A year later

It’s been about a year since the doctor welded my retina back on. Since then the sight got better up to a point, and then that was it. Now my ‘bad’ eye is my ‘good’ eye and vise-versa. The resulting vision degradation has been a real bugger, and not just for photographic endeavours. I’m doing a lot of work ‘by feel’ these days, and resigning myself to ‘good enough’ when it isn’t. Anyone who has a complaint is free to do it over themselves.

The new computer is better to look at, but doesn’t eliminate the troubles. Nor have I found any solution for the camera dilemma wherein the only one with enough zoom capacity to be useful to me is the one with the poorest viewfinder. That’s one of the ‘by feel’ functions these days: point in the general direction, see if any of the subject appears to be in the finder, and hope for the best. I think I haven’t been taking as many pictures as before, and I’m certainly discarding more of the ones I do take.

Oh well. This week’s bug project is repairing the trailer, and that’s been made more difficult by erratic weather. I have to see if I can get some spring bushings today, and cut the mount reinforcements if it doesn’t rain again. Looks like rain, though. In fact the guess is for showers until Sunday. Probably by then it will be until next Sunday. Not getting a lot of co-operation with anything these days.

Mid Century Modern art in real life.

Gear down, gear up.

(Note: through dint of major effort I am avoiding commenting on life in general at this moment and instead concentrating on just one of my many problems.)

For the sake of argument let’s say my Nikon P610 no longer works at all. This is not yet true, but like the Kodak P850 and V1003 before it the Nikon’s functions have become erratic and the resulting images less than ideal. It is inevitable that it will fail altogether at some point. I already can not rely on it, which is a shame because it is an excellent camera. Was.

So, what to do about losing my #1 piece of equipment?

First of all the key reason why the P610 took so many pictures for me: the fantastic zoom range. My photography involves me being out and about and seeing things near and far. Often very far. As such I need to be able to switch from close up (not just wide-angle) to telephoto quickly. I can stand in one spot and see a butterfly on a flower right in front of me and a bird in a tree yards away. Thus the extreme zoom lens is an important feature for me.

Right. So replace it with another comparable camera, yes? No. Why not? Three reasons:

1). There aren’t any exact matches. The newer versions from Nikon are ridiculous in their zoom ranges, larger and heavier, and burdened with extra features which add no functionality. Other units from Canon and Panasonic have less zoom but as much ‘technoglitz’ and none have a guarantee of lens quality. The ol’ P610 quite spoiled me for its lens and newer offerings, even more expensive ones, have not shown to be as good quality.

2). Prices are nuts. The P610 cost roughly $400 new and whereas we can expect a bit of inflation the P1000 replacement is 4X that price. The Canon SX70 is 2X. The only thing comparable is the Panasonic FZ80, and it has other faults.

3). “To thine own self be true” – Polonius. In researching dealing with this problem I naturally turned to my current arsenal of cameras to see which had the best potential for stepping up to the plate to pinch-hit for the Nikon. The truth is none of them quite cut it, but there was a recurring theme among certain ones; namely the EVF models wherein even the best (Sony a6000) is difficult for me to use with my failing eyesight. The optical finders are much larger and brighter and easier to see, so buying another camera with an EVF would be like pretending I haven’t got a vision problem.

How bad is that problem? There is currently an optical puzzle making the rounds of the Internet where you’re supposed to read the number in a swirled pattern. My left eye can see five of the seven digits. My right eye can not discern any one them. Yes, it’s that bad. I have taken to ‘resting’ it with the eye patch as much as possible so that when I do need depth perception or increased peripheral vision it can be used. This is incurable and only goes in one direction. It does not help that most cameras are made to be used with the right eye. The DSLRs are a little easier to switch with owing to the finder being basically in the middle of the camera instead of on one side.

Now the interesting thing is that the Panasonic FZ80 is available for <$400 right now. But see problems 1, 2, and 3 above. Only the price and my boredom caused me to look at it at all. Anyway I can’t afford even that.

So I’m back to trying out my existing cameras. None of them has the ultra-long telephoto ability. Going back to #3 I have to wonder if that matters since I can’t spot those far away birds now anyhow. Mostly I triangulate on the sound and then scan the trees where I think one is for movement to zoom in on. Usually by that time the bird has flown off, and so have its descendants.

Objectively the Sony a6000 isn’t suitable even if I spent $1,000 on a long lens for it, which I’m not going to do. Good though the camera is I have troubles using it beyond just the EVF issue as outlined above. It’s a shame because it is a good camera and I like it save the few operational flaws (which are more problems with me than with it).

The Lumix ZS60 is out because of the EVF, the short focal length range, and the poor quality lens.

