Well the sun is shining today and I’m trying to get some test pictures done. This is being hindered by the fact it’s -12C and that the Sony eats battery like candy. I’m averaging less than 175 pictures per charge with it, and that is far worse than any other digital camera I’ve got. Plus the mirrorless design loves to pick up dirt on the sensor. Frankly the camera is rather a pain to use.
That’s as maybe. I also have some inside work to do, including working on the old brown leather case I got in the deal:
Kind of dried out and dirty with signs of damp damage, but not unusable. I have treated it with a couple of applications of Neatsfoot oil and it’s looking better already:
This picture shows the difference between treated and aged leather:
And now a word about Neatsfoot oil. This product was our “go to” treatment for ‘raw’ leather for many years when I was young. We used to call it “banana oil” because it smelled rather like bananas. Used it for all kinds of things from shoes to belts to camera cases. A lot of camera cases! I haven’t had to treat any leather for a long time now for some reason (possibly because it is no longer politically correct to make things out of leather, or possibly because it’s too expensive to). When I bought a new bottle of the stuff … well it doesn’t smell the same at all. That’s kind of a good thing because the ‘old’ smell could best be described as stinking. The question now is: will it work as well? We’ll see. It needs a couple more applications at least; you just keep rubbing it in until the leather won’t absorb any more. I wait a day between each application to give it time to absorb.
The case is already better and usable. Exactly what I will use it for I haven’t decided. I’ve removed the ‘tripod straps’ which were buckle straps on the bottom of the front. Not safe to carry a tripod with them so they’re just in the way. It also needs a better shoulder strap, which will cost more money even if I don’t get a leather one. Always something costing money.
There was a bonus inside the case hidden behind a snap flap at the back: the instruction manual for the Praktica LLC (which I don’t need; either the book or the camera), some notes on how to take pictures, an equipment price listing (which doesn’t match the equipment), and a Kodak Master Photoguide from 1954! I used to have a lot of those old Kodak guides from various years and for various purposes (they had Darkroom Guides as well).
As for the other three cases … the badly damaged black leather one is already in the trash, the blue Hewlett-Packard hard shell I haven’t decided what to do with …
… and the Canon camcorder case is a puzzler because its insides are the opposite: pre-moulded to fit the equipment it was meant to hold. Modification may be possible, but how and what for I haven’t even thought about.
Today we go home. The weather is absolutely miserable, as is typical for this time of year. These shots were taken with the Kodak P850 before things turned bad. I suppose you could say they were from my re-learning experiment, using that camera. I discovered it is one that is very hard for me to use now. *sigh* C’est la vie photographique.
The wood is stocked, but I will have to come back to “close up” once the wife and menagerie are moved back home. Then … so many more things to do before returning next May.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
*Original version: “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.”
Or; things I came across while looking for other things.
Search engines aren’t what they used to be, especially on certain websites. They used to work. They still do after a fashion, but you have to want what they find for you. Logical operators no longer function, so instead of meeting specific criteria they return anything that has any part of your request. For example if you go looking for the rare four thirds lenses, you get micro four thirds* by the hundreds – as well as dozens of things you may have trouble figuring out the association with. Amazon is champion at this as almost any search will turn up women’s clothing. This is indicative of the other part of the problem; those listing items not categorizing them correctly, whether by accident or on purpose, in the first place.
As frustrating as it is when you’re really trying to locate something, it has its humourous side as well. And sometimes you find little nuggets of ‘gold’. Here are a few unusual items I’ve come across lately while looking around (for no good reason other than that I’m bored and can’t get out and about to take pictures).
Back in the film days Pentax made a 110 cartridge SLR camera with interchangeable lenses. My Uncle Roger had a few of them because he thought they were amusing. They were cute little things and they were well made, but unfortunately the film wasn’t: 110C started out with high standards and quickly degraded to amateur camera status as it didn’t make a dent in the professional market. To be fair 126C was basically 828/135 film inside a plastic cartridge and it failed for the same reason (yes there were 126C SLRs such as this; Instamatic Reflex ). Here we have a lens for one of those Pentax 110C SLRs offered as “can be adapted to micro 4/3”! I’m sure it would be a good shooter. By the way, Yashica made a few high-grade 110C cameras too, but not SLRs:
Staying in the field of unusual lenses, we have this for those who can’t decide between a 28mm and a 35mm wide-angle lens; behold the Soligor Dualfocal! At 7mm, the shortest range zoom lens ever!
