Equipment sidetrack

Sydney J. Harris used to write columns about “Things I learned en route to looking up other things”. This is something like that, but not exactly.

Idly I am poking through equipment for sale, wondering if certain items can be fit into the revised Master Plan, and occasionally bidding on whatever I think might. This has included some rather wild detours like Sony a6000 to get the hi-res sensor and mirrorless adapt-almost-any-lens ability to switching to Nikon DSLR for the same hi-res reason or even because I want to try out some of the older, CCD equipped cameras of theirs. None of that happened. A lot of lenses passed as well.

What I did buy was some more lens adapters for the Canon EF cameras, just in case I found a Canon FD or Nikon F lens for such a price as couldn’t be passed up. In essence, the redesigned plan is to reduce the DSLRs to Canon only, because then it’s all fairly interchangeable and a lot of old glass can be easily adapted to it. Also no need to memorize six or eight different control configurations. Makes sense, right?

The only change, then, was acquiring a Canon T7 to get a 24MP sensor (1/3 more pixels than the T100 so worth the switch). I haven’t succeeded in this either, as they mostly go for more money than I’m willing to put into this project at this point. For another thing, selling off the superfluous equipment is proving to be quite a stumbling block.

Anyway, that’s the plan now: Canon 1Ds (too big and heavy for anyone else to want), replace the Canon T100 with a T7 to get higher res on the hi-res camera, keep the Canon G11 and Fuji F80 carry-along cameras, and continue using the Nikon P610 as the “daily driver” until it fails entirely. Hopefully by that point I can save up enough for a replacement like a Canon SX70.

Oh and one other thing: try, try, try to avoid buying any more equipment just because it’s cheap or interesting (and cheap). Sensible, right? Right. Let’s see me actually manage to do it.

Now off to one side I come across this blog by favourite writer Eric L. Woods: A Sigma dp2 Quattro Fascinating camera. The Foveon sensor is built like a layer of colour film, and the results show. Several of the other X3 write-ups I found dismissed the design as though they were written by people with stock in other sensor manufacturers or something. Much of it was confused and contradictory so I guess maybe they didn’t understand it. Personally I like the concept and the results.

I also like the fact they didn’t go crazy on cramming “features” into this camera. It has some faults to be sure, like no EVF. Considering how expensive it is that’s just stupid. But largely it is a digital camera for a film photographer. Too bad about the price. In my “ideal” camera design I can see that Foveon X3 sensor as a key element.

That’s all as maybe. I have to try and focus on my current projects, including the wood harvest that has just started. It’s been difficult as the still-present smoke makes me cough almost instantly when I so much as talk, never mind work. I got a lot done yesterday when there was no smoke about, so timing is vital to success.

In the meantime there’s only a few more things on e-Bay I want to keep track of. Just in case.

First load of firewood for this year.

Birds on four thirds

I’m still waiting for some things to show up, but the arrival of the xD cards allowed me to find out the Fuji A330 does not function. At least I have 1GB and 2GB cards for the Olympus E-410 now. The USB cable hasn’t come yet so I can’t download from it though.

A few ‘leftover’ shots taken with that camera using the CF card.

This is a young bald eagle.
Raven catching light.
Dark-eyed junco on the ground.
Black-capped chickadee.
Two birds in there somewhere.
“…and a raven in a pine tree!”

The Mystery Camera project has come to a halt as repeated sensor cleaning didn’t improve anything and that’s its major flaw for being used. Also its lens is terrible; cleaning hasn’t helped that either.

I’ve decided against investing in a PK-EF adapter to use the one good (Hanimex) lens on the Canon, and likewise with the odd Contax/Yashica mount lens I got by accident (it was supposed to be PK as well).

Nor does it look like I’ll get my hands on a full-frame camera. It isn’t worth the $300+ that the cheapest of them regularly go for just to gain the one small advantage of occasional low-light photography. As for the Nikon P610 being replaced … same “not worth the money” problem.

So I guess the Master Plan has changed to “run what you brung”; making whatever pictures I can with whatever equipment the budget can manage. If I could afford the 70-300mm for the Olympus that would be nice, but they’re generally 2X-3X what I paid for the camera – when you can find them.

But I am still not collecting cameras. Even if I can’t get rid of the ones I no longer use.

