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Page Updated: Friday, 03-Jun-2011 15:01:49 PDT

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the new Site Map lists + links more than 500 pages

A random visual trip down F707 (my digi-cam) memory lane
and a photo techy crammed ramble about maybe updating.

A short History of JR's Digital Cameras   DARts' new Review Index

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Life as we know it:
The Latest Model Conundrum

My camera is in the shop. And it might never come back. (Well, actually, it's back now, finally — my baby is back. Yipee!

But most of the following still applies.)
The initial, local (Baynard Electronics) "diagnosis" was that it would cost $800 to repair.
I paid $70 for that "diagnosis." All they would say was that "the entire lens assembly needed to be replaced." They would not say what was wrong — a serious deficiency for any diagnosis, IMHO.
They did, however, say that the camera was not abused or misused, two potential excuses for Sony USA not fixxing it cheap ($185.11).
I probably should have just sent it to Sony and saved the $70, but ya never know. I originally thought it must be something simple that just let go.
A new and updated version of my camera only costs $650, so instead of having Baynard fix it for more than that, I sent it to the Sony repair facility in Pennsylvania. I've heard they're quick, but I didn't know how quick.
Turns out Sony was MUCH quicker — including posting it back and forth — than Baynard, who's in East Dallas. Sony's on the other side of the U.S.
The repair, however, was less than perfect. I'd learned to depend on my F707's skill to number each succeeding image (up to 10,000, when the numbers rolled back to zero like a car's oddometer) to precisely locate any shot. I kept the numbers on the images and usually gave them verbal clues, too.
The "repaired" camera now resets the numbers each time I download the latest images, refusing to count them serially, making it much more difficult to track down individual frames.
It also opens too wide when it auto focuses in the dark, startling me each time. And when I zoom in on an exposed image still in the camera, the zoom jumps like a cheap digital camera.
I've begun to think of my trusty F707 as a camera dearly in need of being replaced.
And, worse, I am doubting Sony's ability to repair its own cameras well. One of my clients asked if I was sure I wanted to get another Sony, considering the lousy quality of my supposedly repaired F707. I immediately dismissed the notion then. But now I'm wondering.
Extreme Cropping: 7.6% of a 707, 5 mp shot of the Fort Worth Modern pool
So the editor of this online rag was doing without his — [my] visual memory. When I visit an art show, I take digital photographs of everything that looks interesting. I usually shoot the i.d. tags, too, so I have all I need to present work on these pages.
Lately, I've been shooting a lot of detail shots, to show the more intimate art details. Art is more than just what you can see at a distance.
How I remember that art best is by looking at my photographs of the visit. No photos = not much memory. Usually, the words come almost directly from the digital images, which, in turn remind me what were my initial, in-gallery responses.
story continued below terribly appropriate ad.

Compton will teach Introduction to Digital Photography at DallasDarkroom 6:30 to 9:30 Monday evenings from September 15 through October 20. It costs $285.

Whether you are just begining or a seasoned photographer, this class is for you. Learn digital photography from the ground up from a long-time practitioner of the medium (since 1991).

Six class meetings will cover the PROs and CONs of digital cameras vs film; uploading images from the camera to the computer; using gizmos and cables, manipulating images to print or use on the Internet; improving your chances of a great photograph; and answering and questions you have.

The class will include assignments, student projects and group discussions of work.

A laptop or portable computer would be very helpful (but not strictly required).

Students must have a digital camera, an e-mail account, software and cables for uploading images from camera to computer. (Bring those to the second class, if you're not sure how.)

For more information visit these links:

Outline of JR's Introduction to Digital Photography class

 JR's personal site with links to his Digital Photo pages,

 DallasDarikroom's site for info and a registration form,

 JR's Resume : Photo History : Exhibitions list,

 The recent EatArt story about his camera, or

 JR's DARts Member page,

 Quesstions? Ask JR

I used to write reviews on my NEC 8201 laptop while sitting in galleries watching the art. That laptop was the first laptop imported into the US. It predated even the Radio Shack models, which greatly resembled it. Now, it seems like everybody has a clamshell laptop — the illegitimate great grandchildren of my 8201, which quit decades ago.
Old timers may remember me clicking away at the keyboard in darkened halls during art lectures in the 80s, when DARts was on paper.
I had actually sponged the keys, so they were quiet. It was so nice to get accurate quotes without having them burried in non-random access audio tape. I could actually read my typing. My writing is much less legible.

