New Camera!

It’s not news that I have a bit of a problem when it comes to technology… I really like my toys! I even like reading about toys I have no intention of buying (curse you, responsibilities!), just to geek out over the underlying hardware.

After playing with my girlfriend’s Canon DSLR, I was quite impressed with what you can do with a real camera instead of just a phone (as convenient as it is). This, in turn, launched me into an investigation of Mirrorless and MFT (Micro Four Thirds) cameras that I could use while traveling. While comparing the different form factors, I was able to learn quite a bit about camera sensors and crop factors, angle of view, and exposure bracketing.

The Winner: Fuji X-E2


The FujiFilm X-E2!

After a great deal of deliberation and reading reviews on usability (digging through menus versus dials, extensive documentation, etc.), lens support (3rd party, and so on), and the underlying hardware, I settled on the Fuji X-E2. Using Amazon Smile, I found a used body and 18-55mm lens for only $580. As I was flying through JFK, I had a hard time saying no to seeing the SkyDeck. 😀

Sky Deck at JFK Terminal 4 Sky Club

All the images below are straight JPEG captures from my camera. While the RAW images were nice, I was so impressed with the JPEG that I didn’t feel it necessary to do any real post-processing. If you are curious, here is an HDR image of the Sky Deck created using exposure bracketing (+/-1EV).

HDR created through Corel AfterShot Pro

Here is what a similar post processed (exposure bracketed +/-1EV) HDR image of the Delta B764 looks like, if you are curious.

HDR created through Corel AfterShot Pro

Overall I am thoroughly pleased with what this camera can do, and I already have a few lens purchases planned for next year.

The Runner-Up: Sony α6000

Sony α6000

While digging through all the reviews and various photoblogs, I came across a lot of high praise for Sony’s alpha line of mirrorless cameras. The α5100 and α6000 had quite a few fans scattered throughout the internet, and the continuous shooting (11fps on the α6000!) and impressive Hybrid (Phase Detection + Contrast) Auto-Focus certainly do impress. The α5100 wasn’t really an option for me since being force to use only an LCD is fairly limiting when you are outside in the sun (as with day-time shots at airports). The Electronic View Finder (EVF) on the α6000 is a much bigger selling point to me than the continuous shooting speed improvement, if I had to pick between the two.

What I found interesting was that the Hybrid Auto Focus has iffy success with the E-mount lenses (even though they are officially supported with one another). The other big problems with the α6000 come down to the lack of in-depth documentation on the various settings (which Fuji has a-plenty, thankfully), and the more “point and shoot” nature of the dials. All of that said, the same things that fall into the “cons” column for me might be seen as “pros” for other users. I can see this as an excellent transition camera, but it lacked the control that Fuji exposes in a more user-friendly manner. I’ve included a few lens recommendations if you’re interested. Give it a gander!

Lens Recommendations


Honorable Mention: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk2

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

Winning the Wirecutter “best mid-range mirrorless” title, Olympus’s E-M10 Mk2 is an impressive piece of technology. The main reasons for this are the fact that it is an MFT (or m43, or μ43, etc.) camera, so it has access to over 70 (relatively speaking) inexpensive lenses and has 5-axis In Body Image Stabilization. There are quite a few features that would be nice for folks interested in video capture and time-lapse (4k time-lapse capture, 60p video capture, and quite a few other perks were introduced). In the end, though, the sensor size is simply too small for what I would like to do, so I opted for the larger APS-C model by Fuji. As with the Sony, above, I’ve listed a few lens recommendations below. One thing to note is that since this camera has stabilization within the body itself, be sure to turn it (or the lens stabilization) off if you use a lens that also has image stabilization. This is most common with Panasonic lenses as they have image stabilization which the bodies lack. If using an Olympus lens with an Olympus body, the camera does all the work for you.

Lens Recommendations

So – there you have it. I look forward to playing with my new toy over the coming weeks, especially over Thanksgiving and Christmas!

What do you travel with?

Staying Sane on the Road

It’s no secret that I spend a somewhat ridiculous amount of time on the road, so I thought I would share my coping mechanisms for staying sane in the air and on the road. Though my main source of entertainment is my phone (music, movies, podcasts… it does it all!), I also love having my Kindle handy.

Kindle Paperwhite

The device for the bibliophile, the Kindle has saved me from countless hours of boredom. The ability to go from book to book on a whim, and having access to hundreds or thousands of titles is truly mind-blowing when you stop to think about it. I recently finished reading “The Bear and the Nightingale” and “The Winds of Khalakovo“, and have started a few more. After having my Kindle for a few months, I can’t imagine life without my Kindle.


  • ars PARADOXICA – Secrets. The Cold War. Time Travel. Physics. ars PARADOXICA is a thrilling audio drama for those that enjoy believable science-fiction and being kept on the edge of their seats. Season 3 is coming this year!
  • Black List Table Reads – Hosted by Franklin Leonard, the Black List Table Reads is all about ear movies. Every season, screenwriters are interviewed, writing processes are discussed, and you get a sneak peek into the way movies are made from the ground up. Mixed in, you will be given stories with professional voice actors. Some of my favorites include “Jody“, “Forever Jaying, 1937“, “Celeritas“, “Chrome Noir“, and “The Other Side“.  Definitely worth checking out!
  • Cabin Pressure – Originally radio series produced by the BBC, Cabin Pressure was created by John Finnemore, and stars him as well. Other members of the cast include Roger Allam (yes, from Game of Thrones), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange, Sherlock, and oh so many other productions), and Stephanie Cole. As someone who loves flying, Cabin Pressure is a hilarious take on the lives on the lives of the employees of a small charter company.
  • NPR’s Invisibilia – Taken from the NPR program’s page: Invisibilia (Latin for invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Co-hosted by Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel, Invisibilia interweaves narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently.
  • NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me – Taken from NPR’s program page: Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is NPR’s weekly hour-long quiz program. Each week on the radio you can test your knowledge against some of the best and brightest in the news and entertainment world while figuring out what’s real news and what’s made up. On the Web, you can play along too.
  • The Adventure Zone – Dungeons & Dragons. So many memories! The Adventure Zone follows the McElroy family (Justin, Travis, Griffin, and Clint) as they make their way through a campaign. Though a little rough at the start, the personality of the characters really comes through.
  • The Strange Case of Starship Iris – Though another science fiction radio drama, The Strange Case of Starship Iris follows the life of Violet Liu, a biologist, as she struggles to make sense of life after humanity’s war against an extraterrestrial species. And that is all I can say without spoilers.

Google Play Subscription

Much like Pandora or Spotify, Google offers a subscription service for Google Play Music. Pricing varies from $9.99 for an individual or $14.99 for a family plan, where up go 6 individuals can share a membership. This allows for unlimited (ad-free) listening, downloading, and YouTube RED.

Netflix / Amazon Prime Downloadable Content

Amazon introduced offline viewing of content for the primary member of a Prime family (or individual, for individual memberships) in 2015. In November 2016, Netflix followed with offering offline viewing of content. Since then, their offline library has grown considerably, though it should be noted that it doesn’t encompass their entire streaming library. Also, Netflix has a hidden limit on how many times you can download a given title. This is a little frustrating as you don’t know you’re reaching the limit until you’re almost there. Both services have limits on how much content you can have downloaded, and you should only ever delete content when you are connected to a network (cellular or WiFi) to ensure that it properly cleans up the licensing behind the scenes, allowing you to download a new title.