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Less force, more service

How much of this is applicable in Saskatoon.  The vision for the future of Toronto Police.

“What I see is the traditional model, which has outlived its utility and relevance,” Mukherjee said of a system that has historically relied on uniformed police officers heavily equipped with hardware, where the bulk of training is in use of force.

“The need out there has changed,” he said, adding that 80 per cent of the work police are now called on to do isn’t crime fighting per se. Officers are instead dealing with the safety of young people, domestic violence issues, and people suffering mental health issues.

Mukherjee envisions organizational shifts that could involve hiring youth workers, domestic violence workers and social workers. And that could even include taking guns away from some (or many) police officers.

“My vision of the police organization is it is actually a network of many different services,” Mukherjee said. The human rights facilitator is keenly interested in the approach to policing in the United Kingdom, thought to be at the forefront of innovation.

These are not simple changes.

During Thursday’s interview, Mukherjee noted that two years ago he pushed for zero deaths in police interactions with the mentally ill and was told by top brass it was “impractical.” (In a report released last week, retired judge Frank Iacobucci also called for a goal of “zero deaths,” one of several recommendations Blair said would “gather momentum” and not dust.)

This would be a fascinating discussion to have because I see the Saskatoon Police force working in both ways.  While I am not sure how much value the SWAT assault vehicle they have is, they do have a lot more hardware now than they did before.  How much does a police force need?  How much social work should they be doing?  Interesting questions.

Government needs to work

The one thing that Bill Clinton has understood better than any American president is that government needs to work.  FEMA needs to be able to respond to emergencies, pension checks have to be delivered on time, and people need to be able to access services; whether it be housing or grants for small businesses.  Government had to work.

Over the last year the water pipe on the 1300 and 1400 blocks have broken about 10 times.  10 times without water, sometimes for over night or for all day.  Obviously something is wrong with that waterline but they keep patching the patches together.  Sometimes the patches would last for a couple of hours, other times the patches lasted long enough that they would actually patch the hole and repave it until they had to cut through the asphalt again.

The fact that the waterline is broken is not the problem.  That happens. The problem is that even with a scheduled repair (they cut the asphalt open two days ago) that the city won’t give any notice that your water is being turned of.  Once the water is turned off, it can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days until the water truck arrives.

So with a household with kids in it, how does one flush a toilet?  How does one cook?  How does on bath or clean?

So the city knows it is going to repair a stretch of road, schedules a crew to come out, makes sure the backhoe is coming (they park the truck so it blocks my driveway each time… ignoring the abandoned lot beside me) and then goes to work and no one thinks, “we need a water truck there for that block”.

The 1300 block of Avenue D has gone over a week without water this winter.  A week without showers or laundry.  Eventually thanks to a suggestion Ward 1 Councillor Darren Hill, the city opened up city owned facilities for showers.  It was appreciated even if residents didn’t have access to laundry facilities.  It’s like no one at the city can go, “these families have gone a week without water.  What would I do in that situation?”

Last week my water shut off during my morning shower.  No one knocked on my door or let us know.  I was kind of caught of guard because the repair was in a different part than the block and I missed the digging.   Since then I walk out my front door in the morning and check both ways for construction crews before taking a shower.

This week they showed up, left a drinking water advisory on my door (even though we had no water), dug up the street and then went for lunch.  Just what I want to see when I can’t flush a toilet, City of Saskatoon workers taking a long break (yes I know they deserve a break but what about a staggered break so that would can continue?)

At the end of all of these watermain breaks over the last five years I have realized that our city doesn’t have the organizational capacity to get men and equipment to a job site at the same time, let alone get a needed and emergency source of water to a site; despite the repair being scheduled.  We also don’t have the technical capacity to fix a seldom travelled roadway properly.

So what is the reason?  Some say a bias against the westside.  I tend to wonder if we are hiring competent managers in Public Works and if we aren’t, what is the problem and how do we fix it as a city.  This isn’t a manpower issue.  It’s a customer service issue (and apparently an engineering one).

For those of you who suggest calling Public Works, in 15 years of calling that department has left me jaded from the lies.  People I talk to just make things up.  My favorite was calling about a water truck.  Wendy was assured it was on route to the location.  It never arrived for another 8 hours.  I was told that there was supposed to be flyers delivered about the repair today (and I assume about the repair last week).  There were none.

Since we can’t coordinate men, equipment, and water to a job site at the same time, I don’t think we are going to be able to solve this one.

Government needs to work.  Someone needs to fix it when it doesn’t.  Sadly no one seems that interested in doing that.

How YouTube Reflects America

What you can learn about the American home from watching YouTube.

