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Well I reached my 1000th visitor last Thursday and I have had over 250 visits since then so I feel this post is slightly behind! I have been busy and away on holiday, but I am determined to catch up. I promised in my previous post that I would write about two lovely visitors to my site, so here they are:

Etheriel Musings

Grace of Etheriel Musings is a really lovely woman and was one of the first to comment on my site. Her website is full of all her gorgeous writing. She mostly writes film reviews, but she also writes observations of life around her. Grace is truly talented not just with how she writes, but the way she has actually thought about a movie or situation in life. You don’t have to take my word for it either – Roger Ebert (the famous film critic!) has noticed Grace and has gushed about her writing too ;). Another fun thing is that Grace is going to be visiting Perth soon, so we hope to catch up ūüôā Go on, go visit her site!

Megnificent Made

Megan has dropped by my site on more than one occasion to brighten it with her lovely comments. Her website is fairly new as well, but I am looking forward to the crafty posts she has coming up (I got a sneak peek by looking at her flickr photos)! She writes about her adventures in Australia, cool crafty finds, items she designs, aaannnnddd she has some cute felt craft tutorials (I have to get some pink felt to make her strawberries!). She also has a couple of guinea pigs with her partner which is extra cute. If you want some craft ideas, go check her out.

Now I am sure there are many, many other wonderful visitors to this site, but I don’t know who you are unless you leave a comment and say hello :D. I enjoy visiting the websites of people who visit (unless you are just a spammer of course ;)), so don’t be shy.

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I can now tick item #1 off my wishlist: I have a new camera bag! Hooray! As a woman, of course I am very excited about¬†getting another bag¬†ūüôā The bag I chose in the end was the Tamrac Express 7.

My Tamrac Express 7: Front on

My Tamrac Express 7. My Canon 1000D and other camera gear are all in here for the photos, so all pictures in this post were taken with my old Canon Ixus 40. Note the minimalist brand logo on the front (the only indication of the brand, aside from a tiny hidden "Tamrac" embroidered on one side).

You can see from my photos that it is a slim-profile khaki-coloured shoulder bag with a suede desert-coloured feature panel on the flap. It sits well on my shoulder, is padded on the inside and sturdy (but still light), and not too bulky. The shoulder strap is padded and curved so it is comfy on my shoulder, and the strap can be made long enough to sling the bag across my body.

One side of the Tamrac with the shoulder strap draped across. You can see that the shoulder piece is curved and padded, and the black stuff gives the strap extra grip on your shoulder. The strap links to the bag with plastic attachments.

One side of the Tamrac with the shoulder strap draped across. You can see that the shoulder piece is curved and padded, and the black stuff gives the strap extra grip on your shoulder. The strap links to the bag with plastic attachments.

What I love most (and why I chose this bag), is that I can walk around with it on my shoulder and it doesn’t advertise that it is a camera bag. In fact the only noticeable brand advertising is the stitched logo on the front of the bag (and the tamrac logo is a subtle design). The design and colours of it just make it seem like any old shoulder bag, and the added bonus is that the neutral¬†natural colours also match well with my everyday¬†clothes ;). The black version would of course “match” with more clothes, but I just thought the black looked a bit too blah and like a camera bag to me.

Front speedflap pocket open. Good for holding some flat papers or lens cap. You wouldnt want anything big in this pocket or it will look too bulky.

Front "speedflap" pocket open. Good for holding some flat papers or lens cap. You wouldn't want anything big in this pocket or it will look too bulky.

The design of the bag is basically just a flap (the “speed-flap”) that covers the main compartment and front zippered pocket and seals in front with velcro and¬†buckle. The advantage of not having a zippered main compartment is that when it is over your shoulder you can just quickly unclip, flip up the flap, and easily grab your camera out. The disadvantage is that I suppose thieves could easily get in too – but if a thief is going to nick your stuff while you are carrying it an extra zipper won’t stop them getting in or grabbing it off you!

The unusual buckle design on the front of the Tamrac.

The unusual buckle design on the front of the Tamrac. The photo is showing it unbuckled and in the exact position you need it to be in to clip it shut.

The velcro is really good, so you don’t have to clip the buckle back in if you are going in and out of your bag a lot. The buckle is an unusual design and you have to make sure it is lined up well for it to click in, so it can be a bit of a pain to clip back up if you are in a hurry.¬†I have seen someone else add an extra square of velcro either side of the main one for added strength (so they don’t have to use the clip when going in and out of their bag) which I think that is a great idea so I am going to do the same.

The front of the Tamrac with the flap open. You can see the square velcro and the front zippered compartment.

The front of the Tamrac with the flap open. You can see the square velcro and the front zippered compartment.

The interior of the main body of the bag is foam padded and separated into 3 compartments with vertical padded dividers that can be adjusted using the velcro (this can be fiddly Рthe velcro sticks well!). Three additional horizontal dividers can be placed within these compartments to allow for a total of six separate compartments within the bag.

The main compartment inside the Tamrac. I have pulled out one of the horizontal dividers so you can see what they look like. The velcro on the divders sticks to the velcro you can see on the vertical dividers (which can also be repositioned).

The main compartment inside the Tamrac. I have pulled out one of the horizontal dividers so you can see what they look like. The velcro on the horizontal dividers sticks to the velcro you can see on the vertical dividers (which can also be repositioned).

There is plenty of room in this bag to fit my Canon 1000D with the 18-55mm lens attached and my 55-250mm lens. My camera is stored lens-side down in the centre partition of the bag (which I widened to allow the body to sit deeper), and the other lens is stored in another partition to the side. The third partition is empty so far РI need to buy more gear to fill it up!

What is currently in my Tamrac: my Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS lens and my Canon 1000D (Canon Rebel XS or Canon Kiss F) with 18-55mm lens. You can see I have a whole section spare!

What is currently in my Tamrac: my Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS lens and my Canon 1000D (Canon Rebel XS or Canon Kiss F) with 18-55mm lens. You can see I have a whole section spare!

There is plenty of room to add new gear in this bag. My camera can be raised back up and a divider made below it for a small lens (like a nifty fifty). A¬† narrow lens can be placed in each¬†partition either side of the main camera, or a lens and a speedlite flash. If the lenses aren’t long, you could fit two on one side and separate the levels with padded dividers. My camera body is not very big, but if your camera does have a larger body you might only manage with just a small flash – camera body with attached lens – narrow lens arrangement, or camera body with attached lens – lens arrangement.

How my camera and spare lens fit into the bag. You can see I have plenty of room for extra items, and how there is room to raise up my camera so there is a compartment underneath (I also have the spare horizontal dividers under it boosting it up more).

How my camera and spare lens fit into the bag. You can see I have plenty of room for extra items, and how there is room to raise up my camera so there is a compartment underneath (I also have the spare horizontal dividers under it boosting it up more).

There is also a roomy zippered pocket on the front of the bag which will hold most of your “bitsy” photography gear. Inside¬†are two pouches, a zippered pocket, two pen holders, and the the main pocket itself. It’s quite roomy – you can really shove a fair bit of stuff in here and still buckle up your bag!

Inside the front zippered pocket: there are two open compartments which will fit cleaning gear, filters, etc, another zippered pocket to store other bits, and then the main compartment itself which can store whatever else you need!

Inside the front zippered pocket: there are two open compartments which will fit cleaning gear, filters, etc, another zippered pocket to store other bits, and then the main compartment itself which can store whatever else you need!

Another nifty feature is¬†the “piggy-back” airline pocket on the back that allows you to slip your bag over the handles of those wheeled carryon bags (demonstrated in the photo with my clipboard!). There is also another zippered pocket on the back, but again I would just put thin items in there to stop it looking bulky.

The back zippered pocket, which would be handy for storing thin papers (so you dont bulk it out), and the airline piggy-back pocket which can slip over your wheeled carry-on luggage.

The back zippered pocket, which would be handy for storing thin papers (so you don't bulk it out), and the airline "piggy-back pocket" which can slip over your wheeled carry-on luggage.

Finally, there is¬†a cellphone pocket on one side which my Blackberry Bold actually fits into really well. My phone is just snug enough so it doesn’t feel like it will fall out, but not so snug it is a drama to get it in and out.

The side mobile phone/ mp3 player pocket. My Blackberry Bold fits in here really well, as does my iPod Classic (an iPhone would fit well too).

The side mobile phone/ mp3 player pocket. My Blackberry Bold fits in here really well, as does my iPod Classic (an iPhone would fit well too).

Overall I am very pleased with this bag! I purchased it online without ever looking at it in person, and had to rely on the very few reviews I could find. I am very relieved that it is just right for me! It is perfect for someone who doesn’t have a lot of photography gear (like me) and/or doesn’t want to carry around a bunch of gear when out and about with their camera.¬†As the strap attachments and buckle are plastic, you wouldn’t want to test them by loading up this bag with a pile of heavy gear – but then that would defeat the purpose of having a slim-profile walk-around bag! The bag would stand up to some light spotty rain, but it is not waterproof so don’t go out in a heavy downpour (I am¬†not going to go out in weather that would damage my camera when¬†taking photos, so no problems for me there). This is a fantastic bag, but if you don’t quite like the exterior¬†design, check out the Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4 which seems to have a similar build but different colours. The bag feels strong, well made, and nicely padded, and is an ease to carry around.

If there is anything else you want to know about this bag, feel free to ask questions in the comments below.

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What is a fantastic new hobby for a full-time university student to take up when she has 1) just quit her PhD (and therefore quit her scholarship), and 2) her only job is occasional research assistant work? How about the nice expensive hobby of DSLR photography?!

Well that is exactly what I have done. The desire to learn how to do photography properly (and not just with my old Canon  Ixus 40) and the travelling I will be doing once my masters is complete has led me to take the plunge and spend a grand on a DSLR camera. Eeek! Luckily for me, I received a nice payment for a journal article I helped write for my professor just when I was debating whether I could afford to get a DSLR.

My DSLR Camera

Now I would like to introduce you to my  new camera, a Canon EOS 1000D  Рalso known in other countries as the Canon Rebel XS or the Canon Kiss F.

My new camera! The unfortunate thing about taking photos of your new camera is that you have to use your old one to do it :P (in my case it is my 4+ year old Canon Ixus 40)

My new camera! The unfortunate thing about taking photos of your new camera is that you have to use your old one to do it ūüėõ (in my case it is my 4+ year old Canon Ixus 40)

The Canon 1000D is a 10.1 megapixel camera that came out mid 2008. As an entry-level DSLR, it is one of the cheapest out there but it gives me the option of upgrading to quality canon lenses. Reading the reviews led me to focus my search down to either a Canon or Nikon camera. I don’t have a particular allegiance to either, but I chose the Canon¬†over a Nikon because: a) the quality is comparable between the two, and b) the Canon camera body and future lenses purchases are cheaper than comparable Nikon ones.¬†

Side view of my Canon 1000D

Side view of my Canon 1000D

Ohhh I love this camera! It is nice and light and curves just right in my girl-hands. At first I thought the plastic body of the camera was getting scratched by my nails when I was holding the camera – but it turns out my nails were just getting filed down by the camera surface, which is still nice and smooth.

Because I came from using a Canon digital, I found this camera very easy to pick up and use straight away. All the buttons are in reach of my right thumb and index finger when shooting, and the “menu” and “display” buttons (which aren’t used very often) can be easily reached with my left thumb.¬†

Back view of my Canon 1000D with shooting settings display. If you head over to my Flickr site you can find out what each button is.

Back view of my Canon 1000D with shooting settings display. If you head over to my Flickr site you can find out what each button is.

For those new to digital SLR photography, you will easily be able to pick this up and use intuitively. However, I do recommend working your way through the camera manual while playing with the camera. The manual is very easy to read and you will learn a lot of important functions – even if you aren’t ready to advance beyond the auto settings on the camera.¬†

My Lenses

I got my camera with the two kit lenses: the Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS, and the Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS. The Image Stabiliser kit lenses apparently have better image quality than the ordinary II kit lenses, plus they have the image stabiliser function. Both Canon and Nikon DSLRs have image stabiliser technology in some of their lenses, rather than in their camera bodies (unlike other camera brands). These lenses will give me a nice range to learn photography techniques and understand what future lens purchases will suit my style of photography best.  

Top down view of my Canon 1000D

Top down view of my Canon 1000D

If you want to find out more about my camera and lenses I would recommend reading some of the very thorough reviews online by professional photographers. I don’t have the photography experience to offer more detailed comments about specs than what I have.

 

More amateur photography adventures to come in future posts!

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