Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Camera (July, 2010)

Hot, humid weather continues here in Toronto, most unpleasant. It was during the last very humid spell not long ago that my digital camera began to act up. I suspected it was faltering when I was in New Zealand, attempting to take a picture at Kaikoura Beach. When I opened the lens cover, the camera simply refused to focus. It was infuriating, and the problem has returned periodically since then. In June, I decided it was time at last to replace it, since the humidity and heat seemed to be having even more of an effect on the technical problems. I decided to upgrade to a more recent version the same camera, since this one has been very study over the almost four years (12,000+ pictures) that I've been using it.

The camera I chose was the DSC-TX5. Sony now has a number of cameras in the Cyber-Shot line, and though this one was not the most high-end of them, it looked closest to what I had had until now and it was the only one advertised as shock-proof, water-proof, dust-proof, and probably nuclear-fallout-proof as well (and yes--it is supposed to handle the heat well). It had fairly solid reviews online since its release in April of this year. I tended to trust these reviews, since when I compared what was said with what I knew about my Cyber-Shot DSC-T10, I found it aligned with my own experience.

Above: Descending into the Queen subway station, I decided to test both the camera's power-on time and its performance in a low-light, no-flash situation, because I'd noticed in the reviews that there was emphasis on its improved low-light capacity. For the picture, I was halfway up the escalator by the time I looked down and decided I liked the view. Fortunately the camera handled things well, I snapped it open and got the shot within a few seconds and there were no problems with blurring or over/under-exposure.

Above: Mr. Darcy, helping me to test the camera's macro function with some close-up cat shots. Though this is not the best of them in terms of technicalities, it's certainly the most amusing one.

So far I've noticed there are also some things missing with this camera--like a black and white option. I'm getting used to working without it, which could be a good thing since I've been told that the image quality decreases when you shoot in black and white. Instead, I was advised to use image editing software to change pictures to black and white after downloading them onto my computer. This way the images retain more visual information.

Above: Inside the Bloor Cinema near Bloor and Bathurst, Toronto. This was a more extreme experiment to test low-light performance and to put the wide angle to use; I love the picture, which was taken just before the showing of "The Maltese Falcon" that I attended with my friend Joanne, who was in for the day from Hamilton. To me the curtains look like glowing embers in a fireplace.

Yesterday I went in to Hamilton to see a few friends, look for apartments and watch "The Girl Who Played with Fire", the new film version of the Steig Larsson novel. After the movie, which I saw with my friend Alex Sévigny, we went for a country drive during which I took some nice pictures of the farmland around Ancaster and Dundas, bathed in crepuscular summer light. It was nice to get to try out the camera in a non-urban environment.

Above: A shot I took from the car window. The function I was putting to use was a kind of spot focusing, which can be done using the touch-screen by touching the past of the screen where you want the camera to focus. This is really useful when shooting from a moving vehicle because it prevents the camera from re-focussing on objects in the foreground or in other parts of the frame. I quite like the blurring of the grass in the lower part of the image.

Above: Here I was trying to capture the quality of the light in the mildly humid summer evening. I also had to see what the camera could do when pointed directly into the sun (if you've looked through my past posts, you'll notice I love sunlight shots and my last camera did very well with them). Trivia: those splotches of light in the foreground are called "circles of confusion". Which will also be the name of my first band, if I ever form one.

After our drive, we went to Alex's place and (of all things) had cigars and cognac, on the back porch. Usually a bit too grown-up for me, this time I enjoyed feeling like W.C. Fields (stogies!). Alex's cat, Gigi, joined us--a treat, since usually she is a lot shyer than my cats. She usually runs away when I am visiting, or observes from a discreet distance.

Above: Gigi--she has such a tiny, delicately-designed little face, with large eyes. It took her a little while to warm up to me, but once we started getting better acquainted I was lucky to catch her in a split second of stillness; she looks quite charmingly posed.

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