JC Christmas 2007

Thursday December 20, 2007 at 11:23am christmas, friends, cameras, board games Comments (0) »

Last night's christmas party was fun. Ginger, Tony, Rucht, McKenna and Finn came over for spaghetti, presents and hanging out. McKenna had to leave early, but Rucht stayed around until Finn got too cranky to be up.

After he left, Tony, Ginger, Sheri and I played a game of uber Carcassonne - as of last night, we have all but one tiny expansion. The game is now massive and barely fits in its box.

I played with my new toy (camera) a bit. I'm still learning it, but it's very nice. Took some pictures of Finn and some of our game-playing. At Tony's request, I got one of Optimash Prime joining our Carcassonne game. I'll start posting these at some point.

Rucht & McKenna gave us Settlers of Catan - a game that I've heard lots of good things about, but never got to play. In addition to that and the Carcassonne expansions, I got my own memory card for Ginger's game cube (hehe) and Sheri got a pair of yoshi slippers(!).

~PS

Cameras, Birthday Happenings, Etc

Wednesday December 19, 2007 at 11:39am cameras, birthdays, friends, penguins, christmas, family Comments (2) »
Cameras, Birthday Happenings, Etc Image

This is probably the last picture I'll post taken with our Kodak EasyShare digital camera. The subject of the picture should adequately explain why that is. :) I was able to pick this up (on sale) yesterday due to the *amazing* christmas bonus I got this year. I am now horribly out-classed by my equipment - but this is a disparity i'll be seeking to remedy over the course of the next year or so. Perhaps with some help from some friends.

In case anyone cares, I did type up my thoughts regarding Why I Decided on the Canon 40D. You know, if you didn't get enough of my rambling on that before.

In other news, I had a great birthday yesterday. For much more than the above reason. After work, Sheri, Ginger and Tony took me out to eat at O'Charley's (potato soup....yum) and then we went to a place called Fun Expedition and played miniature golf. Blacklight miniature golf. The second half of the course was in a closed-off, darkened area illuminated solely by blacklights and florescent materials. The balls glowed. The cup glowed. The obstacles glowed. The putting surface however, was a well of inky blackness. You couldn't see it at all. Sometimes you didn't know if there were bumps, basins, mounds, etc until you watched your ball unexpectedly change direction as it rolled over them. It was evil. But very cool.

After that, we came back here and had ice-cream cake and i got presents. Ginger gave me a fantastic penguin kids' book. A new IM away message is taken from it. :-)

Tony gave me a game called Penguins: a family penguin-stacking game - ironically put out by Fantasy Flight, the same people who make Arkham Horror and a bunch of other rpg-type games.

Sheri gave me a copy of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original - Gene Wilder is awesome) and a penguin-shaped vibrating massager.

So, out of 4 birthday presents, 3 were penguin-based. Not bad. ;-)


Tonight we're supposed to have our little christmas party. We've invited Rucht, McKenna and Finn as well. I'm going to make some spaghetti. It should be lots of fun.


Just a couple more days till christmas vacation and heading up to IN. I can't wait to see everybody - it's been a *long* time since i've seen some of them.

~PS

Picture Perfect?

Tuesday November 27, 2007 at 6:13pm cameras, photography, long freakin post Comments (2) »

Given the amount of time i've spent on it, it was destined to make it onto my blog sooner or later. The blog is a place to write down my thoughts, and this has taken up a fairly large number of thought cycles over the last several months.

I enjoy picking up new hobbies (despite the fact that I have less and less time for current ones), and ever since I held ginger's XT hostage for a few weeks back in July (during which time i played with it almost constantly), i've had a rapidly-growing interest in the art and technique of photography, doing a considerable amount of reading on terminology, practices and how cameras work.

So anyway, I've decided that I want a DSLR camera. I usually get a bit of money for christmas, I'm supposed to get a significant raise as of January, and a christmas bonus of some undisclosed amount. I figure between those boons, I may be able to save up for a decent camera in a (relatively) short amount of time. I hope.

