cahn: (Default)
Possibly today only (not entirely clear on this point), Amazon is offering the Panasonic DMC-G5KK with kit lens for $300. That's about 50% off what it normally is, and is somewhat less than a compact camera on this "prosumer" level would be. It's a pretty amazing price, if you're in the market for something like this (then again, it's a lot of money if you're not...)

I've been watching these Micro-4/3 interchangeable-lens cameras for years now as a possibility for something that's lighter and less bulky than a dSLR, but still gives a larger sensor size than a compact and the freedom to exchange lenses when desired. (On our recent trip to Yosemite, it became pretty clear that D's SLR won the day when it came to Awesome Pictures, and was much better than my prosumer-level compact, which does take pretty nice pics... but there was no contest.)

(Of course, this is the starter drug. I'd kind of want to get the fast pancake lens... that's part of the point of getting such a camera, to be able to get lenses like that... only that runs $400, these days. So maybe not. Eek.)
cahn: (pothole)
This year was my second (dad's) family reunion, which we've been having every 1.5 years (so as to alternate summer and winter).

1. As D pointed out, his family reunions have almost ten times the people and less than one-tenth the drama. To be perfectly fair, all the drama was pretty much confined to the first generation (dad and siblings) with some first-second generation drama, and as far as I know no second-generation drama at all. My cousins are great!

2. In what turns out to be related news, the older/female part of the first generation has some problems with emotional manipulation. (The younger part of the first generation tends to just suck it up or avoid conflict.) I caved in (which I certainly have a problem with) to mom on Friday, to my great regret, but perhaps it was just as well, as my regret over this led directly to my preventing a cave-in by my dad to his sister on Saturday.

3. I always forget how much I adore Yosemite, particularly Tuolumne. ADORE.

4. In related news, I really need to get a new camera with better manual controls. In particular, I need to get a Canon G15 :) My Panasonic LX-3 is a great camera that takes great pictures, but doing any kind of manual control is like pulling teeth, and it turns out this makes me not want to use it at all, whereas back when I had a G7 I was always taking it out. Using an iPhone camera is a nonstarter for much the same reasons. That being said, it's certainly true that when hiking with a bunch of kids and/or a lot of non-photo-driven adults there's not really that much time for messing around with manual control... (Also, the G15 has a fast, fast f/1.8 lens. Be still my heart!) I've also been following the 4/3 interchangeable-lens non-SLR cameras with interest -- if you'd asked me five years ago I would totally have thought it would have been my next camera -- but I've decided that I am exponentially more likely to take a camera places if it easily fits in large pockets/small bags.

5. Lessons learned include a) Saddlebag Lake and the lakes to the northwest are awesome; the lakes to the northeast, not so much, so don't do the loop hike, and b) the mosquitoes in July are horrible. Interestingly, it was only the environs of Saddlebag Lake that had terrible mosquitoes; our Yosemite and June Lake hikes were mostly devoid of them. I am gratified to learn that my two favorite places (though I can think of more impressive ones) in all of Yosemite, Tenaya Lake and Cathedral Lake, were also the favorites of my relatives.

6. E hiked up her first "mountain" (Pothole Dome, which is only 200 ft, but it's bare shiny granite and certainly looked like a mountain to E). D and I were both totally expecting that she would only make it halfway up, but she plugged away (and then fell asleep within minutes of getting back in the car). This is the same kid who complains about almost any kind of physical anything we've ever had her do (she still complains bitterly, for instance, if we make her ride her tricycle, whereas all the other kids we know looooove tricycles). Pothole Dome has an awesome view-to-effort ratio, and I'm amazed we never did it before.

Words meme

Aug. 1st, 2009 12:08 pm
cahn: (Default)
[Um, so, yeah. I have been really, really bad about posting recently. There is a reason for this, which I'll get to at some point. Meanwhile I think I may be able to get back to posting.]

Via [livejournal.com profile] ase [an unfortunately long time ago, now; sorry!]: reply to this meme by yelling (or even saying gently) "Words!" and I will give you five words that remind me of you. Then post them in your LJ and explain what they mean to you.

