October 2005 Archives

I checked out the M-Audio Microtrack 24/96 today at my local Sam Ash. Looks like a nice unit, very small. I think it's overpriced at $400, maybe $250 is closer to what it should be worth. The definite downer for me is that it uses a proprietary Lithium-Ion battery. If you're in the field and you run out of batteries, then you're screwed unless you can recharge it (AC or USB). I'd prefer something that I can feed NiMH AA batteries into in a pinch. :-(

Replacing the LithiumIon will cost $75 + shipping, via Maudio. I do like the little mike they provide, although I wish it was built-in and not a separate unit as I know I'll forget to bring it to an interview if I got this unit. I have some further thoughts on other field recorders by Marantz and Edirol after the jump.

CanonEOS1DMarkIIn.jpgB&H has the new Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN listed for $3999, but it is "out of stock" when I checked this morning. The main difference with the 1D Mark II is the larger LCD screen on the back and a faster buffer.

Meanwhile, it appears that various stores are clearing out the Canon EOS 1D Mark II, so if you want this tried and true photojournalist's camera, now might be the time. B&H has it for $3829 and Costco.com has it for $3799. The advantage of buying it from Costco is the fantastic warrantee that Costco provides on its products. Although I might say that for only a $200 difference on a $4000 product, why not get the (very slightly) updated version? DPReview.com has more on the 1D Mark IIn.

In other news, Canon is offering (its now traditional) fall rebates on selected Canon EOS products bought from authorized dealers (i.e., not Abes of Maine and Costco.com). The interesting twist is that if you buy two qualifying products, the rebate amount doubles, and three it triples. Here are the qualifying products:

There's a wonderful blogrant called Petteri's Pontifications. In his most recent episode, Petteri Sulonen pontificates on full-frame DSLRs and the Canon EOS 5D. You may not agree with him, especially if you're a Nikon aficionado, but it's an interesting read. Now all Petteri needs to do is shell out the $3 for a real domain name.

On the DS-HUM list, a link was recently posted to a wonderful article by Mark O'Brien on disability and sexuality:

In 1983, I wrote an article about sex and disabled people. In interviewing sexually active men and women, I felt removed, as though I were an anthropologist interviewing headhunters while endeavoring to maintain the value-neutral stance of a social scientist. Being disabled myself, but also being a virgin, I envied these people ferociously. It took me years to discover that what separated me from them was fear -- fear of others, fear of making decisions, fear of my own sexuality, and a surpassing dread of my parents. Even though I no longer lived with them, I continued to live with a sense of their unrelenting presence, and their disapproval of sexuality in general, mine in particular. In my imagination, they seemed to have an uncanny ability to know what I was thinking, and were eager to punish me for any malfeasance.

Whenever I had sexual feelings or thoughts, I felt accused and guilty. No one in my family had ever discussed sex around me. The attitude I absorbed was not so much that -- polite people never thought about sex, but that no one did. I didn't know anyone outside my family, so this code affected me strongly, convincing me that people should emulate the wholesome asexuality of Barbie and Ken, that we should behave as though we had no "down there's" down there.

.....

Frustrated by my inability to get The Answer, a blinding flash that would resolve all my doubts and melt my indecision, I brooded. Why do rehabilitation hospitals teach disabled people how to sew wallets and cook from a wheelchair but not deal with a person's damaged self-image? Why don't these hospitals teach disabled people how to love and be loved through sex, or how to love our unusual bodies? I fantasized running a hospital that allowed patients the chance to see a surrogate, and that offered hope for a future richer than daytime TV, chess, and wheelchair basketball. But that was my dream of what I would do for others. What would I do for me?

Read more.

OK, I thought I blog on relatively obscure things, but Paul van Walree wins the geeky photographer award of the month. Please visit his encyclopedic articles on the optics of lens hoods (lens shades in Britain), on lens flare, and vignetting, all of which are part of a larger collection of articles on optics.

It's about the time of year that PhD candidates are asking for letters of recommendations for teaching positions. This seems like a very good year for hiring, the latest edition of the Anthropology Newsletter is thick with postings. You should be looking there, as well as the Chronicle of Higher Education, your regional association newsletter (in my case, the Association for Asian Studies Newsletter), and online mailing lists (for example, H-Japan, the SOLGA mailing list, etc.).

Asking for letters of recommendation is as strategic and political as anything else in academic careers. Do you ask Professor-Big-Name who might only vaguely remember you from a seminar you took your first year, or do you ask Assistant Professor-Young-Turk who you've been working closely with ever since arriving at AnyU?

promoaperture20051019.gifApple has come out with a product called Aperture that looks to directly challenge Adobe's Bridge preview and Camera Raw input hegemony. From what I've seen on Apple's website, it looks like a killer app (see http://www.apple.com/aperture/quicktours/), doing just about everything a documentary photographer would want to do. It isn't Photoshop but it's lightweight and fast and does the types of color correction, photo library management (the biggest thing for me), and formatting output that I need to do. It's retailing at $499 for civilians and $149 for academics. I've placed an order, but shipping is 6-8 weeks. Phooey!

