After struggling mightily with my inherited Nikon CoolPix 5700, I’m finally taking the cheater’s way out. I’ve bought a point-and-shoot, idiot-proof dummies camera: The Nikon CoolPix S7c. It’s not that I’m completely giving up on the 5700. I recognize that it’s as close to being a “real photographer’s camera” as you can get without the ability to have interchangeable lenses. But the interface is so cludgey and the set-up is so cumbersome, it’s just not practical for quick candid on-the-sheet shots. I’ll be saving the 5700 for landscapes and composed shots, but carrying the S7c with me everywhere.

My goal is to join the Photo a Day group on Flickr called Project 365. I’ve been following, in particular, the pictures of Kat Baro who’s been with the project since January 1. She really thinks about what picture sums up the tone of each day. And as a consequence, visiting her site is like reading a journal written in images. I’m also hoping the discipline of taking a picture a day (and presumably I’ll be taking many to achieve that one definitive picture of the day) will force me to master my equipment and hone my technique.

But back to why I bought another camera. It puts me on a common rant I have. Why do so many tech companies spend so much time and money developing products, then skimp on the two things that actually touch the consumer: the interface and the user’s manual? Sorry, but I think well-designed technology should be intuitive and the manual should be so well written, it takes seconds to look up the answer to any question you might have.

This is certainly NOT the case with the CoolPix 5700. To change any settings, you have to get into the menuing system and scroll through at least three sub-menus, none of which are at all intuitive. In fact, to find out how to navigate any menu, you have to locate your subject in the poorly-written manual, then endure being directed back and forth through the chapters to get the whole story on the feature. GRRRRR.

But I suppose I’m proof that companies can skimp on these things. After all, I went out and bought another Nikon. It was a calculated decision. Since I’m committed to finally mastering this damned camera, I didn’t want to switch to another manufacturer — and another interface language — for my point-and-shoot camera. But somewhere at Nikon, a customer service rep who’s been reading my angry emails about the CoolPix 5700 is laughing his ass off. I can hear him now: “Sucker!”

So now I’m on to justification. Let’s see, if I’m taking pictures every day with this new camera that works out to less than a dollar a day. When you look at it that way, how can you NOT buy.

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