Saturday, December 14, 2019

Oh my lolz...

The Leica Digilux 1 was the second attempt by Leica to badge-engineer their way into the burgeoning consumer digital camera market around the turn of the Millennium. (The first had been when they relabeled some Fuji FinePix variants as the original Leica Digilux, starting in '98.)

The Digilux 1, on the other hand, was a re-badged Panasonic, who was just getting into the consumer digital camera market themselves in 2002. It's a 4MP camera and the Leica variant is cutely styled to vaguely resemble a classic Leica rangefinder camera if you squint hard in the right lighting.

KEH had one for sale for $99, and although I was unlikely to buy it, I decided to at least google up some reviews of the thing. That led me to this hilarity:
"The Leica Digilux 1 delivers film-like pictures and not the flat, video-like pictures that most digital cameras produce. When you look for digital, you look at lots of closeup shots which show the difference in details from different digital cameras. You look for clean, sharp pictures. However, at some point I started looking at the whole picture and there the Digilux 1 just stands out."
Get that? This Overgaard clown is trying to claim that it gives SPECIAL FILM-LIKE PICTURES, unlike those awful electronic pictures other digital cameras do... For Eastman's sake, it's just a damned Panasonic with a 1/1.8" 4MP CCD sensor in it, you brand whore!

Now, even as late as '02 there was a lingering amount of prejudice against digicams in some corners of the photography world, but Nikon was already on its first update of its professional D1 line, and Canon was fixin' to follow up the 1D with the 11MP full-frame 1Ds. Hell, by '02 even a late adopter like me already had a digital camera.

But this Overgaard guy is someone from whom you should expect flim-flammery and silly Leica lifestyle posturing...
Oh, it says "Leica" on it...

If you want to get into Advanced Overgaard Studies, here are some places to start:

Thirty-Five 'Lux has a good piece explaining why the dude is talking out his ass about a professional photography career...
"It is so frustrating to read things written by a dilettante and glorified forum guru. It saddens me that true enthusiasts of photography – who may have no intention of ever using their camera to make a living – are subjected to the kind of information they’re presented with. It’s beyond sad."
La Vida Leica points out that his claims of being an "influencer" are a joke...
"But what about his legion of followers on Facebook? Surely those are legit, right? Well, no. Not really. They've been bought. For a small fee, you can buy as many page likes as you want - either through Facebook's "Boost this page" (advertise) or through shady hacker circles. While this is great for your friend/follower count, in the end it actually hurts you. Why? Well, for one - it's totally bogus. These "friends" don't exist. But secondly, as of late January 2014, Facebook changed their algorithm - reducing the number of people that actually see your posts. By watering your audience down with all these fakes, the percentage of real people that truly exist (and see the posts in their newsfeed) drops considerably. Whoops. Notice where all these likes are coming from... Indonesia. Thailand. Mexico. Several countries where these fake likes originate."
Leicaphilia just points and laughs...
"It’s always been obvious to me that “von Overgaard” is a transparent huckster, a confidence man preying on gullible low-hanging fruit, spinning some bullshit narrative about luxury and beautiful people and world travels and Leica, this just being further proof that a sucker is born every minute and some of those suckers will end up buying a Leica and taking a street shooter’s seminar with “von Overgaard.”"
What's funny is that this has been an interesting learning experience for me, diving down the Overgaard rabbit hole today. In the firearms world, at least the practical handgunning and defensive carbine & shotgun portions of it, my BS detector is pretty well calibrated; I can smell a scam artist who's talking out their ass fairly quickly. With cameras and photography, I'm a relative dilettante, so this has been a super-informative morning and afternoon of internet sleuthing.


Found on Facebook...

Thursday, December 12, 2019

For SaleSold...

Want a good deal on a full-frame DSLR? Let my loss be your gain!

For sale is this well-cared-for Canon EOS 5D Mark II, a camera that is a bit long in the tooth but still capable of outstanding images (and about as cheap as you'll find a modern full-frame DSLR.) For blog readers, I'll ship it with a battery, battery charger, and body cap for $450, shipped. SOLD!

The camera:

A couple of sample shots...

Email me if interested!

Ad Astra...

Another piece of the future dropped into place today...

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Remember the Wish Book?

