Change of Season, Change of Camera.

I hereby declare Spring to have officially arrived in Edmonton! Winter put on a good show in the last week of February and the first week of March but the Season has turned. I shall now refer to any subsequent snowfalls as Spring Snowstorms. As the  arrival of the new season has coincided with the arrival of a new camera in our household a good number of photos are in order.

I’ve been using two cameras to take the photos for this blog. My main camera has been a Pentax Optio W10. I bought it about 5 years ago and though it has served me well, technology has marched on and its 6MP is no longer satisfactory. When I don’t happen to have the Pentax with me I use my cell phone to take pictures and it is woefully inadequate. I very rarely spend money on electronics so I have been procrastinating upgrading to a new camera for some time now.

My old camera had the benefit of being waterproof. Years ago, I became a believer in spending a little more for rugged electronics when our camcorder died after a trip to the beach. Although we were very careful with it and didn’t bring it anywhere near the water it still didn’t survive. There are a lot more options for rugged cameras on the market today and the price has dropped considerably. The Olympus TG-610 sits pretty much alone in the middle of the pack in terms of price and function. This was pretty much what what I was looking for as the entry level cameras are not as well built and the more expensive camera are, well, more expensive.  A local camera shop has the TG610 on sale for the same price as the cheapest online prices I could find. Cheaper, as I didn’t have to pay for shipping.

This camera is waterproof to 5m, shockproof against drops up to 1.5 m, and freezeproof to -10C. These are all good features for a camera to be used by a blog writing winter cyclist. Some other relevant specs include:

  • 14 megapixel sensor
  • 5x wide optical zoom (35mm equiv: 28-140mm)
  • 720p HD movies
  • Dual Image Stabilisation
  • TAP Control Menu
  • 3D photo shooting mode
  • In-camera panorama function
  • 720p HD movies and remote operation by HDMI control
  • LED illuminator to lighten up macro sceneries
  • 3.0 inch 920,000 dot HyperCrystal III LCD screen
  • TruePic III+ image processor

I am by no means  knowledgeable about photography so my perspective is that of a casual user.

The camera has a nice solid feel when handled. It seems rugged. When the camera is in playback mode or turned off  metal shutter closes to protect the lens. I’ve found the camera easy to operate. The buttons are nicely raised and instead of an arrow pad there is a sort of mini-joystick. These features make it  possible to operate the camera while wearing gloves

It has a few different modes. I’ve mostly been using it in the semi-manual made that gives you quick access to settings for flash, focus, drive, exposure compensation, white balance, and ISO. This has been mostly producing  good pictures. It also has a number of scene options such as Sport, Candlelight etc. that I have found to be useful. I have a small complaint that it takes a few seconds to scroll through the menu to choose a particular scene option. The camera is perhaps not as good at low light situations as it could be but it is still an improvement over my old one. In a pinch the camera can be used to take relatively decent video. It’s actually better than my camcorder. But that, too, is rapidly approaching obsolescence.

Here are a few pics of the last bit of winter.

A little powder that escaped the fenders.

Once the weather warmed up things started to get wet as all that freshly fallen snow melted. First, a short video and then a few pictures.

This delta formed as the hardpack melted.

The daily melt cycle usually results in this hill being pure ice in the morning after overnight temperatures drop below freezing.

Similarly, the slush hardens into icy ridges overnight making for a bumpy morning commute.

There is no shortage of water to splash through.

Some of the puddles are quite deep.

The "Sport" scene setting worked quite well here.