The Ugly Pet Syndrome
We used to get lies, misconceptions, and innuendos from our companions and relatives. Since the advent of the internet we can now be supplied with these by authoritative strangers. It is sort of like having Monsanto send you a railway car full of chemical sludge for free.
Oh, did I just use a lie, misconception , or innuendo to slander Monsanto? Yep, I did. And while it got a laugh, I hope, it was neither fair nor right. I use lots of things in my daily life that have been developed or made by Monsanto and I think I have benefited from it. My jibe was just me trying to be smarty-aleck.
So it happens with a number of photographic manufacturers. Based upon net reports - in themselves based upon people we have never met doing things we have not seen them do - we retail common wisdom of how bad this camera is or how bad that lens is. Worse - we sometimes reverse the coin and trumpet as good what we have never tested. You understand, of course, that I am accusing you of these sins as I am blameless - pure as the driven slush, am I.
The labels that brought you to this page have all been slandered, or lauded at one time or another - Mr. Fuji, Mr. Pentax, Mr. Canon, and Mr. Nikon get plastered all over forums. Mr Polaroid is wandering about somewhere in history. Mr. Edsel and Mr. Lightburn...well, read on.
The Edsel that you see on the top of this column is in beautiful shape - it was on display at Big Al's Poker Run in February - a hot rod event that is purely delightful. North American readers will recognize it more readily than Australians but both groups will remember little about it except its bad name. That name and the apocryphal stories are generally all that people know about the marque, and it is decried. But really, it is just a Ford sedan of the same era - late 50's - with a stylish grille. The factory line that made it was a Ford line and there was nothing really different about the engineering. It fell out of favour because of the styling then every tale that was told of it exaggerated a fault and the whole affair became a sales fiasco.
But it is still a pretty stylish 1950's road locomotive and it is something that the current owner is justly proud of.
Contrast this to the car that used to be sold down on Hay Street just past His Majesty's theater in the 1960's. The Lightburn Zeta. The Zeta was designed to be economical to make, run, and maintain. It was going to use the manufacturing expertise of an Australian washing machine manufacturer to blitz the motoring world. Look out Austin. Stand back Hillman. Run for cover Fiat. It DID use all the expertise of an Australian washing machine manufacturer - had it been dedicated wringing out your delicates, all would have been well - as it happened riding in one in traffic wrung out your guts.
In retrospect, I do hope that somewhere there is someone who has treasured one of the few Lightburn Zetas that may be left. I hope the little plastic bread box has been lovingly restored like the Edsel. If only the show future generations what Australians were capable of in 1966. I mean, they display stromatolites in museums...why not a Lightburn Zeta.
The final wrap-up of this column, and stop hitting me with a rolled-up newspaper, Saul...is that there are a number of photographic devices, and programs, and concepts that get bad press in the electronic media. Most of what is thought of as common perceived knowledge on these subjects is flawed, if only because the people reading it have never tried the thing out. Here is where the on-line advice and the on-line shop go hand in hand. Electronic advice stimulating electronic trade in electronics. Sometimes right but oftimes wrong.
We're different here at the shop. The things we sell are right here. You can come in and set them off right in front of yourself and see what happens. You can run a card through the Flapoflex Digital 5 camera and see if the pixels match up. You can find out whether or not the flash actually works as the manufacturer claims. And you can ask someone real over a real counter about it. Of course the real sales assistant may be really confused too, but that just adds to the charm of the morning.