Posts Tagged ‘gear talk’

“Tech Tips” Tuesday

November 30, 2021

In this blog post I’m going to show you how I add special characters to some of my annotated images, such as the pictograph for “male,” shown below.

Photo used with written permission from Michael Powell.

I’ll show you how to do it on my older Apple 24″ iMac desktop computer (Early 2009), then I’ll show you how to do the same thing on my newer Apple 13″ MacBook Air laptop computer (M1, 2020).

macOS Yosemite (Version 10.10.5)

Open “System Preferences” and select “Keyboard.” Click on the tab labeled “Keyboard” and check the box for “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar.”

As you might expect, a new icon will appear in the menu bar, located on the right side of the screen. When you click on the icon you should see three (3) options (listed from top-to-bottom): Show Character Viewer; Show Keyboard Viewer; and Open Keyboard Preferences… Select “Character Viewer” and navigate to Pictographs. (The last option takes you back the same screen that is shown above.)

macOS Monterey (Version 12.0.1)

After I was unable to figure out how to make the same setting on my MacBook Air, I referred to the “macOS User Guide” that is a built-in feature of the computer. A screenshot of the guide is shown below.

Open “System Preferences” and select “Keyboard.” Click on the tab labeled “Input Sources” and check the box for “Show Input menu in menu bar.”

A new icon will appear in the menu bar, located on the right side of the screen. When you click on the icon you should see the three (3) options shown below. Select the first option, “Show Emoji & Symbols.”

A new window will open on-screen. Navigate to Pictographs. Some sample Pictographs are shown below, including the female and male symbols (fifth row from the top).

Practical example using Photoshop

Here’s an example of part of my workflow to annotate a photograph using Adobe Photoshop.

Open a photo file in Photoshop. Select the “Text Tool” and create a new layer called “male symbol.” Click on the image to add an insertion point, then click on the icon in the computer menu bar and select “Show Emoji & Symbols.” Navigate to “Pictographs” and select the “male sign.” You should see a list of “Font Variations.” I always use “Arial Bold.” Double-click on the icon and it should appear on the photo. ♂ Use the “Move Tool” to, well, move the symbol wherever you like on the image.

Photopea

I stumbled across an application recently called “Photopea” that is a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Photopea is a Web-based clone of Photoshop — Photopea doesn’t do everything Photoshop does but it could be used to annotate photos using a workflow similar to the one I just described. Look for one or more Photopea-related blog posts in the near future.

Related Resource

Anatomy of a male Tiger Spiketail – a blog post by Walter Sanford.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Mind blown!

October 1, 2021

I don’t know exactly what eBay is today, but I know it was a Den of Thieves where people could go to buy and sell stuff, usually used. And I know several people who were ripped off (lost money) on eBay, both as buyers and sellers. As a result, my mindset toward eBay has been “avoid it like the plague!”

eBay seems to have evolved into an Amazon-like online superstore where you can shop for new stuff as well as buy/sell used stuff. Imagine my surprise when I rolled the dice and ordered a hard-to-find item from a vendor in Japan and the experience turned out to be 99.9% positive. Mind blown!

The Backstory

A long time ago, I bought a “tele conversion lens” and adapter for my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom bridge camera. Both accessories were made by Panasonic. Using the tele conversion lens, the actual magnification is 1.7 times the display. For example, at 24x — the maximum zoom magnification of the FZ150 — the actual magnification is ~40x!

When I upgraded to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300, I wanted to be able to use the same “tele conversion lens.” It was unclear to me whether the DMW-LA5 adapter that works with the FZ150 would fit my FZ300. I was aware that Panasonic also made (past tense) a DMW-LA7 adapter for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200, but I wasn’t sure the same adapter/lens combo would work with my FZ300.

Impasse Breakthrough

Recently I stumbled across a comment by a Panasonic employee in the Q&A section of an archived product page for the DMW-LA7 adapter (regret I can’t remember where I read the comment) in which the employee clearly stated the adapter is compatible with the FZ300.

Product image courtesy Panasonic Store on Amazon.

Turns out the adapter is no longer made by Panasonic so I started searching online for a place to buy the adapter, new or used. After a lot of fruitless searching, I found several vendors on eBay that sell the adapter. I fully expected the adapter would turn out to be a knock-off of some sort, but hey, it’s essentially just a metal tube with screw threads on both ends so I figured any DMW-LA7 compatible adapter should work. I decided to place an order with a company called “Japan-Excite.”

My order was delivered 10 days later. I was STUNNED when I opened the “parcel” and discovered the adapter is original equipment from Panasonic, in the original box, and apparently new! And I was delighted that it fits perfectly on my FZ300 and with the DMW-LT55 tele conversion lens.