Science, novels, choral, California, and camera )
cahn: (slot-canyon)
So D is a film-SLR Nikon junkie from way back, and both of us have bought solely Canon PS's since we first started buying digital cameras, and loved them. For the past two years or so we've been debating the relative merits of the various Canon and Nikon dSLRs out there. I have never, ever even thought of buying a Panasonic camera... until now.

My current digital compact is a G7, which I loved. Note the past tense on that. It took really lovely pictures. It has a dial for manual shutter/aperture manipulation! It has a large zoom. We had good times together. So when the G10 came out, I checked out the dpreview.com review. Which said, "Check out Panasonic!" And then my beloved G7 got a dust spot (actually four). I sent it to Canon. Canon said, "Your warranty has expired and it will cost $200 to repair." I consulted the interweb. The internet told me, "Actually, even if you get Canon to fix it you'll probably still have problems later on, because dust spots are a problem with the G7-G10 series."

So. Panasonic just came out with these two cameras-- the LX-3 and the G1 which I am totally coveting. The former is a high-end compact with a fast (f/2.0!) wide (24mm) lens, be still my heart! (No optical viewfinder, sorry [livejournal.com profile] ase!) The latter is a smaller-lighter interchangeable-lens larger-sensor electronic answer to the SLR. Not many lenses for it yet (and the ones it's got are slow) but this is supposed to be fixed fairly soon. The lenses are in a new "Micro 4/3" format which allows much smaller lenses (and camera body) than in the SLR format. I saw the 45-200mm f/4-5.6 (90-400mm equivalent) lens last week and it is TINY compared to the hulking behemoth equivalent lens on D's SLR.

I am really excited about the G1... There is no way I'm taking one of those huge Nikon/Canon 90-400mm lenses on, say, a plane, but I could very well see myself taking several of those cute small lenses along. And I can think of lots of situations (hiking, non-scenic trips by plane, people's weddings) where I would feel awkward lugging around an SLR with a humongous lens but could very well see myself with a smaller SLR-style camera/lens... We were thinking of taking the jump to a dSLR this year, but right now, I am leaning instead towards getting the LX3 before Kid's wedding and delaying the dSLR for even longer to see if this micro-4/3rds thing takes off... Only problem is, I tried the LX3 this weekend, and it's got this little joystick thing that, while not hard to use, really bugs me after the smooth awesome Canon-G dial I'm used to.

At any rate, even if I don't end up getting either of these cameras, I'm really pleased by Panasonic catering to my specific demographic: someone who wants full manual control, great image quality, good low-light performance, but I don't want to lug something huge/heavy around everywhere, and I don't need more megapixels than 7MP or so in my compact camera, which is what your entry-level dSLR has anyway.
cahn: (slot-canyon)
Got back from a most lovely vacation in Utah! Relative-wise, saw my family and some old friends of my dad in Provo, where my dad accepted an award from his old undergrad department. Because he is so very cool! Yay dad! And I'm glad they realized that. Also, saw D's aunt and uncle in Ogden, which was fun.

National-park/monument wise, hit Zion (which D really likes and I like okay) and Arches (which I love and D likes okay) and Bryce (which both of us think is really impressive but don't love); quick drive-throughs of Canyonlands (which we both really want to return to with more time) and Capitol Reef (which really suffers a lot from being next to more extravagantly impressive places); and Escalante (which we both loved, not least because it was civilized enough-- we don't have a 4WD-- while still being relatively wild and remote, as opposed to, say, Bryce, which is filled with railings and paved paths and tourists). Also, Snow Canyon State Park, which was really, really cute.

Things I learned:
-Even if the weather report says it will be in the 80's, pack warm clothes anyway.
-Camping in smaller national parks is... actually... really cool. (And sometimes cold, if one has not packed the aforementioned warm clothes.)
-Going to see stunning scenery when the days are relatively short actually makes for better photographs, as one is able to wake up for sunrise. Also, fewer people.
-Trying out one's new wide-angle lens adapter before taking it on a long trip would reveal things like its tendency to flare beforehand.
-Polarizers are the greatest thing since sliced bread.
-Actually, polarizers are better than sliced bread. Hunks of bread torn off La Brea Rosemary and Olive Oil bread are quite excellent.
-I gotta give Moon guidebooks another chance. The Utah one was quite good. (I'm generally a Lonely Planet person.)
-State parks can be really neat, especially if you're in it for interesting textures and fun rock clambering, and don't particularly expect spectacular large scenery.

