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23 July 1969, Wednesday

Olympus 35 SP Review

Olympus 35 SP (1969 - 1975).

NEW: Olympus 35 SP Review.

My favorite fun 35mm camera, the 35 SP has Vacation! written all over it.

I've spent a year on and off writing this review; it has more details about the 35 SP than anywhere.

Since we're back in 1969 this week celebrating America's Lunar landing, let's explore this very popular camera that was also introduced in 1969.

In fact, everything that people today associate with the future and advanced technology all came from the 1960s. Space flight, consumer use of transistors and the Integrated Circuit, and the Boeing 747 first flew in February 1969.

Think the Internet is hot? That was invented by the US military's DARPA lab back in 1969 as well, called the ARPA net back then. It started working in October 1969.

Groovy baby!

Even the Space Shuttle design was started back in 1968.


22 July 1969, Tuesday: Trans-Earth Coast

45 years ago today, the astronauts are coasting back to earth.


21 July 1969, Monday: Lunar Ascent


Ascent. enlarge.

45 years ago today at 9:54:01 AM PDT (12:54 PM EDT, 17:54 UT, MET 124:22:01) the first men to visit the moon lifted off in the Eagle (the ascent stage of the Lunar Excursion Module, LEM) to return to the Command and Service Module (CSM).


The Ascent Module of the LEM approaches the CSM. enlarge.

Once docked with the CSM, the men climbed back in, and the Eagle was jettisoned for lunar orbit at 5:01:01 PM PDT (8:01PM EDT, 00:01:01 UT). It should have crashed back into the moon a few months later; no one tracked it and so no one has any idea where it is.

At 9:54:42 PM PDT (12:54 AM EDT, 04:54 UT), Trans-Earth Injection (TEI) began with a 2 1/2 minute firing of the CSM main engine.

As we learned during the TLI (translunar injection) on 16 July 1969, the TEI pushes the Command and Service Modules out of Lunar orbit on their way back to Earth.

Once the TEI is complete and the CSM is on a transearth path, all it does is coast for the next three days until they arrive back at Earth for reentry.


July 20, 1969


20 July 1969: The End of Impossible

45 years ago at 7:56:15 PM PDT (10:56PM EDT or 02:56 UT tomorrow), Neil Armstrong got out of the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module):

First Step

Neil Armstrong's First Step on the Moon. (as seen on on TV.)

Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface, saying: "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

Neil Armstrong had just become the first living thing in history to set foot on any other celestial body.

As the most important event in all human history, one-sixth of the Earth's population watched this live on TV, and TV was still in its infancy. People lucky enough to have TVs usually only had B&W TV, if anything.

Buzz Aldrin followed 19 minutes later. Neil Armstrong snapped this photo with the Hasselblad:

Aldrin egress

Buzz Aldrin steps out and descends to the surface of the Moon. bigger.

Armstrong was such an extraordinary pilot that he made things more difficult for himself. The legs of the LEM were articulated and full of crunched tinfoil so that the tinfoil would crush on touchdown, letting the legs compress and absorb any impact. They landed so perfectly that the landing gear didn't need to compress — it was a gentle, smooth landing.

This left the LEM higher than intended, so there was a big distance from the bottom rung of the ladder to the surface of the moon. John Devaney, a Grumman engineer on duty in Houston, was afraid that it might have been so high that they wouldn't be able to to climb back into the LEM!


Footprint. Bigger.

Read more live coverage.


Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

I use Adorama, Amazon, eBay, B&Hand ScanCafe. I can't vouch for ads below.

Phil Steele Event shooting

Phil Steele Training

19 July 1969, Saturday

Canon 16-35mm IS Review

Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS L.

NEW: Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS L Review.

Canon's sharpest ultrawide ever!


Forty Five Years: End of Translunar Coast

45 years ago today, the astronauts fired their rocket engines to slow enough to enter lunar orbit. They were hurtling towards the Moon at an average speed of about 3,500 miles per hour for the past three days.

