Smile! You're on Digital Camera

When Brother Mark joined our community he brought along a couple of identical $50 digital cameras. Why two? Because when he bought them on QVC he thought they were such a good deal – one could always be given as a gift to someone. Well it turns out that he wished to give one of them to our community. I soon learned why this camera was such a deal – no flash and only manual focus settings. For outside shots in good light where the distance was known the pictures came out reasonably sharp. And the camera was good for about 120 pictures on its medium quality setting. Unfortunately, Florida weather, perhaps the humidity, did in both of Brother Mark’s digital cameras. My guess was that moisture got in behind the camera lens. Every picture now comes out blurry.

Not long ago a photographer for a newspaper came to shoot us (not literally) in front of our land for our future new monastery. He had what looked like an expensive digital camera. After taking the pictures, he took out his wireless laptop, plugged in the camera and e-mailed the digital images to his newspaper. Not bad for a days work! No film involved.

With our community soon to begin the construction of this new monastery, I thought having a digital camera would be a real plus. I could snap pictures as the construction progressed, download them into the computer and then upload them to the website. No waiting for picture development and then later scanning them into the computer. As we had a benefactor (namely my mother) who was willing to buy us a digital camera I went to Walmart to pick one out. Now if you are thinking I did extensive research on digital cameras beforehand you would be wrong. I wanted a cheap one, as I was mainly going to use it for the Web. However to be on the safe side, as I was going out the door, I had grabbed the latest copy of PC Magazine hoping to quickly look over their digital camera recommendations. Wouldn’t you know it – that issue had no reviews! Being totally ignorant on cameras, now I was totally at the mercy of the salesman at Walmart. His first question was my price range. Now being a monk "free" would have been my first choice. However, I didn’t think this would go over so good, so I said something reasonably inexpensive. Getting the cheapest with electronics rarely ends up being a good deal in the long run in my experience.

The cameras ranged in price from $70 to over $500. I noticed that price went right along with resolution – from 1 to 4 megapixels (MP). The salesman told me that 1 MP would be good enough for the Web but not for printing out. I would need at least 2 MP for that. I went with 2 MP, as I figured we just might want to print some pictures out. The salesman recommended a Kodak CX6200, as it was their hottest selling camera. I went with it at a cost of $125 because Kodak has been making cameras for years and other people apparently thought this particular one was a good deal. The ninety-day money back guarantee was a further help to such a quick decision.

The camera itself was easy to use. The first time I turned the camera on it asked for the date and time, which I set without having to refer to the user’s guide. I then turned the Mode dial to Auto camera and began shooting pictures with the default settings. A review window in the back of the camera allowed me to see the pictures taken immediately after each snap for a few seconds – a real advantage for those shots that are not easily repeatable. I took one picture in low light and the flash automatically went off producing a clear picture. I was impressed at how clear the pictures looked with the camera just out of the box. The Mode dial allowed Video capture, but I had no interest in that so I didn’t try it.

Now as you can imagine, the camera has a menu button with all kinds of settings. The included, and actually in print, "User’s guide" was very clear on how to use the camera. I had difficulty installing the "EasyShare" software, however. I kept getting one of those vague error numbers from Windows. I went on the Kodak website and was able to successfully download and install the software from there. When the camera was connected to the computer, it appeared as a hard drive under "My Computer." From there I could directly save images to the computer hard drive or delete images from the camera. The included EasyShare software allowed picture adjustment and special effects as well as an easy way to share pictures, as the name implies.

As things turned out, we decided there probably would be some pictures which we would want to print out like regular photos for our archives, such as our new monastery open house. Now to do that, we would have to take the pictures at the second best quality setting on the camera that has a 3:2 aspect ratio – perfect for 4" X 6" prints without cropping. I soon discovered that with the included camera memory of 8 MB we could only store 9 pictures at this setting – hardly enough for such an event as an open house. Fortunately, camera memory could be expanded for $40 with a 128 MB memory card allowing up to 170 stored pictures. The included batteries were good for snapping around 100 to 140 pictures.

The software had a tab for ordering prints online. However, it was easier just to put the .5 MB photo I snapped on a floppy disk (with more photos one could burn a CD) and get it developed at Walmart for 27 cents – Not bad considering you can print and get charged for only the pictures you want to do instead of for a whole roll of film, as with traditional cameras. The picture when developed looked as good as any film camera could produce.

Are digital cameras going to replace traditional film cameras? I think so. We finally decided to go that way. That will mean returning this digital camera for a slightly more expensive camera with more features like zoom and macro capabilities. We hope some people still like using and buying film cameras – we have a 35mm film camera that will soon be up for sale on Ebay!

Monthly Web Pics

This time let’s look at information on the Gift of Infallibility in the Church. Why call it a gift? Can’t we just believe anything we want? See the following links for the answer.

It’s always a good idea to start with the Catechism. Look at paragraph 890 and following for the different ways the Church proclaims infallibly at scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p4.htm

The First Vatican Council proclaimed Papal Infallibility in 1870. To read about this in detail see Session 4, Chapter 4 at piar.hu/councils/ecum20.htm

Catholic Answers addresses Papal Infallibility and misconceptions our separated brethren have about it at catholic.com/library/papal_infallibility.asp

The Immaculate Conception was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX as infallible in 1854. You can read about what he said in proclaiming it at papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9ineff.htm

So important to the Church is preserving and guarding the teachings handed down to us by the Apostles that The Roman Curia has a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. You can read about their purpose and statements on the Vatican site at vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/index.htm

Is the Ordination of only men to the priesthood an infallible statement? See Jack Healy’s article on it in the Homiletic & Pastoral Review at catholic.net/RCC/Periodicals/Homiletic/12-96/1/1.html. Another good article entitled "Church Authority: No Longer ‘Authoritative’? by K.D. Whitehead is worth looking over at catholic.net/RCC/Periodicals/Homiletic/10-96/1/1.html.

Brother John Raymond welcomes
e-mail at john@aplusconsultingnow.com.

He is author of Catholics on the Internet: 2000-2001,
Webmaster of www.monkofadoration.org