Gear down, gear up.

(Note: through dint of major effort I am avoiding commenting on life in general at this moment and instead concentrating on just one of my many problems.)

For the sake of argument let’s say my Nikon P610 no longer works at all. This is not yet true, but like the Kodak P850 and V1003 before it the Nikon’s functions have become erratic and the resulting images less than ideal. It is inevitable that it will fail altogether at some point. I already can not rely on it, which is a shame because it is an excellent camera. Was.

So, what to do about losing my #1 piece of equipment?

First of all the key reason why the P610 took so many pictures for me: the fantastic zoom range. My photography involves me being out and about and seeing things near and far. Often very far. As such I need to be able to switch from close up (not just wide-angle) to telephoto quickly. I can stand in one spot and see a butterfly on a flower right in front of me and a bird in a tree yards away. Thus the extreme zoom lens is an important feature for me.

Right. So replace it with another comparable camera, yes? No. Why not? Three reasons:

1). There aren’t any exact matches. The newer versions from Nikon are ridiculous in their zoom ranges, larger and heavier, and burdened with extra features which add no functionality. Other units from Canon and Panasonic have less zoom but as much ‘technoglitz’ and none have a guarantee of lens quality. The ol’ P610 quite spoiled me for its lens and newer offerings, even more expensive ones, have not shown to be as good quality.

2). Prices are nuts. The P610 cost roughly $400 new and whereas we can expect a bit of inflation the P1000 replacement is 4X that price. The Canon SX70 is 2X. The only thing comparable is the Panasonic FZ80, and it has other faults.

3). “To thine own self be true” – Polonius. In researching dealing with this problem I naturally turned to my current arsenal of cameras to see which had the best potential for stepping up to the plate to pinch-hit for the Nikon. The truth is none of them quite cut it, but there was a recurring theme among certain ones; namely the EVF models wherein even the best (Sony a6000) is difficult for me to use with my failing eyesight. The optical finders are much larger and brighter and easier to see, so buying another camera with an EVF would be like pretending I haven’t got a vision problem.

How bad is that problem? There is currently an optical puzzle making the rounds of the Internet where you’re supposed to read the number in a swirled pattern. My left eye can see five of the seven digits. My right eye can not discern any one them. Yes, it’s that bad. I have taken to ‘resting’ it with the eye patch as much as possible so that when I do need depth perception or increased peripheral vision it can be used. This is incurable and only goes in one direction. It does not help that most cameras are made to be used with the right eye. The DSLRs are a little easier to switch with owing to the finder being basically in the middle of the camera instead of on one side.

Now the interesting thing is that the Panasonic FZ80 is available for <$400 right now. But see problems 1, 2, and 3 above. Only the price and my boredom caused me to look at it at all. Anyway I can’t afford even that.

So I’m back to trying out my existing cameras. None of them has the ultra-long telephoto ability. Going back to #3 I have to wonder if that matters since I can’t spot those far away birds now anyhow. Mostly I triangulate on the sound and then scan the trees where I think one is for movement to zoom in on. Usually by that time the bird has flown off, and so have its descendants.

Objectively the Sony a6000 isn’t suitable even if I spent $1,000 on a long lens for it, which I’m not going to do. Good though the camera is I have troubles using it beyond just the EVF issue as outlined above. It’s a shame because it is a good camera and I like it save the few operational flaws (which are more problems with me than with it).

The Lumix ZS60 is out because of the EVF, the short focal length range, and the poor quality lens.

I like using the Olympus E410 but guess what? There are no lenses available for it because the four-thirds format was supplanted by the micro-four-thirds system. So I should go out and buy an OM? Not too bloody likely that would happen! Besides which changing lenses out is not as convenient as simply zooming from one extreme to the other.

Of course the Canon G11 and 1Ds aren’t at all suitable for daily use as the former is fixed lens with a limited range and the latter weighs nearly as much as a compact car as well as not having a long focal length lens.

This leaves the Canon T100, which also lacks telephoto lens range. That costs a ton of money, and again this is a compromise because even with it you don’t have that wide-to-telescope-like focal length range.

If only they built a DSLR with a 1/2.3″ sensor! But they don’t and won’t so that’s the end of it.

Oh I didn’t mention my Pentax K100Ds. The reasons why should be obvious.

Since the equipment can’t/won’t/doesn’t exist the only choice is to compromise on style. I already find it frustrating when I go out with the ‘wrong’ camera and see something that it can’t get an image of (the other day it was a pileated woodpecker on a power pole when I had the G11 which doesn’t have a long enough zoom). Now I’m going to have to give up on shots because I can’t change lenses fast enough and don’t have long enough focal length.

