Photo Equipment

Anything interesting to note down about the camera gear is here.


In about 1988 I went to Taiwan on business, and only after I got back did it occur to me that perhaps I should own a camera! (Prior to that I had been vaguely against the whole idea.) I was somewhat familiar with a Minolta SRT-101 my dad had so I thought I'd probably want one of the then-new autofocus SLR's, but I was unwilling to pony up the bucks for one only to find that I wasn't using it. So I bought a Nikon point-and-shoot as an inexpensive trial. I used it a fair amount, but kept running into things it would/could not do that I knew how to do with an SLR. This was frustrating, so I decided to step up.

I wanted the new autofocus gear rather than older, less-expensive stuff. At the time I was very much taken with Nikon's glass, due to their general reputation and in particular the work of John Shaw, I didn't think much of Minolta's Maxxum line due to what I thought of as their focus (ahem!) on bells and whistles at the expense of the basics, and I hated the Canon EOS due to a vacation with a girlfriend who had a 650. She hadn't brought along the manual and I couldn't figure out how to use it except in point-and-shoot mode, and it was just as frustrating to me as my little Nikon. (Worse, as I knew the SLR could let you prioritize shutter speed, but neither of us knew how.) Had I my dad's Minolta I would have easily been able to get the pictures I wanted, yet the Canon stymied me. (And with a film camera, on vacation, you can't just screw around with it and see whether or not it's working the way you want, especially if there is already film in it.)

So I went SLR shopping, with a heavy Nikon bias. Well, it was funny, but having read all the literature during the shopping process it turns out that I was very impressed with the engineering in the Canon line. Not only was it somewhat less expensive than Nikon, the optics had a very good reputation and the autofocus system simply kicked ass. (Their per-lens dedicated motors made for comparatively fast and quiet operation.) Once you knew how it worked it was just as easy to use as anything else; I was hooked! I ended up buying the newly-released Canon EOS 620 and a 50mm f/1.8 lens at the local camera store (Huppins), and have never regretted the decision.

I ended up giving EOS cameras (used ones, as I recall) to all the other members of my immediate family as Christmas gifts, over time, so that they'd have good cameras and so that we could share lenses and accessories, if required.

When family members started getting married I volunteered to take candid photographs as wedding gifts. I picked up a Mamiya C330 TLR and a Sunpak 622 Super flash, along with a Quantum Turbo battery to power the flashes. This gear worked very well, in conjunction with the Canon. Medium format (in this case 6×6) is stunning!

In time I bought an EOS RT, with the fixed pellicle mirror, because it had no mirror vibration, was tres cool, and could be extremely quiet. (I never really used it much, though, and it ultimately represented a waste of money.) Once the EOS 1N came out, with a mirror pre-fire function, I upgraded to it from the 620. Also over time I bought numerous SLR lenses, good ones.

When digital came along I tested the waters with a used Olympus D300L, arguably the first 'pro-sumer' digital camera. It was much like that Nikon I'd started with, but digital. It was perfectly suited for taking photos for the web, but did not have removable media. It held about a film roll's worth of photos before you had to offload them through the serial port, a process that did not always go smoothly.

After a miserable session of trying to take macro photos with the Olympus, using a 50mm SLR lens reversed in front of it, handheld, as a macro adapter, I decided to jump into the digital SLR world by way of a Digital Rebel that a co-worker was selling. I did not want a crop-sensor camera, but the full-frame cameras were much too expensive to justify and the continued inability to use all my SLR glass for digital was growing increasngly frustrating. With the Rebel I could again use all my lenses, including the 50mm and 100mm macro lenses, while I waited for the prices of full-frame bodies to drop into my budget range.

Log (belated)


Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor day, and I'm to take pictures of the Cd'A symphony in concert in the park. (A volunteer effort, they get what they pay for.) I dusted off the Quantum Turbo battery and recharged it. It's been neglected of late, and that has not done it any favors. (Lead-acid batteries don't like to sit discharged.) While it's now pretty weak, some exercising over the last few days has resurrected it to some degree. I really should open it up and put in a new battery. I find, though, that Canon, in their infinite wisdom, has made my stopgap Rebel digital camera incompatible with their old line of flashes, specifically my workhorse 430EZ. It fared so poorly that I got out the Sunpak 622 and used that for fill-flash instead, using the flash's own auto-exposure setting. I had to put the camera on full manual, though, which was less satisfying. (Film photography with the 1N/430EZ combination under these conditions was always highly satisfactory, basically using it as a point and shoot. Canon's film fill-flash algorithms are excellent.) I took quite a few photographs, most of them discards. (A lot of exposure problems.) I cycled mostly between my two favorite lenses: the 20–35 f/2.8 and the 80–200 f/2.8. I'd brought others, but didn't end up using them. My main complaints are two: the camera's reduced-size sensor means that my favorite wide-angle lens isn't really very wide-angle, and the flash situation. And, of course, there's the Rebel's mediocre shot-to-shot time.

My main approach is to take a lot of shots of the pre-concert rehearsal, wandering in and around the orchestra, then move to the edges and into the crowd during the concert. The only problem with that is that the orchestra (and any soloists) aren't usually fully dressed, or even necessarily all there, in the close-in shots.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Last Monday I dug out the camera gear to take semi-official photographs at the CdA orchestra's free Labor Day concert. It'd been awhile since I got out the big L lenses (80–200/2.8 and 300/4), which worked well, and took the bulk of the 288 shots I kept. What did not work well was the flash. Because the 430 EZ doesn't work with the digital camera I had to resort to the Sunpak 622 that I use on the Mamiya C330 6×6, which meant I was running 'open-loop' on exposure. I had to set the camera to Manual exposure (around 1/200 and f/2.8) and set the flash on automatic. That meant there were a lot of overexposed shots—whenever the ambient light got bright. (I really need to get the 550 EX flash!) Anyway, this all worked as expected, what did not work well was the Quantum Turbo Battery. It had been neglected for too long and didn't want to take much of a charge. (It's supposed to be recharged every three months. It's probably been charged only half a dozen times over the last ten years.) I didn't start charging it until that morning, which was much too late. I tried to rig an inverter in the truck so I could continue charging on the trip there, but it only blew the cigar lighter fuse—too much inrush current. I had it charging again once I got to the park, but it still didn't hold much usable charge by the time I needed it. Good thing I'd brought some C cells for the flash's alkaline battery carrier. I'd never used it before but it worked very well here.

Anyway, since then I've been charging and 'using' the Turbo to try to exercise the cobwebs away. It seems to have recovered somewhat, but it probably needs new lead-acid cells installed. (Last I heard this was around $100 to have Quantum do, probably less than half that to do it myself, assuming I can find suitable cells.) Today I put it all away, cleaning the lenses and such. I cleaned the 20–35/2.8 zoom which has desperately needed it for awhile; the big glass was OK. I removed and bagged the alkaline batteries from the flashes in the camera bags, and stowed everything. The batteries in the bag's pencil flashlight had leaked, so it took some time to disassemble and clean it and get it working again. At least you can disassemble and clean a Mag-lite. I wiped the pictures from the camera's CF card, they've already been transferred to CD and given to Jill.

I got some good pictures anyway, but I had a lot of exposure problems, and some focus problems. A fair number of composition and shake failures too, because the camera/lens/flash combination was so big and heavy. It got fatiguing to hold. I consider the exercise to be a qualified success nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recently a Canon 1Ds II showed up on craigslist. I made a $1500 offer, which they accepted. (That being about the going rate for these now. New, six years ago, they were some $5000 or so.) I met the guy today and made the exchange. The camera looked to be in very good shape, but has been well-used. (Not a closet queen, in other words.) The guy's wife is a professional photographer, and found the weight of the camera to be a bit much. She'd gotten one of the newer, lighter bodies (5D?) and was well-pleased by it. The 1Ds II was then sitting on a closet shelf, devaluing by the month. I, however, wanted 'the beast'. The heft is nice and it has the features I've wanted; I've been waiting for an affordable one for years. This is the first camera Canon made that feels like a suitable successor to my film 1N. (Solidly built, full-frame sensor, fast shot-to-shot time, high resolution. Everything that my stopgap Rebel is not.)

The camera was mostly complete, and came with two Pelican cases (for CF cards) and two batteries, along with the original box and packing materials. (It's missing the software that should have come with it.) There is a two-battery charger, and a power supply for use in-studio.

We have a pile of 8GB CF cards at work that we'd pulled out of some systems due to reliability concerns. (These were the main filesystems on some just-developed network gear, and we'd had some problems on a couple of systems. When a customer is to pay in excess of $250,000 for a piece of gear they expect it to behave itself, so we'd just replaced all the suspect CF's with better ones to be safe. We had experienced no problems with any of these particular CF's, and in my camera they'll be loafing when compared to being a primary Linux filesystem—I anticipate zero problems.) I grabbed a dozen and formatted them, and filled the two Pelican cases. It's probably a lifetime supply, for me.

