February 2006 Archives

PanasonicDMC-L1.jpgAt the PMA convention, Panasonic has announced their formal entry into the interchangeable lens DSLR category with the Lumix DMC-L1. It uses the interchangeable 4/3 (four-thirds) system lens mount, so technically it should be able to mount lenses from any other manufacturer who is participating.

Although it looks like a rangefinder, it's actually a DSLR (none of the holes above the lens mount are for viewfinders). The body styling, though, is reminiscent of the Konica Hexar RF. In any case, the Lumix DMC-L1 has the following features:

  • 7.5 megapixels
  • Live viewfinder
  • MOS sensor
  • Supersonic sensor cleaner
  • Mega OIS - optical image stabilization (built into lens)
  • SD memory card
  • Pricing is rumoured to be around US$3000 which is too much.
  • Shipping is rumoured to be Q4 2006 which is too late.

Leica has announced its first 4/3 system lens, the Leica D Vario-Elmarit 14-50mm f/2.8-3.5 ASPH, which will be the standard lens for the DMC-L1, but could be used with any other 4/3 camera.

Picked up via FreshHDV.com, Josh Oakhurst relates the story of Tommy D. -- a DP who tries out the new Panasonic HVX-200 with the P2 storage cards on a documentary shoot and manages to get into extreme hot water:

"3. But what do you do when the director wants to look at something, oh, four cards ago… Oh, you just hook up the P2 Store to your Mac and view them, right? Not with the P2 Viewer, as it’s only a PC product (?) now. Guess you’ll have to import them into FCP on your Mac.

4. Better have FCP 5.0.4. because 4.5 doesn’t give you a P2 import option. Ok, so say you have FCP 5.0.4, transferring this footage (ie, translating it into a QT takes time. By this time it’s pushing into lunch. Director’s focus has changed from wanting to see something from 4 cards ago, to wanting to *know* that the footage resides somewhere in that little black box of a P2 Store. Can you blame him?"

(read more)

This is a cautionary tale -- not of the Panasonic in particular, but of introducing a new workflow before you've had a chance to test it fully.

From the New York Time's ethicist's mail bag:

After I was scheduled for a job interview at a university, a member of the search committee Googled me and found my blog, where I refer to him (but not by name) as a belligerent jerk. He canceled the interview. It was impolitic to write what I did, but my believing him to be a jerk does not mean I would not be great at that job, and the rest of the committee might agree. Was it ethical of him to cancel the interview? Ciara Healy, Augusta, Ga. (read more)

All I can say is that he's an idiot. Read my notes on googling here and here. Search committees aren't only looking for the best teachers, they're also looking for the best colleagues. And they have every right to do so.

Inspired by a recent post on the East Asian Anthropology listserv, I've put together a short list of M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Japan anthropology.

Early in the month, I read through a huge stack of Yale graduate school applications for the anthropology department. During the first round, my main goal as a reader was to reject applications. Here are some do's and don'ts from that perspective:

Salon.com has a wonderful series titled Ask the Pilot where former pilot, Patrick Smith, ruminates on the airline industry. His most recent article touches upon photography at airports and how we are rapidly becoming much like pre-Glasnost Soviet Russia. Stopped numerous times by airport security who try to stop him from taking photos (but won't cite the law or regulation being broken), Smith manages to track down someone who can actually tell him the letter of the law:

"No, it's not against the law," says Anne Davis, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokeswoman. When asked about jurisdiction, Davis describes TSA as the overseer of all airport security matters, including the supervision of local law enforcement. "The buck stops with us," she says, adding that the agency has no specific policy with regard to picture taking, other than asking people not to tape or photograph screening apparatus.

Had any problems recently taking photographs at airports? Post a comment here!

As usual, DPReview.com is the first to break the story on the new Canon EOS 30D being released at PMA. It's basically an updated 20D with the exact same CMOS sensor -- the only changes are a slightly larger LCD, slight modification of the body (to make it feel closer to the 5D), and ... (drum roll please) .... spot metering.

