Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Retired...With Honors

Well, I milked that as far as it would go.

A couple summers ago, I won a camera, in a raffle at work. It was nothing fancy, by any means.

The mighty Kodak C530. No optical zoom. No audio. Few, if any adjustments. Five buttons and a control wheel. Simplicity. Just 5 mega pixels of point and shoot fun. It fit nicely in my pocket, (where my cigarette pack used to go). Rugged, durable, and cheap. Above all, it was free.

I scoffed when I won it, and thought about giving it away. It came in sealed clear plastic, rather than a box, like a toothbrush. I didn't have too much regard for a device that had hung on a rack at a discount store. But over time I grew to love that camera, as I took picture after picture, eventually reaching into the thousands. I was impressed by it's amazing fortitude; It'd been rained on, heated up in a baking hot car, frozen overnight in a freezing car, fallen out of pockets, sat on, jostled and bumped, scratched and nicked. It brushed off the abuse and continued to click away like new.

Right around New Years, it had taken a considerably harsh fall, so bad the batteries popped out, and the little battery door nearly broke off. I thought it was over right there. But I gently put the batteries back in, turned it on, and sure enough the little trooper clicked off a few more pictures, like nothing ever happened. I was amazed.

I have a sick weakness for portable gadgets and devices. I have them all; a GPS, a laser rangefinder, a camcorder, untold numbers of flashlights of all strengths and sizes, three binoculars of various power and sizes, a mini microscope, an ipod and a pre-ipod era mp3 player, an electronic fish-weighing scale, a couple multi-tools, a satellite radio. My cell phone was attached to my belt for the longest time. If you can fit it in a pocket or backpack, I probably own it. I don't know how this all started. I must have some deep rooted fear that someday I may have to suddenly pick up and run, with only what I can carry on my back, or hang from my belt.

All that aside, I have to say the only gadget other than the Kodak, that has similarly impressed me with it's durability and longevity, is my trusty Timex watch. But that's a blog for another day...

Any way, that last drop for the Kodak was the beginning of the end. About a week later, it began occasionally displaying a disturbing, staticy streak across the view screen. That streak would come and go, unpredictably. Then it began just going blank now and again. For the past two weeks, I'd have to rap it lightly against something pretty much whenever I started it up. It was time to begin doing research on a replacement.

I fully intended to get another cheapo camera. I found all the Kodak really lacked, was audio for when I took video clips. I'm not a photographer, nor did I ever care to be. In fact I think I like taking pictures, mainly just because I have a penchant for saving stuff, even images. So I didn't want to spend a fortune. I just needed sound, really.

I checked on the web for reviews, checked Consumer Reports, went to a couple stores and tried some cameras out. I examined them as best as I could, since the ones I liked infallibly were the ones that weren't working. (It didn't help that they're all attached to high tension cables, with a recoil that could take your wrist off if your not careful). I learned a lot; ISO's, apertures, shutter speeds, ect. My research narrowed down to a couple cameras in the 100-120 dollar range. I toyed with the idea of getting another Kodak, for like 80 bucks.

So it was that I finally entered the store, ready to get a Nikon Coolpix L11. Or maybe a Sony DSC-S700. Or maybe a Kodak M853. It didn't matter. My gaze fell on a camera that I hadn't noticed before. And it was on sale, and the display model worked. I checked out it's features and some other like-priced models. I found that for like $30 dollars more, the quality of the cameras rose exponentially. These were real cameras. They could do things that I'll never need to do. Features I'll never find a use for. These cameras could do the things that I had read about, when I was reading those confusing reviews on the web a couple days ago. These were the adult cameras the reviewers used, to compare to the childrens' cameras I was in the market for. Only $30 bucks more....

I bit.
I hope I don't regret it.

I ended up getting the Canon Powershot A590. Gluttony. Way more than I need. I was going out for a Volkswagen, and got a Beemer instead. I also coughed up for the insurance plan, as I know the camera will likely take a tumble or two.

I haven't begun to scratch the surface of this camera's capabilities. But, kind of feeling like a little kid toying around with dad's new lawn tractor, I snapped off a couple of pics in East Longmeadow and downtown Springfield, in the growing twilight...

Ok. Not perfect, but I have a lot to learn yet. I still have to read through the novella they refer to as an owner's manual, that came with it.

I just hope the fun doesn't get lost in the work...