Friday, February 14, 2011

I finally caved in and bought a Canon 580 EX II flash on eBay, about $420 brand new. It came today. I'm still angry that my good 430 EZ is essentially unusable on Canon's digital bodies. There are a few advantages to this flash, besides that it works:
  1. Built-in wide-angle diffuser lens, and white bounce card.
  2. Nice hot-shoe toggle lock.
  3. Ability to turn off the internal inverter when using external HV pack, saving battery life.
I guess that I can still use the 430 EZ as an optically-triggered studio fill strobe, old-school. (And, of course, on the film bodies.)

Saturday, July 8, 2011

I've recently been reading about all the uses to which one can put a fisheye lens in these days of digital, it seemed to me that it was no longer a limited-use lens. Since I'm such a wide-angle fan I decided to get one. Recently one turned up semi-locally on craigslist and I bought it for $575. (Actually we bought it last Tuesday. My wife was headed to Seattle and stopped off in Moses Lake to purchase the lens at her favorite coffee stop. She tried it on the Rebel I sent along with her to prove that it worked before buying it. She's had it with her since then and I only just today got it.) The lens is in perfect condition, with box, and works nicely on the 1Ds II. Very interesting just as it sits, I don't yet have any software to do rectilinear or virtual-reality conversions, or panoramic stitching.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor day, and I'm again to take pictures of the Cd'A symphony in concert in the park. This year I have more suitable equipment: the 1Ds II and a mating 580 EX flash. The Quantum Turbo was again dusted off, on the smaller flash it worked pretty well in spite of its decrepitude. I brought along three lenses: my favorite 20–35 f/2.8 and 80–200 f/2.8, and the new-to-me 15 f/2.8 fisheye. Between the full-frame sensor on the camera and the new fisheye I'm very much better equipped on the wide-angle front this year. On the whole the process went better than last year, though I don't think I got that many good pictures. One problem was that I forgot to check the camera's ISO setting, something I never had to do with my film cameras, and I'd managed to leave it on ISO 3200 for a daylight event! Many shots are noisy, it's surprising that things weren't worse than that. I need to be more diligent about checking this when using digital bodies. The camera body sporadically has problems holding focus in one-shot mode in my usual focus-then-compose technique. I'm not sure if it's defective, or I'm using it wrong. It's disturbing, nonetheless. (The problem is accompanied by a lot of half-lit AF sensor marks in the viewfinder, that's weird enough to make me think it's defective. I hope not, the camera is long out of warrantee.) I took a lot of shots using the fisheye from a ladder over the conductor's head, I like the effect but I have yet to get a very good one. I also used the fisheye to take a lot of shots of the crowd. Most of the photographs were taken on the camera's lowest resolution setting, Jill said that this would be just fine. (The smaller files are a lot easier to work with.)

I used my squeezer script (below) to make a screen-friendly synopsis folder of the results, and burned the whole mess to a CD for Jill.

# Usage: skrunch <dir> [<destdir>]
# Takes a directory tree full of camera JPEGs and squeezes them to
# screen-viewable size, while leaving the originals in a "fullsize"
# subdirectory (unless an alternate destination is specified).  The
# directory structure of the source is maintained in the destination.
# If a destination is supplied, it may NOT be within the source dir!

function errexit() {
    echo $1
    exit 1

function skrunchfile() {
    echo Processing $IN to $OUT...
    set `djpeg $IN | sed -n 2p`
    while [ $WIDTH -gt $MAXW -o $HEIGHT -gt $MAXH ]; do
    < $IN djpeg -scale 1/$FACTOR | cjpeg > $OUT
    touch -am -r $IN $OUT

[ $# == 1 -o $# == 2 ] || errexit "Usage: $0 <dir> [<destdir>]"
if [ $# == 1 ]; then
    [ -d $DIR/fullsize ]  && errexit "Pre-existing $DIR/fullsize directory, won't continue"
[ -d $DIR ]           || errexit "$DIR must be a directory"
[ -d $DESTDIR ]       && errexit "Pre-existing $DESTDIR directory, won't continue"
mkdir $DESTDIR        || errexit "Can't make $DESTDIR directory"

if [ $# == 1 ]; then
    cd $DIR           || errexit "Can't cd to $DIR"
    find . \( -name smallsize -prune \) -o \( ! -name . -type d -print \) -exec mkdir smallsize/{} \;
    find . \( -name smallsize -prune \) -o \( \( -name '*.[Jj][Pp][Gg]' -o -name '*.[Jj][Pp][Ee][Gg]' \) -type f -print \) | while read file; do
        skrunchfile $file smallsize/$file
    mkdir fullsize    || errexit "Can't make $DIR/fullsize directory"
    find . ! \( -name fullsize -o -name smallsize -o -name . \) -maxdepth 1 -exec mv {} fullsize \;
    mv smallsize/* .
    rmdir smallsize
    (cd $DIR && find . \( ! -name . -type d -print \)) | sed s@^@$DESTDIR/@ | xargs mkdir
    (cd $DIR && find . \( \( -name '*.[Jj][Pp][Gg]' -o -name '*.[Jj][Pp][Ee][Gg]' \) -type f -print \)) | while read file; do
        skrunchfile $DIR/$file $DESTDIR/$file

