Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Canon 30D

Here it is...

And here's the story of how it got here (drama warning).

On February 21, 2006 I found out about the 30D coming out. At that time the release date (as per Canon's USA press release) was March 15, 2006. I re-did my research about the APS-sized sensor vs full size and decided to buy it. On March 5 I put in the order with Amazon -a retailer I trust, and one I assumed would get a sizable shipment as soon as the 30d was released.

On March 10th I re-checked the status of my Amazon order and saw that their site said "This item will be released on May 15, 2006." May!?! -I rechecked Canon's press release. It said March.

Well, I thought, maybe it's a typo. March, May -it's easy to mix them up. Besides, it says the 15th -coincidence? I doubt it. It's a 1/30.5ish chance. So, I emailed them.

I just checked the estimated delivery date on this item and it says May 16th. I hope this is a typo. This camera is due to hit the shelves on March 15th, so I would think I should receive it on MARCH 16th (since I selected 1 day shipping). Could you confirm the estimated delivery day so I can either sit
back and wait or cancel the order and find another supplier for this camera? I've been literally counting down the days until it's arrival.

Their response (same day):

Greetings from Amazon.com.

We apologize for any frustration you've experienced. It is certainly
not our intention for our customer to have anything but a pleasant
experience at Amazon.com.

I have checked your order and found that "Canon EOS 30D 8.2MP
Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)" is going to be released on May 15,
2006. If you do not want to wait until that period I would request
you to cancel this item from your order. We do not charge you until
the item is being shipped.

The following details about this item are available on the site.

Availability: This item will be released on May 15, 2006. You may
order it now and we will ship it to you when it arrives. Ships from
and sold by Amazon.com.

Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.

Best regards,

Amazon.com Customer Service
Hmm... Could the release date have been pushed off? I called Canon and the lady on the phone said it was due on MARCH 15th. To double-check I called Wolf Camera and confirmed with them that they expected the camera on March 15th as well.

So, I emailed Amazon again on March 13th:

Here's the Canon press release stating that this camera is due to hit stores MARCH 15, not May 15: http://www.usa.canon.com/templatedata/pressrelease/20060221_EOS_30D.html

Also, I just called and confirmed this with Canon. It's supposed to hit store shelves on Wednesday, MARCH 15.

Wolf Camera says they're due to get them in this month as well.

My preference is to keep my order with you guys, but if you really aren't getting them in until May I'll have to cancel and go with Wolf since they will have them this month. The question is... with my order for this camera, I also bought a Compact Flash card to go with it. I have received the card already, but I paid for 1 day shipping in order to get the camera ASAP. If I cancel this order, will I get my shipping charge refunded/discounted? The Compact Flash card is doing me no good without the camera...

Amazon's response (March 27th):

Thank you for writing to us at Amazon.com.

I apologize for any misunderstanding about the delivery estimate for
your order. The "Canon EOS 30D 8.2MP Digital SLR Camera" has not
yet shipped because it has not yet been released. As listed on our
site, it is currently scheduled to be released on May 15.

I have also checked with other online camera and photo retailers,
and I cannot find one who has the item in stock--they show not
available or ships when received from the manufacturer.

As soon as the item has been released, we'll be able to ship it to
you. As per our standard policy, we do not charge you for items
until they enter the shipping process, so you will not be charged
for this item until it is available and we have shipped it to you.

Of course, we understand if you prefer not to wait. Just click the
link below and we will be happy to cancel the order for you.

I regret the inconvenience this has caused, and we thank you for
shopping with us at Amazon.com.

Please visit the following link to provide the information we


Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept
incoming e-mail. Please use the link above to send us your reply.

Best regards,

Amazon.com Customer Service

In the interum I found out that the release day had, in fact, been pushed out -until March 27th, the same day Amazon finally responded to my email. So, I decided to call them. After all, they should be getting them in today (3/27), right? The person on the phone insisted that the 30D would be released on MAY 15th even though I was staring at 2 online retailers that showed them as "in stock".

One of them, Canoga Camera, was selling it for about $60 less than Amazon. One day shipping was about $60. In the end, I'd save a few dollars going with Canoga over Amazon... Hmm... I did some research on the store since I had never heard of them, and I found nothing but glowing reviews. So, I cancelled the Amazon order and put my order in with Canoga around noon.

I checked back with Canoga's site in the afternoon and found the camera to be "sold out". Right before going home I received a call from Canoga Camera asking me to call my credit card company to add my work address as "authorized" so they could ship it to me there. I did so, and later that night got a tracking number from Canoga.

Today, at 10am, UPS delivered my 30D. It was less than 24 hours from ordering it to having it in my hands. Thanks Canoga Camera!

NOTE: Amazon's website STILL claims that the 30d will be released on May 15th. Weird. I won't be doing any more pre-orders with them, that's for sure!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Learning to weld

Ed and I took a tig welding class yesterday in hopes that one of us will quickly learn how to weld in order to get his car back together. The verdict after the class is that I'd be doing the steel welding, and Ed would do the aluminum. But either way, we could both use some more practice!

Here's a picture of my first weld. Let's hope that in a little while I'll be laughing at this rather than being proud of it!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Going Digital.

About 2 years ago, when I first started becoming a little more serious about photography, I took a few rolls of film to a Meijer to get developed. The person at the photo desk informed me that their machine was being repaired, so my photos would take a little longer than normal to be developed -2 hours instead of 1 hour. "No problem" I said, and I went about my day. Later I picked the prints up and headed home.

At home I took a look at the photos and found some problems with them. Here's an example. If you look closely (the scan isn't very good) you can see bands of faded color in the print. Several, if not all, of the prints had this banding although some were worse than others and the effect is visible in the negatives as well. I chalked this up to their machine being broken, and a poor choice of photo processors (Meijer is a discount super store like Wal-Mart).

So, instead of paying about $5-$6 for 24 prints, I started taking my photos to Wolf Camera/Ritz Camera for developing even though the cost nearly doubled. I considered the cost difference to be justified since they claimed to have higher standards of equipment upkeep, etc. Well, about a year ago at Wolf Camera in Hinsdale, I got some prints back with these vertical lines down them. Click here for an example. Again, in this instance, the negatives are also effected.

Now, I don't go through a lot of film, so I'm surprised I've had as many problems as I have had. I figured that the second issue, the one with Wolf Camera, was a fluke, but I've had other minor issues since then. So, I don't trust my prints with Wolf/Ritz anymore either, and I'm at a loss for who to go to next. I looked for a little Mom & Pop photo store, but there seem to be none near by.

Another problem with film is the cost of it and developing. Last time I visited Wolf Camera it cost me over $30 for developing 3 rolls of film, single 4x6 prints, and a CD. The film itself costs about $12 for four 24-exposure rolls. So, that's $3 a roll for the film + $10 a roll for developing, prints, and a CD (which I usually get 'cause it's easier than scanning them all individually later). That comes to a cost of$13 a roll or over $0.50 each time you press the shutter button. For pictures you're likely to keep, that's not too bad, but for practice or experimenting with certain effects, like motion panning, where you can take 3 rolls of pictures to get 1 good shot... well, it's prevented me from even trying.

Then there's the issue of instant feedback. I joined a photography email list about a year ago and I've learned a lot from it. ("Photography_beginners" yahoogroup if anyone's interested.) They have 3 monthly photo contests every month that force you to be creative -I had never even tried set-up shots before, but it turns out I've become fairly good at them. The thing is, that I've shot 20 or so pictures to get the final photo that I enter into a contest. I usually start out with an idea; take some pictures; view them on my computer; change the background, lighting, or whatever; re-shoot; take another look; etc until I'm happy with the outcome. That simply isn't practical with film.

The last thing about film that I hate is having only 100 speed film on an overcast day. Grr. Even just having to rewind a roll of 100/200 with only a few pictures on it so I can load 400/800 for night shots is annoying. I don't know how many times I've had Ed driving around some weird town in the middle of nowhere looking for a store to get some X speed film. Blah. With digital you can adjust the ISO on the fly as needed.

So, I started looking into a digital SLR camera about a year ago and was happy to find the Canon 20D, which takes the same lenses as the Canon EOS Elan IIe film SLR that I've been using. But back in August I had a conversation with a techno-geek and photographer wanna-be who convinced me that cameras with APS-sized sensors instead of full-sized ones were cr@p. so, for the last 6 months or so I've been convinced that I needed the $3000 Canon 5D. Well, that simply isn't in my budget, so I've been wishing and saving and dreaming about getting it -maybe by mid summer.

Well, that changed on February 21. I came across a press release from Canon about the new 30D they were going to release March 15. With a retail price of $1400 it was worth looking into! So I did, and I found that it wasn't much different than the 20D. :-( But it made me look into the reasons that I thought I needed the 5D. Basically it all came down to that full-sized sensor vs the APS. Well, I found this article that explained the crop factor I was so afraid of and it turns out that the APS sized sensor is BETTER for my style of photography (nature mostly) than the full-size.

Turns out this "crop factor" is an easy concept. The sensor is smaller than normal, so the lens will be delivering a bigger "picture" than the camera can use. The effect is a "cropped" picture -some of what you would have seen on the sides and top will not show up on the 20D because of the smaller sensor. (But, the viewfinder shows what the sensor sees, so you don't have to worry about that.) This results in a loss of "wide angle" shots, but improved telephoto shots (the crop makes the photo look magnified since the end result, a 4x6 print or whatever is the same size). To figure out what the effective focal length of a lens will be on an APS-sized sensored camera, you multiply the focal length of the lens by 1.6 (that's the "crop factor" on a 20D/30D). So, my 28-80mm lens becomes a 48-128mm lens. -See how I lost out on some of the wide angle abilities of the lens, but the "zoom" was increased? Now, my 75-300mm lens will be more like a 120-480mm lens. I can't wait to see that!

So, the 20D would have been fine for me. I opted for the 30D to gain the bigger LCD screen, spot metering, and a few other minor improvements. Generally the Canon community has been disappointed that the 30D doesn't include more MP's or any sensor improvements, but seeing how some people have blown up photos from their 20D to 3'x4' (with some tweaking in software), I think 8.2MP will work great for me. Besides, it sounds like Canon may be headed towards eliminating the APS-sized sensors and I really think that they'll work out best for me.

I won't be throwing out my film SLR though. That thing's tough, dependable, and I look forward to using it for some more serious photography, perhaps with slide film to get a nice shot I can blow up BIG to put on display. I'm also looking into getting a Canon 17-40mm f/4.0L lens so I can take some wide angle shots with the 30D (for vacations, etc) and it'd be neat to take full advantage of the lower end of that lens' focal length with the film SLR.

Anyway, that's my news as photo-geeky as it is. 10 days and counting 'til my 30D is delivered. I can't wait! :-D