Needs Improvement

So why did I say the experience was 99.9% positive? Because the “parcel” used to ship the product looked like a laminated paper bag of some sort — it reminded me of the brown paper bag lunches my mother used to pack when I was in elementary school. Inside the bag, the item was packed in bubble wrap enclosed by corrugated cardboard folded four times to fit around the bubble wrap (open on both ends). All of that said, the product was delivered in good condition. But I must say that I would NEVER ship merchandise from Japan to the United States (or vice versa) using anything less than a sealed cardboard box with plenty of packing material surrounding all sides of the product.

Summary

Long story short, all’s well that ends well although I can’t help but feel like I was extraordinarily lucky!

In summary, the Panasonic DMW-LT55 tele conversion lens works with either the DMW-LA5 or DMW-LA7 adapter: the DMW-LA5 adapter works with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150; the DMW-LA7 adapter works with both the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300.

I’m eager to field test the new adapter with my FZ300 to see whether the tele conversion lens performs as well as it does using my FZ150.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shots

September 17, 2021

I have been working on the prototype for a homemade curved clear plastic tray that is intended for staging subjects against a white background.

My goal for Thursday: Test the prototype stage using a toy mini-lizard as the model for some test shots, and if the proof-of-concept were established, substitute an odonate exuvia for the toy lizard and shoot another set of photos.

16 SEP 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | toy mini-lizard

Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans! First, a line of fairly strong thunderstorms moved through the region where I live so I had to shut down my computer equipment. Second, the Washington Football Team played the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football so I had to watch the game. That’s right, had to watch. Turns out it was time well-spent.

Bottom line: I never finished the test shots of the toy lizard, and of course that means I didn’t shoot any photos of a real scientific specimen.

The curved surface of the clear plastic stage caused reflections from the single external flash that was used to light the subject. I had just figured out a work-around when the thunderstorms rolled in: I took 14 test shots; only the last one (shown above) is usable. I hadn’t intended to create a photo with a pure white background, but it was easy to adjust the image exposure during post-processing.

The Backstory

What’s my motivation? Many macro photographers use insect pins for mounting small subjects like odonate exuviae. I think there’s a big problem with that technique: The position of the pin is permanent. In other words, if the pin is attached to the ventral side of the specimen then it’s challenging at best and impossible at worst to take clean, clear shots of that side of the subject. I don’t want to use insect pins because some of my specimens are one of a kind.

For quite some time, I’ve been experimenting with the use of flat clear plastic stages as a solution for this problem. I think a curved stage might be a breakthrough, but more testing is required to be sure.

For example, notice the color fringing near the tip of the lizard’s tail — I’m not sure what caused that problem in only one part of the photo, therefore I don’t know how to fix it. Yet.

To be continued. Please stay tuned.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Multimeter test results: GyroVu continuous power adapter for Panasonic

September 14, 2021

Eureka! I found my RadioShack Digital Multimeter.

In a recent blog post, I said I would like to use a multimeter to test the actual voltage output of the GyroVu USB TO PANASONIC DMC-GH2 (DMW-BLC12) BATTERY 40″ CABLE w/ 3.1A USB POWER SUPPLY that provides continuous power for my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 superzoom bridge camera. This blog post features the results from that test and more.

Panasonic rechargeable Li-ion camera battery

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 uses a Panasonic DMW-BLC12 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery (7.2V, 1200mAh), shown below.

Panasonic DMW-BLC12PP 7.2V Li-ion battery (front).

The positive and negative terminals of the battery are marked on the back of its case.

Panasonic DMW-BLC12PP 7.2V Li-ion battery (back).

I set the multimeter to measure voltage and touched the black test lead to the negative (-) terminal, then touched the red test lead to the positive (+) terminal. The LCD on the multimeter displayed a voltage of 07.29V, as shown below. That’s good!

Voltage output from Panasonic 7.2V Li-ion battery.

GyroVu continuous power adapter

Next, the GyroVu “USB Charger” (shown below, to the lower-left) was plugged in a 120V AC electrical outlet. The GyroVu dummy battery was connected to the 3100mA USB connector on the GyroVu USB Charger.

Although the positive and negative terminals of the dummy battery aren’t marked on its case, they are in the same places as on the Li-ion battery.

Once again I set the multimeter to measure voltage and touched the black test lead to the negative (-) terminal, then touched the red test lead to the positive (+) terminal. The LCD on the multimeter displayed a voltage of 08.36V, as shown below.

Voltage output from GyroVu dummy battery for Panasonic.

