Seven swallows meeting

Tuesday July 27, 2004

“Oh,” I said. “That’s cool.”

“What’s that, then?” asked Graham looking at me over the top of his new reading spectacles.

“My piggy bank for the new camera has just reached its target.”

“Good. Come on, then, put your coat on and we’ll go buy it.”

“Oh. I’m not sure…”

“Stop whittering.”

Half an hour later I was standing on the floor at Oldrid’s out-of-town department store, trying to explain to the nice young man that I couldn’t really decide if the camera in my hand was suitable for my needs if I couldn’t a) look through the viewfinder, and, b) see if I can read the menu controls without changing spectacles. And, for me to be able to do that, he’d need to put some batteries in the thing. Fair play, he did agree to do so for me, with good grace.

The Fujifilm S7000 takes four AA batteries, nothing special, loaded in the hand-grip, easily accessible through a flip-up cover on the base. Standard stuff. Applies to just about any small digital product these days. It took the guy three goes to get the batteries in correctly. I think he’s more accustomed to sell worthier stuff, like TVs and stereo systems, rather than electronic foolishnesses like digital cameras. He did it in the end, though, and then the camera beeped sweetly, the lens zoomed out on its sturdy black metal tube, and there it was, sleek, shiny black, all eager and ready for action.

The viewfinder is splendid. You could easily think you were looking through the viewfinder of a standard SLR except that the S7000’s is way, way brighter than that on any SLR I’ve ever used. The menu controls in the viewfinder are equally bright, sharp and legible. I hadn’t adjusted the dioptre setting for my spectacles of course, so it can only get better.

The camera simply falls into your hand and seems gratifyingly intuitive to operate. Which is great, but it also has a mass of additional, advanced features to satisfy the most ardent of techno fans. Taking that into consideration there was nothing frightening about the multiplicity of buttons all round the body—the ones you actually need are positioned exactly where your fingers and thumb fall on them.

“What exactly comes with the package?” I asked the young man who was serving me. “And what’s the bottom-line price?”

He told me. Graham, standing behind him, started shaking his head in the vigorous negative.

“Well, that sounds pretty good to me,” I said, all sweetness and light and as convincing as I could manage. “It’s awfully tempting to just slap the plastic on the counter here and now but I’d like to think about it just a little more. It’s a lot of money when you’re on a pension.”

“Oh, yes, sir,” he said, taking the camera back. “Don’t leave it too long if you want to go ahead, though. We have only two or three of them in stock.”

It was hell, sheer unadulterated hell, relinquishing the beautiful thing. It had almost glued itself to my fingers.

Outside, I asked: “Why the thumbs down?”

“We can get a much better deal from Amazon.”

“Oh. Fair enough. Gives me a bit more thinking time.”

So off we shot back home, via the supermarket for lunch makings. I pittered around the kitchen putting a light snack together. Light for me, that is, with my dicky tummy, not overly light for Graham, who does all the hard work around here.

Then I took myself off for my afternoon nap. I slept easy, if overly long and heavy, and woke feeling really pretty good considering the residual bloat.

“Have you thought any more about the camera?” Graham asked.

“Not really.”

“You haven’t changed your mind, then?”

“Nope. It’s the one.”

“Good, because I ordered it from Amazon while you were asleep.”

“Ah. Thanks. I think.”

“Oh, come on. You’d have waffled about for weeks and weeks. And your birthday is getting closer and closer all the time.”

“Yes, of course. It’s just that…”

“And you can knock that on the head straight away.”

“Ok. I know when I’m beat. When will it arrive?”

“Tomorrow or the day after.”

“I can’t wait.”

And you know what? I can’t. Wait, that is.”

In fairness to Oldrid’s the bottom line price was very little different at all; our probem was that the options included in the deal weren’t those I actually need in the way of extras.

So, in celebration, I took the good old, reliable Nikon out to snap a picture of some swallows playing on the telephone lines. ‘Sorry, old friend,’ I whispered while I waited for the shutter to click. ‘This’d be so much easier with a zoom lens and a proper viewfinder. And I’m sure you’ll find a nice new home on eBay.’

The evening was quiet, the light soft and gentle, and the swallows posed obligingly between needle-sharp dashes around the sky. Nice.


Stickford, Jul 27,'04
On the evening wire
seven swallows
meeting in the sky



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