Guest Contributor – TomD – 31OCT2022 – Photo

Tom | Flickr

TomD

 

Arlington.jpg
Arlington.jpg

It’s now been very close to a year since we ditched our Sony A7III’s and procured Sony A7IV camera.

As a now pushing 2 decade user of Sony Cameras, starting with the A100 in 2005, I was used to each subsequent camera generation being a huge improvement over the preceding in at least several important aspects. That is until the A7III to A7IV jump. Other than the sensor resolution change from 24 to 33 megapixels, the rest of the differences seem that they were closer to a firmware update than a generational change. And, frankly, I’m not at all certain that my image quality has changed much at all over the last several generations.

I’m now hearing rumors of the Sony A7V but I’m pretty sure I won’t be an early adopter.

I think the Sony that I liked the most was the small APS-C Sony A-6300. It was so small that I could carry it anywhere and you would have had to study long and hard to tell the difference between than camera’s images and the images from it’s much larger brothers. It did give up a LOT in low light though.

In 45 years of semi-serious photography starting with a early 70’s Nikon F1, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions about the order of importance of the various elements to the system that, combined, make a good photograph:

1: The photographer (at least 80% right there)
2: Lens
3: Camera body
3: (tie) The rest of the equipment, filters, tripods, etc.

Though this is hard to admit for an engineer, I question the extent that technical merit even plays in a good photo. Below is a shot that I took 15 years ago standing at my Fathers grave at Arlington National the day after my mother’s body was added.

Guest Contributor – TomD – 13AUG2022 – MCCarthy and McConnell

Tom | Flickr

TomD

If the Republicans prevail in the house and senate in the midterms but McCarthy and McConnell remain as the leaders, just look for more of the same. But if we could somehow get Rand Paul and Jim Jordan, it would be happy dance in the streets time.

Both these guys are fighters, the opposite of the current “leadership”. Have you ever seen more inept “leadership” than offered to us by Paul Ryan and McConnell in 2016-2018? They did nothing at all despite having the House, Senate and Presidency by substantial margins.

The current Dims hold all three branches but the two legislative branches by razor thin margins. Despite which, they are ramming incredibly destructive legislation down our collective throats. And all we have to counter them is the ineffective duo of McCarthy and McConnell?

Guest Contributor – TomD – 04JUL2022 – Photo

Tom | Flickr

TomD

 

100 trillion zimbabwe front.jpg
100 trillion zimbabwe front.jpg

Here’s an amusing part of my collection, the highest denomination banknote ever issued: a $100 trillion “dollar” (10^14th) Zimbabwean note issued in 2008. The actual monetary value of the note when issued was somewhat less that the worth of 8 ounces of used cat litter. Shortly thereafter the Zimbabwean currency system totally collapsed with the locals instead temporarily adopting 6 packs or Heineken beer (really!) as a basis for economic exchange until the US dollar became the de facto currency.

In the meantime, Zimbabwean currency in various denominations from a few hundred millions up to the pictured 10^14th became available for amusement purposes for a (US) dollar or two on ebay. I bought twenty or thirty of the pictured notes and gave all but two away as joke gifts. But, as it turn out, the joke ended up being on me. Fourteen years later, the highest denomination bill ever issued has become scarce and is now selling for $100 to $300 US dollars.

One wonders whether some enterprising Chinese group has started counterfeiting the notes yet? (Another story but the Chinese counterfeiters are the bane of the existence of collectors of pretty much anything valuable.)

Guest Contributor – TomD – Photo – Converting From A-Mount to E-Mount on the 70-300MM Zoom

Tom | Flickr

TomD

Speaking of lenses, we were talking about lenses, weren’t we? Ahh, I thought so—-

Anyway, back in the days of my Sony A mount cameras, one of my most productive lenses in terms of the real “keeper” shots that it produced was a Sony G series 70-300. It was pretty slow with a maximum variable aperture of f3.5-5.6, but that didn’t matter much because I used it almost exclusively outdoors with lots of light.

What did matter is that it was extremely sharp and had a great bokeh (that soft blur in the out of focus areas of the picture). Any time I would be looking through my pictures of that time frame and saw one that I thought was particularly good, the EXIF date would show that was the 70-300 lens on a percentage of the GOOD shots that far exceeded the percentage of the time I used it.

I got into the E mount Sony era in 2017 with a A7RII and added a A7III to it about year and a half later. While I was building a E mount lens collection, I bought a Sony LA-EA 4 lens adaptor to mount A type lenses to E type bodies so that I could use my old lenses.

The adaptor worked to a certain extent to tie the 70-300 to those bodied but the auto focus was sluggish and not as accurate. The lens fell out of use and was used a time or two a year and yielding acceptable but not stellar results.

I recently sold both the older Sony cameras and bought the latest Sony A7IV. When I tried my LE-AH 4 adaptor on the A7IV with the 70-300, I got nothing. Sony is apparently abandoning the older A series and a little research told me that the 70-300 lens does not and will never work with the A7IV or later bodies. Well.

