The Epic Search for a Digital Camera

March 16th, 2010 | Tags: , , ,

Over the last however many years digital cameras have existed, I’ve owned my fair share. My first was a really old, super bulky, Sony CyberShot. I love the hell out of that thing and while it didn’t exactly die, it just became a nuisance to carry. Digital cameras have been shrinking in size and portability, but expanding on their capabilities. Removing DSLRs from the mix, the Point-and-Shoot cameras have gotten so good that it’s nearly impossible to figure out which ones will be the best choice for my application.

The criteria for what I was looking for:

Point-and-Shoot (P&S): It had to be portable. Maybe not necessarily pocketable, but I didn’t want something bulky. As portable as possible, that’s for sure. I understand that DSLRs take the best true macro shots, it’s simply not in the cards for this gal.

Price: The price of the camera needed to be in the $350 and below range. I wasn’t looking to spend my rent money on a camera. The cheaper the better sure, but there’s an understanding that inexpensive cameras aren’t always very good cameras. Thus why I set the price range a tad higher than what I would truly rather spend (about $200). The name brand models fall in the more expensive range, but the technology that these cameras offer also tend to be better. It’s a cost/benefit analysis in the end.

Macro: This is a must. I needs to do macro/close-up shots. It doesn’t have to do them fantastically or like I said to a friend “I don’t need National Geographic quality pics.” And the statement can’t be more true. I’m less likely going to use the camera for things like bugs, flower, dew drops and the like and more for other macro type shots. Because of this, I don’t need perfection. I just need good. Damn good is ideal, but I’ll settle for good and able.

In searching for a digital camera that had these three qualities I ran into many opinions and articles. David Pogue’s over at the NY Times was the first article I read, many weeks ago. It was an interesting insight into the various feature sets of each individual camera and I looked closely at all of the three he mentioned as the top 3. However, no where could I find that any of them had the macro/close-up setting. I was terribly disappointed.

Next came the google searches on various word combinations in hopes that I night score with finding a nice comparison piece on macro enabled P&S cameras. Yeah, as you can imagine, I found an awful lot of junk and very little of anything that was fruitful. After much frustration, I gave up the search.

Until today.

And then I went on yet another search for macro-abled P&S cameras. A kind friend pointed me towards Steve’s DigiCams. Rather than hoping I find something I went straight for the Best Cameras link. For anyone curious about digital cameras, this site gives you an excellent quick look and separates all the cameras into nice little categories. However, no “does it do macro?” category. /doublesigh

After much searching and some additional frustration I stumbled across Engadget Labs article on the best point-and-shoot cameras under $400. So, first of all, thank you guys at Engadget for giving me the exact kind of comparisons (in shots, quality, gripes and goodies of each, etc) I needed to see and read. After looking at the photos and reading what was said about their first choice camera (of the small number they looked at, mind you), I think I’m going to go with their choice for the Samsung SL820. Now when I have a couple hundred dollars, I’ll be picking this up (and keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t disappoint).

Moral of the story from this entire many month long experience?? Read a lot of tech magazines. Look at the related links. And wait until the expensive camera comes down in price.

My nook… and ebooks in general

February 22nd, 2010 | Tags: , , ,

I am, without a doubt, a book lover. While I was in school I found myself buying books upon books where they sat, collecting dust on my bookshelves as the pile grew more and more. My large bookshelves (note: more than one) are already brimming with books that I have read and those I have not had the pleasure of reading including paperbacks being two deep that the new books are literally piled on top of each other, for lack of space. Books that I bought and loads of books that other people bought for me. My lack of free time kept me from being able to make a dent in the fantastic world of psychology as well as fiction stories.

I am also one that has many hobbies. I have tried to find a balance between my love of knitting and crocheting, video games and reading. After 2 years of intense schooling (my last semester yielding me 18 units and no free time) I needed a break from reading. I won’t lie, I had spent so much time reading that the last thing I wanted to do was read for pleasure. Period.

