Canon mirrorless versus Sony?

Now that we have near-Biden levels of free cash to spend (rent in Florida is cheaper than property tax plus lawn mowing in Maskachusetts and our neighborhood has a lot more to offer, especially for kids, than where we used to live), it is time to upgrade the household camera bodies. I have a few Sony lenses, both for full-frame and APS-C. I have lots of Canon EOS lenses, but they’re for the traditional SLRs, not for the new RF mount (which can use the old lenses via an adapter, e.g., when it is time to take pictures of birds).

Sony’s sensors were so much better than Canon’s for so long that I stopped using Canon, but DXOMARK says that the EOS R5 is competitive with Sony (14.6 stops of dynamic range, compare to 13.6 for the EOS 5D IV (2016), 11.7 for the EOS 5D III (2012), and 14.5 for the Sony A1).

Tony and Chelsea Northrup found that the Canon delivered a higher percentage of usable images of moving subjects than the Sony A1, which has a faster frame rate and costs more. The test might not have been fair, though, because of differences in lenses used, adapters, etc.

A friend loves his Nikon Z system (#SonySensorsInside), but I don’t have any Nikon lenses or bodies, so I’d like to stick with Sony or Canon.

Anyone here played around with the Canon R5 or the Sony A1? I’m leaning toward the Canon because it is cheaper, will let me use the legacy specialized lenses, and I never made peace with the Sony interface and software. On the other hand, Sony seems to be a lot more devoted to this market than Canon, which can’t even be bothered to ship a conventional SLR body with a decent sensor (last upgrade to the EOS 5D was five years ago!). I don’t see how, in the long run, the market can be big enough for more than one company and Sony’s annual revenues are $81 billion versus only about $30 billion for Canon. Combine the difference in financial resources with Sony’s demonstrated passion to take the market away from Canon and I think Sony is the better long-term bet.


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My dream realized: four hours of government questioning regarding 35mm v. 120 v. 4×5

From the city that has been the heart of America’s camera repair industry, “LaGuardia Scare Sparked by Woman’s Mistake About Flier’s Phone Videos, Camera: Source” (NBC):

A woman traveling with children worried another passenger on a New York City-bound flight was watching “suspicious” videos on his phone and reported him, forcing the emergency landing at LaGuardia Airport over the weekend, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the case told News 4 Tuesday.

According to the source, the woman first saw the man watch videos she thought were sketchy. Then the man took out an odd-looking object and began fiddling with it, the source said. The woman feared he was watching suspicious videos and then took out a “suspicious” device — and that’s what was alerted to authorities.

It turns out, though, the man was watching videos on how to set and repair an antique camera, the law enforcement said. And then he took out an antique camera to try to adjust it, the source added.

The man was questioned by authorities for a total of about four hours between FBI and Port Authority investigators after what police and airline officials referred to as a “security incident.” He was later released.

Video captured by a passenger and shared with NBC News showed firefighters attending to one person lying facedown on the taxiway.

Finally classic film cameras get the attention that they deserve. I’m hopeful that the camera that aroused panic was a Fuji G617 (negatives or slides 6x17cm in size from 120 or 220 roll film):

Or perhaps a Linhof Master Technika (4×5 inch sheets):

I had been thinking of using my own Fuji G617 as a bookshelf curio, but now I am worried that neighbors will see it through the window and call the police!

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Helicopter snaphots

We’re flying with the doors off the Robinson R44 in order to avoid being baked to death in the recent weather (over 90 degrees in God’s chosen system of units). That enables your humble instructor to snap a few iPhone 12 Pro Max photos from the left seat.

On the ramp at our local airport (KBED), the F-18s that Joe Biden recommends for personal ownership (try to get a friend to pay for fuel, though!):

See if you can spot the Black Lives Matter banner on the all-white church in the all-white town of Concord, Maskachusetts:

The Concord-Carlisle High School, a $93 million project (about $71,000 per student, half paid for by the state) that taxpayers wisely decided not to use for a year (#AbundanceOfCaution; it was closed entirely for 6 months and then students were able to start attending half time):

The Lincoln K-8 school, a $110 million project, including the solar panels that were borrowed against in an off-books accounting maneuver, ($250,000 per student, 100 percent paid for by the town):

(This is being done as an in-place renovation, with students displaced to trailers for three years, because the campus supposedly does not have enough room for the usual “build new building in parking lot or on soccer field, then demolish old one” process.)

