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12 October 2010 @ 11:46 am
A Question for You  
I want to thank those of you who said such amazingly wonderful things about me on [dreamwidth.org profile] meloukhia's love meme. I found those comments during a week that contained both a truly horrible round of bronchitis for the entire household and an ant invasion, and, really, I think the love meme was the good part of that week. So thank you not only for being nice, but for having perfect timing. You are awesome.

And, as payment, I am going to ask you to be more awesome. I'm sorry. It's just - I have questions. And I am hoping you have answers.

A Question about Cameras!

My birthday is fast approaching. And this year, I am resolved not to say, "I have no idea, um, whatever, I guess" when family members ask me what I'd like. This year, I am going to say, "Please put some money towards a new camera for me!" Because the camera I take all the earthling photos on has been good, but its annoying features annoy me more with each passing month. Also, it has started to have problems focusing. As in, it will sometimes take 20 or 30 pictures in a row without noticing that it is set to You Forgot Your Glasses mode. And these days there is a really dramatic pause between when I hit the button and when the picture is actually taken, a pause sometimes long enough that the earthling has not only moved out of the frame, but has also gone all the way to his room and selected a new outfit to change into. This suggests to me that its time as Main Household Camera is drawing to a close.

The last time I bought a camera, I knew nothing about them at all. This time, I have progressed to not knowing much about cameras but knowing what I don't like. I am hoping that somewhere out there there is a person who knows actual real things about cameras, who can provide me with shopping advice, including camera makes and so on.

I really, really want:
  • Fast shutter speed. I want to hit the button and have the camera respond by taking the picture at that moment. Not in a few seconds. Not after the tiny camera elves get the memo. Not after the next EU president comes into office. Right then.
  • Whatever it is that makes you able to take in-focus photos of fast-moving people in relatively low light conditions (in other words, indoors, during the daytime) without the flash. I know there are cameras that can do this! Mine, however, will not.
I really want (but am prepared to live without, if all the other features were perfect):
  • A lot of optical zoom. Digital zoom is just not the same.
  • Quick focusing and zooming ability, and no weird thing where I cannot zoom while the previous picture is displayed on the LCD screen.
  • A viewfinder.
  • A camera that does not require a degree to use. Or, if a degree is required, it should be one in biochemistry or forensic osteology, not photography or engineering.
  • A camera that will fit into my diaper bag. It does not need to be tiny, but it does need to be smaller than, for example, my head. (One of the parents at the earthling's preschool has a camera that looks like it could conquer Kansas. It is very, very large, and has many removable lenses and other weird attachments including some things I swear I've also seen my oral surgeon use, and basically just seems underemployed taking photos of a toddler. It would be more suited to taking surveillance photos. Of bacteria. From Mars. That is too much camera for me.)
A Question about Gay History!

I am assuming that, fandom being what it is, there is someone somewhere in fandom who has a lot of knowledge of queer history. (If you know such a person, and that person is not on my friends list, I would greatly appreciate it if you'd point said person this way.) I am looking for books on what gay life was like in New York City before Stonewall - say, from 1930 to 1960. Anywhere in there. Non-fiction preferred, but I will read fiction if it's authentic and no one dies or ends up crazy or locked up somewhere or grimly involved in a loveless straight marriage because gay people can never be happy.

A Question about Mary Balogh (Spelling Potentially Contested)!

Best Beloved would like to start reading her works, and would appreciate some guidance on the best of them. What's a good first Balogh? BB likes good writing, and I hear from several of you that Balogh delivers on this front. She does not like non-con, heroines younger than 18, or infidelity.

(Note: The spelling of Mary Balogh's name is potentially contested because in our household her name has mutated. BB has yet to read a single one of her novels, and we've already renamed her Merry Balrog. No, there's no excuse. Although I have to tell you, straight up: I would read basically any novel written by Merry Balrog, because obviously you can trust someone who put that much thought into a pseudonym. And this is one of the many reasons why I don't understand the SF writers who insist that nothing people say online matters if they aren't posting under their real names. Have these people never noticed that choice of pseudonym tells you a lot about a person? Whereas a real name, at best, only tells you something about the person's parents.)

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
puckling on October 12th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
I am looking for books on what gay life was like in New York City before Stonewall - say, from 1930 to 1960.

