Say Fromage!

Along for the ride with my parents on the trip from the USA to Oxford was my newest purchase for the household as the chief technology officer: a new camera.  Yes, we have finally taken the plunge into full tourist mode with a digital SLR from Canon.  This purchase as been a long time coming, but actually came from a conversation in a pub one night.  Inspired by our friend Jenna’s daily photoblog, I casually mentioned to Chelsea that I would really like a nice camera someday and she replied that she also had the same wish.  Done and Done.  I did a bit of reading, decided what I wanted, and then just waited for the right sale.

I picked up the Canon Rebel T3i (600D), which is the newest model of Canon’s Rebel series SLRs.  I have always been happy with Canon, and the reviews seemed pretty good on this camera and its predecessors the T1i and T2i.  In fact, I only ended up with the T3i instead of the T2i because it was on a one day super sale about a week before my parents were supposed to be here.  Yes that’s right, I purchased this camera in the USA and Mom and Dad were nice enough to receive it and cart it across the Atlantic ocean.  Was this necessary?  Yes, I think so.  As I have mentioned before, most items cost as much in pounds as they would in dollars.  So if something is usually 5 bucks, it’s 5 quid here.  The conversion to dollars isn’t too bad when something is only £5 (~$8), but amounts to a significant difference when we are up two orders of magnitude to £500.

Fortunately for me, this lens was also on sale.  The thing with single lens reflex cameras is that the body has a half life similar to computers, but the lenses hopefully will endure.  This also translates to a heavy investment for the best lenses, because after all, good glass ain’t cheap.  I struggled for a long time with which lens or lens combination to go with, but based on a lot of friends experiences and my wife’s wishes (write that one down), I went with Canon’s 18-200mm zoom lens.  Our justification is that any sacrifice in image quality is worth the convenience of having the equivalent 35mm zoom range from 28.8-320mm or 11.1X.  That way once we figure out which range we take the most pictures in, and which speciality lenses we want, there will always be future birthday and Christmas presents to buy.  And as much as I notice the limitations for low light shooting, and the vignette at full extension, I love the super zoom.

Another feature of the camera that I really like is the spectacular flip out LCD screen on the back.  This is one of the few upgrades on the T3i from the T2i, and not one I was particularly interested in because it looked most like an opportunity to break something.  Well, I have been pleasantly surprised, we use it more than I anticipated.  We find the flip out and rotate feature particularly useful for shooting subjects with our hands raised really high (like over a fence) or low (looking from the ground up) or facing us (to better compose a shot of the two of us).

Because I’m such a slacker at posting, we have been taking pictures with this new bad boy for a couple months now, and you may even have noticed an increase in the quality of our shots.  For example, the only way to catch Gato playing with that mouse a few posts below was to take advantage of the 3.7 frames per second shutter and hold down the trigger.  I present below two of my favorite shots with our new camera.

The only drawback is that a gadget like this has a double learning curve.  The first is to figure out how the device works, and be comfortable enough with it that I can make adjustments on the fly to get the perfect picture.  The second is to learn photography, or how to better compose pictures.  Having a sports car doesn’t necessarily make you good at racing.  Fortunately for us, digital pictures are free, and we will have a lot of fun learning.

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