A new Canon and I’m ready to shoot!

Canon SD1000

My Olympus camera was about 2 and half years old so I had to get rid of it. It was way too buggy: (1) battery dying too quickly, (2) taking pictures took forever, (3) XD cards cost more and would corrupt every time I put it in a reader – lost 100+ photos this way, and (4) it was so bulky.

I opted for a Canon branded camera for a couple of reasons: (1) I have a Canon camcorder (ZR850), (2) great reviews, (3) affordable.

I bought the camera from Amazon so I could make use of my Prime membership ($75/year), plus it was cheaper there too. At a local Best Buy, it would have been $15 more plus tax. Amazon doesn’t charge tax!!!

Canon SD1000: $167
Kingston SD: $25
Lenmar extra battery: $14

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Small (fits in my tight jean pockets)
  • SD cards (so cheap to buy, $25 for Kingston 4GB)
  • Long lasting battery
  • Color swap, color accent shooting modes
  • Different shooting modes 
  • Shoots video w/ 3 different settings
  • Battery charges in 1 hour 30 mins (not that long)
  • Easy to use interface
  • Rechargeable battery only $15 or less (Lenmar)
  • Interface is not sluggish at all
  • Buttons are not hard to reach/find
  • Start-up is less than 2 seconds
  • 7.1 MP is more than enough
  • Viewfinder (great for conserving battery life)

Cons:

  • Runs on a rechargeable battery, not AAs
  • Battery doesn’t charge in 15 mins like AAs
  • Movies come out in .AVI, not .MOV
  • Would not sync to my Mac (Leopard OS), had to buy SD card reader
  • 30 fps at 640×480 video mode takes up a lot of SD space

Now I can make my own ‘home videos’

Canon ZR850 - 1

I got my first camcorder about two weeks ago, a Canon ZR850. It is a miniDV camcorder instead of a hard drive camera (never ever DVD for me) for two reasons: (1) the price (like a $175+ difference) and (2) the brand.

As of right now, Canon does not offer any hard drive cameras, but Sony, JVC, and Panasonic already do. I really like the Canon ZR Series because it is really affordable. With the 2-year replacement warranty, it cost me a little over $360 for the camera. I also purchased some miniDV tapes though ($13 for five tapes — any brand will do), a Belkin firewire cable (to transfer the tape to the computer, camera didn’t come with it — that was $14), and a Samsung camcorder bag (which fits my Olympus camera essentials as well! — got it at Wal-mart for $18).

I first taped me and Babe at home doing absolutely nothing, but then taped Prentyce’s championship game with UFB. The video quality was surprisingly good (no HD, but it’ll work since I don’t have an HD television), but I was lucky to have good lighting that day. The zooming worked great (35x?!); there are three zoom speeds you can choose from. I chose the middle one, not too fast or slow. The camcorder was easy to hold, but my hand started cramping up after a while… maybe it was just excitement? The battery that came with the camcorder lasts you about 45-60 minutes, I suggest getting the BP-2L14 battery, (get the original if you can, but the generic ones cost about $30 less) which is said to last about 3 hours but will cost you $55 from Amazon. The menus were easy to understand, I could easily find a lot of stuff, most of which you just set one time and forget. You need an SD card if you want to take still shots. Although they aren’t that good, nice to have! Some reviews said the camera had some sort of “humming”, but I didn’t hear it indoors or out. It was easy to import video, you can use Windows Movie Maker to capture or any type of video editing program. I use Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0 (it costs about $80 on Amazon) and Final Cut Pro (this is like $1000, but I use it at school).

I think I don’t have that many complaints because it is my first camcorder, but I think it was a good first choice. I’ll get the more expensive one later when I’m a video editing genius, but since I’m only starting out, I’ll stick with this. Don’t expect great things when you don’t pay a hefty price — especially with electronics! Overall, good camera for the price! I love it.

I got my tax refund already!

This year, I used Turbo Tax Deluxe to file my taxes (why pay H&R Block $50-200+ to do it?). Besides being just easy because the program just asks you simple questions (like a survey), most of the categories (like mortgage, TurboTax Deluxecar registration fees, child income, rentals and royalties, business income, IRA and Pension distributions, children, stocks, employee expenses, etc.) didn’t even apply to me! Plus, Nevada doesn’t require Nevada residents to file a State Tax, just Federal.

I e-filed my tax return (price is $17) on April 14, 2007 (three days before the deadline!) and once I did, the program estimates and lets you know the day you might get your money… , but they were exactly right this time with me! At midnight, I checked my checking account balance, and TADA! [Money in the bank, shorty what you drank?] It took them officially less than two weeks to take my return, go through it, and send me my refund.