Looks like it might be the last holiday season to buy gifts from (what's left of) Sears:
"There's no new CEO. The company, which emerged from bankruptcy with 425 stores, will soon have less than half of those stores still open. Rather than holiday sales this year, it started going-out-of-business sales at 96 of its remaining stores the week after Thanksgiving. This suggests that sales and turnaround plans have not lived up to expectations."

Mindlessly soothing...

So, after taking the lockpicking class, I went ahead and ordered a couple of practice locks off Amazon.

They showed up yesterday and I sat here yesterday evening watching the latest episode of The Mandalorian while keeping my hands busy opening locks, both raking and single-pin picking. It was, as the post title indicates, mindlessly soothing activity.


I'm going to make a prediction...

Here're a couple key grafs from one of the latest stories on the Jersey City running gun battle:
"The skirmish began when the suspects, who have only been identified as a 48-year-old man and a woman, were approached at Bayview Cemetery by Det. Seals who was investigating a U-Haul truck which had been linked to the murder of Michael Rumberger — a livery driver who was found dead in his car in Bayonne this past weekend, according to senior law enforcement officials.

As the officer approached, one of the suspects got out of the truck and fatally shot Seals before taking off, said Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly.

Armed with long guns and plenty of ammunition, the suspects then drove their U-Haul truck, which had bomb-making materials inside, to the only Jewish market in the area and shot a Hasidic man on the street before running inside the store, law enforcement sources told NBC New York.

Once inside, investigators say they believe the suspects began firing at shoppers, killing two customers and a cashier.
Let's see...

U-Haul full of guns and bomb-making materials, they get cornered by the cops, and their first response is to shoot the cop, then drive to the nearest Kosher supermarket, popping a Hasidic pedestrian along the way, and run in and start shooting Jewish shoppers?

This pretty much narrows it down to Jihadis or Nazis and, frankly, if it were Nazis, their names and faces would be all over the news while the talking heads wrung their hands about the dangers of white supremacy. So if I were going to place a bet right now...

"Sources said David Anderson, who committed the deadly Tuesday attack with a woman identified as Francine Graham, was a one-time follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement and made the hateful postings on his social media page.
Well that's esoteric...

It's literally the most awkward category of perps on the modern Progressive Intersectional hate crime totem pole: Nazi crackers > Middle Eastern Islamists > Home-Grown Nation of Islam > no-Islam-required Black supremacists. No wonder feet were being dragged.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Camera Stuff...

  • I've stumbled across an interesting blog: 35mmc. It seems fairly active, and the archives are deep. It's got a lot of interesting stuff on 35mm compact film cameras, as you may surmise from the title. That was the original focus of the place, but over time it's morphed into a more general photography site.

  • If you have an APS-C sensor Canon DSLR, like a Rebel, you might have noticed the paucity of good glass without stepping up to the EF lenses. Canon has apparently decided that Rebel shooters are fine with slow kit zooms. There is one gem in the crop-sensor EF-S lens lineup, with focal length appropriate to the smaller sensor: I can't recommend the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens enough. That constant f/2.8 max aperture makes a huge difference shooting indoors.
Canon 7D & 17-55mm f/2.8: It's not a long lens, but it has a useful amount of reach.

Overgrown Toddlers...

We had the impeachment hearings playing on the TV down the hall from the office yesterday, and they consisted of two things:

Firstly, the GOP members of the committee, being the minority party, tried to jam the works up with parliamentary procedure every chance they got. This is how parliamentary politics works, and it's what they're expected to do. I don't have a problem with it, even if it's annoying to watch; this is how the sausage gets made.

Secondly, the actual evidentiary portions of the hearing were nothing but watching a bunch of grown-ass adults acting like kindergarteners on a playground. If you want the TL;DR transcript of the hours of witness testimony & questioning yesterday, here it is, starting at 9AM:
Dems: "Trump put his personal political gain ahead of the interests of the country and abused the powers of his office."

GOP: "Nuh-uh."

Dems: "Yuh-huh."

GOP: "Nuh-uh."

Dems: "Yuh-huh."
Lather, rinse, and repeat for several hours until the station cut away to the Ellen show at 3PM.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Plane Spotting

Hickam AFB the last time the Googlesat took pictures:

Three B2's visiting, a couple of C5's dwarfing the Globemasters, and a flag officer was fixin' to travel in style.

