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Sending my new camera back

Thursday, August 25th, 2022 at 9:58 pm

That new camera I bought a month ago? Today I sent it back.

However that is only “back” in a geographical sense. I bought the camera online and it was shipped to me from Sydney, while I have posted it to a Sydney address, that destination is the Canon Service Centre because the camera has a fault. While I could have sent it back to the retailer, all they were going to do was forward it on to Canon, so I cut out the middleman.

It is a bit annoying that I have to pay for the postage, it is cutting into the saving I made by buying the camera online. That is a sense of security you get from a physical store, you can walk back into the store and under Australian consumer law it is on them to get it fixed.

I do miss the time when Canon had a decent service centre in Melbourne, especially since it was just around the corner from where I worked at Monash Uni. When my EF-S 17-85mm broke the first time I was able to drop it off and then pick it up once repaired. It was even more convenient when the driver board in my 7D failed because I had to take it back after the initial fix because they didn’t reconnect the display inside the viewfinder. If I had had to post it each time, that is extra cost on my part.

I know there is the Canon store in South Melbourne, even though they say they only accept drop offs for DSLR and EF/EF-S lenses, I suspect that if someone walked in with an R body or lens that they would be crazy to refuse it, even though they would just send it on to Sydney. I decided that time cost to try that approach would be higher than the monetary cost of posting it.

So what was wrong with the camera? The worst type of fault, an intermittent error in the form of Err 70, though nothing like Scott Kelby experienced.

The first few times I used the camera I had no issues, but then on the Saturday morning of Open House Melbourne I got the error a couple of times, but then not the remainder of the day or at all on the following day. I used the camera at home a couple of times, got the error once. Then again when on an outing with the camera club.

I did what the error says, turn the camera off and remove the battery. This worked and I could take photos again, but the photo when the error occurred would either not be stored or would be corrupted. As I left it a bit to see how often I would get the error I was able to confirm that it happened with different SD cards, with different batteries and with different lenses.

Hopefully it gets fixed and returned soon, but it will definitely be too late for the workshop I have booked in for this weekend.

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Weird or suspicious?

Saturday, August 20th, 2022 at 7:44 pm

When I am working at home from my desk I have the venetian blinds opened enough so that I can look out over my front garden and over the road. My experience is that I need to frequently rest my eyes by looking away from my monitors, and this type of break is often recommended as part of office ergonomics.

This also means that activity outside often catches my eye, not everything but a few days ago I saw a man at the front door of the house across the road. Nobody answered the door and I saw him ring the bell a few times and wait like he expected someone to be home. It was unusual that he walked out the street, looked in the window of the car parked there (which belongs to one of the people in the house) and then went back and rang the bell again. He walked off to the right which was out of my view.

About 20-30 minutes later I heard a car door slam, I looked outside and saw something very strange. There was a car parked on the footpath across the road, not on the side of the road, but right up on the footpath. How did they get there? Did they lose control and crash?

As I was trying to work out what I was seeing I saw the man from before walk around from the far (passenger) side of the car, get in and drive off. Not back onto the road, but along the footpath and out of my view. This was very weird, what did I just see? How was there enough space for a car between a letterbox and a large tree on the nature strip? It was thoroughly confusing.

Because it was so strange I made a quick note and then had to join a work meeting, forgetting about this until the next day when that neighbour came over to say they had been burgled and were asking if I had seen anything. Well yes I had, now what I saw wasn’t just weird, but also suspicious.

Unfortunately I didn’t see much, just that it was an older male person and a general description of the car, no license plate or any specific detail.

It made me think about one of the projects deep in my backlog which is to put up some cameras. But even if I had cameras my plan is to cover my own driveway and front door to get alerts if someone is approaching or to know if a parcel has been delivered, they would not capture anything across the road.

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GPS tracks and tall buildings

Saturday, July 30th, 2022 at 9:21 pm

Today I was in the city for the first day of Open House Melbourne and I have just finished geotagging the photos. My approach of shooting both JPG and CR3 so I could use the JPG for geotagging worked out ok.

I did use gpsPhoto.pl to tag them all and while I expected the photos taken indoors to either not have a found location or to be in the wrong location, I had forgotten how bad a GPS track around a lot of tall buildings could be:

This is a screenshot of Google Earth showing in blue the result of the GPS track, while the orange lines are indicating the path I actually took.

When I manually correct the locations on the images I am not trying to be too precise, within 5 metres maybe 10. Close enough that if you go to that location you should be able to look around and see the thing or perspective I was taking a photo of. An error of a few hundred metres might not matter much for a landscape out in the country, but in a dense urban environment I want to be close.

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In need of a new geotagging tool

Monday, July 25th, 2022 at 8:08 pm

In my previous post I mentioned that I had a problem with geotagging the CR3 files from my new camera, this is that story…

I geotag most of my photos, both so that I have a record of where it was taken and so that when I share the photos (such as to Flickr) that others can also see where they were taken. Part of my trip planning is opening up the Flickr map to the areas I am going to and doing a search.

When I started geotagging the map module in Lightroom wasn’t that good, while I understand that it is a lot better now I still want to geotag before I load the photos into Lightroom so I can be sure that the files themselves are tagged, not just locations stored in the Lightroom catalog.

Two tools have served me well:

  • gpsPhoto.pl – a commandline tool written in Perl (which I know quite well) to geotag the image files based on a GPX track
  • GeoSetter – a free windows program that I like for manually placing images on a map or correcting the location when the GPX track isn’t quite right (eg like it does when the GPS signal reflects off tall buildings)

gpsPhoto.pl is working perfectly, it is Geosetter where there are some problems. The program hasn’t been updated in a number of years and while it still works the Google Map is covered by a “For development purposes only” watermark. The more recent and relevant issue to me is that being old it does not have support for the CR3 format that the R6 uses. Because of this I spent around three hours looking for a replacement for Geosetter that supported CR3 files. It turns out there are very few free options and I couldn’t get any of them to work. The most promising one specifically listed support for CR3 files, but then all I could get it to recognise were JPG files, it didn’t even support CR2.

In the end I was able to geotag the photos I took at the MSTEC National Steam Centre and while it was a workaround it is possibly also an indicator of what my new process might have to be.

I had 350 images to manually geotag and I could have taken the easy way out of using exiftool to tag them all with a single location (eg the front gate), this is the workaround I came up with:

  • temporarily load all the CR3 files into Lightroom
  • export them all as JPG with the same names
  • use Geosetter to tag all of the JPG files
  • run a script that copies the GPS tags from a JPG (eg IMG1234.jpg) to the corresponding CR3 (eg IMG1234.CR3)
  • sort the tagged CR3 files into their date/time based folder and sync into Lightroom

This worked and means that for now (possibly forever…) I have changed the R6 to save both JPG and CR3 images, using the JPG for the geotagging and then only storing the CR3 files long term. Although gpsPhoto.pl will happly geotag the CR3 files, I will still tag the JPG files first because I use Geosetter to confirm (and fix) their locations.

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First drive without a mirror

Sunday, July 24th, 2022 at 10:24 pm

I mentioned that my plan for the weekend was to get out with my new camera so today I headed down to the MSTEC National Steam Centre. It would have been better to go on a day when the engines were running, but I knew that there are plenty of interesting machinery to photograph, even when stationary.

I went light, just the R6 with 24-105mm and also the 16mm because even though I expected better low light performance than the 7D I knew that the f/2.8 would be nice when trying to get close ups indoors.

The first difference I noticed was due to the articulated screen as I am not sure if I want to have it facing in or out. I am so used to chimping after every shot so that means it should be out, but then it is always on unless I have my eye to the viewfinder. If I have the screen facing out I need to see what I can turn off with the touchscreen so I don’t accidentally change settings.

The next thing I found was that I am used to pressing the focus/zoom button on the 7D to zoom in when reviewing images. But on the R6 this is just a focus select button, you zoom with the horizontal wheel. A few times I realised that I had changed the type of focus points… will I learn to not use that button or should I customise so it is no longer focus select?

A big change is needed when I change lenses. As the 7D is a DSLR, when the camera is on not much is happening you can look through the viewfinder whenever you want and have the camera focus on something, it is only when you take a shot (or turn on live view) that the sensor is exposed. Although not quite the best practice I haven’t had issue with simply detaching one lens and attaching another one, the sensor is projected by the mirror and shutter. However with the R6 there is no mirror and the sensor is always on to capture an image for the viewfinder or display screen. I have it set so then when you turn the camera off it will close the shutter, but if I simply detach the lens then the sensor (that nice big full frame sensor) is fully exposed and as there is no mirror it is really close to the lens mount. I must re-train myself to turn the camera off and wait for the shutter to close before switching lenses.

None of what I have mentioned so far is a problem as I will need to adjust to having a new camera, however something that has now sucked up a few hours of my time is that so far haven’t been able to geotag the images I took today. I didn’t take my GPS with me as I expected that most of the photos I took would be indoors and a GPS track inside a metal building is never good. So I was fully expecting to have to manually geotag the images at home. I have previously described my geotagging process but all I will say for now is that I haven’t been able to find a tool that will work with CR3 files.

Overall it was a good day as I learned about this camera and how have a challenge in regard to geotagging…

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