Monday, October 20, 2008

My New Toys

Now that I have the Monterey Bay Birding Festival posts complete, I can let everyone know that while attending the festival I had a new toy to try out. I have enjoyed using my Kodak DX7590 Easy Share, 5.0 MP, 10x zoom for the past 4 years. But there were times when I couldn't get the camera to focus quickly enough to suit me. And there were times when I felt certain photos should have resulted in something crisper and more vibrant looking. Frustration set in and I started looking around thinking if there was a better point-and-shoot camera.... Two things they have over SLR cameras is their portability and video capability. They are so easy to just drop in one's purse or bag. But I have seen the photo quality of SLR cameras and that won over the portability advantage of point-and-shoots. When I started researching on the internet I checked to see what each camera's features were. Then when I looked at the prices my heart sank. But I kept checking on each cameras best features and considering what I really wanted in another camera, knowing you generally get what you pay for. When I narrowed down the field I found that I wanted a Canon Rebel. I heard many positive remarks about the camera; and it certainly offered everything (and then some) I was looking for. I then checked with my daughter Red since she is a semi-expert in photography. I did not realize that she had a Canon. I also found out that my son has a Canon. In retrospect I vaguely remembered they shared lenses. Both son and daughter highly recommended that I get a Canon. When I mentioned the Rebel to Red she thought it was an excellent choice for me. So I decided to take the plunge and invest in a Canon EOS Rebel. At first I had planned on buying the "xti" 10MP model, but there was a special running for the "xsi/450D" (12 MP) model. And I've been snapping away and enjoying my new toy ever since. I have managed to take almost 700 pictures since I purchased it, and I've had it only a month. The lens that came with the camera is EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. This is a great lens for photos of the kitties/cats, our dogs, even close-up. It's also great for landscape photos and photos of flowers, etc. Luckily, I can "borrow" one or two of Red's lenses. Most or all of them are interchangeable between her camera and mine. She's been letting me use one of her old lenses that she had when she had a 35mm Canon. That one is an EF 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6 and I can get closer shots of birds, etc. The downside is that it isn't an IS (image stabilizer) lens. But, hey, beggars can't be choosers. I've been eyeing the 70-300mm IS lens, but I think I'll need to put that on my wish list. It's almost as expensive as the camera.
My other new toy is a Vortex Stokes Sandpiper spotting scope. I ordered it way back in late July, but it was out of stock at the time. I finally got it around the first of October and I really haven't had much of a chance to use it. A couple weeks ago Red and I went to Palo Alto Baylands to try it out, but that's the only time I actually used it. I've tried it here at home, but there isn't much to focus on in a residential neighborhood. This scope has a 15-45x power - so it isn't a really strong scope, but it will be fairly easy for me to carry around. Another investment I will need to make is getting a tripod for it. For now I'm using Red's that came with her camera. It's not a good quality, but at least it's useable for now. I had also bought a car window mount for my scope, and I plan on using it when my husband and I attend the Crane Festival in Socorro, New Mexico next month. I'll be able to set it up to use while driving on the auto tours.


Martha said...

Congratulations on your new camera. It's always nice to have family recommendations and resources to "borrow" from.

jan m said...

Nice toys! A good camera makes all the difference. My new Fuji has it's good points, but I miss my EasyShare for others.

Lynne said...

Congratulations Mary! I have the xti and love it. WAtch for sales and Canon rebates on lenses. It's so fun!

Ruth said...

Wow! Nice new camera and scope. I too have looked at digital SLRs but I do like my Canon point and shoot. It has a 12x zoom and with the teleconverter, an 18x optical zoom. That gives the equivalent of about 600mm with little added weight. But the SLRs do have superior quality pictures for sure.

Linda in Erie said...

It sounds like a wonderful camera. Your photos are looking great. I bought a spotting scope last spring. It is great for id'ing ducks and water fowl. I find it next to impossible to Id small birds in bushes as they dart from place to place. We have fun with it when we travel. We can and look out over the landscape and spot ships, buildings and deer etc. whatever is in the distance that you can't quite make out.

Leedra said...

