Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

40D & B&H Superstore First Impressions

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Today I went into NYC to visit the B&H superstore, which is right at the outlet of the Lincoln Tunnel. The store is simply awe-inspiring, with two levels of merchandise, and a complicated maze of product and sales areas. In my case, I needed to go upstairs, to the camera sales floor, first. I poked around before finally figuring out that to get what you want, you go to the sales counter, which hugs the whole camera sales floor, and has workstations for about 50 or 60 salespersons, if needed. I then had to order my gear at the counter. As the order was completed, portions of it came on an under-counter conveyor system, visible through windows, which runs the whole length of the store, while other portions were waiting downstairs because they were too big. Then, I had to go downstairs to the cashier, where payment was given. Then, I had to go to the product pickup area, where my items met me (via the conveyor) for pickup. Parking was free for an hour w/$100 purchase, and 2 hours w/$300.

I got a 40D (along w/ cable release and 4GB CF card) and a Bogen 190XB Tripod with a 3-way Pan/Tilt Head (I forget the #), although they were out of 10-22 EF-S lenses in the superstore, so I didn’t get one today. I’ve got some impressions about the products below…

Bogen 190XB and new head: The new tripod is a whole lot sturdier than the Manfrotto Digi it is replacing, and has a feature I considered essential. The center shaft can be removed, and inserted upside down, to allow for very close low macro work. The head is smooth, well constructed, and has a much sturdier quick release mechanism, but retains the same plate design as my Digi, so I don’t need to buy a new plate for my 350D.

Canon 40D: All I can say is wow. I pulled the camera out of the box, and it was immediately obvious why people pay more for the xxD series over the Digital Rebels. The camera is absolutely light-years more comfortable in the hand than the 350D, mostly because it is so much bigger than the 350D, but also due to the neat hand grip, and the textured rubber crap on the outside. The extra buttons really DO make the camera infinately easier to use, as does the extra control wheel. There was some initial confusion because many buttons are in similar places on my 350D, but have totally different functions, but I got over most of it within a few minutes. The only real thing that is going to take a while is getting used to the power switch not being at the mode dial, but rather by the screen. Speaking of the screen, it is nice and big, bright, and not as fuzzy as some reviews have suggested, although it could use some more resolution. The viewfinder is enormous compared to the one in the 350D, and manual focus is actually possible. The AF is considerably faster, and the extra AF points and the diamond pattern are a great improvement. The battery is also pretty huge, and charges in about the same time as the 350D’s much smaller one. For some reason, the charger is shiny black, and the battery is a dull gray, something of a mismatch. The new remote release is a lot nicer than my ebay knockoff, too. In use, the camera is extremely responsive, and the shutter and mirror move back out of the way disturbingly fast. The 6fps shooting speed is scary when it happens, and I actually had to turn it off, because before I could think, the camera had fired off way more shots than I needed. Great for birding, annoying for macro. 😉

Comparing the cameras: Comparison

Some quick shots (RAW, sharpened, no other PP):
Scipio 50/1.8 #1

Scipio 50/1.8 #2
Grass 400/5.6L
Calla Lily 100/2.8 USM Macro #1
Calla Lily 100/2.8 USM Macro #2
Unknown Photosensitive Flower 100/2.8 USM Macro
Jack-in-the-Pulpit 100/2.8 USM Macro #1
Jack-in-the-Pulpit 100/2.8 USM Macro #1




Mohonk Preserve – 5/24/08

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)Yesterday I made it up to the Mohonk Preserve, a private nature preserve near New Paltz, New York. I ran into a much more limited selection of wildflowers than what I typically would have found in Alabama, but while the diversity was lower, the numbers of individual plants were much higher. Just during two short survey hikes, I found clusters of violets and bluets that were carpeting the forest floor in many places, and beds of trout lilies (past bloom) that were downright impressive. I also ran into a snake, and a few plants I had never seen before. So far no ticks on me or Scipio.

The gallery:




Ruffner Mountain Quarry – Birmingham View

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Yellow Lady's SlipperToday I took a brief break from my studies and hiked the Quarry and Overlook trails at Ruffner Mountain Park. The highlights were Jack-in-the-pulpit and other wildflowers, several dozen species of birds singing, and a great (if hazy) view of downtown Birmingham. Panoramic of Downtown B’ham 

PS- I’d just like to mention that WordPress is a huge pain in the butt about line breaks. All I wanted was to keep the posts from running together, and to do that I had to throw all sorts of html at the editor to stop deleting my breaks when I saved.