GyroVu says the output voltage of the dummy battery is 8.0V, so 8.36V seems to be within specs.

For what it’s worth, the Owner’s Manual for the model of RadioShack Digital Multimeter that I used specifies the accuracy of the multimeter is +/-0.8% of the reading, or in this case +/-0.07V.

Therefore I think it’s safe to say the GyroVu dummy battery has a slightly higher voltage than the Panasonic Li-ion battery. Is the higher voltage cause for concern?

Perhaps the more important question is whether amperage matters more than voltage. Regular readers of my blog might recall that I used my Drok USB Tester to measure an amperage of 0.45A drawn by the camera when it was connected to the GyroVu adapter and powered on. Is that amperage safe for the camera?

I’m not sure of the answer to either question, although I am certain further investigation is required.

Anker external power bank

Each GyroVu “dummy battery” adapter cable features a USB connector that can be used to connect your digital camera to an external power bank such as the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W), shown below.

Product image courtesy AnkerDirect.

My Drok USB Tester was connected to one of two USB ports on the Anker power bank. The output voltage of the power bank was 5V, same as the GyroVu “USB Charger.”

The GyroVu dummy battery was plugged into one of two USB ports on the Anker power bank. Once again I set the multimeter to measure voltage and touched the black test lead to the negative (-) terminal, then touched the red test lead to the positive (+) terminal. The LCD on the multimeter displayed a voltage of 08.36V (shown above) — exactly the same as when I used the GyroVu “USB Charger” as the source of continuous power.

Voltage output for GyroVu dummy battery for Panasonic connected to Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W.

At this point I think it’s safe to say the Anker power bank is safe to use as a source of continuous power for my Panansonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 camera, that is, assuming the ~8.0V output of the GyroVu dummy battery isn’t a problem.

Related Resources

This blog post is one in a series of posts related to continuous AC power and long-lasting battery power for select Canon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic digital cameras.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Post update: What is it?

September 7, 2021

Since I started exploring ways to provide continuous power for my digital cameras, I have been guided by two questions. 1. Will it work? 2. Is it safe? I watched a YouTube video recently that reminded me of the latter question.

External Power for Cameras, the Safest Options by Graham Houghton (14:53) inspired me to search online for an inline voltage meter with USB connectors.

Drok USB Tester

After watching several more YouTube videos, I decided to buy a Digital Meter USB Tester Multifunction Digital Voltmeter/Ammeter/Power Meter/Capacity Tester/Charger 5in1 USB Panel Meter, available from a company in the United States called “Drok.” The MSRP for the Drok USB Tester is $15.99. The one I ordered from the Drok Store on Amazon cost $9.99.

The device features one male USB connector for input, and two female USB connectors for output.

GyroVu continuous power adapter

The next photo shows a GyroVu USB TO PANASONIC DMC-GH2 (DMW-BLC12) BATTERY 40″ CABLE w/ 3.1A USB POWER SUPPLY. The device can be used to provide continuous power for my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 superzoom bridge camera.

The “USB Charger” — a small white power brick — was plugged into a 120V AC electrical outlet. Look closely at the full-size version of the following image. Notice the USB Charger output is 5V=3.1A. (3.1A = 3100mA.)

Testing the GyroVu continuous power adapter

The Drok USB Tester was connected to the 3100mA USB connector on the GyroVu USB Charger, shown above.

The USB cable for the GyroVu dummy battery was connected to “Output 1” of the Drok USB Tester; the dummy battery was inserted into the battery compartment of my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300.

The last photo — the same one featured in my last blog post — shows the LED display on the front of the Drok USB Tester after my camera was powered on, indicating the output voltage of the USB Charger was 5V and the camera was drawing a current of 0.45A.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 (121mm) plus Raynox DCR-250.

The output voltage of the GyroVu dummy battery is 8.0V so the “dummy” battery must contain a DC-to-DC step-up converter.

I plan to use a multimeter to test the actual voltage output of the GyroVu dummy battery, that is, as soon as I can find my RadioShack mulitimeter. (Someday I’ll get organized so I know where everything is!)

Sidebar: Deep Dive into Tech Specs

The Web page for the GyroVu continuous power adapter shown above says the product is for the Panasonic DMC-GH2 camera. How could I be sure the device would work with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera?

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 uses a Panasonic DMW-BLC12 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery (7.2V, 1200mAh). Turns out that’s the same battery used by the Panasonic DMC-GH2. I know this thanks to Wasabi Power for providing a list of Panasonic cameras that use the DMW-BLC12 battery. (See the Web page for the PANASONIC DMW-BLC12 AC POWER ADAPTER KIT WITH DC COUPLER FOR PANASONIC DMW-DCC8, DMW-AC8 BY WASABI POWER, a product similar to the GyroVu continuous power adapter.)

