Saturday, September 3, 2011

Camera woes, the latest installment

If you are of a certain age, perhaps you remember Joe Btfsplk, a comic strip character who came with a permanent black cloud over his head and brought bad luck wherever he wandered.  I'm beginning to think that I got a free (unwanted) lifetime membership in the Joe Btfsplk assistance society when I bought my first digital camera.  But fast forward to my fourth and current digital camera, which yet again paid a visit to the Nikon service center.

This camera is 14 months old and it's just back from its third trip this year to see the folks.  Its problem this time was the same as the first time -- the little eyelids that retract to expose the lens suddenly refused to retract all the way.  With the result that my photos looked like this:

During the two weeks the camera was away being fixed, I spent a lot of time wondering why this keeps happening.  I never drop my camera, never take it to the beach to get sand into its innards.  I don't leave it in the hot car or pile bricks on top of it.  I don't drop it in puddles or leave it out in the rain.

What I do is carry it around in my pocket every day, and now I'm wondering whether the poor baby is so delicate that it needs better treatment than that.  But heck, it's advertised as a "pocket camera" and you might think it could go in your pocket without being fatally injured.

Closer inspection reveals that the Nikon seems to have highly vulnerable eyelids.  They're big, and they're not very firmly attached; the lightest touch makes them flutter.

By contrast, my previous camera, an Olympus, has a tiny eye, and it's recessed a bit. 

Now, of course, I'm gunshy.  I don't want to put my camera in a case -- I carry it while I walk, and might shoot 100 photos on a good day, and if I had to take it out and put it back into a case with each shot my walk would take twice as long.  I don't want to carry it around my neck because I hate heavy things hanging on me.  (And I wonder why, if the camera is so delicate, Nikon issued me a wrist strap and no case when I bought it!)

What I adore about my little camera is its portability.  I like having it in my pocket at all times because you never know when you'll run across something that cries out to be documented.  Especially when you travel, you want the camera handy, so you don't have to fumble in your bag as you pause in the middle of a street, inviting pickpockets or vehicular homicide. And sometimes you don't want to have the camera visible unless you're actually taking a picture.  If I have to give up that portability, I'm not sure I even want to play the game.

But now I'm spooked.  Maybe I just have to find one dedicated pocket and put nothing in it but the camera.  Or maybe when the two-year service warranty runs out, I need to buy another camera, chosen specifically to be bulletproof.  If you have advice or suggestions, I'm open to ideas.


  1. Ah, the camera traumas, I have the same issues. Time before last when I bought a Sony, I read the directions (only people who are of a certain age actually do this) and noticed that it said something like, "Don't carry in a pocket or subject to rocking motions." Ugh. So, my solution is to keep two working cameras so I won't stress out when one is out of commission and to just accept that they aren't going to last a long time. Not a great solution but it works for me.

  2. It's the camera, not your pocket! I have a Canon that I've used to take over 8000 photos so far and it only acts up when I let the batteries run down. I think they need to replace your camera!

  3. I own a pocket Lumix (smog many cameras in this family) I have had it for 3+ yrs and it has never failed me. The hubs is our resident photog and even he likes to use this little point and shoot for quick snaps . Just a suggestion.

  4. Oops damn spellcheck. Smog should read among. ...ok maybe not spellcheck maybe iPad crap keyboard.

  5. Looks like bad design to me. Anything that "flutters" is going to have issues. Tell Nikon you are posting on the blog and naming names. You may just get a replacement camera. Worth a try.

  6. My "pocket" camera is s Kodak Easyshare. I bought it on sale off the display shelf at Office Max without case, manual or anything. I have abused it horribly but it continues to take excellant pictures and goes with me everywhere while my "big" camera stays at home.

  7. I carry my Sony CyberShot everywhere with me. It's three years old and I've taken thousands of photos with it. It's always performed well, except when I tried to make it take repeated pictures in -15 degree winter weather.... then it just refused. I do, however, keep it in a teeny-tiny case when it's being slogged along in my purse so my other paraphernalia don't ding it up too much. It's worked for me.

    And, as an aside, my Nikon D90 is very finicky. I've already had to send the lens back, less than a year after purchase.

  8. like you I take lots of photos every day, my camera is not a 'pocket one' but I dont find it difficult to carry it around either in my hand, its an Olympus SP560UZ and it was worth every penny I spent on has never caused a minutes worry, never needed mending and takes beautiful shots easily in all weathers, either carefully posed or on the run, I have had it 4yrs!!!when not in use, the lens cap is on and its in its case...good luck with yours Samantha