i didn't realize it's so late, i got side-tracked doing a bunch of other things and now i'm kind of tired (thanks to some yogi kava stress relief tea) so i think i'm going to go to bed early and do a write-up tomorrow. but my new canon 60D arrived today at 12:15 and it's pretty sweet combined with the equally impressive 18-200mm lens. the fact that i'm still here means i probably didn't win the powerball drawing tonight (didn't even match a single number).

i didn't know how long i'd be waiting for my new camera to arrive. but having waited for packages before, i had a feeling the fedex van would swing by around noontime (UPS? they come late, 7-8pm sometimes).

in the meantime i'd set up my newly acquired wireless webcam facing out into the street from the living room window. i used it this morning from my bedroom on my hand-me-down ipod touch to watch the garbage men in action. i also used it to make sure i don't miss any delivery men coming to the house. the more i use the zyxel, the more bugs i find. i tried recording videos onto a microSD card; i got it to work, but it seems to delay the video stream until the video just froze up and i couldn't get it to work without the delay. i've decided to return the zyxel and replace it with the foscam FI8910W wireless webcam instead.

earlier i had a false alarm when i saw a fedex truck parked outside my house and a delivery guy walking up and the down the street, seemingly looking for an address. i went out to ask him if i could help. he said he had some palettes to deliver, but no packages. so i continued to wait. then at 12:15 i saw a fedex van pull up in front of my house. this was it! i opened the door before the delivery man could knock and happily signed for the package.

i was curious about how these items would be packaged. since they're refurbished equipment, they wouldn't be in a retail box. but would they just simply be wrapped up in bubble wrap and packaged in styrofoam peanuts instead? turns out canon has specially marked boxes for their refurbished items.

camera lens unboxing:

i decided to open the lens first, and work my way up to the camera body. my first impression of the EF-S 18-200mm lens is how big and heavy it is. though large, it's still compact in size for a lens with such a long range. another thing i noticed was how cold the lens felt in my hands, after being out in the delivery van all day. since it's refurbished, i was looking for signs of previous wear and tear, but i didn't find any, not enough a spec of dust. it's essentially a brand new lens.

camera body unboxing:

next came the body. i was happy to see it came with a full suite of instruction manuals (both english and spanish versions) as well as software on discs. the 60D body is slightly bigger than my 350D and without holding the 2 side-by-side, it's hard to notice the additional weight. like with the lens, i was searching for refurbished equipment signs. as far as i could tell, the camera was pristine. even it's internal settings were all zeroed out; the very first photo i took registered as image 0001. other than a shorter warranty period (just 90 days compared to a whole year for new equipment), buying canon refurbished is as good as buying new but costing less.

camera assembled:

then came the assembly. i immediately played around the 18-200mm to see how far i could zoom. i almost snapped a photo of a fat asian man walking down my street before i caught myself; the first historical photo should be something else, something noteworthy. so i took a photo of my living room instead, at the widest 18mm range.

camera tests:

i put it through some basic tests. the focus response time on the 60D is faster, but that could just be due to the lens. the view through the viewfinder via pentaprism is dramatically larger and brighter; don't know if i could ever go back to a pentamirror camera now. the difference between the 18mm wide angle to 200mm telephoto is pretty staggering. this makes photography so much easier to have a single lens that can go through a wide range of focal length instead of the way i've been doing it for the past 6 years, which is to swap lenses out in the field. i also tested live view using the articulated LCD screen, trying some above-the-head and low-to-the-ground shots. what i don't like about live view is it take about a second to focus (versus regular dSLR focusing, which takes less than a millisecond). in that way it's not that useful. maybe there's a setting to get it to focus faster.