This isn’t really a zoom lens per se as it just shifts between 28mm and 35mm. I can see where that might be handy. Or a zoom with detent stops at ‘standard’ focal lengths perhaps? Such would probably be pricey as manufacturers don’t like to be that accurate unless there’s a lot of money in it for them.
When looking at lens adapters I came across this most unusual one:
The Kodak Signet 80 was a rangefinder camera with interchangeable lenses – to of the 1950s Signet line that included the venerable 35, 30, 40, and 50 models as well. Here we see some clever machine work done to adapt the lens to micro 4/3 cameras. Signet 80 lenses are fairly rare, but it just goes to show that if you want to use a lot of various vintage glass a micro 4/3 camera can probably take whatever antique lens you can find!
Now for the funny stuff. I found not one but two “ghost hunting cameras”! Better known as “full-spectrum” cameras. I have to wonder if they really are modified, or are just plain bad at accurate colour rendering! *LOL*
These lead us to ask two questions: 1). do ghosts emanate or reflect infrared and/or ultraviolet? (They don’t have corporeal bodies so they shouldn’t produce heat); 2). if they don’t reflect the visible spectrum, how can you see where to aim the camera? I guess you just point and click and hope for the best. There’s a lot of that style of photography around. *LOL*
If you’re wondering just what it was I actually searched for, you’ll have to go on wondering. When I find it I’ll let you know.
*The ‘four thirds’ sensor size started out with reflex cameras before the mirrorless ‘micro four thirds’ units came along. The difference is in the distance between the sensor and the lens mount: the original was about 39mm to have enough room for the mirror; the micro version is about 19mm because there is no mirror to accommodate and that means it is easier to build external adapters that can connect just about any lens to the camera as the extra distance gives plenty of space to ‘shrink’ a larger lens mount to the micro four thirds’ smaller throat. The other choice for easy lens adaptability is a large throat on the camera, such as with the Canon EOS; this allows a smaller lens to mount within the opening, thus not altering the lens-to-sensor distance and therefor infinity focus. Trivia: one of the tightest lens adaptations is M42 to PK; the Pentax screw thread lenses on to Pentax bayonet cameras. This is because the lenses and mount were adapted over to begin with to create the bayonet ‘K’ series, and are almost identical in size. They really just changed the mount. Why mess with the lens design when all you have to do is update the connection, right? Unfortunately it means the adapters are delicate metal rings and often come with an accessory ‘key’ to twist them out of the bayonet because getting a purchase on them with your fingers alone can be difficult.
Are you one? Do you prefer the images from older digital cameras? Do you prefer using the older digital cameras? Maybe they’re all you can afford. There’s no shame in that. In fact you should be more ashamed if the first digital camera you buy is some ultra-expensive, loaded-with-everything, professional grade unit of which you won’t use a fraction of its capabilities.
Using obsolete, I mean classic, digital cameras has become “a thing”: the preference for CCD over CMOS sensors, an absence of techno-glitz like wireless connections and touch-screens, and the realization that the picture is what matters, not how you achieve it. So we sacrifice megapixels in favour of colour gradients. Most digital images are seen at less than 2MP anyway (on a computer screen).
As is often the case with my posts, this one started out going somewhere else so it’s bound to be a little incongruous at times. I was looking around at camera offerings (which is almost a pastime in itself) and noticed one or two (or ten, or twenty) interesting cameras that didn’t actually fit my current equipment needs but were nonetheless intriguing. I’ve got and sometimes use some older digitals, mostly the Kodak P850 – even though it has quite a few operational quirks these days (like a bad habit of resetting to +3 EV and not co-operating with changing this back to zero). I really don’t need any more old cameras. I am no longer collecting cameras. Say it louder: I AM NO LONGER COLLECTING CAMERAS!Nevertheless …
Let’s look at a few anyway. There’s no harm in looking, right? They can’t make you buy.
First let me say there are hundreds of models you can dismiss out-of-hand. Maybe thousands. All those ordinary ‘cookie-cutter’ compact cameras that have #MP and #X zooms and look like they’re all made in the same mold with different names slapped on afterward. It’s not that they aren’t adequate, it’s that they aren’t exceptional. If you’re going to use classic equipment it should be something with at least one unique property that makes it stand out from the run-of-the-mill production.
