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Come in! There are a few adventures I’ve written about, but most of the content offers classes in photography and mentoring for photographers, including photo theory, which, although a vital part in our profession, is largely an overlooked subject in all published media that profits from and feeds our gadget minded mindset today.

Technical support is a vital part of your new camera, too – A49

February 27 2010 - Photo Technical

Welcome aboard photo enthusiasts… This is the eleventh edition clarifying the list of camera specifications, using the randomly chosen Lumix DMC-FX150 camera, manufactured by Panasonic, as an example.

Before moving on, I would like to cover a topic seldom if ever mentioned in other media and related creative/technical magazines… I’m talking about technical support.  This is very important when you have a problem and need help.  I can only speak from my experiences.

Most manufacturers make a good, well made product.  We all know part of quality equation is directly related to the price we paid.  It’s not a 100% factor, but this does play a part, so if you’ve purchased a camera on the cheap, the construction or lens clarity or performance stats or all the above will be reflected in the price.

But even great products finely manufactured have problems, and so we call their technical support.  The first troubling difficulty is usually a lengthy wait in queue listening to their music selection.  The speaker phone comes in handy at this point so you can put the phone down and do other things while waiting.  You also have to hope there are no transfers that can easily end up in a dial tone.

Eventually someone gets to your call.  Odds are the person answering to your concerns lives in another country.  With luck you two will easily understand each other.  More important you have to hope the person at the other end can really be helpful.

As nice, polite and intelligent most technical support people are they often do not have the experience necessary to get to the nitty-gritty of problems.  In many of my experiences, I find myself having difficulty understanding the person on the other end, answering the same questions about my name, phone number, product ID over and over, and being instructed to perform rudimentary tasks that seem to be read from a checklist as an attempt to resolve my technical issue.

Know that there are levels of technical support – level 1 and level 2.  The first is basic, limited and of uncertain experience (or help), the second is experienced and advanced, therefore great if you can get there.  Unfortunately getting there, to level 2 is the problem; it can be the real challenge, very time consuming, and often nearly impossible.

My experience has been that most companies with great products (such as Nikon and Panasonic) that I’ve had to deal with have horrendous aggravating support for their products.  On the other hand, I’ve found Canon to be amazing, most often quick to answer a call, experienced to resolve the issue, and following up with a customer satisfaction surveys.  I feel they care.

What can you do about technical support?  I have no personal experience with such fine camera manufacturing companies as Olympus or Minolta and all I can suggest is before buying a product give a call to their technical support and see how it works.  Otherwise learn how to scream your way to level 2.

Actually there is one more very helpful tip.  Different people have different skills at level 1.  I often quickly evaluate a technician.  If I determine the person I connected with has too little knowledge to really help with my problem I will graciously look for a way to end the call ASAP.  Then I call back, which gets me to another technician, and often I find another technician who may have better skills.  Sometimes an accumulation of information from several technicians leads me to resolve the problem myself.

When it comes to my equipment I often tell others that the case protecting it is as important.  The same holds true for technical support.  Having it, knowing how well it works and how to work it is as important as discussing specifications or creativity.  Sometimes we are simply limited by options, but if otherwise flexible go with the company having the best support, and demand the best support.

Having cleared up these support/help issues, let’s get back to the list of specifications and move on to:

Continuous Drive: Yes, 2 fps, 8 images – “Yes” means this camera (like most) is capable of taking continuous, one after another, shots.  In this case, 2 fps or frames per second until 8 shots have been taken.  This is presently fairly standard for pocket cameras, until technical advances improve specifications..

Three factors play into this capability, a) the shutter release, b) the camera’s image processing system, and c) the buffer size.  A buffer can be equated to a camera’s internal holding tank for images on their way to the removable storage card.

Professional level camera systems can approach a burst rate of 10 frames per second continuously for 120 jpg images, or several dozen RAW images due to less shutter lag, more sophisticated processing systems, and larger buffers.  Again, technological advances will upgrade the capabilities of all camera systems.

Creatively this is most useful in sports photography or taking your energetic young child following fast movements and stopping action.  Today, no longer inhibited by the expense of film and processing you can go crazy experimenting, and while you are doing that I’ll ask permission to go ashore.