Saturday, August 22, 2009

Moving forward

When I recently became president of my running club, due to my higher profile, the adverse reaction became pointed. Formerly, In my role as Programs Director for my running club, I took a lot of pictures because I liked to record the training programs I directed. You know, bands of indistinguishable runners loping down the Mall, that sort of thing.

For the past several years I have been using disposable cameras. I get the film developed and order a CD with electronic images on it. Although the results are not instantaneous, people tell me that film cameras actually take better pictures than digital cameras. But what do I know?

Some people within the club, who don't like my style, have taken this as further proof of what a cretin I am, still using last century's technology. It's not that they saw my preference as quaint, they were genuinely offended by it. Instead of being bemused when I use tried and true instead of cutting edge, they are outraged. These are much younger folks, less tolerant, who have no use for old fogeys who still mail checks or carry a cell without a camera or Internet capability on it.

I actually had a digital camera which I bought for $500 four years ago. I had a friend show me how to use it. It was simple to operate, really. I'll tell you one thing though. I'd rather lose or ruin a $6 disposable camera than a $500 one.

And I'll tell you another thing. I think digital cameras promote two things. One is that no shots are ever reduced to a "picture" anymore that can be shown to a friend, sent to Grandma or put in an album. It only exists, unseen, within someone's hard drive forever once it gets offloaded there. The other is what I call snapping diarrhea. Every little thing is shot, with no thought about framing the picture or relevancy.

So for a few weeks I've been using the digital camera. Mostly I take running shots. If I get ahead of the running crowd and open the camera, wait for it to get ready to shoot, which takes about five seconds (no point & shoot with this thing), and then click the shutter, it'll take a picture, in about another two seconds. In other words, I shoot the shot that will "appear" in two seconds, not the scene that is actually before me.

I learned to take head on shots, not side shots. And anything but a dead-head-on shot was blurry anyway. What I have is a $500 landscape camera. It's worthless for running shots.

I have learned a few things. My camera is worthless. It's 3 Mega pixels, and the standard now is 12. The photo card that came with it was 286 MB and cost me $85, back then. It took about 20 pictures and then filled up. So I got to buy another more "modern" card with 2 GB for $30.

My battery, which lasts about two years, dies after about five shots. I went to Best Buy to purchase a new one. Uh, they don't carry it anymore. 2005 hardware is all on the scrap heap. I special ordered it for $20. The salesman pointedly showed me a $99 Kodak with the aforesaid 12 Mega pixels. I think the implication was for me to throw out this $500 four-year old implement.

This is progress, right? At my house I have an entire shelf dedicated to charging units, for my Garmin, my laptop, my cellphone, my camera. None of the chargers will charge anything else. No attachment will fit into anything else. Wires and plugs everywhere.

I recently was at a super thrift store, perusing the clutter on the camera shelf. I bought an Olympus 35MM automatic advance date recording zoom lense camera for $4.99 and a Nikon 35MM automatic advance date recording zoom lense camera for $4.99. I used to pay $250 for cameras like that and yes, I know how to operate them even without the manual, which of course wasn't around. Two 123 batteries later ($13.59) and they are operating just fine. They take much better running shots and landscape shots than practically any digital camera I could buy.

I can wait for my special order digital battery to come in.


Sunshine said...

Perhaps running club folks who are offended by the kind of camera someone else uses need to get a life... and perhaps focus on more humanitarian issues.
Whatever camera works for you, Peter, go for it.

jeanne said...

i got my camera 7 years ago. it's big, but it does the job! i would like a nice compact one for bike rides however. and yep, i'm guilty of snapping diarhhea. but i probly also have diarhhea of the pen as well. give people tools of communication, and god only knows what they'll start doing!

Anne said...

I too sometimes miss the forethought that used to go into photography, but I also admit I like the mobility and possibilities with a tiny digital camera. You're right about the blurred shots though.

Rainmaker said...

Impressive - you've managed in the last few weeks to leapfrog back into the digital age.