(NOTE:  this page merely highlights what equipment I am currently using and is not to be seen as a professional endorsement for these products.  Only time and performance will determine if I choose to continue using them.)

In the course of my journalism studies, I am currently using the following 'tools of the trade':


Model SX40 HS:  The PowerShot SX40 HS is a versatile compact point-and-shoot camera that easily captures amazing photos and videos. The Canon HS SYSTEM boosts low-light performance with the new Canon DIGIC 5 Image Processor and a high-sensitivity 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor. This advanced Canon technology delivers stunning image quality with reduced noise and blur. Colors are more vibrant and white balance is true-to-life. The 35x Optical Zoom offers incredible reach and range, allowing you to shoot any scene, near or far. The Optical Image Stabilizer helps images come out steady and clear, and a 24mm ultra Wide-Angle lens makes it easy to take pictures of large groups of people, tall buildings, expansive landscapes and much more. The camera also features a 2.7-inch Vari-angle LCD for great shooting flexibility. Packed with an array of powerful technologies, the PowerShot SX40 HS is a convenient digital camera capable of brilliant image capture.
I decided on this particular model due to the amount of features compared to its cost (I bought it on sale for $399 back in late September).  I originally started this program with a Fuji FinePix S1500 (10 megapixel CCD sensor, 12x optical zoom) but it just didn't have the look of a 'professional' camera.  The SX40, at a distance, resembles a DSLR and many of its advanced features can be found on low-end professional cameras.  The physical zoom feature is great for capturing images when you are unable to get very close to your subject (like I was with the Cain and Gingrich rallies).  Unfortunately, I haven't moved much past the 'automatic' mode for my photos but, with more exposure and some practice sessions with my wife--the family's OFFICIAL photographer, I hope to be able to get the most out of what I paid for.


Model V570:  The new, powerful Lenovo IdeaPad V570 notebook comes with enhanced security features to keep your files and information safe. Lenovo Security Suite protects valuable data from external threats; while Active Protection System™ safeguards your PC during accidental drops or bumps. The V570 notebook is high on performance too. Its switchable graphics help conserve energy while delivering optimum efficiency; the new, 2nd Generation Intel® Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 delivers smart performance; and Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0 for Windows® 7 with RapidBoot technology, ensures your PC can start up to 20 seconds faster than a typical Windows® 7 computer. So whatever your idea of fun is, the Lenovo IdeaPad V570 brings it to life.
Since 2001, my computer of choice has been a portable one due to frequency of travel and changing living arrangements.  Over those years, I've meandered from Compaq to Gateway to Dell and now to Lenovo.  Price, processing power and storage have been my main criteria for those regular upgrades.  This latest model has almost all of the fancy 'bells and whistles' that I want for my personal and educational needs (lack of Blue Tooth connectivity is its lone shortcoming) and was priced at under $600.  For photo processing/enhacement, I originally used Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 until I was able to purchase Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 at a very reasonable student rate while attending a local community college a few years back.  I just upgraded to version 10 and will be running it through its paces over the next several weeks.


Model ICDAX412:  With advanced sound recording features and flexible storage options, this ICD-AX412 digital voice recorder offers everything you need to confidently capture audio in a variety of settings—from live lectures and concert hall performances, to your personal desk-side dictations. With 2GB of built-in flash memory providing up to 536 hours of recording time, plus additional storage available through the microSD™/M2 memory card slot, you'll have plenty of space to record memos, notes, lectures and music. And with Intelligent Noise Cut technology greatly reducing ambient background sound, your recordings will be crisp and clear in quality. Includes Sound Organizer software for easy audio editing, CD/DVD burning and other useful applications.
Over the past few months, this has become my most relied-upon device.  Through the years, I've moved away from writing things down with a pencil and paper--heretical for a reporter, right?--and turned primarily to keyboarding for jotting down my thoughts or important information.  The use of this digital voice recorder (DVR) allows me to totally engage with my subject and feel confident that I will accurately capture their words and allow me to later transcribe our conversation at a more convenient time using my laptop.  Along with their words, I am also able to provide notes to myself about the event, the surroundings, the mood and the attendees to incorporate into my final product.

(UPDATE: 16 Sep 2013)


Model T3i: Photographers looking for an easy-to-use camera that will help them create their next masterpiece need look no further than the Canon EOS Rebel T3i. The next in a long line of phenomenal compact DSLRs, the EOS Rebel T3i continues the Rebel tradition of easy operation, compact design and no-compromise performance. Featuring Canon's newest DIGIC 4 Image Processor and an 18.0 Megapixel CMOS Image Sensor - plus cutting-edge technologies like Full HD video recording, Live View shooting, Wireless flash photography and even a Vari-angle 3.0-inch LCD monitor - the EOS Rebel T3i offers the best of EOS photography in a compact package.

After seeing some of the aesthetic shortcomings of the PowerShot SX40 HS during my recent Digital Photojournalism course, I decided to finally make the plunge and purchase a true (but inexpensive) DSLR camera.  The Canon Rebel T3i has received very favorable reviews since its debut in July 2011 and I was torn between it and Nikon's D3200 model.  What turned the tide for the T3i was the camera's size (the D3200 felt too small in my hands--refer to my comments about my Fuji FinePix S1500 at the top of this page) and my overall satisfaction with the Canon brand after two years of working with their "super zoom" point-and-shoot model.  To make up for the loss of my "moon camera", I purchased this new one in a "bundle" that included two lenses (an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Type II standard zoom and an EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III telephoto zoom) for imaging flexibility (both are shown above).  These new resources should enhance the overall overall quality of my photographic products but they will also require me to rely more upon my skills instead of gimmickry (or just pure luck).

UPDATE: During my trip to Washington, DC for a personal/work visit, I became very unhappy with the performance of my telephoto zoom and traded it in for a Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD all-in-one wide angle to zoom lens.


Model NP470R5E-K02UB: The Samsung ATIV Book 4 is a 15.6-inch laptop with an LCD resolution of 1366 x 768. It has 8GB of memory and a 750GB hard drive. It has an Intel Core i7-3537U 2GHz processor and Intel HD 4000 video adapter but no dedicated video memory, so it's not well suited for high-performance video gaming. But it lacks an optical drive for burning CDs or DVDs. It comes with Windows 8 pre-installed.  The ATIV Book 4 has a built-in memory card reader for digital photography, a multitouch touchpad, and 3 USB ports. It has HDMI out for connecting to an HDTV. It supports Wi-Fi 802.11n, so it's compatible with the latest high-speed routers.  The ATIV Book 4 measures 14.75 inches wide by 0.875 inches high by 9.75 inches deep and it weighs 4.4lbs. It's backed by a 12 month warranty, with 12 months of tech support.

This upgrade was probably more essential than the camera because my Lenovo was starting to run out of disk space (it advertised a 640GB hard drive but their system recovery software dropped that actual number down closer to 550).  In addition to that reduction, my upgrade to Windows 8 to try and solve lingering Windows 7 issues invalidated that utility and forced me to buy recovery disks to reset the system in preparation for its eventual "recycling" as my son's experimental unit.  While its own highlighted 750GB storage capacity comes up about 75GB short, that remainder should tide me over until I come up with a good backup and organizing strategy for the 10,000+ images and videos already taken with the PowerShot as well as that many (and probably more) that I am planning for with the T3i.