Recommended Cameras

I get asked all the time if I have any camera recommendations.  My first questions are always: “what are you looking to get out of it?”, and “what is your price range?”.  I have some stand-by recommendations depending on what the answers are.  I threw together a product recommendation page that takes care of the recommendation part for me.  Of course I’m always willing to give advice and feedback, but those who know me might turn here first to get some info from now on.

You can buy direct from amazon right through my recommended products page for the same prices you’d get on Amazon.com.  However; if you buy from here I get a super tiny percentage.  So… If you’re looking to buy a camera and you find one on my recommendation page that you like I’d love it if you buy it here.

Thanks!

NOTE: I’ll keep the recommendation page up to date with the latest stuff as often as I can with the latest and greatest.  However; remember these are my RECOMMENDATIONS, they won’t always be the hottest new stuff, because a lot of the time I feel the new stuff is just fluff, and the older models are better for the money.

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.

Vertical Shutter Slit Photography

I’ve been reading Derek Miller’s blog for a while now and I love his Camera Works series.  Most of the stuff he posts in the series I already have a pretty good handle on but he does an excellent job describing (and simplifying) exactly how Cameras (and photography) work. Back in September he posted an article about Shutters, Flashes and Sync Speed.  Although I have a general knowledge of how all 3 work Derek provided a great in-depth write-up.  I have no idea how I missed it before but I read it today and it’s fantastic!

One key idea I’ve never really understood is how camera’s overcome their technical (mechanical) limitation on shutter speed.  Derek provides exactly the write-up I needed.  Essentially they don’t, they just use 2 shutters at the same time (both moving in the same direction) to allow a ‘slit’ of light through rather than expose the entire frame/sensor at a time.

If a subject is moving fast enough and the slit is moving slow enough, this can result in some interesting photographs, like this famous 1913 Photograph by Jacques-Henri Lartigue.

lartigue_car_trip

As Derek writes, this is an exaggerated effect and will most likely never be so dramatic with today’s cameras DSLRs without something moving at extreme super-sonic speeds.

Please visit Derek’s site for the full write-up.

EDIT: Derek was kind enough to stop by and suggest that this discussion really only applies to DSLRs (or Film Cameras ::Gasp::) since they’re the only ones with mechanical shutters.  Most (if not all) point & shoot cameras (including your cell-phone cameras) simply turn the sensor on and off.  Some of these electronic means of exposing the sensor even go slow enough to produce the same effect.  See the background of the following photo shot with my iPhone:

Warped iPhone photo

Each one of those slanted boxes should be a perfect rectangle.

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

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

20,000 Leagues under the Sea

Molokini

Another early start to a long day, but here that sort of day is welcomed. At 7am this morning we caught a ride on the leilani. She was a charter boat serving those interested in snorkel, snuba or just enjoying a ride on some of the most beautiful waters mother nature has to offer. It first took us to Molokini, a half sunk crater islet. It’s a popular snorkel spot with clear waters, a thriving reef and an abundance of aquatic life. We suited up and headed out to try our luck with the funny goggles and somewhat fishy breathing apparatus. The object of the game was to stick your head face down in the water and see as many fish as possible before swallowing too much sea water that unavoidably was sucked down the spout of your snorkel. It was amazing though. there must have been at least 50 different species of fish down there, some getting close enough you swear you could reach out and touch them. it was a good call buying that underwater camera. you’ll have to wait for pics from that till we get home.

Us

Next we ate a BBQ lunch prepared by the ships crew and headed to Turtle Town. Here we tried Snuba, a combination of snorkeling and scuba. really it was scuba diving with a tank on raft above you instead of on your back. It took a little while to get used to the breathing but once we did it was great. We are both in agreement that snuba kicked snorkels butt. Once in the water it took no time at all to see a turtle. As matter of fact one was waiting to greet us right off the ship. We saw two others that day and again were able to get pretty close. these guys aren’t shy. we don’t dare touch them though. sea turtles are a protected species and you could get fined up to 2000 if caught touching one. we left turtle town and it was back to Maui.

when back at the hotel we decided to catch up on some relaxation. we rented a cabana on the beach and sipped pineapple juice and coconut rum cocktails till sunset. This is the life.

aloha,
the Mr. & Mrs.