If only it were Springtime

Of course 19°C (66°F) is pretty Spring-like, but watching the satellite picture says there’s still snow out at the lake. The forecast says no lows below freezing now, so perhaps another week …

In the meantime I have started working around here as there are a few things to deal with. That’s why I moved 600 lbs. of stored papers out of one shed and into another; so I can get at other stuff and perhaps make enough room to complete the modifications the local Mafia, er government, wants to a shed that has been standing for years without incident. I am and engineer you know. Bureaucrats need to prove they have power over everyone, though.

Papers away! (G11)

All that off to one side, I tried out the Canon 1Ds on some night shots and need to do some tweaks before I take more. First of all, the 64MB CF card is horrible for hi-res as it only holds <10 pictures. Can’t do much experimenting with that. Second, the camera’s maximum ISO of 1250 is real but pretty low for star shots. That can’t be helped, so either I take ‘trace’ shots (30 second exposures are about 3X too long to prevent this) or do lots of enhancing post-shoot. I need to try it with the 50mm f1.4 lens I was using the 35mm f2 because that’s what was on it when I woke up in the night and decided to try. It’s one more stop of exposure anyway. I can see where a real ISO of 3200-6400 would be of great use here, but the camera hasn’t got it. At least it does a good job at the speed it has, and the ‘noise reduction’ (second image method) is more effective than with any other camera I have. The biggest problem is that it’s not really dark until 10:00 PM now, so night photos interfere with my sleeping habits.

Nighttime is little light time. (1Ds)

Many other things are going on around here right now, some of it rather stressful. Vaccine? Nope. Surgery? Ha! Our hospitals are full-up with COVID patients (cases are out of control and the government isn’t even trying to stop the spread now) so that’s not happening. I need to get equipment ready for this year too (including fixing the trailer), and … well just all sorts of things.

In storage. (G11)

I had fun doing the IR photos and still have some more experiments to conduct with the 1Ds but they will have to wait for now. I have even toyed with the idea of selling it and everything else I’ve got to go for a 5D, but I suspect my equipment wouldn’t bring enough to cover the cost. C’est la vie photographique!

Ghost plane. (P610)

I’m still using the Nikon P610 a lot, and it is still malfunctioning. But it hasn’t quit completely. Yet. Which is good because I can’t afford to replace it. I still want to shoot more with the G11 and now that the weather is better I should be able to. Previously every time I’d go to town it was so miserable and cold that taking pictures was right off the list.

1Ds with 28mm

The weather has gone lousy again so it looks like photo shoots stop for a while. Of course it could all turn around tomorrow: it does that at this time of year. Still not clear enough to go to the cabin, but maybe next week? We’ll see.

In the meantime I took a few shots with the 28mm f3.5 Super Takumar on the Canon 1Ds. This is not my favourite lens for this camera. It works fine and is plenty sharp of course, but it doesn’t ‘fit’ right in terms of taking pictures. In fact the lens-body combinations that work best (to my eye) are the 50mm on the full-frame 1Ds, the 35mm on the Pentax K100s, and the 28mm on the Canon T100 (the last two are APS-C sensors with 1.5 and 1.6 crop factors respectively). Not really a surprise as that’s as close to ‘normal’ lens/body combinations as you can get with these equipment choices.

So let’s see the pictures.

Dead rose hips. Square format for purposes of composition.

Hat tree chain saw carving made by my friend Lorne. Remember digital doesn’t have to have rigid dimensions.

Detail of the carving showing the woodpecker peeking out.

Marley napping. This is a segment of full-frame to see how well it stands up to magnification. Okay.

Winter colour. The tones of this camera are subtle.

Sit, Marley! Checking the dynamic range which is good.

A quick on-line check shows the shutter count on this camera is less than 31,000 – which means it will probably outlast me since they are supposedly good to 150k.

I have yet to try this out on night photography due to lack of weather co-operation. We have already got to the point where you have to stay up ’til 10:00 PM to get a truly dark sky, and that will get worse as we near the Summer solstice and get almost 16 hours of daylight!

