Analysis Part 2: lenses

The second subset of the Nikon replacement problem is a Duesy! The P610’s lens not only has incredible zoom range, but incredible sharpness as well. It can go from this:

Ice Bubbles (cropped close up)

To this:

Tangled Tree at full telephoto

In one go without changing lenses. There are about four new cameras available that can manage that, and two of them are Nikon’s ‘replacements’ for their P610 model. Both of these are fraught with problems, including having too much zoom – and too much price.

Honestly if I were to design a replacement for the P610 I would have made improvements like better manual focusing and a larger (not necessarily higher resolution but 20MP would be nice) sensor. Think about it: the P1000 has the equivalent of a 3000mm lens on it. Now if they were to use a 2.3 sensor (6.6 x 8.8) instead of a 1/2.3 sensor (4.55 x 6.17) that would still give 1500mm equivalent telephoto (much like the P610’s 1440mm) but double the sensor size (in square area) meaning it would be better in low-light conditions – even with more pixels on it. Oh I’d certainly also do something about that tiny, dim EVF as well. Imagine the marketing: “largest, brightest viewfinder yet!” Or something like that. Really, somewhere between the LCD panel which can’t be seen in broad daylight and the tiny EVF which I can’t see in any light there has to be a spot where there’s a way of viewing the scene properly under normal shooting conditions. It’s an electronic image; it can technically be any size and brightness you want it to be. One thousand pixels stuck in a hole 10mm across is not the answer.

Anyway with the P1000 and P950 dismissed, the other two new camera options are the Canon SX70 and the Panasonic FZ80. The latter has a touch screen I dislike and the the former is about 2 times the money. Both have their other flaws as well. You’re not getting me to part with hundreds of dollars for a camera that falls short of my needs, no matter how many cup holders it has. What is the point of buying any camera that is, to put it bluntly, unsuitable?

So let’s look at my existing cameras and lenses instead. They also fall far short of my needs, but the money has already been spent.

Canon 75-300mm EF. Good thing I only paid $50 for it.

This one is obviously soft. On top of that, 300mm is short for bird photography and in no way close to the Nikon’s telescope-like abilities (even after the crop factor of 1.6). I could buy another of these lenses for about $150, but would it be any sharper? Maybe, but it certainly wouldn’t be any longer. There is an IS version as well which might help some with blur, but that one is $600+. If spending that kind of money I might as well get the Canon SX70 and have the truly long zoom range (65X), even if the finder is not as bright.

Canon 55-250mm EF-S. Sharper, but not longer.

Focal length is the main issue here. It has got IS and does a good job, but even with the crop factor it’s only 400mm equivalent and that’s 1000mm shy of what the Nikon can do. Add a 2X lens extender you say? Forget it: that’s reduced resolution, more money spent, and 800mm still isn’t 1440mm. Again better to buy an entire new super zoom camera.

Olympus 55-150mm.

This is not as good as it looks. Mainly because it’s a cropped segment of the full image (at 100%) and because I was maybe 15 feet away from that bird. On the Olympus, 150mm is equal to 300mm for a full-frame camera because the 4/3 size sensor has a 2X crop factor. There is a longer zoom available for it, with maximum 300mm which is like 600mm. That might just about do it – for $400+ and the hassle of importing it from Japan. The Panasonic FZ80 is about the same money without the import issues and has longer range. What’s more, the E410 is an out-of-date camera with a fairly ‘low’ resolution of 10MP (making cropping problematic at times) and the lenses are not really, shall we say, ‘Nikon-sharp’. It’s a pity because there are things I like about this camera. If only Olympus hadn’t fallen for the bean-counters’ insistence on mirrorless designs they might today be building a modern 4/3 DSLR that would be worth buying.

If you’ve read enough of my posts you know I have a few ‘classic’ long range zooms from the film camera era as well. You also know that they are very large and very heavy – and not all that sharp. Probably the best of them is the Hanimex which is a Pentax K mount, meaning it only fits on my Pentax K100Ds – which has the lowest resolution sensor of all my cameras. None of these old lenses are a practical solution.

What is, then? Well, maybe this:

Not a drawing.

What on Earth is that? Me playing around with things: a totally different genre/shooting style that owes nothing to my wildlife photography but is far easier to achieve within budget (as in it costs nothing).

Not sure I like the prospect of no more long telephoto shooting.

No, I definitely do not like that prospect.

Loose ends

Time to bring you up to date on what’s been going on around here.

First of all, the picture I forgot to include in the blog about the Olympus E-410:

640×480 crop of full image.

This shows that the camera used with a good lens doesn’t have problems. You see grain, not blur. That means the Olympus lenses are where the shortcomings are with that system. Goes with this pic, btw:

Lorne’s boat using the 50mm Takumar on the E-410. It’s fine.