High school plane nerd me would would nerd out over this stuff so hard.

The current view of Nellis from the Googlesat has an interesting assortment of visitors out on the ramp. There are some Tornadoes and Eurofighter Typhoons lined up out there. Over where the aggressors park are what look like some L-159's, operated by Draken International, who contracts as aggressors.

I went to Lakeland airport to look at Draken's home base and see if they had anything interesting sitting around. I spotted this loner just parked by itself out on a ramp.

The far corner of the world...

So I'm reading through the news a bit ago and find a story about a place called Norfolk Island where some citizens are agitating to leave Australian governance and place the island under Kiwi control instead.

I wasn't familiar with Norfolk Island and so went to check out what Wikipedia had to say about the place. Turns out that the current inhabitants are descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers, and have their own language, a creole of 18th Century English and Tahitian.

Tangentially related, almost all of Pitcairn Island is viewable in Google Street View.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Wrapping up the training calendar...

For a year that I'd originally expected to be pretty light on training, 2019 wound up being my third busiest.

I not only got in a bucket list class, in the form of Craig Douglas's Armed Movement In Structures, but I also ventured a little further afield from more usual shooting-type content by sneaking in the pepper spray class with Chuck and the lockpicking/entry & escape class this weekend.

I also got to see two curricula I was very interested in checking out, in the form of Jedi's red dot/AIWB class and John Johnston's Technical Handgun: Tests and Standards. Both are very performance-oriented pure shooting classes and seeing the two presented only a month or so apart was pretty cool. A surprise occurrence was a mini one-day class from Aaron Cowan at a manufacturer launch event.

Now comes the winter downtime, with probably nothing on my plate until Tac-Con, right near the time the trees start budding again. Plenty of time to practice what I've learned!

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Rare Turf

So, a pastime of mine is using Google maps to explore towns in this great land of ours. Sometimes it's just out of idle curiosity. Sometimes I'll go so far as to imagine relocating there.  "Where are the cool neighborhoods? Where's the place where you can walk to the brewpubs and decent restaurants?"

One thing I've noticed is that there are not many places where you can walk to both a grocery store and good eateries in a neighborhood of single-family dwellings. The restaurants and grocery stores are usually not located in the same neighborhoods. It makes me appreciate the walkability of Broad Ripple.

I'd like to see how that went down...

What could be more Russian than taking a selfie atop a construction crane?

Graffiti tagging a polar bear.

I mean, I imagine that dreary winter days can get crazy stupid boring out in the ass end of Siberia, but I want to know how that went down. Did they just stumble across it while taking a nap and they happened to have the spray paint with them? It's not like you can just ask a bear to hold still and not kill you while you doodle on it.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Fundamental misunderstanding...

People don't seem to understand that most small gun shops are just another kind of Hobby Retail.

If you went into a model train store or an R/C car/plane shop, you'd expect to find the owner, maybe one full-time salesperson/manager, and the remainder of the crew cobbled together of part-timers, mostly students and retirees who are enthusiasts of the hobby and are willing to put up with crappy pay for love of the game and employee discounts.

Your typical small gun shop is no different. I should know, I've worked in a few.

My Annual Rant

So everybody's running around pushing that stupid "Cyber Monday" thing, which is a relic of the day when everyone had dialup at home and so saved their online shopping until they got back to the office on Monday and could mooch off the company's broadband. Now that we all have broadband in our pockets, this is practically horse-and-buggy levels of quaint.

That said, Surefire is selling their house-brand CR123 batteries in a 72-pack for $99. This is twenty bucks better than the best price at Amazon and, considering the 10-year shelf life of these things (and the fact that they have free shipping on orders over a hunnert bucks) means this might not be a bad buy.

FCC Disclaimer: I don't get anything from Surefire these days except spam email, but I'm an avid user of their products.

Instant Karma

Part of the concept of human civilization is that you just don't go running around killing people. In fact, what distinguishes a human civilization from a bunch of monkeys standing around in a cage is the concept that you are accepting civilization's offer of protection in exchange for the promise to not go around killing people.

