For the uninitiated, its not a whole festival dedicated to Kesha (no I’m not typing the S as a $) it’s actually Brisbane’s seminal breakbeat festival!

Second year in and they’re already on the expansion with more stages and an even bigger lineup. Highlight was definitely Beardyman with many notable mentions like Freq Nasty, Freestylers, Cuban Brothers and Soul of Man added to a day of great music and friendly faces.
Best of all the dismal weather of late held off for pretty much the whole day!

Blah blah blah Festival 2010 photos here

Well I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve been waiting close on 2 years for this to happen, ie. The next generation of high end compacts from Nikon. After a lacklusture attempt and a subsequent beating from Canon, its finally here, the Nikon P7000.

Rewind a couple years and you have the P6000, compared to the Canon G10 equivalent of the time it struggled, especially in the noise handling department, but generally it felt like a rushed release and barely made a dent in Canon’s hold. Even dedicated Nikon enthusiasts like Dave Hobby raved about the G10 and subsequently converted.

But like they say, good things come to those who wait, and I must say, not a moment too soon. Earlier in year we travelled to Tokyo, Los Angeles and New York City, while the DSLR came in handy at scenic locations and the zoo with a 300mm, generally it was more a burden than a benefit. Especially on those dedicated shopping days spent mostly in doors, where you’re spending more time reaching for your wallet than your camera. There is also the issue of whipping out a DSLR that gets you unfavourable attention in some stores or neighbourhoods. This would have to be my main reason for going compact, something suitable for lightweight travel/everyday use and a lot less conspicuous.

The other reasons would be having an emergency back up for my DSLR thanks to the hotshoe and a macro mode with a crazy 2cm minimum focus distance. More on these features in a bit.

So, to the camera itself. This will not be a detailed technical review of the functions etc. there are plenty of those online, just let your fingers to the walking. This will be more about practicality, everyday use and why I think it’s the bee’s knees :)

Firstly, local stock has been available for at least a couple months now. Major chains like Ted’s are retailing them for around $700 (camera only at time of writing), if you don’t mind a bit of gray marketing you can find them online for around $600 (usually including a memory card and a couple other bits like a screen protector, mini tripod etc). You don’t get any form of a case (not even one of those thin microfiber sunglasses style ones) with the camera so the first thing to do would be to have a look at the Lowepro or Tamrac range. Thanks to the popularity of the Canon G series, Tamrac has a case that fits the P7000 perfectly, model # 5689. These are available from CR Kennedy in Albion (Brisbane), have a chat to Brad there, mention us and you might even get a good deal depending on if he’s had his pub lunch yet or not πŸ˜‰ either way you wont be paying the high prices found on ebay.

So it fits the same case as a Canon G series, but the similarities don’t stop there, side by side at a glance you’d be forgiven in mistaking it as the soon to be released G12 or one of its older brothers.

The palm foot print is probably at the limit for a compact at a size similar to an iphone. You can still get it into the back pocket of your pants but in general you’re better off with a case, a bag to throw it in or using the included neck strap.

The upside to the extra bulk is you’re never mistaken of its presence in your hand, which helps when coming down from a DSLR.

Performance – put simply, for a compact it’s top notch. I liken it rather closely to the handling of my old Nikon D80. Does 800 ISO quite casually but after that it gets the wobbles, though 1600 is still more than usable, which is a huge step up from the usual camera phoning at ISO 400 for most other point and shoots. Start up time is almost instant and there is only a minor delay between shots while the image is saved.

Here is an example straight out of the camera (apart from resizing):

Auto mode: ISO 1600 f4.5 1/60

100% crop

One thing I have missed while owning a DSLR, and something a lot of compacts can actually do quite well is macro shooting. A dedicated macro lens was next on the list but it lost out to the P7000. Where the P7k stands out from the others is its crazy minimum focus distance of a “yep, that’s going to bite me for sure” closeness of 2cm.

I’ve yet to roam my house looking for (un)expecting insects but here are some common items. Manual focus helps with composition but like any macro photography, a tripod helps alot, specially in shadow areas to keep the shutter speed down instead of pushing the ISO up.

