Briefly, then

The End

The last of my e-Bay purchases arrived. Disappointment abounds.

They were two lenses meant to augment my photographic arsenal. The one is an absolutely excellent Super Albinar 28mm Canon FD, which does not fit my Canon FD adapter (which does not have the infinity focusing lens in it, but that’s another issue). The lens is flawless, I just can’t use it. Like much of my equipment now, thanks to one thing or another. Anyway I won’t be ponying up any more money for a different adapter. Anyone want to buy a lens?

Make that two lenses, because the other was another 28-70mm Super Albinar in Pentax K mount. Almost Pentax K mount. I don’t know what’s wrong but it doesn’t exactly fit. Besides which it doesn’t exactly work: the zoom is stiff and limited and it won’t go down to macro mode. The diaphragm is sluggish too. I didn’t pay much and wasn’t expecting much, but it could have gone better.

Crop from full size image taken with the second Albinar lens. It shows promise, but …

A lot of things could have gone better lately, but they didn’t and aren’t going to. For example after e-Bay dropped me like a hot potato with no explanation or recourse I found a camera shop that said it was willing to buy used equipment. Fine, since mostly I want to sell off those things I either don’t or can no longer use. Give me an estimate on one item, I said: the very expensive Panasonic Lumix ZS60.

$40 they said.

Goodbye, I said.

I realise they have to make a profit, but that’s absurd. Looking at their used offerings I can see the problem: they’re asking more for a second-hand Canon T7 than I can buy a new one for.

So I don’t see me getting rid of superfluous equipment, which means I won’t be buying any more supplemental equipment – never mind the e-Bay disaster.

Oh and they love to rub salt in the wounds; they continue to send me e-mails about items I was watching and/or bidding on up until they sell. This allowed me to see that I could indeed have gotten another lens I wanted (from a seller I’ve done business with before but who has only e-Bay as an outlet) and a Pentax K200D which I don’t really need but would be a step up from the battered K100D I have. Also there is not much chance of getting a Nikon lens to try that adapter with. Nor could I splurge on a Sigma Foveon sensor camera, which I considered doing.

In other words all my photographic master plans are shot to hell.

Thanks, e-Bay. You suck like a Hoover. I hope you go bankrupt from paying taxes. Seriously. You should be sued, indicted, and left to rot. That terminal policy is the absolute worst (and illegal) crap I have ever seen on any website anywhere since the start of the World Wide Web.

But all is not that cheerful otherwise either. I have huge amounts of work to get done with a shrinking amount of time to do it in. Every little joy I’ve had in life has been removed, and I even have to drive two hours to get necessary medication because they don’t/won’t stock it in town and ordering it in costs even more than the drive.

Anybody want to buy some cameras or lenses? I’m not sure I’ll have a use for any of it now. My vision is permanently blurred, and my inspiration has evaporated. A (working) new piece of equipment might have lifted my spirits, but no. Not even that am I allowed.

Addendum: WordPress no longer functions on my secure browser either. They’ve changed something, and the only way I can get it to work at all is by using an unsecure browser. You know what I mean; the kind that wants you to give away all your info right down to your shoe size.

That can get stuffed too. No reason to take photos, and no reasonable way to share them. What is the point?

It’s been a bad week

Let’s cut to the chase, as the saying goes. The result of my latest eye exam amounted to “there’s nothing more we can do” and “watch out for it getting worse”. About what I expected, really.

Things did get worse, but they were different things. E-Bay canceled my account with no explanation given. A few minutes searching turned up the fact that this happens more often than it should, and that there is no recourse. Well fine. Another small pleasure taken from me without reason. I hope they understand that shutting down accounts of buyers and sellers is not a good business plan for a web site that relies on buyers and sellers. But I doubt they do. (It is especially frustrating as there were a couple of things I was trying to buy and I had finally managed to get one of my items listed for sale.) On the whole it’s about as bad as every other site on the Internet: causing grief for legitimate users while utterly failing to stop abusers. Even WordPress keeps tossing up “unsupported browser” messages.

I have been systematically removing all my Facebook posts, because it is a failure of a website too. If you can’t use the site, why have an account? PayPal will be going under the axe as well, since I only ever used it for e-Bay and now PP has added an “inactive account fee” (as of November 20).

At this point I have no pleasures in my life, only work and the pain that goes with it. It’s wood harvesting time, you see. Yeah, I know.

So today’s pictures are … failures. Some images to give you a taste of what normally comes out of the cameras these days. Can’t have people thinking I’m still turning out good shots all the time, because I’m not.

This is what I see: everything blurred at any distance all the time.
Barely spotted song sparrow in the bush – and it’s out of focus.
How I get tricked: camera said “in focus”. Except that was the little pine tree which I could not even see as I tried to fix on the broken poplar behind it.
There are spots. I could not see them looking through the camera; they only show up on the computer. They had to be on the lens as they don’t appear after cleaning it. Besides the Nikon shouldn’t get spots on its sensor.
See the duck? No? It’s in there, flying away because it can react faster than me & my camera.
This is an eagle. You’ll have to take my word for it because once again …

That’s the way it’s going now: mostly failures because I can’t see what I’m doing. About the only time I can get a good shot now is in bright daylight, and then it has to be a large, stationary object. At that I may need several frames to get one decent.

