More (medical) Monday?

Latest guess: Inclusion Body Myositis. Not that it matters as there is no treatment beyond “adapt”. Yeah I’ll just change everything about my life because I can so afford to do that.

It’s real. Make sure your battery is fulling, okay?

I “missed out” on an Ebay purchase when the seller did a ‘sock puppet’ bid – and got stuck with it. There was an immediate “second chance offer” – which I am ignoring. Eat it. I’m not happy about the number of crooks on there.

Hand-held test shot: the lens is not sharp.

Another purchase didn’t work out so well when the lens which was supposed to be PK turned out to be CY and the seller is offering all of $10 for his error. It would cost him 3X that for the return shipping to honour the refund. I can see that’s not going to go well either.

Another hand-held shot; very ‘filmy’.

I’m so tired today I’d rather be dead. Sleep was interrupted despite extra medication and this was on top of having to split wood. Something has to give, preferably not my knees.

Tomorrow had better be better. Oh no, it won’t be: I have to go to town.

Bugger.

 

Misc. and mystery

Raven between the lines.

“Lee” I said, “why are you here again?”

The Major sat on the counter and grinned his evil grin. “My purpose in life is to make your life miserable” he said.

“Well you’re doing a damn good job” I admitted, “so you should be promoted. To Glory, by preference.”

Now that we’ve got that out of the way …

Sun over moon.

You know what’s not fun? Getting home from shopping on Friday to discover that now there’s a package waiting at the post office. It will have to continue to wait until Tuesday.

You know what else isn’t fun? Having a COVID-19 outbreak not only at the nearby reservation (where the infection rate is 25% and climbing) but also at the hospital in the ‘big city’. Our “isolated” community is now a contaminated one, and there’s no vaccine in sight. As such I have adopted some of my wife’s pandemic paranoia for my very own.

When the snakes go marching in.

Another thing that isn’t fun is finally getting a lens that was ordered back before Christmas, and finding it is a C/Y mount (Contax/Yashica) not a PK mount (Pentax K bayonet) as was advertised. This means either a long-distance, cross-country exchange or buying an adapter to make the lens usable on the Canon (or the Olympus, which I’ve found also can take it). Because I need the hassle of that? No, I don’t.

Also it isn’t fun when the temperature drops to -12 every night as the weather gears up for that being the daily high. I must split more wood before it does. That means more pain, and I’ve got too much of that already. I keep waiting for remission but get increased symptoms instead.

Marley the Model Dog.

So while I’m bored I troll Ebay for no good reason, and worse. You do see interesting things though, and some laughable practices. Anyway I look at cameras. Despite insisting I do not collect them anymore. I do like to look, however.

Now, if I were to collect them again … well there are a few I’d add to the arsenal ‘just because’. In alphabetical order, then:

Canon; in addition to the Canon cameras that would add to my repertoire there are some that might be nice to have. The 40D for example, because it would be a second EOS body but in the 10MP size which is my preference for “low” resolution. Conversely something like a 90D would be nice for exactly the opposite reason: it is definitely “high” resolution at 33MP and I’d like to try that for myself just to see what observations I’d have about it. I could compromise on a T7, which is 1/3 more MP than my T100, but they’re all too much money – even the 40D – for cameras that I know would not get much use after the initial experiments. I’d also like to try the PowerShot Elph 135 to see how its CCD sensor compares to others.

Fujifilm; any X model. Really this is a range of truly nifty cameras with great styling (especially the retro-look pseudo rangefinder models) and excellent image quality. Not a one of which could I afford and none would add anything to my shooting. Owning one of these is a purely aesthetic pipe dream. The Fuji I have, an F80 EXR, is an amazing performer that’s just the right size for my shirt pocket to go along everywhere in case I need to take a picture. I’ll stick with that one.

Kodak; none. Sorry, George, but even though I’ve had excellent use of three different digital Kodak cameras over the years there is nothing in the now-defunct company line-up that has anything ‘special’ about it. Even the few with exceptional specifications are plagued by a reputation for premature failure.