Anyway, that brings me to the matter at hand: what to get.

I've spent hours reading specs and reviews on quite a few different cameras and lenses, made lists of pros and cons for several, and waffled back and forth on what I think I should go for at least 17 times (I'll probably add at least 2 more to that number as I write this entry).

Unfortunately, there seems to be some discrepancy between what I *want*, and what I think I'll be able to afford in some fashion. :-( See, the more I read and understood, the more I realized what some of the nicer (read: expensive) cameras have to offer, and part of me would rather have a camera that I can grow into, as opposed to out of. I'm usually the kind of person that will wait a little longer and spend a little more to get what I really want, as opposed to settling for something *almost* as good that i can get much quicker and cheaper.

Still, I would probably be happy with a less sophisticated camera, and as a first DSLR you can make the case that I really don't need anything more than that. Also, if I truly found that I had "out grown" the thing or really wanted some of the capabilities of the spiffier models, I would by that point have much more experience and perhaps a still clearer idea of what I'd really want to buy as an upgrade. True that I'd have already spent the money on the initial investment, but several years later i might be able to afford something a little nicer if it came to that.

The Specifics - here's what I've been looking at.

The first camera I looked at is the Canon XTI. This camera gets great reviews - esp as a first DSLR camera. It is lacking a couple of features I'd really rather have, but at only ~$580, it's the least expensive of the lot. Enough that I might be able to get a bit of a nicer lens with this one than with the others. As mentioned, I've spent quite a bit of time on ginger's XT, and so I already know a lot about how it works.

Pros:
relatively inexpensive, but still has most of what i want
large lcd review screen
dust detection/cleaning system for low-pass filter
Cons:
no dedicated info lcd
substandard battery life
a few missing features (no color temp, no spot metering, etc)


A camera that i've spent a bit of time actually playing with at Best Buy and liked was the Nikon d80. It's a great camera, and at ~$800 it's at a pretty good price considering, but the one thing that keeps me from saying "this is what I go with" is the fact that it has a sort of known issue with its metering being a little...wonky. It overexposes shots at varying increments between .3 and .7 ev. It's the inconsistency that many have commented on as being difficult to compensate for to the point that a shot often has to be taken two or more times to get the proper exposure - a luxury not always available.

Pros:
Dedicated info lcd screen
larger, brighter viewfinder
has features missing on XTI
better build and feel than the XTI
more nice, affordable lenses I want for Nikon
impressive battery life
Cons:
Uses SD not CF cards
More expensive than the XTI
Wonky metering
a *tiny* bit slower than the XTI (negligible)


A considerable step up on the quality/price ladder from either of those is Canon's 40d. This one sells for about ~$1300 for just the body, or about ~$1500 bundled with a decent kit lens.

Pros:
Much like the D300 mentioned below (though to a lesser extent), this camera has pretty much all of the things I like about the previous two and more, with none of the listed drawbacks of either.
Cons:
Expensive. I'd have to save a bit longer for this one and would probably go with the kit lens


The camera I would really like is Nikon's D300. Unfortunately, at ~$1800 for just the body, it's just too expensive. I couldn't get a decent lens to go with it and still keep the package under $2000 (not that I want to go up even that high) - so, barring something like an unexpected inheritance from a late and unknown great uncle, I think i can safely say that one's off the table. Sadness. As such, I won't bother rambling in greater detail about how cool it is.

--

So anyway, that's about how it breaks down. I looked over a handful of other cameras too, but those are the top 3 contenders - at the moment anyway. I didn't go into the lenses I've looked at and considered here, because that largely depends upon what camera I get.

If anyone has any input, I'd be glad to hear it - esp. if you've some knowledge of one or more of these cameras and/or photography in general. Leave a comment or send me an email.

As of now, I'm leaning toward one of the canon cameras. Not that that narrows the field too much...

~PS