Day of Fun with Camera Toys

Oh, what a fun day. Too many toys! But not for Anthony.... for me!

I try to be prudent with our funds, so I don't buy a lot of “toys” for myself. Last year I got an iPod. The previous year I got Photoshop and other Adobe “Creative Suite” software (although at a nice discount, thanks to the kindness of some friends). I probably have a number of other things on which spending money I've conveniently forgotten, but in general, my idea of pampering myself usually centers more around Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop Microwave Popcorn and a beer than trendy electronic gadgets.

However, last month when our old camera broke, I indulged myself and bought a Nikon D200 digital SLR and some stuff to go with it: a couple of 4GB compact flash cards, and a camera bag and tripod.

I needed some other things, but the prices here in Japan are sometimes ridiculous, so I ordered a bunch of things in the US (how did people survive before the Internet?) and had them shipped to my brother, who kindly assembled them all into a package and sent to me.

It arrived today!

(On top of this, Canon replaced the broken camera with a newer model, which arrived yesterday, but that's for a different post.)

Here are my new toys....

Garmin GPSmap 60CS
Garmin GPSmap 60CS

I got this GPS unit so that I can geoencode my photos. I can hook it up directly to the D200 (it has a special GPS-data port), but that would be a clumsy arrangement (and require a $100 cable to boot!).

Rather, when I'm out with the camera, I'll have it keep a running log of location+time snapshots, and synchronize with the pictures during postprocessing. I just have to make sure that the camera clock is in sync with the GPS unit's clock, and then I can extract the photo location from the log at the time the picture was taken, and insert that geodata into the picture data.

This'll be particularly fun when we go to Malaysia next month.

My first impression of it is that it's bigger than I imagined. Also, the manual, although being 97 pages long, is extremely light on specifics, which I already find frustrating to no end.

For example, in the settings for the position log thing, it has an option for how often to save a location snapshot to the log: by time (every such-and-such seconds), by distance (after you've moved such-and-such hundred meters), or auto (which means what? The manual doesn't say!!!!)

As another example, there's a setup field for “Map Datum”, with 113 different selections, with names like “Tokyo”, “Afgooye”, “ARC 1960”, “WGS 84”, “Sapper Hill '43”, “Old Hawaiian”, etc. I have no idea what any of these mean. Living in Japan, should I use “Tokyo”? The manual says absolutely nothing about what any of these are. Nothing. Frustrating.

It comes with US maps built in, but has room to download others. I must see if I can get Japan maps to put on it.

[Update: more comments on it here ]

[Update: most-excellent Japan map for Garmin GPS units. Free. ]

[Update: this unit has been replaced in my bag by a Garmin eTrex Legend HCx ]

Nikon SB-800 Flash
Nikon SB800 Flash Unit

This is a big hunkin' flash unit that I can aim (e.g. to bounce light off the ceiling for softer lighting), or even use off camera, as it can be controlled wirelessly by the D200.

It's really beyond my skill, so I have some learning to do.

Lumiquest Pocket Bouncer
Lumiquest Pocket Bouncer

This thing unfolds and sticks on top of the flash to bounce the light, creating a softer, less harsh, more diffuse light than a direct flash. It's useful when you don't have a white ceiling to bounce light from.

It's supposed to bounce the light at 90 degrees from the face of the flash (using the flash facing up), and I would suppose that this means that the angle of the reflecting surface should be 45 degrees, but it's been built with the pre-folded angle at about 30 degrees. I just don't get it.

Some books....
'Understanding Exposure', a truly horrible book in every respect
Understanding Exposure

[UPDATE: Understanding Exposure is one of the worst books I have ever seen. It's extremely poorly written, and even if you can get past that, presents a woefully scattered and incomplete presentation of what one needs to learn. It's truly bad in any sense I can think to measure.]
'Photoshop Filter Effects Encyclopedia'
Photoshop Filter Effects Encyclopedia
'Photoshop Photo Effects Cookbook'
Photoshop Photo Effects Cookbook
'Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook for Digital Photographers'
Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook
for Digital Photographers
Rubber Eyecup
camera eyecup

It may seem like a small thing, but I'm really happy with this $7 accessory for my D200. It blocks out more light to give me a better view through the viewfinder. Frankly, I wish it were larger (extended out from the camera body more), and made of softer rubber, but compared to the stock eyecup, this one is so much better.

I also picked up a spare battery for the D200, since the price in the US is only a bit more than half the price here.

Anyway, tonight I'm overflowing in new toys and have many manuals and books in need of reading.....

All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

Hi Jeffrey,
I have been big fan of your website and love your blogs. I am of Indian origin and have been living in the United States for last 9+ years. Came across your blog when I was researching for DSLR. Yes I finally bought my D200 in April and have been enjoying it immensely.
I just thought I will say Hi.
I wish I had seen your comment on “Understanding Exposure” earlier. I recently bought it along with another book from John Shaw “Nature Photography”.
I hated “Understanding Exposure”. Such a waste of money. I have no idea why people have given rave reviews on it.
I love the John Shaw’s book though. Check it out at Barnes and Noble while you are in States, although if you have not already.
Thanks for your blogging. They are enriching and inspiring.

PS. Anthony is very sweet.

— comment by Yatin on August 10th, 2007 at 12:08pm JST (16 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Fist of all, thanks for your great blog and your lightroom pluggins… I am a hobbist and love your stuff.

And now a request… could you post a comment on the Blending Modes book once you have gone through it? That is one area that I’d like to understand more of and I that book is worth buying.

Thanks again,


— comment by ET on June 19th, 2008 at 1:17am JST (15 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

I just found your site today, and it is very impressive. I appreciate your articles, and the hard work you have done. I must disagree with your review of Understanding Exposure. While it is geared toward a beginner, I found it to be avery good book, and see it recommended quite frequently on numerous respectable user groups. I enjoyed the origanl edition that I bought 12 yrs ago so much that I bought the new edition. Oh well, I guess we will just have to disagree. Keep up the good work on your blog

— comment by Chuck on February 4th, 2009 at 8:54pm JST (15 years ago) comment permalink
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