Jason Whitlock On Johnny Manziel & Canadians

Fun segment about Jonny Manziel and Canadian basketball players.  Apparently we are too laid back as a country to be basketball stars.  Someone needs to tell Steve Nash.

Keith Olbermann on Ray Rice and How the NFL Encourages Violence Against Women

Just watch this.  It doesn’t matter whether you like sports or not, you just need to watch it.  The bad news is that this kind of attitude goes beyond football, if you doubt me, read this sickening account of Floyd Mayweather that Deadspin published.

The Best Lens Options for Your Pentax DSLR

So if you are like me, you own a Pentax DSLR. You love your camera but the lens selection is paltry compared to Canon or Nikon and of course you hear photographers tells you that there isn’t the good glass to go with Pentax.  Even many local camera shops don’t have a great section despite them selling a lot of Pentax K-3 and K-5 IIs cameras in the last year.

So what do you do?  First of all you take a look around online and see what is there.  If you are reading this page, there is a good chance that you are doing just that.  To help you with your search, I have listed around 25 lenses that would all make great additions to any photographers bag.

If you have no idea which lens you want to purchase, ask your local camera shop for advice or check out this video from Pentax.

Ricoh has more about the available Pentax lenses here.

So the next time someone tells you there are not great lenses for the Pentax cameras, remind them of what is out there.  There is some amazing and professional quality glass for your camera.

Each link on the post goes to Amazon.com which offers you some purchasing options and price for each lens.  Since lens price is often moving, it’s easier to check them out there.

Normal Lenses: In photography and cinematography, a normal lens is a lens that reproduces a field of view that generally looks “natural” to a human observer under normal viewing conditions, as compared with lenses with longer or shorter focal lengths which produce an expanded or contracted field of view that distorts the perspective when viewed from a normal viewing distance.

Pentax 35mm DA L F2.4 AL

Pentax 35mm DA L F2.4 AL

This versatile Pentax 35mm DA L F2.4 AL Lens is considered a standard, normal focal length lens for the Pentax DSLRs it was designed for, but it’s a great lens to own, even if you only have one lens. This 35mm lens (equivalent to 52.5mm in 35mm format) is ideal for family photos, portraits, landscapes and a lot more. The fast f2.4 maximum aperture helps you get pictures even in low-light situations, and it provides high-resolution images with edge-to-edge sharpness. An aspherical lens element helps to compensate for spherical aberration to maximize image quality, and PENTAX Super Protect (SP) coating helps repel dust, water, and grease–making the lens easier to clean.

35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens

35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens

The 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens for Pentax DSLR Cameras from Sigma is the first entry into Sigma’s Art series of professional lenses, with an emphasis on artistic expression and the creative potential of the lens. With a bright f/1.4 maximum aperture, floating inner focusing system, and Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) you’ll have quick and accurate control over the artistic effects achieved by the lens’ high quality elements.

For wide angle photography, this 35mm lens and its circular 9-bladed f/1.4 aperture ensure excellent brightness and blurred background (bokeh) effects. The Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting and provides sharp and high contrast images even in backlit conditions.

The lens’ Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) and floating inner focusing system ensure that you experience quick, quiet and precise autofocusing whenever you need it. Adjust focus using either autofocus (AF), or full-time manual focus, without having to switch camera modes or change settings – just flick the switch from AF to MF.

For greater build quality and strength, all metallic parts and the new Thermally Stable Composite compound material (TSC), are housed internally. Its brass made bayonet mount has both high accuracy and durability, and a special treatment is applied to its surface giving it greater strength and making it highly resistant to long-term daily use.

Pentax smc DA 50mm f/1.8 Lens

Pentax smc da 50mm f1.8

The smc DA 50mm f/1.8 Lens from Pentax is a fast and inexpensive f/1.8 lens for cameras with a Pentax K mount. Mounted to a camera with an APS-C sensor, this lens gives an angle of view equivalent to a 76.5mm telephoto lens–ideal for portraits. The wide f/1.8 aperture makes this an essential lens for working in low light, and it also delivers beautiful bokeh (the out-of-focus portion of a photograph). This lightweight (4.3 oz) lens is very compact–just 1.5″ (3.8 cm) long.

Pentax Normal SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens

Pentax 50mm f/1.4 Lens.png

A standard lens for Pentax autofocus cameras with a bright f/1.4 aperture.  The SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 is an excellent choice for lowlight handheld photography, and effectively becomes a brilliant short telephoto portrait lens when used with your Pentax DSLR.  The Pentax Super Multi Coating process provides the highest possible transmission of light.