Needless to say I am not happy. I can’t even continue my revised Master Plan to make my photography a bit easier for me. Thanks, e-Bay you load of incompetent bastards.

There’s no joy left.

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.



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.”

In the short form

How bad can it get?

Let’s just say I finished off the week by slipping on the ice Friday.

That bad.

I didn’t break any bones, despite carrying an armload of wood at the time, but I’ve got the bruises and sore muscles from trying to defy gravity. Yes I’m too old for this. Every time something like this occurs it’s a reminder that lifestyle changes are inevitable. And possibly may be forced upon us at any time.

No photos this week. There hasn’t been a day worth considering a single frame in.

In other photo news I see the Ebay scammers are at it again. Same camera listings, same pricing trickery. In fact some repeats appeared yesterday (with ‘different’ sellers) and were gone today – taken down by the web site, I assume, as they were obvious cons.

COVID rages through our country still, with the numbers climbing. This is largely due to stupid people who fail to accept reality. Some of them are in charge. At least we’re not the USA, which has managed to exceed the world’s infection rate by a factor of 5 now.

Anyway I’m working on another dull, picture-less entry that’s a lot of words and probably not of much interest. I think it only fair to warn readers in advance of something like that. It goes somewhere eventually, but requires patience to see through to the end.

I see Chuck the Writer linked to my last dull entry, bless him. There weren’t even any good images in it. What the hell; he’s a good lad for more reasons than that.

This endless calendar of “just get through today” days has become tedious. I doubt 2021 will be better despite much promise, but at least it won’t be 2020. Ah, be careful what you wish for; you might get it.

Once again they said it would be sunny today. Once again it is not.

C’est la vie. C’est la guerre.

The Gong Show that is Ebay

In an attempt to further my Master Plan I have been wasting, I mean spending time on Ebay looking for bargains that will fulfill the two camera needs I have. What I’ve found instead is evidence of consistent fraud. I’m an engineer: we’re good at seeing patterns.

The basic pattern is the classic auction fraud adapted to electronic media. Traditionally a crooked auctioneer would ‘accept bids’ from people in the audience who didn’t really exist to raise the bids from the real participants. It was called “bouncing bids off the walls”. The modern equivalent is sock puppet accounts run by the seller which magically step in and bid the item up if it isn’t going for enough money. These may even be automatic, requiring little actual effort from the dishonest vendor.

Without naming names (because basically this would be making an accusation of crime) I’ll tell you about my attempts to acquire a certain camera that would sub for the dying Nikon. The first thing you have to understand is that the initial offering price was very, very low. The second thing is that there were four separate listings for identical cameras all from the same seller at the same time. After that it got interesting.

Legitimate would-be buyers, including Yours Truly, made legitimate offers. The cameras, in sequence, went up to higher prices but still remained quite low cost. Strangely some other bidders appeared and pushed the price up, but still low. The real would-be buyers abandoned hope, and the items sat at one price until near the end when again suddenly the price shot up – and closed – at nearly double what people were willing to pay.

Then the pattern repeated as within a few hours the same seller had duplicate cameras available, again for very low starting prices. We’re not talking about two cameras, but four. Which turned into six. Which turned into eight. And then more. Sort of like they bought their own merchandise back and then offered it up again as a ‘new’ listing over and over. In reality there probably were only four, but since they couldn’t get the money they wanted they listed them again instead of letting each go for the price people were willing to pay.

This is classic “sock puppet account” action. Especially when you check some of the so-called buyers’ profiles and find that their actions have been 100% with the same seller. It’s pathetic, immoral, and probably illegal – but good luck making a complaint, much less getting anything done about it. The most you can hope for is to make a note of the shady vendor and avoid anything they offer. I must point out that since Ebay charges a fee for reserved bid listings (the amount is due whether or not the item sells) they encourage this unethical practice. It’s all about making money. Them making money, that is. If you don’t like it you don’t have to use their service (more on this aspect at a later date).

Incidentally, all ‘fourteen‘ of these cameras (real quantity; probably four) ended up in the $150 range before the auctions ended. In each case it took a few hours before the seller magically had yet another one to offer at a ridiculously low starting price. On Monday the ‘last four’ (in reality the only four) were suddenly at $80+.  By selling time they’d jumped up to the $150 range. I played the game until Tuesday, including watching the same action on some other models the same seller seemed to have an unlimited supply of. By this time I wouldn’t have bought from these people even if they let me have one for $1, shipping included. Frankly it’s not even a clever strategy as the immediately repeated listings not only are a blatant sign of the scam but also indicate even to the naive buyer that there are “plenty more where that came from” giving every indication of a high supply which is the economic basis for a low price.

Oh, Canada.