Link: HD for Indies

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I found a blog called HDforIndies.com which is an equipment review/discussion site for independent filmmakers. It's a wealth of information on DV/HDV and recording equipment. The only problem is that I can't get Netnewswire to subscribe to their RSS feed -- it keeps asking for a username/password. I'm not sure if this is a bug on the HDforIndies site or in Netnewswire. Can someone try to subscribe using another program?

ef_24~105_4lis_usm.jpgLuminous Landscape has a wonderful review of the new Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS lens. It sounds like a winner, except for the slightly increased barrel distortion. Contrast and resolution apparently is higher. The new lens was released this October and has the new 3-stop IS; increased weatherproofing; increased contrast/stray-light control; and features 18 optical elements (3 aspherical) in 13 groups.

I have the old EF 28-70mm f/2.8 L lens and while I'm generally happy with it, it does suffer slightly wide open at wide angles in the corners. I was thinking of replacing it with the new 24-70mm L lens, but for fieldwork, it looks like the 24-105mm f/4 L IS is a better choice since it is smaller (83.5mm Dx 107mm L), lighter (670g), and has longer range. The MSRP is ¥145,000, B&H has it for $1249.

One of the biggest mistakes a junior faculty member can make is to become chair of their department pre-tenure. While not common at larger institutions, you may be asked if you're at a smaller school such as at a private liberal arts college. If at any point, you are offered the position as an untenured faculty member, become very very worried. Becoming chair is an enormous burden, not an honor. It is a tremendous responsibility with very little real power (especially over the senior faculty). The fact that the provost is offering you the position means that the senior faculty in your department are either too structurally weak, too disorganized, or too factious to take on the responsibility themselves. You may want to think about other job opportunities. The likelihood that your department will later be able to get it together enough to properly support your application for tenure is questionable if they can't even handle the position of chair amongst themselves now.

I'm very nostalgic about my life in St. Paul. I miss many things about the city and the area. It doesn't help that HGTV regularly broadcasts shows about St. Paul / Minneapolis. Sigh..... Anyway, what do you do when you're nostalgic? You make lists.... Without further ado, here's Karen's Best of St. Paul:

hdp2.jpgTascam is noted for its fantastic DAT recorders which have been a standard choice for field workers, indie filmmakers, and concert bootleggers. They've just come out with a compact-flash version called the HD-P2 high-def flash recorder for $999. With 192khz/24bit fidelity, you're set to record everything up to and including bat echolocation (good luck finding a mike that can handle this!) and you don't have to worry about the tape transport noise or cleaning heads. And it supports SMTPE time-code input. What more could one want?

(Via CreateDigitalMusic.com)

Canon has released new firmware for its professional series DSLRs, the photojournalist's EOS-1D Mark II and the studio EOS-1Ds Mark II:

EOS-1D Mark II: Version 1.24


  • Fixes the phenomenon of file number errors that occurred when shooting bulb exposures.
  • Fixes the phenomenon of file numbers not being sequential even if the file number setting is for sequential numbers if when a CF card is replaced while the power of the camera is switched on.
  • Improves reliability in communication when using some CF cards.

EOS-1Ds Mark II: Version 1.1.4


  • Fix the phenomenon of horizontal line noise appearing when P.Fn-21 is set to ON.
  • Fix the phenomenon of file number errors that occurred when shooting bulb exposures.
  • Improves reliability in communication when using some CF cards.

The buzz on Slashdot and other blogs is that all four major digital camera manufacturers are releasing service advisories that the Sony-made CCDs on their cameras are subject to failure due to a faulty design that lets moisture in. See the info here: Canon, Fuji, Konica-Minolta, and Sony.

Link: The Zen of Roomba

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It's no big secret that I'm a big gadget fan and so of course I have a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. There's a wonderful blog essay on the "all I ever needed to know, I learned from my Roomba."

Link: No bill of rights?

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One more reason not to shop at Walmart, and in particular, not use their photo processing services.

The buzz on the EOS mailing list is the significant vignetting in the corners seen on wide angle shots at open apertures with the new full-frame Canon EOS 5D. William Coburn was kind enough to show an example using a 20mm lens at f/2.8 versus f/5.6: http://infohost.nmt.edu/~schlake/5d/2point8vs5point6.jpg

Now, some of this is undoubtedly due to the lens itself (most wide-angles suffer from corner darkening at full apertures), but digital sensors are susceptible to more vignetting (or more accurate, light-falloff) with wide-angle lenses* due to their surface microlens design. I decided to hold off buying the 5D until I had gotten more user reports and I'm glad to have done so. Let's see how this shakes out.

* The Epson R-D1 digital rangefinder camera has a software tool to reduce vignetting because of this problem. And people with Photoshop CS/CS2 can correct this in the RAW plugin too.

Careers: Getting tenure

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It's now been about six weeks since the beginning of classes at Yale and I've never worked harder in my life. My entire week is crammed with meetings, colloquia, seminars, and teaching. It's absolutely exhilarating and exhausting, and I wouldn't want anything else. I'm finding that the main difference in teaching at a small liberal arts college and a major research university isn't the much better library system or the presence of graduate students, but the sheer amount of intellectual stimulation that goes on.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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