A day floating a river with the JAZZ 206 point 'n' shoot!
Updated: Sep 12
A few days ago, I was on a river trip down a narrow and winding slow rush of water for my partners’ sisters Birthday. The last time I was on a river here in Spokane, I didn’t have that great of a time, so I was reluctant, and having trouble getting all the negatives I had formed in my head out. I was excited and nervous and almost decided not to go, but by the time I had my bright blue swishy shorts and and my flappy camo hat on, all I needed to do was grab a camera I thought would be a good fit for a hopefully mellow float. I had a few in mind, and I ended up settling on the cheapest and least of a bummer if it were to tumble in the water while I was toppling out of a kayak. The kids choice award went to the plastic mini dump of a camera, the Jazz 206 35mm point and shoot.
It takes 1 AA battery for the flash and has a clam shell slide cover for lens protection. It is even equipped with a little switch to select panoramic or full frame mode. Granted, like almost all point and shoots with this kind of panoramic mode as an option, it isn’t a true panoramic image, just a little mask, like if you were to squint your eyes. It also has a 27mm lens, which is pretty incredible, an aperture of f9.5, and a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second. All that to say I thought that even if it got wet, the film ruined or the camera lost forever in those shallow waters, I really wouldn’t mind.
The Start of the float.
Sally and I got to the super crowded parking lot, unloaded the inflatables and dragged them over to meet the group. Once everything was pumped and all the greetings had happened, it was time to join the numbers of other people floating on that hot day. We slid into the water, one beside the other and got smoothly swept along. Within the first 500 feet though, I had a hard time, but people pulled me to the side, and gave me a little tutorial to help me get more comfortable and gather my bearings. After a few minutes of that, we were off!
Mel paddling the cool waters.
The camera was looped around a rope that held my Nalgene and it clinked along as I paddled, reminding me to look alive, and snap away. There are so many variations of this camera, all on the very very cheap end of camera shopping spectrum. There are see through gem bodies, similar shaped and layouts of the body I have but with different branding. I have a charcoal gray body, with semi faded lettering. No matter how I load the film, it always has a double scratch across the whole of the negative strip. So look out for that. The single element plastic lens doesn’t provide much in the way of sharp or clear images, softening sort of through out the whole frame, not just at the edges.
Everyone at the water before re boarding.
It really was the best option though, I didn’t have to do anything, it being a focus free camera and all. It was such a beautifully day, the birds were loud and sailing all around. The ducks were nothing but butts and dragonflies skimmed the edges of the kayaks as we were swooped along. It was so sandy out there, in the land of clear waters and shivering cottonwoods.
Raccoon Print in mud.
At one point we stopped to snack, rest and chat, there was the subtle print of a raccoon who had stopped at the edge of the river to drink. The light was perfect for this camera as well, stabbing bright and the shadows hung heavy beside everything. There wasn't much else to it, there were loads of splendid views and distant conversations. This trip drastically reshaped my view of kayaking/floating, but of course, I'll only go if the river is this smooth in the future.
This camera is perfect for making images for memories sake, no fancy nothing. I will bring this with me again, somewhere, sometime and maybe try and file down the part scratching my film to at least have a cleaner negative to work with after the fact.
Stevie, Erica, Charlie.
The Jazz 206 is a super light, all plastic, go getter of a camera. I recommend it for those who want a camera that can knock against a water bottle for four hours and still work. Not having to worry about rangefinder focus being off, or focusing with a dented prism. You might have a mishap, you might accidentally flick it to panoramic mode or even break the slide cover or advance wheel while in use. That is the beauty of this whole experience: it doesn’t matter! Just ride the cheap and invaluable wave of un smooth Jazz it emits in its ability to just be and have fun!
EDITOR IN CHIEF: Sally Jablonsky