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Even though I’m not yet done with my thesis (three weeks to go!) I decided to reward myself for passing my oral defense by purchasing a Panasonic Lumix FX7. This replaces my brick like Canon PowerShot S20. I wanted something much smaller, since I never want to take my Canon around with me. I also wanted something faster, since taking pictures with my Canon can be so slow that I miss the shot. And I wanted something that would take better pictures in a low light situation. This is a tough bill to fill, since smaller cameras tend to have smaller apertures and weaker flashes, and therefore do worse in low light. What makes the Panasonic special is that it has image stabilization features, so that you can get sharper pictures in low light situations even without a flash. To see what I mean look at this picture I took at dusk in Bryant Park.

Fountain at dusk without a flash

You can see all the pictures I’ve taken with posted from my Lumix so far, here. The new camera is certainly faster as well, but I’m still waiting for my SanDisk 1GB Ultra II SD Card. These SD cards are optimized so that they can write faster than normal SD cards, supposedly resulting in significant speed boosts for digital cameras. Regarding size, the Lumix is about the size of a tin of Altoids, although it doesn’t quite fit inside the tin, like the Pentax S5i. All-in-all, I’m very happy with the purchase, although even with 5 megapixels, these smaller cameras are never going to give you the same quality of picture you could take with even slightly larger models (compact, as opposed to sub-compact). If your going to buy a digital camera, I recommend reading this article first.

If you clicked on the links for the pictures you will see that they are hosted on Flickr. This is an amazing new photo service, that really gets the internet. For instance, you will see on the right hand side of the screen there is a photo stream” showing the last five pictures I posted to my Flickr account. There is also an RSS feed. But what makes Flickr really exciting is the use of tags” so that you can see all the photos which share certain keywords. You can see all the popular tags on this page, with the most popular ones in larger fonts. This can be quite fascinating, for instance, the tag Iraq can produce some interesting pictures by soldiers, as well as pictures of anti-war protests, etc. There is a great Mac OS application called 1001 which will pop up a little window anytime new pictures appear in any tags you are subscribed to. (It also lets you upload to Flickr, although I prefer using the iPhoto plugin.) This can be very useful if you are doing a group project and everyone agrees to use the same (obscure) tag, it can also be voyeuristic fun. Personally, I am still thinking of various ways to incorporate it into an anthropology and photography course I will be teaching next semester (another reason to buy a new digital camera). And I definitely plan to upload pictures of my forthcoming trip to India, although I’m not sure I’ll be able to do so till I come back.

If you have any favorite Flickr tags you like to watch, leave them in the comments. Right now I’m having fun with architecture” and also names of places I’m interested in, like newyork, taipei, iceland, etc. When I have time I’ll upload some of my older pictures to Flickr as well. I’ve bought a pro-membership, so I have unlimited storage, but it still takes time to tag everything properly!

UPDATE: Here are some interesting tags: facesinholes, Typography, Umbrella, Industrial, airport, graffiti , cubicle.

UPDATE: I figured out how to link directly to Flickr photos from within the blog. If you click on All sizes” it shows you the HTML code you need. Here is one of my favorites from the pictures I’ve taken so far: