Monthly Archives: November 2010

D7000 or D300s?

I’ve been meaning for a while now to upgrade my camera body (a Nikon D40), and had pretty much decided on a Nikon D300s body. Then the D7000 body was announced, and the specs turned out to be so close to the D300s that it raised the question of whether the extra few hundred bucks for the D300s would be worth it. Prices on the D300s seem to have come down just a tad since then (or maybe that’s my imagination), and the D7000 body is still hard to get a hold of if you don’t want the kit lens. I had actually been leaning towards the D7000, since it does have some nice features that seem to improve on the older body, such as higher ISO capability, and better video function. This was in spite of the fact that right now I make do with a camera with a practical limit of ISO1600, and that I know nothing about video at all.

So it was a welcome development today when I encountered this review which is actually somewhat critical of the D7000. There’s a lot there worth reading, including the comments. In particular, this comment, does an excellent job of cutting through all the hype and bullshit surrounding the newer camera, taking it down to just a quick, simple summary of the advantages of each body.

What it boils down to is that the D300s is better built, has a better grip, a better autofocusing system (in fact, its CAM3500DX system, shared with the D700, is considered an industry leader at this point), “more professional buttons” (in particular, the AF-ON button, which I think would be useful for my purposes), and can use compact flash cards. The best points in favor of the D7000 are better metering, and better high-ISO capability. It’s also lighter. On the other hand, there has been some question surrounding the shutter release button on the D7000, with some claiming that it’s too sensitive, and can’t be used with gloves. This is important, due to the fact that I do a fair amount of outdoor shooting in the winter, and have no desire to freeze my fingertip off. :) Some have also criticized the grip, saying it’s too slippery, and smaller than earlier cameras like the D90.

Anyway, it’s some food for thought. I wonder how the D300s replacement (D400?) will stack up? Rumors are that it’s due for release sometime next year. In theory, it should blow the D300s out of the water, but things like ergonomics and button-pressure are precisely the sort of changes which really can’t be predicted. In those respects, the newer camera may not be as good as the old. (In general, technology is like that. “Upgrades” always focus on marketable characteristics, and not on vague, fuzzy concepts like “actual usability.” This is why I gave up being a gearhead. It was too frustrating.)

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Today’s Musical Blast from the Past

“Music Box Dancer” by Frank Mills.

I still remember when this was a hit–I was 10  years old!  I could never get enough of it back then, and can’t now, either.

I heard it in passing a couple of days ago on a video I was watching (it was an episode of The Sopranos), and, not having heard it in years, I completely spaced on whatever the dialog was in the scene.  Then, early this morning I had a dream where this song was the soundtrack, where it was somehow encrypted/embedded in some kind of odd video presentation.  I never did get to figure out what the deal was, though, because the stupid alarm clock went off.  But it was sufficient to implant the song in my brain, where it’s been repeating pretty much all day long.

Luckily, it was available on iTunes.  Listening to the actual song is much nicer than the earworm.  And, I believe I may be breaking my previous record for greatest number of plays in the first few hours of having the song…let’s see:  bought it at 5:53 p.m. tonight.  It’s now 7:12 p.m. and the play count is 22.  And no, I did not cheat! :P

It’s a totally delightful song. :)  And here is the Wikipedia page.

The fact that this song became popular at all is really the result of a lucky accident:  In 1978 it was re-released as the b-side of a single which was sent to a bunch of easy-listening radio stations in Canada.  But one copy was sent to the wrong station by accident–it went to pop station CFRA-AM in Ottawa, whose music director liked it so much that he added it to the station’s playlist.  Response was very positive (not surprisingly, considering how neat and completely endearing the song is), and the song’s popularity spread from there.

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Poland: The Warsaw Concert

Currently listening to: Tangerine Dream, “Poland.” This dates from 1984, and is a live double-album (two CDs, for the version I have), recorded in Warsaw, complete with Polish-language introduction at the beginning. Tangerine Dream at this point in history constituted Chris Franke, Johannes Schmoelling and Edgar Froese.

This period in the early 1980’s was, IMHO, the high point for this group, although they did some stuff in the mid-70’s that I liked too. They have changed so much since their inception that they are basically unclassifiable without specifying what the time period is. In fact, I recall an argument a number of years ago between a well-intentioned fan of their earlier work and a self-appointed topic-nazi who insisted that Tangerine Dream belonged solely in the “new age” category. He was apparently unaware of some of their early work, which is more appropriately placed in the “electronic” category than just about any other music. Try “Atem” or “Rubycon” for instance. Yes, they have used some conventional instruments on their albums, but it’s done in a way that compliments the electronics so well that the “normal” instruments are often unrecognizable, unless you know what to listen for.

In any case, here are my favorite works by this group. I considered putting them in most- to least-favorite order, but then realized that, really, my favorite is whichever one I happen to be listening to at the time. This, then, is just alphabetical order:

Hyperborea (1983)
Poland (1984)
Ricochet (1975)

I also recall, from way back then, quite enjoying their soundtracks for the movies Wavelength and Risky Business, which are what initially drew my attention. I never did get around to purchasing those soundtracks, though. I suppose the problem was that, during the time I was most actively buying compact discs, which was five to ten years later, those two hadn’t been re-issued on CD.

Incidentally, this version of Poland is one of the complete versions: Relativity 88561-8045-2. There are apparently a number of incomplete CD versions out there. This one features five tracks total:

Disc 1:
1) Poland [22:37]
2) Tangent [15:53]
3) Finish [4:02]

Disc 2:
1) Barbakane [18:05]
2) Horizon [21:10]

(That adds up to about an hour and twenty minutes.)

Some versions don’t contain Tangent, which is really unfortunate because that’s not only the best track of the five, but possibly one of the best tracks they’ve ever done. Barbakane is also quite excellent in its full length. I’d hate to lose part of it.

The third track on the first disc is kind of a “surprise” track. It’s NOT listed on the box inserts, nor on the surface of the disc itself. It’s not even listed in the CD booklet. Because of this, I never knew the name of it until today, when I finally ripped the discs into iTunes and the Gracenote database told me. (Of course, given the number of mistakes in the Gracenote database, it’s entirely possible that the title is wrong. It’s an OK track, but not as good as the other four in my opinion.)

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