There are exceptions to this that arise, should you encounter an exceptional scenario like someone trying to kill you. Even then, society doesn't say "Oh, it's okay to kill him, then." Rather, we concede that you may use sufficiently urgent and violent force to immediately stop him from his attempt, and if he dies, he dies.

This is why setting booby traps is illegal. The very fact that the device is designed to deploy lethal force in the absence of a human operator means that the one key factor that warrants the use of lethal force is not present. If your self ain't there, it is ipso facto not "self defense".

Too bad the dude in Maine who whacked himself with his own booby trap on Thanksgiving Day hadn't thought this through.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Best intentions, and all that...

I'd really intended for this cross-country road trip to involve more stopping and taking pictures.

My trip out was initially intended to have two middlin'-easy eight hour legs, overnighting in Joplin, MO and Amarillo, TX, leaving me with a final day's drive of only about five hours to Los Alamos. If I blew out of Amarillo early enough on that last morning, the short five-hour drive (combined with the fact that crossing from Central to Mountain time knocked a virtual hour off my pace) should have allowed for plenty of pulling over to photograph whatever caught my eye.

As things turned out, the ice and snow that virtually shut I-70 down around noon on my first day on the road saw me holed up in a Holiday Inn Express in Vandalia, Illinois for two nights.

I was there two nights because on the first morning there, I turned on the TV to the network news out of St. Louis, and the morning commute was a soup sandwich. Slideoffs and wrecks everywhere. It wasn't supposed to get anywhere above the teens, temperature-wise, until that afternoon, which meant that the brine on I-70 and I-44 along my route wouldn't be doing much.

So on the way out, I ended up overnighting in Vandalia and then Oklahoma City, and promised myself I'd get some photography stops in on the way back.

While I felt like death on a Ritz pulling out of Los Alamos at 0500 last Monday morning, I parked the EOS 7D, wearing the 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, on the passenger seat. I had high hopes.

As it turned out, I got that one roadside shot of the Mustang with its headlights on in the predawn gloaming somewhere north of Clines Corner, New Mexico...and that was about it for the 7D on the trip.
Getting on I-40 eastbound, I rolled past signs for historic Fort Sumner, but I didn't know how far south of the interstate it was and how far off my time it would put me, so I passed, despite being a big nerd regarding the Billy the Kid mythos.

Similarly, I'd intended to get a photo of the Mustang in front of one or another of the classic motels on Route 66 through the main drag of Tucumcari, NM. I pulled off the interstate at exit 329, passed a deserted, graffitoed urban hellscape of abandoned gas stations and motels that looked like sets from Fallout: New Vegas, and found my way onto Tucumcari's main drag, the old Route 66...the Mother Road.

But it was 8AM in the early winter, so the sun was low and southerly. I was eastbound, which meant I was on the wrong side of the street to get any good light on the car and background. Did I mention I was sick as a dog? I pulled off in front of one of the classic old motels, left the Canon in the car, and grabbed a nasty iPhone photo as proof of life.

Back onto I-40 eastbound, I consoled myself with the fact that I was still way ahead of schedule. At the rate I was going, I'd likely hit Oklahoma City thirty minutes too early to even check into my hotel. No worries, I reckoned, because I could use that time getting some fresh photos at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo!
Cadillac Ranch in 2011
I hadn't been by Cadillac Ranch since 2011. It's a most un-tourist-y tourist attraction; with no signs to point you there and no parking lot, it's just out there in a field near the highway. Park on the shoulder of the access road and wander out. Maybe there'll be fresh spray paint cans, maybe not.

On the way out, Cadillac Ranch was typically fairly deserted. Coming home on Monday morning, though? There were at least twenty cars parked up on the shoulder of the access road and a steady stream of people coming and going. And the sun was still way southerly at 10:30ishAM of a mid-November morning. There was no way I was going to get a well-lit shot of the place, especially without a bunch of people milling in the frame. Plus, I still felt awful...

On to Oklahoma City.

One thing led to another, and I never did feel up to pulling over for a scenic shot. Scenic shots get pretty scarce northeast of Joplin, anyway.

I wound up yanking the EOS 7D off the passenger seat and hanging it on the coat hook when I got back to Roseholme Cottage. At least it got a good photo of Thanksgiving Dinner.