There are only two things I don’t like about this camera. The first is the weight, which is enough to relegate it to studio-only work. I can’t imagine even a young photographer gaily toting this 3.5 lbs. body plus lenses over hill and dale. Sure, I’ve handled heavier cameras but that was when there was no choice. It makes me wonder if this wasn’t the driving force behind mirrorless design; all for the sake of weight!

The second issue is the controls are pretty badly thought-out. Many of the most-used items (like ISO) are stupidly complex to operate or are in dumb locations. That big turning wheel on the back for selection is absolutely moronic: four simple arrow buttons like everyone else uses would be infinitely better. The major selections for operation are again stupidly done, where a simple PASM dial would be welcome. Even the ON/OFF switch is poorly located. I think no photographer was involved in the design. For my purposes this isn’t a major issue because I usually “set and forget” things in advance – a particular camera has a particular job and doesn’t get altered from the best settings for that job. The exception to this is the ‘experiment’ camera (Canon T100) which suffers all sorts of changes depending on the experiment of the time.

Otherwise I like the larger sensor size for giving exactly what was expected of it. I don’t see it as the miracle solution for bad photography it is often subliminally touted as – by the same people who think more megapixels cures the same problem. I still haven’t tried it for astro or landscape really, and that’s what I really want to do with it. I don’t think I’ll be buying any more lenses for it specifically, other than in so much as the T100 also takes EF lenses.

Time will tell.

6 with the 35

Struggling to find anything like light around here lately, but at least I did clean the sensor on the Canon 1Ds! These were taken with that camera on manual, using the 35mm f2 Super Takumar.

Camera Decision says this camera is no good for landscapes. I disagree.

First shot was looking West down my road, this one is looking East.

Okay the landscapes themselves aren’t very good pictures, but there’s nothing wrong with how the camera captures them.

Big rock in my front yard. You can do a lot of photos with this rock.

Berry close up. That lens is very sharp, like the other two Takumars I have are.

That’s a segment of the full-size image of the berry, by the way. So much for the “11MP is very low resolution” crowd.

A section across the road. The colours from this camera are not the rich, saturated tones of the T100 but I like them anyway. Very realistic.

Subtle, moody shades. More artistic than what I usually shoot.

Next for this camera I will try the 28mm f3.5 Super Takumar. I am debating buying additional lenses for this camera because I’ve come across a deal on a couple, and I find I like the camera fairly much – aside from the absolutely idiotic controls arrangement. No photographer was consulted on the layout of them, obviously.

I will be ordering a larger CF card because this “ten picture limit” is driving me nuts. I can’t really go out in the field and shoot a “whole roll of film” because of the storage limitations.

Not possible to get out to the cabin yet as snow and ice is still all around and keeps coming back. I have q few pictures taken with the Nikon P610 to share, and a photo shoot ‘job’ to do this week. Who knows; maybe the sun will shine long enough to capture it.

That which we call a lens

Even though I still haven’t cleaned the sensor on the ‘new’ Canon 1Ds, I have tried a couple more lenses on it. So far I’ve used the two Canon EF lenses I have (40mm and 75-300mm) and the 50mm Pentax Super Takumar. All okay so far.

Now a brief explanation of Canon EF lenses. There are two types: the EF, which has a red alignment dot, and the EF-S which has a white alignment square. Both will fit on a crop-sensor camera such as my Canon T100 (the body of which has both the red dot and the white square), but only the red dot EF lenses work on the full-frame cameras like my Canon 1Ds (which has only the red dot). The EF-S lenses will not fit due to the rear of the lens intruding into the camera body. Don’t try it, you could damage something.

That said, the next lens I tried was my old M42 mount Vivitar 135mm f2.8. It’s a pretty good lens too.

I like this.

How sharp is it? Here’s a portrait of Marley the usually silly dog:

Marley being sensible.

And now we take a 640×427 segment out of the full frame, right around her eye:

Up close and sharp.

It is not the sharpest lens I own, but it’s hard to fault it. There’s no trickery like ‘unsharp mask’ used here either; it’s all in the lens.

But the lens does have its failings. Of course it’s manual, so that means manual focus and manual exposure. So no quick ‘grab shots’ of anything. Also, for most of the things I shoot the focal length is pretty short:

Three snow geese far away.