Ooooooh, ooooooh, pick me pick me! Well, actually, it's not exactly the time period you wanted (1890-1940) and it's only about gay men instead of all queer culture, but Gay New York might do something for you.
an_sceal on October 12th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
You beat me to it! *grin*
(no subject) - puckling on October 13th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - an_sceal on October 13th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - duckyjane on October 13th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - puckling on October 13th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cesperanza on October 13th, 2010 01:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - puckling on October 13th, 2010 02:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
an_sceal on October 12th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
You might like this book, for your Gay New York history:


I have it, and it's quite extensive.
(Anonymous) on October 12th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
De-lurking to say I don't know a lot about queer history, but from the pre-Stonewall era I did read the biography of Harry Hay (founder of the Radical Faeries) "The Trouble with Harry Hay" in a class on American Revolutionaries and thought it was great. -rabbitrabbit
Lacey McBain: SGA I am Canadianlaceymcbain on October 12th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)
I haven't read any of Mary Balogh, but she's from Saskatchewan, where I'm from. That's actually her real name (her married name, anyway) and not a pseud. It's Hungarian, I think.

Anyway, she's a lovely woman. I've met her at a writing conference once. Can't help on the reading order, but I don't think most of the books are connected, so you can probably leap in with any of them. I'll let someone who's more familiar steer you on that front.
The sanest lunatic you've ever metsdwolfpup on October 12th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
That camera description is exactly what I'm looking for, too. For the same reasons. Heh. I shall be watching this closely!
Omphaloskepsisdragonpaws on October 12th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)
I recommend the 'Slightly" and "Simply" series as good starts- they're both fun. The "Simply" series focuses on women teaching at a particular school for girls (ooh!). The "Slightly" series is more focused on the usual Lord/Lady thing. They overlap, and the series share characters and are best read in order.

There's also the "Huxtables" series- "First Comes Marriage," "Then Comes Seduction," "At Last Comes Love" in that order. The main characters are a family.

Basically, there's no bad Balogh as long as you stick to the series (her stand-alones vary- some very good and original, some... not so much). The only trick is to start at the beginning of the series in question, if you're a completist. They can be read out of order, though.
because you're the greatest, ted!holli on October 12th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18, and I like it a a lot. I'm still getting the hang of all the various settings and things, but it's got a great lens, isn't as gigantic as an SLR, and takes better pictures than a little point-and-shoot. Something like that might be good for you; I've also heard really good things about the Canon S90.
"It seemed like a good idea at the time.": LiA Amanda readingladysunflow on October 12th, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC)
I definitely recommend the Slightly/Simply series by Mary Balogh, which I love to bits and re-read often. It actually begins with two vaguely related prequel books: One Night for Love and A Summer to Remember, followed by 6 books in the Slightly... saga, and 4 in the Simply... series. I don't remember any straightforward infidelity or non-con in these.

Two books of hers I don't recommend are The Secret Pearl (in which the heroine resorts to prostitution and AFAIR there are some dub-con to non-con scenes), and Thief of Dreams (in which the hero was too abusive and deceitful for my liking).
Omphaloskepsis: exasperateddragonpaws on October 12th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, The Secret Pearl. I never imagined one could have dub-con with a beta hero, yet there it was. Plus my favoritest romance novel trope ever- The hero who Doesn't Trust Women because his Slutty Stepmother tried to seduce/rape him.

Because that happens all the time. Yeah. :(
(no subject) - dragonpaws on October 12th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
David Hineshradzka on October 12th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
Marijane Meaker's HIGHSMITH: A ROMANCE OF THE 1950S has some interesting personal recollections of being a lesbian in New York in the fifties (as well as the author's romance with legendary thriller writer Patricia Highsmith). Some smallest details are particularly striking: there were restaurants in Manhattan that would refuse to serve women who wore pants, rather than a skirt.
littleheaven70 on October 12th, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
I got a Canon S5IS mega-zoom, because I was really annoyed with the shutter lag on my old compact. I love this camera. It's only 8MP, but unless you're blowing stuff up to A2 you don't need more. It has a 12x optical zoom, so you can get really good close portrait shots without getting all up in someone's face - great for photographing kids when you don't want them to know. I did loads of research before I bought it, and it has one of the better (ie less) shutter-lag ratings out of all the non-slr digital cameras. You can take photos in low light, although you'll need a steady hand to prevent shake. I just neglect to raise the flash and it adjusts the shutter speed accordingly (in auto mode). You can either put it on auto and just snap away, or go full manual for specific effects. Oh, it has a fantastic macro on it, as well. And it takes very nice video. I use it instead of my video camera, now.

