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About zackiedawg

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Boca Raton, Florida
  • Interests
    Cruising, boating, driving, computers, hockey, photography
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America, Royal Caribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Europe, Canada, Alaska

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  1. Florida wetlands activity yesterday, January 11th: Belted kingfisher fresh out of the water after an unsuccessful dive: Roseate spoonbill showing off his colors while wading through the greenery: A smiling, happy looking alligator, grabbing some sun: A red-bellied woodpecker, using that tongue to search down inside a hole in a branch to look for grubs: Closeup peek at a green heron, trying to hide behind some reeds: A great blue heron soaring along in the sky:
  2. Just for fun, how about some extreme reach? I picked up the Sony 200-600mm lens for my APS-C body - so I have 900mm equivalent available...but then added the 1.4x TC to that, giving me up to 1,260mm equivalent. And ALL HANDHELD of course! Some shots with the combo using the TC which surprisingly didn't suffer any slowdown or problems with the AF - it still worked identically with the TC attached, even tracking for BIFs. Pileated woodpecker deep in the cypress forest - VERY dim light - shot at the full 1,260mm, ISO 1,000, and shutter 1/500 (stabilization in body and lens helped quite a bit!): Not an exciting bird - just a northern mockingbird, but it was a solid 200 feet away and I wanted to see how I could do with the 1,260mm equivalent reach - again 1/500 shutter: At 1,003mm equivalent, I filled the frame with this red-shouldered hawk up in a tree - and noticed that he had been tagged: The full 1,260mm on a pied-billed grebe: Now for some distance - this tricolor heron was 196 feet away, and shot at 1,260mm equivalent: Another 1,260mm shot, of a great blue heron out on his nesting island: A BIF shot - a Florida vulture circling in the distance at 950mm equivalent: And a little closer, at 744mm equivalent, of a cattle egret flying past:
  3. I'll agree in general with both previous posters - though I have brought a tripod on board for several cruises, the primary reason was for the occasional use on land, and occasional use to shoot longer exposures of the ship itself while onboard...I rarely or never bothered to use it for ship-to-shore landscapes for all the reasons mentioned...even minor movements or vibrations become much more apparent with a long exposure from moving ship to landscape. I did enjoy taking some long exposures of the ship at night onboard - such as inner lounges, outer decks, pool areas, etc - at 2am you can generally shoot for as long as you want with no or few people in the shot. But with modern cameras & sensors, you can also take many of the same types of shots handheld, with higher ISO levels, and still come out surprisingly clean and detailed...so often I've ended up bringing the tripod with intentions to use it for those interior shots, but just end up taking them handheld at higher ISO.
  4. That was up at the Wellington Environmental Preserve at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Everglades Habitat (we just call it Wellington Wetlands). It's out west on Southern Boulvevard - head out towards Belle Glade, and just before you get to the iron bridge at 880, there's a road called 'Flying Cow Road'. Go west about 6 miles down that road, and you'll see the reserve. It's a HUGE park - much bigger than the Green Cay and Wakodahatchee spots...probably around 8 miles of trails all together. It's much less crowded since it's in the middle of nowhere...but you do occasionally get to see a few species that don't come east or south. We're really hurting down here for birding and wildlife parks - Green Cay Wetlands which is one of my favorite local grounds closed in late November and won't be opening again probably until May 2020, and now Peaceful Waters park in Wellington closes this Monday, and will be down until September 2020. I'm down to Wakodahatchee as my only close 'local' park, and a few other parks that don't have as much diversity and are farther away, like Arthur Marshall Wildlife Reserve, and Wellington Wetlands. The people who run the wetlands and make the decisions should be slapped across the face twice with a glove, for their decisions to shut down two primary wetlands reserves right during the heavy winter birding population and nesting season!
