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Olympus E-PL2 and a bunch of lenses

More than once already we happened to spook various people when we showed up with big DSLR and started to take pictures around. In particular ORNL supercomputers pictures triggered such a reaction where we were basically walked out of the supercomputer room and it took quite an effort to get back in.

With that in mind we started to look for a smaller, but still versatile and light-sensitive camera. We already have a few point and shoots and even with CHDK they leave a lot to be desired.

This is when I remembered about micro 4/3 format, those cameras have much smaller form factor, yet sport sensor with a crop factor of 2 which is still pretty respectable. The sensors are usually 12 megapixels which is not too high.

After researching somewhat I decided to go with Olympus cameras as they have in-camera stabilization system which is pretty useful (I remember from my early attempts with Sony Alpha 100). The latest compact model they had was E-PL2. It has the same sensor as the previous models, but software is still tuned some more and the results are better due to this apparently. Earlier E-P2 while more advanced is also more bulky too which was an important factor.

Prices were pretty tolerable too, we got E-PL2 with a kit 12-42/F3.5-5.6 lens for about $470.

Olympus E-PL2
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Birds in Knoxville

I have been taking pictures of birds this spring from time to time with little time to process them. Finally I did some more pictures today and decided to process entire backlog.

We start with pictures from first half of February where a big flock of American Robins decided to land near our grocery store.

This is going to be large amount of bird pictures.

Jay
On the way to the grocery store we actually met this posing Jay first Wink
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July 4th Fireworks

For a few years already I was planning to do some fireworks photography and today we finally managed to go to the Independence Day festival in Knoxville with a camera and tripod.

Seems some amount of practice is needed for best results, but even for my first try I have some interesting shots.

IMG_7606


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September trip to Cray, Mendota Heights (Minnesota)

Another kind of late post about a past trip. Hopefully It'll be the last one and the rest would appear much sooner after the trip or perhaps even in almost real time?

So in September 2009 right after our Hawaiian vacation I was asked to come help Cray with some matters and spend two weeks at their facility in Mendota Heights which is a small town near Minneapolis in Minnesota. This entry won't touch any of the Cray bussines, though. It'll concentrate on various things we saw in the area.

First thing we noticed was significantly higher amount of wandering Canadian geese often crossing street at random.

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Canon 7D video test

Looking at video quality from out point-and-shoot from the trip to Hawaii got us thinking that we need a video camera, but then we considered that whatever video we might be ocasionally shooting would most likely be in poorly-lit conditions anyway and videocameras do pretty poorly in that case too.

So we decided to take a look at modern DSLRs for our video needs. Sure, we already knew it was not very convenient to shoot video with a DSLR, there is a lot of shake and you need to focus manually most of the time too, yet the low-light performance is pretty cool and we can also use it as a second camera for Ksusha to shoot with.

We set our sights on recent Canon offerings naturally since we already own another Canon DSLR and can share lenses. Choosing between 5Dmk2 and 7D modes is much more tough. 5D is a full frame camera which naturally means it has better low-light performance, 7D on the other hand has better focusing system and more flexible video modes selection and it's also $650 cheaper. To further complicate matters there is Magic Lanterns firmware hack for Canon 5Dmk2 to make it better at video taking, such features as audio monitoring, AGC (auto volume control) disabling and so on.

In the end we decided to try 7D first and our body arrived last Friday. Day-time testing (the second video in this test) did not impress me too much. Indeed as I expected shooting video is pretty hard and requires a lot of practice and tripod is almost required too. Night-time performance was pretty impressive, though. The only light available is that from 3 small candles. You can see some noise in ISO3200 (have not tried ISO6400), but ISO3200 was only really required with a single candle. With 3 candles we more or less comfortably switched to ISO1600 that is much more cleaner. No camcorder has a chance in such conditions. The color reproduction is pretty good for such conditions too.

Video on youtube is 720p if you watch in HQ.


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Review of Urd and World of Elegance Gathering kit from E2046

It's pretty sad that figure producers tend to concentrate on sexy girls often over-emphasizing their sexiness and throw in so much fan-service it is almost unbearable.
The best developed Anime characters barely get produced and sometimes all the loyal fans get is a garage kit.

So was the story with "Urd and World of Elegance" from "Ah! My goddess". The best version was a garage kit from Hiromen that is impossible to find at that.
As it often happens, E2046 decided to help and came with their own version of this kit, also available prepainted from Gathering.

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