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Final (week)day of my holiday

I was quite getting used to pottering about here, sitting outside to read my books, and scraping old putty off the front window...

That being said, I've only really had half a holiday. The first half was a mess of blazing hot days and nocturnal flea feasts. Between the fleas and the heat, I barely slept and... would like to apologise if anything I wrote in that week was complete gibberish.
Or, at least, more than usual.

I got up early, have to get used to being up at work hours and not lying in bed until 11am reading TVTropes (Will Ruin Your Life) and only getting up because wetting the bed (from the 7&9am teas) would be a pretty naff idea.

Anyway, got up early and was on the road for about half nine. After a lot of procrastination over which shopping bag I should take with me. You see, I don't give a crap about my appearance. Gave my hair a quick brush, threw on some (clean!) clothes, and then agonised over the shopping bag. I eventually went for the smaller durable plastic one. The biggie is a bit oversized, and I didn't want to feel encouraged to fill it up with stuff I didn't need.

The run down to Châteaubriant was fairly pleasant. A few lorries, but far fewer people than I was expecting. Maybe nobody gets up early in August if they don't have to? ☺

 

My first stop was, as is usual, the Leclerc to pick up some of the things I can't get at my local supermarket. Only... half of the things I went for, they didn't have. Marvellous.

I picked up a new pack of washing dosettes. It was €7.80 for 24, or €10,20 for 44. That pricing doesn't make sense.

Washing machine dosettes
Washing machine dosettes - cherry blossom and green tea.

 

I then popped around to Maxi Zoo to get a refill for Anna's flea drops. Something called Frontline Combo, costing about €22 for 3.
Sold out.
The girl there suggested another brand with "the same molecule", but it was €3 more expensive.
Somebody else saw me with it and said "it's the heat". I was "huh?". She said cat owners have been suffering a flea epidemic. It's the heat. She then said that she's put her own cat outside, and when she feels something biting she goes straight into the bath, fully clothed. And considers it a minor victory to see the petite truc de merde floating dead in the water.
I took the empty carton of the other product to the checkout and the other girl looked, and looked, and checked inventory and... sold out.

Damn. Must be a serious heat-induced flea epidemic.

Since they didn't have anything "with that molecule" (fipronil 10% and methoprene 12%), and I wanted to keep with the same product as it has started to bring Anna's situation under control. Not fixed, but when I feed her now I get maybe one flea on my ankle every 3 or 2 days rather than 3-5 each time...it's useful to go down without socks and trousers, fleas can't actually jump that high so they're pretty easy to spot and remove before they get their jaws into the juicy flesh.

Anyway, since they didn't have anything, I looked on Amazon. €25 for Frontline Combo (combo as it also deals with ticks). Then I noticed it was a six pack. So I had a look for three, and... fifteen euros. Click, tap, swipe, it'll be here Tuesday, I think it said.

 

After that, I stopped by Action to get two more tins of glossy white wood paint. The 2-in-1 stuff (doesn't need a primer). I also picked up a cheap brush set, because I'm going to need something a little smaller than my 4cm (?) brush if I'm going to paint over the putty.
You know, when the damn stuff is actually dry and hard. Which might be this time next year...
I also got a pack of 10 AA cells, ostensibly for my (musical) keyboard, but this turned out to be fortuitous for a completely different reason.

 

Opposite was King Jouet. I popped in for the new Playmobil catalogue, since the current one is January to July. No new catalogues...
Looking on the website, a new Japanese Princess (#70811) which ticks every cliché box there is. But, kudos Playmobil, her kimono correctly fastens left over right. Right over left, as is common in the west, is how they dress corpses.
#70877 is a whole pile of cute, too.
There's also a new (rather expensive) advent calendar of animals of the world. #71006. Part of a new set called Wiltopia, which is amusing considering that I watched the live action Dora movie on Prime Video last night (I'm only vaguely familiar with the cartoon it's based on, and... it was actually better than I expected, a sort of Indiana Jones with an overly perky teenage girl as the lead character).
There's also an Ayuma advent calendar (#71029) which is... what is that? I can see a pink (!) reindeer and somebody with leaf wings so... Finland fairies?
Hehe... #71069... Meerkats. Thanks to a series of television advertisements, entire generations of Brits will be completely unable to take meerkats seriously.
French comes to the front in #71191. "Ferme pédagogique". Literal translation is "Educational farm" (not closed!) but I think what they mean is expressed so much more succintly in English as "Petting zoo". It reminds me of that one mom and I used to go to in Devon... what was that place called?
<walks away, makes tea, drinks tea, thinks> Oh, yes. The Big Sheep.