So in the category of compacts let me suggest a couple that I have: the Canon PowerShot A70 and the Fujifilm F80 EXR. They don’t have to be those exact models as there are many similar ones which will perform as well or in some cases even better. Why I like the Canon is that in addition to an excellent glass lens it has an optical viewfinder. Nothing like it for shooting in the sunlight. In fact that’s one area where the Fuji fails. Canon made several PowerShot cameras with optical finders, some up to 16MP and 5X zoom. Well worth it if you can find one in a thrift store for $5 or $10. Why I like the Fuji is the EXR processor function. It is exceptional. Again there are several Fuji EXR cameras, including the very nice (but rare and therefor expensive) HS20 through HS50 series ‘bridge’ cameras, which have significant zoom capacity.
Now let’s talk about some more advanced cameras. There are a few models I’ve come across recently which have caught my interest. If I were free to indulge myself however I wish, I would definitely buy these (or something similar).
1). Olympus Evolt E-300. This is a micro four thirds camera with pentaprism and interchangeable lenses. It’s only 8MP, but unlike the newer Evolt models it has a CCD sensor (one seller referred to it as a “Kodak sensor”). Some specs from Camera Decision: Olympus E-300
2). Pentax K100D. A mere 6MP APS-C DSLR using the Pentax KAF lenses, it has in body image stabilization (IBIS as it is known). An affordable way to use a huge number of quality lenses. Some specs from Camera Decision: Pentax K100D
3). Samsung GX-1L. You want something different? Samsung is a name you won’t see on a camera often. This one is a 6MP APS-C DSLR like the Pentax, but without the image stabilizer. The one I came across had a Schneider-Kreuznach 18-55mm lens which is bound to be sharp (the S-K on my Kodak sure is). Some specs from Camera Decision: Samsung GX-1L
4). Nikon Coolpix 4500. This is a weird little 4MP (in some versions less) camera with a twist: literally. You twist the body to move the lens into shooting position. They made several similar cameras, known as the ‘Coolpix 950 series’. Functionally it’s no great prize, but the body design certainly isn’t the usual motor-driven-extend-o-lens of other compacts! Wikipedia entry: Nikon Coolpix 4500
Those are just some examples of classic digitals I’ve come across which intrigued me. There are many variations of these, and you have to look up which models have which features (for example the Fujifilm HS10 does not have the EXR processor whereas the HS20 through HS50 do, and the Pentax K110D doesn’t have IBIS like the K100D).
Now we have to talk about prices. For one thing, you may be choosing a classic camera because you’re no relation to Bill Gates and can’t afford multi-thousand dollar Fujifilm, Sony, or Leica machines. Even if that’s not the case it’s too easy to overspend on an old one. Always remember the camera that is working today may not be working tomorrow, especially if it isn’t new. The cameras I mentioned above range from $6 I spent on the Canon to $60 on the Fuji, and the ‘numbered’ ones were all listed for between $100 and $200 CDN (that’d be a lot less in the US, believe me). Ultimately the price should be what you feel you can afford and not a penny more. Beware auctions like Ebay: make your maximum bid and then stop; there will be another one along if you miss out. Patience is a virtue. So is frugality.
Side note: I’ve seen offers of groupings along the lines of “20 untested digital cameras for $60 – plus shipping” (shipping often being as much or even more than the price). You know what 20 untested digital cameras are worth? Right: $20. It isn’t that hard to test a camera, so assume “untested” means “not working”. I tested a couple of dozen that my Dad had picked up cheap and found all but one – which happened to be a Fuji and the best in the bunch – did work once you stuck batteries and an SD card in them. I still had to give them away. It’s not like fixing one of these is a practical option, after all.
If there are a lot of photographers near you, get together and form a club. That way the group can more easily afford a larger selection of cameras to work with. Just watch out for people hogging one model to themselves! Most importantly, have fun.
As for me, I will continue to “put the brakes on” when looking at old cameras. Especially as it looks like I will need a Canon SX70 to replace the ailing Nikon P610: since it is my “main” camera replacing it with another used machine is courting disaster, and the Canon best fits the specifications – aside from being pricey at $600+.
But hey; you never know when the ‘brakes’ will give out, eh?
Addendum: CCD means Charge Coupled Device, whereas CMOS means Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. They are the two types of image sensors you will find in digital cameras. The former is usually fewer megapixels in resolution, but generally has a greater tonal range. The value of this is subjective. One curious side effect of fewer MP for a given size sensor is that it is more sensitive to light as each pixel covers a larger area. So a lower MP but same-size sensor can yield better low-light results.
