Maximal cheese, minimal nuts
Apr 19, 2007

I've mentioned a few times that I've lately been getting into digital photography. I'm pretty sure I've also mentioned that I was feeling a bit limited by the technical constraints of my camera. Well, no more.
Old Camera
Before I didn't actually have my own camera, and had been using Jessi's, a Kodak EasyShare C340. It's not a bad camera at all, and I've taken some good pictures with it. But it's more than a little limited in what it can do. In particular, it has no manual focus ability, and no manual aperture control. Certainly these things aren't necessary to take good pictures, but having them gives you so many more options and creative control over the pictures you take. This wasn't really a problem until recently, as my photography experience was basically zero, and I wouldn't really have known what to do with those features in the first place. But in the past nine months I've taken hundreds of photos and, I think, made a lot of progress as a photographer. For the past few months, I've really felt that I'd run up against the limits of the Kodak, and that there were pictures that I knew I could take, but that the little C340 just wasn't capable of taking them. It's an odd sort of feeling, really, when you realize that you're being held back by the limitations of the tools you're using. In about three weeks, Jessi and I are going on a week-long hiking trip through Wales with my dad (who runs an independent travel consultancy in Berkeley). I've spent some time in the Welsh countryside before, and it's absolutely beautiful over there. When I was there before, I wasn't much of a photographer and I took a video camera rather than a still camera. It was quite possibly that trip (which happened in the spring of '04) that helped me to realize that photography might actually be a good form of expression for me (I guess you could say that I was running into the technical limitations of my video camera in the same way that I recently did with Jessi's little Kodak). At any rate, I know there will be some beautiful scenery there, and I know I'm going to want to photograph it, and I know that the EasyShot will hold me back if it's all that I have while I'm there.
New Camera
So I got a new camera. The new one is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8. It has 7 megapixels, compared to the 5 the Kodak has (not a huge improvement, but still nice). Additionally, it has a built-in 12x optical zoom rather than 4x, manual focus, aperture priority (manual aperture control), shutter priority, optical image stabilization, it can save images in RAW files (uncompressed, and therefore higher quality image files) rather than just JPEG, and it has a great, high-quality LEICA lens. Sadly I've been too busy so far since getting it, that I haven't had a chance to play with it yet (the picture of the old camera above is actually the first that I've taken with it), but I can't wait to take it out for a spin this weekend (which, in a happy coincidence, is also going to be the first sunny and warm weekend in a while). Now that the weather's better and I've got a fantastic camera, I plan on spending a lot more time outside taking pictures, so expect to hear more about that. But for now, it's back to work for me. Oh yeah, I also just wanted to say that I bought the camera through Abes of Maine, which is basically an online discount camera retailer. In my experience they almost always have some of the lowest prices around. But that's really neither here nor there. What I actually wanted to say was that I ordered the camera on Sunday, the 15th. I ordered it with the free shipping option which was supposed to take 7-10 days. The camera arrived on Tuesday, the 17th. Now that's service. Also, in case you don't get the title to this post, it's a reference to a recent posting on Jessica Hagy's blog Indexed, which is probably my favorite non-textual blog (it's images of drawings she does on index cards, hence the name).
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