That is again taking a small segment from the full frame, and the birds are still very small. I even used the unsharp mask to enhance their shape, but no amount of computer processing will make up for the physics. Really: you’ve got to stop believing those TV shows that pretend a satellite in orbit can read a license plate that’s perpendicular to its lens as clearly as if it were ten feet away.

Now back to the EF vs. EF-S issue. I have one more lens in my collection which claims to be EF, in that it has the red alignment dot and will fit the full-frame camera. There’s just one little problem:

Say “nyet” to vignette. (The bird lost in the middle is a black-capped chickadee.)

This is the 18-200mm Tamron, which also has sharpness issues at any setting. Here we see the vignetting that showed up as a minor thing on the APS-C sensor at the 200mm length becomes full-blown-artistic-whatsit whether you want it or not. Yes you could crop this out, but then you’d notice the blurry focus all the more.

It’s a dark-eyed junco. Take my word for it.

Nope. That lens is not good enough for me. BTW it also focuses noticeably slower than the Canon lenses, and sometimes inaccurately.

I still have the 35mm and 28mm Super Takumars to try on this camera. But first I absolutely will clean the sensor. I promise. Or at least make a try at it.

I also need to get a larger CF card because at full resolution I can only fit 11 images on the 64 MB one I have. That isn’t even a ‘half roll’ equivalent.

Canon 1Ds, Part II

(I hate not being able to edit a post with the classic editor; it’s create and go with no going back!)

Okay, now let’s see if this Pro-Cam can deliver a decent photo. I haven’t cleaned the sensor yet, but here we go anyway.

Canon 40mm EF lens.

Not bad, and of course sharper than the 75-300mm zoom. Let’s go for really sharp with the Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 on all manual:

Ubiquitous shed shot is sharp.

This sort of makes me want the Canon 50mm EF now, but that would be further expense and I don’t imagine I will use this camera enough for ‘standard’ shots to make it worthwhile.

Marley has found snow.

I had to ‘fix’ this one a bit as it was slightly over-exposed (f16 is the minimum aperture and at ISO 200 & 1/250 it wasn’t enough). That’s what snow will do to you.

Duncan: less snow = better exposure.

Nice, subtle colour from this camera. It’s a CMOS sensor but it comes across like CCD.

Wood is good.

At full size this image has a lot of detail. The “very low resolution” sensor (11MP) isn’t lacking no matter what the megapixel promoters insist.

Here’s a bit I found on-line regarding the original price. EGAD! Glad I didn’t pay that!

And now for something completely silly:

Fujifilm F80 vs. Canon 1Ds – the small and the large.

One fits in your shirt pocket, the other breaks your neck!

Next experiment includes trying some different lenses and resolution settings. I also hope to try an astronomy shot, as that is one of the reasons I got this monster.

So far I’m happy with it. Also it’s the only exercise equipment I own. I’m sure it’s building up my biceps.

Say hello to my large friend

The new tool in the kit: Canon 1Ds

One of the cameras I’ve wanted to try is a full frame, any full frame, DSLR. My preference was the Canon 5D, but despite being plentiful they continue to command indecent prices. I’d about given up finding anything when along came this offering from within Canada which eliminated the cross-border hassles. I managed to get it on a last-moment bid for about 1/3 what similar ones are going for and about 1/2 what an in-Canada 5D costs. In all a pretty good deal, especially as it showed up with all the manuals and discs and a firewire cable and three batteries plus charge and an AC adapter! I’m not sure how good all the batteries are as I’ve only managed to get one charged enough to activate the camera.

So, the acid test: how good does it do ‘out of the box’?

Ambulance coming, but not for me this time!

Not bad. I was using the slightly fuzzy 75-300mm Canon EF zoom, which on this camera is 75-300mm because it’s full frame!  As expected the contrast needed a little help, partly because it was a gray day (heavily overcast) and partly because it’s an old sensor. But I like the colour rendition.

Main problem: dirty sensor.

Yes the sensor will need cleaning. Do people never look after their equipment? Mostly the camera looks good with only a few minor scuffs and expected wear. The dirt shows up more on a full-size rendering.

