I was playing with a camera this morning, trying to capture flowers in the morning light. In the middle of this artistic endeavor, I had a minor, yet memorable techno-crisis. It is a classic example of the kind of problems that beset us because of the technology on which we depend.

I’ve been taking pictures for more than 40 years. I know my way around a camera.

My first cameras were mechanical. Film. I took a lot of rolls of black and white because I could develop black and white film. A lot cheaper than sending it out to a lab. I also did my own printing, mounting, and framing, though I’ve completely forgotten how.

Olympus PEN PL-5

The only electronic part of those film cameras might be the light meter. My first half-dozen cameras didn’t have built-in light meters, so I used a Weston Master V. It was a standard part of my equipment for years. If I forgot it, the piece of paper that came with Kodak film was a pretty good substitute. We affectionately called it “the paper light meter.”

A while back, I bought a handheld meter almost exactly like the one I used for so many years — and realized I had no idea what to do with it. It has been a long time.

Pentax Q7 plus lenses camera

Cameras might break and need repair, cleaning, or adjustment, but basically, there wasn’t much to go wrong. As long as you didn’t drop it, soak it in salt water, or spill coffee in it, it could last forever. To prove my point, there are a surprising number of these old film cameras still in use.

There weren’t many moving parts: shutter, film winding mechanism. You set film speed (ISO), shutter speed, f-stop. Aim, frame, focus, press the shutter. Voila. Photograph.

Today, my camera wakes me in the morning and starts the coffee. If I ask nicely, it will do the grocery shopping, though it draws the line at laundry. Not really. But close enough.


If something goes wrong, it’s crazy time.

This morning, I removed the lens cap and turned the camera on. I unlocked the lens. The menu came on, but no picture appeared. Flashing on the screen was something I’d never seen before. Without a clue what it meant, I double-checked to make sure I really had removed the lens cap. I had.

So I did what I do with my computer. I rebooted. I turned it off, waited, then turned it back on.

More flashing. No picture.


I removed the battery and the memory card, counted to twenty. Put them back. Still flashing. Still no picture.

By now, I was in full panic mode. My camera wasn’t working. Fear gripped me. Eventually, it occurred to me to check whether or not the lens was properly seated.

Click. The flashing stopped. A picture appeared. The lens had been loose. I must have accidentally pressed the lens release button, so it wasn’t quite locked. Ergo ipso, the camera wouldn’t work.


With all the ridiculous, useless functions built into modern cameras, how come they don’t have anything that alerts you that the lens is loose? Or for that matter, that your battery is about to die? The next time someone is adding bells and whistles to the software, please consider adding something useful. If necessary, remove one of the many pointless menu options and add something we might use.

I felt like a moron. Then, I took some pictures.

Categories: Cameras, Humor, Photography, Technology

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

70 replies

  1. A scary moment. I have flashing lights in my car if a door isn’t shut properly, or I am not wearing my seat belt, so it should be relatively easy to have a warning in our modern cameras. Frustrating.


  2. I shudder at the thought. I can’t afford to let anything happen to my camera as I don’t have many cameras like you. Just an olympus SLR, Nikon DSLR and Sony point and shoot. I don’t like to click with my iphone 6. My son is very happy with it and now a days he uses the phone as it is easy to carry it but I want him to work on DSLR as he is so good in photography.


    • Most people don’t have as many cameras as I do, but I’ve been very lucky and gotten most of them on sale for much less than normal price … and I’ve had many of them for quite a few years. It sometimes surprises me how long I’ve had my older cameras. It seems like I bought them yesterday. I don’t know what the markets are like there. I mostly use online sellers and I put in price alerts, so when the price of something I want drops below the number I set, if I have the money I grab it. Sometimes, I can’t … and sometimes, stuff comes up that I wasn’t looking for but is just what I wanted. You need to have a little loose change and a LOT of luck.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Frustrating when it happens with a camera but can you imagine it happening with your car–while you’re driving. Yeah! that’s been on the news lately. Techno scary stuff.


    • I’ve had it happen in cars, though thank goodness not recently. I’ve had cars just stop. Engine dies, nothing works. Some kind of computer failure or electrical snafu. The most dependable car we have is our 2002 Pontiac which has nothing automatic in it, not even the doors or windows.


  4. There are a lot of computers in digital cameras. There’s also firmware that tell the camera what lens you have attached. If you don’t regularly upgrade your firmware and buy a new fangled lens it won’t work. I’ve run into this many time with my Fuji X-E1 because it was a totally new camera system with lots of new lenses, each had to match that firmware. Cameras are wonderful tools but require initial work setting them up and then praying you don’t bump something that gets them out of whack. I’ve had my camera lock up so many times I know what to look for now. Even that loose lens issue has happened to me a few time. I empathize with your woes.