Portrait Lenses: a prime lens with a relatively high aperture and usually a means for softening definition in taking portraits

Pentax 55mm f/1.4 DA* SDM Autofocus Lens

Pentax 55mm f/1.4 SDM Lens

The Pentax 55mm f/1.4 DA* SDM Autofocus Lens is a compact and bright short-telephoto lens of the highest order, made exclusively for Pentax digital SLR cameras.  In a stocky housing ready for harsh conditions, you’ll get a bright f/1.4 aperture-worlds away from the experience you’re used to with more common zooms-that opens up new creative doors to you as a photographer.

This lens was born to shoot between f/1.4 and f/2.8, and comes with a 9-bladed aperture diaphragm which shows up as perfectly round when you stay between f/1.4-2.8.  Shoot dramatic portraits with bright point light sources behind the subject, and you’ll be dazzled with lovely diffuse, circular out-of-focus highlights that make everybody look better.  Beyond portraits, this lens works well any time you would use a moderate telephoto focal length.

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens

Sigma 85mm f/1.4.jpg

When you need a medium-telephoto standard lens for everything from portraiture to sports, the fast Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens for Pentax Digital SLRs is a great solution. This large aperture beauty is designed with an SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass element and a glass mold element which yield first-class, sharp image captures with high contrast.

The 85mm f/1.4 has Sigma’s HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) which provides fast, accurate and quiet autofocusing. The exterior of this lens is EX-finished which translates to a superior build and optical quality, enhanced handling and appearance. It comes with a petal-type hood to block out extraneous light. A dedicated hood adapter for cameras with an APS-C size image sensor is also included to expand the length of the hood for blocking out extraneous light more effectively.

This fast f/1.4 lens is great for capturing fast moving images, allowing you to use faster shutter speeds, and is what you want when shooting under low lighting conditions. This highly efficient lens has a nine blade circular diaphragm for creating pleasant out-of-focus highlights (bokeh) which is a major asset to portrait and wedding photographers.

Short Telephoto Lenses

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Lens

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 ART lens

The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Lens for Pentax is a wide-angle to normal-length zoom lens that features a fast, bright constant f/1.8 maximum aperture. It is specifically designed for use with APS-C-sized sensors and provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 27-52.5mm.

The lens integrates four aspherical elements into its construction as well as five Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass elements to help minimize various aberrations and distortions throughout the zoom range as well as provide greater image sharpness and clarity. A Super Multi-Layer Coating has also been applied to lens elements to reduce surface reflections, lens flare, and ghosting to produce images with higher contrast and color fidelity. The lens barrel design is constructed from a Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material that is akin to metal in texture and resistance to temperature and environmental changes while also remaining lightweight and compact. An internal focusing and zooming mechanism also helps to maintain a compact and consistent overall length and non-rotating front ring also better enables the use of circular polarizing filters. For control of focus, a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) is used to ensure fast, precise, and quiet focusing capabilities that are well suited to continuous shooting and movie recording.

This lens is part of Sigma’s Art line; deeming it well-suited to creative image making due to its large, constant f/1.8 maximum aperture and ability to produce aesthetic bokeh by way of a nine-blade circular diaphragm. The range of focal lengths it covers, from wide-angle to normal-length, is nicely situated for everyday and artistic shooting applications.

Pentax DA* 16-50mm f/2.8ED AL [IF] SDM Lens

Pentax 16-50 f/2.8 lens

 

Pentax DA* 16-50mm f/2.8ED AL [IF] SDM Lens is a high-quality bright f/2.8 lens. This lens brings together advanced optical technologies, including aspherical elements, special optical-glass elements, and original lens coatings. It offers a versatile ultra-wide to medium-telephoto zoom range, and can be used as the ideal standard zoom lens in a wide variety of applications, including landscape, snapshot and portrait.

Walk Around Lens

I love a good walk around lens.  There are times when I don’t know what I am going to expect when I go out with my camera .  I could be shooting wide or long.  The quality may not be as good as a prime but sometimes you need more versatility than you need sharpness or low light performance.

Pentax SMC DA 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC WR Lens

Pentax 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 WR Lens

You may already have this lens.  It’s offered in some kits as an alternative to the 18-55 lens.  If you have the option of getting it, make sure you do as it is well worth the price.  If it doesn’t come in a kit, you may want to consider picking it up.  It’s got a decent range, is decently sharp, and is weather resistant.  It offers a focal length that is equivalent (in 35mm format) from 27.5 to 207mm. This wide coverage is ideal for a variety of telephoto applications, including portraiture, sports and scenery.

