One day, not so long ago, my wife exclaimed: 'Sometimes, you can be so incredibly stupid.' She was addressing me. Luckily we have a good marriage and she was actually right, so we survived the moment.
You'd think this is going to be some off-topic (OT) post, but it isn't. It's very much related to photography.
You see, I was making a point. Except that it failed.
Even though I had already made the same point two times, to our children, who luckily did not see the failure and didn't call me stupid (not that they dare to).
The story: on a whim, I had purchased a cute Pentax Optio WG-3 for the used price of $180. I usually don't touch point-and-shoots, but this little baby can survive a drop from two meters (about 6 feet), can bear 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and dive 14 meters (45 feet) under water. It was the latter point that appealed to me. I used to have one of its predecessors and had a blast with it when out at the beach or the pool with the kids.
I'm not a scientist, but I do like to check the facts. So, I dropped the camera. Fine. Put it in water. Fine. And stood on it. Fine.
Well, standing on it was fine the first two times I did it. The third time, the time I was showing my wife this awesome little thing, we heard a crack as the LCD decided it couldn't deal with my weight and the little placticky thing on the handstrap that was stuck under the camera.
Did I say this all happened within hours of me getting the camera and that I hadn't taken any picture with it yet? Did I add that I may not be the slimmest guy on earth, but that I'm well shy of the maximum weight this machine is supposed to bear?
Okay, I felt a bit like an idiot. Now, my camera wasn't even waterproof anymore, not with that enormous crack in the back. And I had never actually cared about how much weight it could handle.
But I also was peeved. Okay, it was most likely the presence of that little piece of plastic that cracked the LCD whereas earlier the camera had survived my flat foot on a flat floor without any issues. But I had expected this camera to do better, considering all those claims.
So, I decided to read the manual and its warnings etc. It's then when you discover that the box and the press release were written by the marketing department and the manual had some input from legal.
hot and humid places places should be avoided;
ensure that the camera is not subjected to substantial vibrations, shocks or pressure;
avoid contact with garbage, mud, sand, dust, water, toxic gases or salt. These could casue the camera to breakdown (sic).
It also says the drop test is the MIL-standard 810F Method 516.5 Shock test, which means dropping it from two meters onto a 5 cm (2 inch) plywood surface. It didn't say that on the box, did it.
Oh, and if the camera has been dropped, it might no longer be waterproof. That's in the manual.
Doesn't really matter, because there's the wrap-it-all-up statement: "The camera satisfies the PENTAX test for the waterproof, dustproof and shockproof performance, but this does not garantee it will remain free of trouble or damages."
I'm not singling out Pentax here, by the way. This is how most manufacturers work, espcially here in the US, where the manual also warns that you shouldn't put the strap around your neck. You might choke, you know. In the US, apparently teddy bears are subject to more regulations than guns, but that's another topic.
In the end, I refrained from reaching out to Pentax to ask about a repair under warranty. Not worth the hassle and frustration. Plus, their manual covers them.
It gets worse, actually. At least that part about my sanity. B&H offered the very same Pentax at $100 off for $199 and I bought one. This time I didn't stand on it. I intend to keep it waterproof. And I prefer my wife to retain some respect for me. Of course she might think I'm stupid to buy a camera that earlier didn't live up to its claim of being able to withstand the weight of my slender - ahum - body.
I now have an extra battery and extra adapter and cables. I got two of each, actually, except that that one camera has that little crack, just like my pride.
By John van Rosendaal
PS: To those who doubt my mental abilities, I'd like to add that I had never before and have not since stood on any camera and I promise those sending me review copies that I will not stand on their cameras either (unless, of course, they claim that I can...).