Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Just Point And Shoot Me






I'm not the sort of person who'll replace a perfectly good camera just because something better comes along. Even it if got eaten by a wolverine, I might be inclined to wait it out and see how it cleans up. It's my nature. The word you're looking for is "thrifty."

My old camera was one of the earlier digital models. What it lacks in slimness and capacity it makes up in paid-for-ness. But I decided to look into a new one in advance of my recent birding trip. The old camera did a fine job, but it would put out only a couple dozen pictures before it took to the fainting couch with the vapors, fanning itself with the effort. "Lawsy, Miz Murr," it would say. "I do declare I couldn't take another byte." With most cameras, you can relieve this kind of congestion the same way you do with people (poke a stick in), but not mine. It's too old. The folks at the camera store busted into giggles when they saw it, which annoyed me.

I explained to them that all I was interested in was a simple point-and-shoot without much in the way of features. I don't ask much of a camera. "It would be nice if it were a little smaller," I said, which caused the camera people to erupt anew. Wiping away the snot of mirth, they assembled a collection of matchbook-sized cameras for my perusal. I didn't choose the very smallest one, which was the size of a Wheat Thin and could get Saturn into focus. But mine was way smaller than its own manual. For a person who is easily intimidated by features, this is very alarming.

My old camera didn't have many features, but it had at least one more than I'd been aware of, which I found out when I tried to take a picture of a flower and the shutter didn't move. I put it down to a spent battery and walked towards the house dangling my camera. Later I emailed what I thought was a photo of an artichoke blossom to my family. It turned out to be a short video of me headed inside to go to the bathroom, and faded to black just as I got my pants down. I imagine my family did not know what to make of it.

So the new camera is sort of a point and shoot. Really it's more of a point-consult menu-choose setting-install software-order takeout-fluff your pillow-and-shoot. I hunkered down with the manual with fear in my heart.

Having a camera like this for my purposes is like going to the marble halls of the Library of Congress to check out The Cat In The Hat. Lordy, do it have features. There are separate settings for day, night, sunset, party, beach, snow, volcanic ash probably, and that special gray area at dusk and dawn (the default Oregon setting). It can recognize human faces, which makes it handy as a vampire detection system. Once a face is recognized, the camera can be set up to not take a picture until the person is smiling. Think how long a battery would last in the Dick Cheney household! There's a skin-softening feature. I'm not sure how that works but I think I found the hole in front that the lotion squirts out of. In the editing phase, you can get rid of a mole in less time than it takes to get Kaiser Dermatology to even answer the phone.

There is a food setting. A setting just for food. This might seem a little too out there except that, as it happens, I take lots of pictures of food. It's always Dave's food, because his food is always weird. Sometimes he makes a whole plateful of beige food. Sometimes his dinner looks like something a deer already ate.

There's a museum setting. When the "best shot selector" is enabled, the camera will automatically veer away from the Thomas Kinkade paintings and focus on the floor registers.

There's a fireworks setting. There's a Blink Proof feature. I got a little sleepy towards Page 146, but I believe there is a setting that will replace the subject of your choice with Johnny Depp. But I made it all the way through the manual.

I wanted to know all the possibilities before I accidentally sent anyone my x-rays.

32 comments:

  1. Brilliant, as always. "I do declare I couldn't take another byte," "that special gray area at dusk and dawn (the default Oregon setting)." "Think how long a battery would last in the Dick Cheney household!" "When the 'best shot selector' is enabled, the camera will automatically veer away from the Thomas Kinkade paintings and focus on the floor registers."

    As a side note, Mr. Kinkade was just arrested for driving under the influence. He's probably not smiling right now.

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  2. Loved it !!! That camera is Super Camera !!! LOL
    Great post as always.

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  3. How I can relate - my camera is several years old and there are still settings that have never been used. When our appliances and cars are smarter than us - look out!

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  4. I always had the nagging feeling something was missing from Thomas Kinkade paintings, then I figured out what that was... Smurfs.

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  5. You always crack me up.

    I just bought the same camera (mine is blue) to take to work with me. Didn't want to kill my big, lovely SLR by getting it around other people's kids.

    I have found, with the new camera, that just sitting and playing with the features has taught me a lot more than the manual.

    My parents have an ANCIENT (1998?) digital. Which, according to my mom, is 'great, it was top of the line.'

    Mmm. Okay.

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  6. Elizabeth BrewsterJune 16, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    That video of you going to the bathroom is a classic. WAY better than a flower picture. Way.

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  7. I think the world needs a blog called "Figure Out What Dave Ate," a human version of "I Can Has Cheezeburger?" Instead of cute furry animals, it'll feature cute furry Dave, or perhaps, a furry food item. In my fridge, there's always a good chance of finding one.

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  8. Still don't know how to use my camera. I spend all my time saying "Mo, how can I see the pictures again?" "Why is this little thingamabob blinking?" "Now everything is blurry except my finger, which wasn't supposed to be in there anyway" "Who keeps taking pictures of the floor?" If Mo is not home I have to buy a new memory card because I can't figure out how to download or delete the pictures when the memory card is full. They know me at the camera store, when they see me come in they have the memory card already rung up so they can take the old one out and put the new one in. I bet they think I'm some crazy old lady taking pictures of my neighbors cats peeing in my yard.

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  9. My camera has buttons and dials and a flip out screen that sometimes shows a scene if the right button is pushed. My stepson has to show me which button that is. The dial on the top has a bunch of things on it. But I only recognize that spot that says 'Auto'. When it is not on Auto I am supposed to do other things that I don't understand.

    Auto and I understand each other.