The image circle in DA-series lenses is designed to perfectly match the 23.5mm x 15.7mm size of the CCD used in Pentax digital SLRs to optimize camera performance. This design also contributes to a drastic reduction in size, weight and production cost compared to 35mm-format counterparts with similar specifications.

Pentax DA (DA-Star) zoom lenses come equipped with the SDM System, which assures smoother, quieter auto-focusing operation by using a built-in supersonic motor. Like all Pentax lenses, this lens is treated with smc coating for maximum light transmission, sharp definition, and high contrast images.

Tamron AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) MACRO 

Tamron 18-200mm Zoom Lens for Pentax DSLRs.jpg

The Tamron AF18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) MACRO is a high power zoom lens designed exclusively for digital SLR cameras using the more compact (APS-C) digital size image sensors. The focal length of this lens is equivalent to approx. 28-300mm in 35mm format.

Designed as an “all-in-one” lens, it will meet almost all photographic opportunities without changing lenses.

The 18-200mm zoom lens realizes an MFD (Minimum Focus Distance) of 1.5′ (45 cm) over the entire zoom range by the employment of a new optical/mechanical design configuration. Since the maximum magnification ratio at f=200mm is 1:3.7, you can enjoy close-up photography easily and conveniently.

Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro HSM Lens

Sigma 18-250mm walk around lens for Pentax DSLR

The 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro HSM from Sigma is an incredibly versatile lens that is a real jack-of-all-trades lens you can carry in any situation. With a focal length spanning from a wide-angle 18mm up to a 250 mm telephoto zoom, with macro capabilities to boot, Sigma’s 18-250mm could easily be your camera’s first all-in-one lens, or a great replacement for several smaller lenses that you’re looking to consolidate.

Sigma redesigned the optical and structural design of this lens in order to achieve a relatively compact size, at 4.0″ long, as well as a close minimum focusing distance of 13.8″ for macro photography. Their Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) construction maintains the structure of the lens, with little variation despite changing temperatures. The lens also incorporates a brass-made bayonet mount, to further reinforce the lenses durability and resistance to wear and tear over time.

The minimum focusing distance is the same throughout the focal length of the entire zoom range, and provides a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.9. As an added benefit over fixed focal length macro lenses, the size and framing of subjects can quickly and easily be adjusted by rotating the zoom ring. For even further convenience, at each focusing distance on the side of the lens barrel, the maximum magnification ratio is also displayed.

For high image quality, you know you’ve got to have high quality glass, and Sigma has incorporated their Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass element into the 18-250mm. In addition to the SLD element, three aspherical lenses, including a double-sided aspherical lens, have been used in the lens’ construction–offering excellent correction of color aberration, for better clarity and quality of images throughout the zoom range.

A Super Multi-Layer Coating has also been employed to reduce flare and ghosting with this lens. This makes it resistant to strong incident light, such as backlight behind a subject, providing sharper, high contrast images even shooting into a light source. To prevent internal reflections from occurring, the included petal-type lens hood can be attached in order to block out extraneous light.

For a lens that offers a wide-angle to telephoto focal length, and the ability to zoom-in with macro photography, Sigma’s 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro HSM made for Pentax cameras is more than a match. Whether you’re on a macro product shoot, a walk in the park, or have a wedding to go to, this lens will help you shoot high quality images in any situation.

Pentax smc DA 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 ED SDM Lens

Pentax smc 18 270mm lens 1 1358880197

The Pentax smc Pentax-DA 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 ED SDM Lens is an all-encompassing zoom lens, featuring a 15x zoom rangefrom a wide 18mm to a long 270mm (equivalent to 27.5-414mm in 35mm format). Benefitting the long reach of this lens, two extra-low dispersion elements have been incorporated into the lens construction to help reduce chromatic aberration and improve overall image clarity. A minimum focus distance of 1.6′ across the entire zoom range also makes this lens an effective tool for macro and close-up work.

Telephoto Lens: In photography and cinematography, a telephoto lens is a specific type of a long-focus lens in which the physical length of the lens is shorter than the focal length. This is achieved by incorporating a special lens group known as a telephoto group that extends the light path to create a long-focus lens in a much shorter overall design. The angle of view and other effects of long-focus lenses are the same for telephoto lenses of the same specified focal length. Long-focal-length lenses are often informally referred to as telephoto lenses although this is technically incorrect: a telephoto lens specifically incorporates the telephoto group.

Telephoto lenses are sometimes broken into the further sub-types of medium telephoto: lenses covering between a 30° and 10° field of view (85mm to 135mm in 35mm film format), and super telephoto: lenses covering between 8° through less than 1° field of view (over 300mm in 35mm film format).

