Friday, August 21, 2015

D700 and F5

I got myself from eBay the MB-D10 almost immediately once I received my D700.  The MB-D10 comes with the MS-D10 AA battery tray as well as MS-D10EN for the whatever battery, OK, EN-EL3e which lasts for at some 1000 frames I think, or more.  I haven't really measured it.  I don't gain on the frame per second department on this grip as I don't have that special military grade battery.  With the motor drive I can always carry an extra EN-EL3e and some AA batteries.  So running out of battery shouldn't be happening.  I like the grip but I think I even like it better if it's integrated with the camera.  Just like the F5 pictured above on the right.  The F5 is smaller and cleaner when compared next to the D700 with the grip attached.

I can't believe that the D4s was just introduced in 2014.  With the introduction of D810 and D750 and a myriad of other Nikon products, the D4s just seems old, though the price certainly doesn't reflect that as it's still in production.  Unlike the D700, which is really a 2008 camera and out of production.

I think the D3s actually makes sense plus if what I read is correct, there is some improvement in the high ISO area making it like 1.5 stop better than the D700 or the D3 which could be significant.  The D3s with the integrated grip may actually be smaller than my D700 and grip combo.

A D3s makes sense to me.

Sunpak 120J


I used my left hand as the flash bracket, raised slightly over my head to the left of the camera.  This was shot at ISO400, 250/s, f/8 and 1/8 of manual power.  I am happy with the light and it was as I envisioned, except a bit better.  As the shot isn't over or under exposed as is, not to my eye anyway.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Nikon D700 and Sunpak 120J

I am talking about the old Sunpak auto 120J professional, the made in Japan model.

I use a paramount sync cord to connect it to my D700, and it works faultlessly, the flash fires and the camera doesn't get toast because of any high triggering voltage.  On page 383, the manual says not over 250 V applied to the accessory shoe.  I wonder then if the PC terminal is immune to any negative or high voltage.
According to the "internet" the triggering voltage of the 120J ranges from some 10.9V to 24.3V.  If the internet is to be believed, then the triggering voltage of the 120J is very safe for the D700.  My experience with it on the PC sync terminal is definitely positive.  I mean the 120J model I have doesn't even come with any hot or cold shoe at all.

On another note, I have the original Sunpak 3-prong household sync cord, which surprisingly doesn't work well on the D700 as the tip is not long or snug enough to give it a 100% connectivity to the D700 PC terminal.  The paramount cable, on the other hand, works better, or without fail.

"What camera should I get?"

I find this almost impossible to answer.  I know what I want but I could never figure out what you want.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

PCIe WiFi Card that Works with Ubuntu 15.04

My good old Ralink RT2561 card gives me too much trouble on 15.04.  The connection speed has never been great especially when compared to my other computers.  With 15.04, the WiFi is practically unusable.  In the event it got a connection, it can be as slow as 1Mb/s and tops out at 11Mb/s and then before I know it, it msysteriously disconnects.  I tried many cookbook method or snakeoils to fix it, alas to no avail.

So I decided it's about time to give the computer an upgrade.

I have to say since most things worked on my Linux box right up until 15.04, I haven't been following vendors that have been Ubuntu or Linux certified.

Long story short, my facebook friend gave me a link to ThinkPenguin and finally I got myself a PCIe card.  It's a housebranded card using b/g/n standard with dual antenna and allegedly can reach top rate at 300Mb/s.

I just did a iwlist rate and it gave me at 58.5Mb/s.  At times, it says 65Mb/s.  So it's a big improvement compared to the old one which is only b/g with top speed at 54Mb/s, which is simply an unobtainium speed.

The card is not 100% plug-and-play.  The wicd manager doesn't know or doesn't guess right the wlan number.  So I have to manually change that.  The second thing is when the computer wakes up from sleep or suspend, it cannot re-establish the connection.  Even human intervention is hit or miss.  Since I removed network manager--my snakeoil approach to fix my last card, I don't know if network manager would work better with the card.

lspci returns:
02:00.0 Network controller: Qualcomm Atheros AR928X Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express) (rev 01)

dmesg | grep AR92 returns:
[   17.965148] ieee80211 phy0: Atheros AR9280 Rev:2 mem=0xffffc900129e0000, irq=16

lshw returns:
                description: Wireless interface
                product: AR928X Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express)
                vendor: Qualcomm Atheros
                physical id: 0
                bus info: pci@0000:02:00.0
                logical name: wlan3
                version: 01
                serial: 00:22:43:4c:ad:2f
                width: 64 bits
                clock: 33MHz
                capabilities: bus_master cap_list ethernet physical wireless
                configuration: broadcast=yes driver=ath9k driverversion=3.19.0-25-generic firmware=N/A ip= latency=0 link=yes multicast=yes wireless=IEEE 802.11bgn
                resources: irq:16 memory:fdaf0000-fdafffff

ThinkPenguin lists the chipset as
Atheros AR9281 and its model being TPE-N300PCIE4 ($29 PLUS USPS 6.95 = $35.95)

In any event, I can say that it works, 99% of the time, and definitely better than my last card on 15.04.  It no longer drops connection left and right or connects at ridiculously slow rate like 1Mb/s.  The only issue so far is once disconnected, like from suspend, it can't connect automatically or even manually with certain reliability.  Further investigation needed.

Maybe if you just go out and buy any Wifi card with the Atheros AR928X chipset, it would work on 15.04.  Who knows?

Finally got the chance to remove wicd and reinstalled network manager for GNOME.  Now the wifi can reliably reconnect after suspend.  While I removed wicd, I got no wifi, I have to plug in my RJ45 cable to my MBP to share its wifi connection in order to install network manager--I can't install network manager if I have wicd installed.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Zero Halliburton

This is a print ad that appears on the February 1995 Popular Photography.  I don't know when Zero Halliburton started to reinvent their cases by, gosh, adding wheels.

I can't help but look further to the history of Zero Halliburton.  It looks like the present Zero Halliburton is not that tight as far as web site, grammar, and proof reading or good style in general is concerned.
 lead, led, led
 attaché not attache.
Is it Zero Halliburton or ZERO Halliburton?  Pick one.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sunpak 120J, Vivitar 283 and 285 from March 1993 Popular Photography

According to Popular Photography 1993, here are the specifications of three of the most popular flashes on earth.  Both Vivitar 283 and 285 have impressively short flash duration which make them uniquely suitable for fast action photography, I think--just to cover my behind as I have absolutely zero flash fast action photography except knowing a bit in theory.  I thought the 285 is the more powerful one but with a guide number of 70 while the 283 is clocked at 118 I guess the 283 is the more powerful one.

I suppose Popular Photography is pretty reliable.

update 8/14/2015
February 1995, Popular Photography has totally different spec for the two Vivitar models, which seem to be more reasonable.  As far as I know, which is not a lot actually, the 283 and 285 are almost the same.  So the below specifications make more sense.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Windham 2015

This is one of those sports or should I say extreme sports that I have to witness to believe it.  It is insane.  My pictures don't do justice to how fast and dangerous the sport is.

My legs are gone after shooting the event from 12:30 to 5, the total 6 hours driving to and from Windham doesn't help either.  The environment is just not for an old man like myself.  When compared to shooting track in a velodrome, this is harder.  First the velodrome is very much a controlled environment.  The riders ride in circles and always come back for you.  I am a lazy person so I pretty much pick a spot and stay there waiting for the riders to come to me.  For downhill forget about it, you shoot a sequence and she is gone, downhill, for good.  Navigating the mountainous terrain is a challenge and a hazard for an old man, add two cameras and an assortment of lenses and accessories is almost suicidal.  It is no joke.  I was staggering and tumbling down the mountain most of the time.  The fact that I am still alive is a minor miracle.  I must thank the media room at Windham, especially Penny, for the hospitality.

Photos:  Missy Giove doing her thing.  The album can be found here at Flickr.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ubuntu 15.04 and Ralink rt61pci Problem

update 8/12:
The latest is I removed network-manager and use wicd to "manage" the network.  I think it's better than before but still iffy.  I know it sounds very not scientific but that's me because I am not scientific.  Basically the Wifi support for Ubuntu 15.04 has been terrible ... for me if not for everybody.  I think this article kind of resembles what I experience.  In the last post it says "removed network-manager package, and used netctl for managing wifi, and the problem is gone"  I am not wizard so I have a difficult time figuring how to install netctl in Ubuntu GNOME.  In the end I gave up and installed WICD.  At some point it got stuck at 1Mb/s but if I wasn't dreaming I think it did connect at 36Mb/s.  It now connects at 11Mb/s.  I am not exactly complaining as long as it is double digit.  All in all it's iffy.  Not good.
Before I did all the above I also ordered a card that supposedly works out of the box on 15.04, I will find out soon.  It's a b/g/n card with max rate at 300Mb/s.  I doubt I can reach that but I would be thoroughly thrilled if it reaches 50Mb/s, the top speed of the router.

I guess I was happy too soon.  The connection drops and wouldn't reconnect.  And when connected the rate drops to 1Mb/s, like modem or something.

I am counting on my new card now.

Basically I have very slow connection rate, from 1Mb/s to 11Mb/s or mostly no connection at all with this combination.  Prior to 15.04, 14.04 LTS or 14.10, the WiFi connection has been pretty stable and the quality has been satisfactory, I don't think I ever reach the 54Mb/s rate but at least I got some where at 20Mb/s.  (My WiFi connected MacBook Pro get more than 50Mb/s and noticeably faster)

I thought ndiswrapper would be the solution.  Alas it was, only momentarily.

So the struggle continues.

PS: I should have left it at 14.10 because seemingly the WiFi is solid and I have no random reboots like I have had on 14.04 LTS

PPS:  In addition to the WiFi problem, I have had a few random reboots in 15.04 already.

PPPS:  Shotwell unequivocally continues to suck.  Part of the library continues to disappear, the import is still very very problematic.  I wonder does anybody ever get it to work like normally?  Part of my motivation to get on board to 15.04 was to see if Shotwell would work better.  Now I know.

PPPPS: So in a nutshell, the 15.04 offers no benefits to me.

NOTES TO SELF: back in 2010  this is where I got the idea.  Unfortunately just like one of them, the ndiswrapper doesn't quite work for me, it drops connection just like the Linux driver installed originally. manufacturer's support site