Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cameras, cars, and a load of snow

Last Friday, I was passing through a tiny village when a truck typical to farming was slowly approaching my position on the road, hazard lights running.  I couldn't imagine what was so important on the farm that they were hauling something in the dark.  As I felt as though my seat had passed the end of the truck--WHAM!!  In a few seconds, I realized that my driver's side mirror was gone.  In a few seconds more, I thought that, being where I was, some high school football players were bored and had baseball bats.  Trust me, it happens a lot.  They usually beat mailboxes--except for a certain uncle's mailbox which was specially made and fortified and probably bends or breaks baseball bats.

About a month and my car is damaged.  The truth is that a simple scratch probably would have caused as much emotional damage.  I'm never okay with it when the car is new.  I need to gather estimates but the weather has been terrible and 24 hours ago, we were working on 8 inches of snow.  I've since cleared the half of my driveway where my car sits.  I hope that it's just a typical big storm and not one of many to come.  I pity those on the east coast, especially those in Virginia where the electricity seems to go out with a strong wind and a couple of rain drops.

That's a sad thing.  Whether I was living in Philadelphia or Florida, the hurricane news was always that North Carolina and Virginia were without power.  Of course, Florida had surges multiple times a day and the system always seemed on the edge of disaster.  Hurricane Charley, Frances, and Jeanne tested those systems even further in 2004.  My development was next to a Florida Power/Progress Energy repair depot but the crews drove under a problematic cable that needed repair for more than 6 days.  Even the phone company had to put a generator on their box and the sewers didn't have power to work.  I could only imagine living in Virginia because, as I mentioned, a couple of drops of rain and some wind seemed to knock out the power all over the state.  Of course, there, many historical sites were in low-lying areas and prone to flooding.

I was going to go out after the snow had fallen and take some photos with the new camera but I felt ill after shoveling snow and enjoying (sarcasm) the temperature.  Lingering frostbite takes the pleasure out of winter.  I don't really mind the shoveling so much and I'm better at it now.  It's interesting to have enough snow to shovel it from the windshield.

I've been learning more about the Panasonic GH3.  Once I learned that the camera was set up too much like a consumer camera, I disabled the "auto review" setting and the viewfinder barely freezes at all.  I'm hoping that any lag is caused by the SD cards I'm using.  You'd think 45 MB/sec. would be enough speed but 94 MB/sec. should help, if the camera can keep up.

Besides, I needed higher capacity cards.  My 1092 12 MP photos (16 GB card capacity) came down to 812 16 MP photos and that's below my typical number for basketball games.  Unfortunately, the GH3 doesn't have two card slots that I can find, and the door/cover opens far too easily, especially since the body is weatherproofed.  However, I ordered two 32 GB cards for double the capacity and then, I can use the 16 GB cards back in the E-5.

I also ordered the weatherproofed Four-Thirds to micro Four-Thirds adapter Olympus makes.  I'm not sure how good the combination will be but the GH3 is a larger body than most micro Four-Thirds bodies and nearly as big as the E-1, so it should work reasonably well with several lenses like the Panasonic/Leica 25mm, ZD 14-54mm, ZD 50mm macro, and ZD 50-200mm.  I'm still disappointed in the lack of good zoom lenses for micro Four-Thirds and the rather expensive pricing for the Olympus fixed focal (prime) lenses.  Are the 12mm f/2.0 and 75mm f/1.8 worth close to $1000?  I'm still not sure the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 was worth US$1399.99, although that's inexpensive for such a lens in that category.  The equivalent Canon and Nikon (70-200mm f/2.8) lenses are a bit less than double that.

Of course, pity the poor Sony lover who has a slim selection of mediocre lenses, and apparently 1 great lens.  They're either mounting old Minolta lenses that were mediocre or the re-vamped Sony versions via an adapter.  Who knew I'd ever be talking about electronics companies' cameras or that I'd have one.  Sure, in the broadcast and movie industry, they're giants but in still photography, not so much.  Even Minolta, which Sony bought, was not known to make equipment that was more than mediocre.  Sony has actually improved them and that's difficult to believe since Sony has become the brand name for adequacy.  Over the past 10 years, they've become more boring than Panasonic.

It should be interesting to see where it all goes.  Olympus is prepared to announce their E-P3 replacement in a few weeks and they have a professional model in the autumn.  Panasonic is about to replace their GX1 model.  Both have new lenses to be revealed, as do Sigma (Artisan line?), and Schneider(-Kreuznach) should be releasing their high end primes very slowly but with full electronic connection compared to the various others.  Considering the price of Olympus lenses for micro Four-Thirds, Schneider isn't looking much more expensive.

Update: so far, I've tried the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4, which is rather huge.  It seems to work quite well and even focuses reasonably quickly.  I'm not sure whether it supports contrast detection auto focus by default.  I also tried my ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 and it worked quite well, possibly focusing more quickly than it does on the E-1.  Okay, okay, so that's not saying much.  I always thought that the E-1's auto focus was defective but it wasn't.  I can't really tell whether the new cards help or not but they'll be put to the test this weekend.

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