Camera Trouble

Voice Card  -  Volume 17  -  Paul Card Number 1  -  Sun, Nov 4, 1990 3:55 PM

Using my trip to Europe as an excuse, I recently spent nearly $2500 on new camera gear. Since I've been a happy - and conceited - Nikon owner for the past dozen years or so, it was natural for me to purchase more Nikon equipment. I wound up with Nikon's top-of-the-line professional F4S camera body, a 60-mm autofocus micro lens, and a fancy electronic flash, the SB-24. There were also a number of smaller-ticket items, such as filters, a cable-release, and film.

It was evident from my first minutes with the F4S that camera technology has made great strides in the past decade. Curiously, most of the gains can be directly traced to the computer revolution. For example, high-speed computers have revolutionized optics and lens design. And on-board computers now allow such fancy features as autofocusing and exposure programming.

From the start, I was ambivalent about these changes. On the one hand, I love most of the new features. On the other hand, working in the computer industry, I have developed a healthy suspicion of the use of computers in everyday objects (they're putting microprocessors in toasters these days). They break too easily, or develop debilitating bugs.

That's what happened with my camera. A week before my trip to Europe, and just six weeks after buying the camera, the autofocus computer went pfft! in the middle of a roll of film. Now, this was not a disaster - I still remember how to focus a camera manually - but shortly thereafter a few other functions failed. One was the film loading process. Since loading and advancing of film cannot be accomplished manually on the F4, I was SOL. The camera and lens got shipped back to Nikon, and I took my old reliable non-computerized Nikon F2 to Europe.