Pentax HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Lens

Pentax 55-300mm f/4.8 WR Lens

The HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Lens from Pentax is a portrait-length to telephoto zoom lens that provides a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 84.5-460mm. This extensive zoom range is complemented by the inclusion of two extra-low dispersion glass elements, which work to minimize chromatic aberrations and enhance overall image sharpness and clarity. A high-grade multi-layer HD coating has been applied to lens elements to help minimize flare and ghosting for enhanced contrast and, additionally, an SP Protect coating has also been applied to the front lens element to effectively protect it from dirt, oil, and finger prints.

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM

Sigma 70-100 f/2.8 lens for Pentax DSLR cameras

The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM for Pentax is the second generation of large-aperture telephoto zoom lenses incorporating Sigma’s OS (Optical Stabilizer) anti-shake system. It offers the equivalent of shooting at shutter speeds 3 to 4 stops slower than without OS, thus allowing handheld telephoto zoom shooting even in poorly lit conditions. Its HSM ensures quiet and high speed AF as well as full-time manual focusing.

It features a large maximum aperture of f/2.8 that remains constant throughout the zoom range, making it incredibly valuable when shooting in low light situations such as weddings or other events. It is also great when shooting fast-moving subjects such as sports, when fast shutter speeds are needed to capture fleeting moments. The 70-200mm f/2.8 is fast and versatile and at a length of 7.8 (19.8cm) will be a tool that seldom sees the inside of your camera bag. The lens comes with a petal-type lens hood plus an adapter to extend its length for users with APS-c cameras.

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro AF Lens

Tamron 70 200 lens

 

The Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro Lens is a telephoto zoom lens that has a large maximum aperture of f/2.8 which remains constant throughout the zoom range. It also offers an excellent “close-focusing-distance” minimum of just 3.1′ (0.95 m) throughout its entire zoom range, with a maximum macro magnification ratio of 1:3.1 at f=200mm. When mounted on an APS-C sensor size digital SLR camera, it provides a focal length equivalent of 105-300mm.

The advantage that the Tamron has over the Sigma is cost.  While it lacks image stabilization, your Pentax camera has that built into the body which means that you don’t need it.  This lets you save the money and still get great performance in that distance.

Sigma 50-500mm F/4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Lens

Sigma 50-500mm lens for Pentax DSLR cameras

This Sigma 50-500mm F/4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Lens for Pentax covers a lot of ground. The 10x zoom can be used on everything from landscape and portrait photos to sports action and wildlife photography. It uses 4 Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass elements for optimum color correction and sharpness through the entire zoom range, and a Hyper-Sonic Motor (HSM) provides quiet and high-speed auto focusing. The Optical Stabilization (OS) system allows you to use the lens even off a tripod to capture sharp, clear photos.

This 50-500mm lens is designed for use with Pentax DSLR cameras–with an APS-C-sized sensor, the effective zoom range is approximately 75-750mm in 35mm equivalent.

While around $500 more than the Sigma 150 to 500, it is slightly sharper so keep that in mind when you are considering which one to get.

Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO Autofocus Lens for Pentax

Sigma 150-500mm lens for Pentax DSLR cameras

This Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO Lens for Pentax is for digital SLR cameras with a Pentax K lens mount. It is an ultra telephoto zoom lens ideal for nature, wildlife, or sports photography. This zoom range translates into an equivalent range of 225-750mm when used with digital SLR cameras with an APS size sensor.

The OS (Optical Stabilizer) system minimizes image blur caused by camera shake, and offers the equivalent of shooting at a shutter speed 3-4 stops faster. This allows handheld telephoto zoom shooting even in poorly lit conditions.

The use of the OS (Optical Stabilizer) system, HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), APO apochromatic design, three elements of SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass, and multicoated optics all enable this lens to provide a high level of performance throughout its entire zoom range, as well as versatility. A rear focus system insures quick, convenient manual focus and a non-rotating front barrel.

The improved DG lens design corrects for various aberrations. This lens is specially coated to get the best color balance, while cutting down on ghosting caused by reflections from the digital image sensor. The lens provides the utmost correction against lateral chromatic aberration, which is a serious problem for digital SLR cameras.

Pentax SMCP-DA* 300mm f/4 ED (IF) SDM Autofocus Lens for Digital SLR

Pentax smc DA 300mm F4 ED IF SDM

The Pentax SMCP-DA* 300mm f/4 ED (IF) SDM Lens is a high-quality telephoto lens that is designed for exclusive use with Pentax digital SLR cameras. It offers a focal length that is equivalent (in 35mm format) to 450mm. This wide coverage is ideal for a variety of telephoto applications, including portraiture, sports and scenery.

