Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The death of a camera February 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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MY CANON EOS 20D died on Sunday.

My trusty fifth eye, my Canon EOS 20D.

My old Canon 20D camera, with a battery grip.

I should have seen this coming, should have been shopping for a different camera. But when you’re in denial, it’s easy to cross your fingers, utter a prayer, hope against hope that everything will be alright and the error message won’t flash again or the camera won’t lock. Again.

But all the hope in the world could not save my Canon DSLR from the graveyard.

My new camera.

My new camera, minus a battery grip, which would have cost me an additional $200. Batteries are $80. I did not get a new lens, although I really wanted one.

I’ve replaced it with a used Canon EOS 7D. I’m not convinced yet that I will keep the replacement as it requires more camera knowledge than I possess. It’s rather like returning to my film 35 mm SLR camera, relearning the basics of shutter speed and f-stops and ISOs. Then toss in white balance and a whole lot of other settings and I’m overwhelmed.

Yes, I got lazy with my 20D and relied on the cheat icons for landscapes, portraits, action and such. I never bothered to learn the manual operations.

But it worked. I was shooting award-winning photos, images that sold to various sources, photos that I liked. The camera was a dependable workhorse during my many years working for a magazine.

Now I’m back at square one. And I don’t like it. I feel unsettled. I don’t like change. Plus, as my husband will tell you, I find it difficult to spend this much money on a camera, even if I need it for work. I am not good at spending money on myself.

Adding to the challenge is the lack of an English language manual. Yes, I can go online and find a manual. But gosh, darn it, when I pay this much for a camera, even if it is used, it should come with a manual printed in a language I can read.

I can take free classes at the place where I purchased my camera. That is a plus. And the saleswoman who sold me the EOS 7D was extremely patient and helpful in instructing me in the basics. Extremely patient.

That’s why, when I returned an hour after I left, she probably wanted to hide in the back room. But, while shooting in the community of Elko on the way home, I noticed a diagonal line across every single frame. Back to the camera store my husband and I zoomed.

Turns out a strand of hair was caught inside the camera.

Is this a sign?

Should I keep my new used camera? Do I just need to give it time and practice? I have 29 days to change my mind.

I have another option. A friend has a Canon 20D, just like my old one. He’s offered to let me try it out. Plus he’s got a cool lens that may interest me. He promises to sell the camera at a better price than anywhere else. Hmmmm.

Your opinions are welcome.

© 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


59 Responses to “The death of a camera”

  1. That is becoming more and more true. Technology waits for no one.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    If it were me, that friend would be minus that camera and this one would have journeyed back to the store!!!! DH was given a fab SLR camera for Father’s Day a couple of years back but I stick with my trusty Canon Power Shot. Laziness?? Comfort??? Size??? (yes, love the small size) Adequate for my needs??? Yes on all counts. “New” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be!!!!! LOL!!!!

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    First – so sorry for your loss of something so comfortable; so familiar. Secondly, congrats on the 7D. The 7D is a wonderful camera. It is no doubt quite a leap from the 20D; I am sure you can concur the features with time if you want to. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to either – I get it. Learning to shoot is Tv (time value or shutter speed) or Av (Aperture value or aperture priority) or even full manual takes some practice. If you wish to trudge forward, I would recommend a bit of research on the exposure triangle. Once you understand that you are 90% there. Full manual mode works well for when you have the time to meticulously dial in your exposure and compose your shot. I shoot in manual when shooting landscapes. Most of the time I shoot in Av mode. If you’d like to meet for coffee sometime soon I would be more than happy to help you get acquainted with that shiny new camera 🙂

    • I expected to hear from you, Dan, and sincerely appreciate your input. I tried Av yesterday for a few shots and found that much easier than manual. I feel like fussing around with all of those settings would cause me to lose shots.

      If I decide to keep the 7D, a road trip to Red Wing will likely happen. Thank you.

      • Dan Traun Says:

        The “fussing around” becomes second-nature once you have become accustom to and more experienced in those different modes. That fussing around also leads to more control over how your shot is captured. You have ultimate control overexposure and depth of field. My natural inclination is to push you to expand your photographic prowess, but I completely understand the K.I.S.S. method as well. The more variables – the more opportunities for issues, but also opportunities 🙂

      • You have a great attitude. I expected this from you. I need that balance of viewing all sides of this situation.

  4. Littlesundog Says:

    Doing a lot of wildlife photography I know myself well enough that I will never take to a camera with too many whistles and bells. I don’t have time with a moving wild animal to take the time to get it right. I don’t even want to bother with what it takes to learn all there is about my camera. I do not do well with change either, but generally after a day or two I know whether I will be able to adjust to something new or not. So here is my two cents. If I were you I’d look at the friend’s Canon 20D. I am more into the lens than I am the camera body and its settings. My Canon IS 100-400mm zoom is responsible for my best work. I have four lenses that I use on my old Canon Rebel EOS T1i. I’m a no fuss kind of girl. Easy peasy for me! 🙂

  5. Marneymae Says:

    Pondering this morning’s post, the children’s book “Frederick” by Leo Leoni comes to mind
    Have you read it?
    When I think of your blog, it seems like your work, your actions, are like a transmitter of a place & a time
    I see it as a generous offering
    Bigger than just you/yourself
    A seer of community, sharing into a wider community
    So regarding spending the money, it seems that it is for a wider body of people – and not just for your self
    Do check out the book if you can
    It’s very sweet

    Regarding the cameras, if there are 29 days to try out the new one, could you give it a week or week & 1/2, and then try your friend’s camera?
    See which feels best?
    Choose then?