Also, a book rec. If you go to Utah and are interested in photography, check out Photographing the Southwest, Vol 1. This book totally saved our pictures of Escalante slot canyons (see the userpic!). Even if you don't want to gear your trip towards photography, it's got some great descriptions of interesting scenic places and has fabulous pictures, so I'd recommend it just as a nice second travel-book (you may want one of the more standard ones with accomodation/restaurant info for a primary travel-book) and/or memento of the trip.
cahn: (Default)
In rough ascending order as to how excited I am about it. It is weird, yes, that I was way more excited about movies than books this year. It was a great year for music.

Books (first read, fiction): The King Must Die and Bull from the Sea (Mary Renault); Hmm. I think this means it was not a good year for books for me. At least for transcedental experiences of books, as I read tons and tons of books I liked very much (thanks, flist!!). But there was nothing this year of the level where I start talking madly about it to every random person I meet (whereas both movies, below, fell into that category).

Reread: Sayers' translation of the Inferno, which is still fabulous, and definitely has the most fabulous notes/introduction out there, and, who knew, is apparently the perfect airport layover book (well, for me; I'm warped that way) when ill and frustrated.

Book series: Kage Baker's Company series :) The Antonia Forest Marlow series probably should also make an appearance here, but doesn't, because they are so bleepingly hard to find, so I've only read the first book, which in my brain doesn't really count as a series.

Books (first read, nonfiction): Galen Rowell's photography books. The man could take pictures AND write! Honorable mention to Tony Sweet's photography books, which are beautiful and inspiring, more so than many beautiful photography books.

TV: Veronica Mars season 3 (which, of course, I watched mostly in DVD form). Yeah, some things sucked about it, but Veronica Mars sucking is better than most TV shows ever get. And I loved it anyway because Veronica has grown and matured so very much since season 1, and the end broke my heart. Not least because the ending eps melded all I loved about season 1 with the richer, more mature Veronica of season 3, and just when it was getting good they canceled it. WAH.

Movies: Stranger than Fiction and A Man for All Seasons, in two very different ways... and, on the other hand, in some very similar ways as well; they're both about what it means to be human, and what essential parts of being human can't be given up, and what makes greatness. A good year for me movie-watching-wise.

Music: Rene Jacobs' version of Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, which won out with flying colors in a long and grueling comparison of all the Figaros out there. Mozart, in general, sweeps 2007! Chandos Opera in English. Vivaldi's Gloria recorded by Alessandrini (completely changed the way I think of the Gloria).
cahn: (Default)
My friend Kelly, who is just way too nice a guy, is letting me borrow his DSLR (Canon Digital Rebel XT, if you care) for the weekend so we can see whether we want to buy one. Random camera thoughts:

1) MAN, the DSLR is heavy. He gave us the big ol' zoom lens, but still. There's no way I'm lugging this thing around on a hike that's longer than an hour. Getting a prosumer manual-mode non-DSLR that's less than a pound is starting to look better.

2) I'm looking forward to playing with RAW! Never had a RAW-capable camera before.

3) I didn't think no shutter lag would make such a difference... OOH.

4) It's a very good thing that D made me learn his manual film SLR backwards and forwards before he let me touch his *autofocus* film SLR, much less a DSLR. Otherwise I'd be all squee! about the bells and whistles and not even have any clue what it could Actually Do.

5) That being said, now that I know how to mess with aperture and manually focus and crap, it just irks me when I'm using my current camera, a little point-and-shoot that thinks it's all cool because you can change the ISO, and I'm all, "I really want small depth of field!... ergh." I think I was happier when I didn't know anything about photography.

6) On the other hand, I was able to use Photoshop to fix a pic for my mom, which was kind of cool. Guess those photoshop books were good for *something*.

Possibly more after I mess around with it over the weekend. I suspect though that we're doomed to get a DSLR in the next year or so...

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