About That Shopping…

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The photo above was taken from Hopple Island, one of the islands that you cross over while driving on the Long Sault Parkway.  

As I had mentioned in a previous post, once we had finished our little adventure on the Long Sault Parkway, we made our way north to Ottawa.

When we do go to Ottawa, we always incorporate a little bit of shopping while there.  We don’t go crazy or spend all that much while there, but we do like to go to certain stores that you can’t find here in Montreal such as, The Disney store and Build A Bear.

Here’s a little tip:  If you do end up going to Ottawa on the weekend, there are municipal parking lots that have free parking on the weekends.  There is one on Slater St., which puts you in downtown Ottawa and only a few minutes walk from anything.

Before heading off to Bayshore Mall, we decided to park downtown and take a little stroll around to stretch our legs and grab a coffee.  As we made our way up Bank Street, we “accidentally” ended up in front of a camera shop.

Actually, as you can imagine, it was no accident.  I had it planned all along but kept it to myself.  As my daughter would say, “It’s a dad store and not interesting.”  Therefore, I have to come up with creative ways to go to my kind of store with the family.

Prior to going to Ottawa, I had been searching for a second Nikon body for a few weeks.  I had my heart set on either a Nikon D200 or a Nikon D300.  At one point, I came across a Nikon D200 on a local shops website; but before I could get to the shop to take a look at it, it was sold.  My searched continued.

A few days after finding out that the Nikon D200 at my local store had sold, I came across another Nikon D200 on Henrys.com.  Though it was only rated at an 8 out of 10 and before buying it, I really wanted to check it out.  But how could I do that if my only option was to buy it online?

Out of curiosity, I checked to see what store the Nikon D200 was at and to my surprise, it was sitting at the Henrys store on Bank Street, in Ottawa.  The stars were definitely aligned.

I don’t necessarily like going shopping and when I do go shopping, I know what I want.  I am in and out of stores quite quickly.  The staff is probably left scratching their heads, wondering how I made up my mind so fast.  Going into Henrys that day was no different.

I went in, asked to see the camera, tried it out, then bought it.  I think I set a record.

If you’re wondering about the rest of the family, everyone else bought a little something at their favorite store.  No one was left out and we all had a great day during our family outing.

In regards to the Nikon D200, I have only taken some test shots with it and have not been able to really put it through its paces.  Once I do have more time with it, I do plan on writing up a review on it.

Photo was taken with the Nikon D2x and the Nikon 24-85 VR G.

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Olympus TG-3: A Review

In terms of cameras that are fun to use, I don’t think that there is a camera that I have used that is more fun than the Olympus TG-3.  It’s shock proof.  It’s waterproof.  It’s freeze-proof.  Essentially, you can take this thing anywhere and not worry that it might break.

I bought the Olympus TG-3 used a few years back at my local camera shop.  When I first saw it online, I immediately fell in love with it and went down to the shop the next evening to pick it up.

If I remember correctly, I paid $250 for it and it came with the following accessories:

  • Fisheye lens
  • USB cord
  • Wall plug

Before buying the Olympus TG-3, I of course did my research on the camera to learn more about it.  After reading a few reviews of the Olympus TG-3, I knew that it would be a great addition to my camera bag.  As a matter of fact, a rugged/action type camera should be in any photographers arsenal, whether it be an Olympus TG-3 (4,5) or a GoPro type of camera.

Looks:

I certainly did not buy the Olympus TG-3 for it’s look.

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It’s not necessarily an ugly camera, but it certainly won’t win any beauty contests either.

The Olympus TG-3 that I bought is red – the other color that the Olympus TG-3 comes in is black, with red accents.

I would assume the look that Olympus wanted to go for when designing the Olympus TG-3, was a look of ruggedness and they did a pretty good job with getting that across with the design.

Ergonomics:

Well, as you can see from the above picture of the Olympus TG-3, it was not designed with comfort in mind.  Holding the Olympus TG-3 is no more comfortable then holding a block a wood and if you have large hands like I do, you will end up holding it with your thumb, index and middle fingers.  The Olympus TG-3 is a compact camera after all.

Specifications:

Unfortunately, the Olympus TG-3 does not have the ability to shoot in a RAW format (later models do have the ability to shoot in RAW).  So, you’re stuck with JPEG.  Aside from that little caveat, the camera really does not lack anything – keeping in mind that this is a compact camera – that is worth writing about.

