Dec. 26th, 2012 11:25 pm
plonq: (Twilight Sparkle Clapping Mood)
[livejournal.com profile] atara bought me a very nice, mid-range flash for my old DSLR for Christmas this year. It is something that has been on my "would like to get some day" list for a few years, but after playing around with it this evening, I am kicking myself for not getting a new flash ages ago.

We walked up to the camera store this afternoon when I was having trouble getting it to do its wireless sync with my camera. I asked if I would need a cable, or if I needed an additional attachment for my camera to signal the remote flash. The girl at the camera store assured me that it SHOULD work with my camera, and she emailed me some links to help sites and videos. They had great pointers on how to use the various settings on the flash, but none of them addressed the issue I was having.

Eventually I figured it out on my own and got it working, but I don't know how much I will be using it as a detached flash anyway. Just being able to aim it makes a marked difference, and has breathed new life into this old camera.

She thought I was serious when I joked about upgrading my camera to match the shiny new flash, and she chastised me saying that I other than a few bells and whistles on the newer models, I was unlikely to see any improvement in picture quality. To be honest, I was partly serious when I joked about it. It is getting harder to find compatible add-ons for this camera, and the newer sensors DO perform much better in low light than this one does. Still, with the results I am seeing with the new flash, I think I will be happy with this camera for a few more years if it keeps working reliably.

For the record, I took all of these pictures using the 35mm lens (not because it is the best lens for shots like these, but because it is the least ungainly). I had the ISO locked at 100, and took them at aperture priority, set to f/5.0. In retrospect, it looks like the shutter locked itself at 1/60 to sync with the flash, so I'd have been better off just shooting at 1/60 and letting the camera pick the aperture. That would explain why they both came out a bit on the dark side. I'll take a few more shots tomorrow with the P setting and see what it does with the pictures.

In some ways, Belladonna is the most independent of the three cats. That said, if we both end up in the same room for any reason, Belladonna invariably shows up a minute or two later. She likes to keep an eye on her people. This spot under [livejournal.com profile] atara's lamp has become one of her favourite camping places when we are both on our computers.
Belladonna Lamp

I have noticed that many of the pictures I have of Merry make her look angry, or concerned. Those pictures are a bit misleading, because she is anything but an angry or concerned cat - she is a big, dumb, happy girl. This shot captures her personality better than most. See how she is staring with placid, curious fascination at something that only she can see? This is the Merry that we know and love.
Merry Hall
plonq: (Twilight Sparkle Clapping Mood)
I am still mulling over the idea of getting a new lens for my older DSLR - though in fairness, "still mulling" refers to a subject that I only broached just over a week ago.

I decided to go with [livejournal.com profile] dakhun's suggestion, and I put together a histogram of how often I use various focal lengths. I parsed through ~10,000 pictures, figuring that would be a decent sample size to establish some trends.

The first thing I did was eliminate 18mm, 50mm, and 200mm. I took out the two extremes because in the heat of the moment, I tend to turn the lens to the extremes (zoom right in, or right out) with the intention of fixing/cropping the picture later if needed. I took out 50mm because I already have a fixed 50mm lens, so the sample had a very strong bias.

When I removed those numbers, noticed some interesting trends in the graph.

- I definitely favour the wider focal lengths over the narrower ranges, with >45% of my shots coming in <48mm, and the other 55% spaced out with increasing rarity up to 170mm, then nothing at all between there and 199mm. I guess if 170mm doesn't cut it then I tend to just zoom in all the way.

- There are definite data spikes in the around 24mm, 70mm and 100mm.

On first glance, it looked like I would probably be better served by a more expensive 24mm lens, but I've worked around data long enough not to fooled by the pretty spikes on the chart. I plotted out a trend curve to see where the majority of my shots were happening, and the peak rose fairly quickly to about the 30mm point and then slid away slowly as it worked toward the narrower ranges.

Based on the numbers, I would probably get decent use from either a 24mm or a 35mm lens, since they both fall in the curve.

