Monday, December 12, 2016

Small Adventure 50

Technically, Small Adventures aren't supposed to have accompanying photos, because that just makes them a regular blog entry. But, here we are, so what can you do?

Back at the beginning of November I was trying to take a photo with the little pocket camera, and there was this smudge right in the middle of the shot that I couldn't get rid of. I cleaned the lens several times, but with no effect.  A couple days later, I was trying to get a different shot, and kind of by accident I realized that when I zoomed in on the subject, the smudge became a very well-defined little black rectangle. When I got back home, I kept checking the lens for marks, and, again by accident, I held the camera under the kitchen light at just the right angle as to get a small green flare from one of the lenses deeper within the zoom assembly. This, to me, indicated that that lens had gotten chipped somehow, maybe due to temperature fluctuations.

Since there was no way I was going to take the camera apart by myself, I went up to the main train station, to the Bic Camera store on the other side of the tracks, which is where I'd bought it from back in August, 2015. It wasn't under an extended warranty, so I expected any repairs to be expensive, and I resigned myself to the thought of just buying an all-new unit. I got to the service desk, and the guy there told me it was just dirt on the lens, but it would still be something like 15,000 yen ($145 USD) to take the camera apart to clean it. They'd have to send the camera to some other city to have it looked at, and he promised me they'd call me if the cost exceeded the estimate. I wasn't happy with the estimate, but I figured that I might as well go ahead with the cleaning and see what happened. The guy stated that it would probably take 20 days to get the camera back.


A week passes, and I get a call from the service center. The manufacturer decided that there was no point in doing anything with the camera, and that since it wasn't under warranty they'd have to charge me 10,300 yen ($96 USD) to have it replaced with a newer equivalent model. The new one would take different batteries and screen protector sheets, so any existing batteries I had would need to be disposed of (no problem, I didn't have spares). Finally, on Dec. 9th, I got a call saying that the camera had arrived, and on the 10th I went back to Bic to pick it up.

(Sakurajima at x40 zoom.)

It's a Canon Powershot SX720HS, and is priced on Amazon right now for $379 new, and $349 used. For the most part, it's identical to the SX710HS that it replaced. The rubber grip pads on the front and back are different, and it's got a 40x zoom, compared to the 30x of the SX710. They're both 20.3 megapixel, but I had been shooting at a lower resolution with the SX710 just to save on disk space when I copied the files off to the PC. Taking a couple practice shots with the new camera at full resolution looks really good on the PC, so I may keep it at the higher setting, even though it represents a 5meg file per shot. It also has a different microphone setup, which gave me a much louder sound when I recorded one of the live bands during the Amu Plaza Christmas Market event, but it was fairly hissy, which I don't like. On the other hand, the song was kind of quiet, so maybe it will be better with louder songs (I hope so).

(The moon at x40)

I don't really like having to replace cameras every 1-2 years, but at $100 for this level of upgrade, I can swallow the cost. Then I waited for the moon to come out again to see how well this little guy could handle that. There's no specific "Moon" setting in the menu, just "Night Scene". Instead, I changed to Aperture control, and I kept having to press the focus button to get the camera to correctly auto-adjust to the light levels of a near-full moon. That part was inconvenient, because I had to take 10 photos just to get the one that came out right. That means this camera is poorly suite for shooting the moon, but it's not completely 100% useless for it.

Additionally, when I was down at City Hall and Dolphin Port on Sunday, the weather was really nice and the birds were out. I took a couple test shots of Sakurajima, and those turned out nicely. Plus, there were what I think are swallows that were chasing insects near the boulevard in front of City Hall. I was at least 40 feet from them, and the little camera did a pretty good job on their feathers at that distance. So, I'm happy with that, and I'll be using this camera as my default "on the street" go-to camera. It does have a "Continuous" mode, where it keeps taking photos while the button is pressed. I kept forgetting to use that over the weekend when I was looking at action shots, so I'll need to test that out at the next live music event.

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