Editor’s Note: The MSRP for the Wasabi Power continuous power adapter is $23.99 — nearly $10 less than the MSRP of $33.95 for the GyroVu USB Power Supply. You might be wondering why I didn’t buy the Wasabi Power device.

Notice the Wasabi Power device uses round connectors rather than USB connectors. I prefer the GyroVu devices because the USB connectors on their dummy batteries give me the flexibility to use them with my Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W battery as a power source for select Canon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic digital cameras that I own.

Related Resources

This blog post is one in a series of posts related to continuous AC power and long-lasting battery power for select Canon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic digital cameras.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Follow-up: Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter

August 20, 2021

In my last blog post, I mentioned that minor vignetting can be a problem when the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter is mounted on some macro- and non-macro camera lenses.

Canon 100mm macro lens

In case you’re wondering whether vignetting is a problem when using two step-down rings with the Canon 100mm macro lens, it isn’t. As it turns out, the front lens element is recessed quite a bit from the lens barrel so the step-down rings cover little if any glass. Source Credit: Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter, by Walter Sanford.

The first photo shows the front lens element of the Canon 100mm macro lens is in fact recessed quite a bit from the lens barrel.

Lens barrel without nested step-down rings.

The next photo shows the nested 67-52mm and 52-43mm step-down rings that I use to mount the Raynox DCR-250 on my Canon 100mm macro lens. Look closely at the full-size version of this image and you should see the step-down rings don’t cover any of the camera lens.

Lens barrel with nested step-down rings.

Disclaimer: This might or might not be true for other makes and models of 100mm macro lenses.

Panasonic Lumix superzoom bridge cameras

The camera lens will need to be adjusted for at least some slight telephoto zoom in order to eliminate the vignetting caused by mounting a 43mm filter on a lens with a 52mm filter size. Source Credit: Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter, by Walter Sanford.

A Guide To Using Raynox Close Up Lenses on the FZ200 Camera, by Graham Houghton is the second item listed under “Related Resources” in my last blog post. Page 6 of Graham’s excellent guide describes a simple way to set-up both my Panasonic Lumix DCR-150 and DCR-300 superzoom bridge cameras so that vignetting isn’t a problem.

For the DMC-FZ300, press the “Menu/Set” button on the back of the camera, then select the camera icon in the left side-bar. Navigate to page 7/7 and select “Conversion”; select the icon for close-up lens. When the camera is powered-on, it will zoom to 4x (121 mm) automatically and the aperture will be limited to f/4 or smaller (f/4 to f/8).

For my older DMC-FZ150, the set-up process is the same except “Conversion” appears on page 5/5. Zoom is set to 4x and the aperture is limited to f/3.6 or smaller (f/3.6 to f/8).

Using either camera, the lens can be adjusted for greater than 4x zoom, resulting in more magnification.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter

August 17, 2021

I watched a video by Micael Widell recently that reminded me the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter is a good value given its versatility.

Before I bought the Raynox close-up filter many years ago, I was skeptical that it would work. I still can’t explain why it works with many lenses I own including both macro- and non-macro lenses, but I can tell you with certainty it does work and works well!

Canon 100mm macro lens

The Canon 100mm macro lens has a maximum magnification of 1:1. Micael Widell says adding the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter to the lens increases the magnification from 1x to 2x. According the B&H Photo Specs page for the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter, its magification is 2.5x.

Calculating magnification is tricky and not as straightforward as one might think. In this case it doesn’t matter whether Mr. Widell or B&H Photo is correct, the fact of the matter is adding a Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter to your lens should at least double the magnification.

The first photograph shows the following equipment, couterclockwise from the upper-left: “snap-on universal adapter” for Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter; Raynox close-up filter mounted on a 52-43mm step-down ring; and a 67-52mm step-down ring.

Several mounting adapters for Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter.

The Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter comes with a “snap-on universal adapter” for mounting the filter on lenses with a filter size from 52-67mm. The universal adapter clips on the front of a lens the same as a lens cap. That’s OK for use in a photo studio but less than ideal for use in the field. In my opinion, it’s better to use inexpensive step-down rings to mount the close-up filter more securely.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II macro photography kit.

The Rube Goldberg rig shown above has a lot of parts, but for the purpose of this blog post focus on the Canon 100mm macro lens and Raynox DCR-250 mounted on the lens using nested 67-52mm and 52-43mm step-down rings.

In case you’re wondering whether vignetting is a problem when using two step-down rings with the Canon 100mm macro lens, it isn’t. As it turns out, the front lens element is recessed quite a bit from the lens barrel so the step-down rings cover little if any glass.

Panasonic Lumix superzoom bridge cameras

Both my Panasonic Lumix DCR-150 and DCR-300 superzoom bridge cameras feature a 52mm filter thread size. So it’s simple to use a 52-43mm step-down ring to mount the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter on either camera lens.

Raynox DCR-250 not mounted on the camera lens.

The camera lens will need to be adjusted for at least some slight telephoto zoom in order to eliminate the vignetting caused by mounting a 43mm filter on a lens with a 52mm filter size.

Both cameras feature a 24x zoom lens, so when the Raynox DCR-250 is added to the kit the actual magnification will vary depending upon the focal length for which the camera lens is set.

Raynox DCR-250 shown mounted on the camera lens.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Sumo Citrus still life

March 19, 2021

Have you seen/eaten Sumo Citrus? They’re easy to peel, seedless, and billed as “the sweetest orange.” Delicious, I say!

How I got the shots

I set up a tripod at a good distance from the subject for a 50mm lens. Then I switched cameras without moving the tripod. Each camera/lens combo was set for an aperture of f/8; other camera and flash settings varied as necessary. (See EXIF info for details regarding camera settings for each photo.)

Canon 5D Mark II

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens (“Nifty 50”), Godox X2TC, Godox TT685C plus Lastolite flash modifier.

18 March 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | Sumo Citrus

Fujifilm X-T1

Fujinon 18-55mm zoom kit lens set for 34mm (51mm, 35mm equivalent), Godox XProF, Godox TT685C plus Lastolite flash modifier.

18 March 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | Sumo Citrus

Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm 11mm extension tube, Fujinon XF80mm macro lens, Vello Off-Camera TTL Flash Cord, Godox X2TF, Godox TT685C plus Lastolite flash modifier.

18 March 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | Sumo Citrus

Sumo Citrus from Giant Food

Bernard Nimmons is the produce manager at the Giant Food located in Beacon Center. I sent a Facebook Messenger message to Bernard recently…

I need Sumo Oranges STAT! Are they back in stock?

The following selfie photo is Bernard’s reply to my message. Now you can see why I always say “Bernard puts the ‘Pro’ in Produce.”

Selfie photo used with permission from Bernard Nimmons.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Answer key: Vernier calipers

March 12, 2021

The jaws of the caliper are spread apart 11.15 mm (7/16″), as shown by the following annotated photo.

08 MAR 2021 | Bog Photo Studio | analog Vernier caliper (close-up)

As it turns out, I used the calipers to measure the diameter of the barrel of a brass spigot used for photography clamps.

Product image courtesy B&H Photo.

Related Resource: Tools of the trade: Vernier calipers.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Tools of the trade: Vernier calipers

March 9, 2021

A Vernier caliper is a useful tool for measuring things precisely. The caliper shown in the following photos is precise to 0.05 mm (1/128 in).

08 MAR 2021 | Bog Photo Studio | analog Vernier caliper

Some guides to the identification of odonate larvae and exuviae are measurement intensive. A caliper can be helpful for making measurements of a specimen quickly.

08 MAR 2021 | Bog Photo Studio | analog Vernier caliper (close-up)

Carolina Biological Supply Company sells both analog and digital calipers. Analog calipers are relatively inexpensive and work well. Digital calipers can cost at least five times more than their analog counterparts.

Carolina sells two models of analog Vernier calipers: one model is made of nickel-plated steel; the other is made of plastic. The metal caliper has sharp edges and points that can scratch surfaces easily; the plastic caliper won’t scratch most surfaces.

The metal model comes in a plastic pouch; the plastic model doesn’t. Advantage metal model, right? No! Both the metal caliper and its plastic pouch are covered in some type of lubricant that is both unnecessary and a chore to clean off the caliper. Can you tell I prefer the plastic model?

Learning by doing – How to read the Vernier scale

How to Read a Metric Vernier Caliper by WeldNotes.com (7:01) is an animated video that explains how to read the Vernier scale of an analog caliper. Watch the video, then test yourself to see whether you can determine how far the bigger jaws of the caliper are spread apart (in mm), as shown in the preceding close-up photo.

Be careful — the Vernier scale shown in the video is precise to 0.02 mm while the one shown in the photograph is precise to 0.05 mm. Here’s a hint: The jaws of the caliper are slightly more than 11 mm apart.

Please submit your answer as a comment on this blog post. Relax, you won’t see any spoilers because all comments must be approved by the blog administrator. (Hey, that’s me!)

Post update

The answer key for the caliper quiz is now online.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

 


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