One of the families whose next 30 years of property taxes will fund the bond for the above. #InThisTogether:

(Imagine the legal fees if the “dependent” spouse “pulls a Melinda” and sues the spouse who earned enough money to build the above house! The happy plaintiff can beat the heat with Tinder dates by the pool.)

Mitt Romney’s legacy, the Mormon Temple in Belmont, MA:

Put on a mask and let your cows and sheep graze for free on Cambridge Common:

MIT Lincoln Lab:

Scroll to 1970 on the timeline and you’ll see that the Mode S transponder that is the building block for ADS-B was developed here.

Why can’t you get a seat on the Red Line trains that run every 10 minutes starting at Alewife? Check out everything that has been built recently near the station (center right of frame):

(the three red brick towers in the foreground are public housing (777 units for the worthy poor: “the towers—like many high-rise housing projects of the era—quickly became associated with crime… the complex is still a focus for law enforcement activity, and in 2008 the Cambridge Police opened a substation at the towers”) and, until a few decades ago, were the only significant buildings)

The Gropius House in Lincoln (cost about 4X/square foot to build as a typical house of the time):

A helicopter CFI gets current. We went to downtown Boston to get away from some light rain showers at Bedford:

It is a little unnerving to be using one’s phone as a camera through the open door of a helicopter. Lean out too far into the 90 mph breeze and it will be time to visit the Apple Store (don’t forget to make a COVID appointment, buy a mask, and get temperature-screened!). Maybe a case with a strap?

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TWA Hotel at JFK

This is a report on a June 23 visit to the TWA Hotel, a conversion of the former TWA Flight Center terminal, designed by Eero Saarinen and used from 1962 through 2001. Essentially two big new apartment/hotel blocks were built and the preserved portion is used as the lobby.

If you don’t mind paying $200 to park overnight, the best way to arrive is by single-engine piston airplane. Once the controllers stop laughing, taxi to Sheltair, chat with the helicopter taxi pilots, and the line guys will give you a ride to the hotel.

Try to schedule your visit for a day when the airport is using the 4/22 runways. The pool and the “runway view” rooms overlook 4L/22R, with 4R/22L behind. The action won’t be all that dramatic if the 13 runways are in use, but there is a reasonably good view of 31L. We visited when the 13/31 runways were closed for most of the day (painting?). It irked me slightly that I had to land the Cirrus in a crosswind gusting 20 knots when the airport has a 14,500′ runway oriented straight into the wind, but we were rewarded with a great afternoon and morning of plane-watching.

The hotel celebrates everything that was great/groovy about the 1960s. You won’t learn about the Vietnam War or the Great Society programs that have turned roughly half of Americans into government dependents (not to say “on welfare”!). There is an awesome car collection, including a Lincoln Continental with suicide doors, a Chrysler Newport, a Fiat Jolly, and an Isetta.

You’ll want to buy a reservation in advance to use the rooftop pool on the afternoon of your arrival (it is open to everyone from 7-10:30 am). When it is time for dinner, walk through the lobby to get to the restaurant (great food, stretched-thin service, reasonable (for NYC+airport) prices).

The hotel is tremendously fun for kids, with surprises in a lot of corners. Play Twister, visit Eero Saarinen’s office and drafting table, sit in a 1962 living room, sit at Howard Hughes’s CEO desk.

How about the rooms? Here’s ours before we trashed it (the kids are like 1970s rock stars, but without the musical talent). Perhaps 1/2 to 2/3rds the size of a standard Hampton Inn room. Note the Saarinen Womb Chair ($1000). There is no coffee maker in the room and no room service is available, so consider bringing some cold brew and keeping it in the mini-bar fridge (empty).

Can you run a hotel without bothering to answer the phone? Sort of. As an experiment, I called the hotel prior to arrival and waited on hold until a human answered. 50 minutes. From the room, however, dialing 0 for the front desk, as the rotary phone suggests one do, never resulted in any contact. This proved to be a problem when two dogs nearby embarked (so to speak) on an extended barkfest starting around 9:30 pm (past the sacred bedtime for our boys!). Senior Management was forced to walk down the hallway, go into the elevator, walk through the connector tube, and talk to the front desk in person. She was informed that the hotel didn’t have enough staff to figure out from which room the barking was emanating. Therefore, it became the guest’s job to explore the floors above and below our room. (We determined that the dogs were in the room just above ours, then went back to the front desk to report. The dogs’ owners were reached, but apparently they couldn’t make it back to their room so the situation continued until midnight).

