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Archive for the ‘Navelgazing’ Category

I might buy a cheap point and shoot digicam soon, just to enable me to at least document something, especially when traveling Shooting with film is so expensive (although some do it) and also it’s hard to put the stuff on the net anyway since you have to scan and it’s tedious and I don’t have a scanner at home. I’ll probably visit central Europe soon again so I might as well buy a digital camera.

What are my requirements?

  • It needs to be cheap
  • I don’t need a large zoom
  • I need very close focus (for digiscoping at times)
  • Good low light performance
  • No high megapixels
  • A rechargeable battery

Things could point towards a Fuji F series, except the price, one would have to pay 170 euros for a F70… and I don’t want a zoom monster really. It seems the Fuji A130 is a sub 100 euro camera that still has F 2.8 at the wide end, which many of its competition doesn’t seem to have. Hard to see any comparisons anywhere on these cheap cameras, nevermind sample pictures. It uses regular batteries for power so probably it’d be expensive to use.

Strolling by the nearby supermarket, it had an Olympus T-100 for 99 euros and I liked that it was thin. Older Olympus has awful XD memory cards, but the T-100 has standard SD. Canon A490 which it also had at 109 and Nikon S203 (which is probably elsewhere), the big names’ cheap ones, might be nice in image quality, though the Canon seemed a bit thick. Then there’s the 99 euro Panasonic DMC-F4 too which actually seems to have F 2.8 at the wide end. Nothing means much when you don’t know the sensor size anyway.

Most of the specs listed (megapixels, number of programs) by the sellers and companies are totally meaningless to me. The pics always look bad at full resolution anyway. I’d like to see perhaps:

  • lens diameter (I might elaborate in a future post)
  • or then the F number and sensor size
  • field of view at wide and tele
  • perhaps extra features like what video res and compression, close focus range

At times all this makes me wonder if all that stuff comes from the same factory and they just put it in different shaped frames, alter the menu texts a bit, fiddle with a few tuning parameters to give different image tones and then just sell more of them that way. We already know that for example in optics, there are Japanese subcontractor factories making lenses for many brands. Opticron is a UK telescope firm that orders its scopes from Japan from the same manufacturer that makes stuff for Nikon.

Oh, and I assume all cameras work with Linux just as normal USB drives, right?

EDIT: Found some unlikely T-100 sample pictures

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I didn’t have a camera with me but I was surprised at their impressiveness. From afar, they looked like old gas storage vessels (like in Suvilahti, Helsinki), but they really were dome-shaped seaplane hangars. Luckily Flickr has at least some photo as well as Panoramio here. The museum has home pages here.

I picked the wrong day to go there as it seems all of Tallinn’s museums are closed on mondays and tuesdays (The Kumu art museum was one potential destination too), but I couldn’t really choose the day anyway at that point. I could still tour the stuff that was outside. There was a lot of construction and renovation work going on. The domes were full of scaffolding for builders. Actually that would have provided for a really good photo opportunity since it divided the volume into cubes as a great visualization of the size of the thing, together with people for scale. The top was being sandblasted and you could see the rebar from many places. This is not a cheap project and will be ready by 2011.

They are not super-huge though. No Saro Princess could fit in them. They were built in 1916 and 1917 after all! I could also see the old first independence battle’s ice breaker Suur Tõll and the Lembit submarine, as well as an array of patrol boats donated by various countries to the young Estonian defence force in the nineties.

I will write other things inspired by the trip in other posts, there was certainly a large amount of thoughts that arose and observations that were made.

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Eckerö Line

Trying it again. Might visit the sea museum in Tallinn too. http://www.meremuuseum.ee/ They also have a pre-WW2 submarine sitting in the harbor. Finland has one too, it’d be interesting to see the difference. I think it is English built. There’s also a sea mine museum, though no Finnish mines there AFAIK.

My internet is acting up so this post is crude. It works about one minute out of ten. Something probably went bad at Welho during the weekend.

Other stuff: Urjazz from Nepal is good.

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Ronnie James Dio

Rest in peace.

Here with Yngwie Malmsteen performing Aerosmith’s Dream On. Pay no attention to the picture of Yngwie.

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Gah, got tired of monkeying around with various software (XFLR5 is never provided as an executable on ANY platform despite countless requests, just some packets) so loaded up a profile in Matlab and plotted it in multiple sizes and printed those. Took only a few minutes. It’s still the best software ever.

It went something like this:

load MH78.txt %text file is copy-pasted from MH-aerotools.de
whos %check out if it worked
MH78 %check out what we just loaded
figure
plot(MH78(:,1)/100,MH78(:,2)/100)
grid
axis equal
legend MH78
%perhaps print here if it fits on one paper

%this is three views for a larger print:
xlim([0 0.4])
%print here manually
xlim([0.3 0.7])
%print
xlim([0.6 1])
%print
%Etc you get the idea...

Had to read some documentations for this, but the gist is that Matlab actually has some proper documentation. I just typed help gca, help set, help axis, help axes, help xlim etc and they contained some quick examples that I then tried and got the hang of everything. Matlab should be the gold standard for all similar software developers. I’ve tried coding in Python and Scilab and both have large stumbling blocks in quick and efficient numeric work.

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Well at least the video director can differentiate between the guitarist and bassist, and even between the rhythm and solo guitarists, which is much much better than most live videos. Now if he (or the photographers) could see how the guitarist actually doesn’t play the solo with the back of the guitar’s neck, but on the side with all the strings and frets and fingers, it would be beyond comprehension and a first major feat ever in audiovisual entertainment. I’ve heard that Sibelius was so shy when he was young that he had to play the violin with his back to the audience. These guys don’t have that problem but somehow the photographers and directors still fail to capture the most intense parts, the heart and soul of many songs. Maybe they just don’t understand anything about music – the visual and musical people are put into separate schools early on. I want to see the video where they only show the vocalist’s belly during singing or the drummer in intense closeup in acoustic pieces, where he doesn’t do anything.

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It all started fine. The may day, had some great time and met new people and finished it off with old friends and sauna. 3 am and time to ride home. The smooth spring night is filled still with some late Turdus Pilaris searching for food and a lot of Lepus Europaeus just standing there and lazily jumping away as I approach. Giant shadows cast by a moth in a streetlight. And I join the Mätäjoki river from the west, it glittering behind the trees. The chain grease was washed out by a rain a couple of days ago so it’s a bit noisy when pedaling but the trip is short. No people around, only a few taxis on the roads in Mäkkylä. The rest of the way, silence.

And then I separate eastwards from the river and start to approach the neighbourhood where I’ve lived since fall, Kannelmäki. I see a yellowish light in the ground – a small fire. I get closer and I see some kind of burning thing on top of a wooden trestle that fences a car park. Drops of flaming goo fall down to the gravel. It’s clearly some kind of plastic, and it looks like a fabric. The fire doesn’t seem very intense but anyway I pick some stick and drop it to the ground and put it out. The wood is intact. Fire follows the laws of physics like almost everything else*. I’ve had my share of playing with it as a kid and know how to handle it.

Now, maybe someone just was polishing their car with a wrong kind of rag, and it autoignited when they left it there. I see nobody around, and I move on. Across a junction and under the railway bridge. There I see a jug of Lasol denatured alcohol used for windscreen washer and a rag. Perhaps not connected in any way. Perhaps nobody was trying to make Molotov cocktails. And I take a few corners, through the park and arrive home. See the night bus pulling out of the stop. Sometimes this part of the city does seem quite stupid, whether it’s trying or not, it seems somewhat irrelevant.

*:the human thought being an easy example…

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