THE CONFOUNDING CAMERA

l have a lot of cameras. I don’t use all of them. I have two Pentax Q cameras I keep intending to use, but when you have a lot of cameras, there are only a certain number you will actually use. I also have a couple of Panasonic “do everything” cameras with great Leica lenses that I don’t use because I only have two hands. Despite my owning three Olympus cameras that take interchangeable lenses, I hate changing lenses unless I have a table and a chair. I’m not an “on the fly” lens swapper. I never was and that includes when I was in my twenties and a lot more agile than I am now. Whatever lens I had on the camera when I started shooting was the only lens I used that day.

Because I have three Olympuses — the OMD EM-5 X1, OMD-EM5 Mark II, and the Pen F. I’ve put a different lens on each camera. Each is designed to shoot a particular kind of picture. The OMD EM5 X1 has a fast, 30mm lens that’s good for portraits, landscapes, and is pretty good for flowers. It shoots in very low light, too. The OMD EM-5 Mark II has the 100-300 Leica birding lens on it, though sometimes I swap it for the Olympus 75-300. The Pen F has the 12-200mm which covers a lot of territory.

Then, there’s my Panasonic ZS-80 which has a 24-720mm Leica lens. It’s pretty fast at f3.3 and it take superb pictures when I can get it to take a picture. It came with an online manual which I downloaded to my computer. It is written in middle school Crypto-Japlish. That means some executive’s 13-year-old niece who is studying English in middle school (or whatever they call it in Japan) owns a good English-Japanese dictionary. She has absolutely no understanding of photography. She wrote a manual which doesn’t tell you what the menu functions do or why you’d want to set them at all.

The manual will say something like “ZRL? Y/N/Off” which make it difficult to formulate a decision since you don’t know what ZRL means. What does it do if you turn it on? What happens if you turn it off? Sometimes the answer is set in fractions. Do you want to set the PXR function to 1/3, 1/2, 4/5, or 2? Do you want a grid? A guide? If a guide, what kind of guide? You want those little thingies that show you if you are shooting straight or at an angle? You want to see your meaningless settings glowing on screen?

I had it set to “P” which is essentially a dressed-up version iAuto, but no matter what I did, it refused to let me use the flash. It was night here in Uxbridge. I just wanted to take a quick photo and I thought light might be a useful adjunct to the picture-taking process. I gave up, turned it to iAuto where it has stayed ever since because no matter what else I do, it won’t just take a freaking picture. Well, that’s an exaggeration.

It does take pictures, just not the pictures I want to take. I want to take one picture of that bird over there. One might assume this is the basic, bottom-line function of any camera, wouldn’t one? But no, not THIS camera. It will decide to only shoot after a 10-second delay, or will shoot one of each type of picture the camera is capable of taking — and there are a lot of them. Dozens. That includes a bunch of abstract formats and a wide range of monochrome shots. It’ll shoot in HDR in as many as 12 settings. It will bracket. It doesn’t have three or four meter settings either. Nothing meaningful like “full, center-weight, or spot.” That would be too simple. If you pick “spot meter, it will then ask you which kind of spot meter you want? How many pixels? Where should you put the pixels? And if you get into center-weighted, there are a nearly infinite number of choices you can make including a variety that uniquely join the auto-focus with the center-weighted figure — which you can design in yourself — and it doesn’t have to be in one part. It can be in any number of pieces on the screen.

I have come to fear this camera. It is out to get me. Every now and again I grab it and take it outside and shoot a few pictures. The last time I did that, it decided apparently on its own, to shoot in HDR using everything from a 3-shot set to what appeared to be at least 8- or 9-shot set. I knew it would be a disaster because my aging software isn’t designed for modern HDR.

But hey, in iAuto, it often will take a good picture. It even lets you use the little macro button sometimes.



Categories: Anecdote, black & white photography, Cameras, Optics, Photography

Tags: , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. Gol Danged new fangled corntraptions!.., Where’s my old Kodak Box Camera ?

    Like

  2. I just shoot in auto unless I need to switch to macro. Except that I did switch both cameras to “Fine” and “NR”, but otherwise auto works just fine for me. Sure, I played with all the other settings and even figured most of them out, but the pictures weren’t much different than when I used the auto setting. Sometimes the pictures even came out worse with the manual settings. So now I just leave both cameras set to auto/fine/NR.

    Like

  3. I don’t think I could figure that out. The cameras are just too complicated for me.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

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