  5. It should be like a car where the bells and whistles go off when a seatbelt isn’t attached. But, hopefully no one will put auto correct on cameras where the camera will take a photo of the flower it likes and not the one you are focusing on. 🙂


  6. That is the worse feeling, especially after you’ve done the turn on, off reboot to no results. Glad this was an easy fix- but you’re right- if they have managed to have all these bells and whistles they can’t give you a heads up when the battery is low? Grrrrr


  7. Whenever I take a picture things in the viewfinder flash at me. I have no idea what they’re trying to tell me. The photos look okay so I haven’t bothered looking it up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! that’s amazing. The same thing happened to me yesterday as I was fitting my 45mm 1.8 prime to the Oly P3. Camera turned on, No picture. Removed the lens mounted and remounted several times.., still no picture. Then mounted it on the EM10, works fine, put it back on the P3 and it worked WTF.., I still don’t know why it didn’t work before but guess, like your problem, it wasn’t seated correctly? Maybe it wasn’t making contact with the little gold pins in the camera body even though it felt tightly connected? This digital thing can be a pain.., pure optical was easier. If light came through the lens you saw a picture in the finder.., plain and simple.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, and I have never updated any of the firmware inANY of my cameras. Never. I’m afraid of firmware. It is entirely possible it needs an update. OY VAY IS MIR! I tried once, when the camera was new, and got a gazillion error message and never tried again.


    • Isn’t that bizarre? It’s like when your car decides a door isn’t properly closed and you run around like a moron opening and slamming everything and FINALLY the car decides, oh right it’s closed. I suspect a dirty or misaligned contact is the real culprit.


      • … and I forgot to mention that my engineering background kicked in for a second and I wiped the camera contacts a bit with my finger before the final re-mount. Not very scientific as I failed to note this step. So maybe the contacts on the P3 were slightly dirty.., which doesn’t make a lot of sense since they are gold plated and looked really shiny??? 🙂


        • I think it takes a mere speck … probably invisible to our eyes (especially my eyes which ain’t all that sharp these days). This is one of the reasons I hate changing lenses in the field. It’s SO easy to get crud into the camera and not even see it. A stray piece of pollen or dust is all it takes.


  9. Mine, as you know, is a bit less complex, but I panicked for ages the first time I accidentally caught the view finder button and couldn’t get a picture up… 😉


    • Not so less complex. But that line of cameras mostly comes set up the way most people will use them. Under the hood, there are dozens of weird setting I don’t understand and obviously don’t need.

      Garry periodically thinks his camera is broken because he pushed the button and the picture isn’t where he wants it (he’s a viewfinder kind of guy). I merely forget to remove the lens cap.


      • I still don’t use half the features that camera is capable of… but it does the job nicely.


        • I’m not sure anyone has figured them all out. I’m told there are YouTube tutorials that are very good but I’ve never watched one … nor has Garry or my son … and all of us own one or another version of the same camera (Garry has the 60, I have the 200, my son has the 70). Anyone who wants to know how anything works skips all that dull learning stuff and comes to me, hands me the camera and says “I can’t get it to …” and I figure it out. I always suggest — delicately, lest I start a ruckus — that they could possibly try to figure it out for themselves, but no one seems to even hear me when I say it.


      • One of my favorite cameras is a little Canon PowerShot A590. It was the 2nd digi cam I bought. $150, 8MP, nothing special except it has an optical viewfinder and it takes really good photos. I say “it takes” because I have little to do with it. It’s the true iteration of “Point & Shoot”. It doesn’t get any pointier, or shootier, than this thing. Coupled with the OVF makes it a true pocket wonder, anytime shooter.

        That being said; I was on vacation in Tampa and was shooting some seaside stuff on a dock when I spotted a big crane like bird (Egret?) and started to shoot before it decided to fly off. Of course I used the OVF as it was bright sun that day which had never failed me. Later when I went to view the shots I was dismayed to find that some of the body parts of the bird were cut off and I swore I’d centered the subject well within the frame. Again, WTF? It hasn’t happened since and all other Photos that day using the OVF were true to frame. So whaaa happened?


  10. I’m so glad it wasn’t any major, I’ll keep that in mind to check next time I have an issue. I still love the flowers!


  11. Oops, those 111’s should be !!! More tech. errors….


  12. You took some great pictures! So, cheer up and forgive yourself for being human111


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