Now let’s look at an alternate scenario. A different camera from a different seller received no bids by the end of the auction time. It was relisted, but at a lower initial price than before. That is the legitimate way of doing it, instead of running a farcical scam to make people believe there are dozens of potential buyers willing to pay huge prices for whatever you’ve got. You need only to look at the number of offerings for any given camera model and see that there are plenty of them out there, and most of them are old and not worth a sou never mind near or above the price of a new model. (I choked looking at what Nikon P610s are offered at these days.)

(Side note: the camera listing cited above was somewhat crooked too, as it was listed as “untested”. It required 4 penlight batteries. The seller couldn’t be bothered to stick some in and see if it would fire up? Unlikely. Probably he tried it, found it didn’t work, and decided that the “untested” description was more likely to sell than “broken”.)

Another odd thing I encountered, in addition to the “you have been outbid” notice that sometimes rapidly appears immediately after you make a higher-than-listed offering no matter how many times you up your bid (thank automatic bids for that), was that I had been the “winning bidder” at one point for $51 when in fact I had never bid that amount. Would Ebay care to explain that? No, I thought not. The usual excuse is that it must be me that is at fault. It’s never ‘them’. That’s SOP for companies these days, and I can tell you a lot of stories of encountering this phenomenon from many businesses. It’s kind of silly when they try to pull it on an engineer who understands more about how the things work than they do.

As a Canadian I’m at a distinct disadvantage in Internet buying. Not many of the offerings on Ebay Canada are actually from Canada, and the cost involved with buying something from outside tends to make it too expensive to do. For example I watched this past week as our dollar sunk from 77¢ US to 74¢ US. Three cents isn’t much, right? Until you multiply it out over the price of a $300 US camera. That’s roughly the difference between paying $389 CDN and paying $405 CDN. On top of that shipping to/from Canada is obscene (approximately double the cost for sending the same package within either the US or CA), plus our government wants its cut as well. So for a Canadian buyer that $300 US camera ends up at the door costing $482 CDN. A pretty nasty mark-up as your income is in the latter not the former currency.

Oh shipping is another scam area. It should be based on weight and size of package and indeed can be calculated that way. Optionally, some sellers use flat-rate shipping (either of which is legitimate). But some people just pump the price way up to make sure they get enough money from whatever they are selling otherwise cheaply. A large number of items cost more to ship than to buy, even when the seller doesn’t do this. Ebay is not the only site suffering from this phenomenon either: Amazon is rife with sellers listing at ridiculously low prices to attract buyers and then making their profit on “shipping” charges.

Some other recent ‘adventures’ related to my Master Plan:

The local electronics outlet had a really good sale on the Sony a6000 camera with lens. It was tempting, because that is a nice camera. It is even capable of handling some of the tasks I require of my equipment. But not ones which aren’t already covered. Id est it can’t assume the super-zoom duties of the Nikon and it doesn’t have a full-size sensor for better low-light (night) shots (my two main goals now).

Likewise I passed on a deal for an older Olympus micro 4/3 camera. I found the configuration of it intriguing and the price was downright cheap. The fact it was only an 8MP sensor didn’t bother me at all. But once again it is just an interesting piece of equipment and not something that would add to my photography repertoire.

This is also why I didn’t jump on an old Pentax K110D. Nice 6MP camera, that I don’t need for anything. Having to constantly remind myself of this after decades of collecting and using cameras for the sake of the camera rather than the photos is the biggest challenge I face right now.

Even bigger than trying to get an honest Internet deal on equipment that would be useful to me.

More on a Monday

Well it’s been a couple of weeks worth of “just get through today” living. Nothing much going right in all that time, and the details are boring so you will be spared them.

We had sunshine on Friday. We had sunshine on Sunday. Yes, it’s so bad that any sunny day sticks in the memory. The rest have been just awful. So I took advantage of the sun (and cold: clear skies let all the heat escape) and took a few photos. Nothing much. I used the old Kodak P850, just for fun.

The Master Plan isn’t advancing either. This is due to a lack of co-operation from the world at large. Such as refusing to sell me a Canon 5D at a reasonable price. I keep watching the Ebay auctions, and noticing the trickery, and … nothing. Seriously; if I want to pay that much I can just buy one from a camera store. Beware on-line auctions, folks: there’s some nasty crookedness happening there. It doesn’t help that even when the offer is legitimate bringing the item into Canada (as there’s almost nothing offered here) ramps the price up by expensive shipping and import fees. You can usually bet on seeing another $75 disappear for those, whereas state-side shipping would be $20. Consider also that despite a slight improvement in the exchange rate our dollar is still around 77% of the US$. It’s fun living in this country, but expensive.

Right now I’m waiting for a couple of items I bought to show up. One has nothing to do with The Plan, and the other is an offshoot of it. Waiting. *Drums fingers on table* How far is it from Canada to Canada anyway? (Yes, I bought within the country to try things out. I’m not going to make my first purchase from Albania or anything like that.)

So I’m bored right now, and that’s not a good thing.

Anyway, here are the Kodak picture picks.

Old Reo Gold Comet truck.
How they power the moon.
Gentle colours.
A crow in raven country.
Some sunrise.