Some macro mode examples straight out of the camera:

Samsung e500 (actual size approx ΒΎ of a business/credit card)
Macro mode, ISO 1600 f3.2 1/25

Sony MDR EX91 (wow, they really are dirty!)
Macro mode, ISO 1600 f3.2 1/25

100% crop
Macro mode, ISO 800 f3.2 1/55

100% crop
Macro mode, ISO 1600 f3.2 1/125

Macro mode with onboard auto flash
ISO 200 f6.3 1/30

Speaking of the flash, it is what it is, small and harsh. Thankfully the hotshoe takes any modern (re: digital) Nikon speedlight which, just like on a DSLR, instantly changes the look of the photo either by coverage or the ability to bounce (example below). The drawback of course being it becomes very top heavy, even with the baby of the range, the sb600 gives it an uneasy off balance feeling, but that doesn’t matter too much if you’re using a sync cable or remote trigger. Shame they didn’t build in CLS (wireless remote triggering and control), that would’ve been a nifty feature.

Simple bounced flash shot off white ceiling with SB600 speedlight

Video function is another thing I’ve been missing from my arsenal, not necessarily award winning stuff but a quick live summary of an event or mental note that a couple still frames just cant capture is a definite bonus. Like alot of cameras/phones with video modes, quick panning is a bit poor but otherwise more than usable for everyday footage.

The included View NX2 software is pretty standard, the video editing feature allows a simple story board with a small selection of transitions and the ability to add stills and audio. No overlaying, speed of play control or advanced editing but enough there to throw together a montage of little Timmy’s birthday party.

All in all, it is what it is, a high end camera for those down grading from a DSLR. If you’re upgrading, keep on cruising, you only need to spend about $100 more to get yourself a full blown DSLR like the Nikon D3000. Body is still quite small for a DSLR and of course you get a nice big APS-C sensor (as opposed to the 1/1.7″ of the P7K).

12.25.2010

Hope you’ve all been good or at least good at it πŸ˜‰ Santa will no doubt be rockin the Gortex tonight, hopefully the pressies don’t get too damp!

Here’s a couple quick photos from us with a couple of our Xmas friends up to mischief!

Some (mostly women) say he’s dreamy, personally I don’t see it, but there’s no arguing his ability to take everyday things and super soppying them up to melt hearts. With help from Teagan and Sara and Ash Grunwald, epic finger tapping and swaying was had by all.

Jack Johnson @ Riverstage photos here

Mad turntable scientist and gadget geek, Nikk C drops in this week for 3D World‘s Social Club chat at Laruche – bar and supperclub. Read about his exploits in issue #1041.

Get it FREE from all the usual street press outlets or read it online @ 3D world magazine – Brisbane

12.16.2010

The boys are definitely getting on a bit but they’re still full of piss and vinegar and can still pack a heavy metal punch.

We were too busy banging heads and losing shoes in the audience to be on official duties but here are a few photos from the outer bounds of the sweat drenched circle pit.

Korn @ The Tivoli photos here

Continuing our Laruche – bar and supperclub shoot, this week we have Brisbane DJ/Producer and all round nice guy, DJ Victor James. He chats to 3D World about domino spews and partying in the Greek Islands in issue #1040.

Get it FREE from all the usual street press outlets or read it online @ 3D world magazine – Brisbane

One of our fave bands of all time, The ‘Fish have been going at it for longer than some of their followers have had birthdays, ok, maybe not that long but they’re the forefathers of the ska revival and always put on a great show.

They covered all the usual tracks plus a few we’ve haven’t heard in the last 6 times we’ve seen them.

First time seeing the Aquabats, their show is just a riot! From their one piece lycra body suits to their, at times questionable banter, wacky visuals and dolphin kicking, its one giant piss take worthy of some kind of Guttermouth recognition award.

Too busy skanking it up to be on official duties, I still managed a few shots from in the overly energetic and sweaty crowd.

Reel Big Fish and Aquabats photos here

12.08.2010

Sample shots from a quick run and gun shoot for some promo shots of one of our favourite subjects, the ever talented and super bendy Miss Sammy! (:

Sammy’s photos are here

So you’ve shopped yourself silly and you’re tired of trekking for hours and not getting anywhere. Time for a bit of relaxing sight seeing, and if you do it right, a lot less wallet intensive.

If you’re staying in Times Square then its an obvious first stop. Try to see it during the day and night for some vast contrasts.

Photo tip: If you wish to get a less cluttered shot at night or some long exposures you’ll have to wait till after midnight, closer to 1am before the bulk of the crowd has left. Worth it to keep the weirdos from standing in the middle of your frame staring at you and messing up your shot.

Ferris Wheel - Toys R Us, Times Square

Our faves in Times Square were of course the Toys R Us and M&M’s World stores. Even if you’re not a fan of toys or chocolate, in which case you may want to consult your local physician, both stores are a must see and are conveniently open late. Toys R Us sports a full sized 60ft Ferris wheel, Jurassic Park T-Rex, Empire State Building Lego replica complete with King Kong, a life size version of Barbie’s two story doll house and many more comic and movie characters. There are also plenty of hands on demos and lollies/candy section.