Pentax DA* (DA-Star) zoom lenses come equipped with the SDM System, which assures smoother, quieter auto-focusing operation by using a built-in supersonic motor. When mounted on the K10D digital SLR camera body, the focus mode is automatically switched to SDM-assisted auto-focusing. When mounted on older Pentax digital SLR camera bodies, the conventional autofocus mode using a camera-mounted motor is selected.

Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX DG APO Autofocus Lens

Sigma 500mm f/4.5 lens for Pentax DSLR

This Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX DG APO lens is an Apochromatic ultra-telephoto lens with a fast f/4.5 maximum aperture, and it incorporates two ELD (Extraordinary Low Dispersion) glass elements to reduce chromatic aberration to a minimum. Internal focus enables responsive and fast autofocus speed.

The improved DG lens design corrects for various aberrations. This lens is specially coated to get the best color balance whilst cutting down on ghosting caused by reflections from the digital image sensor. The lens provides the utmost correction against lateral chromatic aberration which is a serious problem for digital SLR cameras.

By adding the optional Sigma APO teleconverter, you can use this lens as a 700mm f/6.3 MF ultra-telephoto lens with a 1.4x EX teleconverter, or as a 1000mm f/9 MF ultra-telephoto lens with a 2x teleconverter.

Macro

Pentax smc Pentax-D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro Lens

Pentax DA FA Macro 100mm f2 8 WR

 

Optimized for DSLRs and compatible with film SLR cameras, the smc PENTAX-D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro Lens is constructed with an aluminum housing and 6 weather seals (thus the WR designation) so you can shoot in almost any environment without risking internal damage to the lens. Optical elements are treated with the Pentax Super Protect multi-layer coating to lower surface reflection, reduce ultraviolet rays, and deliver clear, high-contrast images. Plus, the configurations of its optical elements produce crisp, sharp images with no flare and ghosting. It also features a “Quick Shift” focusing system which allows you to easily switch between manual and AF modes.

Achieving life-size (1:1) magnification, this macro lens is ideal for the close-up photography including, but not limited to, nature, technical, medical or product applications. It is also great for portraiture. Its 8 rounded diaphragm blade configuration assists in producing out-of-focus areas of your images with a pleasing look.

Wide Angle Lens: The terms “wide-angle” and “telephoto” are based on the different angles of view they provide when compared with a normal lens. A wide-angle lens captures a wider angle of view than a normal lens does. There is no single wide-angle lens, but rather a variety of lenses that give wider and wider angles of view, some of which are classified as super or ultra wide-angle lenses, and the widest of all – fish-eye lenses. Lenses considered to be wide-angle include the 35 mm, 28 mm and 24 mm varieties, with the 28 mm being the “standard” wide-angle lens. Super wide angle lenses then take over, and run from 20 mm to about 13 mm.

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC J Autofocus Lens

Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens for Pentax DSLR cameras

The Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC lens offers a super-wide zoom solution to digital cameras, and was exclusively designed to suit the characteristics of digital SLR cameras. The super wide-angle capability of this zoom lens (equivalent range of approx. 15-30mm when used with a Pentax digital SLR camera makes it a very powerful tool for both indoor and landscape photography.

Where the Wild Things Die

From Foreign Policy

South Africa is home to roughly 80 percent of the world’s remaining rhinos, which number about 20,405 white rhinos and 5,055 black rhinos, according to conservation group Save the Rhino. But that population is in danger of imminent collapse due to a recent, dramatic increase in poaching. This is fueled by Asia’s reinvigorated appetite for the animal’s horn, prized for its alleged curative properties and mark of wealth; rampant corruption in South Africa; and soaring international prices on the black market. As a result, there is a multimillion-dollar global conservation war that stretches across southern Africa. And de Rosner is a mere foot soldier in the battle against these nighttime killers. “We do something — they adapt. They do something — we adapt,” he says, squinting in the midday heat. “They’re watching us as much as we’re watching them.”

Flickr: Oliver

As I mentioned before, I gave Oliver my old Fujifilm J10 for his birthday.  The camera has served me well but it is obsolete and has been replaced.  That being said, it is perfect for a six year old who loves taking photos.

To show off those photos, Oliver is now on Flickr at flickr.com/oliver_cooper.  His perspective is a little lower to the ground than most of us but he manages to get some fun shots.  Since your first 10,000 photos are going to be your worst, he is well ahead of many of us in that regard.

Maggi ready to go to the lake

Of course the bad news is that he still can barely read and doesn’t have a computer.  At the same time he is rather particular about his photos which means that I get to argue with him every time I downtown his card over which photo is any good or not.  So far I am winning (no selfies) but that won’t continue for long.

Japan earthquake has raised pressure below Mount Fuji, says new study

Geological disturbances caused by 2011 tremors mean active volcano is in a ‘critical state’, say scientific researchers

So should Japan be on red alert? “We cannot establish a direct relation of cause and effect between quakes and volcanic eruptions, even if statistically the former lead to an increase in the latter,” Brenguier says. “All we can say is that Mount Fuji is now in a state of pressure, which means it displays a high potential for eruption. The risk is clearly higher.”

Science, however, has no way of predicting when this might happen. But there is a precedent. The last eruption of Mount Fuji occurred in 1707. It projected almost a billion cubic metres of ash and debris into the atmosphere, some of which reached Tokyo (then called Edo) 100km away. It was preceded, 49 days earlier, by a magnitude 8.7 quake to the south of Japan that, in conjunction with the tidal wave it raised, claimed more than 5,000 lives. This time, more than three years have already passed since the Tohoku quake. But that does not mean that Mount Fuji, under the constant supervision of Japanese geologists, is slumbering.

Come what may, the method developed by the Franco-Japanese team for investigating volcanic areas should improve the accuracy of efforts all over the world to assess the risk of major volcanic eruptions.

I Died Today

Heart breaking photo essay about a family dog’s last day on earth.

I Died Today. By, Duke Roberts

The Case Against Summer Vacation

I have been saying this for years.

Once school is out for the summer, the opportunity for children to engage in educational activities of any kind decreases. Studies show that, on average, students lose about a month’s worth of instruction, as measured by standardized test scores. But not everyone is average and, as a 2011 RAND Corp. report finds, summer learning loss disproportionately affects poor students, who already begin school behind their more affluent classmates. Research shows that any high-quality summer program that keeps children engaged — whether that is a traditional camp, summer school or even frequent trips to the museum — can mitigate summer learning loss.

The problem is, not everyone can afford to send their kids to a fancy summer program. That means low-income children (exactly the children that could benefit most from such programs) cannot afford to participate. Meanwhile, in a world in which most children grow up in a household without a full-time caregiver, low-income parents not only struggle to find full-time care but also must divert large a large fraction of their limited salaries to pay for it.

Worst of all, this loss is cumulative, with serious consequences as the achievement gap widens every summer. Karl Alexander, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist, tracked 650 children in the Baltimore public schools, recording their scores on the California Achievement Test in June and again in September, after summer break had ended. Alexander found that the poorest kids “outlearn” their wealthier peers in terms of knowledge gained during the academic year, but during the summer months they fall further behind. In contrast, the wealthier children, aided by a home full of books, organized summer camps and “concerted cultivation”-type parenting, continue to develop their skills.

Susan Delecourt talks about Stephen Harper

but is largely describing how Saskatoon City Council operates in Saskatoon.  It’s really depressing.

Kansas was supposed to be the GOP’s tax-cut paradise. Now it can barely pay its bills.

Kansas’ tax cuts haven’t worked out as planned

Brownback’s tax cut proposal came as Kansas’s revenues were on an upswing. Spending cuts and a one-cent sales tax passed by Brownback’s Democratic predecessor had combined with economic growth to give Kansas a surplus. Now, Brownback argued, his tax cuts would lead to even more success. “I firmly believe these reforms will set the stage for strong economic growth in Kansas,” he said.

The governor proposed to cut income taxes on the state’s highest earners from 6.45 percent to 4.9 percent, to simplify tax brackets, and to eliminate state income taxes on most small business income entirely. In a nod to fiscal responsibility, though, he proposed to end several tax deductions and exemptions, including the well-liked home mortgage interest deduction. This would help pay for the cuts.

Yet as the bill went through the state Senate, these deductions proved too popular, and legislators voted to keep them all. The bill’s estimated price tag rose from about $105 million to $800 million, but Brownback kept supporting it anyway. “I’m gonna sign this bill, I’m excited about the prospects for it, and I’m very thankful for how God has blessed our state,” he said.

Democrats, and some Republicans, weren’t buying it. “It bankrupts the state within two years,” said Rochelle Chronister, a former state GOP chair who helped organize moderate Republicans against Brownback’s agenda. And the House Democratic leader, Paul Davis, laid down a marker. “There is no feasible way that private-sector growth can accommodate the price tag of this tax cut,” he said. “Our $600 million surplus will become a $2.5 billion deficit within just five years.” In return, Brownback’s administration claimed the bill would create 23,000 jobs by 2020, and would lead 35,000 more people to move to Kansas.