(Other U.S. hotels seem to be on the same plan. I recently stayed at the Hilton in St. Petersburg, Florida and one of the members of our group waited on hold for nearly an hour, calling from the room, to reach the front desk.)

Speaking of noise… the windows are marvels of acoustic engineering and hardly any noise from 22R makes it into the room. Isolation from other rooms and the hallway is not as good, however, as we found out when listening to the canine chorus.

What about the level of coronapanic? The airport’s official site, June 22, 2021:

Due to ongoing health concerns regarding COVID-19, as of Friday, March 20,2020 concessions are only offering grab and go and takeout options, consistent with the latest New York and New Jersey directives. Food courts remain open, but we remind passengers to follow social distancing guidelines and to maintain at least 6 feet of separation between other guests. Many retail stores in the airports have closed. Please note that concessions are adjusting their hours of operation and opening status on a daily basis, and so we cannot guarantee any specific concessions or eateries will be open.

A minimum of 16 months to flatten the curve because 15 months plus vaccines plus PCR tests for nearly all passengers plus masks weren’t sufficient?

From the reservation service used by the hotel restaurant:

Per NYC indoor dining guidelines for COVID-19 safety, all guests will be required to have their temperature checked with a reading of 100.00 degrees or less and must provide a contact name, number, and mailing address prior to entering the restaurant as well as wear a mask at all times when not seated at their table.

Even if you want to read about how wise Dr. Fauci is, you can’t do so. The reading room has been closed for 15 months, but that’s “temporarily” and they “look forward to welcoming [us] soon”. Given the postage stamp sized rooms, it is a shame that any of the common space is sealed off.

Gym showers will be disinfected after use, in case surface contamination turns out to be a significant source of COVID-19. You will be protected from the hazard of drinking fountains by using these dangerous devices only to refill water bottles.

The actual gym is huge, perhaps 5X the size of what you’d expect. Nobody inside the gym actually cared about his/her/zir/their health, apparently, because nobody was wearing a mask (consistent with Manhattan customs, roughly half of the folks in the lobby, hallways, elevators, etc. were masked).

Taxiing out… (photo taken by a 7-year-old)

Summary: It’s a fun experience and well worth the $$ (about $500 for the room, pool reservations, dinner, breakfast for two adults and two kids; let’s try not to think about what it cost to run the Cirrus SR20!). We were not even done with the first day before the kids asked when we’d be coming back.

Sad contrast: The JetBlue Terminal 5 that has replaced this magnificent Jet Age building functionally. It is huge without being inspiring, packed with dispirited people being hassled every minute or two with signs and audio announcements regarding masks, and features long lines, e.g., for security. On the plus side, the kids enjoyed riding the AirTrain around all of the terminals!


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Masked in Manhattan

Some photos from a June 12-13, 2021 visit…

Summary: Based on observed behavior and discussions with folks we met on the street, New Yorkers continue to regard their city, including the outdoor environment, as contaminated. However, instead of taking the obvious step of moving somewhere that isn’t contaminated, e.g., Zoom it in from Vermont or Hawaii, they continue to reside in NYC and attempt to protect themselves from airborne contaminants via bandanas, paper surgical masks, and other non-N95 masks (keep in mind that N95 works only if professionally fitted).

The city has a moderately post-apocalyptic feel. As in Boston, many retail spaces are vacant while marijuana-related enterprises are thriving. “Safety First: No Entry Without a Face Mask” on the door of a shop selling cigarettes and vaping products and some of the numerous marijuana-related trucks that we observed:

(The city is awesome for parents who were looking forward to discussing the crucial benefits of cannabis with their young readers.)

Roughly half of New Yorkers seem to wear masks on the sidewalk. The younger and less at-risk the person is from COVID-19, the more likely he/she/ze/they is to be wearing a mask. Mask usage is less prevalent within Central Park.

