Camera Purchase Is No Snap Decision

(Originally published in the Baltimore Sun on 5/13/05)

I want to buy a new camera for taking holiday photos, but I’m afraid to. There is nothing really wrong with the camera I have, but when I look at the ads for the new digital cameras, I feel I must have one. I want to be like the people in the camera commercials, taking clever photos of family vacations, scanning them into my computer, and then e-mailing them to everyone I know so they will be jealous of me having so much fun.

The reason I’m afraid to buy a new camera is that I don’t know what a megapixel is. And I’m too intimidated to ask anyone. I don’t want to go into Camera World and display my ignorance in front of the twenty-something clerk who will take one look at me and think, “Middle-aged woman – doesn’t have a clue.”

Because I hate that kind of judgmental evaluation. I mean, I really do have a clue. I am one of the few people who can actually use my VCR to tape TV shows – something I bet most of you can’t do. Of course, now everyone else has moved on to DVDs. I have a fear of buying a DVD player and having it become obsolete before I get it set up. And, I have to keep my VCR, because you can’t use a DVD player to tape The Bachelor while watching West Wing.


I would probably go ahead and buy a DVD player when I buy my new camera, but I don’t want another remote control. I already have two remote controls that have more buttons on them than the Space Shuttle launch panel. And I have just this past year learned how to turn on my TV directly to cable using a synchronized method of button-pushing that took me – well, let’s just say it took me a while.

One day I looked at my remote and thought, “I bet I can figure out what all these buttons do – after all I am a college graduate.” A few hours later I was able to turn the television off again, after a frightening ride through several hundred channels I never knew existed. (Do we really need a fishing channel?)

Which brings me back to the camera problem. Not only do I not know what a megapixel is, but it seems there are different quantities of megapixels – and the more of them, the more expensive the camera. (I looked megapixel up in my dictionary, but it is a dictionary I got when I went to college over thirty years ago, and it doesn’t even feature the words internet or fax.)

I suppose I could plunge right in and get a digital camera, and figure it all out from the instruction book. But I glanced at an instruction book, and it was one hundred and twenty pages long! With scientific diagrams and numerical equations that looked like the ones on the blackboard in “A Beautiful Mind.”

Is it possible that technological gadgetry has finally outpaced the ability of the average consumer to use it in a reasonable and timely manner? I know I’m not the only person lagging behind in a technological no-man’s-land. I dare you to take a stroll by the cell phone sales display, and see if you can figure out how to phone home on a new phone without reading the sixty-five page instruction booklet first. It’s called progress…

Does Anyone Know What a Megapixel Is?

I want to buy a new camera, but I’m afraid to. There’s nothing wrong with the camera I have, but when I look at the ads for the new digital cameras, I feel I must have one. I want to be like the people in the camera commercials, taking clever photos of family vacations, scanning them into my computer, and then e-mailing them to everyone I know so they will be jealous of me having so much fun.

The reason I’m afraid to buy a new camera is that I don’t know what a megapixel is. And I’m too intimidated to ask anyone at Cameras ‘R Us, because they’ll think I’m just a middle-aged woman without a clue.

I hate that kind of judgmental evaluation. I mean, I really do have a clue. I am one of the few people I know who can actually use my VCR to tape shows. Of course, now everyone has moved on to DVDs.

I would buy a DVD player when I buy my new camera, but I don’t want another remote control. I already have two remote controls with more buttons on them than the Space Shuttle launch panel. And I have just this past year learned how to turn on my TV directly to cable using a synchronized method of button-pushing that took me – well, let’s just say it took me a while to perfect.

One day I looked at my remote and thought, “I bet I can figure out what all these buttons do – after all, I am a college graduate.” A few hours later I was able to turn the television off again, after a frightening ride through several hundred channels I never knew existed. Do we really need a fishing channel?

Which brings me back to the megapixel problem. Not only do I not know what one is, but it seems there are different quantities of them, and the more of them, the more expensive the camera.

I suppose I could just plunge right in and buy one, and figure it all out from the instruction book. But I caught a glimpse of that, and it was over 100 pages long with scientific diagrams and numerical equations that looked like the ones on the blackboard in “A Beautiful Mind.”

Is it possible that technological gadgetry has finally outpaced the ability of the average consumer? I really don’t think it’s just me – I’ve seen you try to program your cell phone…

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