Shopping has never been one of my favourite occupations but looking for gifts for myself and others is, I suppose, the least objectionable form of it.
Me being me, however, my first move was certainly not to try and find parking at a busy shopping centre but instead, to fire up my trusty browser and go out onto the web to see what I could find.
My first stop was almost my last when I visited South African shopping site wantitall.co.za to look for a new memory card for my digital camera and nearly gave it up in disgust. They had a 4 GB Kingston memory card on offer for the special price of R230, marked down from the ‘normal’ retail price of R480.
Now, I don’t know what planet these guys have been living on but, when I went to the B&H Photo Video’s website, I discovered the same card on sale for just over R 50.
From previous experience, I know that their delivery time is also about a week, so the choice of retailer for that particular gift is a definite no-brainer. I have said it before, often, but it bears repeating that South African retailers really do need to revise their business models.
I know this is a technology related column but I visited the Makro website and found that, at the time of writing, the small Weber kettle braai was on sale for less than R1000. I’ve been meaning to get one of those for ages because you can’t beat chicken and roasts cooked in them.
Maybe this year, Santa Claus will be kind to me.
My major Christmas present this year is Photoshop CS5 which I bought from the Adobe.com online store and downloaded. I have been promising myself a copy of Photoshop for years and I finally went ahead and did it even though, a month or two later, my wallet is still feeling the strain.
It is genuinely the best image manipulation program available and I recommend it unreservedly for anyone who needs (or wants) the power it offers. You do have to be fairly committed to go through its steep learning curve but the benefits are great.
Adobe also offers the extremely good Photoshop Elements program which is as much as the average digital photography enthusiast will ever need and, although there is still quite a bit to using it, it’s basic and guided-edit modes make it a lot easier to pick up and start using quickly.
Both offer free software which can be downloaded from their websites and both offer books and a number of other products, such as postcards, which you can create using your pictures.
The gift that really caught my eye this year and which I predict I’ll be giving to myself in the reasonably near future, is Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader. The 3G version is available from Amazon.com at $189 and I have heard its owners recommending the $59.99 leather cover with a built-in light that you can use to read it at night.
Not only can you buy a huge range of books from Amazon, but you can also subscribe to a number of publications that are automatically delivered to your Kindle via the 3G mobile network. The Kindle can also be used as a basic web browser, using either the built in WiFi or 3G facility, and it doesn’t cost any extra.
Me being me again, my gift list would not be complete without at least a few cameras on it. I am a Nikon shooter and they have just released a new model in the form of the D7000, which falls at the upper end of the enthusiast bracket.
I have downloaded pictures taken with this camera and I have been amazed at how good its performance is in low light. My current D90 is a fine camera but the D7000 blows it away in low light.
Replacing the D90 is now on my list of things to do because I am very fond of shooting at musical gigs where poor lighting is the norm, rather than the exception.
Canon has also launched a new model, the 60D, and it is apparently also extremely capable and the perfect choice for someone looking for an enthusiast-grade Canon DSLR.
Continued next time.