May 26th, 2008

krazy koati

Oh, what a hit you would be

My camera, nice faithful thing that it has been, started to act up recently. It wasn't doing anything really mischievous like losing pictures; it just got into a mood in which it would lose around half of the built-in settings when I turned it off or changed the batteries. This was a small nuisance in how it would switch from using the LCD screen to the tiny viewfinder (since it's not even a true optical viewfinder I don't understand that option at all; it's just a tinier screen), and more annoyingly it resets the simulated film sensitivity back to Automatic ISO. My camera has it in its head that the ISO should be as low as possible, ideally under 100. I like to set it to 400 because I might want to take pictures inside my parents' house, and the living room has slightly less ambient light than developing dark rooms have.

Something rather like this had happened a couple years ago, in Singapore, when the internal battery -- designed to hold settings and time and such between normal battery changes -- needed replacing. So I stopped in at a camera store in the mall to ask if they could change it. They could send it in for a battery change, and would along the way update its software and clean the optical elements and such, and it would cost only something like US$170. I don't know what the battery change cost two years ago in Singapore but I'm sure it wasn't that much (even thought that included replacing a dial that had been sticky ever I got a drop of Seasons Iced Tea on it at the Zoo), but the clerk at the camera store didn't have any listing for battery changes that weren't full-scale repairs.

I e-mailed my camera's manufacturer and pointed out that the price didn't make sense for the likely repair needed and could they tell me what a battery replacement would actually cost? They wrote back, nine days later, to give me the address of the web page from which I got their e-mail address, which was an answer managing to be belated, irrelevant, and trivial. I admired its transcendent uselessness, but the camera was still misbehaving.

So I looked at it to examine every single one of its 46 separate settings to see if I could inundate the manufacturers with data. Along the way I discovered: somehow I had left set the `Reset All' option on the camera, a feature which restores some -- but not all -- of the camera settings to factory defaults every time the camera is turned off. The point of this setting I also could not begin to guess at, although with that turned off, happily, it's respecting my preferences for view finder, simulated ISO, and other settings.

Trivia: The Dow-Jones Industrial Average stood on 26 May 1896, its first day of existence, at 40.94. Source: The Great Game, John Steele Gordon.

Currently Reading: Final Cut: Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heaven's Gate, the Film That Sank United Artists, Stephen Bach. One of my many Charlie Brown-ish traits is a fascination with failure.