Camera Hunting

Warning: camera neepery ahead. Or, depending on your temperament: yay, camera neepery ahead! :-)

I’m looking to replace my Leica V-Lux 2, which is a hand-me-down from my mother, ergo more than a few years old. Searching for a replacement has been educational, because it’s illustrating for me the extent to which the niche occupied by this model appears to be, well, disappearing.

There are DSLRs. There are point-and-shoot cameras. What there doesn’t appear to be is a point-and-shoot with specs that are equal to or better than what I have right now. Nikon’s Coolpix line is right out; they don’t seem to have any model with an aperture range bigger than f/3 to f/6.5. (My Leica goes f/2.8 to f/8.) The Leica website still lists the V-Lux 4, but given that I can’t seem to find it for sale anywhere, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s been discontinued. My best bet so far is Canon’s PowerShot G1 X Mark II . . . but, and I admit this is a trivial concern, its LCD is embedded in the back of the camera. My Leica has the screen on a swivel arm, which has come massively in handy when I’m trying to take photos at weird angles, like from over my head or around a corner.

The Nikon D5200 has the swivel screen — but it’s a DSLR. (Or, to be more precise, it’s a system camera/ILC.) I’ve kind of wanted to move to interchangeable lenses for years now, so I should leap at the prospect, right? Well, not quite. Because that means carrying lenses with me, and I’m not keen to have the added weight, given how many of my trips involve being on my feet all day. Not to mention that switching out lenses will slow me down, and my husband is already wonderfully tolerant for putting up with the amount of time I spend taking photos. (Not to mention carrying our backpack part of the time, so he’d be dealing with the added weight, too.) I’ve worked hard on being as quick as I can, but swapping out for a wide-angle lens or whatever is going to inevitably take time.

Sure, I could get the Nikon and then just never buy any other lenses. But at that point it seems stupid to have a system camera in the first place.

Except that I’m not sure I can get what I want otherwise. The Canon comes closest, if I’m willing to give up the swivel screen; it’s gotten some excellent reviews. But the point-and-shoot market is being cannibalized by smartphones: they may not be as good at taking photos as a dedicated camera, but for most people’s purposes they’re good enough, and much more convenient. If you actually care about the finer points of photography, it seems like you’re increasingly looking at the higher end of the market, just because of the way the lower end is vanishing.

All of which is extended background leading up to a question: is there another camera I should consider? The swivel screen is negotiable, but I definitely need f/2.8-f/8 or better, decent zoom, and ISO up to 1600 (bonus points if the levels above 400 are actually usable). Right now it’s a race between the Canon Powershot G1 X Mark II and the Nikon D5200, but I’d love to know if there are any alternatives.

A Year in Pictures – My Husband at Dusk

My Husband at Dusk
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A while back we were at Point Lobos late in the day, and the light and atmospheric conditions combined to form what the internet tells me is called “altocumulus stratiformis perlucidus” clouds — yeah, no, that isn’t a term I’ll be in the habit of using any time soon.

The fellow you see on the path there is my very own husband. ^_^

The Littlest Shodan-ho Enters the Inner Circle

I started up with karate again last week: my first time back since the seminar in Okinawa. As with the previous surgery, I’m not up to full speed, but even just getting to move around is a good thing.

It also paid an unexpected dividend. As shodan-ho — a term which means “probationary black belt” — I’m on the border between “black belt” and “not a black belt,” neither fish nor fowl. I was the only shodan-ho at the seminar (most of the other dojo in our organization apparently don’t use that ranking), so when Shihan said “black belts do X; lower belts do Y,” I had to ask which group I ought to go with. He initially sent me down with the lower belts, but then changed his mind and moved me to the other group, which is how I ended up learning kusanku way earlier than I expected to.

At home, my liminal state puts me in an ambiguous position where classes are concerned. I had told myself I wouldn’t ask until I was out of the ankle brace and more or less recovered . . . but as it turns out, I didn’t have to. On Monday, I was informed that I am now permitted to attend the Thursday class — the black belt class.

Sadly, I won’t be able to make it this week, because I already have plans for Thursday night. :-P But it’s official! I count as a black belt! It really does feel momentous, even though I’ve been to the Thursday class during the vacation periods where it’s open to all belts, so I know it isn’t actually anything special. And I’m glad that it happened this way, with Shihan telling me, rather than me asking. There’s an element of etiquette to how these things get handled; me being patient and not pushing is the way it’s supposed to go.

Presuming I can avoid any other surgeries or suchlike, I should be able to test for the next degree of shodan-ho at the beginning of December. Then it’s sixty classes (minimum) to becoming a Real True Black Belt, with no ambiguity. Five or six months, but probably longer given that there are holidays and I miss classes and so forth. But it is entirely plausible that I’ll be shodan before 2015 is out.

I’m looking forward to it. :-D

A Year in Pictures – Tower Bridge Through the Trees

Tower Bridge Through the Trees
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While my husband and I were visiting the Tower of London, I found there’s a spot along the wall that gives you this glimpse of Tower Bridge through the trees. And at that time of day, I could channel my inner J. J. Abrams quite satisfyingly. :-)

A Year in Pictures – Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock
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I recently had all my print photos from old trips scanned, and then tackled the (rather large) task of editing them all. Most are not that great; they are, by their nature, the pictures I took when I was a less experienced photographer, with predictably mediocre results. But it’s a little fascinating to watch my skill develop as I learned, by trial and error, the basic rules of composition.

This is one of my better efforts, and an early example of my tendency to try and get symmetrical shots of large architectural features. :-) It is, of course, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

“The next day Mr Earbrass is conscious but very little more”

The problem with being in physical therapy is that even when I’ve declared a Day Off From Everything, I still have to do that.

I mean, I could skip it. But since my happiness is better served by recovering as quickly and thoroughly as possible, I’m still going to put myself through my paces. Other than that, however, I intend to spend today having lunch with a friend and reading on the couch and maybe going out to celebrate a bit when my husband gets home from work. Also on the celebratory list: last night I slept without a brace on my ankle, for the first time since the surgery. It was an experiment, to see if it would complain at me when I turned over or whacked it against my other leg — and it did, a little, but not enough to counterbalance the sheer joy of being able to fully relax. I have hopes this will help with the problem where the tendons and muscles that kept cramping while I was in the boot are actually giving me more pain than the bit that got surgeryified.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll work on “The Unquiet Grave” tonight. Because it isn’t work if I decide to do it of my own free will, right? :-P

A Year in Pictures – Flamingoes of Light

Flamingoes of Light
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This is the last of my shots from the Chinese lantern festival in Dallas, and gives a good sense of what the whole exhibit was like. I took this one very nearly at the end, when I was dead tired (and fighting a cold) — but it was worth the effort to get the reflection in the mottled surface of the lake.