Bridging the Digital Divide

OK, OK I give up – it’s time to store away the film camera and switch to digital for vacations! I’m just too old and weak to be hauling a 35mm SLR and 4 lenses all over Europe any longer.
However, I didn’t want to go to the expense of buying a digital SLR and a whole new set of lenses just so I could take a wide angle photo or two.
I found what I think is an appropriate compromise in the Fujifilm S6000fd bridge camera. It’s cheaper than an SLR and while it lacks some of the SLR features it should do the job.
I got one earlier in July. I have been playing with it a bit, mostly taking pictures of Ottawa scenery while we’ve been down there cat-sitting for Sarah and Dave.
What I like about the camera so far:
(1) Nice crisp photos – a bit cooler than the Nikon CP5000 but very good clarity.
(2) Big solid well balanced camera, easy to hold like an SLR but lighter.
(3) Wide angle to telephoto lens gives 28-300 mm coverage in 35 mm film terms.
(4) Easy to use and setting is mostly through buttons, no need to go deep into menus.
(5) 6 MP sensor is fine for my use without huge file sizes and excessive noise at higher ISO.
(6) Uses normal AA and AA rechargeable batteries.

What I’m not so crazy about:
(1) It uses xD memory which is harder to find and a bit more expensive. Huge 2 Gb capacity is available though.
(2) The electronic viewfinder is dimmer and harder to see than a real optical display, although you do see the whole lens view unlike the Nikon CP 5000 I used until recently.
(3) No way to attach external flash, and the on-camera flash kept popping up when I didn’t want it. I quickly learned how to switch it off.
(4) Can’t go as wide as before, but I think it’ll be OK. I shot at 28mm before I had a 24mm specialty lens and photos were fine.

The S600fd has face detection technology which is a neat feature for snapshots, and although it does not have vibration reduction/image stabilization built in I’m not too worried. I mostly take pictures of buildings and parks in good light and I can put up with high ISO once in a while for an indoor shot without flash.
After 25 years of using an SLR I never thought I’d shoot seriously with any other sort of camera. But never say never I guess.

10 Great Things About Turning 60

Actually I already turned 60 in November of last year but it takes a while to start appreciating why. Here’s my top 10 list so far:

#10 – I’m Retired
After a couple of years of volunteer work in Almonte I am now permanently retired and it is great. No more worrying about blue Monday morning, commuting in bad weather, kissing corporate butt.
We have decent cashflow and no financial problems so why not kick back and enjoy the leisure. I don’t know why anyone would want to work after 65. I was through with it at 58 and glad to be.
#9 – Steam Locomotives
I love watching them work on tourist rail lines, and I enjoy seeing them when visiting railroad museums, but I’m old enough to remember when they were actually in use on the CNR and CPR.
#8 – Great War Veterans
Now that we’re down to our last one I take pride in the fact that I grew up knowing some of these grand old soldiers personally. While I’m sure it’s a great thrill for the kids of today to read about Vimy, I learned firsthand what it was like from a guy who walked up the Ridge that day. RIP George.
#7 – Rock and Roll
I can remember 50 years of the stuff from Elvis to AM rock radio to Woodstock and Psychedelia to Metal and New Wave, Synthpop, Grunge, and Garage Rock. My son in law just discovered how great Randy Newman and Steve Miller are. I knew that 30 years ago.
#6 – Technical Savvy
Unlike many of the folks who are 10-15 years older than I am, I worked with computers all my career and adapted with them. I can fix a PC, blog on the Internet, do online banking without panic. It’s a skill I hope I can maintain.
#5 – Senior Discounts
I get my banking fees mostly for free and I’m now getting discounts on cruises, restaurant meals and lots of other goods and services. All right!
#4 – Pocket Watches
Got my first real one from Grandpa in 1953 and since then I’ve collected a few others. They are works of art and keep time better than modern mechanicals – almost as good as quartz if they are properly maintained. I can remember when people used them too.
#3 – Grown Up Kids
It’s great to have an adult daughter and son-in-law. We can travel with them, help them when asked, give advice if needed – just enjoy their company.
#2 – Decent Health
At this point we’re still good to go on vacations, walk anywhere, do just about anything we want. It’s a good age to be.
And the #1 reason:
– I’m a leading edge Boomer.
All the advantages I had of being ahead of the demographic crowd apply now. The decisions we make today are mostly followed by the mob 5-10 years fom now.
There’s no crowd of retirees competing with us yet for pensions, health care, spots on cruise ships or vacations in February. They are still raising kids and working their butts off. By the time they are ready to jam up the retirement/leisure market I’ll be home and cooled out by the fire (hopefully).

The Toughest Game

I caught a few innings of Major League Baseball’s All Star Game last night. Aside from bringing back memories of The 1991 All Star Game in Toronto (a live event Sarah and I attended) this year’s game reinforced my belief that baseball is the toughest team sport to play well at the highest level.
It’s not as physical as football or hockey, doesn’t need the conditioning of soccer, true. But it’s got to be the toughest when it comes to hand eye co-ordination, timing and the mental element.
Both teams had an awesome contingent of offensive players, and a number of home runs were blasted out of AT&T Park. One even stayed in the park – Ichiro’s inside-the-parker was the first in over 70 years of All Star games. However, the pitching – oh that pitching- is the reason baseball is so tough.
As a batter in an all star game, you start out hitting against the top pitcher in the other league – a guy you likely haven’t faced much. This starter is only going a couple of innings so he’s amped and just going to let it all hang out with his best stuff. He’s followed by another guy just as good and unfamiliar.
In the middle innings the National League hitters had to contend with a hard throwing lefty, then the 100 MPH fastball and nasty slider of a guy who was coming off a recent no-hitter, then Johan Santana’s change-up and 95 MPH heat. And after that they got a steady diet of the top closers in the American League. It’s a testimonial to how good the NL hitters are that they made it close in the 9th.
The fact that a baseball all-star game is a tough low scoring affair also shows that it is a real game played for keeps – unlike hockey where a check is never thrown or basketball where they just run and gun for 48 minutes without any defense.

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