Friday, April 9, 2010

Death of a camera

With the dreaded ‘Error 99’ flashing with each press of the shutter ... I have come to grips that my beloved Canon 40D has hit the proverbial dust and must now be put out to pasteur.

‘Error 99’ ... for those who may not be familiar with it ... is Canon’s blanket troubleshooting code for ‘any number of electrical things that can be happening to stop your shutter from releasing.’ The only way to take a picture once this message appears is to turn off the power, turn it back on, press the shutter, then repeat ... not exactly good for long-term shooting!

It isn’t new to me that Canon has a weak and feeble shutter. My first digital SLR, the Canon 10D, died the same way during a night shoot at the fairgrounds. My next encounter was with this same Canon 40D just shy after its 1st birthday. This time, however, I had the shutter replaced. A simple process, really, the new shutter only cost $25 ... and a mere $250 to replace it! So, with my Canon 40D shouting this error to me again with practically every press of the shutter ... I must make some decisions.

Note: Now, before you run off and take your ‘error 99’ camera to be fixed, you may want to try re-installing and cleaning off all of the electrical connections ... battery, lens, and even the memory card.

My faithful friend is 2 1/2 years old ... not bad for a camera but when your business is photography, it may be time for an upgrade. Canon has introduced a fine line of cameras to choose from including options that were beyond my reach with the 40D ... namely HD video recording. How cool would it be to have the capability to shoot video through a plethora of fabulous lenses ... not to mention the advantages quick video tutorials will be for our photography classes. I’m excited just thinking about it!

So, I have my eyes set on the new Canon 7D ... bypassing the natural 50D upgrade for the video capabilities. And keeping in mind, that she will have all of the features that are important to me ... full manual control of creative options (white balance, contrast, saturation, hue and in-camera black & white filter choices) and the same fabulous CMOS sensor I fell in love with in my 40D. And really ... that’s all I need.

And while it is exciting -- the prospect of a new camera -- it comes with bittersweet feelings. My Canon 40D was a faithful friend ... one that I could depend on. I knew how to maneuver through her ... every button, every creative choice ... like an extension of myself. I could count on the exact addition of light, tone and color with each spin of the dial. She and I have experienced a lot together.

We’ve traveled to Maui and photographed the secluded rain forest of Hana to the majestic volcano-top of Haleakala; we’ve traveled to Denver and caught the elk running in packs through the quiet snow-filled mountains; we’ve traveled to San Francisco -- blocking our way through Chinatown, the Wharf and Golden Gate Park. Together we’ve traveled to Santa Monica, Catalina, Palomar Mountain, Julian and spent countless hours photographing practically every square inch of San Diego.

She was the camera who offered up prize-winning photos, sat patiently in my hands while learning new techniques, and it was she who saw me through our first book contract from beginning to end (as well as our second, third and even fourth).

And while the prospect of a new camera is very exciting ... I can’t help but feel a sense of sadness for a partnership gone by. I remember every image with fondness and every experience with gratitude. Rest in peace Canon 40D ... thank you my loyal friend.

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