Thursday, March 21, 2013

Science Fiction

While up in New Hamster last month, Marko and I ran into town to do some errands. As one is wont to do, we stopped at Best Buy because it's a big building full of shiny things with blinking lights; sort of a bug zapper for nerds.

I'd been idly toying with the idea of getting a new camera for a while now, being less than completely satisfied with the little Kodak I bought as an emergency stopgap a couple years ago for the Lucky Gunner thing, and so I wandered through the camera department at Best Buy, poking this and hefting that, kicking tires and looking at price tags when, over on the clearance end cap, I noticed an open-box Canon PowerShot SX500 IS.

That seemed like a lot of camera for $149... I pulled out the Portable Magic Elf Box and confirmed that MSRP was, indeed, $299. Hm. Manual override on everything; a full 30x optical zoom... Sold.

The capabilities of modern point-'n'-shoots are simply stunning. The other night, Bobbi and I meandered into the yard to see if we could spot the comet, with no luck. Before going back in and getting out of the cold, I ran the zoom on the Canon all the way out and, on a lark, pointed it at the moon and squeezed off a single hand-held frame, letting the camera handle the rest...

Day-umn.

Feel free to embiggen. "Shoot the moon" indeed...

33 comments:

J.R.Shirley said...

Wow. Excellent. I thought I got a smoking deal on my Samsung WiFi-enabled WB150F, but yours was better.

Tam said...

Ironically, it was the WiFi Samsungs that I was initially looking at. I've seen some pretty attractive closeout pricing on them at Target and Wally World and that WiFi is a hella cool gimmick.

Anonymous said...

You can add wifi to any camera with an SD card slot.

http://www.gottabemobile.com/2013/03/02/toshiba-flashair-sd-wifi-card-sends-pics-direct-from-camera/

Jennifer said...

Very nice!

Chris said...

I have a Samsung with WiFi, which only seems to work when you have at least 4 out of 5 bars. When it does work, it is rather awesome. And the quality is great, too.

Scott J said...

The capability of point & shoots is amazing these days.

I shot the pics for this article at Sipsey Street with the camera in my Lumia 900 for crying out loud.

But I'm new to SLR and I like playing with it.

My brother had one of his moments of generosity a couple years back and gave me his Nikon D70s when he got a D5000.

I've taken some of the best pics of my life with the Nikon and I suck at photography almost as much as I do IDPA.

LCB said...

Ahhh...remember the good ole days of the hobby...when getting film developed made you very careful what you wasted your shots on???

HAH...

Boat Guy said...

Just bought Bride an EOS for our tenth. They DO NOT include a memory card with the camera. Now that I've sprung for one, I'm expecting great things.
I was trained at some government expense to use both wet-film and digital. The advances of just a few years are making really good stuff available at good (albeit not usually half) prices these days.
Progress

Tam said...

LCB,

"Ahhh...remember the good ole days of the hobby...when getting film developed made you very careful what you wasted your shots on???"

I worked in a lab; I burned that stuff up like I got an employee discount or something. ;)

LCB said...

"I worked in a lab; I burned that stuff up like I got an employee discount or something. ;)"

I'm so jealous...uh...in my past...or something... LOL

Ed Skinner said...

Try some star shots. ISO 800 or less, Manual, Aperture as wide as possible, 30 seconds if it'll go that long, tripod and hand. Frame the shot, cover the lense with hand without touching camera, open shutter, remove hand (covers any shutter release shake) and expose. aiming can be a challenge with only the LCD so include some bright objects that show and zoom in by post processing. It's not Mount Palomar but still fun to see Beetle Juice up on top of Orion's head!

Tam said...

Ed Skinner,

I think I'll do that!

The thing that amazed me most about the moon shot was how effective the image stabilization was. I literally cannot think of a way to have grabbed that shot with a film camera w/o using a tripod...

perlhaqr said...

That's astonishing. :D

M O O N! That spells Moon.

Stretch said...

Local high school photography class starts with film. Everything from theory to darkroom procedure.
Students would walk around town taking photos. Three or four kids had Cannon F1 SLRs.
"Where'd you get those?" I asked.
"Oh, we just pull them out of the box of cameras in the back of the classroom."
Yup, something I could never afford when new is now donated to young whipper-snappers.

BobG said...

I wish I could use the modern cameras. I have 20/10 vision at distance, but within arms length most stuff is blurred. I have to use a camera with a view finder, so I can see the screen; if I put on my reading glasses to see what the camera is seeing, I can't see anything at a distance, so I'm pretty well stuck with SLRs.

RevGreg said...

