...Continued from page 1

I have tried reading the user guide PDF file. Quite right of you if you think this will not be handy while trying to take photos of pickpockets at the marché or while mean kids are burning Twingos in the suburbs. Other than the guide being unwieldy, it seems to be written back to front – was it written in China? How to turn off the 'beep' is on page 133 while the camera's control buttons are explained on page 190.

But that's nothing! How the hell can I 'format the card' on page 26 before I learn which buttons do what on page 190? I guess I am button challenged. The old camera only had 10 buttons, including the shooter release. Six of them I never used and have no idea why they were on there. I mean,photo, merry go round, hotel de ville other than the 'On' button and the shooter, the only other button I used was to turn off the full picture autofocus. For three years it was constantly out of focus until I learned the trick of the spot.

Paris' mayor wants to to ride any of his merry–go–rounds for free.

On a 35mm reflex camera there used to be 5 variables. They were film speed, shutter speed, f–thingees, the lens and the shutter button. Strictly speaking there were only 4 variables unless you had two lenses. I still read the soothing user manual for my old Nikon–F in bed at night occasionally. Later models had light meters in them, so that was another variable, but a convenient one. Does anyone remember focussing by hand? Does anybody remember how sexy those lenses used to be? Turn a bit, twist, and those big old zits popped right into focus! The next step ahead for mankind was the zoom lenses. They gave new life to boobs. What a kick that was!

Well those were the good old days. Today I tried 'A' on the new camera and it shorted me 6 photos. Now I guess I have to work backwards and go through the entire PDF turning things off one by one until I get down to flat bedrock. But before getting completely back to nature – a Mr. Natural state instead of this Ginza Ninja – I think I'll play with the motor zoom for a while.

The old Olympus has a zoom lever. Push for motorized zoom–in and pull for zoom–wide. Hey! The only thing that resembles it is the 'On' and 'Off' switch. It just sets off the supersonic wave filter and turns on the circus lights window. Zoom, zoom, where's the motor zoom?

There's another turny–type dial on top that is marked with... what do those things mean? Where's that PDF? What the hell is a supersonic wave filter anyway? Cripes! Is this what they do to people who won't get portable phones? Burning in camera hell!

"I am Dead"

At this rate I'll find the zoom by next Christmas. I intended to read that PDF file and turn everything off on Friday so I could start from scratch Saturday morning. Christmas Eve had the most chance of some fair light. Afterwards there was nothing forecast but clouds and freezing gloom. Just like when I got a bike for Christmas and it snowed.

As it turned out, accidently, the second session was wonderful. The camera focussed, exposed, and produced usable images from situations that I thought might be hopeless. In true Ninja camera fashion, or should I say 'mode?' This result caused me to read the PDF again and do a little fine–tuning.

And that was a big mistake! The Nazi aspect of the camera took over during the night while it was sleeping and changed some vital settings, and all the Christmas photos were flops. Not total flops, but the wrong size with many wrong exposures. How did it do that by itself?

My brain is getting used to reading the user manual PDF even if my eyes are falling out. As near as I canphoto, toboggan slide, hotel de ville make out the camera has two modes. One is the 'A' for auto and you set this on the speed dial and away you go, looking through the little window and caressing the shutter button, taking shot after carefree shot.

For kids, free skids at the Hôtel de Ville.

The other mode is a bit more complex. It is possible to choose from several shutter speeds, several f–stops, several exposure levels, several white–balances, several picture sizes, several compression levels, and if this is not enough there are various other arcane settings, filters, boosters, moods, scenes, programs, short–cuts, exceptions, button renamers, lens hoods and a carry strap. I reckon there are 749 variables. Only motor zoom is still lacking but with all this other stuff the cake hardly needs a cherry on top.

After more tuning, plumbing the depths of sub–sub–sub menus, I set out on a little tour today to capture a few signs and odd images that are usually sprinkled around the Café page. After getting a sign, on the following shot the camera refused a polite request to shoot one of these little neighborhood hardware shops. It was turned on but it was off.

After some frustration I happened to glance at its fairy lights window. Colored in orange, like Halloween, it said, "This is your battery speaking. I am dead." What? Used up formatting the thousand options? Lucky it's Monday, getting dark and starting to rain.

Tip of the Week

Do not, on your visit to Paris, arrive with an unfamiliar camera. You may only be coming here once and you deserve to take home fantastic pictures. There may be local variables that make this difficult – rain, cold, strikes, pickpockets – but try to give yourself a fair chance.

After you get the camera of your dreams take a few minutes to read the user manual. Read it in the toilet, on the bus, in the subway, during boring movies or phone calls, even in waiting rooms. Then test the camera, and test it again. Keep testing it until you can consistently capture images the way you want them. Digital film is very cheap.

When you are ready Paris will attempt to be ready for you.

Soldes d'Hiver

This season's Soldes d'Hiver begin on Wednesday, 11. January and continue until Tuesday, 21. February. At the moment Parisians are returning their gifts, hoping for exchanges, money back or miracles but after the dust settles from this we will be allowed to snap up whatever is left, until there's enough room for the arrival of spring's new stuff.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The 'Club Meeting of the Week' last Thursday tangoed off my fingers as the 'Pampero In Your Hair' meeting report. A couple of new members hailing from Buenos Aires brought word of the beginning of summer in South America, tasty and inexpensive steaks, as well as soothing winds from the Pampas on warm nights. Olé!

The coming Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will doubtless be yet another mystery, but the secretary will be there, nosy as usual. The 'Saint of the Week' will be Saint–David. This is a very antique saint du jour, a personage mainlyphoto, skating, montparnasse documented in the old Testament, which was the part that comes before the sequel. David is also known for bumping off Goliath with a single–shot sling–shot.

And more kids having a freebie in Montparnasse.

An honestly true story, regardless of how mythical, about the club is on the 'About the Club' page. If curious help yourself to a look at the photos which are real. The club's original and hand–crafted membership card is there too and you may use it, for absolutely free. No less than Hors d'âge, the club membership is guaranteed to be what it actually is – life–long.

Faits Divers XIII

'Ed,' Ric, the club secretary and radio ric, all wish all readers a very happy and smooth new year's slide into 2006 next weekend. Salut les copains!
signature, regards, ric

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