I survived my second deployment to Alaska, and my first deployment to Alaska at sea. After seeing Alaska during the summer, I came to see it much differently; beautiful, green, snow-capped, and peaceful. I came to truly love being out at sea. It was June, so the weather was much more tolerable for a Southern California teen like myself. Midnight twilight was also an incredibly interesting experience. Summertime Alaska is a place where one might be able to live without sleep, there is always just enough ambient light to successfully navigate a rocky shoreline, and the locals love to make the most of dry and warm (relatively speaking) weather.
Our deployment ended after 60 days. We transited to Kodiak Island, and subsequently visited Dutch Harbor/Unalaska and Albatross Bank – the most unbelievable halibut fishing spot in the world, and this time we hit gold. Huge flatty after huge flatty; there must have been 30 or 40 caught anywhere from 20-90 pounds each. Needless to say, we ate halibut for the remainder of the patrol.
I digress…the great thing about being away from home for two months (and being young and single) is that there is not much need to spend any money. Although we were paid meagerly, those of us who were frugal while deployed would have a nest egg when we returned to land. After coming home, I was in the market for a digital camera. This was 2001, and the market was just beginning to see resolution at 5 megapixels (sounds ridiculous!). Among the my choices were the Canon EOS D30, coming in at a then-knee-buckling 3.3 megapixels, but did capture RAW at least! The Nikon Coolpix 990 was also an option. It sold for $1,000 and, like the Canon, carried a trio of megapixels. Instead I opted for the Sony Cybershot DSC-F707. It came in at a cool $1,000 at Fry’s, and I got a free 128 megabite (yes, you read that right!) Sony Memory Stick with it. By far, the best thing about this camera was the Carl Zeiss lens, and perhaps night vision imaging capabilities.
I primarily went with Sony because they had a reputation in the film and broadcast industry. Now, obviously they weren’t shooting movies on digital media at this point in time, so my logic was quite flawed and went largely unsupported. However, the sensor and lens combination on this camera produced some really beautiful images. Things I thought were cool about this camera:
- The lens was permanently attached. Again, no real logic behind this. Maybe I didn’t know that there were cameras with interchangeable lenses at that time. Nonetheless, it was cool because
- The lens and body swiveled! Like some of today’s cameras, you could tilt the lens down or up. So, composing shots while holding the camera overhead was easy compared to blindly throwing your arm up there and chimping at the back of the camera later.
- Two words: Night Vision. It was super grainy, completely unprintable, and it had a greenish/blue sort of cast.
- Digital viewfinder. Like some of the compact digital cameras today, this camera had a digital viewfinder. For some reason, I thought that was just the best thing ever.
- Video. As well as 5mp stills, the DSC-F707 took standard definition video – including night vision video.
- Digital Zoom. I now know better, but the digital zoom on this camera seemed pretty legit. 10x!
This camera took superb photos! Sharpness and clarity were on point and I wonder how much use I could have gotten out of it if I had a clue about what a proper exposure looked like. Here are a couple samples: