Snowstorm in Fairport

Took a little walk with my Camera and MonoPod tonight.  It was my first time using a Monopod and it’s alright, but I couldn’t drag the shutter as much as I wanted to so I had to crank the ISO a bit more than I’d like for pictures like these.  Ahh well, turned out ok anyway.  Kinda fun to shoot too.

I love the snow and I love snow storms. They make Fairport so pretty.  Glad I took the time to go out even if it was for only a few minutes.

Kodak M1033 Review – Horrible!

Kodak M1033Wow the Kodak m1033 is an incredibly crappy camera!

The camera was so horrible, that after 2 months (1 month of which was a vacation) we returned it.  Rather than go into any lengthy detail I’ll just state my complaints in bullet-list form.  We all like bullet lists right?

  • Crazy noisy zoom.  Very audible during video.
  • Horrendous low light quality.
  • Completely inaccurate (although pretty) color representation.  There was noticeable color processing once the picture was taken.  It almost seemed like HDR photography.  I could find no way to turn this off.
  • Battery life,  at best 200 shots.
  • To ‘view’ photos the camera must first be turned on.
  • Incredibly slow.  Noticeable camera shutter lag and scrolling through photos.
  • Won’t stand up to even moderate use.
  • Incredibly poor HD quality videos except in the absolute best of light conditions.  Not any worse than expected on such a small sensor ‘HD’ video camera, but still it doesn’t do the camera any favors.
  • The battery had to remain in the camera to be charged, using a proprietary plug (not mini-USB).
  • The Camera tagged the photos as coming from the “eastman kodak company kodak easyshare m1033 digital camera” which is an insanely long name.  Most cameras are similar to ‘Canon 40D’ or ‘Sony Cybershot H5’ at the most.  While this seems like a small deal, to a power user like myself it’s actually quite frustrating.

In Summary

We didn’t go out looking for an insanely superior camera to match up to my DSLR.  Our intention was to get a mediocre camera that would be good enough for moments when I didn’t want to carry the DSLR or moments where I wasn’t with Rachel and she wanted to take a decent picture.  The features of the Kodak M1033 seemed to be a step in the right direction from the Kodak cameras I’d seen in the past, and I wanted to give them a shot, being that they’re a local company and all.  After all, $145 for a compact 10mp camera with a 3″ LCD and 720p HD video wasn’t half bad right? It wouldn’t have been, except that the Kodak M1033 couldn’t deliver.

It’s just a downright crappy camera, and I hate to say it but I won’t be buying Kodak ever again, at least not until I hear glowing reviews.

A Week in Review

I’ve had the camera for a little over a week now. However; I’ve only had a memory card for 3 days.  I wasn’t about to pay Circuit City’s prices so I ordered a 16Gb card as soon as I got home. Anyway after finally getting a card I’ve been playing. A Lot. My results aren’t the greatest, and they show I have a lot to learn but it’s been fun.

I’ve uploaded some of my photos from the first week with my 40D. Take a look and let me know what you think.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=67348

Finally

After 1 year and 5 1/2 months I finally took the plunge.

While we were out today we stopped by Circuit city to see what sweet deals they might be having.  We only found one.  They had the Canon 40D DSLR on sale for $150 cheaper than I’ve seen it online.  I’m now a proud owner.  My reaction so far is it’s awesome, above and beyond my expectations.

40D

The All New Canon XSi

I haven’t been able to try it out yet but the new Canon XSi looks to be a nice upgrade from the Xti. The enhancement to 12mp and the move to SD media alone is worth it, not to mention the other enhancements.

Canon XSi

Maybe this will be my first step into the world of DSLRs instead of the 40D I want so badly? We’ll see, although at this point I think I’d outgrow the XSi much too quickly to warrant the purchase now instead of waiting a little longer to purchase the one I really want (the 40D).

Details below to save you the jump.

  • 12.2 effective Megapixel CMOS sensor
  • Supports all EF and EF-S lenses
  • Uses new 14-bit A/D converter, improved AF sensor (still 9-point), and DIGIC III image processor
  • 3-inch LCD display (230k pixels) with live view and contrast detect autofocus
  • Full manual controls; ISO range of 100 – 1600
  • Can shoot at 3.5 frames/second for up to 6 RAW or 45 JPEGs
  • Auto Lighting Optimizer corrects image brightness and contrast automatically
  • New spot metering (4%) option
  • Same dust reduction system as the XTi
  • Uses SD/SDHC memory cards (instead of CompactFlash)
  • Optional battery grip
  • Uses LP-E5 lithium-ion battery; 500 shots per charge
  • USB 2.0 High Speed support
  • Shipping in April for $799 body only, and $899 with the new 18-55 IS lens; comes in silver and black

A Learning Experience

This weekend I borrowed my friend Ryan‘s camera to test the SLR waters again. While I absolutely love my H5 I have been toying with the idea of purchasing an SLR to push myself over the edge into the black (money) hole that is the hobby I so lovingly call (along with billions of other people…) photography. I had very good experience this weekend as Rachel and I attended Corey and Maggie’s wedding and I used Ryan’s camera while we were there. Through that experience I learned some very valuable lessons, some good and some bad.

The first lesson I learned was holy crap it’s fast! I could fire off several shots in the time it takes my camera to take one. Digital photography makes it super easy to take a bunch of photos and figure out the choice ones later and this made it even easier. This is great for situations like weddings since there is always inevitably someone closing their eyes at any given time.