Nikon; does “D” stand for “Dull” or “Don’t bother”? I’ve tried out a Nikon D80 that was my Dad’s and it didn’t ‘connect’ with me. On the plus side the retention of the film camera lens mount would be great, especially if I’d been able to keep even some of the dozens of Nikon lenses. But I couldn’t so … mute point. I chose the Canon digital system because it is better at adapting old lenses of many brands, it having a very large ‘throat’ compared to the Nikon or Pentax. If I were going to pick up a Nikon digital it probably would be a D80 or a D200. But have you ever noticed how many broken ones are offered? Partly this is due to high sales in the first place, although you also have to wonder about the quality. There seems to be a disproportionate number of failures compared to other brands. Anyway there are no ‘special’ aspects to them, they are just competent cameras. But they all cost too much, even broken.

This camera doesn’t shoot in B&W.

Olympus; well yes I’d still like an E-300 or other CCD version of the E-410 I have. It would be silly to buy one, though. In fact a PEN E-PL1 (or later version) would be better as it has the micro 4/3 lens mount which is more adaptable of classic lenses. But it would have to have the optional EVF as using just an LCD is a right pain in bright light. Besides, the T100 already does the job of adapting old glass. I wish I’d saved some more of that old glass. *sigh* If wishes were Porsches beggars would drive*. As for the OM-D models … well the touch screens put me off. Also the prices.

Pentax; a K10D for me, please. Old enough to have a CCD sensor but new enough to have 10MP and sensor-shift stabilization. The K10D is probably the pinnacle classic Pentax DSLR. It’s also one of the priciest. The other Pentax model I’d love to try out is the medium-format 645D/Z. I could make an argument that it would add to my photography, but what it would take away from my bank account would be scary.

Sony; well, something. I should have some model from this brand. I have looked at Sony bridge cameras and not bought any for various reasons. After that you’re into the a6000 or a7 series models and that means the kind of money that could buy a good used car. I doubt even the best of Sony’s offerings would help my photography in any way; my art doesn’t call for such levels of perfection. It’s just that I’d like to try it out to see what all the pros, and amateurs with too much money to spend, are talking about. The downside here is that I might like it.

I’ve skipped some brands. I’ve skipped many models. I’m just dreaming out loud here. I haven’t even given a hint (or have I?) about the Mystery Camera, which is what made the images for today.

More later, unless WordPress pulls the plug on the Classic Editor or I fill up the allotted storage space.

Uh, yeah.

*Original version: “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.”

PowerShot powered up

Having received the replacement battery charger for my Canon PowerShot G11 it is now back in operation. A quick review of the tool kit here shows six cameras ‘in use’ and another six put away, including the Kodak P850 which had developed erratic operation. The ‘Mystery Camera’ still has this problem and may be relegated to inactive duty, but there’s still a chance for it – if the sensor swabs ever arrive.

Meanwhile no luck at securing a Canon 5D or SX60/70. Sometimes you gotta run what you brung, so here’s some pictures from the G11:

Cat-wrapping paper.
Raven overhead. I literally bent over backward for this shot.
Cranes.
Wild dogs foraging in the snow.
Up on the roof.
I’m walkin’, yes indeed!

I have not done as much ‘street photography’ with this camera as I had intended due to the fact that every time I need to go to town the weather is heavily gray and very cold so I just want to get the trip over with as quickly as possible. It has to get better someday, right?

Olympus Serendipitous

The camera: Olympus E-410 (aka Evolt 410).

The lens: Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f 3.5-6.5.

The other lens: Olympus Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f 3.5-4.5.

The cost: camera and ‘short’ zoom lens $108.80 CDN; ‘long’ zoom lens $29.16 CDN. (I’m not joking).

Olympus E-410 and lenses.

Why did I buy it? You got me there. Perhaps I got confused. I was looking for the E-300 model, which was the last with a CCD sensor. But they command a premium price it seems. Then along came this and well … It’s bad if I’m bored. I made the purchase over a month ago but thanks to the seasonal shipping slowdown it has only just recently arrived.

