The Exploding Camera Part 2

OK, I now have the top off the camera so let’s see what is revealed, starting with the top panel itself. At top left you can see a sliding switch that is moved by the rotating zoom controller to zoom the lens in or out. Below it is some shiny metal holding the power switch and mode dial in place. To the right of them is the mechanism (relay) for popping up the flash, the electronics of the flash itself and its storage capacitor (the large black object).

Going onto the main body of the camera, the only part we haven’t seen already is the board on top of the battery compartment. This is connected by wires to the flash release relay (red and white, already mentioned).

After taking this photo I detached the top cover and decided there was no further need to examine it as there is little in there apart from the top switches and the flash. So I went back to looking at the main body of the camera.

This is the back of the camera body with the main logic board pulled off so you can see what’s on it. Prominent in the right centre of the board is the DiGiC processor (Digic-1 in this model). You can see that the camera has a chassis made of metal, to which the main components are attached. Looking at this chassis, on the left we have the lens with the imager attached to the rear of it. To the right, the black rectangle is the plastic membrane that encloses the Compact Flash slot. At right is the board carrying most of the control buttons on the camera’s rear. This normally sits behind the CF slot, but I bent it out of the way for the picture.

Here’s a shot of the lens mechanism. Curiously, the covers for this mechanism are partly held in place by strips of what looks like duct tape. The golden-coloured object bottom right appears to be the ultrasonic lens motor, and the gears obviously transmit the rotation of the motor to drive the lens in and out. The number of gears shown appears to be a simple way of getting the drive from the motor up to the top right corner where the lens is engaged. I would have thought that direct drive would be the way to go, but I suppose the shape of the camera partly dictates this, with the bulky motor cover being aesthetically desirable to locate low down on the front rather than high up.

And then I undid a pile more screws in the chassis, and the rest of the camera separated into three. In the top left is the chassis. Top right is the battery compartment, and in the foreground is the lens with imager, which is the only part that is worth bothering with now. The metal bracket on the back of the lens holds the CCD imager in place; obviously you need a good rigid assembly for this. The bracket is held on with tiny Torx screws which I am not going to attempt to remove as I’m sure I don’t have a bit small enough to do it.

And now, at last, here is the live side of the CCD imager itself. That multicoloured rectangle inside what looks like a slide frame. The flash has revealed a bit of detail, that it’s basically a chip mounted on its own little board. The ribbon cable coming off the back of this has a number of tracks on it, including what must be some test points that are covered up by a piece of tape. The CCD is pretty well sealed inside what must be an airtight space, most likely a cleanroom assembly.

At this point I stopped to feel a little bit nostalgic and sad. This camera, after all, cost me a lot of money when I purchased it on the 6th of May 2005. The sticker price for the camera itself was NZ$710.00. A power adapter (which I still use sometimes with the S5) cost another $98, and a Sandisk 256 MB Ultra II Compact Flash card was $80. I got a trade in of $150 for my old Pentax MX 35mm SLR, so all up this was a $738 purchase. The decision to buy the S1 was a late choice in the process of selecting a camera. I had looked seriously at a similar but cheaper Fuji FinePix model, and deciding to buy the S1 was only made a few days beforehand. What swung it for me was the excellent video performance (almost Mini-DV resolution and a high data rate of around 100 MB/minute), the articulating LCD screen and some other smaller points. It was a stretch of my budget to buy the S1, but it was a worthwhile process overall and the camera served me well over the next four years as I took 9496 images with it. The first photo being taken the day it was bought and the last photo of record on 19th April. Its replacement currently retails for $775, which is probably about par considering the recent decline of the exchange rate.

And finally, here’s the box of camera parts ready to throw in the rubbish. All I’m keeping is the neck strap, the CCD and the three Compact Flash cards. There was a 16 MB card shipped with it, and I eventually bought two 256 MB Sandisk cards. That’s pretty small by today’s standards, but each one could hold several hundred pictures at the 3.2 MP Fine setting. The camera served me very well for almost 10,000 images. Maybe that is all they are engineered to last for.