Camera Adjustments

My Canon Power Shot Pro-1, the camera I usually use to shoot art with, recently developed some serious focus issues. Sometimes the auto-focus is great, sometimes — not so much.

Click to enlarge. We’re not quite in focus here.

I took it in for service but the camera guru told me that Canon doesn’t make it (or parts for it) anymore and they, therefore, do not service it any longer. This answer gives me angst and melancholy. A 12-year-old camera shouldn’t have to be put on the shelf as a relic simply because it has suddenly become a little eccentric. That’s just not fair! I have film cameras that still work!! One of them is probably 60 years old!!!

For grins, I dug out my Minolta SRT-202 and fired off a test roll – on film that had been in the camera for at least four years – and I got shots like this:

Granted, this is from the digital contact sheet, but I bet it yields a decent print.

Still works like a top.

I paid $200 for the Minolta – used – in 1985 (that’s about $435 now) and then spent another $150 ($325 now) on a used zoom lens for it. I have taken this kit to Greece, England, Nova Scotia and dropped it on the pavement in Fort William, Scotland hard enough to dent the body, and it still operates perfectly. I have only had it in for service twice, and that was for a light meter issue in 1990-ish and again around 2001.

Compare that to the Canon Power Shot Pro-1 which I bought new for $1200 in 2003 ($1525 in 2015 dollars) and promptly broke a daylight filter on it soon after — easy replacement. I then took it to England once and a few other domestic trips and photographed a bunch of art with it in a studio environment. I only brought this camera in once for service and it was deemed unserviceable.

That’s $350 (1985) for 30 years of international and domestic photo adventures opposed to $1200 (2003) for 12 years of lesser escapades with about the same repair frequency. Granted, the Minolta equipment may have been comparable in price when it was new, but the lifetime difference is almost three-fold and growing! It is technically an antique — a genuine relic! But it still works like the day I bought it.

Compare these test shots, both 1/4 second at around f3.5.

On the left is the Minolta with Kodak ASA 400 film. The right is the Canon digital ASA 50.

Comparable? Yes.

In working condition, the Canon delivers delicious pictures and has some excellent features difficult to find in similar bridge-type cameras today. Plus, it’s half the weight of the Minolta. It has served me well over the last decade or so and I still intend to use it (with manual focus) as long as it can stand it. Granted, the Minolta was a hugely popular camera in it’s day and Canon really didn’t make very many Pro-1’s.

However, it’s really about the service not the equipment. Apple Computer, for instance, will not work on one of their machines if it’s more than about seven or eight years old. That’s not a generous life expectancy for a machine that’s a few grand in the store.

I would love it if the Pro-1 possessed the confidence of its manufacturer. I would enjoy bringing it to antique status too. Unfortunately, the world we live in now is obsessed with keeping up with itself, and this is one of the irritating symptoms. We are so concerned with having that latest thing, we would rather abandon quality and simply throw the old item in the trash rather than repair or maintain it.

With a bit of fiddling, I did get good enough shots from the Pro-1 to finally post here…