A couple of things to point out: this is not the “Mystery Camera” used in two prior posts. Also, this is a four-thirds camera not a micro four-thirds. The difference being in the distance between the sensor and the lens flange; a micro four-thirds does not have a reflex mirror to take up space, and as such there is much more flexibility in the design for adapting other lenses. For the four-thirds cameras (which came first) there are less 50 different lenses available and adapting others is unlikely. As it is I got the two zooms which cover the most range. The ‘standard’ prime lens for this unit is a 25mm, which when found for sale tends to cost 3 to 5 times what I paid for the camera & short zoom. I don’t think I’ll be buying one.

So how does it work? Amazingly good. After getting over some minor ‘teething troubles’ having to do with getting images on to and off of the only compact flash card I have (64 megabytes) results are pleasing indeed. Lacking sufficient storage space for full-size images (I got 12 before the “card full” warning came up), I ‘dialed down’ the resolution to get more trial shots. Also had to download pictures by putting the card in the Canon PSA70 because I don’t have a USB cord for the Olympus. Nevertheless, we have images.

Obligatory lens sharpness test. It’s sharp.

The main reason for my going after any four-thirds camera was to see how that particular format compares to others. I’d say it does so favourably, with expected shortcomings and advantages. For example it is lousy in low-light conditions, as would be normal for a small sensor (APS-C sensors are bad in low light, anything smaller is even worse). On the up side it produces better pictures than, say, a 2.3 sensor. It is a good “compromise” camera, which is both its strength and its downfall: if you could have only one camera and needed it to shoot good pictures and take old lenses and be reasonably sized to carry about and have good wide-to-telephoto capacity (crop factor of 2X on this, so the 150mm focal length is 300mm equivalent) … well I can see where a modern micro four-thirds like the Olympus OM-D series would be a great choice. I would not recommend one of these older four-thirds cameras to anyone because they are truly dead-end devices.

Obligatory raven in the sky image. It’s raven.

Subjectively, using this camera is excellent. It handles very well indeed. Okay the focusing is a tad slow, but that is typical of cameras this old. On the whole the controls are in the right places and it passed the all-important test of producing acceptable photos on ‘automatic’ right out of the box (as it were).

Obligatory dog photo. It’s dog.

I don’t really know why I bought it, but I’m glad I did. Is it a ‘keeper’? It shouldn’t be, because it doesn’t fit the criteria for any of my kind of photography nor does it open up any new avenue as the G11 did. Will I get rid of it? No. For one thing it isn’t valuable enough to be worth making the effort to sell. For another … I’m invoking the Eric L. Woods Defense: “I like it. Leave me alone.”

Obligatory cloud picture. It’s cloud.

Mystery Camera, Part II

Oh dear oh dear oh dear! This is proving to be quite a project, trying to get consistent photos from the Mystery Camera. On the up side it didn’t cost a lot of money. On the down side its inconsistency is frustrating.

Here is a close-up taken at the widest angle. Other than having to correct significant underexposure (about 3 stops – a problem that is also erratic) it is pretty good:

Wild rose lens test.

On the other end of the zoom results are not so pleasing:

Bird on a wire.

Someone may want that cartoon-like appearance, but not I. Note the chromatic aberration. Another bird shot shows there are significant problems at maximum telephoto:

You can just tell it’s an eagle.

Yet if we go back to wide we get this:

Results are sometimes good.

I have worked with it (mostly cleaning contacts and resetting settings) to get the autofocus to sometimes work, but it is still inconsistent. I’m not sure if it’s the AF switch or the ‘halfway’ connection on the shutter release, but much of the time the motor doesn’t even try to adjust the lens. When it does activate, it’s abysmally slow. That is probably a function of the design, not of the failure.

Here is a picture in which I managed to bring out the underlying cause of the imaging problems:

Ravens and blots.

A couple of ravens, the top of the trees, and a whole lot of dirt on the sensor! In fact this camera came to me very dirty, and smelling horribly of some chemical which implies someone tried to clean it without knowing how. I scrubbed the lens three times and it still appears a bit hazy on the front. The exposure went from consistently -3 EV to sometimes getting it right because of contact cleaning (which includes repeatedly working controls to get any corrosion rubbed off internal parts if possible). As mentioned I’ve managed to get the autofocus to engage sometimes. None of the operations are consistent, and may never be. At this point it’s definitely not a camera you’d want to count on for anything.

