08 July 2018

Once more into.. well, maybe twice

I've been examining the µ43 market just in case a deal settles me for micro 4thirds and finally accept my Pentax departure*. For as much/little as I shoot right now, the sensor difference isn't relevant.

Three points I make incessantly as Vital to me are weather seals, image stabilization and convenience. Pentax was most familiar to me, has sealed gear in my price range and ibis always. In order to keep up via µ43, I'd need a newer =rather expensive Lumix or an EM1/EM5 camera. The EM5 did not suit me like the em10 had, but buying that would mean one Vital item was lost. I would gain live bulb and live composite which sound cool.

from this blog, 2½ years ago. Nice kit.
A lower price Lumix option was a G7 with 4k video. That model has many features from the GX7,  which I mostly liked. The g7 was down two Vitals though, which really spoiled its otherwise fine spec sheet. I keep pretending that video is important, though so far it's been a happy afterthought that gets little use; having 4k video is even more of an abstract joy that both interests me and repels me, as computer upgrades would be nearly as expensive as a new-lens habit.

The GX7 still had its fine points, especially EV-4 'Starlight AF', nice setup options and other niceties like in-body IS.. and only misses seals for its Vital list. The price was higher now however, thanks to new µ43 being priced much higher and keeping used gear high as a result. Buying an EM10 mk2 would be priced similarly to a GX7 with better stabilization and those 'live' options - but less flexible video. Hm, video again, still not a strong justification right now.
from this blog, 18 months ago. Nice kit!

My wandering struck a good deal at last - yes it's another black GX7. The price is very good (as is its condition). I liked it once, then less so the second time for no clear reason. Third time = charm? Hm.

If this GX7 survives past the return period I will sell all Pentax memories and truly move on.

* One of the reasons for this shift away from Pentax *again* really surprised/disappointed me. As soon as the K-50 was in my hands I want looking for a few other lenses. I already have a nice set covering a wide range - and I'm spending again?!? I seem to have better control of myself with the micro gear, so for the peace it brings I need to do this.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

from this blog, two+ years ago.
Nice kit, for a mark I..
While awaiting the arrival of the GX7 I had a chat with a Canadian em10.ii seller. Her price is only about $35 more than my GX7 bargain price! Better sensor, better stabilization, better eVF, decent enough (and stabilized) video, bizarre menus. Something new to consider!

07 July 2018

dueling banjo-cams

I went to a baseball game with GX1 and K-50 cameras and reasonable telephoto choices. Both took decent photos but the K-50 was easier to set up to shoot past the chain-link fence; I suspect that greater Pentax practice is the reason as center-point AF is available on both systems. Even so, I ended up using manual focus and pre-focusing on the base of choice for most of the shots, and either camera can manage that sort of work.

I won't say that I learned anything convincing about either camera. Both did just fine, neither exceptional nor lousy. It's a fact that more modern µ43 systems have improved their AF systems faster than Pentax, but in my budget range the choices are limited in both models. The Olympus E-M1 would have phase-detect points but its price remains consistently above my limits, while Lumix DFD contrast technology is a bit closer to my budget. If a true deal appears I could be swayed.. perhaps?

I am once again standing with a foot in both systems, with neither foot firmly settled.
Sure wish I'd get past this position..

09 June 2018

Well, I'm back II


It seems that one.com has reconsidered my access to WordPress, or perhaps I missed the fine print where it was offered as a limited-time trial. My geeklog is still there, but I cannot edit it without inducing more pain compared to simply returning here. Bizarre -- but some hints I can take.

29 May 2018

Well, I'm back I

- back in my comfort zone with a Pentax camera. No surprise there, but the trip was a strange one; I’ve had no Pentax digital SLR for several months now, but many lenses remained that had near-zero resale value. 

First off let me confess (again): I have owned so many camera bodies since 2010 that I’ve lost count. My best guess is K100d then K-7, whose sensor drove me to try G1 and GH1. Then I found the joys of owning a K-5. After that it gets hazy, and includes two K200d, every flavor of K-5, two each of K-r, K-s1 and k-01,  a silver K-3ii and at least two K50. We can also include EM10, EM5, ePM2 and ePL5/6/7, G7, GX7, GM1, GX1 and GF2 – not to mention a couple of Samsung NX300 bodies. And don’t bother asking about lenses!

The pattern that caused this amount of turnover repeated often, sometimes in the same year. Assemble a good kit for decent prices, then sell it cheap and step up. Immediately encounter a financial issue that requires a selloff (other things too but mostly easily-moved camera gear). Pick up a consolation prize soon after for cheap and repeat the cycle. Occasionally alternate between Pentax and Panasonic, just in case.