I like using the Olympus E410 but guess what? There are no lenses available for it because the four-thirds format was supplanted by the micro-four-thirds system. So I should go out and buy an OM? Not too bloody likely that would happen! Besides which changing lenses out is not as convenient as simply zooming from one extreme to the other.

Of course the Canon G11 and 1Ds aren’t at all suitable for daily use as the former is fixed lens with a limited range and the latter weighs nearly as much as a compact car as well as not having a long focal length lens.

This leaves the Canon T100, which also lacks telephoto lens range. That costs a ton of money, and again this is a compromise because even with it you don’t have that wide-to-telescope-like focal length range.

If only they built a DSLR with a 1/2.3″ sensor! But they don’t and won’t so that’s the end of it.

Oh I didn’t mention my Pentax K100Ds. The reasons why should be obvious.

Since the equipment can’t/won’t/doesn’t exist the only choice is to compromise on style. I already find it frustrating when I go out with the ‘wrong’ camera and see something that it can’t get an image of (the other day it was a pileated woodpecker on a power pole when I had the G11 which doesn’t have a long enough zoom). Now I’m going to have to give up on shots because I can’t change lenses fast enough and don’t have long enough focal length.

This is a problem that has no solution. Just like all the others.

Frustration. (Olympus E410)

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.

Re-learning curve: Canon T100

Four weeks since having my retina welded. If there’s any further improvement it will be minor and slow, so I’ve got to work with how I see things now.

Last week, before the smoke filled the valley here and I started choking on every breath, I got a chance to try using the Canon T100 APS-C DSLR. This included some experiments with the manual Pentax Super Takumar lenses, not a one of which produced an acceptable picture. Curiously my ability to judge exposure has been affected, in that bright scenes seem darker and dark scenes seem brighter than either actually is. O-kay, going to need a light meter to do that now I guess. I mean I was off a good 2 stops on every shot regardless of lighting. That’s really bad for me. I can’t have an instant “do over” because I can’t see the camera’s LCD well either.

On to automatic lenses, exposure, and focus! I paid for those functions so I’m going to use them. In theory this eliminates many issues and leaves me dealing only with composition matters. In theory.

Sky before the smoke moved in. A ‘general’ picture that came out fine.
Then we started getting some weird clouds. Picture is still okay, though.
“Silver and Gold”. The smoke begins to affect the light.
“Bugsy sent me!” Experiment with close-up focus (mud wasps).
How to drive the autofocus nuts. It had a helluva time latching on to that web! The difference here was sufficient that even I could see if it had worked before pressing the shutter.
Artistic image achieved.

The issues with this camera are that its EF-S lenses are not the sharpest (and I need all the sharpness I can get now) and the ‘focal points’ are little black dots in the viewfinder; my eyes now have their own little black dots and I kept getting confused about which dot was which for trying to fix focus. In short the extra effort I need to go to now in order to get an acceptable image has slowed down my photography, whether I want to take my time or not. This is a problem for any rapid ‘grab shots’ of wildlife, for example. The lowered resolution of my vision makes spotting birds in trees extremely difficult, and even affects my ability to recognize a potential scene. ‘Obvious objects’ are much easier to pick out. They just aren’t always the thing I want to photograph.

I have my Olympus E-410 here as well. I’ve yet to buy the longest lens for it (70-300mm zoom) because they are always 3X as much as I paid for the camera and the two shorter zooms. However if the smoke would like to go away I can evaluate that for use with “my new eyesight”. The Pentax K100D Super should get a check too, although that camera had issues even without vision problems factored in. It is because of the changes and the fact I have four different DSLRs with five (or six if you count the classic glass) different lens systems that I’m rethinking how I do photography.

The two bright spots are the Canon G11 and Fuji F80, which are just point-and-shoot basically and not a concern. Likewise the Nikon is hanging in there, but its failings of focus and exposure are now exacerbated by my own. Thinning the herd to where I have fewer cameras which I can more easily use and that produce results I want is what I’m contemplating now.

The Last Picture?

While taking photos of hummingbirds at the feeder I suddenly lost vision in my right eye. The symptoms are that of a detached retina. Today begins the hunt to see if anything can be done about it: the longer the wait the lower the chance for restoration.

My vision has been getting worse over the years. It was never all that good, but at least serviceable. It’s bad enough I’m going deaf, do I have to be blind as well?

This could be the event that forces major changes of life. I’m not looking forward to it. Even dealing with the logistics of getting examined is tricky. Writing this blog entry has been a struggle too; I never realized how much I depend on my right eye and the automatic depth perception it imparts.

Female Rufous hummingbird.