I think we’ve been more out and about the last 48 hours than the rest of the previous two or three weeks combined. 🙂
My birthday is coming up later this month (June 25), but I’ve already gotten my present from kitanzi. For a long time, I’d been wanting to get a really decent digital camera. I love taking photographs, but I’ve never actually owned a good camera. For the last year or two, I’ve been using a Kodak DC210 on loan from eloren, which was a fairly spiffy camera in its day, but its day was 5 years ago.
For a brief while, I flirted with the high end 8mp cameras that are just starting to come out. I had looked at the Sony DSC-F818 at Circuit City while browsing for something else, but the reviews of it were not stellar. The Canon and Olympus models were forthcoming, and I thought I might wait on them. But the more I thought it over, the more I decided that I didn’t need that much camera. More to the point, it violates my long-standing principle of always trying to be “in the curve” on technology products. The question wasn’t whether an 8mp camera was worthwhile.for my needs, but whether it was worth paying the exorbitant price for the latest and greatest product. (Yes, I know there are /seriously/ expensive cameras out there aimed at the professional, but I was limiting my research to consumer and prosumer cameras only, since my budget doesn’t extend to spending that much money on what is at best an idle hobby).
Having realigned my expectations, I asked “What are the requirements I can’t live without?” Since my primary interest in a camera is taking concert and convention photos, the two things I wanted to be sure of were a good shutter speed for taking action photos, and a good optical zoom for getting close to the action without having to be on the lip of the stage. Having defined my needs thusly, I did a fair amount of research, and finally settled on my desired choice: The Minolta DiMAGE Z2. The Z2 is a 4mp camera, features a 10x optical zoom, and was rated very highly on shutter speed and responsiveness for action photos: As an added bonus, it can be set anywhere from fully automatic to fully manual, depending on what kind of shots you’re trying to take. It’s been way too long since I used a manual camera, but it’s kinda need to have the option if I want it.
When I mentioned to kitanzi that I’d finally decided which camera I wanted to buy, she said “Well, it’s your birthday this month, go ahead and order it.” Three days later, a nice UPS man brought it, and I’ve been happily snapping random photos with it ever sense. I’m still getting used to how it responds, but on the whole, I’m really happy with it.
Friday night was my first chance to really give the camera a shakedown. kitanzi had gotten a work reward entitling her to leave work a half-hour early, so we took advantage of this to go and see the Middle Eastern Music and Dance night at the Red Light Cafe, featuring some dancers from the same troupe we saw at the Renassaince Festival. Kit actually got out of work an hour early rather than a half-hour, due to the unexpected slowness of the day, and so we arrived at the venue in plenty of time, and got a good table right in front of the dance area. Unfortunately, although we had been led to believe the show actually started at 8pm, it was 9pm before the first part of the entertainment began. The lead act was a Greek band named Tesserae. While this isn’t the sort of music I listen to on a regular basis, it made for a nice bit of variation and they were very good at what they were doing. My only real complaint was wishing I understood the language so I could get more of what the songs were about.
Once the dancing began, I really got to put the camera through its paces. On the whole, I’m very pleased with it. I did go through afterwards and throw away a number of shots which were either blurry or captured the subject just AFTER what I wanted a picture of, but that’s a risk you run in dance, especially dance with as much kinetic activity as this! I still ended up with 77 pictures that I thought were worthwhile for one reason or another, out of about 110 frames. Of those 77, maybe 5-10 are truly outstanding. I’m especially happy with this photo, which really captures the exuberance and joy the dancer was getting out of her performance.
There’s a fair amount of redeye, which is always a problem with flash photographs (and the Z2 has quite a powerful flash), so i spent some time looking at software aimed at combating that (since I can’t afford a bounce flash just at the moment). I found a rather remarkable piece of software called Red Eye Pilot, which has a demo that is fully functional other than allowing you to save your manipulated photos. After using it on several of the photos from Friday, I’m convinced that it will be well worth the $30 investment, but I haven’t actually purchased it yet. Once I do, I’ll probably retouch several of the photos from last night. I probably need to find a primer on post-processing photos if I’m going to get really serious about that. Right now, though, I’m just having fun.
Saturday morning, we got up, and decided to go see a movie. For whatever reason, Kit and I don’t go to the movies that often, but there’s actually several films out we wanted to see. We decided to head over to the Medlock Crossing 18 for the first showing of Shrek 2.
Shrek 2 was absolutely marvelous. I adored the first film, and was a bit wary of a sequel, fearing that they’d not be able to capture lightning in a bottle again. I need not have worried. Shrek 2 is at least as good as its predecessor, and in many ways is more satisfying. There’s a certain amount of emotional depth here that the first film lacked, and it satisfies a desire I think most of us have had to wonder what happens AFTER the fairy tale. (Paging telynor. telynor, please pick up the white courtesy phone…)
The Giant Tub O’ Popcorn was plenty of food for both of us, so we came home and decided to work up an appetite in the pool. We spent an hour or so splashing around, bouncing the Big Blue Ball around, much to the delight of several of the neighborhood children. Once tired and hungry, we left the ball in their care and set off to Cheeburger Cheeburger to enjoy a decedent lunch. I ate the portion of my lunch that wasn’t Too Much Food, and unfortunately set in on a good portion of my lunch that was too much food, but it was all so good, even if afterwards I felt bloated. Obviously, a nap was in order, so we came home and slept for a bit. I spent the rest of the evening catching up on LJ while Kit watched Iron Chef, and then we both watched the latest episode of Coupling Season 4, which I had downloaded on Thursday.
Tomorrow, we’re planning to go see The Prisoner of Azkaban. We’ll see what other mischief we can manage after the movie is over.