Oh my god, cookie girl (#70877) even comes with a Playmobil cookie cutter. Lovely!
Amazon, for some reason, requires me to order at least two cookie girls. Well, she costs the same as Playmobil's postage (to an access point) plus, as you know, they use UPS that doesn't work on weekends and uses their own access point in not-so-convenient places. So, I guess I'll just get two cookie girls and have a spare cookie cutter. ☺

Probably shouldn't have looked at the online catalogue, should I have? ☺

Right, between that and the cat stuff, it's €30 winging it's way towards Jeff Bezos. So I think I'll put my phone down now.

 

Continuing the journey, I stopped at Au vide grenier, the weird and wonderful Aladdin's Cave that is a permanent indoor boot sale. My vide grenier (aka bullshit) filter kicks in, so I can walk around that place in about ten minutes. I bet mom would have taken forty. Anyway, walked around, saw something of interest, but decided I'd go back to it after looking at everything else.
This is absolutely not a tactic to use at a real vide grenier, but for an indoor place with few people, it'll do.

That thing that I saw? A digital camera. A Finepix 1000fd.

A new camera
A new camera.

 

Finally, to Picard for something interesting for the weekend. Only... there wasn't much there that wasn't pretty expensive, so I got something Chinese (beef and noodles) and something Japanese (chicken and noodles) and something generic (mac'n'cheese - or cheese and noodles).
The special stuff was Tex-Mex. And while I generally like Tex-Mex, I can't stand those awful red peppers. Jalapeño, no problem. But pieces of red (or green) bell pepper? Ugh. Just ugh.
So I said "I'll get something Tex-Mex if there's no obvious huge chunks of pepper in the photo."

I didn't get anything Tex-Mex.

 

Fuji Finepix S1000fd (digital camera)

The Fujifilm Finepix S1000fd
The Fujifilm Finepix S1000fd.

Dating from, about, 2008 and a retail price of around €180, this is a 10 megapixel camera that was, in it's day, the smallest "bridge" camera with 12× optical zoom.

For those not familiar with the term, a "bridge" is the style that bridges the gap between point and click digital cameras and full DSLR cameras. As you can see, this one sort of looks like a very small DSLR, but the lens is fixed (and can retract).

It cost me €10, which was within my "if it doesn't work, I can at least take it apart" price bracket. But what really sold it to me was that - if it did work - it accepted standard (lowish capacity) SD cards and it ran on regular AA cells. The latter being very important. My other digital camera, the bright pink/magenta thing (which I appear to have lost, did mom use it last?) used a little lithium cell. It was replaceable, but that's not much good if you're out and about and you run out of juice.
I like cameras that run on regular batteries, even if they are bulkier, because pretty much everywhere worth visiting is within range of somewhere that sells packs of AA cells.

Usefully, the shutter cap is a weak fit on the lens, so if you turn the camera on forgetting to remove the cap, it'll pop off without any problem. Ask me how I know... ☺

The image sensor of the camera is 1/2.3" CCD which translates to around 6.1×4.6mm, which is about "a quarter of the size of an inch sensor" based upon some weird historical measurement to do with film sizes. Probably clearer to say it's about 7.5mm diagonal (but no-one does). In other words, about 26mm2, or "pretty damn small".
At the low end of the market, it allows manufacturers to put fairly long lenses into really small cameras. But the size means it sucks in low light conditions, with a lot of noise and grain, and also a lack of fine detail due to, well, physics. That tiny imager size is broken down into 3648×2736 pixels, which is the maximum image size, and as you can imagine, we're looking at some really tiny sensing elements - about 1.67 microns. To put this into context, visible light has wavelengths between 0.4 (violet) and 0.7 (red) microns.

With my current photos being numbered 610x in the sequential photo numbering, this camera has been somebody's friend for a long time, taking six thousand photos in its fourteen years (assuming 2008-2022), which is ~428 photos per year. Or maybe it was only used for half that time and the former owner took a thousand photos in the month of August? ☺

 

In use, the camera gives fairly realistic colours. The greens were vibrant without being oversaturated to the point of being cartoony. One of my phones, I forget which, was a bit enthusiastic with the colour rendition.

Some scenery
Some scenery.

Because of the focal length of this camera, there is not much possibility of bokeh. The background is slightly out of focus, but only slightly.

The two primary problems that this camera has is firstly it is really slow. Knob flick to ready takes about three seconds, focus takes about a second, and it takes about two and a half seconds between pressing the shutter and seeing the preview. When moving the camera around, the automatic exposure keeps track of the scene, but after a good half second lag.

The startup lag isn't that big a deal, as it takes 3-4 seconds for a smartphone to go to camera from the hotkey (usually pressing one of the buttons twice).
However the lack of responsiveness otherwise can be jarring. My Mi 10T's auto-exposure is near instantaneous, and (usually) photos are taken as soon as I tap the button. Sometimes it refuses if it thinks the focus is way off, but it's pretty much a tap-and-take.

