A Retro Digital SLR

Last night I had a fairly involved dream. It felt real. I thought it was real, right up through the moment I awoke. Here’s what I remember of it.

I’m a student at USC, in my Senior year. I was sitting in class, next to Sam Choi, in a class that’s either CS 400 (elective?) or CS 477 (Senior Capstone Design Course). I felt like this was the successor to CS 377, so perhaps it was 477.

We’re sitting in front of a computer, reading the assignment. There’s a list of “Core Topics” we need to include in a final paper that we’re going to need to write. I feel that the due date for the paper is in a few days, and that it has just been assigned to us.

The list of topics has about 8-10 items. They’re things like “History of Computers”, “XML”, “Windows”, “Superscalars”. I’m marking them one-by-one by highlighting them in one color if it’s being assigned to Sam to write, or another color for me to write. I’m marking most of them in his color, and Sam doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. He likes writing, I guess. We seem to be partners for this assignment. It’s like a research paper, and we’re writing in pairs. I feel that the assignment will require some creativity.

One of the topics is open-ended. “Topic of your choice.” I offer to let Sam take this one, too. He agrees, saying that he’d like to write about the Juniors. We’re Seniors, so I assume he’s referring to the students in the Junior class. Which Juniors will you write about?, I wonder. I agree, making him down for that topic. I imagine we need to write about 2-3 paragraphs on each topic.

I check my email, and there’s something about my friends going out to dinner tonight. I have a feeling the location/restaurant was something like Disneyland on the beach.

19th century studio camera

19th century studio camera

The class ends, and we go out of the classroom and into the sunlight outdoors. I spot Chris Whitenhill walking around with an enormous, old-style looking camera. The ones that have a black cloth covering them to keep the film from getting exposed. Polaroid? It’s mostly a black plastic, and you hold it by the frame that’s roughly 2 inches wide. It’s extremely lightweight, feeling like a hollow plastic container in its heft. It’s approximately square ins shape, maybe 12″ in the height and width dimensions, and roughly 3-4″ in depth.

He’s here with a female friend, near Tommy Trojan, and he’s trying to take a picture of her by the fountain. He’s scrambling around to find someone to take the photo for him, as if we wants to be in the picture too.

Here’s a contradiction in my dream. He doesn’t end up being in the photo. Instead, he stands next to me and shows me how to use his new camera. He just got it– I assume used– for something like $10. That sounds like a great deal, I think to myself, yet plausible for a used camera. It’s in excellent, like-new condition, though. No damage or anything like that.

Due to its appearance, I assume it’s an old film-based analog camera. I’m not sure how to work it, assuming I’ll need to advance the film and things like that. “Point and shoot?” I ask.

“Just shoot,” replies Chris. So I look through the peephole and press the shutter. I’m not sure if I pressed it hard enough or if anything happened, so I press it a couple more times.

I hand the camera back. Apparently the pictures all worked. He browses through a few photos, which I apparently took, on the camera’s fairly large LCD screen. It’s at this point that I notice that the camera has an LCD screen at all. And it’s at this point that I realize this is in fact a digital camera. It’s just a strangely designed, enormous one.

Awesome, I think, as I get the camera back from him so that I can look at it in detail. It’s covered by a black cloth, but the cloth doesn’t cover the lens on the front. It’s a fairly large lens, like a digital SLR. So I assume it takes high-quality photos. I also spot on the front what appears to be a tray-loading optical drive. This thing is like a small computer, I think. An optical drive built into the digital camera itself? Well, considering the camera’s size, maybe not so hard to do. Is it practical?, I wonder. I look around the top of the camera for the brand name and I see it says Panasonic. Somehow I feel that the camera might be hard drive based, but then again maybe not– it’s so light!

“So where did you get this? Used?” I ask. He begins to say it’s a new camera– he just got it– and then some other friends are walking by and they interrupt us.

I still have the camera in my hands, so I snap a few pictures of my friends. The camera gives the photographer some privacy. They can’t see me because my face is covered by the black square of the camera, and they can’t really tell it’s a camera either because it looks so odd.

Among the friends are Theo, Ashley Chang, and Nat. They talk about the dinner on the beach plans, something to do with Disneyland. I’m actually looking forward to going, though I also think about the paper I have to write for CS 477.

I consider the possibility of bringing my laptop along to do writing while I’m out. The ThinkPad, I wonder, and then I realize that I only have my MacBook Pro, and I resolve to bring that. Using the MBP is a joy, I think, so I actually look forward to that.

It’s at this point that I woke up.

Photo from Wikipedia

2 Responses to “A Retro Digital SLR”

  1. Thank you!!! Very good post and photo!!!

  2. guru says:

    Very nice, i say=)

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