Archive for September, 2007

What camera should I get? Q1: Price

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

As promised, I’m going to discuss a bit about what your hard earned cash will get you in cameras. I will be talking about Canon’s line of digital cameras because I know them the best, but if you have a different brand preference (e.g. Nikon, Sony, Kodak, Fuji) you’ll find similar levels, capabilities and prices. I’ll also only be talking about latest model new cameras. If you can find last year’s model online, or at your favorite retailer, you can get a pretty good deal for pretty similar capabilities. If price is your main object, you might be able to step up a bit in class for the same price if you get the previous model.
So the first question I ask somebody who’s looking for camera advice is: “How much do you want to spend?” Most people have a general idea where they think they’ll be comfortable, and I’ve found that lately, most are pleasantly surprised by what they can get for their money.
For what it’s worth, it is possible to spend more on a digital camera than on some fine automobiles. Hasselblad, made famous for most of us in relation to images taken by the Apollo astronauts, has a 39 megapixel digital camera called the H3D-II. Its regular retail price is 26500€ (~$37600). This is just slightly more than the rather nice all-wheel-drive BMW 328xi 2-door coupe. Needless to say, I don’t recommend one of these to any of my readers. I’m sure it’s a fine camera… but lets just say that if you’re reading this blog and you can actually afford to buy that camera, then please consider a small donation to the author of this site to support further camera testing.
Back to business:
I group digital cameras into basically 4 categories by size:

  • Ridiculously miniature (RM)
  • Normal (N)
  • Got-glass-will-travel (GG)
  • and finally,

  • single-lens reflex (SLR)

The power curve for cost vs. performance is somewhere in the fuzzy margin between N and GG. You pay more for more capabilities (upper GG and SLR) and for miniaturization (smaller N and RM). Highly miniature, highly featured cameras can cost as much as the upper GG categories. So what does this mean in dead presidents?

Edit Sep.30: added the table after I wrote the next two posts and realized it was needed for consistency

Here’s a summary table:

Feature Ridiculously Miniature Normal Got-Glass Single-Lens Reflex
Price range $250-450 $100-250 $350-500 $700-$1500
Pro: $4k-38k

In order from most to least expensive… (more…)

What camera should I get?

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

My friends and family know that I’m a bit of a shutterbug. Usually this is because when we visit I spend more time taking pictures of their kids than talking with them. Ever since we bought our Canon G2 back in fall of 2001 (prior to our trip to the Salt Lake Olympics), I’ve been taking pictures of everything. We stayed loyal to the Canon line (partially because I already knew the symbology in the controls/menus, and partially because we could reuse batteries and media) when we made our leap into digital SLRs with the Canon 20D in the end of 2004.
Since then I’ve been extremely pleased with the 20D and there’s always some other filter or lens that would be great to have/play with/spend money on… so I think I’m hooked.
In any case, several friends have told me that they’re looking for a camera, and what do I recommend. This is a tough question for a number of reasons, but starting with the most important questions, here are my top 5:

  1. How much do you want to spend? [Price]
  2. What do you most want to take pictures of? [Lighting, Subject]
  3. What do you want to do with your pictures after you’ve taken them? [Resolution, Images]
  4. How much control do you want over what the camera’s doing? [Control]
  5. Do you have a camera now? And if so, what do you like/dislike about it? [Loyalty]

[Last Thoughts]

Although I don’t plan to turn myself into a one-man Consumer Reports, I’m going to spend some time doing a few posts on how the answers to these questions (and others) should inform your new camera purchase. To start though, take a look at the questions that CR thinks you should be thinking about*.

In the end, the most important feature of a new camera is not being afraid to use it. 100% recycled electrons is what I like to say. The carbon footprint of a single JPG image on your media card is negligible, so the more shots you take, the more you’ll learn and the happier you’ll be.

* Although I am a subscriber to Consumer Reports, you may not be. That’s ok, most of the buying guides are available to non-subscribers. You just won’t be able to look at specific camera test results and ratings.
You may note that the links for the cameras above are to Digital Photography Review (www.dpreview.com)rather than to Canon. Although I’m sure Canon‘s website is great for selling cameras, it’s not the best for researching them (particularly older models)
Edit 7 November: Added quick links to each later posting from the questions above.

