December 28, 2010



I’ve been reading CAMERA REVIEWS all day and my brain exploded at least two hours ago.  I am presently running on emergency battery power while urgent repairs are being made to the mains connections.

            There are several problems with choosing my new camera.  The first one is, of course, money.  The bank was curiously unsympathetic to my application for a third mortgage to pay for cereal-free dog kibble.*  My heart sinks at the prospect of convincing them that I need a fourth mortgage for a new camera.**  And while I have been very fond of my Canon Ixus 70 until it BROKE, I have also been increasingly aware of its shortcomings—indeed I have been brooding about A Proper Digital Camera since Tilda was here flashing hers.  And they all cost, you know?***  The only ones cheap enough not to rouse price resistance in a free-lance writer who needed a third mortgage to feed her digestively inconvenient hellhounds take crap photos.  I don’t like crap photos.  They make me unhappy.  And while photo quality for the blog as channelled through WordPress is something less than sublime, it would be even less than less than sublime if the originals were crap before they got channelled. 

            Decades ago I was the kind of snob who took slides.  I did eventually stoop to film, but I cushioned the blow to my ego by buying a really nice camera—one of the classic old Nikon manuals, found (with some help from a friend) at a snooty second-hand camera shop.  And a fancy lens or two.  I even at last bought a camera with an automatic function—such a sad failure of principles, although it then meant I could leave my fancy macro lens on the old manual and not have to faff around with frelling lenses when there’s a bumblebee on that rose or a green woodpecker on the lawn right now—and I was still taking little metal cylinders along to the camera shop as their turnaround speed declined from overnight to five working days to a fortnight. 

            Someone gave me a cheap digital camera while we were still at the old house and I reluctantly allowed myself to be taught how to use it, but—why?  I took much better photos with my outmoded kit. 

            And then I developed a severe case of hellhound puppies.  I got through their infancy with my old cameras, but digital tech had improved in the five or so years since I’d last tried it, and Peter bought me a much nicer cheap point and shoot—partly on the grounds that he could perhaps also take photos of the three of us.  That adorable pair of photos of sweet cuddly puppies and ravening hellhounds in my lap are Peter and the cheapie.  The cheapie, in fact, is still with us and, fresh batteries installed, working—the two photos of presents under the additionally-decorated tree are the cheapie’s work.  But it functions at about daguerreotype speed—you can sing the first verse of the Marseillaise while waiting for the click after you’ve pressed the shutter button.  Take photos of hurtling hellhounds?  Not a hope.  Fairies at the bottom of the garden are a better chance.

            I had finally caught the, er, digitally enhanced shutterbug, however.  But in those days Asmodeus still reigned over all aspects of my electronic life, and I simply rang him up and said I wanted a digital camera.  One that would fit in a pocket and wouldn’t strain my technological ingenuity.  He turned up a day or six later with the Canon.  Which has been a faithful workhorse—although I feel it might have chosen some other day than Christmas to depart this mortal coil—for two and a half years.

            And Asmodeus has gone on to higher (or, possibly, lower) things, and the current Computer & Expanded Fiendish Technology Men, Raphael and Gabriel, are milder creatures generally . . . and besides I don’t FEEL like waiting till the holidays are over to ask their advice.  I am surrounded constantly by photo opportunities and every one I miss is a sharp kick in the solar plexus of a daily blog post.†  Also having a little insta-shoot in my hip pocket is now a given part of my life.  Its absence makes me feel all shaky and insecure†† (perhaps not only due to the dreadful awareness of that daily post).

            But with addiction comes the need for an ever sharper and more extreme buzz.   When I got the Canon Ixus it was a fabulous new toy and everything about it was clever and charming.  And I wouldn’t be looking to change it if it were still in service.  But it’s not.  And if I’m going to pay serious money for decent picture quality and shutter speed . . . I’d better be frelling getting better than decent picture quality and cracking shutter speed.  I want an upgrade on the Canon.  Apparently, unfortunately, I want an ‘advanced’ compact which is to say the thing a professional photographer throws casually into his/her back pocket for inconspicuous use when s/he is hitting the street in pursuit of Pulitzer Prizes.†††  Why isn’t there an excellent picture quality/fast shutter speed camera without a lot of bells and whistles?  I don’t even understand the reviews I’m reading:  my comprehension of photographic jargon goes no farther than f-stops and ISO.  RAW would be what, aside from what I don’t feed hellhounds?

            Stay tuned.‡

* * *

* Eventually I put an ad in the local paper for a little old lady, explained the problem, dressed her up as a Queen Victoria look-alike (circa 1900), took her along to the accounts manager and claimed she was my aged aunt and that I needed to make certain further structural changes to Third House so she could live there.^  She had the accounts manager eating out of her hand.  Her fee was a lifetime supply of tea and hot buttered scones, delivered daily by a personable young man, and an amusing new blog entry to read while she consumed them.  Now you know the real reason I’m so pathologically regular about posting.  Geraldine is a hard bargainer, and hellhounds must have their kibble. 

^ She’s spent all her life in the TROPICS so the main one is a REALLY BIG CONSERVATORY.  Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha. 

** To take pictures of hellhounds for the blog. It’s all connected.  I suppose Geraldine might have a cousin also in need of housing. . . . 

*** Yes.  I’m sure you know. 

† As Geraldine would be the first to point out. 

†† Last two days Hampshire has been going nyah, nyah, nyah, photograph me, go on, I dare you.  Yesterday we had ice fog, which is not very friendly^ but it sure is gorgeous to look at, and today we just had Dim Blue Winter Horizon™ which convinces me every time that Middle Earth is just over that ridge over there.  Although I’d quite like to know what state the place is in vis à vis Sauron and the return of the King and so on before I try to confirm my suspicion.

            Yes, it’s true, I could be taking the cheapie with me on our hurtles, but my heart’s not in it.    Hampshire countryside is only at its best when complemented by hellhounds. 

^ And it was 22F/-5C when we went out and 34F/+1C when we got back, which makes the responsibility for dressing all of us rather onerous:  and hellhounds don’t have waists suitable for tying unwanted garments around.  Nor do their coats go in for sleeves suitable for tying. 

††† Or when said obsessive professional photographer has been informed by nearest and dearest that they’re going on holiday and the camera gear is being left behind. 

‡ And to all of you who posted suggestions in response to my query for recs on Twitter:  thank you.  And if any forum or Facebook members would like to weigh in with their experiences of good quality pocket sized digital cameras please feel free to confuse me more than I am already.


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