago over XP? It was just for processing Digital Film to Prints online.

        heck they give the cameras away when you buy some cheap computer peripheral like scanners. And the scanners only go for $100-$200.
    • Re:Bargains (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bill_kress ( 99356 )
      I just bought a camera on sale at Frys for $20--no rebate either, it was $30 off a $50 camera. It also included cabling and software.

      How is $16 for something you essentially rent better?
  • Any reason you can't keep it and continue to use use it... or there a contract / restions on the camera ?
  • A buddy of mine is interning in Japan, and has told me stories about these things.

    Aparently in his city (Kyoto, iirc) these things are around in a few places. He had the oppurtunity to play around with one, and the pictures were pretty good. He sent a few to me, and I could definatly tell they were low quality, but they were definatly useable for anything you'd use a disposable

    I personally can't wait until these get to America. Should be fun to hack. Aparently he opened one up and it looks like there is a removable chip in it, that he thinks is the memory. He's working on figuring out how to access it. He has a website about it that I'll post when I get back home to my bookmarks.
  • Oh, cmon! (Score:2, Informative)

    by lumpenprole ( 114780 )

    Normal digital cameras are down to like a hundred bucks for the cheap ones! I know that's not free, but the attraction of disposable film cameras has always been that they're not that much more expensive than the film. This way, you take 15 pictures, you've just paid for a camera with unlimited "film". Who's really going to use this?

    • My wife, maybe?

      I just bought her a Polaroid I-Zone Digital combo for 30 bucks and she's thrilled. Sure, she'd love something with better than 640x480. But odds are good she'll lose this thing within the year.

      I wanted to buy her a true digicam, but, as much as she loves photography (for scrapbooking/family projects), she couldn't stomach the $400-odd price (plus printer).

      I'm sure someday she'll *WANT* a real camera, but until then, she's very satisfied with the Polaroid.

      - "But this is HDTV...It's got better resolution than Real Life"

  • I think it's just a matter of (little) time before hordes of enterprising geeks figure out how to get the pics out and reuse it without paying the fee, or simply gut the camera for parts..."

    All the manufacturer has to do is "encrypt" the camera's internal memory by XOR'ing it with 0xFF and then getting the data out of it is a DMCA violation, at least in the U. S. of A.
    • Re:Why worry? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:18PM (#2447779) Homepage
      The manuyfacturer is not the copyright holder. The photographer is. Those disposable cameras from Kodak "encrypt" photographs by storing them in an unusable state, substituting for each color the complementary one. (They call these "negatives"). Kodak develops (or could, anyway) the pictures for you but does not hold the copyright.

      I suppose it would be possible to award the copyright to the manufacturer in the rental agreement, rendering my point moot.
      • Kodachrome used to be patented and had to be developed by Kodak. Might still be that way. I just used Ektachrome. Almost as good, and I could develop it at home.
  • a disposable OS! Oh, wait... we already have one... hmmm.

    .3Mpix though... not really very good now is it... I wonder if these will fly outside of the tech-hungry Japanese market?

  • We can just go to the library and borrow a camera for free for one day(though we don't have that many cameras to go around). Oh yeah, and we can take as many pictures as we want.

    The above system seems much better than what these japanese folks are doing. It would seem rather costly to make digital cameras that are restricted in use. Why not just let people borrow it for x amounts of hours or a day? The only problem there is figuring out how much people are willing to pay for a day's use of a digital camera.

  • At JC Penny, Walmart, ToysRUs, etc...
  • You're renting the camera and paying for someone to make prints. Both costs are bundled into one charge. Shit I could do this at Kinko's today. Even if I don't have a PC I can bring my camera to Kinko's download the images and manipulate them myself. If I want I can even burn a PhotoCD and hand that off to anyone to make an unlimited number of prints.

    I don't see how this 'disposable' makes any sense.
  • that's a laugh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:12PM (#2447751) Journal
    And at $16 for .3 megapixels, this sounds like more of a novelty than a bargain, considering that 4-megapixel cameras are available now for less than a thousand dollars.

    Yeah! I mean, for the low price of 50 of these, you could buy a high end camera!

    Seriously, high definition isn't really as important as an accurate picture. even a decent 640x480 picture is fine, as long as the picture is accurate(no glitchy pixels). my USB webcam sucks in this regard except outdoors in summer (and even then it's not always a sure thing). Spending 16 bucks for a camera to go on vacation and take a few pictures sounds fine.
    • Sure, but for $16 you could buy a tried and tested regular disposable camera, which will give you better quality pics.

      The only thing digital adds is a preview screen and perhaps 15min wait to print out instead of 30min for film. Tho it'll be heavier, and have a battery life. What if you buy one with an almost dead battery?

      Seriously, we have a 24min film processing here.
  • The cnn article doen't mention if you even get the pictures in digital form.

    It won't last for a number of already mentioned reasons:

    1. 640x480 isn't good enough, even for $16.
    2. many of the camera's will be hacked (I'm looking forward to trying).
    3. the quality of the print won't approach other disposable cameras that are cheaper.

  • At the store, they can view all the photo images on a display screen and choose any 24 images to be printed.

    Excuse me, but I'm not paying 20 bucks to ent a digital camera so i can just print the pictures on some paper. If all you want is hardcopys then go buy a 35 mm camera for 20 bucks, and you're way ahead of the game. These guys need to get a clue and at least let you ave the images to a floppy.

    • Personally I tend to agree with you. Unfortunately, most (non-geek) people often dislike digital images. I bought a digital camera before my daughter was born, for the purpose of uploading pictures to a website so that all the relatives, grandparents, etc. could see new baby pictures immediately. But all they wanted were printouts. To paraphrase my mom, "I don't want to have to boot up the computer every time I want to show my friends a picture of my granddaughter!" The only thing that digital has going for me now, insofar as baby pictures for the grandparents goes, is that I can see what the pictures will look like before they are printed, and therefore decide which ones I want to print in the first place. Which is what these guys are probably trying to sell, I guess.
      • Well that does mke sense for technophobes, but if I ended up printing off all my picures I'd just go buy a 35mm. End up with better quality (than you get with inkjets, I doubt you have a color laser), and its much cheaper when you factor in all the color ink your using. Plus everyone and their dog can take 35mm images to a photo shop and get reprints, grandmothers especially like to get this done I hear :)
        • 35 mm slides have much higher resolution, in terms of lines per inch, than any laser printer. Well, some of the >$10,000 lasers might have that level of resolution.
  • Hey! I invented that about 6 months ago... it was an idea I had while drunk one night. Then I figured, whats the point?
  • why digital? (Score:2, Informative)

    by pcardoso ( 132954 )
    what's the use for this? just to have disposable cameras? we already have that, for about the same price, if not cheaper. I don't know about the price factor, as I just use my regular 35mm rechargeable.

    why would I use one of these digital models? to say "cool, it's a digital camera", and then realise that for the same price you could have bought an disposable analog one, with much better pictures?

    it seems that everything that is digital is the way to go these days... in a way this is true. it's much more hackeable :)

  • by dmorin ( 25609 ) < minus bsd> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:22PM (#2447795) Homepage Journal
    But it seems like one way they could make money is to offer some sort drop off / email service where you turn in the camera, and then they email you the pictures. Of course, that means that you have to give them your valid email, thus automatically opting you in to whatever evil schemes they have in mind.... :-/ I don't particularly love the idea, but I've also watched people with traditional cameras who rush to the 1hr place, and then gleefully proclaim "The pictures are ready! Let's go get them!" so to these people the idea of having the pictures show up right on your home PC would be a major win. It would never even occur to them what else it's costing them.