For awhile, I avoided attending galleries, centers or studios. Why bother, if I couldn't remember anything and then I couldn't talk about what I've seen? Alas! I no longer have the excuse.

 

Publication Quality ImageKota Reliquary
See JR's Home Page for details about these guys.

 

When my camera died in Cedar Hill on July 30, 2003, I panicked. Got all freaked out. Thought I had to go right out and buy a new camera. Even had a particular model in mind.
Then I calmed down and figured I was on vacation from my lifetime photography job. Summer vacation. Not as nice as the mountains, but it was relaxing. For a while.
Perfect for Quick Handheld Studies - Paul's Bowl and Cup
Toward the end of the nearly three-week period, I missed my camera again. I kept seeing situations that need imaging.
There is, for prime example, a wonderful example of Blue Plate Special art in the foyer of the Creative Arts Center (I do their website) that desperately needs photographing and promoting, it is so fine. A stereotypical brightly uniformed, chunky waitress hoists a blue rimmed plate aloft — as if through a crowded cafe — with a big ole' piece of pie on it. Wonderful character, great sculpture. Impressive, fun. By Dallas sculptor and CAC teacher Bobbe Gentry.
It will be much more impressive as a photo than as this pile of words.
You can see it on the first page of the Creative Arts Center website.

The newer model of my trusted Sony DSC-F707 is the DSC-F717 and — as much as I lust for it, the 828 has just been announced. The 717 is newer and improved-er than my 707 — and much more inexpensive than my 707 was ($1,000) or the 828 will be ($1,200). The 717, at least, has long since got all the new model bugs worked out. And for half the price, it's still beckoning...

 

My Friend Richard

The 828 will be full priced for too long a while after it's introduced. Almost inevitably it will be plagued by some gnatty little bugs Sony didn't think were important enough to delay the new model for. But that the very well organized online Sony digital camera community will clamor about — and make up annoying acronyms for — until they fix.

We are all of us the beta testers of this world.

I waited six months after its introduction for the 707, neatly sidestepping the dreaded BFS (blue flash syndrome) and DLS (dark left side) syndromes that plagued early adopters (who just have to have the latest, greatest, and often most expensivest gadgets). Its too-intense red sensitivity, however, was never fixed till the 717, although Sony made many other, smaller adjustments along the way.
Check out the absurd reds in some of the photographs of sculpture at Hall Office Park for examples of the too-red red of my previous digital camera, the lowly Kodak DC-50.
The red sensitivity of the 707 was never that bad. And I've long since learned how to repair it easily.
So the 717 is a mature product available for a mature — i.e., seriously reduced from the original MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) — of $1,000. I could get it for as little as $589.
But I wouldn't buy from a place that doesn't offer a full Sony USA One-Year Warranty, which raises my probable price to $650 from Butterfly Photo and others that get high ratings (+++++) from DealTime and the members of the Digital Photography online Sony discussion group (op cit).
Available Darkness — Lighting candles at the wedding of two DARts
Supporting Members, the former Alison White and James Michael Starr

So, if the question is: Should I just fix my 707, the anwer is a simple Yes: I already paid the $185.11 Sony Standard Repair Fee for consumer units (apparently of anything — TVs, nukers, cameras) less than 7 years old. And 24-something to UPS it to PA. Luckily it got FedExed back within 20 minutes (early) of its over-weekend, projected delivery time.
But should I Buy a 717? I'm hoping not. I'm gonna take special care of my 707 baby till the 828 calms down its price and ups its suitability.
Or wait for the 828? I hope so, but there's too little data, yet, too. Although the digital camera sites are dingy with all the 828's fabulous new whistles and bells.
As Kathy told me last week — and I've told others countless times, there'll always be a newer, better model any time you buy anything technical.
Kathy also keeps insisting that I need a backup camera. Probably at least in part so she won't have to listen to me braying on about these camera conundra of mine.
My tentative contingency plan is to use my 707 carefully, then wait and see what the web says about the 828 by early or mid next year.

