16 April 2015, Thursday
DEAL: Fuji S9200 w/50x optical zoom: $159. Was $299.
Salad Days ahead for Pirate Radio
You should know I've always wanted my own pirate radio station, at least since the 1970s when I did legitimate radio for a living.
The cockles of my heart were warmed when I read that the FCC is running out of money and closing a lot of field offices.
Pirates usually operate without much interference from the FCC, especially so long as they don't become too annoying. In fact, most just go on until they start selling ad space and really annoying the other stations. I know of a guy who was on the air for decades, and no one ever reported him because his station was so professional — even with professionally produced station ID jingles — that no one ever bothered to see if he was licenced.
There is such a great future ahead for pirates that it even has the FCC wondering about it. Here's an article from Radio World about what the FCC has to say. They know good times are ahead.
Probably the only reason I don't have a pirate station today is because I have this website. I don't need pirate radio to get out 5-by-5 all over the world. Especially with eBay today, it's trivial (presuming you have radio engineering talent) to put anything on the air — but even easier to do it online.
I don't think on-air matters much. We watch all our "TV" online, as we get our radio online. Heck, if I'm in the car, I get better reception on my iPhone with a radio app than trying to get it off the air.
No kidding; a typical FM station uses a 128 kbps MP3 stream over IP to get the studio audio to the transmitter, and then that audio is squashed and mutilated beyond all recognition by all sorts of broadcast processors to make it sound awful, but loud. The online stream is usually that same stream, ahead of the broadcast processor, so the online feeds of many stations really are much cleaner than getting it off the air.
15 April 2015, Wednesday
Think Tank Anniversary Deals
Think Tank, the world's best pro bag maker, just celebrated its 10th anniversary this weekend.
Here's a special: get an Urban Disguise bag between now and May 15th, and you'll also get a Shoulder Harness v2.0 (backpack harness) by mail for free.
14 April 2015, Tuesday
SCAM: No Grail for Sale.
Hee hee, as I suspected could have been the case, it was all a scam. You can't sell a Grail as they are unobtainable. The listing was bogus; they really do sell for about $24,000 each when they actually sell.
Most likely some wiseguy got someone else's eBay password and created the bogus listing with images copied from Hong Kong listings. Happens all the time in Romania, another tip off besides the seller's complete lack of any photo gear transactions, was that it was a three-day auction; get in and get out.
No worries, when you bid in these all it costs you is time, you don't have to worry about losing money if you follow the rules, and one day you will get yourself a Grail.
NEW: Olympus E-PL6 with 14-42mm: $299.
NEW: Olympus Waterproof TG-4 w/GPS & WiFi: $379.
NEW: Olympus Stylus 1s: $699.
NEW: Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Macro For Nikon, Canon, and Pentax.
DEALS: B&H's NAB specials
DEALS: SanDisk NAB specials
DEALS: Samsung NAB specials
DEAL: D7100 and 18-140mm + WU1 WiFi for $899. Free shipping, refurbished.
13 April 2015, Monday
DEAL: $100 eBay gift card for $95.
Grail Sold: Nikon 13mm f/5.6 sold on eBay.
Nikon 13mm f/5.6 AI-s.
Someone got a steal; it went for only $11,100, probably because the seller seemed to have nothing to do with cameras.
As I've learned, you have to be willing to lose in order to win. Someone took a small risk, and they either just got a $24,000 lens for $11,100, or they got scammed and and will get their money back via eBay's Money-Back Guarantee.
Losing early bidder z***z was randomly throwing up bids ever since the auction opened. Other losing early bidders would outbid him, and he would then put in another bid, and then another loser would put in a higher bid.
All these early bidders lost.
The winning bidder y***i put in a high maximum bid of at least $11,100, but made the mistake of dropping it in early at 3AM this morning, 8 hours too early.
The loser saw this bid from y***i, and kept manually entering bids all morning, right up until closing time.
You can see how eBay's automatic bidding works if you look at the complete bid history. Loser z***z kept manually entering losing bids, while eBay kept placing automatic bids for y***i. I'm sure loser z***z was astounded at how efficiently winner y***i was appearing to bid against him, while in fact it was eBay's supercomputers placing automatic bids for the winner.
The reason the winner cost himself $3,000 by bidding early is because if the winner had waited to drop his only bid in at only a few seconds before 10:48:01 PDT, loser z***z wouldn't have seen it, and would not have counter bid above his $8,000 bid placed manually at 10:08:43. The winner would have placed his maximum bid (which was at least $11,100) at the last second and would have won at $8,100 long before loser z***z noticed in time to place all the higher bets he placed between 10:08 and 10:48.
The only thing that the loser bids placed by z***z did was raise the price for y***i, and if y***i has waited, he would have saved $3,000 because z***z would never have seen it and have been able to react.
Of course if you bid at the last second, we have no idea how high was the winner's maximum bid. It could have been $34,000 eBay's automatic bidding system never discloses this. The winner never pays more than a little above the highest bid of the second-place guy, regardless how high was his maximum bid.
See How to Win at eBay for all this and much more explained.
12 April 2015, Sunday
Grail for Sale: Nikon 13mm f/5.6 for sale on eBay.
There hasn't been one of these on eBay on open auction for a couple of years. This could be your last chance to own the unobtainable.
It is still the world's widest professional lens for use on Nikon.
I would have no problem bidding on this because eBay is no longer the garage sale it was a few years ago. Today eBay polices itself very well. So long as you pay by PayPal, eBay will give you a full cash refund if it's not as described, including your shipping — and the seller pays return shipping as well! If you don't get what you ordered, it costs you nothing to have it go back. Usually you can just print a label to stick on the box, and off it goes.
See eBay's Money-Back Guarantee for details. It really works.
There's nearly no risk so long as you read the descriptions carefully — less risk than buying at retail — so bid last if you want to win it; see How to Win at eBay. Seeing the low current bid, this one could go for a steal. I know of another that sold privately last month for $24,000. Even if it's a total scam, it's eBay's problem, not yours so long as you follow the rules.
DEAL: Canon Lens Price Drops.
It's about time. The US Dollar became worth about 20% more against the Japanese yen back in December, and Canon has finally caught on.
This is good times for everyone who buys Japanese goods. The Dollar had been worth only about 80 yen in 2011 and 2012. It went up to about 100 yen in 2013 and most of 2014, and as of December 2014, the Dollar has shot up to about 120 yen.
Also as of about January the Dollar is worth about 0.92 Euros, up from about 0.75 Euros since 2011. This means LEICA USA is making more money; LEICA prices only go up.
This is great news for cameras, also great news for Americans who travel. The world is on sale.
I hadn't noticed this and only realized it when my dad-in-law, who watches markets like a hawk, and my brother the traveler pointed it out.
As a side note, this is from where rebates come. Exchange rates always fluctuate; that's why we have exchange rates. Makers offer rebates instead of price drops so that they can simply not renew rebates if the exchange rates become unfavorable. This way they can keep what seems like a steady price as the markets fluctuate, and not look like bad guys if they had to raise prices simply because of exchange rates.
11 April 2015, Saturday
Here are the dates and details for the next few workshops at which I'm teaching.
People keep asking me to give them private lessons, but my schedule doesn't provide for that, even at the executive level — but come on these and I'm there for all the one-on-one help you'd like.
These are more tour than workshop, since we're shooting all day, every day (as well as at night and before dawn), but we can also give you all the personal one-on-one attention you can handle. These are far more fun — and you'll get far better photos — than a more formal "workshop" workshop in which you spend a weekend inside a motel looking at screens.
On these tours we're shooting all the time, and we also have all the time you'd like to answer everything you've been meaning to ask.
May 14, 2015 to May 17, 2015: Springtime in Yosemite.
October 18, 2015 to October 21, 2015: California's Eastern Sierra.
October 22, 2015 to October 25, 2015: Autumn Light in Yosemite.
HINT: These two tours run one right after the other in the same region, so by all means try to register for both (they usually fill up almost immediately). Especially if you have to travel to the area, register for both and you'll shoot twice as much for only a few extra days away.
10 April 2015, Friday
Nikon D7200 and 58mm f/1.2 Noct-NIKKOR.
NEW: Nikon D7200 Review
Nikon's best DX camera, but no different than the D7100 from two years ago.
Free Music: Amazon Prime Radio Stations
I'm sure you've all heard about free unlimited photo storage, so I don't need to get into that.
I just got an email from Amazon (as millions of you all probably also did), and now all we Amazon Prime members get what seems like the best free online radio ever.
Later for Pandora. No ads, and no signup or account nonsense needed, presuming you're already a Prime member. I clicked and music has been playing all morning without a hitch.
It's free with Amazon Prime, it has no advertising, no DJs, and we can pause, replay, and skip as much as we like. It's 100% free music at our command.
Give a song a thumb-up or thumb-down, and each station adapts automatically.
I'm using it on my browser; there's also an app. It works great in my browser; tap the left or right arrow or space bar and the player responds — instantly.
Playing music as I work, all I have to do is select the Amazon tab in my browser and tap the right arrow to skip a song. Cool, two clicks, and it the bad song is skipped.
Audio quality for streaming audio always varies with atmospheric conditions (OK, IP traffic to be precise), and sitting here on my desk played-out from my Mac Pro through my Benchmark DAC1 HDR into the new Focal CMS 65 monitors I just unpacked and broke-in (review coming) and stereo pair of B&W ASW 800 subwoofers, the audio quality seems swell. I'm not hearing any compression artifacts, and stereo separation, clarity and bandwidth all sound pretty Hi-Fi on my desk right now. I don't know how well it will hold up when everyone else finds out about it, but at the moment it sounds great as streaming goes. It certainly sounds better than FM.
NEW: Nikon D7200 Review
I'm amused: I've been eagerly watching Nikon's announcements every day with bated breath since at least 1975.
40 years ago there was no way I could afford a Nikon, and they were making history with lenses like the 13mm f/5.6 and new, innovative cameras that pushed the limits and shone the way for the rest of the world to follow. Every year something awesome came, like the FE, then FE2 and FM2, then the F3 and so forth. When I held my first F4 in 1988 I was astonished. It was like nothing I had ever imagined.
Today, now that I'm some sort of world authority, their best shot is the D7200, which is the same as two years ago?
Contrast this to Canon, whose 7D Mk II leapfrogs everything else and sets new standards with new features, like the ability to shoot in between light flickers for indoor sports, that no other brand can match.
The Nikon D810 has a slight technical advantage if you work in a lab all day, but for real-world shooting where I work, my Canons, especially my 5D Mk III, is what I grab when I need the job done. I shoot my Nikons mostly to use my ancient manual focus Nikkors.
It's all about the user interface. Canon has it figured out, while Nikon's user interface is sloppy. It becomes much more obvious when I shoot both brands at once.
For those of you responsible for user interfaces, be sure your boss appreciates how it's probably the most important thing your company does.
On my Canons, I have them programmed so one tap of the SET button sets PLAY and zooms into the AF point. On my Nikons, I'm lucky if I can program them so one tap of the OK button does the same thing after I hit PLAY, twice as many clicks as with Canon.
On Canon, I have a Quick Control screen from which I can adjust everything. On Canon, I have C1, C2 and usually C3 modes that just save and recall everything. Nikons sometimes have a U1 and U2 mode, but they don't recall as much, and only in Canon can I set them to Auto-Update to make it much easier to get them set when I first get a camera.
Clicks matter. Every extra click a poor camera user interface demands of me is another picture I could have made. I have zero tolerance for extra clicks.
For instance, I thought I was alone, but a gal on one of our photo tours mentioned that she tried to test drive an Audi, and when the screen on the dashboard made no sense and kept locking her out of what she needed to do and kept beeping for no reason, she left, never to return. I had the same experience! I tried an Audi, and its user-hostile interface made me leave — and I've never been to an Audi dealer again.
Ditto for Porsche, also owned by VW as is Audi. I was waiting for their marvelous turbo V8 to make it into a real car from their minivan, and when I finally tried a Panamera, the auto-engine cut-off was defective in design and cut off the engine as I tried to park. Why would I want a car that sometimes turns off the engine on me as I'm trying to drive? Something came up on the screen about having to restart with the key to get it restarted, but I simply walked away and never returned to a Porsche dealership again. Just as bad, the salesman assured me it was easy to tune the radio and pair it to bluetooth, but when I said "show me" because I couldn't figure it out, he couldn't.