Since getting my nook, I find myself reading much more often. Initially there was the “Oh! Shiny!” factor, but it has now become something more significant than just a new gadget for me. The almost instant on to the last thing I was reading makes it so much easier to read a few pages, or a chapter, and set it down again. No need to prop the book open. No need to find a comfortable position to rest my elbow. I hold my nook in my hand or rest it in my lap. While laying in bed it weighs exactly the same if it’s 200 pages or 800 pages. I prop up my book light as I would with a paperback, but no need to shift from side to side, or change the way I lay down to read. The inconvenience of reading an actual book in bed is no longer there.

I must say though, I will not stop buying physical books. There is nothing I love more than walking into the infinite possibility that is a bookstore. Small or large, new or used. I have been known to judge a book by its cover or by its title. I found gems and duds, but rarely do I regret a purchase because I learn something from the experience of reading a new author, an unknown author, or a well-known author I’ve never had the pleasure of reading previously. My purchase of physical books will just slow down, tremendously. Especially with the only new bookstore within 50+ miles of me closing down.

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There was a long pause…

February 13th, 2010 | Tags: , , , ,

It was more like an abated breath. At least that’s what I’m going for.

Life has decided to dish out the dirties to me this year. New Year’s weekend I got stuck with that cold/flu thing that basically sucks. Anyone notice that all of the cold/flu things going around lately pretty much suck? That it seems there’s no end in sight and your friends and family members decide that sharing is caring? Yeah, well, I’ve about had it with getting that gunk.

In other news, I have found myself in the possession of a nook. I only received it today, but already I’ve plowed through half of a book. Alright, it doesn’t really count as a book since it’s a tiny little thing. I imagine the physical copy is a quick read and that I could have just sat down in a bookstore and read through it, but I’m sure I’ll find the information invaluable as time goes on. I have yet to put any of my own content on there (PDFs or otherwise) so we’ll see how that turns out after I get to that point. I need to find my other microSD card… one is in the camera and the other is… well, I’ll find it eventually.

The nook was quite sluggish at first, which I expected from all of the reviews. I also knew that there was an update that helped with this little problem. It has and it did. I’ve never played with a Kindle, so I have no point of comparison, but I love it already. I’m enjoying how easy it is to read on. I like that I was able to take it to the gym, prop it up on the little shelf in front of me, set the font to the biggest it goes and read while running/walking on the treadmill. This in and of itself satisfies my multi-tasking ADD self. Okay, I don’t really have ADD, but it really does help. Makes me feel like I’m getting to do something WHILE at the gym. And reading books are on the agenda of “Things to do More Often”.

I’m happy with the purchase, even if my car decided to take a digger and cost me $700 to repair. I don’t regret the nook. I do, however, need to set myself a budget so I don’t over spend on books. Like $20/pay period or something. Or only buy a book after I’ve read one. Who knows what I’m going to do. I do have a ton of them on my computer to upload, so we’ll see how that goes.

In other news, I’ve decided to take my ever growing ass to the gym. I keep gaining weight, which makes me more depressed about being overweight, which causes me to stop at Chipotle, In & Out, and McDonald’s far too often. I need to limit this to once a week or less. I need to make hitting the grocery store a bigger deal.

Spring is starting to make it’s way here, and losing my car yesterday and being stranded meant that I walked to the gym and walked back. I also walked the mile or two to pick up my car. It was good for me and I needed it. I didn’t, however, need the honks and catcalls. I mean really people, grow the hell up already.

In other crafty news, I’ve started working on a pair of socks from Wendy‘s older book, Socks from the Toe-up. I have been wanting to make socks from this book for a very long time, but I’m such a self-striping/hand-painted yarn whore that I never picked up any skeins of sock yarn that were less… variegated. I have picked up some wool yarn from KnitPicks as well, so that I may start on some new amigurumi projects.

I’ve had bad luck with patterns, and I think I’m going to start working on my own patterns before I invest the time in another ami doll. There’s just too many variables that don’t seem to fit. Numbers that are off, stitch counts that don’t match when having to put pieces together. Ah well. Photos of the new doll are after the cut. They’re kind of fuzzy. 🙁

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