Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Tips to help you buy your first DSLR

So, you're thinking of buying your first DSLR? Great! Confused by all the DSLR buying choices? Not so great. This article will cut through some of the confusion to make buying your first DSLR (also SLR) a little easier. The two different formats for SLR cameras are full sensor and crop sensor. This article will focus on the crop sensor. Full sensor cameras can cost thousands of dollars and are unnecessary for newbies.

Another thing to know is that SLRs are sold differently than other cameras. You aren't buying a single unit like with a bridge camera or other point and shoot. Instead, you will be buying the components separately, or in a kit. This means that you will buy an SLR body, and a lens. Sometimes you can buy an SLR camera body and lens together. When that happens, you are buying a kit.

You'll benefit from a couple of other pieces as well. We'll get to those in a minute. All you really need to get started is a body and a lens, plus a battery and charger. (The battery and charger will come with the camera body.) You'll also need a lens cap and lens cap which should come together. You'll also need a memory card, a padded camera bag to carry it in and a neck strap (which often comes with the body).

The two most popular brands right now are Canon and Nikon. I like Nikon, so these are what I'm showing you. However, Canon is also an excellent camera. You can't go wrong with either brand and Sony makes some great cameras too.

Like cars, cameras come in different models. I'm showing you the information for the Nikon D5500 because that is the one that I shoot with the most often. My husband started out on the Nikon D90 before acquiring my Nikon D7200. You can see how the different models can quickly become confusing. Thus the rationale for focusing this article on the camera that I like to use.

Here are the links that I promised. This one is of the camera body only. There will also be a cap to cover the front of the camera. This picture shows a little of what the camera looks like inside. A cap should come with the body and will cover up the inside of the camera. 

Now let's look at the lens. This photo is of the lens by itself. Shopping for a lens can be confusing. I'll try to simply it. If I'm unclear, just leave me a message in the comments section and I'll try to muddy the waters a little more.

Camera lenses come in different sizes. Although there are others sizes, I'll tell you about the most common ones and give you a basic understanding of how it works.

The size you need depends on the focal length that you need. The most common sizes for newbies are either an 18-55mm, an 18-105 or an 18-140mm. Notice that each of these begin with the number 18. This is a short focal range. It may help to think of a camera lens like you would a telescope. You can't see very far out in front of you if you don't turn the telescope at all (example 18mm). Turn it a little farther out and you can see more (55mm). Another twist and you can see father (105mm) and a few more twists and you can see a longer distance (140mm).

If you buy a camera and lens kit, you'll likely get an 18-55 mm. The lens is good for close up work like portraits. The 18-105 mm lens that is pictured below gives a little more flexibility. The longer lens will let you get farther away from your subject. My husband really likes this size lens.

The other way that you can shop for an SLR is to buy a kit. This simply means that you are buying the camera and lens together as one purchase. Clicking on the link will take you to a listing that shows the Nikon D5500 camera and 18-55 lens together.

Another way to buy a camera is to buy a bundle. This is like a kit on steroids. In a bundle, you can buy everything you think you need, plus the kitchen sink. I couldn't find a bundle to show you for my camera, but I did find one for the Nikon D5600 which is the next generation from mine.

See what I mean about the kitchen sink? This bundle has the camera body, an 18-55mm lens, a 70-300mm telephoto lens, camera bag, short bendy tripod and a lot of other extras. Over time, you will probably want to buy many of the things that are included. A bundle like this can be a good value, but can be overwhelming to a newbie.

If shopping for a newbie I would get the items that I talked about above. Just to recap, those items are:

Camera body with charger, battery, neck strap and cover
Camera lens with lens cover
Memory card
Inexpensive padded camera bag
Plastic bag to keep everything dry when it rains.

Next, I would download the camera manual and a free app or two on how to use the camera. Then I would go out and have fun. In fact, I think I'll go do that now. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The high mile PT Cruiser that could : 400K miles and counting

Want to put high miles on your vehicle? In this video I talk about how I put over 400,000 miles on my car. First off let me explain that this is your average car. There's nothing inherently special about the vehicle. It's a 2005 PT Cruiser Touring Edition. It has cruise control, but little else in the way of fancy bells and whistles. Mileage was accumulated on the interstate and it has been on one of the most dangerous roads in America.

The longest drive has been to Alaska in 2009 and the shortest has been down the block. I've hauled loveseats, people, grills, displays for work, kids and luggage. Basically, it's been handled as your typical family vehicle but with one difference. There is enough high miles on my PT Cruiser to make the oil crew double check.

My video shares my secrets for how my high mile car racked up the big numbers. I hope it will help you do the same.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Hints and Tips for the Fourth of July Fireworks in Etowah, Tennessee for 2018

Fireworks light up the sky over Etowah, Tennessee once again on July 4th. I enjoy the camaraderie and fun of the show. The experience isn't confined to fireworks alone. There are bands, vendors of all kinds, games, food vendors - you name it. The July 4th Committee in Etowah does a fabulous job to pull everything together.

Are you thinking of visiting Etowah for next year's fireworks show? If so, I've compiled a couple of hints  that may help you have a good time.

Dress for the weather.
Check the forecast and plan accordingly. The weather may be hot and sunny, or hot and rainy. There may even be an afternoon thunderstorm. Tucking a rain poncho into your backpack makes sense.

Come early, stay awhile.
The music is good, the vendors and plentiful and food vendors have some tasty treats available. Come early to take advantage of all there is to see.

There is a lot downtown, but spaces can be limited. Plan on seeking out alternative parking. Several businesses will allow parking. Smoky Mountain Outfitters may offer events that end just before the fireworks begin.

Coming just for the fireworks? Arrive early.
This year my husband and I arrived only a half hour before the fireworks. Spaces are at a premium by then. We snagged the last space at Smoky Mountain Outfitters. We paid the price for running late last year by parking at the post office. Learn from our fail. If you aren't coming for the bands or vendors, make sure to get to Etowah a couple of hours early.

Walking shoes for kids and adults.
This is should be a no-brainer. This year, I heard a child crying because her flip flop broke. She couldn't run and play with her siblings. Don't let this be your daughter. Check the footwear before heading out the door to the fireworks in Etowah.

No. No. No. Leave Fido home. Fireworks can scare even the happiest of dogs. What  you interpret as fun, your dog interprets as Armageddon. Unless it's a service dog, please think before bringing your four footed friend.

Didn't make it this year? Check out my video of the fourth of July fireworks in Etowah.