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The Darker Side of Black Friday

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On Thursday, cameras around the country will celebrate Thanksgiving, gleefully snapping photo after photo of happy families and old friends. But for some unlucky cameras, this will be their last active holiday; Thanksgiving will be their last supper.

That’s because the next day is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year and the start of the Christmas shopping season. While that means new toys for little Johnny and Susie, that also means new cameras to be held and caressed and lovingly used while older cameras are euthanized–placed on shelves where they’ll be soon forgotten, or worse yet, given or sold to a ham-fisted amateur.

Here are three stories of Black Friday’s silent victims…

Forgotten Friend

Meet Canon 5Dii, a tall, rugged, and distinctive full-frame. 5Dii had a summer filled with travel and adventure last year, just him, Owner, and a backpack of big glass. The end of summer brought the accolades, the likes and the +s and the compliments to the many great photos. There was even talk of prints and a show. There was no reason to think that 2013 would be any different.

“Yeah, Summer of 2012 was just great!” 5Dii says with a flare in his 50mm prime, “we went EVERYWHERE–National Parks, beaches, big cities. It felt like one vacation after another. It was every camera’s dream…”

And then Black Friday came and without any warning, owner got a great deal on an Olympus OM-D E-M5. 5Dii didn’t know what hit him; he was shoved into the cabinet and nearly forgotten. Once in a while he’d get taken out for some exercise, but he missed the big snowboarding trip to Utah, and spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve in the cabinet with his lens mates. Come January, he saw his lens mates disappear one by one, as new, tiny and strange Micro Four-Thirds lenses took their place. Eventually, it was just 5Dii, and a 50mm F1.4 and 85mm F1.8 left.

5Dii doesn’t know how much time he has left before his time is up. “Who knows, if Owner finds a Panasonic GX7 or GH3 deeply discounted on Black Friday, it may be curtains for me. I dread the day when I’m taken out of the cabinet, set against a neutral backdrop alongside my box and owner’s manual and photographed; that’s a sure sign that the end is near. I just hope that I don’t end up in the hands of an Owner with sweaty palms and a greasy nose. A camera with my pedigree should not suffer such indignities!”

As of this story, 5Dii is still in the cabinet, but Owner has been seen reading new camera reviews and trolling forums.

Fickle

Even brand new cameras aren’t safe, just ask Nikon D600, purchased just a few months ago. “I was so happy to be chosen by Owner. He seemed like a real camera guy. I made a lot of friends with Owner’s other cameras, a Nikon D300, a Fuji X100, even an old Nikon FM. Oh, the stories the FM told about the PD (Pre-Digital) days.”

Owner and D600 took a lot of photos at first, often with another camera. “It was a lot of fun. We’d all go out in a big bag, and we’d take photos of brick walls, leaves, and tree bark. Back home, Owner would set up a home studio and we’d take turns taking pictures of newspapers and dolls.” D600 sits back, think a little, then adds, “Yeah, I know…we weren’t jumping out of a helicopter in a conflict zone or capturing the winning touchdown, but I was out a lot, getting some exercise and a lot of light.”

Despite the activity, D600 has some nagging doubts about how long this will last. “The other cameras and I talk a lot on our trips. They’re happy enough, but I can see it in their sensors; there’s something missing. Lately, I’ve seen Owner reading reviews of the Nikon Df, and I can see the glint in his eye. On the message boards, he writes about needing a ‘backup body,’ but who are we kidding; we all know what that means.” He’s trying to hide it, but D600 is obviously anxious, spitting as he speaks.

D600 is ambivalent about his future. “Yeah, it’s nice enough here. But to be honest, I was hoping for a little more adventure, if you know what I mean. We’ll see what happens on Black Friday. It’s a camera eat camera world out there.”

First Love Lost

“You’ll never forget your first love,” they say, and that’s certainly the case with Pentax K-30. Owner was just getting into photography back in 2011, shooting first with an iPhone and posting photos in Instagram. At the end of the 2012, Owner saw the red K-30 along with two kit zooms (at a Black Friday sale, ironically.) It was love at first sight and Owner’s first “real” camera.

“It was a cold winter, but we’d spend hours just lying in bed, reading the manual, taking pictures of the cat, Owner’s feet, bookshelves at the far end of the room, anything. I was the luckiest camera alive.” Spring brought walks in the park and summer brought trips to the beach. Fall was pumpkins and New England foliage.

And then, unexpectedly, the affair that was white hot suddenly cooled. “To be honest, I don’t know what happened. I thought that things were going great. I was living a dream. Now it’s been months since I’ve seen the sun. I’m stuck in this bag. I don’t know how much longer I can take this isolation. I need light.”

Owner was last seen on Black Friday at an AT&T store holding a Nokia Lumia 1020. We didn’t have the heart to tell K-30.

 

Black Friday and the holiday season will mean new homes for tens of thousands of cameras around the country. But even as we celebrate the season, let’s not forget that these aren’t victimless purchases. There’s a darker side to Black Friday, and these are just some of their stories.

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