    (Note, on that "automatically opt in" thing. While I don't agree with it, it's the logic that a "bulk email provider" friend of mine used on me once: register with a company and you are implicitly opting in. Yeah, sure. Glad she's out of work now :))

  • I think it's just a matter of (little) time before hordes of enterprising geeks figure out how to get the pics out and reuse it without paying the fee

    If they use public key cryptography they can make this impossible...

    The camera just has the shops public key embedded and encrypts the pictures as it encodes/saves them. Without the private key held at the shop, even the best geek is scuppered.

    Also assume that the public key held in the camera can't be swapped changed and is in ROM

  • I really couldn't care less for megapixels --
    I'd be happy with only 2 megapixels if I could
    only have a SLR digicam at an affordable
  • Let us not forget that these will be distributed in the land of conformity and social obligation. If people are told 'These are to be used only in this manner', it *will* siginificantly deter those interested in chewing up their guts. Even those who do manage to make their disposable camera into a real camera will never be seriously considered by the companies distributing the camera because they will not significantly impact profits in any way. No, this would not work in the U.S., but it just might in Nippon.
    • Er, no, it will be hacked. The hardware otaku will make a short number on it, I'm sure.
      • Let us not forget that these will be distributed in the land of conformity and social obligation [...] this would not work in the U.S., but it just might in Nippon

      That's a pretty piece of ethnocentricity you're peddling there. Got any evidence to back that up, or are you just reenforcing comfortable US-A-OK stereotypes?

      • Let us not forget that these will be distributed in the land of conformity and social obligation

        That's a pretty piece of ethnocentricity you're peddling there. ... are you just reenforcing comfortable US-A-OK stereotypes?

        How is that ethnocentric or "US-A-OK"? He didn't say they were bad, or the US was good - he didn't assume his culture was better than others, or that all cultures behaved the way his did.

        If you want to claim that that was an inaccurate portyal of Japanese culture, then say so, but that's entirely different from calling it "ethnocentric" or "US-A-OK".

  • by BillyGoatThree ( 324006 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:23PM (#2447803)
    Here I am, like a fool, with a digital camera I spent $250 on and requires me to own a computer with a "hard drive" and "monitor" and "serial port". Instead of that massive outlay I could instead pay $15/pop for the priviledge of driving back and forth to the store for my digital picture needs. The more I use it, the more I save!
  • Whats the point? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chinton ( 151403 ) <<chinton001-slashdot> <at> <>> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:24PM (#2447809) Journal
    I guess I'm missing the point. The reason I have a digital camera so I don't have to bring anything anywhere to get my pictures. I don't see how this is any better than buying a disposable camera and then bringing it to a 1-hour photo lab. Am I missing something?
    • Think of it this way. With a 24 exposure disposable, you get 24 exposures. period. With an 8MB flash card and a digital camera, you get to take many more exposures (especially at 640x480), and choose your favourites (as mentioned in the article).

      Now I'm not saying that this is definitely the way to go, or that it's all that revolutionary, just that there IS a point to this.
      • Re:HERE'S THE POINT (Score:3, Informative)

        by chinton ( 151403 )
        Its not really clear in the article that you can take more than 24 pictures... At the beginning it says:

        At the store, they can view all the photo images on a display screen and choose any 24 images to be printed.

        But later:

        The camera is equipped with a flash and 8MB of flash memory, which allows users to record 24 images.

        They also don't state whether or not you can delete pictures from the camera before you bring it back. Being able to do that would let you get 24 (relativly) perfect pictures for your $16.
  • Just take 10 camera at $16 ($160 total) and you will have a 3 megapixel camera. Then send each image through a a rendering algorithm where it is combines with the others, so you can get detail from the historisis from each camera.
  • I work for an imaging company...

    At 0.3 megapixel, or 640x480, you are BARELY able to make a full resolution screen image. Yes it will probably look OK on that screen, but the typical person can see to 150 lpi (lines per inch)- benchmarking on that your print will be roughtly 3x4 inches.

