Anything long, fast, and cheap?

I received this e-mail today, from a Canon Digital Rebel XT owner:

I shoot pictures mainly for my kids marching band. Which means I’m usually shooting at dusk or night. It also means I’m either in the stands on on the sidelines but still want good close-ups. What is a good (read affordable) lens for shooing long distance in low light?

What he wants is a lens that has the reach, is wide (for night shooting) and is cheap. Image Stabilization isn’t an issue because I’ll assume he’ll be buying a monopod or owns a tripod. He’ll have to push the ISO to get the shutter speed up to 1/60 or better which is what he’ll need to prevent bluring of a moving marching band.

Unfortunately there is no such lens that is both long, fast, and cheap.

[Recommendations after the jump] Continue reading

The Gourmet Cookbook

I was at Costco today to pick up some extra FoodSaver bags. After that I wandered around a little bit and I couldn’t avoid the temptation to pick up a copy of The Gourmet Cookbook ($22.49 at Costco).

This book consists of over 1000 recipes culled from the over 50,000 ones that appeared in the last 60 years of Gourmet magazine, tested and updated.

The book includes a DVD which I haven’t watched. I can’t help but think that if they’re going to pay the extra dollar to bundle a DVD, they might as well as the over 1000 recipes in electronic form (they didn’t). Even if they didn’t include the recipes in MasterCook MXP format, I’d have taken the time to write my own parser, believe me!

[A little about the book after the jump]
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G7 hoopla

Another thing I missed from the photography world is the release of the Canon G7.

Canon Powershot G7 rear view

The spec sheet is very impressive for a compact camera:

  • 10 megapixel 1/2″ sensor
  • 6x zoom (though a slow f/4.8 at max zoom)
  • Image stabilization
  • ISO 1600 with a super-high ISO 3200 scene mode
  • hot shoe for external flash
  • $550 retail

Not on the spec-sheet, but appreciated nonetheless are a nice control layout and an optical viewfinder.

From the its non-budget-but-very-reasonable price, its complex control layout, it’s overpowering spec sheet, and it’s not-exactly-svelte-like size, you’d think this camera would be ideal as a second camera for enthusiasts. But no, because the dang major thing missing is RAW file support. Which many people speculated was to protect entry level dSLR sales.

Now I read today that this is because the high photosite density makes the superfine JPEG indistinguishable from the RAW shot:

Smaller pixels means it’s harder to distinguish the signal from the incoming light from the random electronic noise in the sensor, said Chuck Westfall, Canon’s director of media and customer relations.

“The net result is that even if the G7 offered raw image capture…there would be no discernible improvement in image quality compared to…superfine JPEG mode,” Westfall said.

What a load of bullshit.

[An explanation why, after the jump.]
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Zune and iPod sales discussion

Replied to a MacRumors discussion:

I have no idea where you got that one from. The original Xbox never made a profit. Microsoft is deliberately selling the Xbox 360 at a loss to capture marketshare. However, the PS3 and Ninetindo Wii are selling like hotcakes, are latest big things, and have the buzz. The best laid plans …

[My reply after the jump] Continue reading

Two on Target

I was at Target the other day, and though I didn’t get anything, I noticed two interesting things.

The first was the new Dirt Devil Kone Cordless Hand Vac (which comes in other colors, by the way). Very stylish, but I have no use or space for it. Also, how good is it? Handvacs always seem underpowered. The timing means that Target thinks it’s a nice stocking stuffer, no doubt. And the look is quintessential Target (that’s pronounced, “tar-JEY”).


[Item #2 after the jump] Continue reading