Just wanted to let you know Turbo Tax is a good product and that you should NOT be paying those damn H&R Block people to do something so simple for you! (Unless you have a really big business or something like that.) I swear, It took me less than 30 minutes. Moreover, the product is reusable in the same year… so you’re whole family/group of friends can use it. So, pretend that 5 people are gonna file with TurboTax, I got it for $40 on Amazon — that’s only $8 to file your taxes (e-file costs $17, but you can print it & use snail mail)! You have to put in a little work, but it’s for damn sure not $200 worth of work.

Sadly, with all these monies, I am going to pay off my credit cards… not all of ’em, but I still don’t plan on getting anything new, like a Mac =(… oh well. Next time…

My Cranium addiction has been satisfied!

Ever since I played Cranium at Joseph & Erika’s house (on our vacation to Utah), I have wanted to get a copy for myself…. But, instead, I got the TURBO EDITION! Yayers! It is usually $35, but I got on eBay for about $25… isn’t that great? Brand new and sealed too!

Unlike the regular edition, there are Turbo Cards and no dice — the light up 4-pointed star does it all for you. You sometimes even get to choose what color activity you want to do! Batteries not included.

They even updated the moving pieces =) Much better than those block people. I haven’t played it in full yet, but hopefully I can get a game night crackin’ and it’ll be on!

I also got Pop 5, it is Cranium with a twist and with only pop culture questions and the performer gets to choose what activity they want to do— cameo, sculptorades, cloodle, letter line-up, or humdinger. This game is best for people that are afraid of looking entirely stupid in front of other people since there are not actual facts in it, just pop culture information from the past 20-30 years. You can play in big groups too. I purchased this at Amazon for $28 (free standard shipping over $25). Everyone loves this game!

Lastly, I got the two booster packs that were available. I got Booster Box 1 from Target.com and Booster Box 2 from an Amazon Marketplace Seller. The first box comes with 800 new cards. The second box comes with 800 more new cards and 4 jars of clay (which I heard dry up very quickly). They won’t cost you more than $20 each.


Some Cranium links…

Six Flags is closing…

… Or so we (people at work) have heard so you know we had to go this year! This work trip was pretty fun. Not everyone went because not everyone was invited (thank God). But, sadly, some people didn’t even stay the entire time! Nonetheless, we had fun. Group tickets for 10+ people were only $22.50 and we got Flash Passes (speeds you up to the front of the line) for $20 (four passes only).

We all drove there, me and Prentyce in his car following Cedric, Bridget, and Carol. We didn’t really make any stops except to see the other group at Barstow. We went straight to our rooms at the Santa Clarita Motel ($71/night—I got a $3 discount because of my AAA membership). They were pretty nice. Our rooms were on the first floor, easy access! Small, but cozy place. We got the handicapped room. We got a really big bathroom. We all shared rooms because the place ran out of rooms (could you believe it? — I think it is because the people that own the place give the rooms to their family members.)

We ate at Popeye’s (the best chicken joint ever). Went to the mall. We played board games later that night and everyone got kind of hostileeven though they didn’t want to admit it. Mark’s brother Raul is good at Cranium… I’m so jealous! Teehee =) We tried playing Cranium Turbo Edition, but those mofo’s were complaining it was too hard. Can you believe that? Whatever. We also played Scattergories, Jenga, and Taboo.

Note:

  • Parking costs $15 per car! Carpool to the park.
  • The best ride was X
  • Tatsu, their newest ride, wasn’t that great, but still worth riding
  • Decent meal for one person, $10
  • Get a souvenir cup, it’s worth it, plus $1 refills all day
  • It’s not worth spending $5 a shot for a stupid stuffed animal
  • Play the guess your age/weight game. They don’t check your license and their weighing scale is off by 20 pounds plus
  • Caramel apples are so good! 2/$5
  • They sell funnel cakes, but the lines are so long! Get in there early
  • You can’t bring any food into the park, unless you have an infant or young child
  • Metal detectors — don’t bring any guns/knives/etc. you delinquents!
  • Lockers are $0.50-$1.00; but there are places on the ground where you can put your stuff before you get on the ride
  • Waiting times for the lines were between 1-2 hoursget a Flash Pass
  • Eat before you get into the park, food is expensive
  • A colored caricature will run you $36/couple

Any-who, we had loads of fun and are planning a trip for later in the year again. Hopefully it won’t be closed?!