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Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 03-21-2007, 11:07 AM  
Photography class at a local college
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 24
Views: 5,417
I took one at my local community college probably 6-7 years ago. I found it quite enjoyable, but I do not remember learning a significant amount about composition and the like. I learned the technical basics of exposure and how to do my own black and white developing (quite enjoyed it), but it didn't really help me with the artistic side of composing a good photo.

Maybe I should have signed up for the second level course, but my schedule changed, and I wasn't able to keep it rolling. Oh well, composition is the sort of thing you gradually work into by taking shots, viewing the work of others, and imagining how you want it to look before hitting the button anyway. Besides, I'm not much of an art-eest anyway, so I just try to keep myself happy with the results.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 03-07-2007, 04:12 PM  
Shooting a car race
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 25
Views: 5,200
Looks like you got some decent shots. Good job.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 02-22-2007, 12:32 PM  
need help buying a Pentax K100d!!!
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 11
Views: 1,931
I bought my K100D from Beach- no worries, and I am pleased as can be with the transaction.

For the SD card, I bought a Corsair 2GB SD card from Newegg for a bit over $30, and it works great:
Newegg.com - CORSAIR 2GB Secure Digital (SD) Flash Card - Retail

As for batteries, you can buy some rechargeables (I bought some NiMH ones), but if I had it to do again, I probably would have just bought a big pack of lithium AAs from Sam's Club- they last longer than the NiMH, don't leak power over time, and aren't horribly expensive.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 02-01-2007, 07:29 PM  
Photography at Disney World
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 10
Views: 4,441
Rich makes a good point- no matter where you go, you'll find good photo ops, but sometimes it won't be of Disney-specific items. For example, the landscaping is immaculate, and you'll find that sort of thing anywhere you go. The entire place is overrun with ducks, and you'll even see softshell turtles in the lakes (heck, my hotel lake- Caribbean Beach- even had a little gator in it). The World Showcase has fantastic architechture (the Canada Pavilion is beautiful, and France, Germany, and Italy are also quite nice). However, even a P&S can do those things without too much trouble. Depending on how long you'll be there, you might take the P&S the first time, and go back with the SLR if you want (exception would be Animal Kingdom, where the SLR is pretty much mandatory).

Disney World just seems to be one of those places where many people love to weigh in with their opinions, and I am no exception. We had the time of our lives there (and many others do as well). Just relax and have a good time.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-30-2007, 05:13 PM  
Photography at Disney World
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 10
Views: 4,441
I was there the last week of September, and that experience is what made me decide I wanted a DSLR. I took a Panasonic DMC-LZ2 point and shoot- competent enough, but I missed several shots because the thing just didn't have the flexibility of a SLR (slow to shoot, slow shutter speeds at the wrong time). It was good for the scenery, but Animal Kingdom brought out its limitations in a big way.

I'd use the SLR for Animal Kingdom (especially the Kilimanjaro Safari), but the P&S will probably suffice for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and MGM (if you go to the night fireworks, take the SLR).

I'd probably slim down the camera bag as much as possible (really no need for a big external flash). So long as you can cram the bag in next to you on the ride, it won't inconvenience you too much in that way- Disney rides really aren't that violent (exceptions: Everest, Rockin' Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and maybe Mission: Space).

Are you staying in the Disney hotels? If so, BUY THE MEAL PLAN. Trust me- it is easily worth the money ($40/day/person, but we would get about $60-80 of food for each of us on that). Also, make any reservations for the sit-down restaurants NOW. Even though we went in the slow season, we just flat couldn't get into a couple places (we made reservations as we went- big mistake).

And, I hate to really stick my nose into things, but don't feel like you need to see EVERYTHING with little kids. Many families with the younguns (under 7 or 8 years old) often seemed to be having a bad time. The parents wanted to "get their money's worth," but there's only so much kids can do, and the crumb crunchers got tired, cranky, and whiny. That didn't look like fun. Running around as a young couple with no kids (like the wife and I were doing) is going to be a VERY different Disney experience than if a couple young kids are along.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-29-2007, 08:53 AM  
Poll: what's your main post-processing program?
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 103
Views: 16,856
I use GIMP for image editing.

