Cerebral Gibberish

What's on my mind, might just blow yours.

Camera Research: Part 2

Posted by heymoe on July 29th, 2007

I’ve spent a lot of time in forums on several websites related to photography and found several people that are in the same position that I am in. They are looking to buy their first DSLR camera or want to upgrade to a different body but don’t know which one to get or they have already narrowed down their selection to two or so and post questions like “Which is better X or Y”. You’ll also see questions like “How does X work for [insert style of photography here. IE: nature] photography.” and of course you’ll see a lot of technical questions about different brands as well. One thing to note about a lot of forums is that they are broken up by manufacture and / or model so if you ask a question about which is better X or Y into the forum that is dedicated to brand X, chances are just about all the responses are going to be positive for brand X and not so much for Y. People don’t like making bad decisions so they’ll most likely support what they bought. So you might have to post your questions to both brand’s forums try to pick out the least biased responses for both brands.

After filtering though the responses, the most unbiased answers I saw were the ones from people that had experience with all the cameras question and provided their personal pros and cons list for each camera. Another helpful answer that might not be considered when shopping for a camera are relate to the ergonomics and general usage of the camera. Several people recommend going to a store and actually holding and using the camera. See how well the grip fits into ones hand. How heavy is it and does it feel balanced with a lens attached? How easy it is to change some of the common settings like ISO, white balance, aperture and shutter speed? Do you have to dig though several layers of menus to make common changes or are their dedicated buttons for them? It does not matter how good the features of the camera are if the actual feel and usage of the camera makes you want to put it down.

To get an idea about the ergonomics of the cameras on my list I stopped by my local Best Buy and Circuit City. You might not be able to get answers to specific questions at these types of stores but they did have every camera on my list, except for the Nikon D200, out on display with easy access without having to deal with a sales person except to tell them you’re just looking. I had to visit my local Wolf Camera to get my hands on the Nikon D200.

Here is the size and weight of each camera in my list.

Size and Weight:

  • Nikon D40 – 126 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) – 522 g (1.2 lb)
  • Nikon D40x – 126 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) – 522 g (1.2 lb)
  • Canon XT – 127 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) – 540 g (1.2 lb)
  • Canon XTi – 127 x 94 x 65 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) – 556 g (1.2 lb)
  • Nikon D80 – 132 x 103 x 77 mm (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in) – 668 g (1.5 lb)
  • Canon 30D – 144 x 106 x 74 mm (5.6 x 4.2 x 2.9 in) – 785 g (1.7 lb)
  • Nikon D200 – 147 x 113 x 74 mm (5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9 in) – 913 g (2.0 lb)

NOTE: Weights are made up of the body and the battery only and I don’t make any guarantee that these number are 100% accurate.

As you can see in above, the Nikon D40 and the D40x as well as the Canon XT and XTi are pretty much the same size and weight. Overall I felt that all of these felt small in my hands. Wrapping my right hand around the grips felt like most of the support was being supplied by my palm and finger tips leaving the rest of the surface area of my fingers floating over the grip. To me this made the cameras feel less stable when you had to move the index finger around to make changes or take a picture. The grip on the D80 and the 30D felt good and did not feel like I was having to use only my fingertips and palm support the body like I had to with the smaller bodies. I could tell the difference in weight between the D80 and the 30D but it was not that bad. I think the D200 had the best feeling grip of them all and it felt solid but I wish it was a little lighter.

Usage wise the menu system across each model of the same brand had pretty much the same layout. I felt that both systems were organized in a logical manner that one could quickly find their way around the menus after using them for a while. The D80, 30D and the D200 had the added benefit of dedicated buttons for a lot of the common settings which I found nice instead of having to navigate through the menu system to make those changes. The D80 and D200 had a nice feature called Auto ISO which allowed you to set the Max ISO setting you wanted to use as well as the slowest shutter speed you wanted to use thus allowing the camera to change the ISO setting as needed for you. The 30D had a really nice dial on the back that allowed you to quickly scroll though the menus as well as to make changes to the different settings quickly.

All in all after physically laying my hands on each of the cameras and using them in the store I’ve dropped the D40, D40x, XT and XTi from my list. I really did not like how these four felt in my hands, some lacked features I was looking or were to much of a entry level body that I felt I would grow out of it to quickly. All four of these cameras are fully capable of taking excellent pictures and some have the features like the D80, D200 and 30D. So if you’re in the market for a camera, don’t toss these four out from your list just because I did. Go and try them yourself.

So now we are down to three: Nikon D80 & D200 and the Cannon 30D

I’ve already made my decision and my new camera will be here tomorrow. Which one will it be? You’ll have to wait and see. I’ve already wrote about the lens I got so that might give you a clue.

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I have a Camera…

Posted by heymoe on July 23rd, 2007

18-70mm Nikkor

… sort of. Well maybe that should be: I have part of a camera. After monitoring several eBay auctions over the last few weeks i was able to snip a 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor lens. The retail price on this lens is $350 but it looks like Nikon might not be making these anymore so I got a factory refurbished and tested one which comes with a 90 factory warranty + a 1 year store warranty from Cameta Camera for $195. If you’re looking to buy some camera gear, check them out. They sell both new and used gear with some nice bundles and seem to have good prices. Now I just need to buy the a camera body for the lens to attach to and if you read my previous article called: Camera Research: Part 1 you might have figured out by now that the body will be a Nikon.. but which one will it be… You’ll just have to wait and see.

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Bike 4 Sale

Posted by heymoe on July 23rd, 2007

Read the whole thing…

Bike 4 Sale

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Update: Sunflowers 2007

Posted by heymoe on July 15th, 2007

Sunflowers 07-15-2007_2
Sunflowers 07-15-2007_1
Sunflowers 07-15-2007_0

Well I now have two actual sunflowers now and the bees have been busy doing what bees do with flowers. I would have three but my tallest plant got knocked over during one of the storms early last weekend and when if fell over the flower head must have hit on my of deck chairs just right and got cut off πŸ™ . So now I have a really tall, head less sunflower plant. The smallest plant on my deck has the flower head forming slowly but surely. One of the plants up by the mailbox is also forming a flower head while the other one, which is about half as tall, seems to be taking its time. I really wish I had a nice digital camera but looks like I’ll have to wait another month for that still.

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Update: Family Room Arch

Posted by heymoe on July 15th, 2007

Family Room - Entryway Prep_7
Family Room - Entryway Prep_A

This weekend I cut and installed the side drywall pieces so which finishes the prep work needed to the threshold so i can get the final measurements to order the custom elliptical Insta Arch. The final measurements ended up being 44 1/8″ wide by 4 1/2″ deep. I had to do some extra work on one side when installing the drywall since the builders used a wrapped 2×4 which would have caused the width of the opening to be different front to back. The fix was to use some wood shims to which allowed me to build up support under one side of the drywall and screw it down to make it level. Any ways, I’m not sure how long it will take for the custom arch to be made and shipped but I’m hopping it will be here next weekend which means I have to start making up my mind on the flooring again.

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Update: Sunflowers 2007

Posted by heymoe on July 9th, 2007

Sunflowers 07-09-2007_3

We have a Sunflower!!! So far this is the only one that has fully opened. It looks like another one will be fully open in a few days. The tallest plant is taking it’s time and the smallest seems to have stalled. Both of the plants up by the mailbox are still just growing. Its so pretty. πŸ˜› hehe

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Family Room Arch

Posted by heymoe on July 7th, 2007

Family Room - Entryway Before_0
Family Room - Entryway Prep_0
Family Room - Entryway Prep_3

As an added sub-project to the family room plus a way to postpone having to decide what type of flooring to get for the family room (carpet or hardwood), I’ve decided to modify the entryway into the family room by adding arches instead of just the standard framed box that it is/was right now. I’ve found a company on-line called Insta Arch that makes a product that should make the arch conversion a lot easier by creating a custom arch form that you nail up and then do the normal drywall work to blend it into the wall. The traditional / hard-way to make arches involve creating the a rough arch frame into the entryway and then taking a strip of drywall that has been soaked in water to make it some what flexible which is nailed to the rough arch frame and hope the bending of the drywall does not snap it. After I removed the existing frame around the entryway today I found that I’ll be gaining almost 2 inches in height to the entryway which will be nice. Over all the removal process was pretty easy and I did not damage the existing drywall. Now I need to buy some drywall to cover the exposed wood and then I can take the final measurements to buy the arch conversion kit.

Family Room - Entryway Prep_2

If this arch conversion works out I’ll be converting the other three entryways I have down stairs to arches as well which are the kitchen to dining room, the main hall to the living / pool table room and the dining room to the living / pool table room. For the dining room to living / pool table room, I will give a different arch conversion product a try from a local Raleigh company called CurveMakers. They make some really elegant / fancy arch conversion kits that I think this entryway needs. Fun and exciting stuff right?

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Happy 4th of July!

Posted by heymoe on July 4th, 2007

Fireworks

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Update: Sunflowers 2007

Posted by heymoe on July 4th, 2007

Sunflowers 07-04-2007_0

It has been almost a month since my last sunflower update and a lot has happened since then. Three of the four plants on my deck have grown quite a bit since then. The tallest is now about 9 feet 3 inches tall the next tallest are around 7 feet 8 inches tall. The runt is still shorter then me and not all that healthy looking since it kept drinking up all its water before I could give it more. It also got blown over and broke its pot so I had to replant it into a bigger pot but I think it’s a little late for that. It’s interesting to note that the height of the plant seems to be related to the size of the pot it is in.

Sunflowers 07-04-2007_2
Sunflowers 07-04-2007_8

Any ways, all four of them are starting to form their flower heads now. One would think this is normal since I planted them all at the same time but the two plants I moved to my mailbox are still growing and no signs of any flower heads yet. They are still pretty short compared to the ones on the deck, the tallest being 6 feet 5 inches. I’m wishing I would decide on which camera to get and buy it so I can get some nice close ups / macro shots of the flower heads and the critters that I find on them. Oh well, I only have so much money to spend and I still need to finish up the family room.

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Family Room Project

Posted by heymoe on June 23rd, 2007

I’ve actually been working on this project for awhile but did not have this site up and running to talking about it. Any ways to catch everyone up, my family room has not really been used all that much since my after college roommate, Justin, moved out to get his own place. The carpet in this room was not all that great to start with, then throw in a cat, that shall go un-named πŸ™‚ hehe, using the carpet in this room as their litter box, pretty much finished it off. I ripped out the carpet, pad and pulled up the tack strips a few months ago which unveiled a whole lot of dirt (Geezz, would be nice if home builders sweep up before installing carpet) and of course cat urine stained sub-floor boards. Cat urine, it turns out, is hygroscopic which is why the odor stick around. Well before I install new carpet or hardwoods, still not sure, I have to take care of the cat urine. I could either 1) replace all the stained sub-floor boards or 2) apply a stain & odor sealer to the sub-floor. I decided to do options 2 since it would the the cheapest and quickest solution (Well I hope its a solution, if not, a new sub-floor it is). I also ripped out all the baseboards since there is a chance they are also contaminated with urine as well. Ripping out the baseboard left some scares in the dry wall so I patched and sanded all of that. Before the painting starts I had to prep the floor by pulling up all the staples, nails and other loose material. I then took a hand planer and shaved down any sub-floor joints that were not even with each other. This will make install hardwoods easier if I go that route. This is pretty much the state I left the room until today.

Family Room - Floor Prep 1

The first thing I did today was sweep and vacuum up any loose debris from the floor then I applied a thick layer of the odor & stain paint along the border of the floor, basically cutting in so I can use the roller easier later.

Family Room - Floor Prep 3

Letting this dry gave me time to take care of a work related issue since the on-call person decided to go see a movie with the pager. Next, out came the roller and I applied the first coat to the floor. Over all this process went quickly and I did not paint myself into a corner. I did run out of paint and did not finish all of the first coat but not a big deal.

Family Room - Floor Painted 3

After a quick trip to Home Depot, enough time past to allow me to start the 2nd coat and apply the 1st coat to the last part I did not finish. I still have to apply the 2nd coat to that one spot and do some spot touch ups but that will be tomorrow.

Any ways, after the paint drys I still need to install new baseboard, repaint the walls and decide if I am going to install hardwoods or carpet. I’m leaning towards carpet still since the rest of the downstairs is already hardwood and being that the family room has a fireplace, I think carpet would make it more cozy. I also never understood the whole, lets install hardwood so I can place a rug over it, concept.

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