What is it? Still not going to tell you. I’m going to have another go at cleaning (once I get some sensor wands) and try it again in sunshine (if we ever get any of that again) and just see if it’s possible this camera may be salvaged. Oh there’s dirt and a loss of mirror silvering in the viewfinder as well. Not sure I’ll be tackling that.

It does not shoot in B&W, but sometimes things look better that way.

When I’m convinced it can not be improved further I’ll make a final evaluation. At this point it appears to have limited value of any sort.

Experimenting with the Mystery Camera!

This was a nightmare of trying to get things working. To start with, there’s nothing but overcast skies here – and high winds. Then try to use a camera which not only am I unfamiliar with, but clearly some aspects of it don’t work! Like the autofocus, which I am dependent on. Its automatic settings aren’t very good either, and half of these pictures got quite a bit of rework to make them presentable. Half I left as-is. Oh and just to make things more confusing, it was set on ‘RAW’ to begin with which cost a few frames as well. I really hate having to process from RAW!

At this point I won’t tell you what the camera is.

Widest angle.
Maximum telephoto.
Marley the Model.
It was a dark and stormy morning …
Everything about this picture is wrong – except the moodiness.
This one it got right all on its own.

I need better weather and more experimentation before I discuss this device any further. So far it is not terribly impressive.

Plus ça change …

Continuing …

“… plus c’est la même chose.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

I begin this post with that quote because at the start of a “new” year it seems most appropriate. Our artificial designation of the calendar change (New Year used to be in March, never mind the change between Julian and Gregorian, adjustments thereto, or the other types of calendars still in use) and our societies’ assumptions of imposing further changes, or at least the hopes and illusions of them, on us … well it’s all really quite ridiculous.

For example; I have now lived in eight different decades.

Yeah, I’ve been around a while.

If I were to write an autobiography it might be called “From Warsaw to 100 Mile House” or something. I wouldn’t because I can’t remember not only fine details of but indeed great huge segments of my life. When I try to make sense of it, it just doesn’t. It’s been weird and at the same time not very interesting, even to me.

The point is, if we may get back on track here (it’s not called Wandering Words for nothing), that things don’t magically change on a particular date because of that date. You are not born on your birthday; rather you are born and that day becomes your birthday. But people are born, they live, and they die. We are acutely aware of the fact and have a psychological need to define the rest of reality in the same terms. That matter and energy can neither be created or destroyed we know, but we can’t come to terms with this because it is contrary to our own personal existence. So we fool ourselves into thinking time is a thing with a beginning and an end that can be quantified and measured and perhaps even traveled through in a direction other than always forward.

We may as well play the game. The consensus of opinion is that 2020 was pretty bad. Some argue from personal experience that it wasn’t, and the media has gone so far as to dredge up some experts to explain that there have been worse years. This is true: there have been worse years, and I’ve lived through several of them so I ought to know. I don’t expect anyone to listen to me (they generally don’t), but gee kids; I am a walking history book. There’s got to be some advantage to being this old, hasn’t there?

Perhaps not.

On a personal level 2020 wasn’t so bad for me. I am perhaps unique in my adaptability to endure a pandemic lock-down situation. I am by nature non-social (as opposed to anti-social, which is quite different) and the one good part of living off retirement income is you don’t get fired from it. In fact I got a lot of work done on the cabin. The worst bits were endless arguments (usually on-line) about the disease and how it was being handled with the hopelessly stupid people who made the situation worse and the empathetic feeling for all those who really did suffer. Very much like the wildfire disaster of 2017. In truth, for me 2019, 2018, and 2017 were all personally much worse than 2020. But if I look at it objectively and holistically with professional detachment as it were, 2020 was indeed a terrible year in general. A true nadir of existence.

It was made worse by a world-wide assortment of inept leaders whose utter lack of useful knowledge of any sort only served to amplify the raving ignorance and wanton stupidity of a population full of morons. Some demonstrations:

Metaphorical; Australian sees wastebasket on fire, grabs extinguisher, puts it out. Canadian waits until house is burning then starts checking the ads to see if there are any extinguishers on sale. American goes out and buys some gasoline to drown the fire with ’cause it’s wet so it ought to work like water, right?