Cropped close chickadee.

Here we have a 640×427 section of the full-size 4064×2704 frame. It’s a little blurry even with the application of unsharp masking. There are three factors at work here: it’s ‘only’ an 11MP sensor, the lens used is not the sharpest, and the camera has a reputation for being ‘soft’. I have not got into the settings yet to see how much it can be improved on its own.

Coming in for a landing.

This shot is cropped square just to eliminate annoying clutter on one side. I’m hoping for some better weather (i.e. sunshine) and a chance to try it out with the 40mm prime lens (it won’t work with the EF-S lenses) and the 50mm f1.4 Super Takumar on manual. That should be something to see!

Large, medium, and small artillery: 1Ds, T100, and G11.

This is no lightweight camera, btw; it tilts the scales at 1585 grams without a lens. The T100 is only 436 grams. We’re talking three-and-a-half pounds of camera; more than most film SLRs weigh. I don’t expect this to be a ‘daily’ or ‘street’ camera by any means; it is intended for quite specific use which I hope to get to soon.

Until then, I will do such testing as I see fit and can think up.

Oh noes

Welp, it happened: I got slammed with the WordPress Inoperable Version Dumb To The Nth. Fortunately I had this ‘backdoor’ link saved. This when I’m about to pick up my new addition to the tool box today. If this work-around their idiocy fails, that’s it. I do not care to suffer the slings and arrow of outrageous stupidity, nor fools gladly. Or even at all.

For today, then, this “Ditchumentary”: some images I took to document the flooding at the neighbours’ caused by run-off from the hill behind them where illegal logging was done. I doubt they’ll be able to do anything about it.

Looking West towards the flood.

Right in front.

Further West, showing overflow on to the road.

So many things going wrong here these days. Still no chance of vaccine and the case numbers are rising like crazy because people won’t follow the rules. I did a survey for the hospital visit and it was obviously designed to prove the results they wanted in four areas, three of which had nothing to do with the visit. Have not heard about future consultation, so I guess I just wait until the next emergency.

I’d better go get that package today as I’m feeling pretty nasty and depressed.

Waiting for …

… many things. Better weather, consultation with a doctor, shopping trip, and shipments.

But not Godot.

While I’m waiting I tested the Nikon P610’s focus failure, which I noticed is most pronounced close-up and with the lens pointing down. The lens is actually loose in its barrel, and you can feel it (and sometimes hear it) shift around. So I pointed it down and took a close-up of a wild rose stalk, and then gently pushed the loose section back to the camera to ‘take up the slack’. What I found was that the autofocus said it was correct at either point, but the actual focal point was off by about 10mm (at a distance of roughly half a meter). This doesn’t explain why it sometimes fails to focus on more distant objects, except in as much as the internal wear may cause some random slack then as well. I’ll have to devise an experiment to check that. Although there isn’t anything that can be done about it.

Anyway, here’s the best picture from that test. It shows again why I like that camera!

Some alien creature, perhaps?

That’s a 640×480 crop out of the full size 4608×3456 image. At the focal point it’s very sharp indeed! Not bad for a $400 ‘bridge’ camera, eh? It will cost me over $700 to replace this ailing imager, so I’m not keen on it quitting altogether. True, the EVF is practically impossible to see at times and the exposure is no longer accurate across all conditions. Yes, the pictures always need a slight contrast improvement because the sensor has aged and doesn’t produce ‘snappy’ results. Okay, once in a while it jams completely and has to be shut down and restarted. But as long as I can coax the images I want out of it I will keep using it.

Some other recent examples:

Raven hiding in a tree, says “you can’t see me!”

The Lone Pine. Growing in a roadside ditch all by itself.

Weathered dog. (Duncan came in with snow and hail on his back.)

A robin wondering where Spring is.

And so it goes.

As good as can be

It snowed Sunday night, after being 8°C that day. Then it warmed up and melted off again. This has been one weird Winter!

