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Messages - distant.star

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Lenses / Re: shooting into the sun...
« on: April 17, 2012, 12:16:18 PM »

A tip from the cheapskate dept.

If you're shooting the sun itself, eclipse for instance, you can use inexpensive welding glass over the lens instead of high-priced filters.

For $5 I got a 4.5 by 5.25 inch piece of #14 welder's glass from a welding safety supply outfit. With the naked eye, you can hold it up to the sun and look directly at it as long as you like. It's big enough to cover the end of any lens I have, and it will take whatever length exposure I want. You just have to be careful to hold it still.

Also, I've used it to take pictures directly into powerful flashlights -- just for fun. Who knows what other kinds of fun you might have!

As for a disclaimer, this is my experience with #14 glass. It also comes in lighter versions, and I have no idea what kind of protection they would offer. The optics expert here is probably a good source on that if you have questions.


Mr. Palmer:

I'll quote young Nick from the 1965 movie, "A Thousand Clowns," in response to Chuckles the Clown:

"My simple child reaction of what you did is that you are not funny. Funnier than you is even Stuart Schlossman, who is my friend, and is eleven, and puts walnuts in his mouth and makes noises. What is not funny is to call us names, and what is mostly not funny is how sad you are, and I'd feel sorry for you if it wasn't for how dull you are. And that's my opinion from the blue, blue sky."

And, as Joan Rivers frequently said: "Oh, grow up!"

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon releases are getting expensive!
« on: April 13, 2012, 09:00:09 PM »

The U.S. Secret Service code name for the 1DX is "Casper," as in friendly ghost!

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Spec Obsession Disorder
« on: April 05, 2012, 04:00:12 PM »

Columnist David Pogue of The New York Times makes a point. Sometimes we seem to miss the image forest for the megapixel/ISO/AF/etc. trees.


Here's the text in case you can't access the NYT site:

April 5, 2012

Spec Obsession Disorder: The Incurable Techie Malady

In my Times column Thursday, I reviewed the Nokia Lumia 900 phone. Plenty of people (including Nokia) consider it Nokia’s last best effort to make some headway in the American smartphone market. Microsoft also has a lot riding on this phone, which runs its Windows Phone 7 software. Like Nokia, it’s currently flopping.

After I review a big-deal product like this, I sometimes go online to see what other critics have written, to see if it struck them the same way. In the case of the Lumia, a number of reviewers mentioned something I didn’t: the Lumia’s processor.

One of the phone’s most notable features is its price: $100 with contract, rather than the $200 phones of this type go for. And one way Nokia got there was to use a 1.4 GHz Scorpion single-core processor, instead of, for example, the dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm APQ8060 found in some of its Android rivals.

Horrors, right?

I smacked my forehead. This kind of thinking drives me batty. Who on earth cares what processor is inside — as long as the phone feels fast? And this one feels fast. Very, very fast.

As far as I’m concerned, for the customer, it shouldn’t matter if the phone has a Snapdragon, a dual core or a hamster wheel. All that matters is how fast the phone winds up.

Among the tech cognoscenti, this is a typical symptom of Spec Obsession Disorder (SOD). You see it all the time.

Back in the day, PC makers used to market their computers by promoting the megahertz rating of the chip inside. Remember that? “Powered by a 2.4-gigaherz Pentium 4,” as though that’s all you needed to know about the computer’s power. The clock speed of a chip was only one tiny factor of many that determined the PC’s speed—and not even the most important factor. The amount of memory, the hard drive speed and size, the bus speed—all of these things determined a PC’s power.

The joke was on Intel, though. Eventually, the company couldn’t make its clock speeds any faster — so it stopped featuring that statistic. It developed other ways to make its processors faster, ways that couldn’t be handily represented by a single number. So nowadays, nobody says, “I’m upgrading to a 3-gigahertz PC.”
Similarly, for years, we were taught to believe that what determined a camera’s quality was its megapixel count — which, I’m happy to report, has been duly debunked. Nowadays, the megapixel count isn’t featured nearly as much, and the smart camera makers (Canon is one) have actually reversed themselves. They’re making cameras with fewer, but better, pixels.

But Spec Obsession Disorder lives on. We still make a fuss about 720p versus 1080p hi-def video, for example. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not entirely sure that most people could tell the difference at normal viewing distance.

O.K., maybe, if they had two side-by-side TV sets, both playing Blu-ray discs. But most people don’t have that. They see a brilliantly crisp picture, and they’re fine with it. (Besides, the source also matters. Standard-def TV doesn’t have enough resolution to fill even a 720p picture, let alone a 1080p one.)
And don’t get me started about contrast ratios. Do you really think the average person could see the difference between a contrast ratio of 500,000:1 and a million to 1?

Spec obsessions also crack me up because, frankly, you’re judging something based on the report of what’s inside. When you bought a PC, did you extract its processor to measure its 3 gigahertz yourself? Do you count the pixels on your hi-def TV or your camera?

No, of course not; you’re just taking the manufacturer’s word for it. And as we all know, that can get you into trouble.

I’ll keep reporting the most important specs in my reviews, because techies care about such things. But to me, the questions should not be, “How much memory is in this tablet? How many nits of brightness does that phone’s screen put out? What graphics processor is in that laptop? How much milliamp-hours does that phone’s battery pack?”