Having said all that, I'm not sure that model is available any longer, but I'm sure there's a new version around. Mine cost me $500NZ (about $375US) a couple of years ago.

winter_elfwinter_elf on October 13th, 2010 04:28 am (UTC)
actually, I got the upgrade to yours (the SX20IS), and it's slower in shutter lag - because the higher megapixels. I was looking at someone's camera in front of me at a con with the S5IS and he was getting amazing pics (we talked cameras for a while) - I think they lost some when they pushed out the next model - so you DID get a good camera there. If they still made that one when I was looking, that's the one I would have gotten.
(no subject) - littleheaven70 on October 13th, 2010 08:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
Geordiegeordie on October 12th, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
Tough to find the one and only right camera
For shutter delay you could start here http://www.cameras.co.uk/html/shutter-lag-comparisons.cfm

There are several down at the 1/5th of a second mark which also have a lot of lens, Canon SX20IS and Nikon Coolpix P100 for a start. But it depends what you mean by a lot of optical zoom, these are both lenses with electronics wrapped around them, they are dominated by the lens. I think both viewfinders are electronic.

An SLR would give you less zoom but instantaneous shutter but they tend to be big, but they may be the last refuge of the real viewfinder. A decent lens for an SLR will cost as much as the SX20 or P100... which also does full HD video.

The Canon G12 and Nikon P7000 are a pair of high end cameras with shorter lenses but are otherwise very capable and have optical viewfinders. Stasia uses the G10 (or is it a 9) and it seems to work for her, but if you don't just want to use automatic modes these can introduce you to a lot more settings than you might like. Ooo, the G12 does high dynamic range, mmm.

There's a condescending article on technique here http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/shutter-lag.htm

I'm afraid you probably need to try them. And there's loads of options I didn't even glance at.
Time Is Like A Kiss: raven looking at me 9-4-10 my photojenlev on October 12th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
How about the Canon Powershot SX20IS ? I recommended one to troyswann this past summer after my local camera shop recomended it as a good in-between camera for her. By in between, they meant, not a $2000.00 slr-with-big-honkin-zoom-lens, and bigger as well as faster than a simpler point and shoot. I think they're just about to put out the next version of this camera.

Granted the sensor is smaller than the 7D or 50D, but as long as you're not trying to shoot in impossibly dark alleys you might be just fine. Has what seems to be a very good optical zoom.
Stasiastasia on October 12th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
Now that Geordie's commented, I can.

I use the Canon G9 and I love it. It's got enough zoom (I could always use more, but I'm a zoom hog - I would LOVE to have the option for a MEGA-zoom lens and a MEGA-macro lens). It does great GREAT macro pictures. It's bigger than the standard pocket-camera, but I keep it in my purse.

Geordie got me a good leather cover for it - I'll have to ask if he remembers where he got it. It's the one accessory I really recommend.

My flickr has some of my shots; you can poke around there and see what the camera does. (While it's not an exciting picture, this one shows some of the macro capabilities.)

(And this is the front of my house, and here, I zoomed in to show the Kitty.)

Anyway, it's great and I love it.


Edited at 2010-10-12 10:47 pm (UTC)
Deeohevet_likro on October 12th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
I second dragonpaws about the "Simply", "Slightly" and Huxtable series by Mary Balogh but just wanted to add that she wrote another 2 books in the Huxtable series: "Seducing an Angel" and "A Secret Affair". The latter isn't her strongest book but it ties up the series pretty well.
lipsum on October 13th, 2010 01:34 am (UTC)
I have a Canon EOS Rebel T1i, which is probably more camera than you want; it's slightly better than your basic entry-level digital SLR. I got it in March and my photos have improved a thousand percent in the months since. I took an actual Intro to Photog class, but it turns out that a lot of the stuff that I really needed to learn involved "developing" a digital photo. A recent Lifehacker tutorial on using "levels" has done me wonders just in the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, I highly recommend this camera buying guide. A dSLR can do everything on automatic (autofocus is a great thing when you've forgotten your glasses), or partly/fully manual.

Fast shutter speed. I want to hit the button and have the camera respond by taking the picture at that moment.

Watch out, because "shutter speed" is a term of art that does not quite mean what you are looking for.

Whatever it is that makes you able to take in-focus photos of fast-moving people in relatively low light conditions (in other words, indoors, during the daytime) without the flash. I know there are cameras that can do this!

The Exposure settings section of this Wikipedia article addresses the options you can try if your camera lets you do partial/full manual. Also, try multiple exposures and/or sensitive "film" (in the digital world that means a high ISO setting, like 400).

A camera that does not require a degree to use. Or, if a degree is required, it should be one in biochemistry or forensic osteology, not photography or engineering.

For the love of sanity, try not to look too deeply into Photographer Math.