After a couple of decades wandering the world with no more than a compact camera - given I was digital asap - I have now re-discovered the delights of using a 'proper' SLR. I have a Canon EOS 400D, with the 18-55 standard lens and a 75-300 USM 3 which I recently picked up.
The 400D is doing a top job. It feels solid to use and of high quality. The image quality was the most amazing wake-up call when compared to my previous 'compact' output.
I currently use the camera to record my trips and things of interest for my blog. I don't have a particular photographic focus area like landscape or portrait photography, but I do carry my camera with me often enough to be labeled an enthusiastic amateur.
In view of my re-discovery over the last few months I have been exploring the photographic offerings Microsoft has and trying to gauge awareness and usefulness of them.
What I have discovered is very eye opening. Digital Image Suite (DIS), which I had on just about all my machines at one point (as an MS employee I can do that :-) ) has been retired, and shock horror, there is no immediately obvious replacement! Well, that is what it appears like - you can't buy a Microsoft replacement. In fact, much of the DIS product can be found in the Windows Vista Photo Gallery or its online enabled upgrade the Windows Live Photo Gallery - which you can't buy because it is free to download.
Upgrade to Vista already?! Well actually it is a small Vista upgrade but a superb one for Windows XP. You see Windows Vista Photo Gallery gives all photographers a great tool for cataloging, correcting, publishing and displaying photos. But Windows XP has nothing. Given we've taken something away (DIS) it seems right we should give something back. So Windows Live Photo Gallery - currently in beta - provides Windows XP with all the functionality of the Windows Vista Photo Gallery plus some more Windows Live integrated features which makes Windows Live Photo Gallery a valid upgrade for Windows Vista users as well.
So go look at Windows Live Photo Gallery and I'll show you more of what you can do with it in later posts.