A bit of a mix of news today. Firstly, it seems I've won a digital camera. I'm waiting for it to arrive - funny thing is I didn't even know I was in a competition for it. It was via one of my Bingo affiliate programmes. They do prize draws for the affiliates all the time, but I don't really pay any attention. It's a 10mp Cybershot from Sony. I don't know what model exactly - I will have to see when it arrives. Typical isn't it? Same thing happened when I first bought my PC. About three months after getting it, I won a PC in a prize draw...
Mrs Dio wants a camera, I'll see what the Cybershot's like and maybe hang on to it and let her have the new one. We'll see, I'm still sceptical it's going to arrive. Easy come easy go I suppose.
And in another twist, I've gone and ordered myself an iMac - one of the 20" models. Yes. I know. I'll do a full justification at a later stage, but for now, I have to adjust to being a Maccy type. Groan. Anyway, back to the photos.
I had a few nice shots lying around from the last week - nothing too spectacular but nice enough to feature here. We've been going for evening walks to tire Elis out - usually around sevenish when the light is really nice. These photos were taken on those trips.
Damn, of all the things I could do without, the PSU on my main PC has died in haze of smelly smoke. It's been threatening to do it for a while, and now it's made good on the threat.
Touch-wood, the local PC shop can supply me and over-priced one tomorrow - whack it in and hope the fact it died didn't take out the hard-drives with it as I've been a bit lack in my back-ups recently. Should be OK. Oh. 1000s of AdWords keywords, photos, new sites. Oh, Oh, Oh - how many times have I smuggly told my friends to back-up regular? Drat. Hot dang. Touch wood the PSU dying won't have affected the drives.It's been giving me jip the last few months, most mornings it's taken a couple of boots to get it going. I thought it might have been a Windows issue so I re-installed and that didn't help. Then something I read suggested the PSU was at fault. Now that would seem to be proved. Things like this happen at the most annoying times. Had a lot of work on tomorrow, now it's going to be spent faffing with the replacing it - if I can get one.
My current PC is coming up on 4 years old. I built it myself - and have made a number of upgrades (extra memory just recently) and it would have done for a while longer. I've been keeping an eye on a new one - wasn't going to build it myself as it's so time consuming.
That said, I've actually come around to the idea of getting an Mac. Yes. That's right, this Apple hater now may get one. More shock horror. Thing is, I don't have time to mess around with the PC stuff all the time like I used too, so I want something that works, and now I see I can run Windows via something called Parallels, so I could theoretically still use the little quirky bits of Windows software I love under the Mac's GUI.
I did have a Mac way back at the turn of the century, before I even know what a PC was. I was planning on getting one maybe in 6 or 7 months - but maybe I should just bite the bullet and grab one now. But then, if I have to pay for a new PSU I'll probably put it off even longer. Fun and games - it would be nice to have the money to do it now, but at the moment it's an expense to far.
Well, I'm getting a bit more used to the new camera and its capabilities. I took a load today and got some nice results. I had to set up a load of new PhotoShop actions to process them so I took the opportunity to put some new and less intrusive name tags on the picture.
The colours are a bit less impactful than the Minolta, but they actually look quite good - nice earthy greys. Unlike the Minolta though, they look better without being run through the levels filters, so other than shrinking, sharpening and tagging, the images are all pretty much as they were taken. No cropping or fiddling. Nice and easy - just how I like it.
Today was wonderful, the light was crisp and ever-changing. There were lovely big grey clouds, and they're the star of a number of the photographs. The beach was windswept as well, trails of sand blowing across the beach. You can just about make 'em out in the video. Here's a selection of the stuff I shot on South Beach this morning. We actually ended up back down there this evening. Was nice and chilled - sat on the beach watching the tide coming and enjoying a late spring evening. Magical.
Well, we went out for a nice gusty stroll earlier. Got a load of shots to whizz through and I'll post later. I wanted to try the camera's video features, so I quickly put the following together using the inbuilt Windows Movie Maker.
From having never used it before to editing and making the montage took less than 45 minutes. Not a bad little piece of software considering it's free. The music is from 1989 - 'I Wonder' by Pacific. Great little LP I've been listening to here and it just seemed to fit perfectly.