The Gnu Image Manipulation Program. I figure if I have to learn an image manipulation program from scratch, I might as well learn a free one.

GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program
Forum: General Talk 01-22-2007, 06:26 PM  
Hi from Virginia
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 2
Views: 1,392
Well, you're in luck here.

I have an old ME Super (still works, it's a great camera), and I even have a book of the same vintage Pentax SLR cameras (kind of an introductory thing, but it goes into more detail than the manual). If you have any questions, just ask; I'm sure somebody here can help, even if I get stumped.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-18-2007, 04:34 PM  
Shooting a car race
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 25
Views: 5,200
I don't know if a monopod would be a hindrance. If you can get the shutter speeds that you are going to want (no less than 1/500, preferably faster by a few steps), then holding things steady won't really matter. It might turn out to be just one more thing to haul around. I know that when I was over at Gateway, a monopod would have been worthless to me.

You might want to try looking online for a decent used manual focus telephoto lens or even taking a trip to Creve Coeur Camera (the one on Olive, just east of 270) or Schiller's to see if they have any used ones at a good price.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-17-2007, 05:52 PM  
Shooting a car race
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 25
Views: 5,200
Panning/stationary depends on the speed of the cars. The Champ cars I was shooting were going at well over 200MPH. I tried the stationary method (have a great shot of the rear half of one of them). At a rally, they likely won't be moving that fast, but you may also not have much advance warning of their appearance.

Just don't be that guy. You know the one- he's in internet videos getting smacked by a rally car that didn't quite make the turn. :D
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-17-2007, 04:18 PM  
Shooting a car race
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 25
Views: 5,200
Once upon a time I shot Champ car racing practice a couple times. I used a ME Super with a Soligor 80-200mm lens. Weather was nice and bright, and I was using fast film (ISO 1600, IIRC). I had no problem freezing the action. Got some good shots out of it.

If you can get reasonably close, a 200mm lens should be plenty (but if you get right next to the track, 80mm might work). The big trick is having shutter speeds fast enough to catch them. You might want to go manual focus in order to avoid AF lag (focus at the appropriate spot, and leave it there). I'd probably shoot in Av mode, and lock the speed into ISO 800 or ISO 1600. Set the aperture to whatever you need to get into the 1/2000 or faster range. Be prepared to pan with the cars- get them into the viewfinder, then pan with them and keep going as you hit the shutter release. Heck, I'd probably even go with continuous shooting mode just to have more shots to choose from.

Just be sure to get there early enough to play with the settings a bit before the cars come by, and understand it may take a few tries to get everything just so.

Edit: just saw you are from STL. My shooting was done over at the oval on the IL side of the river. The first year you could get close enough to get some great shots, even without a press pass. The second year, they tightened up the rules to where good positions were harder to get. I didn't go back.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-16-2007, 12:15 PM  
O.K... so what EXACTLY is a "PRO' DSLR?
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 35
Views: 4,704
There's always the Law of Diminishing Returns at work. Past a certain point, the amount of extra features/capability/etc. stops keeping pace with added cash infusion. For some, the added cash spent is worth it. Not so for most, but for some. Also, I believe you are very correct that the profit margin on the higher end is significantly larger than on the lower end.

And looking over that D2x review, it seems to support what I have read- that "pro" level camera bodies have more controls and settings available at the press of a button. While those of us with the "pedestrian" K100D can adjust the white balance and ISO settings, we have to delve into menus to get that done; the D2x does it at the press of a button (and many more settings right at your fingers). The price of that means the camera gets into the "honking huge" size class. The D2x looks like something that, if you go from being a photographer to a participant, you could use to beat an attacking animal to death out on safari.

Most people using a camera to record memories and a few artsy shots just can't justify spending the extra money for those features, and don't want to take the time learning to use them. That isn't a bad thing, it isn't a good thing- it is just a description of reality.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-16-2007, 09:44 AM  
O.K... so what EXACTLY is a "PRO' DSLR?
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 35
Views: 4,704
First, I want to say that I think somebody with a good eye can get great results out of just about anything; a K110D would be just as effective at capturing a shot as a Nikon D200.

