So Long Friend: Death of a Sony DSC-W100

The first photo, my baby cousin. Sony DSC-W100.

The first photo, my baby cousin. Sony DSC-W100.

This may seem a repost. Might seem a bit of dejavu. It feels that way for me too.

You know when you pull off a band aid or jump into a cold pool? Better to do it in one shot. It hurts less. This brings me to the death of a friend: my Sony DSC-W100. It has teased me with its death for months. Dying on several occasions only to spring back into life with a cleaning or with some tender care. Sadly, this seems to really be the end.

In Newfoundland, the first day. Sony DSC-W100.

In Newfoundland, the first day. Sony DSC-W100.

In Newfoundland, the first day. Sony DSC-W100.

In Newfoundland, the first day. Sony DSC-W100.

Why do I care about a 9 year old consumer compact camera? It is a long story and one that I will get into more later. Before I go further into the cameras harrowing tale, I would like to just talk a little about this cameras merits as a camera.

Sony DSC-W100.

Sony DSC-W100.

First, it has a rather larger (by compact camera standards) sensor. In fact, the same 8.1 megapixel CCD sensor – or so I’ve heard – as the famed Ricoh GRD1. I don’t know about all that, or don’t really care. I do care about the fact that it doesn’t have a stupid pop up flash. I love the fact that it has a viewfinder. I love that if I turn off the screen, I can still change all the settings with one click and the screen turns on for confirmation of this and then goes off on its own. My new Ricoh GR doesn’t do any of that and honestly the Sony reacts so much more like the Ricoh film cameras that I loved it is slightly comical. Did I mention it has snap focus that goes down to .5 of a meter?

On the way back to Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

On the way back to Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

These things are all great, but lets be fair, the Sony DSC-W100 will never be looked at as a classic camera. It will never have the cult following of a Ricoh compact. Nobody will ever look for one. It is destined to be forgotten.

One of the first days back in Korea after being away. Sony DSC-W100.

One of the first days back in Korea after being away. Sony DSC-W100.

I can say, without a doubt, that this is the most film compact camera like digital compact camera I have used and I have used a lot of them. But again, I’m not sure how much it matters.

On the train to Busan. Sony DSC-W100.

On the train to Busan. Sony DSC-W100.

A toilet in Korea. Not the strangest place we've been. Sony DSC-W100.

A toilet in Korea. Not the strangest place we’ve been. Sony DSC-W100.

Because the fact of the matter is, the camera has become more than some electronic device.

First month in Seoul. Portrait of a guy in Hongdae. Sony DSC-W100.

First month in Seoul. Portrait of a guy in Hongdae. Sony DSC-W100.

Here’s what I wrote about it on my instagram today:

“I always bought a lot of cameras. I could never decide what I liked, could never decide what I wanted or needed. Sad really, I’ve wasted so much money on cameras it almost isn’t funny. It definitely isn’t funny. I at one time would carry two Leica M9s with different lenses so I wouldn’t ‘miss’ anything. 20k of kit and did it make me a better photographer? No. My photos weren’t better. It was ridiculous…

On the ground in Hongdae, Seoul. Sony DSC-W100.

On the ground in Hongdae, Seoul. Sony DSC-W100.

Near Hongdae, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Near Hongdae, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

A couple of summers ago, I was starting to get out of this. Mostly because I had sold off my expensive Leica gear to pay for going back to school. That summer, I traveled back to my home province of ‪‎Newfoundland‬. Drove halfway across Canada. I didn’t even take that many photos on the way. I didn’t really like photography much anymore even though it was supposed to be a project.

On a wall in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

On a wall in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

After being there for a couple of weeks, I was going somewhere with my aunt and she asked me to look for her keys under the seat of her car. Next to the keys was this old digital camera. I pulled it out. To my surprise it turned on, ha. My aunt joked that it had been there for a winter, or two. It kept me occupied for the 15 minute trip. I don’t know what I loved, I just loved how it worked. It reminded me of the old Ricoh film cameras I had once used. Simple settings, one click for everything. Viewfinder. The first photo I took of my cousin next to me (I’ll post it next- the last fish photo was from this as well) is a very important one for me. I started to take photos again. I took photos of everything for the next two weeks. I took the Artisan and Artist strap off my Leica and jimmy rigged it to work on this one. Strap surely cost more than the camera. Cameras really don’t matter. At least ‘good’ ones don’t.

In a Starbucks in Yongin, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

In a Starbucks in Yongin, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Myeongdong, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Myeongdong, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

During the last two years, I’ve learned more from this camera than any other. It allows me to not think, which is the way photography should be. I should take photos as I feel like it and it has taught me to try and take good ones without thinking too much. The camera died for good (I believe), and it is a sad day. I don’t talk about gear much, but I sure loved this camera. And owe it one. It got me back into loving photography.”

Yeah, I was sad. I am still sad. I almost wish it had died the first time for good and not teased me with more life. I prefer to pull off my band aides quickly.

A portrait of an earring, in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

A portrait of an earring, in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Because while this camera will never be a classic or have any monetary value, it has something much more.

A walk in Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

A walk in Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

On the subway in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

On the subway in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

It had been something much more.

At a show, in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

At a show, in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

A good friend.

In Suwon, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

In Suwon, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Spotting some smiles, in Suwon, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Spotting some smiles, in Suwon, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

RIP little dude, you’ll always have a place in my pocket.

On the ground in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

On the ground in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Some more ground, in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Some more ground, in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

And while you may never be remembered for being a great camera, or talked about on forums like your more classic brethren.

Some food, in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Some food, in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

I’ll never for get you for the memories we had.

RIP little dude.

RIP little dude.

And more importantly, for the ones you helped me capture.

A white flower. Somewhere in Korea. Sony DSC-W100..

A white flower. Somewhere in Korea. Sony DSC-W100..

30 thoughts on “So Long Friend: Death of a Sony DSC-W100

  1. Funny that, your talking about a beloved camera that you have lost, and I have just posted about a camera that doesn’t exist but wish did, either way we are both without. It is very true what you say about cameras sometimes becoming more than just cameras, I have an old Canon IXUS 70 that I use for family snaps and taking videos and I love it to bits, wouldn’t part with it for the world, and a fairly recently purchased Olympus XA which I can see heading the same way.

    Will you be buying yourself another replacment Sony?

    • Hmm, it is hard to say if I will buy one or not. I will think on it for a while. I’m not sure it would ever feel the same, ha. Maybe I will treat myself to a film compact.

  2. this happens when a digital compact is treated like an analogue compact. It’s sentimental but good thing is, it still can be replaced easily with relatively similar profile. 🙂

  3. Might be the best dedication to a fallen camera I’ve ever read. Haha, great post!

    I’ve been following your blog for a while and I was glad to see all the work/changes you’ve been putting into it lately. I enjoy your unique and fresh voice on the blog and in your work so keep it up!

  4. Lovely. I had (have) one of these little guys, and it helped get me into photography! There really is something special about them. Mine is on its last legs, the focusing is pretty sporadic and often wrong, but I still keep it around – can’t bear to part with it 😦

  5. Hi,

    I have a question about the sony dsc w100 and your photos. Are your B/W photos straight out of the camera B/W jpegs or colored and do you some sort of post processing? I am asking this as I am in love with my Ricoh GR digital original (also 8mb and from 2005/6), and these Sony photo’s “grain/noise” reminds of the Ricoh jpg’s. Over here in the Netherlands secondhand Ricoh’s are rare compared to secondhand sony cybershot’s.

    Also did you ever print these photos from your Sony dsc w100??

    Regards, happy shooting,
    Barry

    • Hi Barry,

      I don’t “colour” them. I process them in vsco on my phone. The reason they look similar is from what I gather the sensors are the same both built by Sony. They are very similar. If you look at my most reason post, about the GRD original you’ll notice they are fairly similar. I have printed some of the photos and they look fine, not problems at all at moderate sizes.

      Josh

  6. Hello Josh,

    Thanks for your information, but did you shoot in B/W mode or did you use vsco app to transfer to B/W?

    The “same” sensor might indeed be cause of the similarity in B/W output ( triggers me to find out which other P&S camera’s were using the same sony sensor back in 2005/2006, I might have a crush on the sony sensor 😉 )

    Really enjoy your visuals/style, keep it going and have a nice week!

    Regards from a rainy Amsterdam,

    Barry

  7. Hi Josh

    Sorry to resurrect an old thread but I was on the verge of buying a GRD iv when I read this post and so now of course I am tracking down a W100 !

    I just wondered when you shot in B&W with the W100 did you push up the ISO to max 1600 like people seem to do with the original GRD I or was it on auto ISO and all grain was added via VSCO ?

    Thanks
    Andy

    • Didn’t add much grain in Vasco. And I don’t push either the original GRD or the Sony to 1600. First, the Sony flash won’t fire at 1600 and I use flash all the time with the Sony (literally never turn it off). The GRD I usually shot at 800 and that is grainy enough. The Sony is grainy at 400 so I generally leave it there, underexpose about a stop.

  8. Thanks Josh – I found his review just before I posted here.
    I was amazed that someone had just reviewed a camera from 2006 just as I heard about it for the first time.
    Thanks also for your review of the GRD iv – dos it still spend much time in your hands ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s