Saturday, June 9, 2012

What Kim Actually Bought

Someone linked over to the New York Times blog of David Pogue, why reviews tech for them and is often sent stuff to try out. He is therefore able to review a lot of stuff, apparently. And in the article I was linked to, there was a link to his “What Pogue Actually Bought”, which is his way of answering the questions “what would you buy?”

I enjoyed that article, as I have always enjoyed such articles (Thom Hogan’s is a must read for any Nikon shooter for example.) And as I was reading Pogue’s list of things he bought, I was mentally commenting on it and this seemed like a good reason to write my own. For shits and giggles, I’ll follow his headings exactly. He does it every couple of years … maybe I’ll do one periodically as well.

Main Computer  A home-built 8 core AMD 8150 on a Gigabyte main board with 16GB or Corsair Veangance PC1600 RAM. A Corsau HX850 professional series power supply and a Corsair M4 120GB SSD main drive. A 2TB image data drive, a 1TB document data drive, and a 1TB catch-all scratch drive – downloads, Photoshop scratch, etc. This machine goes like snot. Period.

Now, you can find better and faster hardware without looking too hard. For general purpose duty, the top Ivy Bridge chip from Intel will give this one a bit of a spanking. But for what I do a lot of, Photoshop and Sony Vegas video rendering, the benchmarks say that I am right up there with the big dogs. And there is something about watching 8 cores run flat out at 4.5Ghz to chew through problems.

I use a Lenovo W500 core 2 duo 2.53Ghz laptop for work, with a Momentus XT hybrid 500GB drive in it. Works great, but is long in the tooth. Had I my druthers, I would get the 13” Z series Sony Vaio with the fastest Intel chip they ship at minimum 4 cores and 8 threads. I would stuff a 512GB SSD in it as main drive and I would get the carbon fiber case and full HD screen. Wicked.

I wouldn’t mind a personal laptop for email on the road, but common sense suggests that an iPad is the answer, and there is no way I can justify that kind of money for occasional use.

Camera   D7000 with many lenses. My sharpest walk around lens is the Tamron 28-75 2.8, an incredibly sharp lens on the APS-C sensor. My most versatile walk around lens is the Nikon 18-200VR. It is also sharp, but only when stopped down. But it has lots of range and it is stabilized.

I carry the Fuji F550EXR in my pocket. I like to process every image in Lightroom or Photoshop, so this cam is right up my alley. A technically strong camera with a superb small sensor and good reach. If shot correctly, the images are very clean for its size. I consider it best in its class for the kind of shooting and processing I do. I would happily upgrade to the F770EXR, but I don’t feel like going through the hassle of sell and buy right now.

Phone   Not a contest, I use the iPhone 3G. Yes, it is old. But it is reliable, it is an excellent phone as well as an excellent application platform, and it is long paid for. I have had to replace the screen twice, the LCD once, and the batter once. It looks and operates like new, so what is not to love?

Phone Case   Cheap vinyl case I bought on eBay. Is small, stays on and work perfectly. Provides a nice soft landing when it falls.

GPS   Garmin Nuvi 50LM. I just went through the whole rigmarole of replacing my GPS unit and I settled on this model as the best combination of price and features for me. It has lifetime maps, too, which I really regretted not getting for my TomTom One 3rd Gen last time. The initial cost is barely one upgrade’s worth, and you should be able to get almost a decade out of your unit. Think on that ..

Software   Productivity is Office 2007 Home and Student. Email is Outlook 2003. Image editing us Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 4. Several excellent additional plugins from Topaz Labs and Pixel Genius complete the package. Video editing is Sony Vegas Platinum 11 Suite hands down. I’ve owned Pinnacle and Nero and I’ve tried Windows Movie Maker and other inexpensive alternatives. Sony is the first I’ve used that has a professional interface and can render fairly fast (which came with more recent free updates that can render on 4 threads.) I also buy Winzip now and again, I’m at 15.5 right now. I buy small utilities to help with PDF creation and such as well. My music is *all* in iTunes. I have several iPods, one of which is my car’s music source.

Online  I am a spotty Facebook user, although I pop in now and again. I think twitter is a joke, but I realize that media people really get off on this form of real-time, if trivial, communication.

My personal web site and photo galleries are on, which I have found to be a very inexpensive yet professionally run web hosting and storage service. I have 11547 images in my gallery as of this moment. That grows almost every day. I use an open source application that comes for free with ipower (as do many applications) called Gallery. I use an older version, but they have more modern versions available. I like Smugmug, which is the one Pogue switched to once he found out that Mobile Me was going to die on 30 June this year. But moving my images there would be ridiculously expensive in time and yearly cost. So for now ipower is the one.

My family’s email is also run through ipower, as I get a lot of email accounts for a small yearly price. Storage is also quite vast. I believe that I am still under 5% used.

Noise-canceling Headphones   I used to order Chinese knock offs of the Sennheiser CX200 ear buds, the kind that plug your ear and seal noise out. These were cheap and they sounded good. But the last time I ordered, they never came. I contacted the seller, and after promising to send them again, nothing happened.

So when I decided to get another pair, I looked around ins stores. The prices are shocking :-) when you buy local. I settled on a pair of Bob Marley headphones for $49. Excellent sound with strong, tight bass. And a fabulous braided cloth cord that does not tangle. Must haves in my opinion.

Laptop Bag   I use a Targus backpack for travelling with the laptop. Plenty of room for the large W500 and lots of sections. I like it a lot. Before that, when I was carrying a smaller laptop for a few years, I used a really good OGIO bag (skate boarding company) and I would still be using it if it took a 15” laptop. Both bags can carry everything I need for overseas trips, and I often just stuff my dSLR and a lens or two into the central section of either.


Well, those are all the sections Pogue had, so that’s all I will have too. Of course, my requirements and experience will be different from yours. But perhaps there will be something in there that some people will not have seen before, which might be useful.