A little while ago, I told you how we lost our last camera: the lovely Olympus C750. This is the eulogy for our Ricoh Caplio R5. It has been with us but a short time and not all of it happy but it served us well. I am sorry it is gone; more so because I am its murderess.
The Caplio started its life with us as an almost impulsive buy to replace the much-missed Olympus. We were new in the UK and had not sent any photos back to our families, as we had none. A week before our first holiday in the UK, I visited the local camera store and bought it. They did not have any of the cameras I really wanted. It was on special; it was compact; it did fantastic macros and it had a powerful optical zoom for such a litle camera. Sold.
It served us very well for a few months.
Then on our first overnight hike in the UK, we had a minor accident with the Caplio. My partner and I had barrelled down a mountainside to try to get to a pub before it most probably stopped serving lunch – some country pubs in the UK are bizarrely strict about dining times. We walked into a pub in a Welsh village at about 3 minutes past 2pm and were greeted with an unfriendly: “We’ve stopped serving.” Disappointed and not a little discombobulated by the customer service, we went outside to discuss our options. My partner was holding the Caplio, but also juggling some other things and, in extracting the map so that we could consider our options, he dropped the camera.
Do you ever do that thing where if you have done something you know to be bad, your next moves are then very quick as if by speed you could erase the deed?
With lightning speed I bent down and picked the camera up from the pavement and cradled it in the palm of my hand. I think I turned it on again to discover that it still turned on. So I turned it off and we dealt with the more pressing matter of food and the rest of our day’s walk to our intended campsite for the night.
Our accident with the Caplio resulted in it becoming more temperamental – it still worked, but sometimes it would not turn on at all; or it just would not take a photo; or it saved a photo to its hard-drive rather than the memory card. Also, dropping it had allowed dust to get onto the lens and we learned that we would not be able to clean that dust away. So now, there was a blotch on the camera. The dust, too, would be temperamental: sometimes present and ruining photos, sometimes minimal and able to cleaned away in post processing, and sometimes a photo could be framed to hide the dust spot. Not ideal photo taking conditions, but still fine and, occassionally, pretty good.
Then we bought the Fuji Finepix s9600, with which we are very happy except that it is heavy and bulky. Having the Fuji – which had more manual controls than the Caplio – made me learn more about photographing well and I was able to apply that knowledge to the Caplio, to take better photos with it.
We stopped using the Caplio for a while. Sometimes, I can be particularly dim. I had an epiphany one day when packing that we could take both cameras on our trips. This is especially useful when we are cycling as my partner and I cycle at different speeds (guess who’s slower? If you think it’s the shorty-pants, you’d be right.) Each of us having a camera means that we don’t miss out on taking photos of things like, oh, caterpillars on the side of the road.
Both cameras were with us for our recent trip to France. For most of our week, the weather was unsettled. That is, it rained, then the sun came out, then the wind blew, then the rain came in sideways and then the sun came out again. We’re reasonably phlegmatic about weather – we’ll generally just keep on doing whatever we had intended to do. As we were staying in a wonderful apartment in Dinan, we spent more days inside, reading, lazing, playing Carcassone then we would normally if the weather had not been so unsettled.
Our last day dawned lovely, with crisp, clear skies. The night before we had decided to make a long day’s ride from Dinan to St Malo, from where our ferry would take us back to England. St Malo is about 30kms on a bike (that is, taking smaller roads and not the most direct route) north of Dinan, but we had decided we would make a sort of triangular trip, about 35kms north-east out to Dol de Bretagne and then cutting back another 35 or so kms to St Malo, via Cancale – famous for its oysters. I was particularly happy that we had blue skies.
The blue skies did not last long. It drizzled on us as we flew along with a tail wind pushing us effortlessly into Dol de Bretagne. It cleared when we were near Dol, visiting a standing stone (Menhir du Champ Dolent) and then started to rain again as we headed out towards the coast. While cycling along the coast, we were buffeted by what felt like galeforce winds but the skies were blue. At one stage, I was actually blown off my bicycle (luckily onto a nice soft grassy verge.)
It was raining lightly as we rolled into Cancale, thankfully with the wind behind us. We located a decent looking restaurant with undercover, outside seating so we could keep an eye on our trusty steeds, and then began to peel off layers of waterproofs and fleeces before sitting down to a fantastic meal including, of course, the freshest and most delicious oysters I have ever tasted.
After lunch, it was still drizzling. I stood up and started to replace my layers. Last, I collected my rain jacket from the chair beside me. My heart sunk when I heard a ka-thunk. I looked down to see the Caplio in its nifty red Crumpler case looking back up at me reproachfully. It had not been a drop; rather, I had flicked the Caplio from its resting place on top of my jacket (where I had, foolishly, placed it after taking the above photograph) onto the restaurant’s hard, wooden floor. I did not retrieve it quickly. I think I already knew that it could not take any more. I tried to turn the Caplio on, but failed.
At our next stop, I found I could still turn the Caplio on but its auto-focus was completely gone (it has no manual focus). It was bucketing down at this stage and the light was poor, so I was still hopeful that all was not lost. Have I mentioned that I am ever an optimist? The Caplio has always been rather rubbish in poor light, even before the first accident.
The next day, during a patch of bright, brilliant sunshine, I turned the Caplio on again. It absolutely refused to focus on anything – near distance, far distance, middle distance; all blurry. It’s over. I’m sorry.
We had good times, the Caplio and me. Together, we have visited more places in the 2 and 3/4 years we’ve been together than I had during my life before the Caplio. With it, I reassurred my family of my continued existence and, occassionaly, graced them with snaps of my grinning mug. With it, I have taken my best ever photograph of a dragonfly and learned to understand (and even manipulate) shallow depth of field. With it, I have been almost comfortable taking snaps of food in restaurants. With its dust-spot, I thought more about composition and I learned to post-process. It has, actually, taught me a lot about photography.
I feel like I am a poor custodian of cameras. First, drowning the Olympus; now defenestrating the Caplio. Goodness knows what villainous deeds await the Fuji.