This is a problem that has no solution. Just like all the others.

Frustration. (Olympus E410)

Salmagundi Sunday

All sorts of things going on here, interfering with plans and being the plans that get interfered with. So here’s a loose assortment of images to amuse you.

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Female Pileated woodpecker in a pine tree
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Two high Canadian geese
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First butterfly of the year
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The Light in the Forest

BecauseĀ Jim Grey likes bridges, here is the wooden one on our cabin property. It crosses Buster Creek to access the sliver of our land on the other side. Made entirely of wood; specifically four large tree trunks spanning the creek (on top of a couple at either end to retain the banks) and decked with pressure treated 4x4s. We’ve had to replace it once since 2002. It’s pretty sturdy as an excavator and a bulldozer have been over it without consequence. I can’t get down in the currently raging creek to take a good side view right now.

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My Bridge
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Ironically it allows access to the neighbours

These next two are old film images that somehow ended up on some digital media I was going over. I’m not sure of the origins other than where they were taken and that I took them.

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Big Bend, Letchwork Park New York
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Wolf Creek, Letchworth Park New York

The Trestle Series

Jim Grey likes to take pictures of bridges. Who can blame him? They’re interesting from both an aesthetic and a historic point of view. He keeps making me think of all the bridges I’ve come across, or gone across, over many years and roads. One time when I’d looked at a train trestle he posted I got to thinking about the forgotten one in my hometown; a structure abandoned in a field from a long-removed train track. Remnants of that line were in evidence all over during the time of my childhood, mostly in the form of rails still embedded in the road whereas the rest of the tracks had long been taken up.

Anyway, I forgot about it shortly after seeing his pictures. If there’s one thing old age does it’s make it easy to forget. Besides, I would never be going back there again so I wouldn’t be getting any pictures of that trestle – even if I could hike to it. A small part of my mind (about all that’s left of it) wondered if I ever had? But no, even if so those images would be lost along with the thousands of others that disappeared.

Lately I’ve been going through the few old pictures I have found, and in a pure case of serendipitous Zen (or something) … well it’s unbelievable but there were some pictures of that old railroad trestle! These were on some Kodachrome slides, and they didn’t fare well. They are in B&W now because the colour was horrific and two of the images had severe light streak damage, which makes me think it’s another test roll from one of the 60+ 35mm cameras I’ve owned. They weren’t all winners.

The trestle itself was a stone structure built to carry the tracks over a small, permanent stream. It is way off the main highway – and was even further off before they put Rte. 63 through there. I doubt anyone else knows it’s there, not even whoever owns the land now.

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(I don’t really know what that last bit is, but it was near the trestle.)

As you can see, it was a bit the worse for age and lack of maintenance even back then.

There are other stories connected with this trestle, the old rail line, and the days of my youth, but the amazing thing here is that I came across these few photos of it. There were a lot of relics of the past hanging around the area when I was young, and I didn’t think to photograph them then. Too late now. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, except for the sensation of angst that comes with it.

Letchworth State Park, NY

Some more from the archives. These prints date back to the 1970s, and I’m pretty sure they were a test roll for some camera judging by the questionable quality.

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Letchworth is known as “The Grand Canyon of The East” and it deserves the title. There’s quite a few features to it, including a bat cave you’re not allowed near. Oh well you can at least enjoy the park, the Glenn Iris Inn, and the three waterfalls. There’s also a dam, but I’ve no pictures of that in this batch.

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Circling Hawk
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Trestle Bridge

The railroad bridge across the upper falls. This iron work structure replaced a wooden one which burned down over a century ago. I understand this one has been torn down as well, but I don’t know if it’s been replaced. I’ve stood on this bridge and taken pictures out across the Genesee river, even while a train passed. Beside it there was a set of decayed wooden steps that led all the way down to the towpath of the old Genesee Canal, which was abandoned almost as soon as it had been built.

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Falls on the river

Pretty sure this is the Lower Falls. Possibly the Middle Falls which is behind the Inn. My memory isn’t what it was.

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Wolf Creek

A splash of one of the many small rivulets that feed the river from the hills beside it.

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View of the gorge
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Another feeding stream
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Flock of birds

The park was one of Dad’s and my favourite places for trying out cameras. Not only did it offer the familiarity of views for comparative purposes, but the scenery is fantastic all on its own. It would be a shame if these were the only remaining images of it from all that we’d shot there over the years.