Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Nikon Z6 Mini Review

Good - Image quality

Jpegs out of the Z6 are generally incredible IMHO. I know it's a cliche but there's something quite filmic about them. Everyone raves about Fuji jpegs, but I prefer the jpegs out of the Z6 even more than the X100s. I used to shoot jpeg + raw, but I've switched to just jpeg now, although that's at least as much a comment on the lack of time/skill I have to process raw files.

Scoot Silhouette Little Bear

Bad - No compact primes

I don't like zooms and I don't like big lenses. Where are the compact primes Nikon? I've resorted to a TechArt Sony adapter and feel stupid for not considering an Alpha a7 before buying the Z6. I am pretty happy with the Sony 35mm f/2.8 and 28mm f/2 (and 21mm converter), although of course you don't get any auto lens correction. Focusing isn't perfect, especially for video, and forgot about pin area and eye detection, but my main concern is the total lack of sealing, water gets between the camera, adapter and lens quite easily, and who knows whether the adapter has any water resistance itself.

Small things

Good

  • USB charging.
  • Very good wireless smartphone integration.
  • MF aids.
  • EVF is so good that I don't even think about it. 
  • Silent focusing. I'd already forgotten how loud even the AF-S lenses are when I bought an 85mm AF-S. Although Nikon did bring out the quiet AF-P lenses recently.

Bad

  • XQD card (single slot doesn't really bother me). SD cards are cheap and SD card readers exist on every laptop.
  • Wearing glasses I cannot view the whole of the screen all at once through the EVF.
  • The EVF auto-switch sensor gets fooled quite a lot. My solution to this, which I am happy with, is to configure the display switch to only switch between auto and monitor and I use that when auto is annoying me.
  • Lag in zoom for MF is a bit annoying.
  • Can't zoom for MF in video.
  • I do notice the startup/wake up time compared to a DSLR.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Google and Amazon Photos Uploaders

This is kind of a mini review of my frustrations with the Amazon and Google photo uploaders for PC. I have a large (~3TB) library of photos. Ideally I'd like a CLI Linux uploader to periodically upload files at will, there are many flexible uploaders for Flickr that do this well, and many of them have useful features such as tagging the hash of the file so as to avoid uploading duplicate files. However both Google and Amazon have chosen to hobble their third party API keys. Amazon appear to have disabled third party Photos API keys altogether, while Google do not allow uploading to their free High Quality tier and I don't want to pay Google's fees, which for 3TB+ are quite pricey.

The TL;DR is that it quickly becomes clear that these two companies are not desktop development houses and both apps are fairly bad in a UI sense and fairly bad for uploading large numbers of photos. The Amazon app is quite a bit less bad than the Google app.

As an aside I also prefer the Amazon Photos web UI and its facial recognition seems better too.

Neither app lets you filter by file extension. This is a problem if you don't want to upload raw files that are stored with your jpegs

Neither app presents progress by file size, both do it by file count.

Amazon

  • The Amazon app offers to not upload duplicates, however it does this by file name(!) rather than a hash of the file or image likeness. So this feature is useless unless you have filenames as date/times.
  • When you ask the Amazon app to refresh a directory listing there is absolutely no feedback that this is being done, on massive directories this can take some time.
  • I have had to force close and reopen the app, however...

Google 

  • I have had to re-install the Google app to get it to start up. I've just noticed that reinstalling is the *second* item in their troubleshooting guide.
  • Google does not seem to like Windows UI norms and the app never appears on the taskbar or in the alt-tab windows list. What a great UX!
  • The Google app takes a *long* time to scan a directory.
  • I think the Google app takes at least double the time to upload images as the Amazon app. This could be it converting jpegs to WebP, but you'd hope it would do this in parallel to the actual uploading.
  • The Google app will not backup a directory unless it has write access!  Annotation 2020-08-21 2231451
  • It looks like the Google app does check for duplicates, I assume by file hash. Annotation 2020-08-22 205214

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Changing the Oil Filter on a 2017 Ford Grand C-Max TDCi 1.5

Changing the oil on our Ford Grand C-Max TDCi 1.5 was straightforward enough. Remove the bottom cover with a torx driver and then undo the sump bolt with a 21/22 mm spanner.
Changing the filter was simple enough once I knew what I was doing and had the right tools to hand, but I had difficulty getting that information.
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The filter housing is black plastic dome with a plastic bolt head moulded on top, hidden behind a large pipe.
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First use a screwdriver to loosen the collars and remove the pipe covering the filter.
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Once the pipe is removed you have better access to the filter housing.
Stuff some rag under the oil filter to catch any oil that spills out.
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Use a 27mm hexagonal socket and some sort of spacer to undo the filter housing. You want a hexagonal socket rather than a star so as not to strip the plastic head, and you need some sort of spacer in order to fit the wrench in. I used a universal joint, which was a bit too long, but worked ok since it was a universal joint and I could turn the wrench.
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The filter takes some pulling to get it out of the housing.
Remember to replace the seal.
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The filters have a notch which fits very snugly into the engine, towards the bottom.
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It's as hard getting the new filter into the housing as it is to get the old one out. I made the decision to fit the notch into the engine and struggle screwing the housing back in rather than fitting the filter into the housing and struggle to get the notch into the right place.
Video below is useful, but not great quality.