Thursday, May 26, 2016

Panasonic G7 – The Arrival

So I finally broke down and bought the G7. I’ve been wanting to get a DFD / 4k camera for ages and finally got the opportunity. In fact, I had decided to go for the Nikon D7200 instead, which would have given me the top consumer dSLR out there. But after thinking really hard on the difficulty in using two systems one evening, I decided that the D7200 could wait. Traveling with m4/3 is so much better than travelling with the larger APS-C dSLR kits that I could not consilidate only on dSLRs.

So … I am keeping the D90 for now because of the Sigma 105mm 2.8 Macro, a stunning lens with phenomenal acuity and smooth bokeh. I just can’t relegate that lens to manual focus on the m4/3 bodies.

DSC_0007-4288 x 2848-160523-NIKON D90-
Nikon D90 + Sigma 105mm 2,8 Macro

On the other hand, the G7 turned out to be INCREDIBLE with the 100-300, focusing pretty much instantaneously in great light, and still quickly in low light. The promise of DFD definitely seems to have been met.

P1000214-4592 x 3448-160525-DMC-G7-LUMIX G VARIO 100-300-F4.0-5.6
Panasonic Lumix G7 + Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300 4.0-5.6

So how to I like the G7 so far?

  • DFD – excellent
  • AF on Olympus lenses – fast
  • Body – light and yet accomplished feeling with a much better initial impression than the G6 gave me (I like it now though)
  • Grip – perfect
  • Dual control wheels – amazing – I set the front wheel to exposure compensation in auto modes and that is a joy to use
  • Buttons – I’ll reserve judgement as there are so many and I have not started programming them for my own style
  • Video – TBD
  • Image quality – obviously this thing has a great sensor … I think it is a refined version of the one in the GM1, which itself is excellent … but more later
  • Articulated LCD – as excellent as the one on the G5 and G6 but with seemingly greater clarity

All in all, I have to say that this is a huge upgrade on the G6, which was a pretty big upgrade on the G5, at least for video. So Panasonic might make us wait for the next G, but it is always worth the wait. I’m keeping the G6 as backup and third video cam by the way. The G6 is still stunning in daylight, as are all sensors derived from the venerable GH2 sensor.

P1000250-4592 x 3448-160525-DMC-G7-LUMIX G VARIO 100-300-F4.0-5.6
Panasonic Lumix G7 + Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300 4.0-5.6

Why not an Olympus EM5 II or EM10 II, which bracket the price range of this camera?

Simple answer is video and ergonomics. Not a contest. But … I would love to grab the EM10 II to replace the E-PM2, which has mediocre ergonomics by comparison.  Perhaps one day I will find a used body for a decent price and sell of the E-PM2 (which has equal or superior image quality to the Panasonics.)

P1000260-4592 x 3448-160525-DMC-G7-LUMIX G VARIO 100-300-F4.0-5.6
Panasonic Lumix G7 + Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300 4.0-5.6

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Shameless Quicken

image

image

I can still use Quicken … but they are going to stop allowing my version to import from my bank. Another word for this is extortion. As in:

Upgrade within 2 weeks if you want your otherwise perfectly functional software to continue to perform its primary function.

I wonder how that trick is done, since the files adhere to a standard of some sort, but I have no doubt that they have some kind of built in obsolescence such that the software is simply going to stop importing. Like magic … dark magic.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Microsoft and Skype – Almost excellent, but for one area of total disaster …

image

That message comes from the fact that I subscribe to Office and thus get something like 1 free hour of long distance from Microsoft, owners of Skype.

I also pay for the unlimited subscription, but even though I and others have complained about this silly issue, they steadfastly refuse to fix it. All they have to do is look at the fact that I have an unlimited subscription and use it first. No other free subscription is needed.

But they insist on running the short subscription down first and so they invariably drop at least one call per month because they apparently do not have the ability to switch to the other plan in the middle of the call.

And yes, the call just dropped as I was writing this …sigh …

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Seagate 3TB Expansion Drive … disappointing …

I have rather a lot of files on my main image drive … 166,000 and counting …

I have all of these files in one Lightroom catalog and it works surprisingly well. These files are stored on a Seagate SR3000DM001-1CH166 3TB SATA drive. It has been in service for a few years and CrystalDiskMark says it is still reasonable fast (read and write around 160MB/s and 150MB/s respectively.)

I use a 3TB external Seagate Expansion Drive model number 1D7AP3-500 to back this drive up and that has been running for about the same time … it too has been perfectly reliable, until a week or two ago. Since then I have had weird issues, possibly caused by another pair of drives failing and being replaced by yet another Seagate 3TB drive, similar model SR3000DM001–1ER166. That drive is quite a bit faster than its older sibling, reading at 202MB/s consistently. Very impressive. But the transition form my RAID 0 drive as video and scratch disk to this one was really rocky. Somehow in all that the Seagate external drive ended up getting wiped.

But that should not have killed the drive. I simply reformatted it and tried to create a new backup of the pictures drive. But I just could not seem to get anything copied. It would start, and my AllWay Sync back up software would hang. I tried a few times and then reformatted the external drive fully (rather than quick format.) I then tried simply copying the folder from the images drive to the backup … that hung at around 30GB out of 1.6TB. Hmmm …

So I downloaded Seagate’s SEATOOLS and tried that. First, the short drive self test (DST), which never completed in two tries.

Then, the desperate fix all long, which reads every sector and fixes any bad ones it finds.

And that took 10 or 20 minutes to fail outright.
image

And when you click on the red text, you get:

image

And when you click the warranty checker link, it launches to the Seagate web site, which give you the great news.

image

Wonderful …

Seagate used to back their drives with fairly long warranties … you can actually buy these models (shown as OLD MODEL) for a bit less than the new models on Amazon.

Don’t.

They will not back it …

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Published in the Ottawa Citizen

Thanks go once again to Robbi Hay, editor of the Ottawa Citizen’s Ourtown section, for an image of mine once again as the header. This image was shot in early spring a few years ago and is a pretty accurate reaction to how the last few weeks’ thaw / freeze cycles have gone.

Grab this Thursday’s Citizen to see what’s happening around town this weekend and beyond …

image

Monday, March 7, 2016

IPower.com – I can no longer recommend this web hosting site

I have been using this service for years. Probably decades is more accurate. They have rarely had problems that affected my email or web sites, so I have always been happy to recommend them. But since the start of this year, they have been wiping out my whole site with great frequency. It happened again today, and I have had it.

I may or may not choose to leave them, but I am certainly putting out the warning that they appear to have a competence issue at the very least. YMMV of course …

save image

UPDATE: The websites are back up again. As always, they remind me that I must review their terms of service, which have obviously changed.

image

They are immensely frustrating these days to deal with, as even trivial increases in script activity cause them shut down your whole account, even though you may very well rely on subdomains for revenue generation. This is the crux of my inability to recommend them for anyone even remotely serious.

At this point, it appears that their strategy is to hammer on anything above the level of “toy” to force you to upgrade your account. And since they are not coming clean on that policy after wiping out my accounts three times in only a few months, I can only say that you should look around at all the options with your eyes wide open. I have taken steps to move my gallery to a simple, self-contained php solution that is extremely portable. Thus, when I get time, I am free to move my domain anywhere I like.