December 4th, 2013


That New Camera Feel

If You Wait, Nearly Everything Shows Up On eBay

I troll around on eBay looking for camera equipment. Sometimes I'm just looking for photos of exotic equipment, to see what it looks like. Other times I find really nice equipment, often at bargain prices.

It's fun, but there are plenty of things I can't afford.

BTW -- if you get bored with my musings, you can skip to the bottom section for the point of this post. (practical-grin)

For Those Who Have The Big Bucks

Currently there are two awesome lenses on eBay. I'd say they are on my bucket lens list, but I am never going to get these lenses unless I win the lottery or make a major book or movie sale. I'm not holding my breath.

The Nikon 6mm f2.8 AI-S Fisheye-NIKKOR is the stuff of legends. There are only two lenses which see a 220° circular field of view -- yes this lens sees behind itself -- this lens and its f5.6 cousin. The latter requires a mirror lockup, such as a Nikon F, F2, F3, F4, Nikkormat or similar camera. Or you CAN manually push the mirror up and out of the way to mount this intrusive lens onto an FX digital camera like a D3 or D800/D800E. The f2.8, though, is a monster. And now I know you can hand hold one! There are pictures, showing where the hand goes so it doesn't show up in the photograph. (grin)

I saw one once, at Nikon House in Manhattan in the 70s. You couldn't handle the lens, but they had it in an acrylic cube case, with a Nikon F2 with the oversized Action Finder so you could see through the finder and look through the lens. Even more amusing was the story the Nikon rep told.

Smaller lenses were also arrayed in the same case. Some pro photographer wanted to see the new 18mm f4 lens, which was in front. It had an unusual angled lens hood. With a sharp edge. You can probably see what happened next. The rep reached around the giant 6mm fisheye, picked up the 18mm and... SCRITCH. Yup. It put a three inch long scratch across the middle of the massive front element.

It was to be a several thousand dollar repair, but it was estimated to take six months before they got a chunk of the right glass formula without flaws to grind the new lens. Meanwhile, the rep used the mistake to his advantage, showing that with the tremendous depth of field of a 6mm lens, the scratch was in focus and could be seen through the viewfinder.

The lens is in France and bidding starts at just under $50,000, or for around $60,000 you can Buy It Now.

The other lens has been billed as one of the most perfect lenses ever made. Nikon threw every bit of their magic into this lens just for the bragging rights and it STILL amazes today. The Nikon 13mm f5.6 AI-S NIKKOR is a perfectly rectilinear wide angle lens with a 118° field of view. The current 14mm f2.8D and 14-24mm f2.8 AF NIKKORs see 114°, but with some complex distortions. The 15mm NIKKORs see 110°, as should the DX 10-24mm AF NIKKOR, but they aren't perfect either. My current widest zooms are the brother-sister pair of the FX 18-35mm and DX 12-24mm AF NIKKORs at 100° and 99° respectively -- the widest prime is the FX 20mm f2.8D AF NIKKOR with a mere 94° amongst ultrawide/superwide lenses. For a long time my widest lens was the 24mm f2.8 AI-converted IC NIKKOR at 84°, though in the Pentax era I briefly had a 20mm f4.5 Super Takumar, which is when I got hooked on ultrawides.

The 13mm f5.6 isn't as huge as the 6mm f2.8 -- nothing is -- but it's still like hanging a grapefruit in front of your 35mm or FX SLR.

I adore ultrawides. There are so many interesting shots you can get by being close and wide. Bucket lens? I wish. I've seen one from Hong Kong, asking $100,000, and this current 13mm for $64,000 from Australia -- with a potential lead on a second 13mm with the next serial number.