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A couple of days ago I bought a Vivitar 283 flash, $2 at the thrift shop. It was in beautiful condition and was made in Japan. S/N 3097050. These have high-voltage and trigger jacks on the side, when I got it I was thinking about inexpensive fill flash, either portable on a Quantum Turbo or studio on wall power. I knew the 283 is well thought of for these purposes and this one was certainly cheap enough. Today I opened it, just to see what's in there. The photoflash capacitor is 1100 µF, 350 V, and fills the knuckle. I hooked 6 V to the battery posts and turned it on, it made odd noises for awhile (probably while re-forming the capacitor) and then made the usual charging-up whine. Interestingly, as it hits about 310 V on the main capacitor the inverter chops on and off as it holds it there, and the neon Ready lamp flashes in time with the inverter. Pushing the lamp button fired the flash normally. After a flash the residual capacitor voltage is about 68 V.

I was most interested in examining the high-voltage plug and how it tied into the innards. The keyway houses a mechanical link to the power switch, so when the high voltage (HV) is plugged in the flash is turned OFF. This is because the power switch is really just the inverter switch and they don't want it to fight with the external power supply. It is apparent that the flash doesn't require battery power to operate, it all runs off the HV. There is a diode from the step-up transformer to the HV feed bus, said bus is switched to the socket when the inverter's turned off. (The HV bus is also diode-isolated from the capacitor so that the capacitor can't discharge back through the power jack.) I watched the voltage on the HV feed bus as it charged up, it went right to the capacitor voltage before it got basically unmeasurable with any normal meter as the inverter turned on and off. What is interesting is that I read that the SB-4 puts out 200 V at 4 mA, which is nowhere near the fully charged voltage. (The keyway side of the HV connector is positive.)

The sync voltage is about 250 V, so one must be careful what one hooks this flash to! Few modern cameras will survive this level of voltage, this flash was designed in an era when the trigger was a mechanical switch on the shutter. (The Canon 1Ds II hot shoe won't tolerate this voltage either, but its PC terminal can.) My main intention was to plug one of the optical slaves into the side of the flash. Wein peanut? I already have a shoe-mount optical slave. (Turns out I also already have a peanut, too.)

There are many vintages of the 283 out there, this is probably more-or-less the original design from the early 70's. Like my Sunpak 622 Super, it's all high-voltage and no batteries are required when using the external HV power plug.

I got out my Heathkit IP-17 regulated high-voltage power supply and used clip leads to attach it to the flash. At 200 V, the supposed rating of the SP-4 power supply, the flash works fine. At the 310 V of the internal inverter, however, my Luna-Pro F flash meter says it puts out 2 stops more light! At 285 V the Ready light will come on. The SP-4 is rated at 4 mA, the IP-17 will put out 150 mA and in fact given the way that its current meter pegs after a flash it might be twice that. The IP-17 has the flash fully charged in 2 seconds.

I believe a safe (isolated) studio power supply for this flash could be constructed from a pair of transformer-style AC wall warts (connected back-to-back) and a diode or three.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor day, and I'm again to take pictures of the Cd'A symphony in concert in the park. The equipment is unchanged from last year, it works very well. (The Fab-4 f/2.8 lenses, camera, and no flash.) The attendance was way up, the weather was perfect and Jill had been working up more publicity for the event. I took about 300 shots, mostly the crowd and some specific ones that Jill had requested. The rapid shot-to-shot time of the 1Ds is very nice for this event.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

