Sorry for the absence. Some was preparation, some was the trip, some was a bit of recovery. We drove from Seattle to Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Skagway, Alaska and back, covering 3827.9 miles.
We saw moose, bison, bears, elk, mountain goats, and a lynx, some in the wild and some in a wildlife sanctuary and rescue facility.
Noel Paul Stookey (l) & Peter Yarrow (r) come on stage at the Evergreen State Fair, Monroe, WA on 20110829; photograph by Evan Robinson
Noel Paul Stookey (c) & Peter Yarrow (r), Evergreen State Fair, Monroe, WA, 20110829; video by Evan Robinson
On July 4th after my mother died, Sara dragged me out of my mother's house in Brentwood, CA, saying only "it's a surprise". We ended up at the Hollywood Bowl, where Peter, Paul, & Mary performed a holiday concert.
It was an excellent anodyne.
Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow performed Monday night at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, WA. They clearly miss Mary, both personally and professionally. They used the crowd to sing many of her parts, and mentioned her prominently several times during the evening.
Replacing a Canon 300D (Digital Rebel), Canon 18-55mm EF-S, and Sigma 70-300mm. I'm keeping, at least for a while, my 50mm f/2.5 Sigma Macro lens and my 28-105 f/2.8 Tamron.
Why the 60D?
So why did I pick the 60D over the 7D?
The first reason I even looked at the 60D was that I had trouble finding anybody who had a 7D in stock. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami appear to have wreaked havoc on Canon's supply chain. When I could find a 7D, the body was going for a 10-25% premium over its list price. I didn't want to pay that. And I had a deadline: we're going on a trip, and I wanted a month or two to work into the new gear.
The second reason was the articulating screen. I love being able to turn the screen into the body so it's not exposed (I have a Zagg protective film on it, but still), and the potential for low or high angle viewing seems like a nice feature.
Third, the price difference. I got my 60D for list ($899, including the $100 rebate Canon has running until 3 September 2011). If I could have found a 7D for list, it would have been $1599 (with rebate included): nearly 80% more.
Fourth, the 60D uses SD cards, not CF cards. I have a small library of CF cards, but SD cards are nicely smaller, generally a bit cheaper, and my "darkroom" (a 13" MacBook Pro) has a built-in reader, so that's one less thing to carry, use, lose, and replace. And I get official eye-fi support, which may or not turn out to be a big thing.
What was I losing by not getting the 7D? 8fps instead of 5.3fps; dual DIGICs instead of a single DIGIC; 100% viewfinder instead of 96%; .122s less shutter lag; and more focus points (and more cross-type).
What else would I lose if I didn't get the 60D? About 300 shots per battery change and about 100g.
In the end, I just ended up on the 60D side. I might get a 7D (mark 2? 8D?) next time (which I hope won't be 8 years!), but this time, the availability, price, screen, and SD came out ahead of the FPS, 100% viewfinder, shutter lag, and focus points. The 60D is such an incredible technological leap ahead of the 300D that the extra bells and whistles just didn't seem important.
Why the f/4 lenses instead of f/2.8?
The other thing I've been asked is why I sprung for L lenses but didn't get f/2.8 lenses. There are basically two reasons. There's the price: the f/2.8 version of the 700-200 costs nearly twice as much. Next, there's the weight: it also weighs more than twice as much. I'm going to be hauling this basic kit around a lot. I'd love to have the more capable lenses (although there is no 24-105mm f/2.8L, you have to be content with the 24-70mm), but I won't be happy with the extra 37oz (well over a kilogram!) and the lost overlap from 70-105mm.
So why buy the L lenses to begin with? I spent more on each of those lenses then on the 60D body, or almost all the lenses I had in my old kit put together (that's a little bit of an exaggeration but not much)! Because I expect to use these lenses not just until I get my next body, but the next body after that, and so forth. Unless Canon goes through a technology change like from the FD lenses to the EF lenses, I expect to have these lenses for the rest of my life: they're not a consumable like the body, they're an investment.
With new kit and a trip planned, I wanted to get a new bag as well. I went through a bunch of options and ended up buying three and sending two back. The winner is the Tamrac Adventure 9 Photo/Computer Backpack, which beat out the Tamrac 5788 Evolution 8 Photo/Laptop Sling Backpack Bag by two features: the upper compartment on the Adventure 8 holds my iPad, and the one on the Evolution 8 doesn't. They both beat out the Crumpler Sinking Barge Deluxe which I thought was ingenious, but had a number of issues for me. Most notably, I didn't feel the dividing walls were strong enough to keep my gear in place, and it was really hard to get stuff in and out of -- which has the advantage that your gear isn't likely to get out by mistake. On the other hand, the Crumpler has by far the best waiststrap. For trips where I'm not constrained by carry-on restrictions, I use a Lowepro Classified 250AW, which I first carried at the 2008 DNC. It's big but easy to get stuff in and out of.
When I was at Glazer's (near work, and easier to fondle gear than online), I discovered the Black Rapid straps, and got myself an RS-7. It's not perfect, but it's very nice. There's a KickStarter design called the Lens Loop which is very much the same idea. It moves the camera off your neck and across your body, with some sort of ring at the camera connection, which allows the camera to slide up the strap to your face and then drop back to your side.
I find myself both very enthusiastic about taking pictures and interested in blogging in a way I haven't been, oh, since the 2008 election. We'll see about that.
Puget Sound Panorama 20110716 by Evan Robinson Click to embiggen
I've updated my camera gear for the first time in years (my previous camera is a Canon Digital Rebel aka Canon 300D which I purchased in 2003 IIRC). So I've been out playing with the new equipment (which there will probably be more than one post about). The above is an example. The original is 9583 x 2358, made from 18 images, is 6.6MB as a JPG (pretty small!), and nearly 60MB as a TIF. Pretty much everything on it, from camera settings to Hugin settings to Aperture settings, was default.