Today at 10:21:50 AM PDT (1:21PM EDT or 17:21:50 UT), Apollo XI turned around and fired its main engine for just over 6 continuous minutes (357.5 seconds) while pointing away from the moon so that they could slow down and enter lunar orbit. How powerful is this braking effect? About 1.2 Gs, or about 30% stronger than the brakes on your car at maximum, and they put up with this again for six minutes to slow down. Imagine going so fast you had to lay on your brakes as hard as you can for six minutes to haul it down!

After they slowed down, they made another 17 second burn to perfect and circularize their lunar orbit for the universe's first lunar landing tomorrow.


18 July 1969, Friday

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Review

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8.

NEW: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Review.


Pre-orders rule while laggards drool!

To get hot gear while it's still hot, you have to order now and be patient.

Many of those of us who placed our orders for our Nikon D810s the day they were announced already have them on their way to us. Mine shipped out to me today.

Laggards who wait to "read the reviews" or hold one before they buy theirs might have to wait a long time until all the orders already placed a month ago get filled.

It's been this way for at least thirty years when the indomitable Nikon F4 came out in 1988 and people were on waiting lists for months, waiting to pay hundreds of dollars above list price just to get theirs while it was still cool.

When Nikon introduced their first consumer DSLR, it was a year and a half until anyplace had a D100 actually in stock. You had to order and wait. It was the same in the 1930s for the LEICA SUMMAR 50mm f/2 lens, and the same when the Fuji X100 came out.

It's always this way. Whenever something really worth having comes out, there will be a while until all the orders get filled. You have to be sure you're the first to order to be the first to get yours, duh.

Here's a critical point some people still don't realize: when you order online from approved sources, you almost always have about a month to return it for a full cash refund for any reason, and you don't get billed until it actually ships.

That's right: order from an approved source as soon as it comes out, you'll get yours first, you can play with it all you want and decide for yourself how much you love it or not, and if you really hate it, just send it back for a full cash refund, of course so long as it goes back exactly as it came to you.

In addition to better price, selection and service online (and via mail order before online), full cash refund return policies are why I haven't bought at retail since the 1970s. You can't get that if you're foolish enough to buy at retail, and worse, no retail store gets as many cameras shipped to them as do giants like Adorama, B&H and Amazon. It doesn't matter if your local dealer has you on his list if he doesn't get enough cameras to fill your order.

Today as always, I get the hot stuff first simply because I order it as soon as I can and wait patiently. The silliest thing you could do is to cancel one order and then reorder someplace else, putting you at the back of the line.

If you have a local single-store, family-owned real, live camera store you like, swell. Adorama and B&H are also local, single-store, family-owned stores, as is OC Camera in Southern California. These are great if you have one close you love, just never waste your time and money at stores with more than one location.


Forty Five Years: Translunar Coast

45 years ago today, the astronauts were still coasting on their way to the moon.

Two days ago they burnt through over a million gallons of fuel just to lift off and get into earth orbit at 24,245 mph (7 miles per second or 18 times the speed of a rifle bullet). They started at 24,245 mph as they glided away from Earth, slowing from Earth's gravity, and then at 43,495 miles from the moon they started speeding up again as the Moon's gravity pulled them in.

What made this space travel instead of just going in circles around the earth was the TLI (translunar injection) burn two days ago, during which they accelerated at 1.3 Gs for about six minutes to get going out of orbit and on to the moon. They accelerated like crazy, then coasted for a few days.

Their rockets won't fire again until tomorrow when they are needed to slow down to enter lunar orbit.

This is what America does. The gauntlet has been down for 45 years as of Sunday. We're waiting for whoever wants to be number two to get to the moon. Oops - we already did that, sending six craft to land a dozen men on the moon and bring them all back safely. Hats off to China who has sent an unmanned rover to the moon in 2014, but no one else has come close to landing man #13 on the moon. Please can't someone land the first woman or child or at least someone else — anyone else, from anywhere — on the moon? Is America really 45 years more advanced than the rest of the world, or has the whole world gone back to its caves to read the Internet all day instead of accomplishing anything great? Who are the heros today, someone with a popular Twitter channel? The new dark ages have been creeping up on us and few people bother to notice. The movie Idiocracy is true; am I going to have to design my flying car myself? Well, that's always been the American way: if you want it, invent it.