While photographing Bassoonarama I managed to drop my favorite 20–35L lens on the carpeted floor, from about waist height. (Waste height? I hope not!) Not all that high and it landed flat, but no matter: 'twas death anyway. The rear lens group broke loose from its cam, and rattles around loose. The current new equivalent is about $1,800 mail-order, and a used one maybe $600. Worth getting fixed, if possible.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I dropped the damaged 20–35 lens off at Alpine Camera, a local shop that fixes such things. Estimate was $185 and a week or two, more if it needs parts.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I picked up the repaired 20–35 lens at Alpine Camera. The total bill was $201.10. (It had been ready more than a week, but I was busy.) No parts were needed, the rear lens group had jumped out of its track, and had not gotten damaged. Expensive, perhaps, but the alternatives all were worse. This is the second repair for this lens. (The first time the AF switch had come off, and the screw had dropped down inside the lens.)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Today I found a Vivitar 285 flash to go with the Vivitar 283 flash, $7 at the thrift shop. This has a power jack on the side, I'm still thinking about inexpensive fill flash. (This may never go anywhere.) This uses a low-voltage SB-6 power supply, not the high-voltage SB-4 of the 283. (My mistake, I'd thought this was a HV flash, but that's the 285HV! I wouldn't have bought the flash if I'd realized this.)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Argh! Today the 28–80L plummeted to the pavement after Jill's concert, from about chest height and landed flat on its side. It popped off the lens hood and cap and rolled about 20 feet away. At home I checked it out, the hood and rear cover are scarred, the hood particularly so—chewed might be a better term. The plastic filter ring is cracked and deformed, I doubt it would be usable for filters anymore. There was no glass damage, and nothing seemed loose. The zoom ring worked OK. I mounted it on the camera, and it zoomed and focused OK, and I took a picture with it. It all seemed fine. Dodged a bullet? A vintage replacement is maybe $500.

I've got to be more careful!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

I answered a Craigslist ad. and came home with a used Canon 1Ds Mark III, in part because I wanted it and in part so that I can play with tethering. (Most of the programs only support this camera or newer, and not my older Mark II.) $600. It turns out the USB port is broken, and the Mark III no longer has Firewire, so that's a bummer. This camera was heavily used by a local professional, he'd moved up to the Canon R. Very similar to the Mark II in capabilities, has slightly higher resolution but no better low-light capability. The two 1Ds's can serve as backups for each other, cutting the inferior Rebel out entirely.

Monday, August 19, 2019

I dropped the 1Ds III off at Camera Care (2317 E 17th Ave, 325-3934). We'll see what he says about the USB. I got an online estimate (from a different place) of $158.

The funny thing about the drop-off was that I mis-remembered the address, and stopped at 2713 instead of 2317. And noticed on the 2713 porch a package addressed to Camera Care at 2317. I told Mr. CC when I got to the correct place and he was very happy that I had discovered what had happened to his missing parts! Apparently the mailman is as dyslexic as I am...

Saturday, November 2, 2019

I was thrift-shopping and found a Canon BG-ED3 battery grip for $7. (No cell service there, so I couldn't look it up. I figured it had to be worth at least that, so I bit. Besides, it was for a good cause.) Turns out this fits only the 10D, or a couple of its less-desirable predecessors. Probably will never be of use to me. But, 10D's are actually fairly cheap online, especially if incomplete, and while they don't use EF-S lenses they do use the same battery/charger as my Digital Rebel, so...

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Thinking of a Christmas present for Daniel (excuse?), I bought ($43) a Canon ultrasonic 80–200 (128–320 equiv. on the 10D) f/4,5–5.6 lens. His new iPhone 11 has an excellent camera, but its telephoto capabilities are limited. Don't know if he'd really want this, but we're not talking about a lot of money here. Either put it on the Rebel and give that to him, or come up with a cheap 10D (roughly equivalent to the Rebel) to go with the BG-ED3... Either camera is so much bigger/heavier than his phone, I don't think the tank-itude of the 10D (compared to the Rebel) would be an issue. (I.e. wouldn't make the disincentve to use the big camera any worse.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The 80–200 lens came yesterday and looks good. It seems to work fine, nice and quiet, but it has a small aperture and doesn't focus very closely. (There's a reason it's not an expensive lens.) The box noted that the ET-54 lens hood is what fits this lens, so I ordered one of those, too, as lens hoods really cut glare and do offer some protection. About $7.50, shipped.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The cheap ($1, plus $15 tax and shipping, $16.31 total) 10D arrived today. Totally non-functional, Googling suggests that the internal fuse has blown. It would be an easy fix, except that it is so hard to get to.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Camera Care says the 1DsIII's problems are beyond him, that it needs re-flashing at the factory. I'm going to check with the PO to see what's up, if I can.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

I opened up the $1 10D again. This time I wasn't going to take no for an answer, and was able to liberate the DC/DC board. You have to unsolder 6 connections on its top to get it out, plus the two power wires on the bottom. Giant PITA, many screws. Once it was liberated I was able to unsolder and remove the two shields, and from there it was fairly easy to find an extremely tiny surface-mount component labeled F101 near the power wires, with an X on its body. It is obviously in series with the power wire, on its way to two substantial surface-mount filter capacitors, and the multimeter confirmed this. Houston, we have found the fuse. The multimeter says it is open-circuit, which is exactly what I was expecting.

There is no reason to build the camera this way, that fuse could have been in-lined in the power wires from the battery, and made very easy to change. I guess they didn't expect fuse fatigue or transient faults at the lens mount to be a factor in their design, but this oversight has rendered many a fine (though a bit dated) camera into scrap.

My plan is to jumper across the on-board fuse, and put an extra-length loop into the power wires, and fabricate up some kind of fuse externally in the loop. (Just underneath one of the easy-to-remove covers.) If it should happen again, that would make it easy to fix.

If the DC/DC board blows... well, it was scrap to begin with, wasn't it?

The plan proceeded apace. A little loop of fine solder bridged the ex-fuse, and I attached some fresh red and black wires to the board. Re-assembly was very fiddly, in spite of some care taking it apart I was not 100% sure where all the screws went, or in what order. I suspect that I might have swapped some and there's only one spot that looks like it should have a screw but does not. Close enough. Soldering back the flex circuits to the top of the DC/DC board was probably the trickiest bit. I decided to dispense with any additional fusing, because I really don't care that much about this camera and I just wanted to be done. I joined the power wires to the original set inside the handgrip, just the other side of the wall from the original battery position.

After several hours I was done, and the camera was together. I screwed the BG-ED3 on, and inserted both batteries. ...And, it worked! After I set the date & time, and inserted a CF card, the camera seemed to work just fine. Even the pop-up flash. I then ordered a cheap pair of batteries and a USB charger for it, $17.58 with tax and shipping. The camera is still missing the eyecup, and the rear rubber grip panel. I ordered two eyecups, $5.43 with tax and shipping, and a rear rubber strip, $6.53 with tax and shipping. (The special double-sided tape is more money, I'll just use some regular double-sided tape, or perhaps rubber cement.) I ordered a body cap, another $1, for storage purposes.

So, the rough total so far is:

Grip:   7
Body:  16
Lens:  43
Hood:   8
Btry:  18
Eyecup: 5
Pad:    7
Cap:    1
Total $105
More than I'd really wanted to spend, but not too much for what it is. Everything was cheap enough except the lens, which is the only piece that is not effectively obsolete. In digital cameras 2003 is a lifetime ago, but this thing is still built like the $1,500–2,000 item that it was when new. All I need now is a camera bag to put it all in. I'm having surprising difficulty finding one of these in the thrift stream. (And I refuse to buy new for something like this.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Thrift shopping yielded a $9 makeup bag that looked a lot like an older leather camera bag that I guess could do. I wasn't ecstatic with this choice, so I hit another shop. Nothing. On my way out the door I noticed an honest-to-God CPC camera bag languishing on the couches outside, perhaps a recent donation. I brought it in and they priced it for me: $2.49—pet hair, dirt, and Canon rubber squeeze bulb blower included. It should clean up nicely. (I donated the leather makeup bag back to where I bought it, they can keep their $9.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

I gave Daniel the 10D camera. He wasn't un-appreciative, but I don't think it'll get much use. Still, this project was as much for me as for him. The total was only $108, this is not a major investment.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

I picked up the 1Ds III from Camera Care. No charge, he wasn't able to do anything with it. I told him about my journey with the 10D, and we chatted briefly about camera fuses.

Monday, September 6, 2021

COVID has taken a toll, but the CdA Symphony finally had an outdoor concert. I dusted off (literally!) the camera (1Ds II) and took pictures. One of the two battery packs puked after maybe 10 photos, but I was able to take the remaining 90-odd photos on the other.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Dug out the 1Ds III and checked the firmware version. Looks to be current, but I did an upgrade to the latest (1.2.3) anyway.

I also started a battery recondition cycle on the pack that failed me yesterday.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The (new) estimate for replacing the USB port on the 1DS III is now up to $225, but I really have to question the value of doing anything here, as I don't need USB to get the photos off the camera. (In fact, I have never done so, always using an external CF reader for all my Canon digicam work.) The only other use would be remote control of the camera, and while I had that in mind when I bought this camera and it might be fun to play with, I don't have any actual need. (It would be different if this camera did video, but it does not.)

Don't. Waste. Money. (Likely I already did, as the -II has met all my needs so far. It did not need replacement. The Rebel, on the other hand...)

Something that is useful is the E1 hand strap that is on the -II—I love this strap. The -III had no straps at all, and some quick research showed that the Canon E1 strap is long gone in the marketplace, replaced by the E2, which is similar but has a tripod screw on one end. (The hand pad is also a little smaller.) A little closer look, though, shows that this screw assembly is just tied onto the strap, and comes off easily—you don't have to use it. (This strap is also intended for use on cameras that have optional battery grips, and the quick-release screw allows you to remove the grip without great effort. However, the 1D cameras don't need this option.) I have no intention of rendering the -II less useful by stealing its straps, so I need to procure something for the -III if they're both to be usable. (A 1Ds II [III] is a better backup for a 1Ds III [II] than the Rebel. With these two cameras in the roster the Rebel can go bye-bye.)

While there are no-name E2 equivalents out there, the reviews of such are mixed, to say the least. There are also other kinds of hand straps, but they look like they lock onto your hand, which I don't want. All I wanted was the friction fit of the E1, which suits me perfectly. I opted to buy a used Canon E2 strap, which cost me $38 through eBay. It came today, and was complete and looked un-worn, though it stank of cigarette smoke. I washed it in soapy hot water and rinsed it out, and dried it. I removed the tripod screw, and what remained resembled the E1 strap. Using the 1Ds II as a guide, I put the strap on the 1Ds III camera. It took some fiddling, but eventually I had something that seemed to work pretty well, and looked tidy. The smaller pad doesn't seem to be significant.

There still was no neck strap, though. Scraping through my memory, I recalled that the 1N (film camera) had come with a strap, but I'd used a padded aftermarket strap instead. I had to dig around a bit to find the 1N's box in storage, but the original Canon strap (made by Domke) was still in it. I liberated it, and installed it on the 1Ds III so that its strapage is very like that of the 1Ds II, with which I've been very comfortable.

Maybe next time out I'll take the -III instead? (Of course the -II will be there too, in reserve.)

Friday, October 1, 2021

I've been wanting to get an EOS body that would take videos, using my existing lenses. For studio use, mostly. (Such is the plan anyway.) Ideally full-frame so that my favorite wide-angle lenses stay wide-angle, which meant a 5D Mark II (or newer), or 6D, or 1DX. I'd been waffling among the choices, trying not to spend too much money. The 5D-II is the oldest choice, and their first video-capable EOS camera. (Firstest is rarely bestest, but it was generally the cheapest.) All my other EOS digital cameras use CF cards, which the 6D does not. The 1DX is stupid expensive, as is the 5D-IV. So, really, the choice was between the 5D-II and the 5D-III—the -II being significantly cheaper but the -III having better light sensitivity and more refinement. I kept trying to convince myself to get the -II, which is currently half the price of the -III, but...

Recently I caved in, and bought a $675 5D-III, for $730.49 shipped and taxed through eBay. It came today, I had it delivered to Silverwood to save $15 in taxes. It came with one battery and its charger, nothing else. (No cables, manuals, software, etc.) This will do a better job on video, and is in some ways a better still camera than my 1Ds-II and -III cameras, should I ever wish to use it as such.

I still need to get an AC power supply, for studio use, and choose (and possibly procure) a lens for it.

Monday, October 4, 2021

I bought (through eBay) a used BG-E11 battery grip for the -III. $48.65 with extortion and shipping (from India). (It's missing the AA battery tray.) If I should wish to use the 5D for video not in the studio, the doubled battery capacity should be very helpful. (I find it interesting that the BG-ED3 grip for the 10D would be better for tripod video in the field, because you can replace the batteries individually while using it. So, in theory, you could be charging and swapping batteries while you filmed. The BG-E11 has a tray that must be removed, taking out both batteries at once and leaving the camera without power. Not really an issue for still photography, but for video potentially a problem.)

I did not really need this, but I find I like the fat-handled cameras. I also bid on and won an aftermarket AC adapter kit, for $23.73 with shipping and extortion through eBay.

Monday, November 15, 2021

I picked up the BG-11 battery grip at the post office, it had arrived last Friday. It has a very musty smell, and it rocks slightly when attached, enough to cause the battery cover safety switch to turn the camera off. A small wad of paper on the other side, between camera and grip, prevents this rocking. Deformation? A missing rubber bumper? Canon is not sloppy enough for it to just be bad design.

With this in place I ordered a 'Kastar' dual battery charger and two batteries for $30.26, a battery eliminator for $29.71, and a AA battery tray for the BG-11 for $16.89. Never should need the battery tray, but in a field emergency? Grab 6 AA's and you're online again, assuming you brought it in the camera bag.

