Thursday, 8 March 2018

Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (thoughts on focus speed & testing)

one of those issues which "just won't go away" is the views expressed by camera "enthusiasts" on internet forum that X or Y is junk. Well today I'd like to discuss an old favouite among Wangers that just won't go away (even with a double tap).

When they first came out I was attracted, as here I wondered about the 20f1.7 and if it would give me something I wanted out of a lens which would cost me €399 (back then). As the price came down it got to the point of "well why the hell not just try it, and so back in 2014 I finally bought a Panasonic 20mm f1.7 because it was the only way to actually see. If you read that post I've got a few more details on how well the lens works and while I didn't go into the lens testing for sharpness (many others have done that so well...) I did comment on the difference between similar focal lengths.

So as you can see its an attractively compact lens on a compact micro43 camera body. Making not just a good lens, but making your micro43 mirrorless compact camera experience be ... well actually compact.

I've written a lot about this lens over time and indeed taken quite a many shots with the lens which have quietly featured on this blog. I'd say especially with modern phones being as good as my camera with the 14mm lens, it has resulted in this lens as being my default fitment lens to the GF1 - becoming more or less a budget Sony RX1 (which even still sells used for $1500 or over, way more than both a GF-1 {about $100} and the 20f1.7 {about $150} by a big margin).

Anyway, like I said much ado is made about how horrible the AF is on this lens , so this morning I decided to whack the phone and camera on a mount to actually test it. Below are the results.

Basically if this AF speed is not sufficient for you then you're a formula 1 track photographer (oh, wait, they'd use a longer lens anyway) or a totally incompetent photographer who blames their poor performance in getting images on the lens (you know, like bad workmen tend to do).

Generally I noted that it focused with less delay when your subject distance didn't change much. I had this set on a small single focus point to force the camera to make greater focus adjustments, but if you were shooting with the camera in face recognition (and the people were just at the table with you), or multi zone and let the camera pick it (suitable for scenery or cityscapes) then really its hard to go past this lens as a compact fast (and folks fast lenses means an aperture which results in a faster shutter for the same everything else ... ok).

There are of course many many other videos out there demonstrating just what I've done. Usually the Wangers don't actually provide evidence to support their claim (which is what Wangers or Zombies of Moronity do), but go on regurgitating someone elses cud.

So if you are contemplating this lens then I suggest that you try it. You may need to make some changes to your camera focus settings (like you'll notice I didn't use AFC (or C-AF I think on Olympus), but used the single shot. Combined with shutter release only on focus confirm that will help your keeper rate.

So is it only me? Well lets look on youtube a bit more (where people have taken the time to post more well produced material). This guy has a review on his OM-D and finds that they are close in AF speeds (as you can tell by the beeps in his video).

He suggests its slower but really, its perhaps the difference between 0.5 seconds and 0.25 seconds.  Hardly Glacial.

Another reviewer says good things about both stills and video:

Anyway, having covered that point, I hope you get as many rewarding shots out of yours as I have out of mine...

taken in dim light with no IBIS hand held at 1/30th of a sec

Monday, 5 March 2018

XC Ski Bindings (a primer for non-snow-country people)

This is for my Australian friends who don't know a  lot about Cross Country (XC) Skis and bindings. So if you're from Canada ... move on ... nothing to see here

Basically the style of XC I do is "classic" which means you propel yourself forward by a combination of "kick" + "stepping into the glide" + "poles"

Firstly, lets look at a video I did some years back on (by todays standards) a crummy camera. Take note of how much the heel lifts and how much the boot needs to move as if on a hinge.

Those are my "off track" skis (they're actually NATO military stuff so they're tough and can take abuse). When I post pictures of my local Ski Track like this:

its been groomed by a machine (snow mobile) towing something flat and heavy to pack down the surface a little (making sking easier) and carve in that pair of grooves, which resembles what you'd experience if you were "off track skiing" in a group (following someone as you do ... because its easier).

The Skis

So, lets look at the difference between "track skis" and "off track skis" ... firstly "track skis" are shorter


and of course lighter. My track ski weighs 880g while my off track ski weighs 1,780g (yes, nearly 2Kg on each foot, not counting the boot {or any ice you happen to get friendly with}).

This makes skiing the same distance harder work with off track skis (on a track) than track skis (on a track) ... if you have to lift you skis a lot (which you may do on the track when skating a bit) it wears you out a lot ... but the extra with and length means it will carry you over snow which you'd sink into with the track skis, making it easier going in the rough. The off track skis I use also have steel inlays around the edges to make it possible to get some grip on hard packed snow and ice (think spring)...