This photo was taken with a Panasonic FZ-35 using manual settings...they can be found on eBay for well under $100 these days.

ISO80, 1/200, f8.0 were the settings according to the EXIF data. People think I'm nuts but it's actually a daytime picture...it's just that the daytime is 200,000 miles away!

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1319301917762

Mike_C said...

Very nice! I too am astonished by how good the IS (or VR, for vibration reduction if you live in the Nikon camp) is. As with BobG I really like a viewfinder, and bought a Nikon V1 when they fell to fire sale prices. Bought the adapter that lets you use regular Nikkor lenses in the V1 and put on a cheapo 55-200 AF VR that I got used for $100. Due to the small sensor in the V1 it's an equivalent 540mm on the long end. With VR on I could get acceptable shots handheld at 1/30 sec. Magic! The downside is that I now think I need (well, hanker after) new VR lenses.

Re the kids with Canon F1's: in a way it's heaven for 35mm film shooters with how cheap formerly top of the line gear such as F1's, or Nikon F3's etc are. The downside is that many types of film are disappearing due to decreased demand.

Congrats on finding the misplaced old ammo, by the way. I recently found a bag of old unused film -- not quite the same joy, seeing as it was years out of date. Sigh.

Kristophr said...

Mot bad for a first attempt at astrophotography.

I suggest using a polarized filter on something that bright, or use a mask to force an increase in the f-stop.

Less bright and more contrast that way.

sobriant74 said...

+1 one the polarized filter, day or night it does cool things to your pics. On a point and shoot you can just buy a filter and hold it in front of the lens, it works too as long as you avoid blocking the IR metering thingy. We've got a mount adapter for our Nikon SLR for our telescope, your shot looks almost as good as some of those, so that is a nice camera.

Tam said...

"Mot bad for a first attempt at astrophotography.

I suggest using a polarized filter on something that bright, or use a mask to force an increase in the f-stop.

Less bright and more contrast that way.
"

Hey, Capt. Aspie, it wasn't an "attempt at astrophotography", it was just pointing the camera at the moon to see what it looked like at 30x and then mashing the button on a lark because what the hell, right? :p

I had no idea it would turn out as anything other than a white blur in the middle of the screen...

Scott J said...

Mike_C, I really want to try one of Nikon's VR lenses.

I covet the 18-200 that Ken Rockwell calls the "freedom lens" but they cost over $700 (ouch).

Murphy's Law said...

"That's one small step for Tam, and one giant leap for Tamkind."

Kristophr said...

I'm sorry, I meant that as a compliment.

I'll just stfu then.

Tam said...

Please, Kristophr, take it in the bantering tone in which it was offered. :)

Anonymous said...

Darn nice picture. As far as the comet PanTAARS goes look due west about a handsbreadth or so above the horizon 30-40 minutes after sunset using a pair of 7x50 or so binoculars. I still can't see the darn thing with the naked eye even knowing exactly where to look. EdC

Kristophr said...

Sorry, but banter is difficult to distinguish in plain text.

One of my bad habits is serious astronomy. Your results were good for a point and shoot.

Oakenheart said...

Hey somebody put dents in yer moon. I can go fix that for ya for 36,000 gallons of fuel and a six pack.

Anonymous said...

Canon is the only big company that seems to "get" that, regardless of the processor, you've got to have a lens capable of gathering light, even on its point-and-shoots. I've been looking at that camera for awhile, but hadn't seen the price drop. If I can find the same deal, I'm buying it.

DJ said...

I have had a Canon SD1000 for about five years. It's about the size and shape of a deck of cards, i.e. just right for carrying in a shirt pocket while in the woods. What is astounding is the quality of the photos it produces.

So, last month I replaced a 7-year-old Kodak P850 with a Canon SX50 HS. The quality of its IS features is even more astounding. It has a 50X zoom, the 35mm equivalent of a 24-1200mm lens, and digital zoom beyond that. I can stand on my patio and shoot clear handheld photos of knotholes in the back fence, which is 73 yards away.

So, I congratulate you on the brilliance of your choice.

Now, how about showing us some cat photos? That's what it's for, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

That actually looks a lot like Galileo's drawings of the moon. Stunning indeed.

Darrell said...

Thanks for the heads up, Tam, I ordered one from Amazon. $226.

NotClauswitz said...

Amazing stuff today - I worked in a lab too, handling and contact printing 30-inch negatives was kinda fun. Extended definition/HDR stuff is also a real twist.

Brigid said...

Outstanding, most shots of the moon I've tried sort of look like the small nightlight in my bathroom seen througPoindexter glasses off.