Solid Syncrho Ambient Flash — "Udderly wonderful"
cow dancers at the 2002 Winter SolstiCelebration. I
bought my 707 especially for this event in late 2001

 

If the 828 is still way too expensive, I'll pick off the 717, which will be even further discounted, once Sony's new flagship digital still camera is announced.
Much more details about the just announced DSC-F828
Steve's Digicam Preview (my favorite digicam site)
Digital Camera Resource Page Preview.
Partly Truth & Partly Fiction:
828 Rumor vs. Fact
:
When I try to explain this stuff to Kathy as the inevitable part of my decision making, she glazes over even more than I do when she attempts to differentiate this Cerulean Blue from that one. Or oil from acrylics.
Very probably, the new super duper digital camera will (does) start up faster, shoot bursts faster (my 707 is spiteful about bursts — I know where and when the first shot goes off because I can see where I'm pointing the camera when that happens. But subsequent exposures happen when the camera is good and ready and in the dark. After exposure #1, it blacks the viewfinder just to keep me guessing where the subject has flown off to.

The 828 is much faster and offers a choice at burst speeds: Viewfinder blackout for even faster bursts, or slightly slower (but faster than the 717 or 707) with continuous EVF (electronic view finder) viewing.

I'm saving my money up. The 828 will cost $1,200 at the beginning. Maybe down to less than a grand by the 6-month bug out level.

Sony USA fixed my old F707 by replacing the lens, the front element of which is smooth and clean. I should take this opportunity to buy and attach a clear filter to protect it from the scratches and scathes my old lens had acquired in almost two years of use).

Excellent Exposure in a variety of lighting My backyard on a dark, snow day.

What one book (The Complete Guide to Digital Cameras for Dummies [absurd organization but lots of good — and some bad — info] ) calls "The Dirty Little Secret of Digital Cameras" is the fact that the delay between shots or before the first exposure can be sometimes substantial. The camera takes its own sweet time thinking about all those variables — shutter speed, aperture, focus, where it's gonna store all those pesky little pixels, etc.

So newer cameras will take more pictures, faster. My formerly trusty-rusty 707 often delays as much as a a couple of seconds or more, and sometimes simply never does shoot, even while I'm frantically jabbing the shutter button.

It can be maddening.
The house where Kathy's Grandmother used to live in Cedar Hill
The last photo shot before my 707 went under the surgeon's knife:
The people who've lived there since Granny moved on invited us in
and said I could take photos, but When I tried to, my camera wouldn't.
Feedback, anyone?
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Paid Advertisement

Blue Plate Special Seeks Blue Plate Art

Creative Arts Center of Dallas, the venerable East Dallas art school for adults, seeks donations of blue plate themed art for its Blue Plate Special art auction Saturday, September 20. The benefit auction will raise funds for much needed building improvements and expanded classes.

 

For the first time, this year, donated works will be judged — by Cheryl and Kevin Vogel of Valley House Gallery.

 

Cash prizes of $500 and $1,000 will be awarded to winners in both amateur and professional categories.

 

Advance tickets are $40 per person through Creative Arts Center or $50 per person at the door. Ticket prices include dinner; a cash bar will be available.

Join Melissa de Carlo, Rebecca Boatman, Marian Hirsch, Andrea Rosenberg, Pamela Nelson and 40 other artists who have donated work. Some of the art donated may be seen on the CAC Website Events Page.

Art will be accepted until September 15.

For more information, E-mail CAC's Blue Plate Special auction chair Phillissa Russell at philtx@sbcglobal.net.

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