Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Death of Predictive Auto Focus

Sony had it. They bought it from Minolta, who developed, as some might remember, the first Auto-focusing cameras. The Konica-Minolta 7D was a marvel. You could point it at an oncoming car, at speeds up to 180 KM/hour, and it would nail the focus. Not on the windshield, not on the rear of the car, but on the nose. The front bumper. On any point where those big sensors could find good contrast. It wasn't the fastest focusing camera, but for motion, it was amazing as it could calculate the speed an object was traveling, and adjust the AF to stay ahead of the object. It could even calculate whether the object was accelerating or decelerating! Nice, eh?

So how do the others I've tried stack up? Let's see:
Sigma SD-14- AF not fast enough, no predictive focusing.
Sony A700- AF is lightning quick-but no predictive focusing means that the front bumper is soft while the driver is sharp. Disappointing really, as they now own the patents to the predictive AF algorythyms.
Nikon D300- AF is even faster than the A700, especially with Hypersonic Focusing, or Wave Motor focusing, BUT... it doesn't predictive focus either. The noses of cars are still soft while the driver is sharp. For panned shots the focusing speed is amazing, but it cannot calculate speed and trajectory at all like the old KM 7D could.

I've not tried any of the Canon gear, but the photos I've seen posted online indicate that their AF system doesn't do predictive focusing either. With modern lenses reporting distance when focused to the body, it's not difficult to calculate how far a vehicle has traveled in a set amount of time.

Will Sony ever use this technology again? They'd earn my business if they did!

The Islamic Conundrum

Here's how I see this issue; Islamic Supremists would like nothing better than to stage a massive new attack against the United States. We are, after all, in the words of the Iranians and others, "the Great Satan". However, the United States buys oil. Lots of oil. From the Saudis, from Egypt, from other Middle Eastern countries steeped in Islamic culture. So even though the radicals would love nothing better than to kill us all, wiser heads in government know this wouldn't be a great idea.

Splinter groups like Al-Queda and the Taliban are not beholden to any government. They practice hardcore Sharia Law. Therefore, their actions are NOT restrained and represent the greatest threat possible against our country. They are funded through donations from radicalized mosques around the world, or by sheer terror and confiscation of local property and possessions. They actively supress every form of freedom we cherish. They hate us for our love of freedom. No matter what we do, no matter what Obama says, nor how many leaders he bows to, these groups will not stop hating us. Period.

Best Buy has chosen to wish everyone a "Happy Eid Al-Adha" on their Black Friday ad, yet they won't use the word "Christmas". They're instead referring to this as the "Holiday season". You know what? I don't need anything from Besty Buy as badly as they need to sell stuff. The Eid al-Adha is the celebration of sacrifice, as in they go out and sacrifice goats, not as in Lent traditions.

The day Muslims go out of their way to wish us a Merry Christmas is the day I'll shop at Best Buy again! I see no need to wish a "Happy Anything" to people who declare that I should submit to their religion or die.

Obviously Best Buy can't see that connection.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sony to unveil Alpha A700 replacement soon?

Now, anyone who reads this blog at all knows that I'm into photography. Here's the short version: Sony has 5 consumer DSLR bodies below $1000. They have two full-frame DSLR bodies at $1999 and $2699 respectively. The Alpha A700 was their "in-betweener", coming in initially at $1599, the was dropped to $1299. Last month they hacked the price down to just $899, a sure sign that camera's going away. So what are they going to do for a "prosumer" body?

Here's my guess... Sony makes both the 12.8 MP full-frame sensor in the Nikon D3 and D700 bodies, and the 24.6 MP sensor in the Nikon D3X, and their own Alpha A900 and A850 bodies. They've already undercut the D3X by $4500, and undercut the D700 by$300 (with their top-of-the-line A900 no less). BUT... they don't have a mid-level full-frame 12.8 MP sensor camera body, with the pop up flash like the D700 has, and the out-going Sony A700 had. That flash is a wireless flash system controller, so unlike the A850 and A900 bodies, you don't have to purchase an additional flash to serve as a wireless controller. This is a big feature to prosumer buyers.

I'm thinking that Sony has not one, but TWO bodies on the way. They'll have an APS-C sensor body at the $1299 price point, probably with the newer 14.2 MP sensor they're using in the A550 body, with their "Live View" stuffed inside like the A550, and image stabilization. AND... they'll have a full-frame, image-stabilized body with built in flash, right at the $1599-1799 price range. Personally, I'm hoping for the $1599 price. Call them the "A750" and the "A800" bodies.

Possibly they'll both be full-frame sensors... Currently the A850 is the cheapest full-frame sensor camera from anyone in the market today, but it's not fast enough to entice the high-speed sports photographers from Nikon/Canon systems. Many of them are still shooting D3 bodies, and are completely happy with those. Not many takers for the $7999 D3X, even though it boasts incredible resolution from it's massive sensor.

Does this make it a good time to buy into the Sony/Minolta lens system? I think so...

Of elections and conservatives...

So... for ya'll non-political folks, the special election in NY-23 has become very interestin this weekend.

First, a little background: Dede Scozzafava (I think I got her name right) was picked by the local GOP committee to run as a Republican, though she supports Democrat proposals and is married to one. Doug Hoffman didn't think this was a good idea, so he decided to run as an "independant conservative". The national RNCC gave $900,000 to support Dede, Doug's been fending on his own with donations from normal folks. Newt Gingrich endorsed Dede, Sarah Palin endorsed Doug. After polling came out this weekend (Friday) which indicated she was going to lose badly, trailing even the Democrat in the race (in a district which has voted R for 140 years!) she decided to drop out. Late Saturday night, she basically anounced she was throwing her support behind the Democrat still in the race! She's supposed to be a Republican and she's supporting a Dem! WTF? Her reason? Because she wants someone committed to bringing the pork back to her district!

So now the pollsters are up in the air. Some say Hoffman, who has valid conservative creds, wins in double digits. Others say it's too close to call (+ or - one point either way at the moment). Which way will the 20% who supported Dede go? If they go conservative, they'll vote for Hoffman. Dede's name remains on the ballot, even though she's dropped out. Although she threw her vote to the Dem, her campaign manager supports Doug Hoffman! What does that say?

This is an important race if only because Doug's been supported nearly completely by us, the grassroots conservatives around the nation who want to send a message to the GOP. The message is simply: we won't accept RINOs as candidates. We won't support the GOP if you continue to run RINOs. This Election Day could be a precursor to a huge 2010 uprising, and I can only say it's about damn time!