It doesn't matter what you do, so long as you do something. Pick a goal and stick to it. We didn't get to the moon by letting ourselves get discouraged when whiners said it was impossible. America's conquest of the moon proves that nothing is impossible.

We got to the moon with less computer power than my digital watch. Your hardware is irrelevant; what you do with it is everything. In the days of Apollo, most engineering calculations were done on slide rules; few engineers had pocket calculators until the 1970s. Everything at home ran on vacuum tubes in the Apollo era. 1 MHz 8086 DOS PCs were a decade away, and even in the 1980s were shared resources for engineers; engineers didn't get PCs on every desk until around 1990.

Men made it to the moon using mostly slide rules, guts and intuition. Take some risks and d you just might succeed.


17 July 1969, Thursday

Forty Five Years Ago: Translunar Coast

45 years ago our astronauts were in translunar coast on their way free from earth's gravity on their way to the moon.


New Tokina 70-200mm VR FX lens

Tokina 70-200mm f/4 VR for Nikon: $1,099.00 with free US shipping. This is Tokina's replacement for the Nikon 70-200/4 VR. Seeing how the real Nikon 70-200 only costs $300 more, I'd step up directly to Nikon, which we know offers superior performance and of course long-term compatibility with future cameras.

Not orderable yet is the Tokina 70-200mm f/4 IS for Canon. This is Tokina's replacement for my favorite Canon 70-200/4 IS. Seeing how the real Canon 70-200 IS sells for only $100 more than the Tokina copy, you'd have to be an idiot to wait for the Tokina for Canon when you can get the real Canon 70-200 you want today. I own the Canon 70-200/4 IS, which I've owned since they came out in 2007 and is my favorite Canon tele.


Half off Black Magic PocketCine Camera

BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera: Reg: $995.00, Special: $495.00 + free batteries (2 x BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera Battery) and free US shipping.


16 July 1969, Wednesday

NEW: Canon Ultrawide Lens Sharpness Comparison.


NEW: Film Look vs. Video Motion Smoothing.


Forty Five Years: Launch and Translunar Injection

launch c

Apollo XI liftoff at 6:32AM PDT (9:32 A.M. EDT, 13:32 UT), pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA, 16 July 1969

Forty five years ago the world watched as America launched Apollo XI, the first craft to bring Americans to walk on the moon.

See my live coverage.


15 July 1969, Tuesday

Forty Five Years

Forty five years ago the world eagerly anticipated the launch Apollo XI, the first craft to bring Americans to walk on the moon.

See my live coverage.


Easy Prints - cheap!

Katie wanted some photo prints of me and her together for a crafts project.

As I worked the online order at Costco, Katie saw the option to have them mailed to us. She wanted to do that, and I was curious what it would cost to save us the trip.

I tried it, and it's free to have them mailed to you, promised in about a week.

For a total of three dollars, we have a couple dozen prints on their way to us.

Of course Katie thought we could go to our mailbox right now to get them, and didn't quite get it when I said we'd have to wait. She then thought that "wait" meant later this afternoon.

I ordered three sets of 6 prints. One was for Katie, one for me and one to send to my mom.

I got curious if I could order a set and have them sent directly to my mom, saving me having to repackage the third set and mail it at my expense. I ordered another set for a total of 85¢, including free shipping.

That was easy!


Pentax XG-1

Pentax XG-1 (52X Optical Zoom): $396.95 with free US shipping.


Manfrotto Tripod Deal

Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod with Backpack: $298.99.

You pay $398.99 with a $100 Mail-in Rebate. Final price after mail-in rebate: $298.99.


Samsung Coupons

Samsung Summer Coupon Sale, including NX mini, GC200, NX30, NX300, NX GN120, and more!

Coupon code: SAMSUNGSUM

Expires 31 July 2014.


Ricoh GR

Ricoh GR Pocket Camera Bundle: $796.95 (bundle savings of $427.95), and also includes 4% Adorama rewards and free US shipping.

Expires 28 July 2014


Pentax K3

Pentax K3 Bundle: $1,296.95 (bundle savings of $414.90), and also includes 4% Adorama rewards and free US shipping.

Expires 28 July 2014


Lexar Cards

Save up to 45% on Lexar Memory starting at $12.95 .

