Life Without A Camera? Unthinkable!
My Camera and I
My Camera is More Important Than I Thought
I discovered I had camera problems when my trusty camera shut down after only 17 photos and less than ten minutes of videos. I'd charged it the night before after a long shooting session, so this should not have happened. But I tend to be an optimist and I put it on the charger again that night. It charged for a couple of minutes and the charging light went out.
This was not a good time for this to happen. I had planned a photo shoot trip for the next day. I needed a working camera, so I pulled out three other cameras I have as back-ups, none of which have been used much because I like this camera so much better. None of them would charge either. I bought a new battery for my best camera, and thought I was OK. But the new battery just stopped charging after less than two hours, and it's supposed to charge for four hours. This instruction said not to use this battery until it's fully charged.
So there I was with a photo shoot planned for the next day -- another trip to Avila Beach for more pictures, and all I had that worked is a video camera that works with regular AA batteries. My camera is a Nikon Coollpix S8200 that I had bought at Costco a couple of months before. I didn't know whether the camera was the cuprit, the battery (off brand, because that's all I could get locally), or the charger that came with the camera. The original Nikon battery that came with the camera should have lasted longer, I believe, even though I use the camera a lot. I emailed tech support at Nikon, but they did not get back to me in the promised 24 hours.
The Festival of the Arts was scheduled for the weekend and people were relying on me to take pictures of it to give them some publicity. A new camera was not budgeted yet. I felt camera-less. It felt like part of me was missing. The Festival would start in two days.
Back to Avila Beach with My Flip Camcorder
What I Did to Try to Take Pictures Today
First I loaded any camera in my possession that appeared to work and two that didn't into my car to take with me. I was still hoping to get back to the rest of Avila Beach in the afternoon. After getting my car serviced in San Luis Obispo, I drove over to Costco, where I had bought my CoolPix S8200, and explained my predicament to the camera specialist there. He suggested I buy another camera to use this weekend which could be returned within 90 days, giving me time to get mine repaired. He had suggested a cheap one that still used AA batteries, very much like the one I can't find, but it doesn't take the same quality pictures. Even my Olympia Stylus 840 takes better pictures, and it appeared to be working.
I was also stumped as to how to get pictures I might take with my phone onto my computer, so I was sold a microSDHC card with an adaptor and I put it into my phone. And I did have my Flip Camcorder, an old one, which I can pluck some still shots from. I decided to use those and the Olympia Stylus to take pictures at the beach.
The results of my efforts were not quite what I hoped for. My Flip took adequate video shots, as you can see to the right. But I wasn't happy with any of the snapshots I could get from them. At least, though, I do have some video. I was fairly happy with the Stylus 840 pictures, but only had a 5x zoom instead of the 14x I'm used to with my CoolPix S8200. I especially missed that zoom when I was photographing the birds. I have put a few of the Stylus pictures below. My phone was a complete disappointment. The pictures I took must have gone to the phone's memory rather than to my microSDHC card, so I still don't know what I did wrong. I made a mental note to get help from Verizon, since the information I needed was not in the manual.
Avila Beach via Olympia Stylus 840
Dressed to Photograph the Festival
Getting Ready to Photograph the Festival of the Arts
While I was on the pier taking pictures, my phone rang. My husband, who was returning from Ventura and was almost to Santa Maria, wanted to meet me for a very late lunch around 4 in San Luis Obispo. That gave me another twenty minutes to shoot pictures. By the end of that twenty minutes, the Flip's batteries were dead, since I hadn't put in fresh ones. I could have changed them, but didn't seem worth it so late in the day. I thought the Stylus battery had also died, and I wasn't sure I'd get home with any pictures. I was wrong. I just hadn't used the camera in so long that I'd forgotten how it worked. Or maybe it did die in the end.
After lunch I went back to Costco to do my grocery shopping and get a new camera -- even if it might be a loaner. I decided on a Nikon CoolPix S9300. Not only does it have more zoom than the S8200, but it also has GPS and it uses the same battery, charger, and USB cable as the S8200. I figured that since my new battery I bought for the S8200 last night would not fully charge, I'd try charging it again with the brand new charger and USB cable after I had charged the new camera and determined everything worked. The S8200 charged for only about an hour instead of the four hours it was supposed to, and it did not charge enough to operate the camera. That would seem to indicate the problem is in the camera itself rather than the battery, the charger, or the USB cord. I made a mental note to call the Costco tech people to see what comes next. Meanwhile, I would have an adequate camera for the Festival of the Arts for the weekend and I'd bring the Olympus Stylus along, which I had just charged , as a back up. I decided to also take the Flip in case I needed more video than I wanted to do on the CoolPix S9300.
Meanwhile, I still would have to troubleshoot the Olympus VR-310. I hadn't found a new battery for that one anywhere yet. Perhaps all it needed to charge properly is the new battery. I don't know if used it much during this year I've had it.
What I've learned from this whole experience is how lost I feel without a working camera attached to me. I take my camera to the garden, and when I go anywhere in the car -- just in case. I don't always use it, but I've been without it too often when I've run into situations and subjects I've wanted to photograph, and I had to go away with no pictures or video.
I've also learned not to take a working camera for granted. I've learned I should be using all cameras at least every couple of weeks just to know if they are still working and so the batteries stay in good shape. I don't ever want to be stuck like this again if a little preparation will prevent it. Meanwhile, although I really can't afford to buy a new camera, I know it will be very hard for me to return the Nikon CoolPix S9300 I bought today, before the three-month trial is over. I'm hoping business will pick up enough in June so that I will be able to afford it.
Below is a picture I took at last year's Festival of the Arts, 2011, with the best camera I had at the time, a Canon PowerShot A1100 IS. I wish I'd been able to find it this morning, since it uses AA batteries that don't need recharging. I never had problems with it. It just didn't have all the features I wanted. I used it for a couple of years.
Paso Robles Festival of the Arts, 2011
Saturday Night, May 26, 2012
The main event in the park at the 2012 Festival of the Arts is now over. It was a perfect day until the wind kicked up about 4:30 as I was leaving. I found new artists I was excited about, and only had one major camera problem -- with the new Nikon I bought to replace the old one. Good thing its charger worked so that I was able to charge the old Nikon with it because the major problem was with the new Nikon S9300. I turned it on to take a picture to test it. It took the picture, but then the camera wouldn't turn off. I asked a few other photographers to see if they knew what I might be doing wrong, but no one could turn it off. I finally had a friend at Studios on the Park put it away, still with lens extended, for safe-keeping, since I couldn't carry it in my pocket that way.
Afternote: I returned the S9300 to Costco later on and exchanged it for one that is still working nine months later. I still prefer the Nikon S8200, but want to make sure I have an extra camera and two chargers. I returned the charger that had malfunctioned to Nikon. They said there was nothing wrong with it and that they'd need the whole camera to find the problem. I tried to charge the camera with the charger they sent back and it had decided to work. I didn't send my camera to them. I now have two cameras and two chargers. So I feel prepared for future malfunctions at inconvenient times.