  5. I actually got the chance to get out and do some birding on New Year's Day, as I had the day off of work. I decided to head to a distant reserve north and west of me, along the edge of the Everglades. It's the kind of place where you can't really get close to much of the wildlife as it's less accustomed to people, so the big 200-600mm lens was a necessity to have along - I even got the chance to test it with the 1.4x teleconverter attached, so at times I was shooting handheld at 1,260mm equivalent!: A loggerhead shrike with a mantis for a meal: A mottled duck off in the distance - taken at 600mm: With the teleconverter attached - a roseate spoonbill flying overhead: I was quite impressed at the detail capable with the 200-600mm lens and 1.4x teleconverter. This red-shouldered hawk was taken at 1,000mm equivalent, handheld: A common yellowthroat down by the water, in the reeds - taken at 860mm equivalent: The lens doesn't have a super-close minimum focus distance, but 600mm with a 1.4x teleconverter even from 10 feet away can get pretty close - this is the full 1,260mm equivalent handheld, of a gulf fritillary butterfly:
  6. Thank you...and Happy New Year to you as well! Yeah, I guess I'm just so accustomed to shooting with long focal lengths - when I first got my first DSLR, the first lens I got for it other than the kit lens was a 200-500mm. I've never had less than 500mm available in my arsenal...so I had to develop my steady handholding. I was just out this afternoon shooting with the 200-600mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter attached, so I was shooting 840mm handheld on a 1.5x crop body, for 1,260mm equivalent framing, at as low as 1/500 shutter speeds. Thank the gods for stabilization both in lens and in body!
  7. Well I added the new big boy lens for my new A6600 camera - the Sony FE200-600mm - those who know me know that bird and wildlife photography is a primary pursuit of mine, so it was pretty natural that I was going to add the big zoom. It's not intended to replace my venerable FE100-400mm lens, which still will be better for BIF due to the shorter focal length, smaller and lighter size, dual focus motors...and of course better for closeup work due to the much much closer minimum focus distance. But for reach needs - which is almost always with birds, the 200-600mm delivers excellent reach in a still reasonable size (I handhold it)...and is surprisingly adept at BIF too, though I haven't tried it on the superfast birds like martins and swallows. Here are some shots from my first outing with this lens over the weekend, out at my local wetlands, Wakodahatchee:Great blue heron out in the tall grasses - at 600mm:A green iguana, all 'oranged' up for mating time, wandering through the shallow waters and low plants:Double-crested cormorant closeup at 500mm:Getting super-tight closeup with an American bittern hunting through the reeds - at 600mm:Quite a rare find - not only are they not here in big numbers, but they really like to hide - a Wilson's snipe at 600mm:A cooper's hawk up in a cypress tree, with the remains of a recently caught bird he was feasting on:A cormorant flying directly at the camera - the tracking AF doing a nice job staying with him:Cormorant approaching to land:A great blue heron with a great big fish, trying to figure out how to get it down his throat:Another great blue heron high in the clear skies - with a baby turtle for a meal:I do believe I'll be enjoying this lens, and especially the combo on my A6600 - giving me 900mm equivalent reach in a hand-holdable package!
  8. Well it's Christmas time, and I hadn't photographed my tree or decorations yet - too busy with travel and shopping in the weeks leading up to Christmas! But last night, after relaxing, knowing I wrapped the very last gifts and am ready for the relatives and friends to come...and also wanting to play with the new camera, I took some Christmas-y shots of the tree, all handheld playing with the high-ISO ability on the camera: The front side of the tree from the living room (and what can be seen through the front windows from outside): Ornaments are mish-mash for me - I don't like the perfectly matched designer looking tree - for me, Christmas trees are real pines, and ornaments and lights are colorful and come from all different sources and places. As I have Finnish relatives, I have a Finnish ornament (ISO 6,400): I've also got German, Russian, Irish, English, and several Latin American ornaments from travels or relatives or friends, and lots of cruise ships too. And some are just old traditional ornaments (ISO 6,400): Lots of gifts under the tree - and one ship-related ornament is visible too (ISO 6,400): Here's the tree from the *other* side, viewed from my office/library - you might spot a few more cruise ship ornaments, and my German (well, American-German to be accurate!) pickle (ISO 12,800): More ornaments - another ship related ornament is peeking through too (ISO 6,400):
