Camera crisis

Last night my camera (an old Olympus C-2100 Ultra-Zoom) went kaput. I suspect there’s a little motor that’s responsible for moving the lenses to adjust focus, and it’s failed… as neither the auto, nor the manual focus work. (Unlike an SLR, the “manual” focus is still electronic – pressing buttons rather than twisting a ring on the lens.)

I mentioned this in a post yesterday, but I wanted to talk about it again because it’s a crushing blow. My camera is like my various writing tools… I don’t put them to as good a use as some, but I enjoy the heck out of using them. A part of me saw the camera breaking as an oportunity. When I bought the camera, it was a bit of a compromise. I truly loved my film cameras before it: a fully manual Pentax, and a Canon EOS. I’m no artist, but I had great fun playing with focus, depth of field and exposure on my film SLRs. Each of these adjustments are either impossible to play with, or so poorly arranged on a point-and-shoot camera that it’s hardly worth bothering. The Olympus was somewhere in between. Using shutter priority or aperture priority mode was easy enough, but going fully manual on exposure was a mess (and “manual” focus was completely impractical, unless you had five minutes to compose your shot… and even I’m not that patient).

But, it was a digital camera, so it had a huge advantage over my film cameras… instant feedback. With my film cameras I never remembered how I took a picture by the time I had it developed, so when they came out bad it was tough to learn from my mistakes. Occasionally I’d take notes as I took pictures, but carrying around a notepad when I was out on a hike was a big pain in the but (and took away from the purpose of the hike: to relax).

I said before that a small part of me saw this as an opportunity, because this is a chance to right a wrong. I could do it right this time and get a nice digital SLR. I’ve read good things about the Pentax Nikon D40 (Macworld thinks highly of it), and I can see myself on a hike with the kids, snapping pictures and sharing them with the kids as we go. (Every time I take a picture the kids always rush over to see how it came out. It’s adorable and makes picture taking an event, not just a throw away moment. Beth has even become quite the critic, commenting on the more technical aspects she likes in a picture. It’s a lot of fun… a hobby I can truly share with the kids.)

But, that old problem rears it’s ugly face again: money. We just got a computer. We just sprung a leak somewhere in the house, and plumbing can get expensive to fix. Under the circumstances, just getting a new camera will be a hard sell to the wife, let alone doubling (or tripling) the cost of a simple point and shoot to spring for a digital SLR.

My consumer sense is tingling again.

Give the gift of words.