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Friday, January 14, 2011


Is the post office obsolete?

I know that email must have almost done the post office out of business but it seems that if you need the services of the post office you still need to queue.

In my ageing family I am fortunate to have two sisters. The older of the two is quite computer literate and easy to contact by email (except when her computer was down recently). The younger chooses to not use the internet. If we want to stay in touch while I'm off in Asia we have to use snail mail. This has not been proving too easy since I've been staying in Malaysia.

I managed to get one letter off to her advising of my new address and soon after there was a reply in my mailbox. I was pleased. It is good to know that my mailbox actually works for things other than junkmail and electricity bills.

Posting the reply is not an easy matter. My local shopping centre is about 1 kilometre from my unit—a hilly kilometre. I don't mind the walk occasionally. Coming back up the hill gets my heart pumping. I'm sure that's good for me. Last time I went to the supermarket I asked where the nearest post office is. It's another couple of kilometres towards town. I prefer to not walk that. I could take the bus. Actually, I think that might be simpler. My friend rang me the other day. She had to go to that same post office. I needed to post the warranty forms for my two new cameras. She said she'd pick me up. When we got there we drove around all the nearby blocks and there was no parking. Outside the post office there is a clamp zone but there are cars parked there. So she parked and I stayed in the car while she went into the PO. Not sure what I could do as I have neither an international nor Malaysian license at the moment. I think she was gone for 20 minutes or more. There were cops on the other side of the road but they didn't come over our side. Eventually she returned and we hadn't been clamped or booked. : ) It cost 60 cents Malaysian (Australian 20 cents) to post the letter. But soooooo much trouble. Puts me off writing letters.

Fortunately my computer literate sister has come to the rescue. Now I email my letter to her, she prints it and mails it to our sister. Fortunately it's easier to use an Australian post office than a Malaysian one. Problem solved.

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Saturday, January 08, 2011


My two new cameras

Last June, I wrote a few thoughts on buying my next camera. It's taken a while but I have finally bought myself a Panasonic G2. I bought the twin-lens kit and one extra lens, the 20 mm, f1.7 pancake lens.

I already wrote in the earlier blog why I liked the G2 and so far I am not disappointed. I do, however, have a lot to learn as this is my first interchangeable-lens camera. What I didn't mention in that blog was the one shortcoming that is mentioned in any review of this camera, ie it is not equal to an SLR in low-light situations. That's one of the reasons I bought the extra lens. At f1.7, this lens lets in a lot of light. It is also good for getting a bit of background blur happening.

I took it out with me one night recently and took this shot of some fried noodles with chicken and vegetables. This was taken in an outdoor food court with artificial lighting. I used no flash. Photos I took of people on the same evening look just as good. The fz20 made me a fan of zoom. This lens has no zoom. All shots are taken at 20 mm (equal to 40mm on an SLR). And I'm loving it.

Like most cameras this camera has burst mode for when you want to take a sequence of photos of a subject. I tried that on a portrait shot and the photos come so quickly there is almost no difference from one to the next. I've decided that burst mode is almost superfluous. In normal shooting mode this camera will take 3.2 photos per second. Before I got used to this I sometimes took two photos of the subject because I held the shutter button for too long. Now I use this for burst. I can hold the button down and shoot off five or more pics in quick succession.

For some time I've already had a second camera, a Panasonic fx3, which I bought in 2007. I bought it because it is small and I can take it everywhere and I never have to miss a shot. But it has limitations. The zoom is only 3x and it has no manual controls so if I want to get something a little better in quality out of it, it is limited. I've written about this in these blogs some time back, here and here. When I last left Australia I left the fz20 behind knowing that I would eventually buy another camera. For about six months I've been challenged by the limitations of the fx3. So now I've bought another second camera or should I say a fourth camera.

The Panasonic TZ10 is fairly compact but not so compact as the fx3. It has a 3" LCD and 12x optical zoom. It also has most of the manual controls that you would expect in a serious camera. In many ways it does as good a job as my old fz20 but comes in a much smaller package. Technology has improved in the six years between these cameras. Even when I take the Panasonic G2 with me, I still take the TZ10. I'm anticipating a situation when I'm taking a shot of a flower and in the distance I see a bird in a tree. By time I swap to a long-zoom lens it might have flown. But I can grab the TZ10 and get a quick shot. For the cost of the TZ10 I might have bought another lens for the G2. The TZ10 is roughly the size and weight of some lenses and by carrying it I feel I get a lot more flexibility.

With each camera I got an 8GB memory card. That gives me a total of about 3,000 shots on the two cards. The cards are interchangeable between the two cameras. I know some people store all their photos on their memory card. I don't. I download and delete regularly. I can take a lot of shots on whichever camera I wish before I run out of memory.

Photos taken with these cameras are starting to appear on my flickr page. If you compare them with some of what I've taken with the fx3 over the last six months I trust you'll be able to see some improvement.

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