Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gearing Up... more ways than one.

The start of my vacation has been a lot about spending time with family, being away from the phone and the computer and playing with my pups. Recently, my days have filled up with internet research, hands-on research and procuring of goods for upcoming East Coast Adventure.

(Note: Boring camera talk ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

During my summer adventures, especially those at the zoo, I discovered how much I did miss my 10x optical zoom on my old Fuji Finepix S700. But having just spent a decent chunk of change on my new camera, I wasn't ready yet to buy a zoom lens. Until now. Knowing that I will likely be walking around cities on my own and entertaining myself, I realized that I would be wanting to take a TON of pictures... and I might want that zoom. And most importantly, there are pandas at the National Zoo. The panda is my all-time favorite zoo animal, hands-down. So I must be able to take good panda pictures. So after seeing someone with my same camera and a good zoom lens at the St. Louis Zoo, I jump-started my research. After a lot of wading through useful and not-so-useful reviews, I headed to Creve Couer Camera and Schiller's (local good camera stores) for some hands-on research. I had been told to look at the Sigma 70-200 OS Lens by my uncle and at the Canon 70-300 IS and Canon 55-250 IS lens by CameraMan.

Ultimately, I came away deciding on the 55-250mm over the highly recommended 70-300mm. The price difference was just too much to be worth the extra 50mm at this stage of my photography. It's a serious hobby, but I'm not yet taking pictures for $ yet. If that time ever comes, I will most likely have to spend some serious $ on some serious glass. But I'm not there yet.

I was also talked into getting a 50mm prime lens, also recommended to me previously by Yankeediva and CameraMan. There was one that was quite affordable and one not-so-affordable, and guess which one I got.

Additionally, I picked up UV filters for all three of my lenses by recommendation of both camera shops for simple protection, added visual bonus and a small hit to the pocketbook; and I got a chance to talk to them more about filters and such with them which was nice. (I hadn't fully understood the benefits of them.) Maybe I'll spring for a polarizer the next time I feel the urge to update my equipment (that will be a good long while, darn it).

I also had to part with my favorite camera bag the LowePro Slingshot 100AW, in favor of its slightly bigger sister, the 200AW. The camera and all the lenses would fit in the old one, but it was really tight and that didn't include the last item in my photography buying frenzy: the Gorillapod.

I'd seen these, but I had never really seriously considered them until recently. I've heard they're highly useful and there's no way I'm packing that great but clunky tripod of mine into my small suitcase. I'm now a proud owner of one of these. I also bought one for my parents for their new camera (still TBD which model/manufacturer) for their upcoming month-long New Zealand Adventure. (Yes, I'm very jealous.)

I've also had to pick up just plain necessities for the trip in travel-size versions for ease of packing (I'm trying to pack as light as possible.)

Now that I've spent that $, I'm onto the 'free' portion of my pre-trip planning: research. I checked out several guidebooks from the U City Library so I can make lists of places I'm interested in going in the various cities. I'm not particuarly attached to any save the National Zoo. I just want to have a plan of attack, know vaguely where I'm going and how much I'll have to fork out for admission.

I'm really looking forward to seeing all these cities and to seeing all my friends that I haven't seen for a long time. This trip is long overdue for many of these friends... I just haven't had the free time in my schedule until now.

Enough yapping, I promise the picture posts will return soon. :)

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