Second, we had a visitor on Thursday:

Mr. Otis Bear

He spent most of the day crashing around in the foliage by the creek, just beside the cabin. He was stripping off berries to eat and driving the dogs crazy. I believe it’s one of the cubs that were coming ’round here with their mama this Spring. Seems to have gone now.

Third item is that the smoke has rolled in again as of Friday. Along with a high of 97F. Fires are still bad and people are being warned to stay away from certain areas, not just the evac alert/order zones. Honestly anyone vacationing in BC right now must be certifiably insane.

Beautiful view, wasn’t it?

Fortunately I was able to do some photo work before it got like this. Can’t even breath out there now. It’s looking a bit “life crisis” for me in fact. Bad enough I have to re-arrange my camera arsenal without having to re-arrange my entire way of living.

So I forgot about ‘back button’ focusing of the Pentax, and can’t tell if something is sharp or not anyway. This is a ‘salvaged shot’.

I’m actually working on a new “Master Plan” to go with my failed eyesight. The best camera I’ve got for working with my vision right now is the Canon PowerShot G11, which not only has a purely optical finder and limited zoom range (so basically anything I can see I can shoot), but also the nice colour tones of a CCD sensor. Beyond that … well I’ll explain the equipment shift at a later date. It’s still in flux anyway.

Butterfly, taken with the Canon T100.

More to come …

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.

Birdies

A small assortment of accumulated bird pictures.

But is having colouration like a gravel road a sensible survival adaptation? (Ruffed grouse)
Prison guard. (Northern rough-winged sparrow)
Blending in. (Alder flycatcher)
Serenity. (Barrow’s golden eye)

Incidentally WordPress no longer allows me to edit published posts in any way, so whatever typos I make are now permanent.

Just an update post

Work, work, work. Rain, rain, rain. Mosquitoes, mosquitoes, mosquitoes.

That about covers it.

Note the lack of “photographs, photographs, photographs”. It hasn’t been suitable in any way for that.

I am making progress on the cabin, but every step just reveals more that needs doing. It’s like painting a huge bridge – that just keeps getting longer the further you go. A Mobius project?

The livingroom is starting to look like a room instead of a warehouse.

Once again there is further evidence I’m too old to be doing this, as I seem to be breaking out in spontaneous bruising. Unexplained subdermal haemotomas. It seems effort alone is enough to burst the blood vessels. That’s not good. Especially not when moving large amounts of heavy furniture around.

At least the blood is still inside.

By the way, the last trip out here I managed the road at the breakneck speed of 34 KPH (21.5 MPH). Yeah, it just keeps getting better. Not. The additional rain we’ve had since then probably hasn’t done it any good either.

Dashcam view of the road crew on the one day this year they were there. They scraped 1/2 a KM that didn’t need any work, then went home.

It seems I have a deadline of this weekend to make the place habitable as the Mrs. wants to come out and stay – for the first time since 2018. I can’t say I don’t blame her. Unfortunately she’ll bring our zoo with her, and that means certain projects have to be done ahead of then as the animals will get in the way. It also means the wildlife will vanish for the most part.

What? Dogs are coming? Oh no!

Unfortunately mosquitoes are not one of the creatures that will leave when the pets arrive. Oh well. Back to work.

Bigger visitors

Mama black bear.
Baby black bears.

Taken through the window (because I’m not insane) with the Nikon P610.

Notice that they were eating the vegetation. Contrary to popular opinion, bears are not carnivores. They will attack and kill any animal they consider to be a threat, including humans. Also they will fish and scavenge.

Over Winter

I was surprised to find the game camera at the cabin stayed working over the Winter. It took some pictures of interesting visitors. The first one was the very next picture after I had left with my last load of wood (albeit in the next month).

Cougar

Some of the visitors were more “ordinary”.

Mule deer

Some were totally unwelcome!

Trespassers = cougar food.

Some came by night!

You can tell it’s a moose but …

I’ve been trying to get a good moose picture for years! Lots of them about, but they are elusive.

Baby bears aren’t uncommon either. Other shots showed he was traveling with a sibling – and mama!

Little black bear

I’m not exactly certain, but I think this is a wolverine! Never seen one here before. Possibly a fisher.

Wolverine? (Not the Marvel version.)

This morning I was visited by three otters, which also are not usual here.

River otter at the lake.

In fact even the birds have been unusual this year, with first the Barrow’s Goldeneye …

Barrow’s Goldeneye.

And then a pair of surf scoters:

Surf Scoters

Meanwhile work progresses. I won’t bother with any of those photos until I get to the point where it looks like something.