Anyway it was nice and sunny so I got out and walked around with the dogs and the Pentax K100DS a little bit. I wanted to see if I’d managed to polish the 18-55mm Pentax-DA lens sufficiently for use, and how well I’d manage a bit of activity. Oh, I have got the autofocus working off the ‘back (OK) button’ – but not from the shutter release. I don’t really like the back button focusing method; seems unnatural to a long-time photographer.

Here are the results. In some cases I had to do some post-processing to correct exposure errors it still makes, but over-all the camera is usable now.

The new snow.

Puddle remnant.

Marley being incredibly silly.

100% crop of 18mm shot. Fairly sharp.

50% crop of 55mm shot. The gossamer is blurred by wind.

100% crop of 55mm shot.

I don’t think any further cleaning will improve the lens any: it is what it is. I need to take some more “general” shots to see how it handles medium and distant focusing. On the whole, usable but of course not as good as the Super Takumar manual lenses. One nice thing about this camera is that it automatically adjusts for the yellowed 35mm lens, making the two an ideal combination.

Although it’s a nice camera to use, I probably won’t use it much except in instances where I want to employ one of the old lenses like the Hanimex 80-200mm zoom. I might try the old Soligor on it as well, but that is one heavy monster lens and it doesn’t have manual stop-down so it’s either full aperture or I’ll have to wedge the pin.

Recovery week

Leftover shot from the Olympus E-410.

So surgery last Sunday. Doctor said I could go home and resume my normal activities. There were a couple of problems with that, starting with not coming out of the anesthesia well. Also, he must think my normal activities are sitting on the couch doing nothing. Got home Monday.

Then things got complicated. Called GP on Thursday who called the surgeon who called back and … there’s me rushing into town because bleeding isn’t a good thing to do at any time.

Right. Home again. Less pain, not bleeding. This is better.

Meanwhile about two weeks have been lost to this. Several important things have not gotten done, and I’m not sure I’m up to doing them yet.

But the worst part is I saw a lot of nice photo opportunities on the way to Kamloops and back, but couldn’t do anything about them. (“Stop the ambulance! I need to shoot that mountain!”) I also didn’t get to do any shopping, oddly enough. They really don’t want patients wandering around the city on their own.

Things should get back to normal now but … there’s a problem on my other side as well, it just hasn’t reached emergency-surgery level. Yet.

Nevertheless, life goes on. You can debate whether or not that’s a good thing.

In the meantime I polished the lens for the Pentax K100DS, and then realized I can’t go wandering around taking pictures with it to see if it’s any better now or needs another scrub. I spent some time marking fraud camera ads on EBay – same scam tried multiple times every weekend for months now and it never works; the perpetrator(s) is (are) dumb.

Still looking for a decent deal on a Canon 5D. There are many out there, and the prices they want for even the old ones is ridiculous. Supply and demand, I suppose. I’m not investing crazy money in a camera I’ll likely use only for a few occasional shots. The G11 and E-410 I picked up cheap have already more than earned their price, to me anyway. I’d like to be able to wander around town with the G11 some more too. It’d be nice to wander around Kam and maybe Williams Lake with it as well, but that’s two whole other safaris that will probably never happen. Time constraints, you see.

Also still looking for the long zoom that fits the Olympus E-410. Here’s why:

Full scene at 300mm equivalent.

640×480 crop – not as sharp as I’d like.

I think it would make a great birding camera with the 600mm equivalent on it. But they seem to go for over $300, and that’s kind of silly considering I got the camera and the two shorter zooms for a tad over $100. That’s a black-capped chickadee in there, by the way.

I’ve skipped a few ‘bargain’ cameras I’ve seen because I don’t need them. Better to spend the money towards the equipment I’m actually after than buy something just because it’s a good deal, eh? This included a Pentax K10, which I let go because it isn’t that much different from the K100DS – just more MP really, and I’ve proved that isn’t as important as manufacturers would have you believe it is.

The forecast says we will have above freezing every day and below freezing every night for the next couple of weeks, so the snow pack will continue to melt slowly. At this point it would be overly ambitious to think about getting back to the cabin and all the work awaiting me there. Best to take it easy for a while and slowly work my way back up to normal activities. Most of which I shouldn’t be doing at my age anyway, I’m told.

Another ‘leftover’ shot out of the Olympus.