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.
Wood.
Some sunrise.

The stupidity of smart phones

Note: this posting is only vaguely related to photography, in that you can use smart phones to take pictures. Mostly it is about using them as phones, so if you’re looking for another photography article … well this isn’t it.

Consider the following scenario: I’m in the big city, going to the airport to pick up my returning wife after an absence of nearly three months. I’m waiting in a parking lot for her to ring my cell phone and say she’s arrived so I can nip to the pick-up zone and whisk her away. Romantic, eh?

My phone doesn’t ring. It’s way past time for the plane to arrive. I try calling in the other direction, and am told that my “plan” doesn’t have the ability or credit to do that. What? I’m sure I’ve called her before, even from the city to our little town. Now it doesn’t work when we’re both out of town but still in the same city? The one day in three months I need the phone to work, and it doesn’t!

Herein the background: I don’t use my phone much. About once a week when I’m in town doing shopping I check in at home to see if there’s anything that’s been forgotten. This possibly makes me unique in all the world. Certainly it is within my family, as they (like so many others) all seem to have had their phones surgically grafted to their hands. Oh and my phone is an old Samsung Rugby; rugged and dependable but not ‘smart’. I hardly use the thing, and when I do it is only as a phone. As such, my “plan” is pay-as-you-go with automatic monthly top-up. Frankly for the amount I use it I’m getting ripped off anyway, and I’m sure they count the minutes faster than any clock does.

DSCN1587

What I have is more than I need and costs more than it’s worth. Especially when it doesn’t work.

Suspecting the problem was the “plan”, I went looking for an alternative plan. One that specifically mentions ‘long distance’ usage, for example. I looked at different carriers, different plans, and different phones. It came down to the basic Canadian problem of “up yours, consumer!” which we experience in so many things. All the carriers offer the same poor choices of bloated, expensive plans fluffed up with “services” that in reality cost them nothing more to provide. Services I don’t need and don’t want, such as text and data. Like E.T., I just need to be able to phone home when I’m away. Even the so-called “emergency” phone plans were crap – no different than what I’ve got and no cheaper either. Quite the racket they’ve got going, eh?

When you see the phones offered, you understand why. The only non-smart phone is an awful quality Alcatel thing that has nothing but bad reviews everywhere. The companies all but demand you buy a smart phone, because that’s what they make the most profit on.

Well I won’t, because I’ve seen too many of them and the results of their use. They are poor quality, cumbersome to use, and fragile as a thin-shelled egg. Almost everyone I know has one, and they all have tales of broken screens, dead batteries, and failed functions. In the meantime, as they go through phone after phone with repeated expensive upgrades to the ‘latest and greatest’ model, my Samsung keeps working (except when the service provider decides to not allow it). It’s got dents in it, people. Dents that would be instant death for a smartphone. That’s the kind of conditions it has to endure if it’s going to be my phone. (Related: the contractor I worked with last year had a cracked screen on his; said he has to get it replace three or four times every year when it finally gets to the point of not working.)

As with the plans where they minimally hike service and maximally hike prices, so are smart phones and endless road of meaningless “upgrades” dedicated to emptying your bank account faster than you can refill it. They have made the technology addictive to the simple human mind, convincing people that smart phones are a necessity to life. So much so that people forgo food and rent rather than do without the latest improvement. It’s the electronic equivalent of crack cocaine, and when you challenge the phone addicts they become defensive and angry in just the same way. Try it and see. They’ll trot out all the good aspects of having a cell phone, insisting those justify their expense, and ignore how over-blown the contribution to society really is.

That slab of silicon silliness you laid out hundreds of dollars for (or got ‘for free’ when you signed the deal with the digital devil – think about that) is worth a fraction of the price in terms of both what it actually contains in equipment value and what good it does. There’s nothing to it like as insidious in some sci-fi story about purposefully programming the way into the human mind; there doesn’t have to be. The marketing heroes of technology have just pushed the usual brain buttons and got the results the shareholders want: millions of addicts willing to spend any amount of money to be “up-to-date” by the artificial social standards set by the companies selling the drug.

And they don’t take good pictures either. 😉

Addendum: got a message saying they’d whipped more money from me and ‘refilled’ my minutes. Number of minutes used last two months: ZERO. I’m so glad I’m paying for that.