One needs to be a little careful handling (like storing and transporting) these because that edge is sharp ...

The Boots

On my bindings above (which are New Nordic Norm {a subject unto itself, introduced here}) and there are track and "Back Country" styles ... the BC ones are heavier duty, which becomes clearer when you look at the boots:

(... and do ya like my lounge pants?)

and have wider binding mounts and thicker binding Pins (which form the hinge, allowing stepping)

You can see from this shot that the boots are only secured to the binding at the front

and that the binding Pin is much thicker as well as wider ... so one boot will not go onto the other binding.

The boot presses simply onto the binding with a click (well as long as the fucking thing isn't frozen solid with ice, but see that other post) ...

... where the Pin is captured by the front of the binding and held captive in that hole (where the red circle is) by the arrow slider closing over the top of the "cylinder".

Thus the boot is held onto the Ski firmly allowing you to "ski" it forwards, keep good footing (that won't tip on you causing a twisted ankle...) and lift the ski to do stuff like change direction, step over something (like dog shit on the lake ... thanks arseholes) or move around stuff in your way (as happens in the forest when you ski up {yes up !!} a hill)

note the obstacles and uneven terrain ... hard work? Yep ... sure is, but much harder sinkin in to your groin and trying to walk it up or snow shoe up with your shoe getting snow falling in on top of it and having to lift your foot up further with every step...

When its too steep, you can climb by traversing (see the horizontal "lines" up the slope in the below picture) allowing you to keep your feet at a comfortable angle to your legs (unlike snow shoeing)  and if you have a decent clear run you can ski down which is a shitload of fun (unlike snow shoeing) but you can't steer without stepping.

But to step you need to "have sure footing", transfer your weight, lift the other ski (as if you were skating), move it "outwards", and step into that now moving the other ski (to follow the same path).

... expect to fall over a bit (entertaining those you're with) till you work it out.

So, now you know :-)

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

9th orbit

or near enough anyway ...

So nine years have passed since Anita and I were married.

In that time I learned many things, about love, about life and about what things mean to me.

There are many more questions left unanswered and many emotions left in a box simply because there is no way to deal with them. If you don't know what I mean, then count your blessings.

Some people seek "knowledge" of these things because they find it difficult to be left with doubt.

I don't like doubt either, and it can become a creature which preys upon your mind, even though that creature is actually your own self.

To me its important to become aware of this doubt and to become comfortable with it while seeking answers. Ti accept that sometimes answers cant be found. If you seize upon "an answer" that is put forward by others it may quite simply be wrong..

Is it better to live our lives believing something which is wrong or to accept that you just don't know.

Not knowing can become an itch that in reality you can never scratch, which can of course grow in magnitude. Having been a motorcyclist has taught me that if you need to scratch every time your scalp itches you'll be pulling over a lot and taking your helmet off ... to scratch that imaginary itch.

In my view its better to just accept that itch is there and keep riding. Well unless its an ant, then pull over and get the thing out ... ants bite.

Myself I like certainty but I am tolerant of uncertainty, particularly because I don't like lies or being deceived.

Sometimes people make claims that they have found answers for you.

...of course, no one has found any evidence yet.... so you have to just believe.

I think Feynman phrases it well (I can't work out how to get the the video to begin where I want, so please just skip to here).

but for me so far I just can't believe when faced with the total contradiction of the death of a beautiful well liked woman in her prime and the message that "gold loves me".

To my reasoning either god doesn't love me (Anita, her friends, her parents, her sister ...) or god doesn't exist.

The usual line of bullshit when confronted by such questions is to say "Gods ways are mysterious"

... Right

Like the man says:
You have to know when you know and when you don't know
and what it is you know and what it is you don't know.
You've got to be very careful not to confuse yourself.
The preachers of faith like to keep you confused with "mystery" that you accept as truth, as long as you accept their dogmas.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

own your past

or it owns you....

Long ago I concluded that to pretend the things you didn't like from the past were not there was futile. To escape them you had to recognize them and defeat them.

One had to embrace who you were to accept who you are and to give meaning to any direction of who you wanted to become.

One can not really ignore the past, for the music you love, the art you love and the people you love will always bring you back in time in memories.

However sometimes embracing the past will bring memories of pain as well as smiles ... it can be hard to embrace them , but embrace them you must...

or they will ruin you.