Instead, the questions should be, “How fast is it? How good does it look? Can you read it in sunlight? Does the battery last? How long does the battery last?”

And even those are secondary questions. The bigger ones are, “Is it a good value? Is the design excellent? Should you buy it?”

And on the Lumia 900, the answers to those questions are “yes,” “yes,” and “maybe.”

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: 5D3 at one week: a few surprises
« on: April 03, 2012, 09:59:03 PM »

Thanks for taking the time to write and post this. Very useful.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Customer wants to buy Nikon D800 (funny)
« on: March 31, 2012, 08:48:15 PM »

Interesting. A rare instance where I've heard "Nikon" pronounced correctly.


EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« on: March 21, 2012, 07:55:47 PM »

I had same issues when I worked in CA. Summer daytime temps would routinely go to 90 to 105. My solution was an insulated container and that "blue ice" stuff.

Get as small an insulated container as you can, and get some of that blue ice. Use the ones in hard plastic, not the plastic bag stuff. Freeze the blue ice.

When you leave in the morning, wrap your equipment in towels and perhaps a plastic bag. Put this in the container. Next, wrap the blue ice in towels and place it on top of the equipment. Make sure you have enough frozen material to last the day -- you may have to experiment to find out how much you need. Close up the container.

When you get to work, put the container in the trunk or somewhere inside the car where sun won't shine directly on it.

You may want to try a recording thermometer inside the container at first, just to get an idea how things are going. They're pretty inexpensive. All it needs to do is record max hi and low temps.

This worked well for me for years.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Backup body for dangerous areas
« on: March 18, 2012, 11:36:08 PM »
First suggestion: Stay out of dangerous places. There's no "LOL" after you really get mugged. There are plenty of great pictures in the world without risking your health and property.

If you're going anyway, take my nephew with you -- it only takes one punch for him to put them down. Seriously, if you go to such a place, the odds of being targeted for attack drop dramatically if you're not alone.

If you're going to persist with such ill-advised "adventure," buy a used S95 and put some black tape over the white Canon lettering on the front. Also, take a lot of small cards and swap out often -- if you lose the camera you still probably get to keep some pictures to remember the pain by.

And as a disclaimer, I am not a lawyer and this is not intended as legal advice!

Site Information / Re: Karma is gone?
« on: March 17, 2012, 11:52:11 AM »
I never realized you were a moderator. I thought there was some kind of formal identification.

The forum host service installed an add-on a couple of weeks ago, and it apparently messed up several things in the background.  The add-on was just removed, but the removal resulted in several forum features being reset.  We'll see if karma gets turned back on...


To paraphrase a certain genius from a particular movie...

Normal is as normal does.

Lenses / Re: Zeiss lens wipes
« on: March 12, 2012, 11:43:24 PM »
Although I don't think I've ever used them on a lens, I have them and use them all the time. They're cheap and portable. Great for wiping the screen on the back of the camera. Great for the touch screen on the phone. I don't think they're much more than alcohol, and the moisture evaporates instantly.

Funny thing, I'd never use them on my eyeglasses. Guess I'm weird that way!

My simple-minded answer is simply, yes. You would be looney to think of such a switch. Here's why.

You're in the first stage of building a business. You've got some fundamentals and tools established, and apparently they're working. Why would you consider shaking everything up and essentially starting over? That would add not only another variable to your business plan, but it could put the whole enterprise in jeopardy. It looks like you've got a good set of tools in place that satisfy your needs and you're building on those.

If you've succeeded five years from now, that's when you look at Nikon and see if they have tools that could give you increased success. If they do, you wouldn't be crazy to think about it then. Today, yes, it's crazy.

Best wishes for continued success with your venture!

My wife and I started up a photography business last year.  I'm currently in the process of getting her a camera body.  We primarily shoot family portraiture and are moving into weddings this summer. I currently have:

Canon 5d Mk2
Canon 35L 1.4
Canon 50L 1.2
Sigma 85mm 1.4
Canon 135L f/2
Canon 580ex II

I do have the mark 3 preordered but damn the D800 is tempted... I could sell everything and start from scratch... I would lose some money yes, but does Nikon have equivalent primes as Canon does?

Since I have no idea what kind of pictures you make, I can't offer any real advice.

What I would do is get a cheap 50mm f/1.8 to slap on the 5D3 and use either that or the 70-200 while keeping the 17-55 on the 7D most of the time.

That will give you time to decide/evaluate/save while you figure out the next move.

Canon General / DST Reminder
« on: March 10, 2012, 11:21:21 PM »

For those in the U.S., daylight saving time begins Sunday, March 11.

Don't forget to change the time in your camera bodies.

A public service message from....

Interesting. A couple of posts about this today, at least that I've seen.

My guess is things have quieted down a lot since the 5D3 announce, and there's not much to really talk about.

However, these posts did get me thinking there could be a plot against the applaud/smite nonsense. I guess if enough people handed out "smites" every chance they had, it would cause more dissatisfaction with that system, perhaps generate noisy opposition.

As a disclaimer, that's simply something that crossed my mind. I have no knowledge of such a thing going on, and I'm not advocating for such a thing. Just thinking out loud and wondering.

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