Friday, November 19, 2021

The AA battery tray for the BG-11 came.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The two batteries and the charger came. Cheap, cheap stuff. But it seems to work.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

I finally used the 5D, to record Jill's elementary band/orchestra concert. (She's student-teaching at Horizon Middle School.) I set it on a tripod, and used the 28–80mm f/2.8–4L lens from the still camera to tightly frame the performance. It seemed to record fine. Observations:

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Googling showed that Final Cut and After Effects, common but expensive video processing packages, will both do image stabilization. But, so will iMovie, which we already have! I tried it, and the result was like magic. The program is rather infuriating to use, as it seems to have abandoned the document/file paradigm, but it is capable of doing the work. It seems to use all the CPU cores (though not the additional hyperthreads) while saving files, which is good.

I used it to:

  1. Trim off the undesired lead-in.
  2. Auto-cleanup the white balance. ('Enhance')
  3. Crop.
  4. De-jitter.
  5. Save as both high- and low-resolution MP4 videos, eighteen files in all.
I noticed during processing that where the white baton crosses over a dark line in the medium background (a joint between shell panels) there is a little discontinuity, a 'jag', in the baton image. This is highly weird, and is in the data as it came from the camera and has nothing to do with iMovie. In no way does a little fiberglass baton have a movable kink in it. This resembles a 'rolling shutter' motion artifact, but it happens even when the baton is essentially stationary. A glaring failure of the camera's compression algorithms, I'd say, though it is possible that it's the player instead.

The eight low-resolution files occupy about 1.5GB, which fits on the 2GB thumb drive Jill found. So she can take them to school tomorrow. The high-resolution files are about 4GB, and the original source files are about 7.5GB—this stuff is big!

Saturday, March 19, 2022

I ordered an older SanDisk Extreme Firewire CF reader, $30 off of eBay. It comes with both -400 and -800 cables, so we'll see if it reads this stuff faster or not.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

The $30 (eBay) open-box SanDisk Firewire-800 CF reader came today, all was as expected. (Both cables, etc.) It's definitely faster, which makes a difference when copying 7.5GB of data (for example). Timing results of my three CF readers, all to /tmp on MacPro3:
53 min
10 min
4.5 min
Theorizing that the HD might have been a limiting factor, I implemented an 8GB RAMdisk and copied to that too:
# diskutil erasevolume HFS+ RD8GB $(hdiutil attach -nomount ram://16777216)
# time rsync -Pav /Volumes/EOS_DIGITAL/DCIM/100EOS5D /Volumes/RD8GB/
It took about the same 4.5 minutes, hitting a peak transfer of about 26MB/s. Not detectably faster, so it's still Firewire that is setting the pace. (The USB reader runs along at a 'blistering' 2.2MB/s, not very impressive. The old FW-400 reader manages about 11.5MB/s, quite a bit better than USB.)

(The cheap 'Jumpshot' CF reader I bought Daniel is from Lexar, and it turns out that it can only read Lexar-branded cards. Useless, in other words, and practically worthless.)

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Tried out the thrift-shop photo light stands I bought some time ago, for symphony personnel portraiture. It actually worked well, but you need a third light behind the subject to get rid of the shadows on the backdrop. Also, need to tape the stands down so that they don't get kicked over and smash the light bulbs! (Also special daylight balanced CF bulbs, from the thrift stream. Fortunately replacements are not that expensive.) I think I probably need to just buy a formal kit, since my stands are missing the reflecting umbrellas.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

I checked my collection of studio photo accessories, and with the last procurement of three more light stands, with umbrellae, high- and low-wattage CF lamps, and a backdrop stand (sans backdrop), I think I have more than enough gear (once I get a backdrop) to do a very nice job of symphony portraiture. But, not for this concert, next time. (Too-short notice.)

One of my two Canon LP-E4 batteries for the 1Ds-III camera went dead. Charger doesn't even see it now. I was able to photograph the concert using the other battery, but now I don't have a backup.

Research suggests that one of the three internal cells has gone flat, and the protection circuit has kicked in. In theory the bad cell can be replaced, but new aftermarket packs are pretty cheap...

I cracked open the battery pack. (Remove eight screws and two plates, then pry it open with a wood chisel.) One of the three 18650 cells was reverse polarity, it is dead-dead-dead. The thermal fuse is still intact. Game over for this pack. I dug in the junk box and found the box of Pismo battery packs and loose 18650 cells I'd bought, back when I was still able to use the Pismo on the web, and found a loose cell that had 3.9V on it. I can put it into this pack, but making connections to the battery will be the hard part.

Friday, December 15, 2023

A few days ago I ordered an aftermarket (Powerextra LP-E4, $23 via Amazon) battery, just in case repairs don't go well, and a used RS-80N3 (Canon, $11.57 via eBay) remote release cable. They came. The battery takes a charge, and the remote release has a considerably nicer locking connector than the (compatible) cheap aftermarket timer release that came with the 5D-III.

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