The next lesson I learned is a harsh one although it turned out ok in the end. Check your settings! I had been playing the previous night with low light settings and had subsequently had the ISO setting at 800. I had forgotten all about this and shot the entire wedding and after-ceremony photos at this same setting. It wasn’t until I went to modify the ISO setting after going inside that I realized this. If I had done this on my H5 it would have been suicide, the photos would have been grainy beyond belief and would have required lots of post-processing which would have in turn dulled the photographs dramatically. Luckily the SLR handled the higher ISO setting just fine. It was slightly more grainy than I would have liked but none the less the photos were not ruined as I thought they might have been

I also learned something about photography in general, more closely tied to the profession than the hobby though. I noticed that I was taking shots of random little things that were happening like private hugs, tears etc that the real photographer wasn’t capturing. At first I wondered why this was and then I realized that they had a lot of stuff on their plate and even more to coordinate. Because they were staging and placing everyone, it left the other would-be photographers to do their stuff. I talked to one of the other people there (whom I thought was working with the hired photographer) and he told me that he much prefers going to weddings where he is simply the ‘friend photographer’ as apposed to the ‘hired photographer’ so that he is left alone to get his shots right instead of setting up poses. This allows for many more real and candid shots which I believe come out much nicer anyway. The lesson here? If you’re a photographer hired for a wedding, be sure to have 1 or 2 (at least) other photographers there at least during the formal portrait sessions.

Don’t Trust the Average Meter. I learned the hard way that the average meter is not the way to go, instead trust your instincts and keep it on ‘spot metering.’

I also learned that If I go down this path (which I fully believe I will now) I need three things right out the door.

  1. A camera body I recently came across a new canon, the 40D which I believed was my perfect camera (were I to go SLR). However; some other companies have also recently released new camera body’s that are in the range I’m looking for such as Sony and Nikon. I’ll need to do some more research before I decide on my camera body now, although I’m still leaning towards the Canon 40D.
  2. A flash which can be aimed – I can’t begin to list the number of times during the wedding (the reception especially) that I wanted to use the flash to add some light to a dark scene, but wanted to keep the ambient light and not add the harsh glare-tones that come with the built in flash.
  3. A high(ish) zoom lens – The lens that comes with the 40D kit is 28mm-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS. I’m not sure if this will be enough or not so I’ll have to play with it In store first. I do know that the 18-55mm lens I was using this weekend simply didn’t provide enough range for me. I realize that you get better results by adding multiple lenses to your arsenal and for some things this may be perfectly ok however for my preferred style of photography, and the randomness that comes along with weddings, it simply doesn’t work. It may come down to something like the 28-300mm Canon (which will increase the initial cost of this little venture quite a bit).

All in all I’d say a successful adventure and some good lessons learned. I’ve determined that I could definitely improve my photography with the addition of an SLR, now comes the hard part of researching and finally deciding.

Let your words be few, and your exposures many

Sony DSC H5

For a while now I’ve been using my trusty H5 and I’ve learned quite a bit about photography. I bought my H5 because it’s essentially an SLR without the interchangeable lens and flash hot shoe. Both of these features are very important, however the lens built into the H5 is a 36mm-432mm (35mm equivalent) and the flash is actually quite versatile. I can step the flash up and down in power with a total of 10 steps. This all comes included for the small price of $500 (retail price when purchased over a year ago). The same setup with an SLR would have easily run me in the thousands and at the time I wasn’t sure I wanted to dedicate that much money into my new hobby just yet.

The H5 has been a wonderful learning tool, and I truly feel everyone who wants to delve into photography should take a Full Featured as their first real step. It (cheaply) allows you a very wide range in the type of shots you can take, so you find out whether or not its something you really want to do and if so, what type of shots you like to take. If you buy a full featured camera like the H5 and you find yourself leaving it in ‘auto’ mode all the time you’ll be missing out on a lot of really wonderful shots. You probably wouldn’t benefit much from the switch to an SLR either.

That brings me to my next tidbit. I will be retiring the H5 soon. I’ve decided I need to make the switch. I have been looking for a while and thought I had decided on the Canon 30D. Until this morning. The only thing lacking in the 30D is a high resolution sensor. I loved the camera, the feel of it, the screen size, feature set, speed everything. However; I felt that if I were going to switch to an SLR I wanted at least 10 megapixels. Everyone is going to say:

but it doesn’t really matter, 3 or 4 is plenty 90% of the time!

And they’d be right, for 90% of people taking photographs. However; by making the switch to an SLR I’m taking one (small) step towards attempting to make money with my hobby. To do so I need to be able to print very large, and make very small crops. Therefor I need as much detail in the shots as possible.

This morning amazon slipped up and accidentally announced the Canon EOS 40D ahead of schedule. This camera is a thing of beauty (providing the accidentally leaked info is accurate). The three main upgrades from the 30D that I’m concerned about are:

  • Increased efficiency 10.1-megapixel CMOS sensor with larger microlenses
  • Large 3.0-inch LCD display
  • 6.5 frame-per-second continuous shooting capability

For a full breakdown of the features (as temporarily listed by amazon) click here.

Looks like I might have found my new baby.

The 40D - Top The 40D - Back