Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Camera!!

Being without a digital camera is annoying in many ways. Ever since giving my mom my previous digicam (a Canon powershot s45), I've been reading reviews, hoping that Fuji would release an update to the venerable F30 that supports SD memory. Alas, they did, but it was called the F40 and nowhere near as good (although the pixelcount got bumped up to 8mp). I was compelled into waiting for a while, as the grapevine seemed to indicate that the F40 was really a successor to the F20, which was the black sheep of the F10, F30, F31 high-sensitivity-super-ccd family. Unfortunately, it seems as though the F50, the supposed successor to the F30 fails in a number of ways: namely, the sensor is slightly worse than that of the F30 as far as image quality (this is most likely due to the bump up to an unnecessary 12mp! even changing the settings so that pictures are 6mp in size, the F30/31 still retains a slight advantage) At least it supports SD memory. In the end, it seems as though it was certainly possible to take excellent pictures using the F40, F47, or F50 equal (or nearly equal) in quality to those taken by the F30/31, but the F30/31 is just easier to use (or at least, easier to take good pictures with). Plus, the loss of aperture and shutter speed priority makes HDR impossible in the newer cameras.

Anyway, after a couple of days of browsing the web and checking the forums over at dpreview, I discovered that a refurbed f31fd could be gotten through Fujifilm's online store. I placed an order, and patiently waited.

and waited.

and got a tracking number after 2 weeks.

Then there were some wildfires.

At this point, I was somewhat doubtful that my camera would get to me by the scheduled delivery date. Originally, I didn't really care when it arrived, as long as it was sometime before Thanksgiving, but with the wildfires throwing tons of ash in the air, I wanted to head down to the beach to grab some awesome sunset shots (air pollution => particulates in the atmosphere => light scattering => red sunsets).

So, with camera in hand, and battery fully charged, I headed down to SIO earlier today to grab some shots of the beach, the pier, and the sunset. You can see some of the results here. I debated for a bit about whether to use picasaweb or flickr for a while. Overall, flickr has a number of advantages to it, including unlimited storage (even for free users), and a better community system in place. Unfortunately, I found myself unable to see my photos in resolution higher than 1024x768, which is puzzling, because I only had 40 photos, but had already hit my 100MB upload cap for the month (this is how Flickr restricts free accounts, a monthly bandwidth limit). In other words, it seems as though for a free account, Flickr will resize your photos to a max size of 1024x768, but the original size is what is taken into account when computing bandwidth usage for the month. Well, I think 1024x768 is a worthless size for certain images, so I went back to picasaweb, which has since increased the storage limit to 1GB for free accounts. Yes, I lose the community structure, but hey, I don't participate in social networking anyway. (BTW, once you start to pony up money, Flickr seems like the better deal, as you get unlimited everything (as opposed to just increased storage with picasaweb). The only downside is that you need to use Flickr's own uploader as opposed to a mechanism built-in to picasa. Although, I guess if you are paying money to store photos online, you're probably already using something more fancy like Aperture or Lightroom to manage photos on a local computer.)

FYI, if the last photo in the set looks funny, which it should, that's because I used photomatix to play around with some HDR. Although photomatix does have an image matching system, I believe it is probably designed to make only minor corrections, and so it doesn't handle my using a bench as a tripod very well. At some point in the future, when I have an actual tripod, I may play around with the trial version of photomatix some more before deciding whether to buy the software before or after a DSLR purchase.

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