Replacing the Placeholders

Zoom G3 Guitar Effects and Amp Simulator For those keeping score ...

Some time back, I purchased a couple of effects as "place holders" to use temporarily until I could afford something more suitable. I've also been rather unhappy with the Tech 21 "Blonde" overdrive pedal. While it's great for guitar, it's a bit too sensitive for use in an effects loop or with keyboards.

If you look back at the previous entries in this series (links are at the top of this post), you'll see that I was intent on buying some "boutique" pedals to replace them. However, after some research, and at the urging of our bass player, I decided to pick up a Zoom G3 guitar multi-effect and amp simulator. Our great little local music store, Coffey Music, happened to have a used one at a very attractive price (better even than used prices on eBay!).

The G3 is a programmable replacement for several stomp boxes. At any one time, three are displayed on the panel and work just like a "real" effect. With the recently released version 2.1 firmware loaded, the G3 can actually have up to six effects running at a time.

edit-share-screenshot-cropWhile it's really easy to program from the front panel, it's even easier to use the free editor software to lay out a complete effects pedal on screen. In addition to saving to the G3, effects setups can be saved to disk or shared with other users through Zoom's user community.

I'm not going to put it into the pedal board just yet. We have a private party gig in a week, and I don't want to disrupt the setup so close to a gig. In the mean time, I'll start setting up at least the basics. Then, I can fine tune it for each song.

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A35 First Shots

I'm finally able to share some first shots with the new Sony SLT-A35 -- and my first impressions as well! SLT-A35 and 18-55mm f:3.5-5.6 SAM lens: I mentioned in my post, Quickie with the A35, that the camera and kit lens just plain feel good. With my own, I spent some time customizing the operation. A few things I did right off the bat:

  • Enable the automatic LCD/Viewfinder switching
  • Enable the "Eye-start Autofocus"
  • Enable the focus assist magnifier
  • Enable the "rule of thirds" finder grid
  • Disable auto image review
  • Set the LCD to an info display by default
  • Enable info displays in the electronic viewfinder

I also made my "standard" changes to imaging settings:

  • Punch up the sharpness in all modes except for "portrait"
  • Punch up the contrast in B&W modes
  • Punch up the saturation in most modes

This morning, I headed off across the countryside to take some pictures on a gorgeous fall day. This image is straight from the camera. I'm letting the camera make all the decisions here, and selected the "Toy Camera" scene mode. The camera has done pretty much exactly what I would have done in post -- slightly darkened the corners and punched up and warmed the colors. While you can't tell a lot from even the enlarged image here, the overall sharpness is excellent, and there's little evidence of the dreaded "purple fringing" in the edges and corners. Very nice.

DT55-200mm f:4-5.6 SAM v2: Here, I've selected the 55-200mm lens, and chosen the auto HDR mode with a range of 6EV. In this mode, the camera makes three exposures -- one at the "correct" exposure, and then one under and one over. The images are then combined in-camera for a true HDR effect. The camera then saves the correct single exposure as well as the HDR version. As expected, the HDR image requires a little "help" in post, and I've done the basics -- correct the black point, the highlight limit and at the mid-point levels. The result is a nice, crisp, detailed image with good color and detail.

Like the 18-55mm lens I purchased, the 55-200 is also a "kit" lens. While the 18-55 was made in Thailand, the 55-200 was made in China, and you can definitely feel a difference in the lens. Where the zoom control on the 18-55 is very smooth, the 55-200 doesn't feel quite as "luscious." The zoom is tight and catches here and there. If I were to try to use this lens for video, and tried to zoom with it while recording, the zoom would not be smooth. But, the lens is sharp and lightweight, with only a little more evidence of chromatic aberration. For the money, not a bad lens to start with.

Sigma EF-610 DG SUPER Flash: I don't really have any images yet to show with the flash. I did shoot a few today, but I was working in really extreme conditions and talking too much about them wouldn't be completely fair. However ... I'm not as thrilled with the flash as I'd hoped to be. For now, I'm going to put it down to not being used to the new gear. I'll post some images and a little review on that once I get better acquainted with the flash.

Gallery: Here are a few selected images I made today:

I hope that I'll have an opportunity to shoot some more tomorrow, and I'll of course share my results.