Our Samsung TVs have now crossed the line on bad. While we're trying to enjoy a movie, they have the nerve to break-in with menus written over our movie asking us if we want to update software. You have to be kidding; that's awful and the last we buy 65" TVs from Samsung. Now I can't even enjoy a movie without my loser TV trying to distract me. Serve me; I don't serve my TV. I'd dumpster them, but the wife won't let me.
To a New Yorker, "Please Wait" are swear words. We have things to do, and we certainly don't wait for poorly designed and programmed electronics. Even my vacuum tube amplifier is all warmed up in 30 seconds, and my Mac Pro is all booted and loaded from power-off just as quickly. Any more than that to turn on, and you're slower than the 1950s.
Machines are here to serve man. I won't wait for machines to boot or otherwise serve them. If a product tries to make me feel stupid or expect me to wait, answer 20 questions to watch TV or otherwise serve it, why would I want it? Geesh.
User interface is everything. This is why Canon and Apple keep growing.
Two Rane SP 15.
A very handy, flexible and inexpensive parametric equalizer.
08 April 2015, Wednesday
New Copters Announced
Nikon vs. Canon Telephone Support
As I write this, I'm on hold waiting for someone at (800) NIKON-UX to answer a simple question: can I change settings from the D7200's INFO screen? I used to be able to do this on my D7100.
Contrast this to Canon, who when I call (800) OK-CANON, the first person who picks up always knows my answer off the top of their head. I last called Canon to ask if my 5D Mk III can track autofocus while rolling video. The rep on the phone simply let me know it can't do that, and in 10 seconds I had the answer I needed.
Right now, I'm still on hold while someone at Nikon who doesn't know any answers keeps putting me on hold while he tries to figure it out. My call timer is at over 10 minutes, and I've learned NOTHING.
As usual, Canon does a great job, but Nikon phone support has pretty much gone away.
After 14 minutes, I got my answer from Nikon: press the "i" button and you get a simplified menu that sort of has the items you saw on the INFO screen. They have to be kidding, Canon's Quick Control screen is years ahead of Nikon, and I had my Canon DSLRs set to show their Quick Control screens when I tap the rear SET button ever since the 2000s.
After 18 minutes, the Nikon rep excused himself to research my second question (how do I turn on Facial Recognition for autofocus, since my D7200 is simply focusing on what's closest, not the faces). The Nikon rep wants to go research it and phone me back.
After a call time of 18:20, I got one answer. I'll let you know if they return my call as promised to answer the second.
I just got my D7200 and am trying to get it all set up. It always takes me a few days to "move in" and get everything set as I like it.
In case you're on the fence, the Canon 7D Mk II sets new standards and advances the state-of-the-art in DSLRs, while the D7200 is the same thing as the D7100. It's like night and day between them.
Nikon did call back after I wrote this, and had the answer: the D7200 does not have face recognition while shooting; it only can do this if you're in Live View, not regular shooting. That's OK, my D750 has fantastic facial recognition for regular viewfinder shooting.
03 April 2015, Friday
Nikon SB-500 on included AS-23 stand.
NEW: Nikon SB-500 Review
A great little flash with big performance.
DEAL: Nikon D610 for $1,199.95, refurbished, with free expedited US shipping.
New from Korea
New Rokinon 100mm F2.8 Macro & 100mm T3.1 Cine DS Macro Lenses: $549.00 ~ $599.00, all with Free Expedited Shipping.
If you need a cine mount, great, but personally, the Tokina 100/2.8 macro is fantastic, probably much better and much less expensive.
02 April 2015, Wednesday
New Nikon J5 mirrorless
Nikon just announced the Nikon 1 J5 which has 20 MP, ISO 160-12,800, RAW and JPEG image capture, up to 60fps burst rate, slow motion video and more.
Here are links to the various permutations. These ought to ship at the beginning of May.
Tascam DP-24SD in stock
When I bought my first 2-track digital audio recorder in 1982 for four times what my car cost, I knew prices would drop fast, but no way would I have ever have expected a 24-track recorder and mixer for $399.99. Back then, a Studer or other 24-track cost as much as a house, and took a staff of guys to maintain it — but my PCM-F1 still sounded worlds better for my live recordings.
01 April 2015, Wednesday
Today is cancelled.
There is no April 1st, in 2015. This is a leap year.
What Was New in:
Help me help you
I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.
If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.
The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. eBay is always a gamble, but all the other places always have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.
Thanks for reading!