Select a Candidate

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Want a quick way to find out which presidential candidates are aligned with your views and opinions? Take the 11 question quiz at WQAD’s Select a Candidate page. Probably not the most accurate tool, but it gave me some other candidates that I plan on checking out more thoroughly. Thanks to Aunt Bren for the tip.

Long time-lapse, no see.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

In a continuing effort to get all of our digital images under some kind of organization (I’ve learned quite a bit in this process which I will share at some point), I have come upon a lot of lost and forgotten images and digital photography experiments. One such series of experiments, I’ve never really been able to share before because the files were simply too big for any kind of free web-space that came with a package ISP deal.
With the wondrous volumes of space now at my disposal and a bandwidth limit I’m not likely to exceed (unless I get burned by some-sort of slashdot effect), I am posting these (by 2002 standards) relatively large video products to the web for the first time. Feel free to comment what kind of download speeds you got, I’d be curious to know what kind of throughput this server actually manages.

So what are they, you may ask? And why are they cool enough that I, your dear reader, wants to burn my limited (?) download bandwidth viewing them?

These links direct to a series of avi movie files that were generated by setting my Canon G2 to fire off an image at a fixed interval. After collecting hundreds of these images onto a laptop, I compiled them into time lapse movies. We were living in Tucson, AZ, at the time, so the preferred subject were the monsoon rain clouds forming over the Catalinas.
(more…)

Growth

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

4 Months Old
Nate had his 4 month check-up yesterday. He’s doing really well. He was 16 lbs, 14 oz and 26.25 in. That’s about 90% for both weight and length. He had to have 4 vaccine shots (two in each leg) so he was pretty cranky yesterday afternoon, but other than that he’s perfectly healthy. I’ve updated his photographic growth chart with today’s picture.

Walking for Charity

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

The Schierer family has decided to walk in the 2007 Cazenovia CROP Walk, to help raise money for hunger relief. The walk is on October 14th, and most people usually dress in Halloween costumes, so it should be a lot of fun.

We have set a fund raising goal of $100. Would you consider making a small donation to help us reach our goal? If you would like to contribute, you can do so online at our fund raising page.

Click Here to Donate

Thanks for your help.

Edit: Thanks for all your donations. Since we quickly reached our goal, I have increased it to $150.

Fun with Macro

Monday, September 24th, 2007

A shout out to Mom & Dad D who bought me the nifty close-up lenses a while back. I’ve finally started to use them the way they were intended. When K, N & I went for a walk on Sunday afternoon, I was able to get this interesting close-up shot*:
Grasshopper

This one isn’t technically a macro shot, but at screen resolution it seems to be:
dragonfly

And remember that trip to the PCMoNH? Here are some of the fossils I found in their ‘dig’:
Positive Negative
Fossils

* If you’re not registered on the gallery, you won’t be able to see the higher resolution version of these shots, which are even more impressive.

We Didn’t Finish Last!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Today I participated in my first official sailing regatta. Although my Laser remains nestled against the ceiling of my garage in its nest of nylon webbing, I have been getting in what sailing time I can. A friend from work and church skippers a Lightning. I was out with him once before, serving as the middle crew member. The Lightning generally races with a crew of three, the skipper, middle crew and forward crew. The skipper, of course, directs the overall actions of the crew and mans the tiller. The middle crew balances the boat (aka “sack of potatoes”) on the windward (upwind) leg and acts as spinnaker trimmer on the leeward leg. The forward crew trims the jib and manages the spinnaker pole.
Today, the winds were fairly strong (more…)

New pictures

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Thumbs are tasty
There are some new pictures of Nate up in the gallery for those who are interested.

Lullabies

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

After spending a couple of hours last night listening to Nate’s bedtime music over and over, I came downstairs to rework the playlist, because there are a couple of songs that just drive me batty and I figured it was time to get rid of them. So I opened up iTunes and decided to browse the store for some new lullaby music to add to the rotation. One of the featured albums in the children’s music section was Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of U2. How can anything by U2 possibly be made into appropriate sleepytime music for infants? Then I found that you could get other artists, including Metallica, Pink Floyd, Green Day, NIN, and Nirvana. None of these artists make me think of relaxation music or children at all, yet they are all highly rated. I had to listen. To all of it. It was odd. Some of it I may just have to purchase.