    Now, without even going into the sensor... the size that the image could be safely res'd up is probably 1.5, which gets you to the magic 4x6 print that consumers have come to expect.

    Don't think about it going to 8x10 without some serious degradation. JPG artifacts alone will prohibit that sort of enlargment- blocking artifacts, clipping...

    I think for parts the camera might be on the right track, but this has got to be the wrong approach.

    I'd go into the other issues like noise, light sensitivity (speed), robustness... alignment... but i think that would rather bore most people.
    • 150lpi? This is an odd way of specifying what a person can see. I mean, at what distance? Many billboards have FAR less lines per inch. if you used 640 x 480 on a billboard most people probably wouldn't notice, and here is the experiment to prove it:

      1) find a billboard. bring along something you can measure with, even very approximately, like a business card (the narrow end is 2 inches wide).

      2) stand as far away from the billboard as you would normally be to find it comfortable to read.

      3) raise your measuring device up to your eye about as far from your face as you would normally view a photo.

      4) take that width and imagine filling it with 640 pixels. For me, to the billboard out my window, that's about 500 dpi which is far more pixels than needed for not just a smooth photo, but to be able to read it.

      So 640 x 480 does have practical uses. And I haven't even touched on web sites, business cards or even Ebay auctions.
    • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @04:34PM (#2448760)
      My GAWD!!

      Excuse me for just a moment while I rant, but every time we get a story about some sort of technology that deals with human perception such as sound or sight, we have to have someone who steps up to the plate and explain how the quality sucks.

      For instance, in nearly every article about MP3s, we have people telling us how badly the MP3 format trashes CD quality; blithly ignoring the fact that the majority of the people out there listen to those MP3 out of $10 speakers stuck to the side of their monitors which are fed by a $5 SB(arely)Live chipset stuck on their motherboard.

      Heh, buddy, here's a clue. Nobody gives a shit!!

      These cameras won't be used for artclass. They'll be used by drunk-assed people to take pictures of their mates at company parties. Would you want ultra-clarity in THAT picture? Most people take their drugstore developed snapshots and cram them in a shoebox at the bottom of a mouldy closet for years before ever looking at them. Do you think they give a shit that their yellowed picture of their college graduate when he was standing at the plate in little-league is a little grainy? Here's a little help with the question. NO!!! Hell, they want to remember that he was the one who won the league championship for the team, instead of what he really did which was act as lead benchwarmer. (The great thing about memories is that they get better with the fading 8*)

      So take your chitzy "I work for an imaging company..." ass out of here, along with your "MP3s sound bad" buddies, because the rest of us have priorities that rank 'trying to decide if a pic is 150lpi vs 160lpi' right there at the bottom with 'trying to decide if I should rip at 128 or 146 bit.'

      • The difference between 640x480 and 1600x1200 is noticable to pretty much everyone. The difference between MP3 and CD isn't. You're comparing apples and oranges.
        • No I'm not comparing 640x480 to 1600x1200. I'm comparing a crappy 640x480 snapshot to a crappy celluloid snapshot.

          I have a crappy snapshot of the 'bosses day' stunt we pulled on the best manager I ever had. Only a year old and already yellowed. But who cares, it's stuck to a cubicle wall with tack pins, for the love of... Why would I care if it was stuck on a website at only '640x480'? Hell, I thought it was cool in '92 when I moved from CGA to a 640x480 monitor and could look at 'high resolution' porn.

          Besides, it's the color depth that I usually notice anyway.

    • Don't be such a snob, dude! :-) Not everybody's an imaging professional. If you want a really BAD camera, my second digital camera was 160x120 for $39 a couple years ago...

      640x480 is really just fine for typical web pages - pictures of your cat or your cousin's kids, and most really cheap cameras are that resolution. Sure, it's not what you'd get with your thousand-dollar SLR with really great lenses - this is the digital equivalent of an Instamatic.