Expires 26 July 2014



Wacom Intuos5 PTH450 Touch Small Pen Graphics Tablet (Refurbished By Wacom USA): $109.99 (Regular $169.99) including free US shipping.

Expires 25 July 2014



LG 42LB5600 42" HDTV: $359 including free US shipping using Coupon code S071470711 at checkout (Regular $429).

Expires 30 July 2014


14 July 1790, Fête du quatorze juillet

R. I. P. Lorin Maazel

Esteemed conductor Lorin Maazel passed away yesterday. The NY Times has a good article on his life and times.


R. I. P. Tommy Ramone

As the last surviving band member, The Ramones now becomes classical music. Librarians hate when this happens since they now have to recatalog and move all the Ramones CDs and LPs from MR to EC call numbers, both on the stacks as well as in the catalogs.



Now that I'm back from the weekend, I need to get my Canon ultrawide comparison written.


Panasonic GH4 in-stock

Panasonic GH4: $1,697.99 with free US shipping.


12 July 2014, Saturday

Fuji X100S

Katie at the park for a concert at dusk

Katie at the park for a concert at dusk. (Fuji X100S, f/2 at 1/38 at Auto ISO 6,400, flash ON, Athentech Perfectly Clear.) bigger.


Beatles concert at the park under monlight

Beatles concert at the park under moonlight. (Fuji X100S, f/2 at 1/20 at Auto ISO 6,400, no flash and most certainly no tripod, Athentech Perfectly Clear.) bigger.

Wow, after I snapped the kids at camp in the morning, I had no idea how perfectly my X100S would balance flash with near-dark dusk, and also let me shoot under moonlight without flash, all hand-held and all with perfect exposure on the first shot. With my X100S, I'm never wasting time looking at my LCD and tweaking after each shot; they just come out right the first time, every time.

No mirrorless camera, not even the X100S, replaces a DSLR. I need both: DSLR for serious work, and X100S for everything else to carry everywhere. The X100S gives better images for these shots as I show here, while if I have the time to piddle, for nature and landscape and architecture and things that hold still, the DSLR rules.

The X100S costs the same or less as another good DSLR lens or body. Get an X100S and of course keep your DSLR as well — neither replaces the other.


11 July 2014, Friday

Got your X100S Yet?

Katie arrives at Critter Camp

Ryan arrives at Critter Camp. (Fuji X100S, f/4 at 1/140 at Auto ISO 800, flash ON, Athentech Perfectly Clear.) bigger.


Ryan and Katie at the first day of Critter Camp.

Ryan and Katie at the first day of Critter Camp. (Fuji X100S, f/4 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 800, Athentech Perfectly Clear.) bigger.

While I'm loving my new Canon 16-35 IS, Canon's sharpest ultrawide ever made, for the same price as one more lens you can get a Fuji X100S, which amazes me every day as I snap my kids going about their business. There is no better camera for family and people photos than the X100S, and it's a lot less expensive than any of the inferior cameras that try to compete with it, like the LEICA M typ 240. The M240 is for landscapes and for people to brag that they own it, but not ideal for making people photos. The M240 is OK for landscapes, but my D810 or 5D Mk III is better for less money as well.

The colors and sharpness and dead-on fast focus and everything about my X100S never cease to amaze me, and the X100S and superior 23mm f/2 ASPH combo sell for less than most bodies or cameras alone. If you don't have yours yet, you need to get one and carry it everywhere.

I got harassed when I brought my 5D Mk III and 16-35 IS to camp on Tuesday, but no one noticed when I brought my X100S there on Monday and again today. That tells you something else important: you can get more places and get more shots with the X100S than you can with a big, scary DSLR.


09 July 2014, Wednesday

NEW: Nikon 400mm f/2.8 Lenses Compared.


Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR

Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR.

NEW: Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR Review.

The 2007 version.

Every Nikon and Canon 400/2.8 is optically spectacular and focuses ultrafast. We select which is best for us based on size, weight and close-focus distance; even VR isn't really important.

For all-day pro use, the newest 400/2.8 FL is significantly lighter and is the only choice, while any of them is fantastic for nature and landscape use if you don't mind carrying it.