Price looks like it'll be around $1300. I'm only slightly excited about this -- the mods are so small that they should have just called it the 20D Mark II and not get us all confused with the much older EOS D30.

Instructables has step-by-step instructions on how to make your own LED light panel. While the author used it to make his own bike light, I'm thinking that this would also make a great camera-mount LED panel for camcorders. The most popular LED light panel goes for around $400, and it looks like this would only cost around $100.

David Pogue reviews the Sanyo Xacti HD1 for the NYTimes. Registration required and it will not stay up for very long, so read it quickly!

The HD1 is a solid-state (flash memory card) 720p camcorder that will retail around $800. Battery life is only an hour, a 2-giga SD card only holds 28 minutes at max quality, and Pogue makes it seem that there are considerable tradeoffs in terms of image quality as well. Well, it's a version 1.0. We can all hope that the Xacti HD2 will fix all the bugs of its predecessor.

VideoSystems.com has a review of the newly announced Panasonic HVX-200 high-definition camcorder. It uses the P2 solid-state memory cards in lieu of HDV tapes. The specs: 1080p @ 60p with RGB4:4:4... All for only $6000 (albeit the P2 cards are going to bankrupt you).

Oren Grad writes about the rapidly disappearing Pentax SLR product line on TheOnlinePhotographer blog.

One of the grad students in my department recently wrote to me asking me where they could stay while in Tokyo over the summer for some short pre-dissertation fieldwork. They wanted to stay 8-10 weeks, which is too short for my personal favorite which is Leopalace 21. Here are the options I gave the student:

  1. Gaijin houses (google for "Gaijin House Tokyo" or "guest house Tokyo"). Rates seem to range from ¥35,000 / month for dorm style accomodations to ¥80,000/month for apartments.
  2. Weekly mansions (Japanese google: ウイークリー マンション 東京). Rates are about 30-40,000 a week.
  3. Long-stay business hotels (Google: ビジネスホテル 東京). Rates are about ¥7000/day but there's usually a 10-20% discount on monthly stays.
  4. International House of Japan. They don't serve pancakes (well they do, but only for breakfast), it's the pre-eminent location where many foreign faculty stay while in Tokyo for a short time. Centrally located in Roppongi. Single rooms are ¥6583/day.
  5. If you're Christian, then many of the churches have attached guest rooms. For example, the Lutherans and Catholics both have places where people can stay for short visits.

Link: Audio-ethnography

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Longtime readers of this blog know that I've been intrigued by the notion of audio-ethnography for a while, being inspired by Ira Glass' This American Life. I've been stumped over how to make this a more powerful cross-cultural ethnographic tool because of the issue of translation, since much of the power of audio-ethnography is in the directness of people's voices. Listen to ThisAmericanLife with headphones and you'll see what I mean.

ThisQuietAmerican.com is one step in that direction, although I would call it audio-tourism rather than audio-ethnography. It consists of fieldrecordings made in Vietnam in 1998. It's mostly what A/V technicians call wild sound (recordings of the background ambience) but it does give you a sense of what it is like to be there. It reminds me of Sarah Peebles' work in Tokyo (see examples here and here).

If anyone has any examples of audio-ethnography with translation, I'd love to hear it.

AdultAddStrengths.com has posted an article by Pete Quilly on the Top 10 Advantages of ADD in a High Tech Career.

I find that a great number of graduate students and faculty have characteristics of ADD. The same benefits apply for academia as well. In my own case, the ability to hyperfocus (#1 on the list), work efficiently (#2), and constant environmental awareness (#8) have all contributed to my career as an anthropologist.

In other news, the manufacturers of Ritalin have been forced to give it a black-box warning by the FDA, the most severe warning label possible, due to the danger to the cardiovascular system. I personally have never taken Ritalin, for fear that it would take away the gifts that ADD provides.

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