Such as this angular shot with a Nikon D1 and the 12-24mm f4 at 12 mm. [18 mm equivalent] This is as wide as I go without a fisheye lens. (Click on photo for larger)
©2012-2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

NIB = New In Box

There's lots of equipment that isn't just good looking, it's never been used. One amusing item, well to me anyway, is a Nikon F2 Prism camera body, black, NIB. I once had an F2, but I traded it in on the first of two new Nikon F3s. What's funny is that F2 camera bodies came with various metering finders -- F2 Photomic, F2S Photomic, F2SB Photomic, F2A Photomic or F2AS Photomic -- or the non-metering prism finder. The latter was the cheapest in original price, but very rare in collector space. Which is why a black body Nikon F2 Prism NIB is asking $3500.

Carolina Camera Center -- Friendly Shopping Center

In high school and during several college vacations I worked for the late Al Rauch at Carolina Camera, up across Friendley Avenue in Greensboro NC. This was during the Nikon F2 era, so I had occasion to crack open a brand new F2 box. Or even a case of six new Nikon F2 cameras. (grin)

It was always a satisfying feeling. The heavy embossed cardboard boxes were stiff and you wanted to gently lift the top flap and not tear it. Inside was a stiff plastic white foam block and a folded wad of papers and the manual. Pull that out and fold the block open. The camera body, chrome or black, was nestled inside in a plastic bag. Remove camera from bag. Remove the white plastic piece protecting the perfect finish on the camera's bottom plate. If there's a meter finder, get a nickel and unscrew the battery cover on the base and insert two S76 silver oxide batteries. This was before the Hunt brothers tried to corner the silver market, so the cheaper alkaline A76 batteries weren't out yet. Turn the key on the base plate to open the camera. Remove the plastic shield over the film plane. Then click the camera and dry fire, verifying the basic operations. Pull off the white plastic body cap -- you didn't get a real body cap on a new camera, since they expected you to mount a lens. Mount a lens, test the finder and meter if it's got one. Remove the finder and make sure it comes off and relatches smoothly. I usually checked to see if the camera back came off cleanly, reseated and then closed with a satisfying click.

The new camera feels dead solid. There's a smell that dissipates quickly -- of metal, plastic, leather and lubricants. Every new F2 sounds exactly the same. There is a satisfying sharp feeling as you turn the shutter speed dial on the camera -- not on the metering finders there is one. There's a shutter cocked indicator in the center of the camera's shutter dial -- verify it works. Check the depth of field preview, mirror lockup, self-timer, self-timer as low speed shutter control. It all works. If the camera is actually being sold, you then waste fifteen minutes farbling with the triangular split rings and get a neckstrap attached -- the right way -- if the customer wants.

I loved playing with brand new cameras in the box.

And for only $3500, you recreate part of the 70s. (grin)

Dr. Phil

And Then The Rains Came...

45°F and raining hard.

There was still snow on the back deck earlier today. It's gone. And from where I'm sitting, the snows are gone from the property, save for a little ridge leftover from the bit of scooping Mrs. Dr. Phil did the other day.

Funny. Over The River And Through The Woods shows up as a Christmas carol. But I tend to think of it as much as a Thanksgiving song as Christmas. The sort of Courier & Ives New England Thanksgiving with ice and snow.

Late fall and winter in Greensboro NC is a season of mud. Cold rain and mud. In Medina, sandwiched between the lake effect snow belts of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, Thanksgiving was a mixed bag. Sometimes snowy, sometimes brown and rainy. Same as White Plains NY, 27 miles north of New York City.

Hell, once in the U.P. we had a Thanksgiving with the temperature near 80°F! Windy, too. Warm winds in Laurium in late November? One more data point to demonstrate that weather and climate are not the same thing.

As much as I like snow, there is something peaceful in a brown, rainy Thanksgiving -- or in this case an early December. In a way it's a counterpoint to the brown muds of early spring. One represents the shutting down of nature, the other the restart/rebirth.

I've a friend from WOTF XXIV Down Under in Perth. There they are heading into summer. Warm days on the beach looking at the Indian Ocean. I have only travelled a small part of this planet. But I do know that I am built for seasons. Seasons with variety. As much as I love Autumn... And Winter... I get renewed with the breaths and sounds of Spring. And Summers, when I am allowed to have them (grin), are pleasant.

