Something borrowed

Well that was a week of disasters. To say that anything has been resolved would be incorrect. Now, this should be an entry about the fourth part of my photography endeavors (‘price’ – as disappointing a topic as can be imagined), but instead …

Ignoring all that I’ve been through for sake of both reader and writer, let’s skip to today’s subject: the Chromebook. Borrowed for purposes of evaluation.

Old Asus netbook on top of new Asus chromebook.

What’s good about it? Let me put it this way: I’m writing this on a pieced-back-together, 12-year-old, failing Gateway laptop that locks up and goes into random video flickering that can induce epileptic seizures. Faults aside, it is able to do the job when it deems to work.

The chromebook doesn’t live up to the hype, which only proves the manufacturers are out to sell stuff not make good product. See the above photo? That old, now burned-out, netbook had 320 GB of storage and 4 GB of memory. It could run programs and store files locally in addition to connecting to the Internet. The chromebook can only connect to the Internet. It has a measly 32 GB of storage, no ability to add programs, and local storage has to be done via a USB drive if you desire it.

It can’t connect to my printer or scanner either. Not “it can’t connect to any printer/scanner” but specifically the equipment I’ve got. Lack of drivers. There are some for Brother printers, but not the particular one I have. That figures. Just the way things go for me. Of course the Canon scanner won’t connect either: seems they only support Windows OS.

In short it’s like the old computing terminals: can’t do much without being connected to the mainframe (Internet in this case). So no choices for how you want to do things: it’s “my way or the highway” for everything. This is absurd because but for the built-in storage capacity and the severely limiting OS it could be a netbook.

 

In order to replace my ‘main’ laptop with something modern and viable I’d need to have these specs:

Quad core processor (the dual core keeps maxing out).

4 GB RAM (I’ve tested my current laptop on 2 GB and it still works, but slows down. 4 GB would be a minimum and 8 GB would be better even though not used 90% of the time).

256 GB HD (either mechanical or SS; either works fine for me since I don’t do video and thus don’t need high speed read/write). There is a temptation for 500 GB, but since I managed two identical copies of my whole system and files on a drive that size with space left over I guess I’m not in danger of filling it up anytime soon. Especially as I am keep far fewer images these days due to the high rate of failure.

15″ screen minimum, preferably with higher resolution display like 1920 x 1080. I think that might help with the eyesight problem. (BTW I have a 17″ laptop and it’s a bit unwieldy as it’s heavy. Also the screen has failed on it and barely presents an image).

Around here even finding a computer that meets those specifications is difficult: they want to sell the cheap stuff which has the maximum profit margin. As such they scrimp on performance hardware and try to make up for it with promotions wherein every model is described as “perfect for all your computing needs”.

Oh one of the funniest things I’ve come across is pushing chromebooks by extolling their ease of cleaning and resistance to spreading germs. That’s what they learned from the pandemic: how to use disease to sell product.

I can’t complain too much about the old Gateway giving up because it is 12 years old and has done a lot of work in that time. Eventually heat gets to the components and makes them unstable, which is what is going on here as near as I can determine. Laptops aren’t very well-designed in that respect: the first one I ever had needed an ice cube on the processor at the end of its life to keep it running long enough for me to pull all the data off the drive.

But I can complain about the lack of suitable replacement laptops available, and the price of the few that exist.

Well what do you know? This post got around to being about price after all.

 

Tamron toy

I’m not very self-indulgent. I don’t spend a lot of money on my photography. This is just as well considering the results. It seems when I do fork over the big bucks the results are disappointing, and when I purchase something for mere pocket change it’s much more rewarding. Sort of the opposite of what should be expected.

When I bought the latest indulgence I truly believed it would be an asset. For one thing, Tamron is a venerable name in lenses. For another the specs seemed good, especially the wide focal length range which gets around the need to lens-swap on the Canon at 55mm. That was annoying.

On the downside, the lens lists for crazy money and there is apparently no support from Tamron in this country; the equipment is considered “gray market” and if something goes wrong they won’t fix it even at your expense. Not encouraging.

So when I came across a used one for half price I figured it was worth a shot. Short form: nope, it wasn’t.

Pros: short, light weight, easy to handle with a good zoom range of 18-200mm.

Cons: slow to focus, poor low-light focus performance, and it’s not very sharp.

IMG_2823
Small fry with the Tamron. It’s blurry, no matter how you slice it.
IMG_2828
Small fry with the Canon 55-250mm. Significantly sharper.
DSCN2705
Small fry with the Nikon P610. Makes the Canon lens look poor and the Tamron look awful.
IMG_2818
Tamron at full 200mm. Significant and inconsistent vignetting. Also the shorter focal length makes one yearn for the ‘missing’ 50mm.

So what is the lens good for? Anything? Well it’s not bad for average picture taking of general scenes.

IMG_2851
When sharpness isn’t important, it’s fine.
IMG_2848
Female common merganser and her brood, watching the sunset. This would have been much better with the Canon lens, but there was no time to swap (why I like the vast range of the Nikon).
IMG_2853
The sunset they were watching.

For the record, I’ve made three photographic purchases in the past two years which I regret: the Nikon W100, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60, and this Tamron 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 Di II VC. They all could have been great, but disappointed for the same reason: lack of sharpness in the lens.

I am now loath to make any more purchases at all, for any amount of money. It’s a shame too because I think I found a replacement for the ailing Nikon P610: a Sony DSC-HX300/B for <$300. Other options are well over that (like a used P610 for more than mine cost new). I’m not keen on buying any more lenses for the Canon either, as it seems ‘affordable’ is a synonym for ‘low quality’. It would be worse if I shelled out for the top dollar glass and was still disappointed.

I’m not trusting new equipment right now.