But, from what it appears to me (and I'm no pro; I'm barely an amateur), the pro level cameras have many more controls on the body. Where on my K100D I have to go into menus to access some options, a "pro" camera might have those controls at the press of a button. You're more likely, once you know the system well, to capture a moment at the right settings. A war photographer has to be able to grab an image in a split second.

I would also assume pro cameras to have faster or more accurate AF (again, grabbing that image NOW). Larger memory buffers (continuous shooting) and sturdier construction would also be important for somebody who runs around in substandard conditions, catching shots as they can.

For most non-pros, paying the extra for those things is just a waste of money. Having buttons and dials all over the camera body might be convenient, but it is also confusing for somebody who doesn't use the camera every day (low wife acceptance factor). Fast AF is nice, but paying $300 for the privilege might not be as attractive as a telephoto zoom lens. Large memory buffers aren't remotely an issue for vacation or family photos; 3 or 4 shots in succession is generally plenty. Full shock resistance can be nice (lest the kids knock it off the table), but do you want to haul a 2.5lb (1kg) camera (not counting lenses, spare batteries, etc.) around Disney World for a few days? I doubt it.

When it comes down to it, for my own purposes, the K100D is just plenty, and while a K10D might be nice, it is definitely overkill. Sure, there's always the "impress the neighbors" factor, but even a Nikon D2Xs is worthless if it is so expensive you can't afford it, so heavy you don't take it, or so complicated you can't use it.

I saw a wedding photographer a week ago using a Sony Alpha. If the happy couple doesn't get some good stuff out of that, it wasn't because of the camera the photographer was using. My own wedding photographer used a Canon EOS 20D (IIRC; might have been a 10D). Our photos were unbelievably great.
Forum: General Talk 01-16-2007, 09:14 AM  
Network activity
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 12
Views: 2,011
Does your wireless router have the ability to create and keep a log of network traffic? You might have to switch a computer to a static IP address in order to do this, but it can give you an idea of what on the internet is being accessed. This will tell you what is generating that network traffic.

If nothing strange shows in the log, then you're OK. If something strange does show, then you can research that on the internet and look into removing it.
Forum: General Talk 01-15-2007, 06:19 PM  
Any PC Networking Gurus here?
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 11
Views: 2,219
Unfortunately, this information is not 100% correct (I've taken A+ courses, and I have despaired at the information in some of the books- I've also taken MCSE courses and not been overly impressed with some stuff in there too).

In RAID 5, you are not limited to the capacity of ONE drive. If you have X drives in an array, you have X - 1 drives' worth of capacity. For example, with 3 500GB drives, you will have 1TB worth of capacity. 3 drives (1.5TB), with the equivalent of one (500GB) being used for parity. (Wait... looking back over your explanation, you have it right, but typed "one" instead of "two".)

A little information on some more popular RAID levels:

If your data (in chunks of D1, D2, D3, D4, etc.) and parity (P1, P2, P3, etc.) are written to the arrays, you end up with the following:

RAID 0- data striped across all drives:
Drive 1: D1, D3, D5
Drive 2: D2, D4, D6
Lose one drive, you lose it ALL. This is pure speed, no redundancy or fault-tolerance.

RAID 1- No parity, just mirroring:
Drive 1: D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D6
Drive 2: D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D6
Lose one drive, you lose nothing. This is just redundancy, no increase in speed (actually a slight hit).

RAID 4: One drive of the array (3+ drives) is used for mirroring, data striped across the rest:
Drive 1: D1, D3, D5
Drive 2: D2, D4, D6
Drive 3: P1, P2, P3
Lose one drive, you can still survive.

RAID 5: Like RAID 4, but everything is striped:
Drive 1: D1, D3, P3
Drive 2: D2, P2, D5
Drive 3: P1, D4, D6
Again, lose one, and you're still in business. This is more fault tolerant than the others.

Generally, unless you REALLY needed a huge single drive array, I would recommend against RAID 5 for most people. The complexity and cost is rather high; better to invest in a next-gen DVD drive (like Blu-Ray or HD-DVD) or a mega capacity backup solution.

Newegg.com - LITE-ON 2X Blu-ray Disc Triple DVD Burner Black SATA Model LH-2B1S - Retail
Forum: General Talk 01-12-2007, 04:28 PM  
Your First Pentax
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 89
Views: 11,071
Pentax ME Super. I had to repair it once, when something jammed on the inside (the shutter wouldn't always reset when the film advance lever was operated). It then continued to take many good shots.

I still have it, but I haven't fired it up in a bit. It was what had me go back to Pentax for the K100D; I just missed the control and utility of a SLR. To me, anything that isn't an SLR just doesn't feel like a real camera. Sure, you can take pictures with them, but they just aren't as satisfying.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-12-2007, 04:23 PM  
Defective K100D
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 38
Views: 6,942
Yes. It was fun, too. Nothing like the smell of developer chemicals, except maybe some Hoppes #9.

And it has nothing to do with a stuck pixel on a CCD. +1 on the "send it back".
Forum: General Talk 01-08-2007, 02:17 PM  
RAM Question...
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 6
Views: 2,182
Almost certainly not. Even if it would fit (I'd put money that it wouldn't), it would slow things down considerably. System memory usually undergoes major overhauls every 2 or 3 years. For example, a computer I built for my mother about 6 years ago runs PC133 SDRAM. Since then, we have gone through multiple flavors of DDR memory, RDRAM has come and gone, and DDR2 is taking over. That's without mentioning registered or parity flavors, and I haven't even brought up voltage issues yet (not all current motherboards that accept DDR2 memory will like all particular sticks of DDR2 memory; it's a bloody mess).

Tom, you'd have to check the manual for your computer or your motherboard. I have a computer that uses DDR333, and has 2 slots. I did have 2 sticks of 256MB each in it, and I added another single stick of 512MB, and I had to do a little fiddling before it recognized the full amount (I had to swap slots a bit). I don't know why adding another stick of 512MB wouldn't work (provided you have the room), but as I did, you might need to be prepared to play musical memory sticks in order to make them work. You might also look into matched pairs of memory- if you really want to upgrade, 2x512 sticks (1GB total) is remarkably reasonable.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-05-2007, 04:40 PM  
Sad - The Dell discount deal
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 29
Views: 3,612
Quoted for truth. Dell's "expected ship dates" are pure fiction, and like Scotty's estimates on the Enterprise, exaggerated.

I once bought an OS upgrade to a Dell Axim handheld (since sold). They kept saying "ship date unknown," even after UPS dropped the disc off at my house.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-02-2007, 01:35 PM  
New K100D owner
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 29
Views: 3,323
I use the Energizer 2500mAh cells. I used them previously with my Panasonic DMC-LZ2, and now with my K100D. They do leak charge very badly (if you haven't touched them in a month, they're dead), but like you say, just keep some in a charger and you're fine. One set of four powered my K100D through probably about 100 shots over 4 days and didn't show any significant drain (and 2 of them kept the Panny running just fine for the better part of a week @ Disney World a few months back). They may not be the best, but they seem to be ok for what they are. If I were going on vacation, I'd take 2 sets of 4, a charger, and maybe 4 lithium AAs as a backup.

Maybe I'd have been better off buying AA lithiums in bulk than investing in NiMH cells and a charger, but you pays your money and you takes your choice.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 12-30-2006, 05:44 PM  
K100d first impression
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 9
Views: 2,301
I'm not sure I'd say that the D40 is nothing more than a p&s with an expensive lens. When you compare the specs to the D50 (the model it replaces), there are a number of places where the D40 is a step up. My concerns with the D40 are that it is extremely limited in lens compatibility for now (the antithesis of the K100D) and the lack of in-body stabilization (if you are buying an inexpensive entry level DSLR, the Nikkor 18-200 IS lens is not going to be happening). My brother loves his D50, so I'm sure the D40 is also good, but the feature list on the D40 just pales in comparison to the K100D.

I also opted for the K100D, and I have no regrets. It is probably even more camera than I have the ability to use for the foreseeable future. It's a great pick over even a high end p&s, and I look forward to taking this thing on vacation.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 12-21-2006, 10:28 AM  
DPI on K100D images
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 4
Views: 2,714
It is helpful. I haven't played with Photoshop yet; I am planning to tool around in GIMP and see if it meets my needs before potentially going for Photoshop Elements (Photoshop CS, at $600, is right out).

So, let me see if I am getting it:
1) For display on a monitor, there is nothing more useless than this spec (well, except for a dead fish on the monitor, but that speaks more to housekeeping skill).
2) For printing, as long as I stick to "accepted" norms (such as a 4x6 or 8x10 print size), the software will do all the scaling behind the scenes, and the spec is still not a big deal.
3) The only time it really becomes an issue is when printing to a specific size, where the scaling isn't automatic (such as for inclusion in a magazine or such; not an issue for me now). For that, a competent image editing program can do the scaling without breaking a sweat.

Thanks for the help.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 12-20-2006, 06:30 PM  
DPI on K100D images
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 4
Views: 2,714
I can't find the answer to this one anywhere.

When viewing EXIF data on my images (such as on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/technosavant/), it shows as being 72dpi. My brother's Nikon D50 shows as producing 300dpi images (via in-camera processing). I was browsing through other K100D images, and saw some variation; most were 72dpi, with a few 300dpi mixed in. I can't find one single thing about it in the manual.

So, I wonder:
1) Exactly WHAT does the dpi of a given image matter if the resolution is the same? It seems like it is a spec without a context, especially if the resolution is identical.
2) Is there an in-camera setting I just can't find? Admittedly, I am shooting JPEG in best quality, but if the answer is to shoot RAW, I guess more memory cards are in my future.
3) Should I just get over it and tell my brother that it doesn't matter?
Forum: Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 12-18-2006, 03:20 PM  
What filters are NECESSARY?
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 4
Views: 2,653
Well, the K100D with both the DA 18-55 and 50-200 lenses arrived today. I'm brand-spankin' new to the DSLR world, and I am rapidly realizing that what I had learned about equipment from my 35mm days is largely obsolete. While in the past, I would put a UV filter on just about every lens, I have seen things that indicate this is not necessary in the digital world (unless I just wanted the extra protection), since there is no film to fog.

So, I ask this: what filters, if any, are absolutely necessary? Not just very useful, but "beware pulling the lens cap off without one" necessary. I think a circular polarizer is likely in my future, but I have to make a trip to the local shops to pick up a smaller camera bag (the one I have is just far too large), and I just want to know if I need to grab anything else while I'm there.

I'm almost afraid to ask, because I don't really want to buy huge selections of filters, but neither do I want to hose anything right out of the gate. I did try to search, but basically only found the ongoing debate about using the UV filter solely for lens protection (looks to be good arguments on both sides there).
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 12-17-2006, 07:00 AM  
cheapest reputable place to buy k100d?
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 19
Views: 3,981
I think Amazon's pricing varies because they keep switching between stores. Sometimes the listed price is from Amazon themselves, sometimes it is from Beach Camera, sometimes from other places.

The thing I noticed is that the K10D is going for near MSRP, but the K100D is going for well under. I am thinking that it is because the K100D has been out longer, and there is more pent-up demand for the K10D (it being a more prosumer-oriented body and such). And that's before you consider the $50 rebate on the K100D body.

If the K10D were selling at the same discount the K100D is getting, I might have made the jump and gone with a different lens. As it is, the price gap was just too much for me to justify.
Forum: Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 12-16-2006, 02:38 PM  
two 2gb cards -- which one?
Posted By Technosavant
Replies: 6
Views: 2,096
I believe SDHC refers only to capacity (Secure Digital High Capacity), not speed.

I purchased a 2GB Corsair 60x SD card from Newegg.com for about $30 after shipping. If my K100D ever shows up, I can tell everybody how it works, but Corsair is a good name in memory, so I would expect it to perform just as reliably as a Kingston or SanDisk.
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