Results tagged “consumer” from kwc blog

'Tis mine

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I know I have issues when I go to buy boxers and I come back with a MacBook Pro. I've avoided buying laptops as I've always had a work laptop, but that was before I was really into photography. Apple's revamp did my wallet in and is my first Mac purchase, though I've been using Macs at work for the past several years. Now that the case is much stiffer and has a virtual right click button, I can mostly shut my mouth about the differences between PC and Apple hardware.

I like the new revamp a lot. It feels much more sturdy, which is good considering that I bent the CD drive out of shape on my old Pro. The case also has the subtle detailing that I found lacking in the previous Mac Pro design and feels like a much more worthy successor to the Ti design. The trackpad is much smoother and the entire-trackpad-is-a-button is pretty sweet. I'm not sure about gestures yet: four-finger and three-finger swipes are pretty cool, but I'm still not used to accidentally triggering the resize gesture. It is inevitable that one of my nervous habits will collide with a new feature: tapping the mouse 'button' looks a lot like a pinching motion. Windows broke me of my shift-key tapping habit and Google Desktop broke me of my ctrl-key tapping habit -- I may go into nervous breakdown if I can't find a free key.

Oh, and I did manage to get the boxers.

They're here: 70-200 f/2.8 and 1.4x

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New Toy (the bigger one)

Two new toys arrived in the mail for me today: the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM and the Canon 1.4x extender. I've long been eying these as additions to my cycling photography arsenal, but I didn't view myself as 'worthy' of them at the start. Actually, price was probably more a factor. With the Tour of Missouri coming up, I figured now was the time to take the pocketbook plunge.

Experience matters for photography, but let's not kid ourselves. The person with the more expensive equipment will take better photos, at least for sports photography, where your photos have to been in focus to qualify. I took cycling photos for years with a film and analog Rebel, but it was the Canon 30D that immediately took things to the next level.

I'm hoping for the same sort of results with the 70-200 f/2.8 IS and 1.4x combo. The image stabilization in the 70-200 f/2.8 IS has a specific mode for doing panning photography, which is a popular staple of cycling photography (example). The extra advantage of the f/2.8 should also help in darker conditions, which my old 70-200 f/4 suffers in. One other bonus: weather sealing, which matters when you're trying to run around with a plastic baggie trying to keep the rain out.

As for the 1.4x, it's my compromise. It's been recommended to me that I pick up a 300mm lens, and there's been no lack of them at the finishing line of events that I visit. A 200mm isn't long enough in those situations and a 300mm collapses the depth of field better. Unfortunately, a 300mm requires man-of-steel arms to lug around. I've seen a photographer leave his 300mm in the media van rather than lug it around the course.

A 1.4x is cheaper and lighter. It will turn my 70-200 f/2.8 into a 98-280 f/4, which should fit the bill (an extender affects both the focal length and aperture). I was always worried that 1.4x or 2x extender would slow down my old f/4 lens too much, but the f/2.8 provides that extra breathing room.

I'll have several occasions in September to break the new equipment in. Hopefully it will perform well. In any case, it's another step towards guaranteeing that I never make money off of photography.

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Branching out with a new lens

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crossposted from spare cycles

canon1635II.jpgThe newest lens in my small arsenal is the recently released Canon 16-35 f/2.8 II. Its bigger, badder, and more expensive than its predecessor. The Mark I was known for being a bit soft at the edge, so much so that some people have gone for the half-as-expensive 17-40 f/4 instead. The Mark II helps re-justify the 16-35's greater price tag. Of course, none of that really matters if you're shooting with a Canon 10/20/30D or Digital Rebel -- the 1.6x crop factor of those cameras cuts off all the fuzzy bits -- but lenses outlast the bodies they're attached to. One day I hope to have a full-frame camera for shooting architecture.

I was in a bit of a rush to get this lens because I want to break it in at Sea Otter this weekend. The wideness will be more useful for MTB shots and will also help me get some nice panoramas of Laguna Seca. It will also be useful for road shots where I'm standing really close to the action.

Rather than recommend the same course of action to others, I'll list the pros and cons I debated in choosing this rather extravagant purchase.

Pros: * f/2.8 is fast and you'll need if you are planning on shooting in the woods or in bad weather * better edge sharpness than the Mark I, though not applicable for 1.6x crop cameras * 1.6mm wider than the 17-40mm f/4L on a 1.6x crop camera

Cons: * $300-400 more than the Mark I * Over twice as expensive as the 17-40mm f/4L. In fact, you could almost buy a 17-40mm f/4L and a 70-200 f/2.8L for the same price.