      The interesting quality thing they did here is that they're not compressing the image much - 8MB for 24 shots means they're storing pictures as ~310KB instead of the more typical ~75KB JPEGs that other digital cameras I've seen use for 640x480 images. I don't know if this means they're doing JPEG, or if they're doing some low-CPU compression algorithm and saving money on CPU, or doing 8-bit-per-pixel uncompressed images instead of more useful color depth (unlikely but possible, and that really *would* make color suffer.)

  • License the camera (or lease it). You don't sell it. That's how you make money.

    Wake up and pay attention.

  • by Once&FutureRocketman ( 148585 ) <otvk4o702@sneakemail . c om> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:36PM (#2447864) Homepage
    And at $16 for .3 megapixels, this sounds like more of a novelty than a bargain, considering that 4-megapixel cameras are available now for less than a thousand dollars.

    No they're not a substitute for one's personal primary camera. But they're excellent for two applications:

    1) Taking pictures in places that put the camera at significant risk (hiking, rafting, Burning Man)

    2) Handing out to lots of people -- i.e. weddings -- without spending a bunch of money.

  • Think of the homemade p0rn! You really can't take those kinky pictures of the misses if you have to take it into the shop to get the pictures. That would cut out a big chunk of the reason why people want digital cameras!
  • Someone tell me why *anyone* would want to use a disposable digital camera that costs twice as much as a conventional camera and where the resolution is so laughably bad as to be useless?
  • You think THIS is waht makes japan wierd? Not cars with emotions [] or robotic cats with lifelike skin []?

    Alright, maybe your right, disposable digital cameras make japan wierd... those other things make it creepy. That and the old man I saw on the Hanzoomon line reading Rapeman comics.

    • I think 'weird' might be if you were assured of getting someone else's photos back, and not your own.

      Or perhaps simply having the option of paying a little extra to get access to the photos taken by the last few people that used that camera. I'm sure they'd get a lot of business from the exhibitionist/voyeur crowd that way, at least.

  • I currently own a Kodak DC3200 - cheapest looking piece of shit camera that was ever made (ok, next to the Photorun DJ1000 - which I also own). The DC3200 cost me about $150.00 a few months ago (and just noticed on PriceWatch it is much cheaper now). It has all the features I want, and despite looking like shit, actually gives great pictures:

    * "megapixel" quality (1280 x 960 or thereabouts, I believe, on highest setting)
    * 2x digital zoom - which sucks because it only works on the 640 x 480 setting
    * LCD preview display
    * Serial interface and video out
    * Flash
    * Built in 2 meg memory
    * Uses CompactFlash memory cards, as well
    * Linux "compatible" via gPhoto []

    It really does have great quality, even in low light levels - I picked it specifically because it stored the images in jpeg format on the card, guaranteeing me that I could use an operating system of my choice. A serial interface that guarantees no proprietary lock in. Wow! All of that cheap! My complaints:

    Lens cap and charger for the batteries not included - they are seperate items to buy. Plus, there is a small lag time when taking a picture, about a second (that, and the "speed" of the camera is very low - no capturing high speed shots - but I am not a professional photographer, so I don't care much).

    All in all, not many complaints - and far more worth it than a disposable digital (which, I have to admit, have hack value attractiveness for me). I think maybe having one of these as a backup or standby for bad situations (where you wouldn't want to lose a good camera) is also an idea.

    To be honest, I have wondered for a while when these kind of things would come out - I am now waiting for "disposable" video cameras...
  • The could use all of the hacked cue-cat scanners to read a bar code off of all those cameras they make and your credit card.

    It just might work.


    Has anyone else noticed that humorous posts have been getting modded down recently?
    I try to metamoderate everyday and invariably have several comments that are funny as heck, but are "troll/flamebait/overrated/redundant".
    Advice for metamoderators: look for the above labels, read the context (i've noticed that was recently added, I think) and decide with a "benefit of the doubt" attitude and rate as unfair. Obvious F/R/O/T's, fair...or don't metamod it...your decision.