  9. Finally got out to the wetlands after receiving my new Sony A6600 to give it a test run - mostly to get used to the new camera, get all my settings similar to my A6300, and see how the new tracking autofocus works with birds in flight. On all fronts, the camera performed beautifully and has quickly and easily become familiar to replace the 4-year-old camera: A green iguana turning on the orange to attract a mate: A green heron hiding in the shadows on a branch over the water to strike at unsuspecting fish (ISO 3,200): A red-shouldered hawk flying fast, and in my direction: A female anhinga down in the water with a fresh fish dinner (ISO 4,000): Ibis approaching to land near sunset: Ibis approaching head-on into the lens: Closeup of an American bittern hunting in the reeds: Close crop of a hawk sitting up in the trees:
  10. You're welcome. I'll add since I've gotten the A6600, I've been very impressed with the first test runs this past weekend. The battery life isn't just a little improvement - it's massive. I'll throw in this comparison since with birding and wildlife shooting, the number of shots per battery far exceed any CIPA ratings as you tend to shoot a lot of bursts, no image reviews or playback, and rarely give the camera a chance to rest. With the A6300, I could pull off about 1,300 shots on a single battery in the heaviest shooting sessions - the average was usually closer to 950 - 1100 frames. This weekend, I shot the A6600 in the wetlands, and fired off 1,360 frames - at the end of the day when I got home to review my shots, the battery had 75% charge remaining. That's putting me somewhere in the vicinity of 5,000 frames per battery if that pace held up. I'll also note because my photography is most heavily birding and wildlife which is a specialty photography type, my comments are very specific to my use-case - while I often end up with different opinions or general disagreements with some of Havoc's review comments, it's not disagreement with his overall review or the veracity of the comments, only in how they may or may not apply to my specific shooting. I do agree that the A6600 is a better sell at $1,200 - I still would have paid $1,400, but it makes a lot more sense at $1,200. I don't have any issue with the asking price compared to other cameras in the market - but that's again specific to me...no one else makes an APS-C camera that I find as good for birding and wildlife, with too many compromises in focus, features, or speed of operation that don't make them good choices for me. I don't have an issue with the sensor - comparing to Canon's APS-C sensor, despite the higher MP numbers, it's not getting any more actual resolution and still falls down a bit at the higher ISO levels, so at best it's a wash with the 24MP sensors...it's Canon catching up in my opinion, but not surpassing. And Fuji's sensor doesn't seem to get any advantages either - at higher ISO, Fuji's own personal ISO measurements differ from other manufacturers and when equalized, they are right in line with the 24MP sensor. Canon's focus isn't anywhere near Sony's for tracking fast moving subjects, and Fuji's operation with their manual control dials and no memory banks makes it too slow to make constant transitions in the field with completely different settings needed for still and moving animals. I can't say I've ever found the need for two memory slots - even when I had them...but I wouldn't complain or argue if they wanted to put them in. I agree it's strange Sony still uses UHS-I slots instead of II, but fortunately I don't shoot in a way that ever hits any bottlenecks in processing, shooting, or buffer limits being reached. I haven't had any issue with Sony's two control dials - though the jog wheel on back some don't consider a true control wheel and want a separate wheel at the front and back - I rarely shoot in modes that require manipulation of 3 separate wheels at the same time - with birds and wildlife, I'm shooting far too quickly to use dials for every setting and instead set up MR banks for quick settings then adjust one or two fast parameters from there as needed - and when shooting landscape & scenic, I often prefer to just use A Priority or P, and have time to make basic aperture adjustments with the top wheel and EV with the jog wheel. When reading into comments on cameras, it's always best to take in how any specific comments will or will not affect you and what you shoot. Negative comments, even when completely valid, may not impact your specific shooting needs - so while all of Havoc's comments are completely fair to raise, in my case, they simply didn't affect how I shoot. Just as comments about video performance wouldn't impact me, since I never shoot video. So far, the A6600 has been quite impressive - very good ergonomic improvements with the grip and additional custom buttons, additional menu mapping and expansion options, excellent tracking focus performance with my first BIF shot tests, improved high ISO processing (in JPG), and amazing battery life. It delivers everything I love about the A6300, and improves in many key areas I particularly like or wanted.
