Switching gears and playing with a small, older camera that is new to me. And was free.

Everyone in Austin seems to be moving. The long time residents are making hay while the sun shines, selling their insanely price-inflated houses and moving to cheaper and less crowded cities. Or downsizing into smaller houses or condominiums in the area.  The Californians are rushing in and snapping up the million dollar and up, three bedroom, two bathroom, ranch style houses built in the 1960s and 1970s and convincing themselves that they just got a screaming bargain. The people who lived here, worked in normal jobs and didn't have houses to sell are packing up and moving to surrounding communities, driven by the need for lower rent. We're staying put. 

But no matter what the motivation for moving around or out, and no matter what form the housing market will take when the panic buying and selling resolves, the one thing everyone seems to have in common is a desire to get rid of stuff they don't use and don't need. They just don't want to move all their stuff around so much anymore. People are getting pickier about their inventory. 

People who are downsizing from bigger houses are calling to offer free dining room tables that seat eight or ten or twelve. People heading into condos are offering up their pool furniture. Etc., Etc. But I'm trying my best to maintain my own large object diet. 

One thing I can't resist is the offer of free cameras. I might end up passing them along to someone else in more desperate need of a camera but I can't bear the thought that little camera gems might end up in a landfill or tossed into a barrel at a thrift store and damaged beyond usability. 

One of my friends is cashing in on his Austin real estate, also selling his local business and moving to another state. We had lunch last week and he handed me two cameras. Nothing special but he made it clear that he and his partner were moving on to being "cellphone only" snapshooters. No extra gear needed. I get it. He's in the food service biz and doesn't have time to mess around with the mind-numbing routines of being a fully fledged photo hobbyist. 

The cameras are both what we would call "point and shoot" cameras or compact cameras. One is a Canon S-95. It's small and nondescript and I have charged up batteries for it but have not yet shot with it. The second camera was more interesting to me; it's Sony RX100. No letters after the 100. It's the first version of Sony's very popular one inch sensor compact camera line. It boasts a Zeiss designed lens and a tiny form factor. 

I've always been curious about this particular line of cameras but the stars never lined up for me and I've never shot one before. I bought two new batteries and a charger from Amazon.com for a whopping $18 and I've been waiting for the weather to get nice so I could go out and give it a try. 

I walked around on my favorite downtown route this afternoon and I gotta say I was a bit tired today having done a "double" on swim workouts today. 

I had the little camera set for aperture priority, auto ISO, f5.6 and AWB. I used both ends of the zoom range which is something like 28-100mm in full frame speak. The aperture starts at f1.8 at the wide end and ends up at f4.9 on the long end of the zoom range. The one inch sensor is chocked full of 20.2 megapixels of sensor goodness and the lens is image stabilized. 

The camera totally lacks an eye level viewfinder of any kind and there's no way to add an EVF to it, that I know of. The video capability is typical of a camera introduced in 2012, offering 1080p but all the way up to 60fps. There are a couple of built-in microphones and no headphone jack. This is NOT a camera I'd choose to make many videos with but it could be useful for some random content you might come across while out on a walk. The real selling point of this camera, now and at the time of its introduction, is the tiny size of the body, the relatively large size of the sensor (compared to compacts on the market at the time) and a really nice zoom lens with a good range of focal lengths. 

After owning a Sigma FP I've learned how to shoot while composing on a rear screen only. I guess I could get used to it and I will say that the screen on the back of the RX100 is pretty easy to work with in all but the brightest sunlight. 

But since I've only used it for a few hours today I'll cut to the chase and tell you what I know from my relatively slim experience: It makes very nice images in good light. The color is a bit forward but it's likable. The images have a high impression of sharpness and this is intensified by a much deeper depth of field that I've gotten used to when shooting with the full frame cameras. 

I shot a couple hundred frames, left the camera on as I walked around and when I came back to the office the battery indicator was still showing a full charge. All in all I can see why this RX100 line of cameras continues to be a great selling product for Sony. It really delivers nice files for a camera its size. 

In a few days I'll take the S-95 out for a spin. I wonder how much coolness that one has. Also coming soon. A friend shipped me a Canon 50mm f1.8 FD lens and a Canon FD to L mount lens adapter. You see, it was the very first interchangeable lens I ever owned. It came with my ancient Canon TX back when I bought it brand new from the University Co-op. I see them in good condition in the used market for around $60. I can hardly wait to see how this 1970's lens tech works on the front of a Leica SL2. I might just be in for a big surprise...


OT: Swim Practice with an interesting "dry land" twist.

Since you are interested in Swimming you might want to 
join the United States Masters Swimming association so
you can get your free copy of "Swimmer" magazine.
It's riveting.

 Usually we spend the entire hour of our masters swim practice (USMS.ORG) in the pool, in the water. Today was different. We had a coach who doesn't usually attend the second morning workout and we got a taste of something different. 

Our coach was Olympic Gold Medalist, Ian Crocker, and his workout for us today was...different. 

We started with a conventional warm-up of 300 free, 300 pull, 200 I.M. and 100 yards kick but then things got more interesting. Ian devised a set that alternated 50 yards of breaststroke with 50 yards of freestyle in a set of five X 50's. After each 50 of breaststroke we climbed out onto the deck and did 10 regulation pushups. After each 50 of freestyle we hauled our butts back up on  deck to do ten squats. 

There's a break after each set of five in which we swam 100 yards of freestyle followed by 100 yards of kicking. Then we continued...

The next set alternated 50s of backstroke and freestyle with the same push-up and squat routine as in the first set. Then the restorative 100 swim and 100 kick. Followed by the set of 50s, alternating between butterfly and freestyle. 

So, over the course of this particular set, in addition to the swims, we got to revel in the glory of 90 pushups and 90 squats, on the deck, soaking wet. Certainly an interesting formula for getting one's heart rate soaring while also doing some strength and core training. 

Unfortunately, after this wild set we had to clear the pool because of approaching lightning and the bellowing of close by thunder. Now, a couple hours later, the sun is out and all the rain chances (and lightning and thunder) have vanished. Most of us who can are planning to head back to the pool for the noon workout so we can get in the yardage we were meteorologically denied earlier. 

Still, I knew you'd be interested in a swim workout that also combined "dry land" exercises. You may even want to incorporate the concept into your daily workout. 

Some people struggled with the pushups. Some could have done sets of pushups for the rest of the day. I fell somewhere in the middle. Just don't give in to the temptation to drop your hips --- keep your core straight and parallel to the deck. 

Many people who are interested in fitness and holding down the weight and girth changes that can come with aging (but which are not destiny!) are fixated on diet. But no diet can replace the extremely well documented rewards of daily exercise. Lots of daily exercise.

Swim enough yards and walk enough steps and you can eat as much as you want. You shouldn't eat trash but if you eat good, fresh, whole foods you probably won't need to keep track of calories taken in. An hour or two of good, hard exercise is a wonderful investment in overall health. And the less you spend on healthcare the more you have left over to spend on photo gear.