Ok, so getting to grips with the new camera. Done a few test shots and we went out over the weekend to Saundersfoot where I took a few more to run it through its paces. I'm still getting use to it. I have to admit it's not as intuitive as the Minolta for setting and focusing. I do 99.9% of my stuff on the auto-settings - so far the Canon is good. That said I do like to mess with the settings (setting flash and shooting conditions) and like to choose where I focus the camera on. On the new camera you have to do it in different ways which is a bit confusing - and I can't see a way of selecting a focus area other than putting it in the middle and hoping. I'm sure I'll get used to it in time.
However, as for speed of operation, it's blistering. Turn it on and the camera's literally ready to go from the off. The Minolta used to take a few seconds. Unfortunately, when you plug it in to the PC, it doesn't register as an external drive - it registers as a camera. It makes file browsing slightly clunky as you have to go through My Computer rather than just being able to set it as a drive - and the Window camera wizard pops-up which is annoying.
I'm not convinced on the image quality yet. Whilst it's pretty good, even at the fine settings there's some noise - a lot more than was apparent on the Minolta. The images look different as well - slightly less definition. The build is a bit too plastic feeling as well - the battery compartment door doesn't feel like it will go the distance. All this aside considering the price - it'll do the job for now.
Ok, so the first real test was a trip to Saundersfoot. We went for a stroll and had tea at the excellent Captains Table - they do a good meal if your ever in the area - good portions, great tastes. We used to go there as kids with my folks who'd sit in the beer garden whilst we climbed the old anchors. The anchors have moved to the other side of the garden, but now Elis is enjoying a climb on them. Anyway, reminiscences apart - we walked on the beach - the weather was very changeable and I took a few shots. Here's a selection for you.
Well, I said before I wanted to do some sites with that BANS software that scoops the auctions off eBay and adds them to your sites. Well, I just got my second one up and running - it's called Hire Caravans and pulls in caravan rentals. I wanted to do something that was a bit seasonal given I guess the Bingo will go down in the summer months, so that was the first thing that sprung to mind. There's an ad campaign up and running and hopefully we'll see some sales before long.
There's not many pages there at the moment - I'm just testing it at present. Mrs Dio has been a big help, she made a lot of pages over at the other BANS site Commercial Art and will be making more pages for the caravan site. I got a few more of these sorts of sites I want to work on. So far the sales are a bit behind the advertising costs, but I think there's room for improvement, and potentially the caravan site can turn that around. I've just got to sort out an Adserver for my sites today, and then when that's working OK I can get back to a personal project I started a month ago about one of my favourite bands. More on that when it's done though.
Well, in the end I went for a new cheap camera. I'm awaiting delivery of a Canon PowerShot A460. It worked out quite cheap as I had a £10 Amazon voucher and get my little affiliate commission on top. For stats fans, it's got 5 Mega Pixel resolution and 4x zoom. The lens looks a bit sturdier than the Minolta's, and at a shade over seventy quid, it shows how much prices have come down as I paid over £220 for the Minolta way back in 2004. That only had the 4 Mega Pixels and 3x zoom. I'll hold out for a DSLR, I can't really justify one at the minute.
As the new Canon hasn't arrived yet, and we were out with it being Bank Holiday, I managed to get a few more shots out of the old Minolta. It was rather cloudy and blowy, but the air was nice. We went for a wander down South Beach towards Giltar Point. There were some evil looking clouds out over the Bristol Channel - towards Worm's Head on the Gower. A few nice shots were had but I'd neglected the fresh batteries so I only had a couple and had to call it a day. For your entertainment they follow.
As for the Minolta, farewell my old friend - you've done well over the last few years and given many hours of pleasurable snapping, but now it's time to rest. You've earned it.
Looks like my camera is failing fast. The old Minolta Dimage F-200 is becoming increasingly stubborn and unwilling to work. If it was a cat I'm certain it would be going behind the sofa right about now.
This leaves me wondering what to do. Do I wait a few months and get a DSLR or do I just get a cheaper one now. To be honest I'd rather have a point-and-click than a pro thing. I think I can just about afford a new point and click, but I've not been following the market. There'll be no photos for a while I'm afraid, until things are sorted.