Saturday debrief, and PHOTOS!

AEJ and I had quite a day yesterday. After running two laps around the reservoir (gotta shed those holiday pounds), we took the car to the car wash. Having a white car — and living next to a lot where a house is under construction — the car gets dirty really quickly, and it gets really dirty. We found a good car wash, and then we read that last Saturday, none other than Kiefer Sutherland got his car washed there! It seemed unlikely he’d go two weeks in a row, but we braved the Saturday crowd, hoping for a sighting of the coolest celebrity in town. No such luck, although we did enjoy some tasty chicken mole tacos at the taco stand on the corner while our car was washed. (Unfortunately, I didn’t yet have the new camera, so there are no photos of the tacos.) The car wash also inexplicably sells jewelry and cheap DVDs. This one was on top of the pile, and being huge David Hasselhoff fans, we bought it. (Note the price of $1.99.)

We haven’t watched it yet, but the description sounds fantastic: “An action-comedy about three bounty hunters, [note unnecessary comma] who must capture a very valuable crook – a millionaire’s daughter – and bring her to trial on drug charges! … Lots of car chases and funny one-liners … Great entertainment!” Presumably, that copy — complete with the excessive punctuation (I didn’t add the ellipses) — was written by a native English-speaker. I’m hoping the script is of such high quality. It was directed by Max Kleven — stunt coordinator on Footloose! — so it must be fantastic. I’ll be sure to write a review once we finally watch it.

Now with our newly-clean car, we headed to Best Buy to pick up the camera. I usually wouldn’t do the Best Buy thing, as the salespeople are hacks (more on that in a moment), and the prices aren’t generally any better than Amazon. This time was different, though — Amazon was asking $25 more for the camera, plus I’d have to wait for it to be shipped while Best Buy had it in stock — so we opted for Best Buy. After checking out the camera, we decided it was pretty nice (after photographing random strangers with it at Best Buy under the rather unflattering florescent lights), and we asked some sales doofus to get one for us. First, he said we should buy a second battery, because this camera’s battery “only lasts an hour, and that’s not very long.” Well, that was Lie Number 1, as I knew from research that the camera’s battery would take approximately 240 shots — or last two hours, just waiting for you to take a picture — before requiring a recharge. This was a dumb lie on his part, because even if I hadn’t read that in numerous reviews online before I went to Best Buy, it was printed on the friggin’ camera box. Next he tried to sell us a camera case. They don’t sell any cases small enough for this camera, so we declined. Then, of course, he tried to sell us an extended warranty, because “this camera only has a 3 month warranty.” Okay, that’s the sleaziest lie of all. I know he makes commission on those extended warranties, but saying the thing only has a 3 month warranty when it’s actually a full one-year warranty — that’s low. AEJ was about to leave out of disgust, but I wanted the camera, so I sucked it up, paid him, we got out new toy, and we left. (I’ve since contacted Best Buy to complain about Mr. Liar Liar. I either have too much time on my hands, or I enjoy letting myself get really pissed about things like this. Hmm…)

We headed next door to Costco, which is more fun in concept than practice. We got a Costco membership when we moved to LA, thinking we’d finally have room for, like, 18 rolls of paper towels and 36 1-pound cans of Chunky soup, but we came to accept after a single shopping experience that we had neither room for such things, nor need. Since we were in the same shopping center yesterday, we popped in and walked around. It’s kind of funny to be in there, but I came to the realization that Costco sells things that are almost what I want. Like, they have the brand of gum I like (Orbit), but not the flavor (cinnamon). They sell Sony digital cameras similar to the one we’d just purchased (DSC-T7), but not our actual model (DSC-T9). They sell bottled water, but only Arrowhead, not Crystal Geyser. They sell delicious loaves of fresh banana bread — but you have to buy three. And on and on. So, we didn’t buy anything, but it was fun looking at the 48-pound bags of flour.