My gut feel is that if I got a 24mm lens, it might not see a lot of use. Even though I factored out the extremes from my sample, the fact remains that in the majority of cases, once I zoom out as far as 24mm, I typically just zoom the rest of the way out to 18mm. A lot of the settings in the 20+ range were from me backing off a bit because at the widest setting, the filters encroach on the picture, causing vignetting around the corners.

On the other hand, I fear that if I get a 35mm lens, then my 50mm lens will start gathering dust. In retrospect the 35mm lens is probalby the one that I should have bought instead of the 50mm, but it was twice the price, and money was tight at the time because [livejournal.com profile] atara was going to school.

Also, is 35mm enough of a difference from 50mm to be worth the price? I wonder if the camera shop would let me borrow a 35mm lens for a few days to that I could try them both out and see if I think it's different enough to be worth considering...
plonq: (Dramatic Mood)
I am either trying to talk myself into one, or out of one. I have a 50mm lens, and I love it immensely, but I find that it just pulls things in a little too tight for my liking. I am afraid that I am going to back off a pier, or into traffic while trying to frame a picture with it.

In many respects, with my camera a 35mm lens would function more like a proper 50 anyway, but I am not sure if going from a 50 to a 35 is a big enough change to warrant the expense.

On the other hand, I could get a somewhat slower 24mm lens for about twice the price - and I would definitely notice the difference going down to that size. What to do?

f/1.8 50mm lens for which I could almost pay cash out of my allowance, or f/2.8 24mm lens at twice the price?

Any suggestions from you camera buffs out there?
plonq: (Bouncy Mood)
We have been keeping ourselves on a fairly tight allowance until [livejournal.com profile] atara is working again, or at least out of school. We allow ourselves $20 a week to spend on anything we like - lunch, coffee, booze, prostitutes...

I have got into some pretty poor spending habits over the years, which included buying a cup of coffee on my way to work in the morning, and often a second one during the day. Even if you estimate the coffee at a conservative cost of $1.50 a cup, that still eats up the bulk of my allowance by the end of the week. Once all of the bills were broken, I would toss the coins into a drawer at work as a slush fund for future coffee purchases.

A few weeks ago I was in a local camera store, looking at lenses and lusting after a 50mm, F1.8 lens. It's not the fastest, or sharpest lens out there, but I have been wanting a smaller, faster, less unwieldy lens for a long time. Alas, with financial hit we took when [livejournal.com profile] atara went back to school, it's just not the kind of expense that we can justify. A new roof for the house, and new tires for the car tend to take precedence over a new lens for [livejournal.com profile] plonq's camera.

Then it occurred to me that if I could apply some self-discipline and rein in my spending, I would have enough to pay for one of these lenses - tax included - after only nine weeks. Naturally there were a few expenses that I couldn't avoid, like the stupidity tax lottery pool at work, so realistically I was probably looking at eleven weeks. Could I choke off my free spending habits for eleven whole weeks to achieve my goal? Barring unforeseen expenses, in two weeks the answer will be yes. If all goes according to plan, on January 25th I will be able to march two blocks up the street from my office, slap down cash on the counter and walk out with one of these:


I have to admit that the past few weeks have left me feeling like I am 10-years old again, squirrelling away every penny I get in my weekly allowance to save up for that bicycle. In the end I expect to be disappointed when I discover that the new lens does not make me a better photographer, but at least I'll be able to take my bad pictures in lower light without having to resort to a flash. The best part of all this is that the lens is effectively free in the sense that its purchase will not impact our finances in any way. The money for it has already been budgeted and "spent" as an allowance to me. Free stuff is good.
plonq: (Christmas Mood)
I tried something called "deep fried cheesecake" for lunch today. Apparently two wrongs can make a right. :9

While I was out for lunch I also replaced the Wireless remote control. that I lost up at the park on the weekend. I last remember seeing it (and using it) when I was taking pictures of the rail bridge, so I either set it down on the pier when was distracted, or it fell out of my pocket while I was packing up the tripod again. In any event I am very annoyed at myself for losing it.