Timing is everything; Virus first rears its ugly head in December 2019. Prime Minister flies planeloads of “trapped”, and potentially infected, citizens home as soon as possible. One year later he thinks about stopping people from getting on planes unless they test negative for the virus which has already become an uncontrolled pandemic.

When you don’t know, lie; Great Orange Leader says it will all be over by Easter, because admitting there is a problem would make him “look bad”. Eight months later his country has the highest infection rate in the world by a factor of 6 as well as 20% of the deaths from the disease despite having only 5% of the world population. His supporters claim he “warned everyone about how dangerous it is” when in fact he did exactly the opposite. The same supporters deny it exists at all, or say that it is no worse than flu. Until they contract it, that is.

Be prepared; Hey, we bought twice as many vaccine doses as needed for the entire population of the country! Uh, they won’t send them to us though. Seems they don’t really exist. Um, anybody got any vaccine for sale?

Financial forecasting; The Economy will be destroyed if we shut things down! Oh never mind: the rich people managed to get even richer after all, and no one else counts.

Progress in millimeters; Canada is pleased to announce they’ve almost vaccinated less than 0.02% of the population. Somewhat shy of the 12 million inoculations needed to break the transmission spread. Maybe some more lock-downs will help?

I did in fact predict quite a lot of this, as well as suggesting plans to re-order society to make things better and prevent future such occurrences. I won’t reiterate or even link to the relevant posts because no one listens anyway.

I guess the one good thing about being old is knowing you won’t be around long enough to see the final collapse of civilization.

Seeing out the year

While most people are engaged in reviewing the past year and reiterating how awful it was or trying to pretend it really wasn’t that awful, I’m going to be different as usual and just go forward with some more new pictures instead. (And my late brother the English major would give me an award for constructing such a wonderfully awful run-on sentence as that one.)

The camera is, of course, the new-to-me “Zen Canon” PowerShot G11. Truly a fine quality device which I’m still ‘experimenting’ with. I would have taken more street shots when I went to town Tuesday, but it was all of -10˚C and also totally overcast – so no good for taking pictures or even being outside. Instead I had to sneak some shots in whenever I could to come up with the latest batch.

Lens testing. Wide-angle and close up, full automatic. The result is excellent.
A couple of the resident ravens.
Glacé. This is a segment of a shot which contains many potential images. I liked this bit best.

This camera looks and works like an old but automatic 35mm rangefinder. It has lots of controls on it, most of which I’ve tried and now ignore. For functioning on ‘automatic’ the G11 is second-to-none. I rarely even flip the LCD out and make use of that, much less dive into the menus and change settings. It’s like … using a film camera. So are the results.

It’s all about colour tonal range: CCD sensors!
Although not ideally suited to such extreme photography, the G11 performs well in skilled hands.
And away we go!

As you can see the G11 does a fine job as an ‘artistic’ camera, even though that’s not why I bought it. This is what the infamous ZS-60 was supposed to be capable of. Aside from the extreme difference in zoom capacity, the Canon is absolutely superior in every way to the Panasonic. Never mind the difference in price. The bargain PowerShot makes up for the waste-of-money Lumix. I’ll just pretend the prices were the other way around; that would make the cameras fit their costs. (For those who can’t follow my convoluted reasoning, I paid $12 for the used Canon PowerShot G11 and $300 for the brand new Panasonic Lumix ZS-60. In terms of performance the value is completely the other way around.)

Footnote: there is an optional ‘lens adapter’ for these cameras which twists on around the lens once you remove the protective base ring. It is a tube that sticks out and has a 58mm thread in front of the extended lens. To it you can affix filters or ‘accessory’ wide-tele lenses. The cheapest one I’ve located so far is 3X the price I paid for the camera. I don’t really think it would add much to the functionality so I won’t bother with the expense. Besides those add-on-to-the-front lenses don’t work very well, since the base lens was never designed to have the extra element stuck in front of it. A thin filter is one thing; a thick chunk of glass is quite another.