I got a very cool early birthday present from my wife the other day:
Y'see, a couple of years ago we took one of my nieces on a trip to the zoo. After getting out of the car, I set all my stuff on the trunk while we packed everything up, applied sunscreen, etc. - I heard a noise, and looked over to see the bag containing my pride-and-joy digital SLR slide off the trunk and go *crunch* on the pavement. (Needless to say, it wasn't one of my happier trips to the zoo, as I wandered around shell-shocked for most of the day). Luckily the camera still took pictures, but the LCD screen was broken - I contacted the manufacturer and sent it off to be repaired. I got it back, and I wasn't happy - the focus seemed to be fuzzy, and the color didn't seem quite right. The thing I forgot to consider was the lens. It was a not-so-great third-party lens in the first place, and I think the impact threw it off - I tested the camera with one of my older manual focus lenses that was a known quantity, and the pictures looked great. But, that had been my only autofocus lens, and my digital SLR isn't terribly user-friendly in manual mode. I couldn't afford to replace the lens, so the camera sat mostly untouched for the past year. (I've been using a ten-year-old point-and-shoot camera for my pictures on this blog). I mentioned to my wife that I wished I had the digital SLR up and running for my trip to Adepticon so I could get lots of pics for the blog, and she graciously offered to buy me a new lens as an early birthday present (my birthday is actually a few days after Adepticon). So if you notice a marked improvement in the images you see here, thank my wife!