The second issue, that you can see in the photo, is that it doesn't handle light transitions very well. You can have the darker parts nicely exposed and the sky washed out, or you can have the sky nicely exposed and the darker parts murky.

However, keep in mind that this is a fourteen year old lower end CCD imager. Things have changed a lot since then, with even midrange smartphones able to offer really impressive results.

Here is looking along the driveway.

Looking along the driveway
Looking along the driveway.

Hmmm, I'm so used to the widescreen photos that a full frame (what is that, 5:4 or something?) seems a bit weird.
You can see again, nice colour rendition until we get to the sky, at which point it is washed out white.
There's little in the way of shadows as it is actually grey and overcast.

Now, there is one thing this camera can do that phones cannot. And this is why I would consider it useful to have such a camera, even if my phone can run rings around it normally.

12x optical zoom
12× optical zoom.

I have not moved. That's the exact same thing, only with 12× zoom in use.

The camera also offers a digital zoom in addition to the optical. It's about 5×, which gives us a maximum of around 64× zoom.

Maximum zoom
Maximum zoom.

Given that I have not moved, being able to fill the frame with a rock that's just a little blip in the full image is rather impressive. However, the digital zoom is more or less a gimmick. It simply scales up the image from the sensor, and looks like it could do with a bit of sharpening. But moreso than all of that, at 64×, camera shake is a real issue. I mean, hold the camera as solidly as you can, and you will be able to see your heartbeat.
Given that digital zoom is fakery, it's far better just to stop at the 12× optical zoom and if you need anything better, "do it in post".

Here's an example.

Maximum zoom, faked
Maximum zoom, faked.

That example was done quickly on my phone, from the 12× optical zoom photo. I tweaked the contrast slightly while I was at it (but maybe a little too much?).
The image is slightly smaller because, well, that's what was left once everything else had been cropped. Using a desktop photo editor, rather than the Gallery app on a phone, you can reconstruct a full size image using interpolation, as the camera itself would do, but as you can see, there's nothing in the digital zoom that you can't do just as well yourself.
Thankfully, zooming in stops at the end of optical zoom, and you need to zoom again to carry on into the digital part. Additionally, one of the settings will disable the digital zoom entirely, as I have done.

 

There is a video mode. This isn't worth looking at. It's 640×480 VGA, or 320×240 QVGA as a 30fps ~6.5Mbit/sec MJPEG video which is quite noisy. It runs to around 820K/sec, but that might depend upon the complexity of the images.
The automatic exposure is also noticably laggy (to the point of being a bit of a running joke) and zooming isn't possible.
Audio is 8 bit mono PCM at 11024Hz (that's a quarter of the CD standard 44.1kHz) and there's a lot of noise recorded.

 

Another mode, which actually had potential and worked surprisingly well, is the Panorama mode.
This one is fiddly to use. You need to take a picture, then press OK if you're happy. The camera will then display an overlay with the rightmost part of the previous photo on the left. Line up a new photo to the right of the first one and press the shutter. Press OK to accept it. Same thing, so line up a third photo and press the shutter. Then press OK.
The camera will 'think' for between 8 and 12 seconds, and will then preview a panoramic photo.
If you like it, press OK yet again, and it will save the photo.

Oh, widescreen
Oh, proper widescreen!

The problem, other than the amount of manipulations required to get that far, is that we end up with a nice 4944×1200 pixel image... that is 1.52MB in size. Which means, sadly, that it's been compressed to hell and back. It might be fine if you want to do some mountain porn, but for anything with details, it'll suffer.

 

There are other modes, plenty of things I've not really had time to fiddle with. Fully manual, auto-but-manual aperture, auto-but-manual-shutter, auto with more options than fully auto (white balance, focus modes, bracketing, etc), a natural light to do photos without resorting to flash, and two special scene modes that remember what you've set them to and offer portrait, landscape, sport, night, fireworks, sunset, snow, beach, museum, party, flower, text, and stabilisation (which means bump up the shutter speed so shake isn't so obvious). The museum mode is interesting at it kills features that could annoy other patrons, so no flash and no sounds (at all).

In most modes, there's a Finepix button to select an ISO rating which goes from 64 to 3200 in the usual steps (except in automatic mode). Quality can be set to 10Mpix fine, 10Mpix normal, 3:2, and 5, 3, or 2 Mpix as well as VGA (marked as 03M but they mean 0.3). It also gives an estimate of how many photos you can take with your current free space. 10M fine will offer me ~330 photos (they're around 4½MB each), 10M normal will offer ~666 photos in the same space (so you can see the difference in quality just from those numbers alone), all the way down to VGA which will offer me ~10,272 photos.
The final Finepix button is for standard colour, F-Chrome which is supposed to enhance the colours so they're more like you'd see on slides (but didn't appear to make much difference), and F-B&W for those who like to photograph in sexy moody monochrome.
There's a button for face detection. Which, amusingly, detects Playmobil people. Even more amusingly, the user guide states that face detection won't work if there's too much contrast, people aren't looking directly at the camera, or if you aren't taking photos of people.