Lego Buildings - Toys R Us, Times Square

M&M World Times Square

Across the way, is M&M’s World, which, you guessed it, competes with Hello Kitty for the title of the most licensed products. Tees, mugs, stationery to collectible NASCAR models and shower curtains, it if it has a space for a logo then you’ll probably find it here. Also see the great wall o candy and stay on the look out for the M&M characters. Say “wassup” to Blue for me (:

Just in case you didn’t get enough of a sugar fix, a couple doors down is the Hershey‘s store, for those that like their chocolate sweet AND salty. Considerably smaller but just as busy, Hershey’s has the same deal but with Kisses and Peanut Butter Cups instead.

A few blocks north is “Top of the Rock” which, as the name suggests, the top of Rockefeller Plaza (aka 30 Rock, yep, the TV show in which its filmed along with other faves like the “Today” show). Whether you go here or to the Empire State Building is more a personal preference. For us the pluses over ESB were:

– cheaper
– only one security check point
– lines and wait time were almost non-existent
– no additional fees to go to higher levels
– no crazy stair climbing
– 1 enclosed and 2 open air levels
– only a couple stories shorter than the ESB (completely unnoticeable when you’re up there)
– the view is the same
– you get to see and photograph the ESB (frame it right and you can get the Statue of Liberty or Brooklyn bridge in there as well)

Try and get there about an hour or 2 before sunset to beat the rush, find a nice spot and watch the sunset and the city light up. We were fortunate to have decent visibility when we went, but like any big city, be prepared for smogged out days with dirty brown sunsets.

Regardless of which vantage point you chose remember its really high up so as soon as the sun sets it can get quite cool, so bring a jacket. Times 2 plus beanie and gloves if its in the cooler months.

NYC view north from "Top of the Rock" (click for big)

NYC view south from "Top of the Rock" (click for big)

If you chose ESB, you’ll only be a couple blocks away from Grand Central station. The location of many a movie scene’s meeting point, abandonment and “we’ll lose em here” ‘s. Check the Sky Ceiling in the main concourse for zodiac art painted by Frenchman Paul Helleu.

Main Concourse - Grand Central Station, NYC (click for big)

If you want to jump on a train then this is the place to do it, there’s a line that will take you pretty much anywhere and on the chance that you rush and catch the one heading in the wrong direction its only a matter of getting off at the next stop and crossing to the other side of the platform, just make sure your Metro Card is topped up.

One stop that may not immediately ring any bells is Bowling Green, right near Battery Park on Manhattan‘s southern tip. Here you can have a relaxing day in the park, no doubt very popular in the warmer months with is sea side location, but for us it was to take the short walk to the South Ferry Terminal for the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty.

Now you can easily spend big bucks for the countless tours to see the ol’ girl but at a cost of not just money but time in queues and security, not to mention when you get there, Liberty Island (the island its on) is very small, so photos are all upskirts and internal access is limited, so no, you cant climb into the crown and blast Jackie Wilson, Ghostbusters 2 styles. Another misleading note from the same movie is the misconception of its actual size. Its less than 50m high so its not Godzilla or even the Stay-Puff man.

That aside, if you want the cheapest and least competition from other tourists, then the Staten Island ferry is the way to go. It’s a commuter ferry so mostly business/everyday types. We had no problem getting a spot for some photos on either the front or back decks.

Photo tip: Leaving Manhattan the statue is on your right (starboard) side. Take a long lens for a nice tight level crop

Not long ago, you could actually stay on board the ferry and just wait for it to “reverse” back to Manhattan, however now they ask everyone to disembark. Make sure you don’t leave the terminal otherwise you will have to pay, instead just circle back round to the entrance side. If you got a couple minutes to kill, grab a bite to eat in one of the eateries or fresh fruit vendors in the terminals. If not, don’t sweat it, there’s food (and beer) available on board the ferry.

Statue of Liberty

Back on the mainland, head back to Fulton St. station to visit the World Trade Center.

That whirlwind run was all we had time for in Manhattan before we hitched a subway ride to Brooklyn.

New York City 2010 part #1 – The flight in…
New York City part #2 – Shopping: Midtown
New York City part #3 – Bronx Zoo
New York City part #5 – Sight Seeing – Brooklyn Markets and Gardens
New York City part #6 – Shopping: Soho

New York City photo gallery here

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