That left my existing E mount lens collection biased to the short side, the longest lens being 105 mm and I really needed a replacement to that lens. A direct replacement, a new version with the exact same optics as my old lens but in e mount costs around $1300 these days. I’m retired now and don’t spend $1300 without at least some research so I spent a couple of hours on google (whom I hate but use anyway).

That search yielded a large number of reviews stating that the new Tamron 70-300 E mount is at least equal of the Sony version with one caveat. That being there in no in lens image stabilization. But that’s okay because my A7IV has 5 axis in body stabilization, so in lens would be redundant. But here’s the kicker: the Tamron cost $499 vs $1300 for the Sony.

The Tamron arrived a couple of days ago. I really haven’t have a chance to wring it out other than 40 or 50 snaps at stuff around the house, but it shows promise.

Couple of examples below including a shot of the camera and lens. These shots are just out of the camera, not modified and not examples of picture that I would keep. But they do show the image quality of which the lens is capable in terms of sharpness, color and bokeh.

DSC04211.jpg
DSC04211.jpg
DSC00871.jpg
DSC00871.jpg

 

DSC00878.jpg
DSC00878.jpg

 

#3 a Bottlebrush Bush, seen these only in Florida. Just a microsecond after this shot, a Hummingbird flew into my field of vision, but only for only a half second. You snooze, ya loose.

DSC00891.jpg
DSC00891.jpg

The purpose of these shots is to demonstrate the lens’s potential, not artistic quality. I think it’s hard to imagine the IQ (image qualiity) being much better. It certainly exceeds expectations of a “cheap” lens.

DSC00898.jpg
DSC00898.jpg

 

Guest Contributor – TomD – 23FEB2022 – Thoughts on the Battle of Midway

Tom | Flickr

TomD

I’ve spent a great deal of time throughout my life reading about WWII in general. I was born a few years after the end of the war and grew up in a society in which virtually everyone’s father took part in one way or another. My father was a 1943 West Point grad who was a company commander with the 101st Airborne when the Germans shot him up very badly at the Battle of the Bulge, crippling him physically for life, but not mentally as he later got a MS Degree in Chemical Engineering.

But for some reason, I’ve always been most fascinated with the Pacific war, and especially with Midway. I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve read on the battle and can specifically recommend Shattered Sword, a history taken from the Japanese viewpoint.

Midway, the battle turned on the purest of luck and very easily could have gone the other way had 3 or 4 isolated throws of the dice gone otherwise. The US would have eventually won the war anyway but it would have been a longer and harder version of the already desperate and bloody struggle that it was.

Below, a photo of interest, it is the last actual aircraft still in existence to have taken part in the battle. This SBD Dauntless was based on Midway Island and wasn’t one of the 3 squadrons of SBDs from Enterprise (I think) that luckily found the Japanese fleet as all their fighter defenses were down at wave top height finishing off a squadron of torpedo bombers. The next 5 minutes proved decisive as those SBDs sank 3 of the 4 Japanese carriers.

The plane in the photo made it’s attack earlier but none of the Midway Island aircraft made any hits. After the battle, this plane was flown to the point of decrepitude and sent back to the US for use in training new pilots. Some US Navy Ensign pilot candidate managed to put this aircraft in the drink while trying to land on a training carrier in one of the great lakes where it remained until salvaged 50 years later. The wreck was taken to NAS Pensacola where it was restored and is currently on display at the US Naval Air Museum.

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DSC03221m.jpg

Guest Contributor – TomD – 18FEB2022 – A Woke Thought Experiment

Tom | Flickr

TomD

I sometimes run a purely mental “what if”: What if I time traveled back to my 1966 Senior high school class and tried to get them to understand the future. First, I’d really wow them with a few examples of 2022 technology, the phones, flat TV’s, GPS, the cars, etc. But then I’d say that the average vehicle costs in the mid-$40K range on average. In the-mid 60’s in north Metro Atlanta, that was the cost of a far above average house, on Riverside Dr, where the current lots, if you can find one, go for the millions. The specter of a 10:1 monetary inflation would be the first clue.

I’m not sure if or how I could create the image of the dystopia that this nation has become. About a tenth of the way through the multiples of insanities, I would lose them to sheer overload and disbelief. How many statements on the order of “In the 21st Century, you can decide what sex you will be that day” or “Prepubescent children can be counseled to sex change surgery by school workers without parental notification.” How about “the borders are unprotected, and millions are pouring into the welcoming arms of the government offering them free everything”. Try offering an hour or two of that and see what sort of reception you get. Just try to explain LGBTQIA2S+. I dare you. Or the democratic party publicly embraces socialism/communism, that they propose the elimination of police and jails, months long elections with no controls at all, the demonization of white people, that all the guaranteed constitutional rights can be eliminated at the whim of a governor or even mayor for whatever length of time they wish, the national media as a wholly owned arm of one political party.

Even if I could, that would be terrible thing to inflict on anyone.