We got home, charged the camera battery, and started taking a few pictures. We, of course, started with Loki, who wanted to chew my thumb.

Isn’t he sweet?

Hey, Loki, that’s starting to hurt… Loki… What the… Stop!

Here’s a shot from the loungy corner. (Those are my feet.)

This is AEJ’s vintage ’70s donut phone that she found on Ebay last year. Photographed this close, it looks sculptural.

One thing I love about the new camera is the Super Macro mode, allowing for extreme close-ups.

It wouldn’t be a camera’s first day if it didn’t shoot some food! We ordered Thai.

Here’s that Super Macro mode, shooting across the landscape of egg fried rice.

And here are the spring rolls, their dipping sauce, and more rice.

The Sony DSC-T9 camera is very nice, primarily for its compact size. I love that I can fit it in my pocket, rather than going the tourist route and attaching it to my belt like I had to do with my old Canon. (Nothing says “tourist dork” like a camera on your belt.) So, the size is the best part. It’s also 6 megapixel, compared to my old Canon at 5 MP. No biggie there; I’m not printing posters here, so the added resolution isn’t essential. The colors on the Canon really seemed to pop, and I can’t tell yet about the Sony. (The above pictures are not very colorful, but that could just be because the food was all beige.) I love the Super Macro mode, as it’s going to make for some great food photos. The camera has a “Steady Shot” anti-blur function, and so far, it seems to be helping. (Most of my low-light photos on the Canon were terribly out-of-focus due to slight hand movement while shooting.) I’m not wild about the brief exposure times — pictures seem a little darker than I’d like, even on the maximum exposure setting — but I may be able to improve that when I really learn how to work the thing. The menus are easy to navigate, and fairly intuitive. It has multi-burst modes in which the camera takes a quick succession of photos in case somebody blinks, or, it’ll change the exposure automatically for each picture in the burst series so you’re more likely to capture the shot with the correct exposure. The camera starts up incredibly quickly (it’s ready to shoot approximately 1 second after turning it on), so there’s less chance of that “Loki, don’t move while I turn on my camera” issue that I had with the slow Canon. (The new Canon starts up fairly quickly, too, but not this fast.)

The LCD screen on this thing is fantastic. It’s 2.5″, compared to 1″ on my old Canon. The new Canons have screens this big, too, but they don’t have the resolution of the Sony, so I’m told you can make out actual pixelization on the screen on the C
anon. The display on the Sony rivals that of the video iPod. (The screens, incidentally, are almost exactly the same size. The iPod has a resolution of 320×240, while the Sony has a rather odd 960×240 resolution.) It’s great to take a picture on a digital camera and be able to tell from the LCD how the picture actually looks. On the old tiny Canon screen, the shot would look fine, but when blown up on the computer monitor, I’d see that the photo was blurry and unusable.

To summarize — so far, so good. I want to shoot a bit outside, and shoot some more colorful food. I really struggled between the Sony and the new(ish) Canon SD550. I think the Canon would have taken slightly nicer photos with truer color, but it’s much, much larger (too big for a back pocket – a major selling point of the Sony), the Canon’s screen isn’t as nice (115,000 pixels for the Canon; 230,400 for the Sony), and the Sony has this great Super Macro mega-closeup mode that I expect to use a lot for my silly food pictures.

With 2 1/2 weeks of travel coming up soon, you can bet that the camera will get a full workout, and I’ll be sharing photos as I take ’em. In the meantime, you can read a more professional review here.


Rebecca says

john mackey, you are my hero.

Anonymous says

After reading of your troubles with regards to "BB" sales tactis, I thought you might be interested to read about how they keep score of their false selling success.

Lissajeen says

Unrelatedly - McCain cameo on 24 at 1:32 upper left corner window (!).

Kevin Howlett says

Remind me to tell you about my ordeal with a Best Buy in Charleston when I lived there.

Gotta go, 24's on. My friend Clay, who is a cousin of Kiefer Sutherland(!) got me into it.

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