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Solar-Powered and Mechanically-Powered: A First in Digital Cameras

person holding mechanically powered camera

A digital camera is now in the market with the capability to be powered mechanically or through solar energy. Superheadz Japan recently unveiled the brand new device, calling it the “Sun & Cloud” camera. It promises to be a first, not so much in its capability to take pictures, but rather from its ability to independently generate power. From now on, you can take the “low batt” prospect out of the equation, as far as this digital camera is concerned. A green camera!

black suncloud solarpowered camera white suncloud solarpowered camera

Solar and mechanical power are the energy options available to operate this device. It uses a small solar panel placed on the top of the camera, which obviously absorbs sunlight for energy. For mechanically powered operation, we, the users are actually the energy source. A lever can be found on the side of the camera which you have to crank. This acts as an energy interface turning your physical effort into usable power for the gadget. If, however, you find yourself both without ample sunlight and with no time, inclination or strength to crank the box, then there is USB charging as a third power option.

viewfinder of suncloud solarpowered camera

The “Sun & Cloud” does not look like a camera at all. The closest apparatus that comes to mind that also takes pictures would be a pinhole camera. Leave it on a table and it would easily pass for a mounted pencil sharpener you find in most grade schools. Its physical dimensions are 6 x 6 x 8 inches, and it weighs 200 grams. It has a high powered LED flash in the front that does a decent job of lighting dark environments. Facing the user at the back is an LED screen for viewfinder and review purposes. There is also the usual UI and its accompanying function buttons.

Performance specifications on this camera are listed as follows:

  • 3-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • ISO range 100 to 800
  • Photo and Video recording (AVI files with 30fps or 8fps frame rates)
  • 3 still photo modes: normal range of 150cm; portrait range of 60-150cm; macro range of 25-35cm
  • 15 built-in filters

Sample shots taken with the Sun & Cloud camera:

grass swaying in the breeze on the beach girl on laptop typing swaying weeds with cross in background

You can purchase this camera for about $199 from AC Gears or directly from the Superheadz website (which is in Japanese).

Not the prettiest camera out there and the image quality leaves a lot to be desired, but hey, it works! Would you purchase this camera?

Patricia Ramos the author

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.

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