here are a few observations comparing the 60D with the 350D: the 350D has a small B&W LCD display for the settings, which is lacking in the recent generations of canon's entry-level dSLR. the 60D has one too, but on top of the camera instead of below the viewfinder. the 60D setting LCD is pretty useful with one exception - it doesn't tell you your white balance setting. even the lowly 350D can do this, but it's glaringly missing on the 60D.; buttons that i'm used to being on the left side of the camera body (viewed from the back) are now on the right side. canon did this to create room for the pivot hinge of the articulating LCD screen. but it's going to take some time to get used to, because i'm constantly searching for the menu and play button on the left side when it's on the right side now.; another relocated element is the mode dial. i'm used to seeing it on the right side, but now it's moved to the left. that isn't a big a deal as the relocated play/menu button, since in the course of shooting i don't often change the mode. i don't like how there's a default lock button on the mode dial. i guess it's to prevent accidental mode changes (like being jostled in a bag) but it comes at the expense of speedy mode switch for those times when you do want to change the mode. i used to be able to switch the mode with just one hand, but now i have to grab hold of the camera with my right hand and then use my left hand to press down the unlock button and then turn the mode dial.; there are a lot more shooting modes on the 60D than the 350D. i don't really care about the basic zone modes (portrait, landscape, night time, etc.) but focus more on the manual creative zones. P, Tv, Av, and M i understand, but what's B and C mode? is one of them A-DEP on my 350D?; i like the dedicated focus button on the 60D. on my 350D i changed the setting so the * button was for focusing.; i like the quick control screen, toggled on by the Q button. this is actually where one would normally see which white balance setting is active and change the white balance without having to drill down into the menus.

i left for belmont in the afternoon. normally i'd just toss my camera and lenses into my bag and drop them into one of the rear baskets while i ride over bumps and all; but with new equipment i couldn't bear the thought of subjecting it to such harsh conditions so i wrapped it up in some dish towels and placed it in my camera bag which i wore across my chest.


the canon 60D combined with the 18-200mm made shooting hailey a thing of ease. normally my 350D has a hard time getting a good focus on a black dog. the 60D had no such difficulty. the long range of the 18-200mm lens also meant i could go from wide to telephoto without the distraction of a lens change (which is normally when hailey runs away anyway). and even with my old lenses, i was still missing the 50-70mm range.

2 things i noticed: the 60D has an auto ISO feature. this is super useful as i used to have to switch ISO all the time on my 350D, and would occasionally accidentally be shooting in a high ISO during bright daylight (noisy photos), or shooting with low ISO in dark conditions (blurry photos). on top of that, the ISO value reaches all the way to 6400. on my old 350D it was 1600, and that was with a lot of noise. i'm sure taking photos in 6400 ISO on the 60D also has its share of noise, but with the larger megapixels, once the image is downsized they still look pretty good.

the 2nd thing i noticed was regarding the 18-200mm lens. it's a hefty lens with a lot of glass on the inside. this has the unfortunately side effect of the lens creeping out to its full extension when i have it pointing downwards and unlocked. i never had this problem with my 70-300mm telephoto lens, but that lens also wasn't as heavy as this one. the 70-300mm could also be locked in any position (i think, i'm not 100% sure), but the 18-200mm can only be locked when fully collapsed. it's slightly annoying because sometimes when i'm not paying attention the barrel creeps out and i lose the focal length i was last using. it's a small price to pay though for such a powerful and useful lens. if you told me this before, i would still get the lens.

i also tried shooting some HD videos for the very first time. the first few stopped recording after a few seconds. i didn't know what it was and only discovered it later after reading the manual. sometimes the memory card isn't fast enough to save the video so the camera stops recording. this is strange because i thought i bought a pretty fast card - a 32GB class 10 microSD. maybe the fact that it's not a full-sized SD card has something to do with it? but a miniature thermometer pops up on the screen during video recording. when the thermometer reaches maximum, the movie stops recording because it can't record fast enough. it happens most often if i'm recording anything movie. stationary videos with slow moving objects record longer.

late november garden scene:

broken lawnmower diagnostic:

the reason why the lawnmower doesn't work is because the brake release cable is broken. it's a lot like a bicycle break, with a thin steel cable inside of a housing. it's an easy fix, just have to order a replacement part.

indoor photos:

in all the excitement surrounding the new camera, i'd momentarily forgotten about my 70-300mm telephoto lens currently at canon factory repair service awaiting a diagnosis. then i saw the e-mail. i skimmed it quickly, trying to find out how much the repair will cost: $193. it's actually even cheaper at $179 but an additional $14 for shipping.

so this was the $15 lesson i learned from going to sanford camera repair first before sending it to canon factory: it's far cheaper to get it fixed with canon. i didn't think it'd be the case, given how with things like cars, dealership repairs are always more expensive. but at least when it comes to canon equipment, it's more inexpensive to get it fixed by them. i ended up saving almost $150 had i got with sanford instead.

sanford camera repair
($120 parts, $220 labor)
canon factory service center
($179 parts & labor, $14 2-day fedex shipping)

i quickly called up canon factory to authorize the repair, paying with a credit card.