  11. Twas winter Disney trip time for me, to go enjoy the photography get-together as well as the Christmas decor...so here are a few:
  12. Even worse for some of us. After buying my new Alienware desktop a month or two before Christmas...I ended up seeing a Black-Friday deal on an HP ultrabook laptop, and though I don't use it heavily, my current laptop convertible is 6 years old and has a 10" screen - it was just time to update it...so that's now on its way to me. But wait, there's more...last week when the price dropped on the Sony A6600 camera by $200, knowing it was already going to be the replacement for my A6300...I jumped on the offer and bought that too. Christmas is looking amazing for gifts for me this year - though unfortunately I've paid for them all myself! And the Sony 200-600mm lens is still calling out to me each night as I try to sleep, so I'm trying to resist the temptation for at least a month longer so I can go buy everyone ELSE Christmas gifts first and not set my credit card on fire from overuse.
  13. It's probably more down to what, if anything, you want to keep from your A6300, and what if anything you found missing on it...and then weigh any possible improvements across the newer models. Personally, I would consider the A6500 only if the goal was to replicate exactly what you have now, and just add in-body stabilization. That's exactly what the A6500 is - the same generation sensor and processor, focus system, etc. It's the older gen body - and you could honestly put a new A6300 in the same category. The A6400 and A6600 share the same sensor and focus system, with the A6600 possibly receiving very modest processing default differences, though that's really unknown - in RAW output, I'd guess they're identical. So the real key differences are that the A6400 is very much similar in size, feel, and function to your A6300, but adds the new tracking focus system and newer processor engine...while it loses the Sweep Panorama mode and the two MR positions on the dial that you have on your A6300. Compared to the A6400, the A6600 adds a larger grip, larger battery with double the capacity, in-body stabilization, and restores the two MR modes to the dial. Compared to the A6300, you get one more custom button, add the MyMenu section to the menus, the new focus tracking system, and the new processing engine. Whether any of those specific steps are worth the additional cost are up to you. For me, I needed to replace my A6300 because I've used it very heavily over the last 4 years and I am starting to worry it may wear down - I've run 170,000+ shutter actuations through it and it's just time. I held off on the A6400 personally as I could not lose the MR modes on the dial. The A6600 fit the bill because it gives me everything I like on the A6300, and improves in key areas (larger grip, bigger battery, better tracking modes, and IBIS. When the price recently dropped $200, that made the decision very easy for me, and I bought the A6600.
  14. Well my local wetlands, Green Cay, is closed as of today, for as long as 4 months as they replace the nature center roof and the 2 miles of boardwalk over the wetlands. This is one of my two regular weekend spots, and especially during winter season - so this weekend I got in my last shots from this place for the rest of this year, and probably until Spring 2020. At least lots of bird diversity was out on a cool day (for Florida), temps staying around 72 degrees for a high. It was a good send-off for the park: Least bittern male, on the hunt: Adorable little round ball of a bird - a common yellowthroat: Zoomed in really close, you can spot this bird - from 10 feet away with the naked eye, you could walk right past and never notice. Excellent camouflage make this a bird often heard, but rarely spotted...an eastern whip-poor-will: One of our most showy birds, the roseate spoonbill, stretching his wings: A tricolor heron, sitting quietly in late day sun, with his reflection to keep him company: A white ibis coming in to land: A tricolor heron turning in the air as he passes by:
  15. Some Sunday wildlife shots from this past weekend: The lovely male painted bunting: Great blue heron sitting pretty: Angry banded watersnake threatening a strike? Actually, he had just eaten something fat, and was opening his mouth to help move the big lump down his body: An ibis coming in to land, performing what I like to call the 'Crazy Ivan' maneuver - flying in gently and straight, they suddenly make a series of highly erratic and sudden turns and twists just before touchdown. (See the movie Hunt for Red October for the 'Crazy Ivan' reference): An osprey headed this way with those intense yellow eyes: A cool full moon rising through the sunset clouds:
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