Saturday, February 28, 2009

Digital karma

I entered the world of digital photography in the fall of 2001, the day after I was teased by images from a 2.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot S110 Digital ELPH. I had to have one.

A year later, when a connector on my S110 came loose, Circuit City (may it rest in peace) replaced the camera with an S230 -- essentially the same little silver box, but with 3.2-megapixel resolution.

For over six years that camera has gone everywhere with me, capturing thousands of moments. The S230 has proven to be damned-near indestructible, giving the impression that it's capable of driving nails as well as producing great images -- an awesome camera, despite its age.

In all that time, the only issue was a handful of distorted images taken on a hot, humid day last August. I didn't seek the reason for the transient problem until a few weeks ago -- turns out that Canon had known about a defective CCD since 2005 and was repairing all affected cameras at no charge, regardless of warranty status.

Cool. After a few minutes on the phone with Canon Customer Support, I printed the repair form and pre-paid UPS label that had been e-mailed to me, packed up my camera and dropped it off at the local UPS Store. That was a week ago yesterday.

Canon kept me apprised of my camera's status throughout, and when FedEx rang my doorbell yesterday afternoon I was looking forward to reuniting with my trusty photographic friend.

The box struck me as being heavier than it should be, considering, and upon opening it I was greeted by a note:

"Due to the current lack of essential components at the repair facility, and in order to expedite your repair, we have exchanged your original equipment with a new or factory-reconditioned model of equal or greater value."
Underneath the note was a sealed box containing a factory-refurbished Canon PowerShot SD950 IS Digital ELPH, plus all accessories and software.

Sad as I am about the factory-authorized retirement of my S230, I don't think I'll have any trouble getting used to its replacement -- big LCD, image stabilization, 12.1 megapixels, Titanium housing. The only down-side to the swap, really, is that the SD950 takes a different memory card and battery than the S230 -- no worries, just a matter of picking up a spare battery and an extra SD card.

I was impressed enough with the whole experience that I picked up the phone and called Canon to express my thanks. I also offered a gentle suggestion that the 16MB memory card supplied with the SD950 might be, um, a wee bit small, since it can hold only two full-resolution images.

That's when the Canon rep, without my asking, urged me to send back all of the CompactFlash cards and batteries I'd purchased for my S230, so that the company could replace them with equivalent items compatible with the SD950 -- no charge, shipping prepaid.

Somebody pinch me.

I didn't need another reason to be loyal to Canon products, but I got one anyway. Also, to my surprise, I got a rather pleasing glimpse of my karma.