Vaccination does not comfort the anxious. Nor does actual experience of COVID-19 infection as a mild illness. For example, on East 90th street we encountered a group of locals who were taking the ferry to East 34th. One appeared to be a white woman in her 30s. She said that she’d had COVID-19 in the spring of 2020 and that it was comparable to a bad cold. She said that she’d been fully vaccinated. Despite this background, she stated that she wouldn’t use the subway system anymore, however, “because of COVID.” (Masks are, in theory, required on these ferries, but if you sit on the open top deck the enforcement is non-existent and compliance is only about 70 percent.)

What about being 18 years old, rich, white, and healthy? The Dalton School for Rich Kids says that you should be “unafraid” …. and fully masked:

(see also “Sex-ed teacher out at Dalton after ‘masturbation’ lesson for first graders” (New York Post) and “Uproar at NYC’s posh Dalton School after faculty issues 8-page anti-racism manifesto”)

Official government-funded media: “Fully Vaccinated People Can Stop Wearing Masks Indoors And Outdoors, CDC Says” (NPR, May 13, 2021). Private buildings and stores, however, remain skeptical. A friend’s cooperative building (a handful of units per floor):

What people used to call a “Korean deli”:

Capitol One, powered by Pride and “face masks or covering” (a bandana is fine!):

Here’s the restroom in the restaurant section of the Time Warner mall at Columbus Circle (when will that be renamed?):

They’d gotten organized enough to block off sinks, but were not organized enough to fill the soap or paper towel dispensers (we were there at 6 pm on a Saturday evening, so there were quite a few hours left before cleaning/replenishing).

Evidence that almost everything related to COVID-19 is religious… here’s a restaurant’s “outdoor dining” area. It is fully enclosed with no windows. Air is provided by a standard AC/heat pump.

But you can’t get COVID, unlike in a restaurant’s standard indoor space, because it is outdoors.

The most orthodox Churches of Shutdown that we found are the art museums. Email from the Guggenheim Museum after after making a mandatory reservation:

You’ll need to wear a three-ply mask regardless of vaccination status — staff is required to, too — practice social distancing, wash or sanitize your hands frequently, and pack light as our coat check is temporarily closed. Please plan ahead and read COVID-19 Safety Measures: What to Expect When Visiting.

In other words, they are fighting against an aerosol virus by cleaning surfaces and not touching their (rich white) visitors’ backpacks. (from November 2020: “The Coronavirus Is Airborne Indoors. Why Are We Still Scrubbing Surfaces?” (NYT): “Scientists who initially warned about contaminated surfaces now say that the virus spreads primarily through inhaled droplets, and that there is little to no evidence that deep cleaning mitigates the threat indoors.”). Among the below, my favorite is the exhortation to “Report violations of COVID-19 requirements by calling 311 or by texting ‘violation’ to 855 9044036.”

(How was the art? Nearly the entire museum is given over to a TV screen in the middle and visitors are supposed to stand and watch TV. Re/Projections:

To emphasize the works on display, many of the rotunda walls remain empty during Re/Projections.

Conceived in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, these projects rethink the Guggenheim’s iconic rotunda as a site of assembly, reflection, and amplification.

Artist Christian Nyampeta considers new models for globalism based in reparation and the possibility of a common world in an age dominated by difference.

Featuring renowned love songs written by men and played by women and nonbinary musicians, Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance celebrates pop music while revealing a culture shaped by chauvinism.

Our visit coincided with Christian Nyampeta’s work. It is unclear how much in reparations the (overwhelmingly white) visitors will want to pay after shelling out $25/ticket to the Guggenheim.)

Email from the Metropolitan Museum: “Face coverings are required for all visitors age two and older, even if you are vaccinated.” In other words, they’re somewhat less strict than the Guggenheim in that a bandana is considered effective PPE and museum employees won’t be inspecting your mask to determine the number of plies. Where the Met has the Guggenheim beat is in requiring visitors to wear masks in outdoor spaces, e.g., the rooftop garden:

The museum employs an official mask karen for this garden and he would periodically remind the scattered folks on the roof to keep their masks on. He also hassled a mom and dad for walking 20′ away from their two-brat stroller while taking a photo. Separately, where is Big Bird’s mask? (or maybe this isn’t Big Bird due to copyright issues? Big Bird is yellow)

The museum was mostly empty, possibly a consequence of the reservations required policy (though, as a practical matter, nobody checked whether or not we had a reservation). The slightly tighter spaces in the museum are closed off for safety:

There are COVID-19-related signs roughly every 10-20 feet throughout the museum. And, of course, water fountains are closed. Here is a sampling:

If you’re passionate about 1 gender ID out of 50+, make sure to get to the Met between July 2 and October 3 for “The New Woman Behind the Camera”:

The New Woman of the 1920s was a powerful expression of modernity, a global phenomenon that embodied an ideal of female empowerment based on real women making revolutionary changes in life and art. Featuring more than 120 photographers from over 20 countries, this groundbreaking exhibition explores the work of the diverse “new” women who embraced photography as a mode of professional and artistic expression from the 1920s through the 1950s. During this tumultuous period shaped by two world wars, women stood at the forefront of experimentation with the camera and produced invaluable visual testimony that reflects both their personal experiences and the extraordinary social and political transformations of the era.

The exhibition is the first to take an international approach to the subject, highlighting female photographers’ innovative work…

Is it fair to say that referring to “female photographers” reflects cisgender-normative prejudice? Holding the phone just above a 6′ screen:

The Museum has a new Dr. Fauci section. Truth and Research:

What does Research tell us about the Truth regarding the origins of this most pernicious virus? The New York City government wants to remind you that it is Asians who are responsible for COVID. Times Square:

“Fight the virus, not the people” and “Stop Asian Hate”! Who are “the people” that we’re told to associate with “the virus”?

One of the more peculiar aspects of NYC and COVID today is that the stay-in-NYC New Yorkers assert that they’re lives are completely back to “normal”. Yes, they’re wearing masks indoors and out, avoiding the subway, mostly not working in offices, not going to concerts or theater, etc. But this is indistinguishable from the way that life was in 2019. In some ways, they seem to be correct. Traffic leaving Manhattan on a Sunday was bad and traffic returning was terrible, with at least 5 miles of parked cars jamming the approaches to the Lincoln Tunnel from the New Jersey side.

The cost of an Uber is up roughly 50 percent:

Inequality continues to be a public health emergency at Teterboro (ancient V-tail Bonanza in front of a Gulfstream V):

(Excellent service as always at Meridian and parking a four-seat piston-powered plane is cheaper than parking a car oin Manhattan! (parking fee waived with purchase of 20 gallons of 100LL) My standard tip of $20 for the line guys will soon be insulting; inflation is already at 8% per year.)

On the way out we did the Skyline Route down the Hudson at 2,000′, turned around at the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and came back up at 1,500′. If you don’t count LaGuardia Tower and Newark Tower, a good time was had by all!

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Portsmouth, New Hampshire and home (coastal aerial photos)

Readers will be relieved to learn that this is the last in the series of New Hampshire and Maine coastal aerial photos. This batch goes from Portsmouth, New Hampshire over the rich kids’ Phillips Academy Andover and to our home base, East Coast Aero Club at Hanscom Field.

From our Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine trip in a Robinson R44 helicopter. Tony Cammarata was in back with a door removed and a Nikon D850. Instrument student Vince Dorow and I were flying.

Also available as a streaming 8K video.

Thanks to Rob Brigham and the ECAC maintenance crew for a squawk-free helicopter trip!

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Aerial Photos of Portland, Maine

Portland again!

More importantly, after borrowing a car from the good folks at MAC Jets, lobster rolls downtown:

From our Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine trip in a Robinson R44 helicopter. Tony Cammarata was in back with a door removed and a Nikon D850. Instrument student Vince Dorow and I were flying.

Also available as a streaming 8K video.

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Maine coastal aerial photographs: Westport to Portland

Running out of exciting caption ideas for this series… Westport, Maine down to Portland:

From our Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine trip in a Robinson R44 helicopter. Tony Cammarata was in back with a door removed and a Nikon D850. Instrument student Vince Dorow and I were flying.

Also available as a streaming 8K video.

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Maine coastal aerial photos: Vinalhaven to Westport

After departing Vinalhaven towards KRKD

This photo is a favorite (steep bank in the helicopter to get the straight-down perspective):

Enough power for your Tesla, near Westport, Maine (but where does all of this power come from and what is it needed for in an apparently deserted part of the shoreline?):

Gourmet breakfast sandwich stop at Owl’s Head General Store:

From our Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine trip in a Robinson R44 helicopter. Tony Cammarata was in back with a door removed and a Nikon D850. Instrument student Vince Dorow and I were flying.

Also available as a streaming 8K video.

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