Unfortunately the post-processing options are a bit limited, so you can't monochromify a colour photo. At least, not within the camera.
You can, however, remove red eyes, rotate (in 90 degree steps), protect (lock) the photo, copy between SD card and internal memory, add a voice memo, and trim (crop) a section from the photo. The camera will extract the section as a new photo at whatever size is the most suitable, although rather pessimistically.

 

The back of the camera
The back of the camera.

There's a big (2.7") colour LCD on the back of the camera for seeing what is going on, as well as a plethora of buttons. I would imagine after some use, the operation of this camera would trickle down to muscle memory. The PDF user guide runs to 160 pages, so there's quite a lot that it can do.
The LCD itself is enough of a resolution to get the job done, but with around 200,000 pixels, it's not even VGA quality.
And it shows.

Spot the pixels
Spot the pixels.

An EVF/LCD button will toggle between the rear LCD and a little LCD in the viewfinder. The viewfinder one looks to be a similar resolution, but being seriously tiny and expanded using optics, the overall result is slightly better. It's also a fair bit brighter in daylight due to being enclosed.
Unfortunately, while it works holding the camera to my glasses (there's a rubber bit around it so it won't scratch), it's blurry when held to a naked eyeball. They didn't think to put a little thingamijig in there to adjust the focus for those of us with crappy eyesight.

 

There are two macro modes. A regular, which can go down to something like 5cm, and a super macro which can go down to about 2cm.

Macro mode example
Macro mode example.
This was taken using the normal macro mode. I like how the faces and bodies of the two on the right are in sharp focus, but their hands and swords are slightly blurred. That could be used to make some fairly dynamic photos. Had I had a little more time to sort out composition, I'd have done something a little better, and pushed the person on the left back a bit so she (yes, it's a she!) wasn't blurred.

 

I shall leave you with two final photos to demonstrate the primary utility of this camera over any of my phones. I went to the front door and took a photo of the outside lamp.

8x digital zoom on the phone
8× digital zoom on the phone.

12x optical zoom on the camera
12× optical zoom on the camera.

 

 

Your comments:

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Gavin Wraith, 19th August 2022, 23:13
Excuse a language question. You say "... on the road for half nine.". In Danish that would mean 8.30. Is that the time your expression means, or 9.30? The Danish number system is a bit odd.
Rick, 20th August 2022, 00:16
Half (past) nine. 
 
And, it's okay. I always used to get confused when mom would talk about it being "quarter of" an hour. 
VinceH, 20th August 2022, 10:58
I've had a few Fuji Finepix models - not sure if any have been that one - they've always seemed pretty reliable kit to me*, so generally speaking when I've wanted a new camera I've tended to look in that direction first. 
 
Though obviously not exclusively. I've had a couple of others, and my current camera isn't one - it's a Sony Cybershot DSC HX350. 
 
A couple of annoyances with it: Firstly, it doesn't use standard batteries. I bought a spare, but seem to have misplaced it (and given it's still in its original packaging after n years, it's probably deteriorated).  
 
Secondly, my first trip with it was to the Lake District, and on one of my walks I lost the lens cap - with the Finepix cameras the cap is designed to be attached with string to the body, so it hangs when off and generally can't go anywhere. IIRC the Cybershot's cap lacked a way to do that, so I had to stow it when using the camera, and on that occasion it vanished. :( 
 
* My last Finepix was the S4500. That did develop a fault. (But that wasn't why I changed to Sony - just down to choices and features at the time.)
VinceH, 20th August 2022, 11:31
I suddenly thought... I probably mentioned that lens cap as part of a list of problems I encountered, written in a fun way (because I did enjoy the trip in spite of them) here: http://misc.vinceh.com/2018/09/fun-things-to-do-in-the-lake-dist rict/ 
 
But nope. I somehow completely forgot to include losing the lens cap.
J.G.Harston, 20th August 2022, 15:57
The optical zoom is why I keep going back to my little Canon Ixus, even though it eats batteries. I have to keep a replacement charging while using it. I don't know if it's the batteries or the camera. I bought a replacement set a couple of years ago, but they could well be either fakes or chemically exhausted and unchargable.
David Pilling, 20th August 2022, 16:33
Good find. I went out photographing something, and was surrounded by curious young people who thought I was a time traveller on account of my DSLR camera. 

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