Nikon D810 - D800 compared

I just added Nikon's comparison between the new D810 and the old D800 and D800e to my D810 Review.


08 July 2014, Tuesday

DX Dream Team Updated

No big deal, but I added the 18-300mm lenses to the DX Dream Team page.

Any of the 18-200 or 18-300 lenses can replace the rest of the dream team, depending on your preferences


North Coast Photo Lab on Facebook

I found my favorite Photo Lab on Facebook. They've posted all sorts of current photos shot by people with all sorts of cameras.


Secrets of iTunes

I just updated Secrets of iTunes: How to Import CDs. I updated it for iTunes 11; when I wrote the article in 2006, we were all on iTunes 6.

The optimum data rates and file formats haven't changed, but how you set them in iTunes has.

Good news is that I used Beyer DT990 headphones when I did my research in 2006, and when I retested it again last year with the STAX SR-007 Mk II, the numbers are the same: 160 kbps AAC VBR is completely transparent for the most difficult classical music. I ran an acid test (still not written up) where I A/Bed the output of a high-end 35-pound CD player with the same disc as encoded in iTunes at 160 kbps AAC VBR as played-out from the analog output of my 2011 4th-generation iPod Touch.

The results of the acid test was that the two were indistinguishable! When they system was all aligned, there was no change in sound when the A/B switch was flipped. With the STAX it's easy to hear even the shape of the room in which the music is performed, and even that didn't change as I spent hours A/Bing with the most difficult recordings I could find. There are plenty of audible defects when using equipment of this resolution, and these were all in the original recordings; nothing changed as I swapped between the two players. You'll never read about this in mainstream media who want you to buy fancy players; au contraire, plug your iPhone directly into your HiFi and you're done.


Canon 7D Deals!

Instant rebates of up to $600 through August 2.

Canon 7D Review.

Canon 28-135 IS Review (Full-frame lens with no wide-angle ability on the 7D.)

Canon 18-135 IS Review (Lens with wide-angle ability optimized for the 7D.)

The key between these deals is that you can get a 2% future rewards card from Adorama or a few accessories, each for the same price.


Canon EOS-7D body

Canon 7D Body: Reg: $1,499.00, Instant rebate: $500.00 = Final price of $999.00 with free US shipping and 2% Adorama rewards.

Canon 7D Body with 16GB Card, Bag and Cleaning Kit: Reg: $1,499.00 Instant rebate: $500.00 = Final price of $999.00 with free US shipping.


Canon 7D with 28-135mm lens

Canon 7D with 28-135mm IS Full-Frame Lens: Reg: $1,699.00, Instant rebate: $600.00 = Final price of $1,099.00 with free US shipping and 2% Adorama rewards.

Canon 7D with 28-135mm IS full-frame lens and 16 GB Card, Bag, Cleaning Kit and 72 mm UV Filter: Reg: $1,699.00, Instant rebate: $600.00 = Final price of $1,099.00 with free US shipping.


Canon EOS-7D with 18-135mm lens (recommended):

Canon 7D and 18-135mm IS Lens: Reg: $1,799.00 Instant rebate: $500.00 = Final price of $1,299.00 with free US shipping and 2% Adorama rewards.

Canon 7D with 18-135mm IS lens, 16GB Card, Bag and Professional Lens Cleaning Kit: Reg: $1,799.00 Instant rebate: $500.00 = Final price of $1,299.00 with free US shipping.


04 July 1776, Independence Day

Fireworks at Aviara Four Seasons

Fireworks. bigger. (Nikon D800E, Nikon 24mm f/1.4 G, program auto gave f/1.4 at 1/30 at Auto ISO 6,400, Matrix meter, autofocused once on Ryan then set to MANUAL focus to hold, VIVID Picture Control at +3 Saturation, A3 M1 AWB.) bigger.

How to Photograph Fireworks.


03 July 2014, Thursday

NEW: Canon Ultrawide Sharpness Comparison.


02 July 2014, Wednesday

In Stock: Sony A7S.

$2,000 off: Pentax 645D.

$50 off: Pentax K-50 kits.



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2005 ~ 2009


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