After the cuts became law, it was undisputed that Kansas’s revenue collections would fall. But some supply-side analysts, like economist Arthur Laffer, argued that increased economic growth would deliver more revenue that would help cushion this impact.

Yet it’s now clear that the revenue shortfalls are much worse than expected. “State general fund revenue is down over $700 million from last year,” Duane Goossen, a former state budget director, told me. “That’s a bigger drop than the state had in the whole three years of the recession,” he said — and it’s a huge chunk of the state’s $6 billion budget. Goossen added that the Kansas’s surplus, which had been replenished since the recession, “is now being spent at an alarming, amazing rate.” 

This is crazy.  His paid for bill went from $105 million to $800 million and he still signed it.  No wonder Brownback’s popularity has hit rock bottom. 

Lake Mead Is Drying Up

This is bad and reminds me of what Thomas Homer-Dixon wrote in The Ingenuity Gap when he was shocked that no one in Las Vegas was calculating projected droughts (which have arrived)

Lake mead nevada all time low fe

The water level at Lake Mead dropped to a new record low this week, but it hasn’t hit rock bottom—yet.

As of Tuesday, Lake Mead was at about 39 percent of its capacity. The drought has taken a toll on water resources, resulting in precautionary actions such as a decreased flow allowance into Hoover Dam to protect current distribution policies. 

The projected lake level is at about 1,082 feet above sea level, and officials say they can meet water obligations at least through next year without a key shortage declaration. But if the water level drops below the 1,075-foot trigger point, Arizona and Nevada will face water delivery cuts, according to the Washington Times.

The lake is currently storing 10.2 million acre-feet of water. Lake Powell, the reservoir managed in conjuction with Lake Mead and located farther up the Colorado River, is holding 12.7 million acre-feet of water—or 52 percent of its capacity.

This is why Alberta never invaded Saskatchewan when it had the chance

The costs of taking over Crimea are more than Russia can afford

Rising prices and stagnating wages may make hundreds more Russians think twice about the government’s price tag of between 800 billion and 1 trillion rubles ($23-30 billion) for Crimea, and may come to pose the first real threat to Putin.

The Russian leader for now looks unassailable, with popularity ratings running at over 80 percent and his critics reluctant to speak out against him for fear of being labelled a traitor against the popular cause of building a Greater Russia.

Russian markets have bounced back, recovering all their losses since the start of the year to trade slightly higher, and some bankers are encouraging their clients to dive back into a market they say is undervalued.

But Russia’s economy, riddled with corruption and nepotism, is still weak and, increasingly isolated by Western sanctions, is for now teetering on the edge of recession.
Fighting in eastern Ukraine, an influx of Ukrainian refugees and the threat of further sanctions all hang over an economy, which the International Monetary Fund sees growing by just 0.2 percent this year. Russia’s central bank hopes for 0.4 percent and the Economy Ministry 0.5 percent growth.

After weeks of saying visa bans and asset freezes imposed by the European Union and United States against a number of firms and officials close to Putin could not harm the economy, Russian leaders are increasingly testy over the damage wrought if not by the current sanctions, then by the threat of more.

“In fact, we are dealing with a new offensive type of weapon,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said of the U.S. sanctions in an interview with the Kommersant daily.
Investment has all but dried up, forcing the government to dip into reserves meant for pensions to finance projects, and the government says it will sell a stake in Russia’s state-controlled oil company, Rosneft, to cover some of the costs of developing Crimea.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov had to backtrack after coming under fire for saying that all the funds accumulated in Russia’s personal pension plans in 2014 had been spent on “anti-crisis measures” and on Crimea.

The next day, he said Russians “would lose nothing”, but stopped short of saying whether the sum of $8 billion would be returned to the personal pension plans.
While such measures may take a while to hurt the population, Karen Vartapetov, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s rating agency, said a more immediate danger was the stagnation of real disposable incomes, which show only 0.2 percent real growth (adjusted for inflation) this year.

“Zero growth of real disposable incomes against continuing growth of public sector pay indicates that salaries in the private sector and non-salary incomes are shrinking,” he said.
“The economy outside the public sector has been stagnating.”

On top of this, the Finance Ministry’s efforts to try to meet Putin’s demands to increase public sector pay, including proposing a new regional sales tax, mean that prices could rise further, putting pressure on stretched salaries.

In the major cities such as the capital Moscow and Russia’s second city of St Petersburg – where Putin faced street protests in the winter of 2011-12 that at times drew tens of thousands – core inflation running at an annual rate of more than seven percent has had little impact on a population largely wealthy enough to cover higher prices.