Need. Variety.

I feel sorry for people in tropical climes with minimal variations. I'll take the rains in December.

Even if I am not out in them. (amused-grin)

Dr. Phil

UPDATE: By 5:30pm, it was up to 50°F. And 10:30? 54°F. And in two days it won't get out of the 20s.

It's Not Just The Red Staplers

It's December and on many college campuses we're moving into Last Week and Finals Week. That also means a fair chunk of students are either doing last minute research or studying in the library -- or they are finishing drafts of major papers.

Either way, if hard copies are involved, then staplers may not be far away. (And the Kindle Fire HD's auto miscorrect of stalkers instead of staplers may not be far from the truth. Read on, gentle reader.)

This piece from College and Research Library News details the horrors of Staplercide at Middle Tennessee State University and it's chilling. Information Literacy Librarian Jason Vance reveals:
The average life span for a stapler at my library’s reference desk this past semester was 15.3 days. The most common cause of stapler death was exhaustion. An exhausted stapler would staple once, and then jam, entering a state of nonresponsive “stapler shock.” After a librarian valiantly unjammed it, the stapler would muster one more staple before collapsing again. Often we were not able to intervene before a frustrated student began assaulting the jammed stapler. One should not beat a dead stapler.
Some staplers lasted no more than one day. The longest living stapler succumbed at the age of 45 days. May they all rest in peace.
And that's not the only crimes exposed.

You do not want to know what happened to the electric stapler -- if you're faint of heart.

Sadly, I feel better about some of the public staplers in the Physics Dept. The one in the old-old Physics Help Room (0077 Rood Hall) was mounted to the wall, but usually failed by mid-semester. My heavy duty Swingline metal staplers have served me well. But the Boston stapler I got in a value pack of office supplies when I had a second office up on the Engineering campus, it can work but not if you try to use it in your hand as opposed to on a firm flat surface.

I can see where student violence against staplers comes from. But like road rage, this doesn't make it right.

Just Say No To Staplercide.

And report stapler abuse when you see it.

Silence only compounds the problem.

Dr. Phil

And People Pay Money For These

Or worse, design them themselves.

Via Facebook, 10 of the worst design logos. Some are just poorly implemented. Some are just dumb. Some are either the work of deranged minds -- especially when the only explanations are either malicious or total failure by everyone to pass any sort of Rorschach test...

I mean, I will concede that in reading this sort of article one is already sensitized to failure modes. But really? The "alternative" meanings are so obvious, none of them took more than 0.05 seconds to register. In fact, some of them I had trouble seeing what the designer saw or how the hell the businesses greenlit these.

Design is not a trivial process. It should be left to professionals who know what they're doing. And then let them. I am tired of hearing horror stories about designers being asked to work with no time or no money... Or both. And stories about corporations, big ones, spending fortunes on logos like NBC, only to find it nearly identical to Nebraska Public Television's.


Dr. Phil

UPDATE: 12-11-2013 Wed -- Steve Buchheit generously linked my link in his Linkee-poo link salad today. But check out the money quote (sorry, I couldn't resist): "Logos gone bad. When I viewed the page there was an add (sic) for $5 logos. I think I see the problem. (Grokked from Dr. Phil)"
Dr. Phil (Physics) said...
$5 logos? Man I can't tell if the jokes just write themselves or "smart ads" aren't very smart.

Dr. Phil
Dec 11, 2013, 9:08:00 PM
Bonus: It's bad enough that the Captcha says "Please prove you're not a robot... Type the text:..." and then they have an image of squiggly word AND a very low-end photograph of a NUMBER out in the real world. But the one I had to deal with, I enlarged with a two-finger spread on the Kindle Fire HD, only to find out the second digit was a doorbell after the "6". Prove to me you're not a robot being mean to people. -- Dr. Phil