Also, be aware of what kind of memory card your used bargain camera takes. Not every one uses the now-standard SD card. Olympus and Fuji, for example, often used xD cards which are now somewhat hard to find. There are adapters for these to use micro SD, but the reviews on them are mixed as to fit and quality for any given camera. Likewise Sony used a variety of “memory sticks”, and in the Mavica 3.5″ computer disks – good luck finding those or a machine to read them. Even the Compact Flash cards can be difficult to obtain at a reasonable price these days.
Remember too that a working used camera may not work as good as it originally did. The screen/EVF may have faded, the sensor may not deliver full contrast/correct colour or may have hot/dead pixels, and the exposure may be off or inconsistent. All this in addition to the fact it probably did not perform to the high expectations of today in terms of speed and accuracy in focusing – or even snapping the shot (a lot of older cameras have quite a noticeable delay between the button being pushed and the image being captured). You have to expect these things.
Well that wandered a bit!
Since writing this I note that the camera offerings mentioned above have all sold but one, so I guess they were pretty good deals for someone!
They put out a snowfall warning of a possible 10 cm on Friday. It was issued when there was already 7 cm on the ground so a pretty safe bet. On Saturday I cleared the driveway because, you’ll laugh, it was going to go above freezing for highs on the weekend. But that’s okay because (hold on to your sides) more snow is expected Monday! Another (wait for it) 10 cm. This to be followed by highs above freezing then … Do you see what’s going on here? It would be hilarious if we didn’t have to cope with it.
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.
On my way in to the cabin Monday I got to take a couple of pictures of the mountains – with snow on them. Yesterday was miserably rainy, and this morning it was snowing. It will melt off, but it did stick. What is worse is that the forecast for the next two weeks is more of the same unpredictable rain/snow showers. The only thing that can be counted on is that it will be cold. I need to get six more loads of wood out of the woods and it looks very iffy for doing that. If I do manage it, the circumstances will be unpleasant.
I’m not happy right now.
The weather promises to be truly awful all week. I got in a day of wood harvest and shutting down the water system at the cabin. In light of the forecast, here’s some images in black and white – which is how it will look the next few days.
Today was supposed to be sunny and dry; a good day for dropping a dead tree and bucking it up and loading the trailer and thus getting some more firewood in. Instead, it’s raining. Imagine my surprise that the forecast was wrong. I wasn’t. Nevertheless my plans are ruined and I have to sit here and wait out the weather before I can even slice up the logs I’ve already got out there and bring in another load.
I’m bored, and that’s dangerous.
It’s too wet to do any photos because I can’t afford an environmentally sealed Pentax K or anything like it. I tried to take some pictures of the eagles circling the lake before the rain got too strong, but the Nikon failed to focus correctly on each and every shot. This keeps happening. It’s one thing when the subject is still and you can go back to it. Flying birds are there then gone: miss them and you’ve missed them.
Anyway WordPress is still allowing access to this primitive editor that works, so I’m annoying you with a post while it still functions. I actually have a few images saved up and may even share some. But mostly when I’m bored I go “camera shopping”. And then have to stop myself from actually ordering anything. It’s difficult.
Let’s take a moment to make fun of camera reviews, shall we? Revisiting the Lumix GF2 and a certain web site’s evaluation of it I take issue with their opinions. Vis: CONS:
No wireless connection (that’s a pro not a con)
No image stabilization (debatable: if you remember your “one over” rules IS isn’t really that necessary for still photography, and you hardly notice it)
No built-in viewfinder (now that is a con as the LCD screens are useless in bright light. Curiously they list the lack of VF as a con under “Portrait Photography” when in fact that’s one form where it is not needed and the LCD screen is probably better)
Low resolution 12MP sensor (uh, sounds like Spec Snobbery to me)
Poor low light performance (yeah – physics again. Seriously low-light performance requires full size sensor and big glass and it all costs a ton of money. Simply pretending that you can get ISO 6400 out of a MFT or 2.3 sensor doesn’t make it happen)
So remember not to use any commercial review’s opinion as an absolute. Half the time they are just parroting popular opinion and never are they understanding your personal needs. For example the particular site evaluates cameras for Portrait, Street, Sports, Daily, and Landscape photography but utterly misses Wildlife evaluation which is quite a different thing yet majorly popular.
Since this wandered off into comparisons, here’s the Kodak sunset vs. the Nikon sunset: