Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Back!

After mailing off my Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 on November 10, it has returned today repaired and re-focused from DAG Camera.

Apparently it had a loose lens element, which was tightened. Then the focus was re-adjusted.

Exactly a 40-day turnaround and the total cost was $158.

I can't wait to test it out tonight. I'm ecstatic that I'll have it for Christmas and my trip to Illinois next week.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The cheap way to the moon.

While my favorite Leica lens is beign repaired, I've been getting back into my Canon AE-1 gear. Canon FD gear has gotten so cheap that I recently picked up a lot of five 2x teleconverters for under $10 on eBay.

I also found a Canon FD > Nikon converter, which I've mentioned before. I really hoped it would create a cheap way to expand my Nikon kit by allowing me to utilize a bunch of lenses I already own.

On one hand, the 50mm f1.8 and the 28mm f2.8 get usable results, but focusing is a bit tough without a prism in the viewfinder. However, I really wanted it for telephoto work since the Leica tops out at 135mm.

We had a great full moon and a clear sky last week -- a rare combination in Houston. It was also the night of the full eclipse, but unfortunately, it wasn't visible in the gulf coast region.

I went with two 2x converters, one 3x converter, and the Canon 200m f4. After the APS-C sensor crop factor, that gave me the equivalent of a 2100mm lens. Here's the result.

Moon shot

Good magnification, poor detail.

The lens in the Canon > Nikon converter really causes a lot of distortion and loss of detail. It's very disappointing.

Take a look at one of my friend's shots with a 400m f4 and a 1.4x converter.

Moon shot

Yes, he probably had a slight benefit not having to shoot through the pollution of the Houston skies, but you can tell his shot is much sharper than mine.

Now to ponder, would I get better detail and focus with a mirrorless camera that doesn't need glass in the adapter or are Canon FD lenses just not that great?

Maybe I should buy an NEX-7 to find out ...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Free iphone tethering ... sort of

tethered with tether

Free data tethering programs for the iPhone have been around since it was first jailbroken. I was using MyWi for a while, but due to corporate security issues, I had to lock my phone back down to test Good Messaging as a Lotus Notes app. Being grandfathered into AT&T's unlimited data plan, I've been hesitant to start paying an extra $15 a month for the 4GB data plan with tethering.

But just as I was about to give in to the data caps, iTether suddenly appears in the iTunes app store. Yes, Apple allowed a tethering program into the app store. For $17 (which is less than the cost of MyWi) you can tether your iPhone to a computer via a USB cable.

That's not quite as good as turning your phone into a mobile hotspot, but when you're in the field and have got to get photos from your camera to a computer to the Internet, it will work.

I tested it last night and had no issues with installation or setup.

Sadly, iTether has already disappeared from the app store this morning.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leica nature

I spent the week of Thanksgiving visiting my parents in Kansas. There's not much excitement in Kansas, but the rural nature of Independence gave me the chance to practice something I seldom get to practice in Houston -- nature photography.

Day 3: Still no bigfoot

The Leica M isn't particularly known for nature photography, probably because the longest lens that works with the rangefinder is 135mm. I had an Elmarit 135mm f2.8 with goggles on my M8. The 1.33x crop of the M8 APS-H sensor gives you the equivalent of a 179mm lens. That's still not a very long lens. It's similar to a 6x zoom on a point-and-shoot camera. The upside to the lens is that it's fast, so you can catch those early morning low-light shots. (Of course, the fact that the M8's highest usable ISO is only 640 kind of negates the gains of the fast lens, but what can you do?)

The goggles on the Elmarit are both a blessing and curse. On one hand, the lens pulls up the 90mm focus lines and the goggles magnify the focus area. Those are good things. The M8 doesn't even have 135mm focus lines, so those two factors make framing and focusing much easier. On the downside, the M8 mount protrudes slightly from the camera while film M mounts sit flush with the body. This moves the goggles away from the rangefinder windows, which creates just the slightest bit of backfocus. It's easy to compensate once you realize it's there, but it would be nice if these vintage goggled lenses worked better on the M8 and M9 -- especially the 50mm Summicron Dual-Range, which sadly, doesn't work at all on the digital Ms.

I spent three very cold mornings waiting on wildlife to show. It was a bit frustrating since the deer seemed to enjoy early morning grazing around 6 a.m., but it wasn't light enough to shoot anything until 7 a.m. I managed a few shots, though.

L1021080

Jay at sunrise

L1021134

Blue Jays at sunrise

reeeaaach for it

Then there was the not-so-wildlife that I caught with my 28mm Ultron ...

L1021141

dog race

And then there was the highlight of Dixie Belle's trip -- the field mouse she proudly caught and refused to spit out.

Mouser

Nothing like a dog running around with a mouse in its mouth to keep all the ladies screaming.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Solar Fail

I started my correspondence with Don from DAG Camera Repair in Wisconsin a couple weeks ago when I was searching for someone to repair the focus shift in my VC Nokton 50mm f1.1. After realizing I only had two options in the U.S. to get this lens fixed, I thought, maybe the world needs more skilled Leica and Voigtlander repair persons. I thought, maybe my passion lies in repairing these old cameras.

It doesn't.

Talk about a frustrating job -- I spent almost six hours last Friday with a repair manual, meticulously taking apart a Leicameter.

Leicamess

My goal was to bring the Leicameter back to life by replacing the dead selenium cell with a new silicon solar cell. It seemed like a straightforward, achievable task. Unfortunately the little wires on the galvanometer are so thin I can barely see them at all.

I finally got the circuit hooked up with the new cell ...

Solar Fail

... only to find it still didn't work.

I'm going to give it one more shot using a couple photo cells to see if that works better than the solar cell, but I now see why nobody is bothering to fix these old things.

I tried to pick up both an old M2 and an old Leicaflex on eBay that needed repair to see if I could bring either one of those cameras back to life, but some idiots seem to think dead Leicas are still worth over $200. My experimentation and repair budget maxes out at $25.

I'm hoping my lens made it to DAG. I'm sad that I won't have it for Thanksgiving, but hopefully it will be back in time for Christmas.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Off to DAG

I spent at least an hour Tuesday night and took nearly 200 photos just focusing, unfocusing, refocusing, testing, moving, retesting the Nokton 50mm f1.1. I wanted to be absolutely sure that it was the lens with the problem, not my usage of it or my M8.

Even at f2.8, there was noticeable backfocus while my 90mm Elmarit f2.8 was spot on. However, by the end of the evening, I was pretty adept at focusing and then unfocusing just enough to get a good photo.

Un-focusing

The amount of backfocus changes gradually from 1m to infinity, so with near-focus objects I have to make quite the correction by turning the focus ring several degrees clockwise. It takes less and less correction as the objects get further away. Past 25 feet or so and I can just focus normally.

However, all the practice paid off yesterday because I managed to pull off most of the shots.

Negotiations

Today the lens gets shipped off to DAG in Wisconsin for adjustment. Let's hope they can make it as good as new.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Back focus frustration

My Voigtlander Cosina 50mm f1.1 back focus problem continues.

The monster has arrived

The guy at Professional Camera Repair was very nice, but he couldn't find anything wrong with the lens after an outward inspection and didn't want to open the lens because while he is Leica certified, he is not Voigtlander certified. Despite the fact that I assured him the lens had worked fine for months before developing the back focus problem, he still thought it was a factory defect.

I contacted DAG and CameraQuest for info on repair costs. Don at DAG has been very communicative and friendly, but I haven't heard an estimate. Stephen at CameraQuest has been a bit curt and requested a check for $250 + $15 return shipping just to look at the lens with a disclaimer that it will probably be $400 to fix it. (He also threw in a threat of yet another $200 to "reset the helical focusing" if the lens was a "victim of an amateur repair attempt.")

$250+ to fix this lens when I've only owned it for 3.5 months is a real kick in the nuts. I paid $860 for it used even though it was less than a year old. If I had just paid the $1k for it new, I would be covered under warranty. So far my 28mm Voigtlander Ultron hasn't had any problems, but I'm glad I do have a warranty on it.

Most video lenses actually have a back focus adjustment. It's basically a section that screws in or out to move the lens elements closer/further to the mounting collar. A very similar solution could be easily fabricated by adding shims under the mounting collar of the Nokton, but I don't know if it would still focus correctly at infinity.

The most educated guess I've heard as to what went wrong with this lens was from one of the moderators at the Leica User Forum. He says Voigtlander lenses have shims for each lens element and that one of the interior shims must have slipped out of place.

I've got a big shoot tomorrow with the specific request for shallow depth of field, so I'm going to try to overcompensate for the back focus and get it done before I send the lens off Thursday.

Whether I go with DAG or CameraQuest, looks like the soonest I can expect to see the lens again is Christmas.

I really need to become a camera tech. There obviously are not enough good ones in the United States.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Still stuck in port

A new raw water impeller arrived for the Starwind last week. I installed it Sunday morning with the hope it would solve our cooling problem. I was a bit annoyed that the new impeller didn't come with a paper gasket, but thankfully we had a couple sheets of construction paper left in the galley cabinets after the last gasket making incident.

The new impeller worked great. Everything seemed good. I had great waterflow. Running at full throttle in the slip, I couldn't get the boat over 175 degrees. We decided to take a test run, so I put the aft berth back together and secured everything.

As soon as we pulled out of the slip, the water flow in the exhaust completely disappeared. We were blowing white smoke/steam before we got out of the marina. I turned it around and put her back in the slip.

I checked the strainer and found a fish flopping around in the catch basket. It was a tiny fish, though, so that didn't explain the sudden loss of water flow.

I had to take a break to let the heat exchanger cool down and to ponder my next move.

Laid back Sunday

After two weekends of troubleshooting, the only thing I hadn't checked was the heat exchanger tubes, which I'd just cleaned last February. I set about pulling it apart. Fortunately or unfortunately, it was still clean as a whistle. There was no solution found.

My latest theory is that there's some sort of a big flap of algae and barnacle growth over the raw water inlet. When I'm sitting at the dock, water flows fine. When I move, it flips the flap of algae up over the inlet and chokes off all my raw water flow.

I've got the heat exchanger at home for a scrubbing and reassembly and a diver stopping by to scrub the hull. Hopefully this will be resolved by next weekend.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Focus Calibration

I'd been using my Leica M8 with a Voigtlander Cosina Nokton 50mm f1.1 for portraits and headshots for the past few months with great results. I'd shoot at f1.4, and it would really pull the subject away from the background.

Then last week, I snapped some new headshots of a COO, and when I flipped back through them, they were blurry. Instead of his eyes being sharp, his ears were sharp.

I thought maybe I screwed up the focus, so I just scheduled a re-shoot. Fuzzy again. I switched over to my Nikon D7000 with a sick feeling in my stomach.

I did a quick focus test in my office. Here's a crop of my results.

BackFocus

I was focusing on the center dart. The Nokton was suddenly giving me at least an inch of back focus at f1.

I ran the same test with my other lenses. The 28mm Ultron and the 90mm Elmarit checked out ok, but the 135mm Elmarit was also back focusing.

I only found one place in Houston that works on Leicas, Professional Camera Repair, located on Richmond Avenue.

I made a run over there at lunch, and the owner took a look at my lenses. He warned me that the Nokton was known for having a factory defect that caused back focusing. I assured him that it was working correctly just a week ago. He said that since my other lenses were focusing correctly, he didn't need the M8 and that he would check the 50mm and the 135mm and let me know what he found sometime next week.

I guess a week is better than three months in Solms.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Uninspired

I feel like I haven't take a good photo in weeks. I've been doing some massive branding and integration projects at work and haven't had time to set up any shoots in the evenings. I also haven't come up with any good shoot ideas. I'm just feeling generally uninspired.

A couple weeks ago I decided to pull out the M3 and bring it to an Octoberfest celebration. The photos turned out horrible. I don't know if the iPhone meter was off, if the shutter speed on the M3 has started having problems, or if I just sucked. Anyway, the results of the few photos that actually came out were very depressing.

IMG_0004

Upholstery repair on the Starwind

Houston in Clouds

Blah. Depressing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The raw water conundrum

It was a beautiful weekend at the marina.

Just another sunrise

The intense heat of the Houston summer had finally abated, and we slept in the V-berth sans air-conditioner for the first time since April.

Although I'd seen tiny, ethereal jellies from time to time, this was the first time I'd ever seen large cabbagehead jellyfish undulating along the bulkheads. I assume it's because the normally brackish water of Clear Lake has gotten saltier and saltier as the Texas drought has continued.

Invasion of the Jellies

Due to various combinations of high winds, low tides and busy schedules, we hadn't been sailing in over a month, so I was excited to get out on the water Sunday morning. Unfortunately, as we started motoring out of the marina, the raw water flow disappeared and white steam started rising from the exhaust.

I watched the temperature rising past 180 degrees f as we made our way to the channel, so I turned the boat around and made it back to the dock just as it was passing 200.

The troubleshooting began with the raw water strainer. The basket did have an assortment of barnacles and other strange looking clams or whatnot inside, but not enough to be restricting water flow, so I dumped it and proceeded to check the impeller. The impeller, which is less than two years old, still looked like new. However, opening the pump housing did cause a 30-minute delay while I came up with some paper and a razor blade to cut a new paper gasket.

I blew back through the raw water line with no trouble and could hear the bubbles flowing out from under the boat. I ran a test, but there was no improvement.

Next I pulled the mixing elbow off the exhaust. It did have some carbon build-up but nothing extreme enough that I thought it would have hindered exhaust pressure or caused a hot spot that could be steaming the water. Even so, I spent another half an hour chipping and scrubbing out the carbon before putting it back together. No improvement.

The heat exchanger itself never cooled down enough for me to drain it, and I wasn't in the mood to wait around, so I left that for next weekend.

Either I have some very clogged tubing in the heat exchanger or as several people suggested on cruisersforum.com, the metal center of the impeller has become separated from the rubber, so under high RPMs, the metal is just spinning and the rubber is not.

Guess I'll continue my troubleshooting next weekend, but such is the life of a boat owner.

Frankenstein's Camera

Call me a hoarder if you want, but I hate throwing things away. I've had my Canon AE-1 Program since I was about 13 years old. It saw heavy use through the 1990s, but has sat more or less untouched since I started shooting digital in 2001.

Talk of the new Sony NEX-7 and it's adaptability to be used with such a wide range of lenses got me thinking, if I invest in the Sony, I'd be able to carry one camera that could use my Leica, my Nikon, and my old Canon FD lenses. Of course, the Sony isn't available for at least another month, so I thought, hmmm, I wonder if there's a Canon FD to Nikon adapter mount available. Turns out, there is.

Turns out, Canon FD glass is also super cheap on eBay because Canon abandoned that mount for the EOS mount decades ago.

I decided to get a little crazy with the telephoto action.

Frankensteins Camera

My latest toy consists of a Canon FD 200m f4 ($70), a 3x teleconverter ($10), and a Canon FD to Nikon adapter ($15).

That's 3 x 200mm x 1.5 crop factor = 900mm f16 for under $100.

Extreme zoom but a bit undwieldy without a tripod.

Moon Test

I'm trying to decide if it's worth picking up a Canon FD 500mm mirror lens for another test.

Focusing on the Nikon is a bit touchy since there's no prism in the viewfinder. I think it would be easier on the Sony since they've implemented focus peaking.

Sadly, there is no FD to EOS adapter, so you still can't use these legacy Canon lenses on a digital Canon camera.

An engorged iPhone

I upgraded to the iPhone 4 last spring, but I kept the 3GS around for use on my boat. The Navionics app stores all the charts in memory, so even if you have no wireless service connected to the phone, you still get a chart and GPS positioning. It worked great ... until it stopped holding charge.

I took it to the Apple store for repair and they said that due to the fact that the battery had inflated, there was no way to repair it or put a new battery in it. You could actually see stretch marks on the back of the engorged phone's casing that had appeared overnight while I was trying to charge it.

When I took the phone apart, here's what the battery actually looked like!

Exploding battery on my iPhone 3GS

This is apparently a known problem with pouch batteries, but there is no definitive cause for the failure.

Monday, September 26, 2011

They call me the fireman

Cooking devices don't get much simpler than the Origo non-pressurized alcohol stove. You pour the denatured alcohol into the cans and light it on fire. The fire is contained in a recessed metal pan with a grill on top. Seems safe enough, right?

Fire hazard

I only stay at the boat once a week, so the problem I have with my stove is that if I fill up the canisters with alcohol, it evaporates away before I get the chance to use it again. That loss of alcohol means it costs me $15 each time I want to use the stove UNLESS, I pour in JUST ENOUGH alcohol to get my meal cooked and my coffee boiled, so that none goes to waste.

Being a frugal sailor isn't always being a safe sailor. I slightly underestimated the amount of alcohol I needed Saturday morning, and the burner under my coffee quit just before it started percolating. I thought, "no biggie, the coffee will be a little late," and moved it over the other burner once I had finished flipping pancakes. However, after I moved it, that burner also started petering out.

I now had one supposedly dead canister and one barely lit canister. I thought, I'll just add a bit more alcohol to the dead one (because only a FOOL would pour more fuel into the lit one), and light it back up to finish the coffee.

I'd been pouring for a second or two when there was a sudden flash. There were flames all over the galley counters. I stepped back and realized there were flames shooting out of the alcohol container in my hand. I promptly threw it out of the hatch and heard a loud sizzle as it hit the water. The plastic dish rack was also aflame and melting quickly, so I grabbed it and tossed it overboard as well. I then doused the remaining flames burning on the surface of the countertop with water.

The worst of the damage was a dozen little burned spots on the new upholstery beside the galley and having the entire front half of my hair singed. The lessons learned were:
a) Don't be cheap with the alcohol when filling the stove.
b) If a burner goes out while making coffee, just deal with not having coffee and try again tomorrow.

Never ever pour denatured alcohol into a hot origo stove, and always have water or a fire extinguisher on-hand in the galley!

Tropical Storm Lee

Hurricane season is almost over. We have one month left, but I think Tropical Storm Lee, which came through Saturday, Sept. 3, was the worst storm that the Texas Gulf Coast is going to get this year.

I was at the marina when Lee arrived with the strange red sky that only shows up with hurricane weather.

Red Skies

The live-aboards at the marina weren't worried. Most of those tough old sailors have ridden out far worse.

The Sailor

The rain started at dusk. Thankfully the horribly ugly fiberglass work I did on my air conditioner box proved to be waterproof. The wind shook me awake during the wee hours of the morning. The boat was shaking hard. I suddenly realized why I needed to replace the yacht braid I was using for dock lines with something that has more stretch.

Once I got used to the shaking and jerking, it was back to sleep. In the morning I found this.

Marina del Sol beach

The north wind had pushed all the water out into the bay and dropped the tide by over five feet during the night. We suddenly had a beach at the entrance of the marina. The crab traps in Clear Lake were sitting half exposed with their tethered white floats lying on top of them.

I pulled one up to find this guy. The storm didn't save him from somebody's boiling pot.

Trapped

As I walked along the newly formed beach, so many things were exposed. There were chunks of a fiberglass hull and a few seat cushions buried in the sand. Of course, there was a ton of fishing line, hooks, lures and bobbers tangled among rocks and weeds.

Tangled lines

I found another crab hunkered down in a half-buried bucket waiting for the tide to return.

Hunkered Down

I know that in some places the tides change more than this every day and leave boats that were floating sitting high and dry. However, here in Texas where I've never seen it change more than a foot or two, this was an interesting experience. I never realized the wind could have that much effect on the water depth.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

RIP desktop

I knew the time was growing near. That's the entire reason I bought the Dell XPS laptop a few months ago. However, this weekend my desktop finally gave up the ghost. I can revive it for an hour or so before it starts perpetually rebooting itself, but then it suddenly can't detect any hard drives. I finally migrated iTunes and all my working photo files to the notebook last night. I can't decide if I'm going to disassemble and part out the tower or if I should spend the time and money to Frankenstein it back to life again. Thankfully I was prepared for this scenario, so the only sad part about losing the machine is that I was using it as a media box and BD player in the bedroom. Guess I'll just have to watch Blu-Rays in the living room.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A tricky shot

With every picture I take for the r/Houston Photo Project, I meet another cool person from the Internet. My weekend ended at Brewski's Pub in Katy where I met redditor HakeemOlajuwon. While redditor pbdot's portrait was indoors with low light, there was also quite a bit of fire involved, so I wasn't worried about exposure. The dimly lit lounge at Brewki's was a completely different story. There was no light.

I set my aperture to f1.4, cranked my ISO to 640, cheated my shutter speed to 1/60s and hoped for the best.

The r/Houston Photo Project: HakeemOlajuwon

In the perfect world I would have liked to have captured this shot at f5.6 with strobes, but that wasn't an option. However, the Nokton didn't let me down. HakeemOlajuwon's bartending flair is now on record for posterity.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Does size matter?

I had a question from a reader considering the purchase of an X1. He wanted to know if there was a noticeable size difference between the X1 and an M and how it all compared to something like a Nikon DSLR. I understand his frustration because here in Houston, there's really no place you can go to see Leica cameras in person. Occasionally one will turn up at Houston Camera Exchange or Camera CoOp, but for the most part, this is a Nikon and Canon town.

I was just getting ready to pack up the X1, so that I can ship it to some lucky eBay winner this weekend, but I pulled it out to grab this quick comparison shot.

Nikon D7000 vs Leica M8 vs Leica X1

If you didn't realize how small the X1 is, hopefully this puts it into perspective.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The r/Houston Photo Project Continues

I had three people scheduled for shoots this week, but one canceled last night, so it looks like I'm only going to get two in the bag, but my schedule is clear next week to start rounding up more volunteers.

So far I've had some really good results.

The r/Houston Photo Project: pbdot

The r/Houston Photo Project: areefadanklin

The r/Houston Photo Project: ultramus

The r/Houston Photo Project: beernerd

The r/Houston Photo Project: goatkindaguy

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Introducing the r/Houston Photo Project

I was sitting at my computer desk one Sunday afternoon editing photos and surfing reddit.com. I thought to myself, I wonder what these people look like. I wonder what they do for a living. I wonder how old they are. Then the following idea came to me: I should meet and take portraits of Houston redditors and then have a big party where they can all meet each other.

That idea continued to germinate until the r/Houston Photo Project was concieved.

For those who are not familiar with r/Houston, to access subreddits that address specific topics, you utilize a URL with an r/, i.e. www.reddit.com/r/photography. The www.reddit.com/r/Houston subreddit consists of (and exists because of input from) Houstonians from all walks of life who discuss Houston news and events.

The r/Houston Photo Project is an attempt to remove the anonymity of the Internet, engage the community, and display the diversity, talent and personalities of Houston redditors.

The project was officially launched yesterday when I photographed redditor goatkindaguy at MacGregor Park near the University of Houston. Special thanks to him for being the first.

The r/Houston Photo Project: goatkindaguy

The project, which is set to run through the end of September 2011, will culminate in a gallery exhibition and what we hope will be the largest meetup of Houston social media users to date.

If you are interested in sponsoring the project or hosting the exhibition, please contact me for further information.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sailing with shade

For two years I've spent weekends on the boat slathered in sunscreen and fighting sun stroke. I watched with jealousy as other boats sailed by, their happy crews shaded by colorful biminis.

The Starwind has a complicated cockpit. The mainsheet comes down to a traveler in front of the companionway. The backstays and backstay adjuster run right over the top of the helm on their way to the stern. The boom is low. We couldn't just wander over to West Marine and grab something off the shelf. It was going to have to be a custom canvas job, and custom canvas jobs don't come cheap.

The other Starwind 27 in our marina had two small biminis and directed us to Kemah Canvas. The guy from Kemah Canvas showed up and said, sure, he could make us a custom bimini like that ... for $1600.

Considering that was more than we paid for the boat, I couldn't bring myself to spend the money, so we continued to live with sunburn.

Then, a couple months ago, I heard our marina neighbor Dale had started doing some canvas work, so I asked him to take a look. A couple weeks later he said he had figured something out and gave me an estimate of $650. A month later, here's what I found on the boat.

Starwind 27 custom bimini

He made a custom two-part bimini that zips together on each side of the backstay. The space for the backstay also doubles as a window to see the sail. The rear portion of the bimini also gives you a little more head room while the front portion clears the boom with no problem. I honestly, couldn't be happier. We sailed for almost five hours Saturday without getting burned.

And not only did he make the bimini, he threw in free winch covers with the extra material! The boat looks better than it ever has before.

Starwind 27 with new bimini

Which brings me to the next project. Mary bought a Brother TZ1-B651 sewing machine from our other marina neighbors. I spent a couple hours cleaning the rust off of it and oiling the parts.

Brother Tz1-B651 sewing machine with hand crank

The machine is now turning freely, but aligning the bobbin and adjusting the mechanism is beyond my realm of knowledge. However, once I get the sewing machine sorted out we can start measuring to re-cut the oversized Genoa sitting in my spare bedroom to fit the Starwind. It would have come in very handy last weekend when we barely had enough wind to move at all.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Explored 8-12-2011

I finally won Flickr with this impromptu shot of Mary I took the other day. No setup, no lights, just snapped it with the M8 and the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 50mm f1.1. I've had a Flickr account for years, but this is the first time I've ever been explored.

L1020035 Explored 08-12-2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Memory Card Failure

I started shooting digital in the year 2000. Never in that ten plus years of using memory cards have I ever had one fail. I even have a 64MB SmartMedia card from my first camera that still works. One time the 5-year-old 2GB Compact Flash card in my Nikon D70s got fidgety and lost a couple shots after I used it in a card reader, but once I cleaned the contacts in the Nikon and reformatted the card, I haven't had any other issues with it.

I've had this 16GB Class 6 SD card for at least three years. I originally purchased it when I bought my Canon HF100 video camera.

Leica M8 SD card failure

I recently upgraded the Canon to a 32GB card, so I moved this one to the Leica M8. It handled thousands of pictures over the past month with no problem. Then last night, I was snapping photos of my niece when the M8 stopped previewing photos after I shot them. The red light was flashing and the camera locked up after taking only three shots in rapid succession. After pulling the battery to reset the camera, I was only able to see about half of the photos I took, the others just displayed the file name. However, the card was still reading in the camera and allowing me to take more photos. At that point, the photos were still salvageable. (Note: If your camera starts doing this, and the photos are important, stop using that card immediately and run it through a memory card recovery program.)

Not thinking it was serious, I decided just to reformat the card in the camera to get rid of whatever glitch was going on with it and to shoot all the photos again. That's when I started getting the following message when I turned on the camera.

Leica M8 SD card failure

Of course, if I hit the Play button, it would then give me this message.

Leica M8 SD card failure

My card was dead. I didn't have a spare.

When I got home I popped the card in my Leica X1 to see what would happen. It immediately asked me if I wanted to format the card. I said, yes, thinking maybe I could still save the card and bring it back to life. No luck. The X1 couldn't format or read the card either.

This morning I downloaded CardRecovery to scan the card. Of 33554432 sectors scanned, 33229318 sectors showed up bad. Nothing was recoverable.

Leica M8 SD card failure

Lesson learned -- always have a backup memory card. I don't trust hard drives any farther than I can throw them. I don't expect them to last more than two years. However, I've never worried about flash memory before. I've obviously become too complacent. Then again, one card failure in ten years isn't too bad. I just hope the M8 doesn't start eating memory cards the way the M9s have been. I think it's cheaper to go back to film than to have to pay for a new card every shoot.