New camera

Dec. 22nd, 2006 09:13 pm
plonq: (Studious Mood 2)
After a lot of obsessing consideration, I decided to go with a Nikon SLR. I got an 18-200 zoom with it -- which obviates the need for my old Canon lenses. The picture is nothing speciall - just a shot of the gargoyle in the corner of our living room.
Picture behind a cut )

Nothing like flash photography to highlight the fact that you really need to dust. Don't mind the cobwebs.
plonq: (Fiddling Around Some More)
After sifting through reviews and using verbal thumbscrews to extract advice from knowledgeable folk, I have pretty much decided on the Rebel XTi. The final deciding point for me was when I learned that - in spite of what I had been told earlier - it will work with my existing AF lenses. The only issue I'll have to deal with is that the zoom factor will be a little off, so the lenses that I have will function more like an 80mm, and a 50-350mm zoom respectively. The camera comes with an 18-55 kit lens, so I will be covered over a fairly decent range.

One of the downsides to this camera is that it doesn't support spot metering - which seems a bit odd for a camera in this price range. It's the kind of thing that one can get around using exposure lock, or manual override, but it's still an annoyance. =/

The only thing that has given me pause is the very positive things I've been hearing about Nikon's new D40. It is definitely a step down from the Canon, but at $250 less, it may fall into the niche of "good enough".

Nikon D40

It is a measure of how isolated I am in my little office here that I printed off a review of this camera with the intent of showing it to a friend who works out on the floor. (He is also in the market for a new camera, but his budget is a bit tighter than mine.) I was halfway to his desk, printout in hand, before it occurred to me that it was only 6:50, and he doesn't start work until 8. The hours pass strangely in this little room, and for some reason my internal clock was convinced that it was closer to 9. With no outside visual references, I have only the clock on the corner of my monitor to keep me apprised of time's progression.
plonq: (Groovy Mood)

(The ASCII art above describes my current workload)

Since it looks like our current camera is going to be in the shop until (at least) the end of January, I've been poking nosing around the local camera outlets looking at an upgrade. It's not that I don't like our current camera - quite the opposite. To this day I still think that it was the best available to us at the time in that price range, and I am very happy with its performance. I am an SLR kind of guy, though, and I miss toting around an oversized bag full of lenses - which brings me back to the "nosing around" that I mentioned earlier.

After looking at several cameras at different levels, I've narrowed it down to three:

Canon Digital Rebel XTi
Sony1 Alpha 100
Nikon D80

The last time I was shopping for a camera, it came down to a choice between the Nikon and the Olympus (and the latter won out by a hair based mostly on cost). This time around, I am primarily torn between the Canon and the Sony.

The main temptations on the Sony side are its image stabilizer, and dynamic range optimizer. Other than the small price variance, there doesn't seem to be a lot to choose from between the Canon and the Nikon.

I am leaning toward the Canon - in part because I've had good experiences with their film cameras in past, but I am open to suggestions. The floor is all yours. Sell me on a digital SLR.

1 - While I detest Sony, and think that they are creatively bankrupt, they have some very nice cameras. Then again, when you buy a Sony camera, you are basically buying a Minolta...
plonq: (omgwtf)
Pricing makes no sense sometimes.

While I was out for lunch today I stopped in at a local camera store where they have pretty good prices on things like memory cards, and I had a look at the current prices for XD cards.  The prices went like this:

128MB -- $39
256MB -- $59
512MB -- $109
1024MB -- $139

Doing a quick breakdown of the cost per MB, it comes out like this:

30.5¢ per MB
23.0¢ per MB
21.3¢ per MB
13.6¢ per MB

The price drop is far from linear; a fact that becomes very apparent if you graph the data out.  One is considerably better off buying a 256MB card over a 128MB, but the savings of going to a 512MB card are marginal.  On the other hand, the 1GB card is by by far the best bang for the buck.

On the plus side we've reached the point where buying a larger card is more cost effective than buying two of the cards a size down, but I still wonder why the 128 and 512 are such comparatively lousy buys.

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