I have the XTi, would have bought the XSi if it had been out. Canon came out with it a month after I bought the XTi. I love my camera, I just want more lens. Red's 35mm must have been newer than my Canon AE1, my old lens don't fit my Canon D-SLR.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Hope you enjoy your new toys,it is so exciting to have new and better equipment.I bought the XTi in February of 2008 and am not sorry.My lenses are both Sigma,18-200mm and 120-400mm.The smaller lens is great ,the big one is not as sharp as I had thought it would be,but it works.

Red said...

yep, all the lenses work with your camera

Leedra, it probably was newer. It was a Canon EOS which I think had come out on the market a year or two before I bought it about 1987 or so.

RuthieJ said...

Ooh, Mary, I have major camera envy!

I'm glad you finally got your spotting scope. I love mine and keep it set up by the downstairs patio door to watch my backyard birds--spotted a white throated sparrow last week (bird #56 for my 2008 yard bird list!)

zhakee said...

Those are some nice "toys"! They'll keep you occupied and entertained for years to come, just what toys should do.

My husband has the same camera, but he ONLY uses it in black and white. He's taken some very nice images with his. He says it is way easier to take excellent images and print them too using that particular camera (and his $1500 printer), as opposed to a film camera and darkroom.

I think you'll be very happy with the camera.

Shellmo said...

Fun toys! Congrats! I have the XTI as well!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I'm sure you'll find the Rebel an excellent tool, and a bottomless money-pit for lenses, tripods, tripod heads, remote controls, memory cards, filters, etc etc etc. :-)

Tripod-wise, I use the same tripod for my camera & scope. The tripod head I have uses quick-release plates, and I have the appropriate plates on both my camera (and the lenses that have tripod collars) and the scope, so it's quick & easy to remove one and attach the other. This also lets you put more money into one good tripod rather than a couple of so-so ones. Mine (Gitzo 1227 tripod & Kirk BH-3 head) was expensive, but it's a joy to use, is super-stable, and doesn't weigh too much.

Anyways, enjoy your new tools, and I look forward to seeing the images you make with them!

Mary C said...

Martha, thank you. Yes, it's nice when we can borrow from each other.

Jan, thanks. I'm glad you like using your Fuji; you get really nice pictures with it. A former Easy Share user, eh? It's good to know that others have enjoyed using their Kodaks, too. For now, I still plan on carrying both cameras around. As mentioned before, the Kodak's good for the 10x zoom and the video.

Lynne, thanks for the congrats. I'm so glad to hear you have the same camera. It's obvious, though, that you have a telephoto lens. Which one do you have? Thanks for the heads up on sales and rebates. Do you get email from Canon telling you about the sales or rebates?

Ruth, I probably would have done well with a Canon point and shoot, too. My argument against point/shoots would be they take longer to focus. Now that is only my experience with my Kodak. But I like the idea of the zooming quality you get and less weight.

Linda, thanks. I also plan to use my scope for IDing water fowl. And I sure like your idea of seeking out ships and buildings, especially on the other side of the lake or river.

Hi Leedra - it's good to know we have the same camera. Possibly we can exchange tips and tricks with each other. I take it that you also enjoy your camera. Funny, how you also wanted the Xsi as I did. But I was able to save about $50-80 on the Xti versus the Xsi, and not that I'm into it, but the Xti has more megapixels (12 MP). The Xsi has 10 MP.

Ruth, your another Xti user! And I love the quality of your photos. So you have a couple of Sigma lenses. Are both/either of them with image stabilization? I feel that I need to consider IS in purchasing future lenses, especially the larger lenses.

Red, thanks for letting Leedra know the history behind your other older camera. I had forgotten it was actually the late 80s when you purchased that 35mm.

Ruthie, it sounds like you have your scope set up in a perfect spot. Isn't your scope a higher magnification than mine? My scope can only go to 45x. I do hope I don't regret not getting the 60x.

Zhakee, thanks! Your husband uses this camera just for B/W? Sounds intriguing. I will admit that I love digital cameras. I was always too cheap to consider buying film and having to pay for processing, too. And then to find out that several pictures didn't turn out that well. What a waste of money! ;o)

Shelley, thanks. Another Xti user! Yeah! No wonder your photos are so crisp!

Thanks, Adam. You are so right about wanting more to go with the new camera - like more flash cards and batteries. And I still need to consider a tripod, and like you I am wanting one that will be able to do the job for both camera and scope. My daughter wants a good tripod, too, for her camera when using a larger lens. So thank you for the advice on the tripod that you presently have.


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