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QuickTake 150

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This is just a quick appreciation thread for the Apple QuickTake 150 digital camera.


I've had a QuickTake 150 (in box, with the battery pack, the docs, the software, and a few other neat bits) for a bit over a year. Some number of months ago, I put some time into cleaning some battery acid out of it, and just tonight it occurred to me to hook it up with some batteries and shoot some stuff with it.


I'm installing the software onto the PowerBook 180 right now. I've long wanted to take a look at this because the idea of PhotoFlash is pretty intriguing.


One day, I might like to grab a QuickTake 200, and I definitely need to go get the Agfa ActionCam out of my storage locker. I have a Sony Mavica or two (or three?) as well, and those I like because floppy diskettes are a little easier to manipulate in the field than an entire PowerBook.


I will probably eventually designate something a little nicer than the PowerBook 180 as my vintage digital imaging Mac. I'm guessing the work will ultimately go to either the 840av, the 6100, or the beige G3. The 1400 would also work, since it already has a big disk, and I can use CF for backups and file transfers.


I will eventually do a more detailed post with some images and some thoughts on workflow.

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The 150 shoots about as well as any other digital camera from the time.




The idea was you used the images as 50% scaled thumbnails, otherwise they looked quite awful and of course back then the smaller the better because most of us were still downloading at 14.400 or 33.6k.

Edited by CelGen

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I have yet to look at the images on a color display. I found a slightly newer copy of PhotoFlash online, but I'm having trouble getting it onto the PB1400 and running. I'm thinking I will have to do the decompression on the 180.


This has turned into quite the adventure and I have become abundantly aware of exactly how much I should just have pulled out the 840av to do this.


I got it set up and running on the 180 with the version of PhotoFlash that came on the diskettes (which I need to image, to make this easier.) The way you pull images off the camera is pretty novel, you open a control panel (which can also set the date/time and name the camera) and click on connect. The camera then shows up on your desktop.


I'm presuming, although I can't find it written anywhere, that Apple wanted you to shoot the camera until it was full, then connect it to a Mac and download all the images at once, giving you a "roll" of images between about 16 (at HQ) and 32 (at SQ) images. Something like this, storage that works the way a Quicktake does, would be a very neat way to have moved files around. A dedicated peripheral that worked like this would be very neat to see, especially since you should be able to fit the driver on a single floppy.


PhotoFlash is surprisingly robust. You can use it to view images and set captions, which you can search through later. There is no dedicated space for keywords, but there does not appear to be a limit on the length of the caption field, so you could put both in there. You can also use it to rename files.


It will also bulk resize (although, it won't do workflows quite as complicated as, say, open all these images one at a time, resize them, save them in this new directory, and then close them, at least not with what's bundled). You can export individual images in other formats -- I'm thinking honestly PhotoFlash might be most useful for catalogging screenshots of vintage Macs and then exporting PICT files as JPEG files. It should make it slightly easier not to have to use graphicconverter on a new Mac.


PhotoFlash can also do selection and help you do things like remove backgrounds without needing to go all the way into Photoshop or another drawing application, which is nice, and it appears to be able to control the quicktake. Now, the bummer there is that it doesn't appear to include a script that actually downloads the image that was taken into the Mac, or directly downloads it into a particular folder. I'm sure cameras like these got used (either on purpose or by happy discovery) for things like creating ID card images.


I have yet to be able to view the images that come out of the QuickTake, but I don't think I'll be particularly surprised by it, and I'm under no false impressions that this thing is out to compete with the likes of, well, anything else from the past 15 or so years. It's neat to be able to do this, and a digital camera was always something I wanted back in the day, but quicktakes, along with all other aging-but-still-good peripherals in the "ADB, Serial, DB-15, and SCSI" era of beige modular Macintoshes got kept and moved from one computer to the other all the time. Good monitors, storage, and cameras and other peripherals were always harder for me to find and more expensive than the Macs themselves were.


All of this kind of makes me want to get a QuickTake 200. By all accounts, it's not actually that much better as a camera, but with more space and removable SmartMedia storage, it should be much easier to use. It also supports neat things such as composite video output, which means that one could stand in if you needed quicktime conferencing kit functionality, or to record a short video clip on an A/V Mac.


One other thing: The battery life on the quicktake appears to be horrifyingly bad. I don't know if it's just that the 3-position battery meter is incredibly insensitive, or if I kept it running connected to the Mac for too long, but the batteries appear to last about as long as it takes to shoot the camera full.


Perhaps hilariously, all of this mostly means that I definitely need to get a Netatalk2 or ASIP5/6 server running, so I can better preserve this data. I can move data extremely inconveniently from the PB1400 to my Mac using a CF card, but it would be much better to be able to connect them both to a file server. Perhaps I should step up the urgency on buying a big disk and a SATA card for my blue-and-white Power Macintosh G3.


In the mean time, the PowerBook 180 is unstuffing a 100 megabyte file onto the 1400's hard disk (dual boot on the 1400 makes everything harder, but I can't get rid of that 8.5 partition) which is set to take several more hours.

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Super briefly, by way of setting expectations, some images from my Mavica:


But first, let wthww and I take a selfie:



My 6100 and 180:



wthww and beige G3 AIO



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Got PhotoFlash on the 1400 and some pictures on it. They are, as expected, okay.