    (ok, this could be considered a "rant-lite", but maybe it is meant to get ppl to browse at -1 for a good chuckle...I dunno)


    Windows 95 had "Start Me Up" as a theme song. XP needs "Run Like Hell".
  • I see so many times on /. all the geeks coming down hard on some new product. The manufacturer probably didn't even take geeks into consideration when they started marketing their item.

    If you think about 35mm disposable cameras, and the people that use them, they don't own all the equipment that goes along with 35mm because they don't want the hastle and expense of dealing with it. They just want to take some pictures and get their prints made. The same is true for these things. People that don't own computers can still run around taking nice digital pictures that they use either to print out (at the photography shop) or have them put them on a CD to email from a cyber cafe.

    We wouldn't use their service because we have our own equipment. Just like 'real photographers' don't use disposable cameras because they have $3,000 Nikon F5s and a spare room turned into a darkroom.

    But yea, the quoted resolution is a joke, by anyone's standard. They need to get that up to par with the midrange cameras of today (:

  • film companies like kodak and fuji have been retreating from digital cameras by making disposable film cameras with special features (panaoramic, waterproof, etc.). this is the only market left to be conquered digitially before film becomes extreemly expensive and returns to being an esoteric medium.
  • by Asikaa ( 207070 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @04:01PM (#2448498) Homepage
    ...the only reason anyone uses digital cameras is to take "those" kind of pics without getting a strange look from the photo shop clerk when you pick up your photos. :)

    Er... no, that just looks like a well-buttered hamster... Wow... er, my neighbor must've borrowed the camera... no, I don't have any idea how that goat got in the shot.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    In Theme Parks (ala WallyWorld). Cheap enough that you don't wanna steal em. Rugged enough that you'd be able to play with them near food/water.

    Big booth at the front gate, rent camera (place security deposit), wander around shooting stuff. when it's "full" go back, store the pics you want "in booth" and continue on.

    End of day get back the security deposit (not refundable if it flys off the Whirlly-Gig and you lose it)

    Two options for end of night retreval.
    1)Burn to CD (10$ per disk)
    2) Print the photo's right away ($1.50 per)

    They'd make millions!
  • by Lars T. ( 470328 ) <Lars.Traeger@goo ... Ncom minus berry> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @04:45PM (#2448824) Journal
    And at $16 for .3 megapixels, this sounds like more of a novelty than a bargain, considering that 4-megapixel cameras are available now for less than a thousand dollars.
    But if you buy 13 of them, you can build your own 3.9-megapixel cam for just $199!
  • by Mr T ( 21709 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @04:53PM (#2448881) Homepage
    I think it's a pretty cool and good idea. It's in the same vein as the disposable conventional cameras, I thought those were stupid and they are huge money makers for the film companies. I can get an APS camera that will take decent, not great or really even good pictures but decent ones (the smaller negative makes them more grainy) do the zooming and stuff, take 3 sizes of picture and be drop in loadable for somewhere between ~$70 and ~$400 depending on features and quality. Or I can buy a $5 disposable and for a lot of uses the disposable is much nicer even though it doesn't take great pictures. The way I see it, if I'm climbing a mountain and something goes wrong and I have to start dropping balast, I'd rather lose a $5 or even $10 disposable than my $200 (3 years ago) Nikon APS camera. If I'm on the bike and take a digger, I'd rather break the little kodak throw away then anything I've spent real money on and plan on keeping, which is ironic because when I bought the $200 Nikon instead of the $300 tiny Cannon elf my thinking was that I didn't want to spend that much money because I wanted something I wouldn't mind replacing as much. I wanted to take it every where, or so the intention was.

