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Friday, 21 September 2018 Dereel Images for 21 September 2018
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More garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

Mick the gardener along today to do some more work, notably planting cannas and laying irrigation. We now have the second trellis in place:


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The plants I bought yesterday are already in the soil: the Alyogyne huegelii and the Vietnamese mint:


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The basil that Yvonne bought on Wednesday is also in there, but I have my doubts about its viability:


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These pots with white gravel (quartz?) in them seem to be designed to be eaten immediately, and I fear that it won't take root properly.


Simplifying Indian cookery
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Last Saturday I gave up on making masala vada because I didn't have the time. Miraculously, the soaked pulses hadn't gone bad by today, so I finally got round to completing the dish. But it's so difficult! I'm supposed to grind the pulses in a food processor. What was I thinking of? I noted to add enough water. How much is “enough”? Today I measured it: 275 ml water. What does that do to the consistency? Surprisingly, it turned out not to be too bad. I had previously given up on deep-frying them, and the recipe showed my attempts:


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But that was nearly 3 years ago, and when I tried it today the patties burnt on the surface and didn't cook through. OK, alternative: in the oven.


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That came out quite well, though I think the whole thing needs more spice. But I've come quite a long way from the original recipe.


Saturday, 22 September 2018 Dereel Images for 22 September 2018
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Minox rediscovered
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Watching a film about the Stasi on TV this afternoon. They mentioned the Minox “spy camera”, carefully omitting any reference to the fact that it made in West Germany. And some detailed photos. It was a Minox A, with one wheel less than my Minox C:

In fact, the first image isn't a Minox A. It's a “Minox Riga”, made in Riga before the war. And mine was made some time in the 1970s. If that's all the progress they had in that time, it's no wonder that they folded.

But why the third dial? Opened the thing up and discovered a battery. It does have an exposure meter! And the battery (nominally 5.6 V) still shows a voltage of 5.4 V. How old is it? I don't think we've ever used it. My father gave it to Yvonne years ago—he's been dead for nearly 10 years—and I don't think she ever used it. But not only does it contain a battery, it also has a film in it! Of course, opening it doesn't help, but it's a cassette, so maybe we should finish it and find someone to develop the film.


Trying PTGui
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

I have now downloaded PTGui. Time to try it out with some of the images with which I had had trouble with Hugin. First one of today's panoramas:


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All the videos I have seen show PTGui to be very much like Hugin, but that must have been a previous version. Now it's even more Microsoft-like. Still, the “Load images...” tab was clear enough. Reading in the images was straightforward enough, but then I got this strange popup:

 
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PTGui needs to know whether the images were taken with a fisheye lens or a regular [rectilinear?] lens, but this could not be determined from the EXIF [sic] data. Please tell what kind of lens was used:

Exif Lens: Generic 8 mm f/1.8 fisheye on E-M1MarkII

OK, PTGui, what's generic about the Exif information “Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8m f/1.8 Fisheye PRO”? And what's unclear about both the original Exif data and the interpretation? It seems that PTGui has issues with Exif that go beyond the spelling and spacing.

Told it what it already knew, and it went off and detected the control points correctly and in about a tenth of the time that Hugin's cpfind takes.

Next to crop it. It offers me a “Panorama Editor” tab. It must be in there, but how can I tell?

 
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What's that disk emblem? Or the square next to it? Hovering the mouse cursor over the symbols gave surprising results:

 
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And this one blows my mind:

 
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Why would I ever want that? And why is it trying to be a window manager? The answer's simple, of course: Microsoft still doesn't have one.

And how to crop? I still don't know. Moving the image seemed to move in the opposite direction from what I would have expected, and it was quite slow compared to Hugin. And I couldn't find any way to crop it.

In the end, I gave up and saved it as-is, putting up with silly names with spaces in them and ending in .jpg. When I later tried to save an image as foo, it disobeyed my instructions and called the file foo.jpg. Here compared with the Hugin result:


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Later I went through the tutorial videos, part 2 of this link, for which they're too polite to supply a direct link (it's https://youtu.be/bEI1CJoMLcY). They show a very kludgy way to crop by changing the appearance of the display image (sliders to left and right), but that keeps the image centered in the same place. Surely there must be some better way; in principle I could just crop it later, like I used to. But not a very professional impression for something for which they want at least 99 €.

Next, how about this panorama?


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Loaded it, and it found the control points correctly, again in record time. But I need to mask it, and PTGui masks completely differently from Hugin, at least as far as I can see, and as far as the tutorial tells me: wipe over the area you want to remove, with a very nervous and fuzzy brush. That could make sense, but in this case it proved very difficult. At the very least I need to know how to slow the brush down.

Looking at the features list, it seems that only the PRO version of PTGui offers any kind of masking. And that costs double the price of the base version. So far I haven't seen anything that justifies that cost.

Comparing Hugin and PTGui, the main issue (apart from speed) seems to be the unreliability of Hugin's control point detectors. I wonder if the project files are still compatible enough for Hugin to process a PTGui project file. I can't check that: the trial version doesn't save the project file in canonical form, which suggests that yes, Hugin would understand it.


Understanding lens flanges
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

If there's one thing that defines a camera system, it's the interface between camera and lens, the lens mount. Cameras and lenses may come and go, but the flange remains.

Now that new mirrorless cameras are coming out thick and fast, it's worth getting an overview. There are two important things about the flange: the distance from the focal plane and the diameter. The smaller the distance, the better, and within reason, the greater the diameter, the better. But where do I get the details from? This page gives the distance, but I need to look up the diameters myself. Here's what I have:

Mount       Format       Focal distance       Diameter
            (mm)       (mm)
Nikon Z mount       FF       17.0       55
Fujifilm X-mount       APS       17.7       44
Sony E-mount       FF, APS       18       46.1
Leica L-Mount       FF, APS       19       48.8
Micro Four-Thirds mount       4/3"       19.25       44
Canon RF mount       FF       20       54

It's interesting to note how much wider the newcomers are. The Micro Four Thirds system seems positively archaic by comparison. And the Leica L-Mount is interesting because there rumours are circulating that Panasonic and Sigma are going to produce cameras with that mount. No mention so far of Olympus.


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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