Everything is, of course, much faster on the 1400. I haven't yet figured out using PhotoFlash to pull the images. What I've been doing so far (and this is pretty similar to how I was usng the Sony Mavica) is treating each diskette or import as its own "roll" in the overarching folder structure.


Basically, it's looking like this:


Mac HD

> Photos

> > [Library File]

> > roll 1

> > roll 2


It's pretty rudimentary, but it's not that far from what I was doing when I was manually managing photos with Bridge CS3-CS4, which was essentially splitting source images into groups that were about 4 gigs a pop, to make it easier to burn them onto DVD-R media as a backup. Lightroom splits by day, so this kind of thing really isn't unprecedented even in modern times when it's easy enough to have a single folder with a few thousand things on it.


The QuickTake appears to have just about 900 kilobytes of storage on it. I imagine much more would have been unreasonably costly in 1995, and this amount of data should make it easy to backup onto floppy diskettes.

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Have you considered setting up the Beige G3 as your server, for both LocalTalk and Ethernet/WiFI?  And I suppose if any machine needs to be left always-on, having one with ADB, mD8 serial, a floppy drive and SCSI might be advantageous.

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Long-term, I wasn't totally sure if I wanted to use the beige (or even, say, the UMAX C600) as the server or the blue-and-white.


The blue-and-white made sense initially because it is easier to mount lots of drives therein, and because USB makes it easy to duplicate the contents of those drives onto USB backup drives.


The beige, I'd been thinking of using as my OS 9 "desktop" -- but logically, the B&W does make more sense for that task, even though it won't be able to do the most retro of things, particularly those pertaining to, say, the QuickTake and the ActionCam.


The other-other-other choice is to, say, run an NT4/2000/2003 VM on my actual server and let the whole thing be covered by my normal backup regimen.


The whole thing going on here is that I'm going to just get an Ethernet to Localtalk bridge. I don't even need to "get" one, I just need to pull it out of my storage locker. This way, the server itself doesn't really need to do the bridging.  I'm not looking into nor do I think I'll deploy, say, macipgw or anything like it, at least not yet. It might be an interesting way to get, say, hotline connectivity on my non-Ethernet 68k Macs.

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I haven't forgotten this, but I got some kind of cold again.


I've hit just a little bit of a snag, which shouldn't take too long to fix, but it will be annoying: The images are all on the 1400, they look about as you'd expect. The problem is, they are PICT files. I can't believe I forgot this, but the QuickTake shoots PICTs. PhotoFlash doesn't really differentiate them (or do a whole lot at all to show you where they are in the filesystem, let you fix broken links in your library, manage the library for you, etc.)


I think what you're probably supposed to do is make a library for each "roll" or "project" you do, instead of having one big library.


Anyway, I'm figuring out the best way to batch convert PICTs to JPEGs. I'm looking at Adobe Photoshop 4.0.img and thinking it may just come down to installing that and hoping that it's got the batch processing functionalities newer versions do. I may eventually need PS for some other stuff I want to do anyway.


GraphicConverter on my modern Mac will do it, I never had GC on my old Macs. In a pinch, I can do this with a modern copy of GC, but I want one of my os 7/9 machines to be able to do it. 

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Found GraphicConverter 3.5.1 on a late '90s MacWorld CD. The one with MacAmp and the MP3s on it. I may need to revisit that later because that's just hilarious.


So, basically GC can convert whole folders of whatever images you pick. It was inconvenient for me because my two quicktake rolls were in separate folders and this version appears not to let you do whole folders at once.


(PhotoFlash does let you export a single image at a time, but I didn't want to bother.)


I've attached some images to the post. This was at night using some room lighting and the flash. The pictures aren't impressive, but they're serviceable, especially for 1995.


In general, I think I like the Mavica a little better, it's got double the storage capacity per disk, and the workflow is just a lot easier. The sony rechargeable camera batteries are still being made, and you can swap diskettes as you go. Unless I get a QuickTake or a Kodak digital camera, the Mavica will probably be my default vintage camera.

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IrfanView should be able to handle PICT files on WIndows. For *NIX boxen, there is always trusty ImageMagick for batch conversions.


I seem to recall the QuickTake 150 being a Kodak product that was customized by Apple. I wouldn't be surprised if it stores images as JPEG internally in the camera and Apple's software wraps them in a PICT file.

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Confirmed: SparcStation Voyager. It's a neat little machine, I run OpenSTEP on it. Although, I got the SS10 to run openstep on, because openstep will turn the image black but won't actually turn off the backlights as part of power saving. One day I want to get the appropriate release of SunOS on there.


If the camera does store them as JPEG internally, it doesn't expose that to the Mac at all. I imported the photos by dragging them off the folder that the desktop icon opens, and they come in as PICT.


It is possible that if Kodak built the hardware, Apple wrote the software.


I wanted one of the old machines to do the work, in part because that's the charm of even bothering to touch something like a QuickTake. If I wanted to take bad pictures and put them on my Windows PC, I'd use my 4th gen iPod Touch to do it.


I took a bunch of screenshots of what I've been doing with photoflash on the 180 and the 1400, I'll have to see about getting those and putting them somewhere.


I also noted that these images all have a yellow cast, probably because I have fluorescent lighting. I'll have to see if I can color correct a few of them and post the results.

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