Monday, May 26, 2008

Out with the Old, In with the New

Sadly, I retired my first dSLR last week. I sold it to someone looking for a fast camera for shooting sports -- still a very good use for it. Here's the last good shot I made with my D1H -- it served me very well for over two years, even if it was a generation or two behind the current times when I purchased it.

But the good news -- to replace it, I got a used and somewhat-abused, but still functional D200. I'm the type of person who likes to actually use their equipment, not admire it sitting on a shelf. So, when the opportunity to save some cash arose by grabbing a D200 with some cosmetic issues (after taking a bit of a plunge off a tripod), naturally I'm going to be interested. Unless the camera doesn't work, I don't really care if it's not in mint condition. Same thing for my lenses. I'm sure I was a photojournalist in a former life or something...

By finding this deal, too, though, I was able to purchase a new lens along with the camera, for about the same price as what D200 bodies alone are going for nowadays. The lens I got is a 35mm f/2 AF-D. It's honestly one lens that I didn't think that I needed, but when I was looking through the viewfinder with the lens, I noticed that it seemed to match the normal viewing perspective. This makes sense when you think about it -- a 35mm lens on a 1.5x digital SLR becomes roughly a 5omm lens on a full-frame or film camera. So, yeah, after never really owning a 5omm when I shot film, I now have the equivalent of 50mm f/2 in digital.

And I'm recognizing how awesome this can be.

I already have a 20-35mm f/2.8 lens, but that sucker is huge. This small, compact lens gives me an extra stop, too, over that lens. It's wide enough to get a lot of stuff in, but not so wide that everything gets distorted. It's really a versatile little lens.

But the thing that I REALLY like about it is that it focuses very, very closely. I'd need to look up the stats, but I'm guessing it's about 3 inches in front of the lens. Combine that with the low-DOF f/2 opening, and it makes for a PERFECT lens for me to do my "Group F/1" stuff...

I love the bokeh! And the "Vivid Enhanced" setting on the D200 is really really nice.

In addition to being a great macro lens, it's also great as a portrait lens. Again, it's wide enough to get a decent head/shoulders portrait without having the distortion of an extra-wide when you get close to shoot the head & shoulders.

When I bought my D2H, I debated long and hard over whether or not to get the D200 instead. I ultimately decided that I preferred the machine-gun speed over the higher resolution. Especially since the D200 had 10 megapixels -- more than I really need. But now, I've decided that in shooting weddings more and more, I need all the resolution I can get. So, I've complemented my D2H with a D200.

Both of them are, really, more camera than I can use. Maybe in 2-3 years, I'll upgrade to a D3 and a D300, but for now I'm set...

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Beer Break!

Dogfish Head Red & White Bottle

So, in my inbox today arrived the monthly update from Gravity Beer Market (which, conveniently, is practically around the corner, but realistically ~2 miles from my house). When I saw the description for this beer, I HAD to go buy some. Being bored watching the M's implode yet again, I tried to escape the game by going to Gravity. Didn't totally work, though, 'cause they had the game turned on there.

After spending the better part of a half hour perusing their awesome selection, I found what I'd come there for, and a few other beers. This particular concoction is a bit expensive -- $14 for the bottle -- but I was willing to risk it.

I mean, after reading the description, how could I NOT give it a try?

A big, belgian-style Wit brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with Pinot Noir juice. After fermentation a fraction of the batch is aged in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels, and another fraction is aged on oak staves. The beer is blended together before packaging.

Since my beer tastes have been set aside for my lust for all things wine (particularly Zin, Cab-Sav, Syrah, and Pinot), it was appropriate that I'd gravitate towards this particular brew.

In spite of buying four other bottles of various stuff, I had to crack this open. Well -- after shooting photos, of course.

Dogfish Head Red & White - Poured

The color was as expected, the head was perfect. When I finally got done gazing at this beauty and pulling the glass to my face to inhale the aromas, I was very pleasantly surprised at the complexity. The wide variety of fruity citrus flavors dance around, and yet the balance of yeast, dry oak and golden, milky smoothness of the Wit calm things down.

I think I have a new favorite. I mean, how else can I combine three of my favorite things: beer, wine and photography?

Damn good stuff!

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