Here are some cool features that the Olympus TG-3 has:

  • GPS
  • WiFi
  • USB Charging
  • Interval Shooting
  • 1080p Video
  • 36mb of Built-in Memory
  • HDMI D
  • 15-60 FPS, but only at 3MP (100 frames)
  • Waterproof to 50ft
  • Freeze-proof to negative 10 degrees Celsius.
  • Crushproof to 100 kgf (kilogram force)
  • Shockproof to 6.8ft

Those are some pretty awesome specs & features and are the ones that really stand out for me.

As I said above, the Olympus TG-3 does not shoot in any sort of RAW format.  Along with that omission, here are some other features that are lacking in the camera.

  • No hot shoe
  • No mic port
  • Limited to 1/2000 shutter speed
  • No tilty/flippy screen
  • No touch screen (but what camera from 2014 had one anyway?)
  • No headphone port

The fact that the Olympus TG-3 has no hot-shoe, mic port or headphone port, is quite understandable of course.  This all goes to the fact that the camera is waterproof; therefore, how are you supposed to keep it waterproof with mic and headphone ports?  And who would be using headphones under water?

Anyhow…

None of the features that I mentioned above are being missed by me.

Here are all the specs:

Sensor
Max resolution 4608 x 3456
Image ratio w:h 4:3
Effective pixels 16 megapixels
Sensor size 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor type BSI-CMOS
Processor TruePic VII
Image
ISO Auto, 100-6400
Boosted ISO (maximum) 12800
White balance presets 5
Custom white balance Yes
Image stabilization Sensor-shift
Uncompressed format No
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.) 25–100 mm
Optical zoom 4×
Maximum aperture F2–4.9
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Digital zoom Yes (4x)
Normal focus range 10 cm (3.94)
Macro focus range cm (0.39)
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Fixed
Screen size 3
Screen dots 460,000
Touch screen No
Screen type TFT-LCD
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type None
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/2000 sec
Aperture priority Yes
Shutter priority No
Manual exposure mode Yes
Subject / scene modes Yes
Built-in flash Yes
External flash No
Flash modes Auto, redeye reduction, fill-in, off, LED
Continuous drive 5.0 fps
Self-timer Yes (2 or 12 sec, custom)
WB Bracketing No
Videography features
Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (30p), 1280 x 720 (30p), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
Format H.264, Motion JPEG
Microphone Stereo
Speaker Mono
Storage
Storage types SD, SDHC, SDXC, Internal Memory
Storage included 36MB
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI Yes (micro HDMI)
Microphone port No
Headphone port No
Wireless Built-In
Wireless notes 802.11b/g/n with remote control
Remote control Yes (via smartphone)
Physical
Environmentally sealed Yes (waterproof to 15m, shockproof to 2.1m, crushproof to 100kgf, freezeproof to -10C)
Durability Waterproof, Shockproof
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description LI-92B lithium-ion battery & USB power adapter
Battery Life (CIPA) 330
Weight (inc. batteries) 247 g (0.54 lb / 8.71 oz)
Dimensions 112 x 66 x 31 mm (4.41 x 2.6 x 1.22)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
Timelapse recording Yes
GPS Built-in
GPS notes with GLONASS, e-compass, landmarks

Usability:

The Olympus TG-3 is not unlike most compact cameras, in the sense that it does not have many manual controls like a DSLR camera has.

Many – if not all – of the features/functions of the camera have to be accessed through the menu.  However, the more important functions such as ISO, aperture, white balance, exposure compensation, etc. aren’t all that hard to get to.  All it takes is a press of the “OK” button and then using the 4 four-way thumb-pad to scroll your way down to whatever setting you wish to change.

Actual photo taking with the Olympus TG-3 is pretty straight-forward: just point and press the shutter button.  There is no viewfinder, but the 3″ LCD screen on the back presents you with all the information you need, as well as a crisp image.

Taking video with the Olympus TG-3 is also pretty simple.  All you need to do is press the red button, which is well placed on the thumb rest, and away you go.  Press it again and the Olympus TG-3 stops taking video.

USB charging is a real bonus on the Olympus TG-3 and I feel that every camera should have this ability.  Though I suspect for DSLRs, USB charging would take far to long.

Keeping with the USB charging theme, who wouldn’t like the ability to charge your camera up in the car, through your computer, with a power bank, etc.?  It is so convenient for people who are always out and about.

Speaking of convenience, how about this:  you can transfer your photos from the Olympus TG-3 to your smartphone by way of an Olympus app which can be downloaded for both Android and IOS.

Toughness:

As mentioned above, the Olympus TG-3 is touted to be shockproof, waterproof, crushproof and freezeproof.  I have tested all but two.

I have swam with the Olympus TG-3 in many lakes, rivers, etc. and so far, it has done what it was designed to do and that is, to not let water inside to where it’s electronics are.

So, yes, it really is waterproof.

I have taken it out into minus forty degree weather and it continued to work.  Again, it did what it was designed to do and that is, not freeze.

So, yes, it is freezeproof, even down to -40 degrees Celsius.

I have not dropped the Olympus TG-3 yet, so I can’t tell you if it would survive a seven-foot drop onto concrete.  However, I’m certainly not afraid if it gets knocked about a bit.

With the camera surviving in countless lakes and rivers, with it continuing to work in forty below, I think I will just take Olympus’s word when it comes to their shock-proof claim.

With all that being said, it’s not indestructible.

Photo Quality:

It won’t replace a DSLR or any other camera with a much larger sensor when it comes to photo quality.

The Olympus TG-3 has a tiny sensor, probably not any bigger then what you would find in some mobile phones – one of the reasons why the compact camera market is dead.

I’m not a pixel peeper or a photo geek, so I can’t go into all the numbers about noise, sharpness, dynamic range, etc.  Just understand that the files won’t be much better than what you can get with today’s mobile phones.

If you would like to see some photos that were taken by the Olympus TG-3, you can take a look at the photos that I took with the camera here: (https://d7100shooter.wordpress.com/category/olympus-tg3/)

Personally, I am very pleased with the files that the Olympus TG-3 produces.  Despite them only being JPEGs, you can still tweak them slightly in a photo editing program if you like.

Conclusion:

If you are looking for a compact camera that you can just throw into your backpack or leave inside the glove box of your car, while at the same time being able to withstand the elements of the outdoors, the Olympus TG-3 (4 and 5 are the later models) is a camera that you should take a serious look at.

I have certainly been enjoying my Olympus TG-3 for the past couple of years and no doubt, there are more adventures ahead for me with it.

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Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX

*Disclaimer: this is not a technical review of the lens.  

Out of the four Nikon lenses that I own, this is the only DX lens in the bunch.  The rest are FX lenses and there is a reason for that, which I will explain later on in the post.

The Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens is a compact, fast, cost-effective, prime lens that I believe any photographer should have in their bag (there is an FX version, but it’s about twice the price).

You can pick up a new Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens for about $260 CAD – used ones go for less.  The lens comes in Nikon’s standard, gold box with the following accessories:

  • Lens pouch
  • Top and bottom lens caps
  • Warranty papers
  • Lens hood

A “G” Lens:

The Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens is a G lens, meaning that it does not have an aperture ring.  Aperture is controlled through the command dial on your Nikon DSLR.

Metal Mount:

I have an aversion to plastic mounts; therefore, thank you Nikon for putting a metal mount on the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens.  In all honesty, I really can’t see any manufacturer saving much money by putting plastic mounts on lenses.

Rubber Gasket: 

In order to keep dust and moisture out of your camera, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens has a rubber gasket on its mount.  Now, this does not make your camera waterproof, even less so if you don’t have an environmentally sealed camera.  The rubber gasket merely stops moisture and dirt from getting into your mirror box, but Nikon makes no claim that it is waterproof.

DX/FX:

As I had mentioned above, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens is the only DX lens I have.  The rest of my lenses are FX lenses.  There is a good reason for this.

Though Nikon’s DX lenses are very good, there are two little caveats with them:

  1. The choice of focal lengths is limited
  2. They are not designed to work on FX cameras.

DX lenses are specifically designed to work with DX cameras and their cropped sensors.  This is not to say that they won’t attach to an FX camera or won’t work on an FX camera; but if you do use a DX lens on an FX camera, you are going to get some serious falloff (the corners of your photo will be cut off).  Though you could use DX crop mode, but then what would be the point of having a full frame camera?

Therefore, if you are going to buy this lens, make sure you have a DX camera and not an FX (full frame) camera.

The reason that the rest of my lenses are FX lenses, is that maybe one day I will upgrade to a full frame camera body (D3)- it all depends on how long my D2x lasts.  So if you can, invest in some FX glass, even if you only have a DX camera body at the moment.

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on FX glass either.  Here are the three FX lenses I have:

  1. 50mm f/1.8 G
  2. 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 G VR
  3. 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G VR

Neither one of these lenses cost more than $700 CAD and can be bought for less used – my 24-85 was bought used.

The reason why I am telling you this is because if you invest in DX lenses only and then decide to go FX later, you will have to sell all of your DX lenses and spend more money on FX lenses.

Specifications:

Here are the specifications for the  Nikon 35mm f/1.8

Conclusion:

If you are looking for a cost-effective prime lens that is sharp and good in low light, you can’t go wrong with the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens.  Though, I would not recommend it for a full frame camera.

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Getting There

Driving to Ottawa can be a pretty scenic adventure.

You can either take the 401, the 417 or the 50.  If you take the 401, you have to get off the highway and go north once you’re past Cornwall.

If you stick to the 417, it’s probably the most direct route from Montreal, but one that I have done all to often.

Taking the 50 means you have to go up to Mirabel, which is obviously somewhat out of the way if you are starting off in Montreal, but the highway gives you a somewhat elevated view of the Ottawa river and surrounding area.  It’s not a highway that I like taking much, simply because it constantly narrows and widens for overtaking traffic.  It gets a bit dicey at times.

This last time that we went to Ottawa, we took the 401 because we wanted to drive along the Long Sault Parkway, which you join just outside of Cornwall by turning off of the 401 and onto the 35 (south).

Luckily for us, the colors were still pretty vibrant when we drove down the 401 and I was able to capture a few photos with my mobile phone, including the one above.

I always make sure that I have my mobile phone out while in the car, because there are so many photo opportunities while on your way to a destination.  And honestly, who can resist taking photos of the vibrant, fall colors?

Photo taken with LG G5

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Road Trips Are A Release

When it all seems to be closing in on you, you sometimes need to take a deep breath and re-focus. Short road trips do that for me.

This past weekend, we made our way down the 401 and then turned off onto the Long Sault Parkway.

It was certainly a change of scenery, island hoping for some miles, instead of staring at boring highway.

We then headed North, up to Ottawa and had lunch at a wonderful little cafe in the Gleeb.

Shopping was next on the menu – I will talk about that in another post. We then made our way to a beautiful park on the Ottawa River.

Of course, no road trip is complete without a camera. It matters not what camera you have, whether it be your phone, a point & shoot or a DSLR, what matters is that you can capture moments that you can hold onto.

I brought along my D2x and was able to photograph some nice scenes; though, the best scenes had my wife and daughter in them. And that’s what it’s all about: spending time with your loved ones.

Photo taken woth the Nikon D2x and the Nikkor 24-85mm VR G.
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It’s Been Awhile

In Montreal, it is fall once again, a time for the seasons to change and for the days to get shorter.

Reds and oranges come out to take over the lush, green landscape we have been used to, but don’t mind saying farewell to – at least for a while.

One can not resist the urge to go out and enjoy the cool temperatures and crisp air, all to see the light dance on the fiery colors of autumn.

It’s my favourite season of the year.

The contrast of blue skies with the brilliance of October’s shedding of summer’s greenery, the crunch of leafs under your feet, the imminence of white blankets over our land.

Fall brings me happiness and with this, I hope to make a new begining with my blog.

Photo taken with the Nikon D2x and the Nikkor 24-85mm VR G.

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The Audience

I recently travelled to Toronto and ended up at the Rogers Centre to do some sightseeing.  I have been to this part of town many times before and yet, I still find myself taking photos of all the different structures in the area.

One particular feature of the surrounding area that has always caught my eye is this sculpture:

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As it turns out, this is a sculpture by Michael Snow, called, “The Audience”.  It was installed in 1989 and depicts baseball fans in various states of celebration.

You can find Michael Snow’s work all around Toronto – he is a Toronto native-, even in the Eaton Center.

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