The coming camera calamity

In October 2003 I purchased my first digital camera, a Canon PowerShot S50 point-and-shoot model.  Since then I’ve taken 11,818 photos and 378 videos for a total of 22.6 GB of data.

More than 1,620 of those photos and 64 of those videos appeared in posts on this blog.

In the past few months, however, I have spoken of growing problems with this marvelous piece of equipment.  I’ve called it an “increasingly crippled camera” and have said it progressively “offers me nothing but headaches.”  While the tone appears to me overly harsh, the truth hidden within those words is irrefutable.

You see, my little Canon has been dropped multiple times, heated to excruciatingly high and cooled to chillingly low temperatures, soaked by rain and snow more times than I can count, suffered dramatic and abrupt swings in humidity levels, and used with a rough hand and serious intent.  Given all of that, it should have died many moons ago.

Yet it didn’t.  And it still hasn’t despite its newfound emotional problems.

Overall, the primary issue I have with it now is with the main control toggle.  It works fine side to side; not so much up and down.

In fact, scrolling down through the controls has become nearly impossible.  That function works a tiny fraction of the time.  When it does work, it’s hit and miss.

I usually have to scroll up through the controls to reach what I want, even if what I want is directly below where I already am.  This seemed a minor inconvenience for the first month or so, nothing more than a wee interruption when I’d forget I needed to go up instead of down.

But now. . .

Now, as you might expect, up grows closer to its downward brother in that it no longer works.  This makes changing ISO, lighting, speed, aperture value, and every other setting nearly impossible.  When the control sticks, it sticks with vehemence, and that leaves me having to take photographs using whatever settings the camera already has in its various modes.

Hence my recent comments about photos being less than presentable despite my efforts.

Nevertheless, this hiccup hasn’t dissuaded me from snapping images every chance I get.  I doubt anything could do that.

Besides, I can manipulate the pics in various pieces of software to make them agreeable.  I hate doing that, yes, but I also love taking pictures and would never give up sharing them unless I couldn’t take any more.  If modifying them digitally is the only way to make that happen, so be it.

But now a new hope appears on the horizon.

You might remember my wishful thinking in April regarding the Canon PowerShot S3 IS, a digital point-and-shoot camera with 12x optical zoom and a plethora of functions and abilities heretofore unheard of from my little S50, not to mention compatibility with various 35mm lenses and accessories that could be used to extend its functionality.  While still being a P&S, it offered a whole new world to my questing eye.

Due in no small part to my birthday happening in the same month as a litany of other celebrations, wishes truly can come true.  The days themselves are meaningless; the people who feel otherwise are what matter.

I’ve received in the last three weeks a handful of gift cards from various people, tokens of love either for the anniversary of my birth or some flavor of this season’s holiday celebrations.  When the running tally hit $1,000, I knew I had scored the photography jackpot. . .at least in my eyes.

With Visa, MC, and AmEx goodies in hand, I recently set out on a mission to satiate my photographic jones.

I now present to you my soon-to-arrive friend: the Canon PowerShot S5 IS digital camera, not to mention a tripod, more memory, additional lenses, plenty of batteries, and various accessories.

What I will say first goes without saying: I considered more than necessary the possibility of manipulating these gift cards so that I could use the majority of their balances to pay back money I owe.  Doing so would have been easy. . .all too easy, I’d say.

Looking at a $500 gift card from Farjad’s family in Lebanon, though, changed my mind about all that.

They lost two family members to the Israeli attacks on their country, and three others were seriously wounded.  How could they afford to send me anything?

Yes, I sent them money during that horrific event.  They needed help considering the circumstances.

When it came time for my birthday, I can’t tell you how surprised I felt when I opened an envelope from them and found this marvelous gift.  How could I dare betray that love, that kinship, by asking for a refund so it could be spent on debt?

So many people do this with gifts, I know, especially Christmas gifts, and despite the fact that so many of us feel horribly insulted when that happens.  Now imagine a healthy present with open ends, one to be used as we see fit, and ask yourself how you’d feel if you found it had been traded in on the generosity of friends and creditors.

There are times when selfishness must be honored, when thinking of ourselves is paramount in the order of things.  This happened to be one such time.

Doha’s letter included with the gift card helped make it all clear to me.  While her English and my Arabic both have become rusty with time, below is a translation of part of that missive.

Mirvat and Hani would want you to have this.  Farjad too.  You mean much to this family.  You always have.  [. . .]

What [the money] you sent after the attacks helped much.  You can’t know what a blessed gift it was to see your letter and the help you offered.  [. . .]

Hassan believes he saw your affection through both eyes!  What a blessing!  You know he wept when we read your letter?  [. . .]

[We are] thankful Bash walks by himself now.  He[‘s] too heavy to carry!

He walks as [Mom] walked.  We joke with him that he’s slow.  He prefers [your recommendation that] we carry him at all times.  You made a monster!

[. . .]

We mostly weep for [Mirvat] and Hani.  What small weight we carry compared to theirs.

That’s why we send [you] this gift.  Hezb’Allah [has] been good to us [Maronites].  They hate Israel and we don’t.  They still help though, like you help.

Please [accept] this gift.  It comes from [all of] us.  [Mom] and Hani, Bash, Hassan, and me.  Your [birthday] matters.  Be blessed and enjoy the love of family.

I wept even as I read those words.  I wept more when I realized how much they had sacrificed to send me a birthday gift.

Only then did I determine what should be done with my unexpected allotment of wealth.  Already had I set aside funds to provide a respectable holiday season for The Kids.  What, though, had I set aside for myself?  Nothing.

The conglomeration of gift cards from various and sundry family and friends provided the answer to that shortcoming.

Soon, poppets, a new camera will arrive, one accompanied by many tidbits of tool and technology that will make it even more useful.

Did I cover the necessary accoutrements for making it compatible with my telescope?  Nope.  Doing so would have forced me to dip into my own funds.  I saw that as a betrayal, one even appropriate for those “friends” who felt it necessary to stab me in the back for dreaming, for wishing for what might be in another time and place.

All in due time, however.  All in due time. . .

As for my existing camera, it still remains a trusted friend.  Only if it fails me entirely will I give it up.  Until then, it has its uses, offers its imperfect functionality, and fits neatly in a small space.  There are times when new is good, but equally there are times when old is better.

2 thoughts on “The coming camera calamity”

  1. I’ve just posted the first photos taken with the new camera. I think you’ll see a difference.

    As for first-person contact with this new gadget, that will come in the near future when I finally get a chance to come out there and visit. Patience, my dear mother, patience. . . I have to get through being on call again next week before I can get there, but it will be soon, I promise.

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