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  10. whatever that is Dave ate, I promise I will not serve it to you. But, have to tell you, we had the FIRST digital camera...a prototype teenie little thing from the early 90's ..something Get Smart woulda liked. Unfortunatley, I think John ate it ...accidently.

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  11. Love it. [I don't like Mr. Cheney any better than you do, and I'm a registered Elephant.] And I concur with your opinion of Mr. K's paintings. I used to think they were OK. That was before my best friend started dragging me to the Amon Carter Museum here in FW, and I discovered Eakins and O'Keeffe and Cole and ...

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  12. Did you hear me laughing from across the river? You got me at "Food Setting"...this is so not what the chefs try to put together on a pretty plate!

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  13. I have actual tears in my eyes from laughter. Is there a setting for that? and how do I get the Johnny Depp replacement feature??

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  14. Thrifty wasn't the word I was looking for, actually. But, as usual, you prove that you're a genius with lines like:

    "Lawsy, Miz Murr," it would say. "I do declare I couldn't take another byte."

    or:

    "When the "best shot selector" is enabled, the camera will automatically veer away from the Thomas Kinkade paintings and focus on the floor registers."

    or:

    "Once a face is recognized, the camera can be set up to not take a picture until the person is smiling. Think how long a battery would last in the Dick Cheney household!"

    You shame us with your brilliance, Murr.

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  15. Thanks, MikeWJ. I do believe you have met FrankLee, above?
    Actually, I was wondering if there were any Kinkade fans out there...and bless you, Lynn. I don't generally give much for a registered Elephant to cheer for, so that speaks well of your tolerance. Yo Catbird: Dave probably serves me furry fridge stuff all the time, and makes me like it. Horseradish is a sort of miracle, isn't it?

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  16. I have a complaint to register, Murr. It takes too long to read your posts.

    The posts aren't too long, that's not it. The problem is that I always laugh so much while reading them that I end up having to read parts aloud to my family (to explain the explosions of mirth), and then they enjoy it so much that they make me back up and read the whole thing aloud. It takes forever.

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  17. That was so funny. My daughter always knows so much more about electronics than me...she explians all the features to me like ita common knowledge.

    Stick with the book research...its part of the fun!

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  18. You had me convulsed with laughter once more. I shall never look at a camera (or teddy bear) in the same way again. I don't even have a camera, I can't be arsed to take photos. My partner has a fancy digital job but I think most of the features are still a mystery to her.

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  19. My first was a Brownie box camera, designed for the masses -- including little girls. They weren't all that simple either. You had to thread the film in, just so. If you forgot to advance the shot counter, you'd get a double exposure. It often got stuck, and the shot counter wasn't always reliable at the end. You had to be super careful removing the film or you'd expose it. Then you'd take the film to be developed, and pay a small fortune for 90% useless pictures. I stopped taking pictures altogether for decades, except on rare occasion with a Suzy Single-Use (comparable results). But my spouse bought me a Canon digital a couple of years ago. I love not paying for my mostly bad pictures and the miracles of Photoshop!

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  20. Funny, funny stuff. I just bought a new camera, too, and went through much the same thing as I endeavored to figure out all the bells and whistles, but your muse gave you a brilliant post out of it and my muse appears to have taken an extended vacation.

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  21. You'll probably use just a few features, and the rest will slip from memory. Then again, you are probably a whole lot smarter than I am. I liked the Dick Cheney line; perhaps it's my sense of humour, but it may be because of my progressive bent.

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  22. Love it. I surrender the technical manual of any electrical produce to M. DeFarge so that he can have his moment of superiority. I just trust my innate sense of womanly multi-tasking to see me through every button pressing option.

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  23. I'm not only not smarter than anyone, I'm not as smart as my camera. But I will take it over the Brownie that I, too, started with. Remember how touchy it was to thread the film in? And then you'd take all these pictures until you realized it wasn't advancing at all. Then I got an Instamatic! Wooo! Several years of crappy little square pictures!

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  24. My youngest daughter just bought herself a camera with savings and graduation gifts. It was researched for hours and days. A Sony digital SLR, she hopes to pursue photography in college. I, on the other hand, am totally in sympathy with you. Both of us laughed right out loud reading it! Now, try and buy a cell phone that just lets you call your kids or simply answer and say hello.

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  25. This was quite funny! I'm a horrible photo taker although I do so love to point and click. Perhaps just need the right camera instead of just using my camera phone!

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  26. Murr, I'm enjoying spending my Saturday night reading your funny blog. I'd take a pic of my delight with my new camera and send it to you, but it doesn't have a setting for goobers.

    Anyway, thanks for the chuckles.

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  27. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who found out about the video feature by accidently turning it on. This one really hit home.

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  28. The last time I got a new digital camera I wanted one that would focus close up as i wanted to take close ups of flowers but I also wanted more than 3 x zoom. Five years later I still have to take the manual out to use some features.
    I found your blog from a comment you made today on Time Goes By and read your post about bike lanes.

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  29. I have just hopscotched over the internet through links from multi-bloggers, the last being Julie Zipperfoot's tale about the scary tornado that had the nerve to blow her and your friends house away.

    Now that I've recovered myself from reading this post, I may never be the same. The features on the camera had me nearly peeing my panties, left skid marks there too. Oh, so hilarious! I keep chuckling to myself, causing my husband to run in here to see if I'm having a fit of some sort. Thanks for the great laughs. This won't be my last visit to your blog.

    Jesse, an avid birder with yearnings of becoming a bird/nature artist when I grow up...I just had my 71st birthday.

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  30. Jesse, I've heard there's a tremendous growth spurt between 71 and 72. Keep reading, you've got 159 more to go in the archives! And tell all your little friends.

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