  6. Beth Ann Says:

    What a dilemma you find yourself in. I am not one to offer advice on what to do — I am sure you will figure it out and find the perfect answer and solution. Change is hard, Yes. But I have full confidence in you. 🙂

  7. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I don’t know how to use most of the settings in my camera either. You never know know you may end up liking the new camera more than the old. New technology can be intimidating.

  8. whattoexpectwhen Says:

    Must be related to my computer – died on the same day.

  9. Thread crazy Says:

    Funny this should happen to you at the same time I’ve been struggling with purchasing a new camera! I started out looking for a new “telephoto lens” for my Nikon D50. Yes, it’s 10 years old, but still a great DSLR and takes wonderful pics. Hubby and I had talked about getting a newer one, getting the new processor, etc., but I still wanted just the lens. At the store, the sales lady said you need a newer camera, so home we went and I started researching the new one (Panasonic DMC-FX1000). Went back a week later and finally decided to buy the Panasonic. Een riht before I signed on the dotted line, something in my body told me no, buy the lens. After getting home I studied the manual for days, but after 4 days of confusion, back to the store I went, this time returning with my “telephoto” lens.! Am I happier, yes, as now I don’t have to worry as much whether I have the aperture or shutter speed, etc., set correctly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for newer technology, but I think I need to go take a photography class just to get ready for a newer camera. BTW…the Panasonic camera is a great camera but it’s more camera than I’ll use. So for me, I choose comfort over the confusion!

  10. I went from a Canon to a Nikon when this happened to me a few years back and I spent a good four months going back and forth between those two brands before I made my final purchase. I took the classes at the camera shop and a more advanced class at the local community college and now my camera is like another limb to me. Good Luck 🙂

  11. cynthia92126 Says:

    I find it odd that as a photo journalist, you always shot on auto. That being said, the 7D is a great camera–it’s actually a camera that was designed for photo journalism, wildlife and sports. My advice is keep it, experiment with the settings–after all, the basics of ISO, shutter speed and aperture are the same as in film. Best of luck!

  12. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    When I did research for my Nikon DSLR, the folks at National Camera were so patient and knowledgeable. It took me quite a while to get comfortable with the stuff on the Nikon and, now, I use the auto settings for most of my shots. Funny, I loved using manual settings years ago when I shot film. Now, I get impatient with the manual settings. Digital cameras make it really easy to forget about the basic photography knowledge that is necessary to know how to choose the manual settings and I’ve gotten very comfortable with giving up that kind of control. Maybe that’s the real question to ask with the choice between these cameras. How much control do you want to exercise and how much do you want to hand over to the technology that’s available?

  13. cynthia92126 Says:

    The 7D is a great camera for photojournalism! I’d keep it, the triad for proper exposure isn’t any different on a DSLR than a 35 mm film camera. Also, think of the exercise your brain will get! 😄. Best of luck in whatever you choose.

  14. I wish I could give you some sound advice but know nothing of cameras. I so sympathize with your quandary though. While on vacation my aging phone/camera finally met its demise and I had to buy a new one. I don’t like change either!! My old phone took such good pictures and I have to retrain myself now. And you’re right. Totally awful manuals.

  15. chlost Says:

    I would see what to think after taking the class for the new camera. Maybe you will understand the features and feel more comfortable with the new one. If not, then the friend’s offer sounds pretty darn good. Good luck!

  16. Jackie Says:

    I would be inclined to stay with “old reliable” and maybe snatch up that new lens as well. There is so much more to photography and taking great photo’s than a fancy camera. Cant wait to see what you decide.

  17. hotlyspiced Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your camera woes. And that’s so weird about there being a hair in the camera! I do wish you well on your journey to a new gadget xx

  18. Virginia Updegrove Says:

    I’ve been using my Canon SX40 HS Power Shot for several years. Sometimes wishing for a better camera,but not wanting something that weighs more. When I go to Mexico with The Flying Doctors I’m most happy with it. Again, don’t want to lug a heavier camera. Good luck. Print out the manual. Know it is a lot of pages, but having something in your hands to study probably is worth it. Good luck.

  19. Even though Nikon prints full manuals, I’ve always also purchased a separte “user’s guide” to my camera developed by a photographer. These explain the features better than the manual. I would guess these are available for your camera as well. It’s worth the money if you keep the camera.

    If you are satisfied with your photography as is, you can use whatever camera you want. If you want to move to the next level and maybe even start doing more post-processing (I’m guessing you don’t do much now), then you should upgrade your equipment. No matter how confusing it seems now, you can always use one of the program modes as Dan suggested (and as most of us do) and I think you will find in no time that the camera is easy to use. I think you will actually find that you have more control and that it is EASIER than using the scene modes you’ve been relying on. I actually usually shoot in Nikon’s Program mode and am always shifting my shutter speed or aperature to get the effect I want, and I can do it with a flick of my finger without taking my eye from the viewfinder. You’ll likely find the same is true of your new camera.

    Good luck! I’ll be looking for some really awesome pictures in coming posts.

    • Thanks for your advice. I’m learning. And I’m borrowing a manual from someone who owns a 7D. But mostly it seems to just be a matter of experimenting and relearning what I knew from my film days.

      • Yes, but the digitals actually make it easier – you don’t have to do everything yourself unless you want to. And you have built-in tools to help you, like the blinky light to see if you are overexposing your image.

  20. One more thing – have you looked at the new mirrorless cameras? Most of the people I know who have them love them and think they do most of what a high-end traditional DSLR will do, but at a fraction of the weight and size.

  21. Sartenada Says:

    Congrats on the 7D. It is powerful camera. During years cameras come better and better. I changed my old Nikon D300 from 2008 at Christmas time to Nikon D750. I love its intelligence, because it denies to shoot photos, if they are good ones.

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