Wii'd up

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I got my Wii, an extra Wiimote + nunchuk, WarioWare Smooth Moves, Madden 07, and (of course) Zelda: Twilight Princess. I played a game of Madden '07 so I could ignore the Saints being beaten by the Bears, broke-in my Mii on Wii Sports, and I played several crack-smoking levels of Wario -- odd(ly) fun(ny) is how I can best describe it. Zelda: Twilight Princess remains on the shelf -- I wish to savor it, much like how one saves the best part of a meal for last.

My Wii Code is 1418 3492 0962 8370. Get your own WiiBadge at WiiBadge.com!

FYI: Although it was not my source, I highly recommend Target for future Wii purchases (unless you're going for the $50 trade-in that Gamestop is offering). Targets in Sunnyvale and Mountain View had 70-80 Wiis. Best Buy had 30. Circuit City had 18.

$10 from Google Checkout

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If you don't mind giving up your credit card info to Google, you can get $10 if you signup for Google Checkout. I got $5 (or was it $10?) of Dana Street coffee when I helped user test Google Checkout several months ago, so I'm becoming quite fond of the service ;). I used my $10 to pre-order the Hellboy Animated Sword of Storms from DVD Empire.

I liked Google Checkout slightly better than PayPal. Checkout can forward e-mails from the seller to keep your address private and the overall experience is a bit more polished (shopping cart looks like seller's, the receipts are easier to read).

Tour de Comic-Con: Prologue

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Team Uni made it through the first climb up the escalator to the registration booth in record time. The entire field was moving at a much faster pace than last year, which bodes well for this year's Tour.

The prologue stage was a quick circuit around the convention floor. There were no talks, movies, or other entertainment to worry about, so Team Uni focused on schwag and sketch points, as well as the extremely dangerous CRAC (Credit Ruining Accoutremounts Classification).

  • schwag: There weren't too many schwag points to be had on this stage. kwc attempted to go for bonus Lego Mini schwag that was hidden in a bag at the Star Wars booth, but they were too closely guarded. Now that they have been spotted, though, they should be easy takings in tomorrow's stage. The easiest schwag takings were dwarf mercenary DnD miniatures: parakkum and kwc both took two and ln m picked up another. No one on Team Uni plays DnD miniatures, but they have five dwarfs.

  • sketch: kwc got two sketches from Michel Gagne, but it was a bad day for honeyfields and ln m, who both forgot their sketchbooks. honeyfields plans an early assault tomorrow on Sakai and Gagne to get back into contention.

  • CRAC: The best showing for Team Uni today was in the CRAC. ln m and honeyfields tore through the Kinokuniya booth, purchasing two copies of the Art of Cowboy Bebop, as well as a Final Fantasy digital concepts book and a FLCL animation sketchbook. kwc added a set of Copic cool grey markers and Michel Gagne's Odd Numbers to the collection. Other teams spent a huge amount of time in line for mini Megatron statues and Han Solo busts, but Team Uni feels its nimble strategy focusing on more useful purchases will yield better results.

The nevertheres will be competing in all the stages contrary to earlier reports, which is a big boost to Team Uni morale. h.o.b. was spotted in the Viz booth but returned to his hotel room before this reporter could get comments.

Yet-Another TiVo

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TiVo has a deal for rewards program members where you can get a 140-hour TiVo for free if you pay for a 1-year or lifetime subscription -- naturally, the TiVo-hoor that I am, I was on the phone within minutes ordering one. My little 40-hour was getting strained w/ four people using it, and my other 40-hour unit is still out on loan to a friend. Besides, now I should be able to keep an entire season's worth of MythBusters, no sweat.

There isn't enough room in my TV stand to store two TiVos, so I'm am offering my Series 2 40-hour unit out as a lender to friends with one condition: two weeks only (otherwise, I can't lend it to someone else).

Eventually I plan on using the 40-hour TiVo for testing the experimental Home Media Engine. Last time I played with this feature, my TiVo got extra slow and was more crash-prone, so it will be nice to be able to play with Google Maps and Flickr on my TV without worrying about stability.

Bagley Original Art

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I've decided to make my first foray into the world of comic book original art. Here are two of the three pages I got (I don't have a scan of the third, but it is similar to the bench scene here):
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