Saturday, June 09, 2007

When my cat (intentionally) knocked my nikon D50 off the dresser last Summer, my first thought was that the true blessing of the digital age was the lack of moving parts to break. When I tried to use the camera a week later and learned it was broken, I cursed the digital age's lack of independently replaceable parts.

Once upon a time, every town had a camera repairman someplace that could replace a spring or dust out the inner workings so your baroque mechanical time-freezer could work acceptably again. However I thought to myself at the time that there was doubtless a piece of broken circuitboard inside the camera, that was no doubt part of a larger unit that would cost as much as the camera itself to replace after labor was included.

The icing on the cake was that the only malfunctioning part was inherently mechanical; the jogwheel that lets you change settings no longer worked. The camera functions, by all means, but only in pre-programmed modes that I can in no way alter myself.

Compare this to my Konica, which against all odds somehow still works and is older than I am. The correct batteries for it are no longer produced and I have to put jerryrig batteries of a higher voltage, but it'll still work.

Such are the tradeoffs in the digital age. In the end it cost a little under 200$ to get fixed, which was about 1/3 the cost of a new camera. A few months later my Canon SD10's lens froze open. Again, this wasn't totally fatal, but actual picturetaking is now nigh impossible and generally the camera is useful only for taking movies.

I never bothered to get it fixed and just bought an outdated point and shoot digital camera off of Craigslist for 50$. If my D50 ever breaks again, I'll probably wind up doing something similar for it as well.

Thus we have another tradeoff: we no longer have easily fixable electronics and thus everything is disposable. But as things are readily disposable and obsolesence is always around the corner, the value of used things has declined. So I'm able to get slightly older cameras (and vintage pinball machines) for relatively cheap just by virtue of looking around. Hooray internet!



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