    Now I've got a wicked sweet digital camera and I love it. It's a blast because you get nearly instant gratification and you can email the pictures to the relatives the same day rather than waiting to develop them and then scan them or pay for copies. Unless you're some kind of photgraphy buff, a 2-4Mpixel camera is going to be more than good enough for most of your uses, you snap the pics, download them to the computer, put them on the web or email them to the fam and then you take some more. It's highly cool. The only problems I see, a) still complex to get pictures in to the computer, your average grandmother is going to have some issues. b) Still a bit costly. c) this one is only a partial problem but my 3MPixel camera takes pictures that are too big for most uses, I've written a bunch of scripts to down sample them before I put them on the web or mail them and I usually use the compressed mode on the camera, the typical fun snaps user doesn't need 2048 x 1024 x 32bpp TIFF

    I think this is an awsome idea. The pictures are going to be of lesser quality, no question about that. But if my grandmother can get them transfered to a CD (presumably, she could go to the drug story, drop off the camera, shop for 10 minutes and then pick up the disc) at minimal cost and the initial outlay is minimal then it starts getting interesting. Assuming there isn't a deposit or something, that would be the camera I'd take scuba diving and on the bike, or just leave in the glove box of the car in case there is a kodak moment. It's not going to be the geek's camera, those of us who pay attention and are technologically minded are still going to fork out the dough and get a nicer digital camera just like we have with conventional cameras but for people who just want to take pictures and share them with their families I bet this is the wave of the future.

    If they make vending machines that put the pictures on to CDs right then and there then forget about it, they will essentially replace cameras. There maybe some screwing around with the prices but the economics are just too good. You have any idea how much a photo developing machine costs? You could build a digital camera vending machine out of off the shelf parts, from that fact alone there is economic insentive to make this happen. Also if you look at the digicam market over the last few years, they've steadily got better but the costs haven't really dropped that much, I think you can build the lower res cameras for dirt cheap these days. This idea as incarnated may not work but I think the bigger idea of disposable digicams is a winner.

  • ...Compgeeks ( 3S-WB) has one for $35, and you don't have to return it to get your pictures.
  • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:20PM (#2449351) Homepage Journal
    Realistically i dont see that the quality will be THAT big a deal. My mother's main complaint with her digital camera is that the pictures are too big when she downloads them from it!??

    If you care about quality then why would you be using digital anyway. I appreciate that there are some very high MP cameras, kodak's digital back should be 16MP if they've realeased it yet and some other company produce large format cameras that were touching 100MP (last i looked) for reprographics use.

    My scanner will pull 8MP from a 35mm frame and that doesn't look close to maxing out the definition that the negative has. Yet how many home users ever blow photos up beyond 5x7". In fact the recent APS situation made it shockingly clear how happy the average guy on the street was to sacrafice quality in place of gimicks and convenience.

    I suspect that the worst part about these is that the images will suffer from low light noise, poor colour balance and lens distortion. The MP count (imho) is a lesser factor.

    Oh and if i'm out clubbing with my friends then 640x480 is a fine resolution, but if i'm capturing shots of wildlife or panoramic landscapes then I sometimes find my 2700dpi optical scanner limiting.

    Once I get a bit of cash saved up i'm going to buy a small digital camera for casual photography, and a 5x4" large format system with a black cloth over my head for when quality is the overriding factor.
  • And at $16 for .3 megapixels, this sounds like more of a novelty than a bargain, considering that 4-megapixel cameras are available now for less than a thousand dollars.

    Timothy: I dont know what kind of dough your rolling in, but the rest of us mortals consider the difference between $16 (sixteen) dollars and 'less than a thousand' pretty significant.

  • uh... I don't see how somebody could subvert the costs.

    I would assume:

    1.) you put down a credit card when you borrow the camera so if you break it you pay for it.

    2.) that you have to pay a flat rate for printing some minimum number of pictures, so even if you downloaded them yourself you would still be paying...

    Sounds like a pretty good idea to me, for people who like the idea of a digital camera but would never buy one... or only need one for a specific event...

egrep -n '^[a-z].*\(' $ | sort -t':' +2.0