Our finances have been seriously strained for a while, so two GX1 and kit lenses were all we could manage. As things began to look up at last, I looked over what was missing in my kit. The major point to me was weather seals; I recall worrying about the GX1 as it sat on a glove surrounded by a foot of snow as we cruised past it on saucers. I could do better, and either system could make it happen. How best to address that on a budget, given that I owned no sealed lenses?

The bargain µ43 setup would be an EM5 and the Oly 12-50mm lens, which would be at least $350. The better options to my mind would be an EM1 or G85 paired with a Lumix 12-60mm - but that would be $700-950 to make that happen.

My other issue to be addressed is the hidden electronic manipulation of 4Thirds images. I’ve learned to live with focus-by-wire, but when images are autocorrected for distortion and color fringing I get.. nervous. Those corrections are optional in Pentax bodies but only by developing micro43 raw files with ‘non-conforming’ software can I see the untouched image. Results are still good – but it still feels uncomfortable.

I searched optimistically for a K-s2 but the budget suggested a lower price would be best, so I settled for a lightly used olive-green K50 with repaired aperture-control part that is prone to fail on mid-tier Pentax bodies. The 18-55WR and body came to less than $250, which no µ43 body can match!

And so my elder lenses have a natural home again. Sigmas 28-80 and 100-300 ‘slowpoke’, Rikenon 70-150 f/4 XR, and Pentax 18-250 (no autofocus), A50 and M100 can be used as before.

If I can trust my previous post (and the title says it all!), this is my fourth K-50.. ergo K-54?

If I start looking to acquire a higher-spec body I hope I remember writing this!

Here's the latest olivine camera and its stylish '70s strap!

07 February 2018

something New

My recent switch to one.com as web and email host came with a WordPress site. I'll be test-driving that for a while, in the hopes of 
  1. leaving the past behind me, with all its acquisitive habits
  2. using tags well enough to enable me to also leave behind my home 'blog
  3. create new habits on several fronts - something that's badly needed right now.
See you at https://geeklog.longviewers.one/ - for a while, at least!

28 January 2018

new record?

I still blush to look back at my kit in recent years, and the speed at which it mutated. I've really been reckless and I see very few times where the kit could be defined as a poor one. Many of those cameras barely had my finger-prints on them before heading out again.. and often at a small but ever-accumulating financial loss.

Given my lousy track record, it's noteworthy that I have now gone Four Months with no real kit changes!
OK that's not quite accurate - my October 9th post says a lens is on its way, and that one left again soon thereafter. The photo that I posted on that day is still my kit though :^/ - so near enough. Yes I also admit to a newer faster memory card - but given the speed of previous gear changes it's pretty good.

Of course being confronted with essentially zero budget for gear, perhaps pride is misplaced here.

09 January 2018

Cheap chips!

While working on the GX1 I encountered an error with the 'natural3' hack. The mp4 modes shut down with the complaint that my card could not keep up with the data. It was phrased far more cryptically :# but That was my inference!

 I looked for online solutions, deciding that a U3-class card should manage if others' stories were correct. A few 32G cards would serve for under $30.. but I decided to look locally just in case

After a couple of failures I visited my local Kroger store (Fred Meyer here in the Pacific NW) and hit a deal! The 64GB Sandisk Ultra Plus was on sale for just over $32. I brought it home, formatted it - and the message remained.

Now that I've shifted to a gentle version of the Galaxian hack I have no issues, and a large and fast card to hold my data. Some times I do catch a break!

08 January 2018

GX1 hack rehack update

The system still does what I wish with no playback hassles or camera lockups - how nice!

So what I have now is a decent AVCHD update on bitrate (HD and FHD) and no change to stock MP4 files. Further reading at personal-view.com shows that MP4 bitrates over 23M/sec will not allow playback in the camera, so we'll stay at 20M. Other setings that were discussed did not provide enough reason for boosting audio as that will also 'break' GX1 playback.

I attempted to run ten-second snips at each setting to determine bitrates - but I was shooting at max ISO (3200) at our table so nothing special at all. No movement other than cats cleaning themselves, so nothing worth inspecting for difficult imaging like the website suggests to show the improvements that AVCHD should demonstrate. I'll head down the hill for some moving water in the near future, as blockiness of moving water is a known torture test.  I'll be happy if I see a minimal amount of frozen pixels in the moving water during playback. The hack settings suggest much larger bitrates than I am trying, so if some image breakup occurs I can bump these up more; I went with about half of their suggested boosts for both 1080 and 720 resolutions in AVC mode.

Here are the resulting file sizes, which did not quite align at 10 seconds. Clearly the MP4 files are smaller as expected. The stock GX1 settings for AVC are 16M/sec and 12M/sec but I bumped them up to about 32M and 20M (or thereabouts). Perhaps at some point I will re-hack at higher AVC rates, but until I see some results to justify more changes, this will serve nicely.