Back to photography, and more hospital kit…

Note 1: I wrote this at the weekend but too tired and sick to update the chronology today. It mostly still makes sense.

Note 2: This is for the jerks who always pop up whenever I moan about Amazon to tell me how unreasonable I am. I am paying for a premium service – paying twice for it, in fact, as you’ll see if you can be bothered to read on. I do, therefore, bloody well expect to receive a premium service. And I’m not, which entitles me to complain.  Are we clear on that point?

Good!

Now on with the show…

I’m still adding to my photography outfit. As I said previously, I have two digital cameras in use (Olympus E-420 DSLR and Canon SX30 IS bridge camera with a huge 24-840mm zoom lens), the former for more structured outings, the latter more convenient for a fast hit and run, but I forgot to mention my new camcorder. And all of these are in their own individual bags/cases. That was fine when I could drive, or was driven, as some could be left in the car until needed, but not any longer, it’s just too much to carry, especially on my powerchair.

So I’ve ordered a gadget bag from Amazon. To photographers of my generation, a gadget bag = a camera bag, yet I saw a review on Amazon.com by someone who was, apparently, astounded to order a gadget bag and get a camera bag. I wonder what he was expecting?

For those of you who are too young to know, gadget bags date back at least to the early days of the 35mm SLR outfit, when the proliferation of interchangeable lenses, and things like flash guns and bulbs, filters, reflectors, notebooks (no date-stamp or geolocation then), range-finders, film and, always and forever, batteries, all had to be carried. Of course, these days, these features are mostly electronic and built-in (though we’re still slaves to batteries, even more so now than then as, way back, cameras were entirely mechanical, the mechanism being wound after every shot by the film advance knob or lever), but, back in the day, the gadget bag was an essential piece of kit for toting all the clutter. For me, it still is, for a slightly different reason – I want all my kit in one place, so I can just grab the bag and go, safe in the knowledge that nothing essential has been left behind.

So later today (that was Saturday)  – probably much later knowing Amazon’s shitty delivery schedule these days** – I’ll be getting one of these @ £25.99:-

Bag - Outer   Bag - Inner

 

Amazon pics.

**Under the Amazon Logistics label, they’ve taken some deliveries in-house, and the service is crap. I’ve told you about the delivery guy who was terrified to enter the building in case he was attacked or fell down the stairs, because he wasn’t insured (Amazon were told to ensure he never comes here again unless he is fully insured to do what he’s paid to do – deliver to my door – and others too, this area is full of flats, mostly huge, boom-era Victorian town houses, converted, and no shortage of purpose-built blocks either), but they also routinely deliver between 20.00 and 21.00, which is a pain in the neck for me as there’s a good chance I’ll be asleep (A, I’m extremely ill, B, I’m getting old too). The problem is they’re based in Wigan (why?), and I suspect Wirral is the furthest point on the route – but I find it hard to believe that ALL their drivers live near me and drop my stuff off on the way home!

Tuesday – a shock! Amazon Logistics guy arrived at 09.00! So much for my theory. I was so shaken I forgot to ask why so many deliveries were late in the day, if he could be here so early.

Anyway, the bag came and it appears to have been reviewed by the terminally witless. Described almost unanimously as huge, and holding an insane amount of gear (so much, one guy claims, that you’ll lose track of what you’ve got, from which idiot claim I assume he’s the sort of person who forgets his own name, and routinely has his food cut up for him). It is not,  and does not do, any of those things.

It’s a small bag for a small outfit – and this is the larger of the two versions on offer. The main section holds my Oly E-420 body, 14-42mm and 70-300mm lenses, a small Metz flashgun, and electronic remote, and my camcorder – and that’s it, there’s not a centimetre of space left. The E-420, it’s worth mentioning, is on the small side as DSLRs go.

The shoulder strap, incidentally, is utter crap, the grippy pad is actually slippery and has been consigned to oblivion. Luckily, I’m not short of shoulder straps.

The bag is well made, though  I’d be happier if it held my Canon SX30 IS as well (that now lives in a Lowepro Toploader  Zoom 75 AW), but it holds the essentials, plus spare batteries for camera and camcorder and it’ll take a small tablet computer.

Of course I’ve yet to find a way to transfer photos from the camera, or video, to either my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, iPad 3, or Kindle Fire HD (why do most tablets have such piss-poor USB implementation, or none at all?). My Surface RT is the only tablet I have with functional USB data transfer, and that won’t fit the bag. I could, I suppose, attach the Surface’s bag to the back of the gadget bag, but that’s just more stuff to carry.

The entire outfit, including the new, lightweight tripod, weighs 4.8kg and while that might not sound like much to you, it’s close to my personal limit

Update: I unearthed my very first tablet, a cheap and rather low-tech 7” Android GoTab that I actually bought as a colour reader for ebooks. Cheap it might have been, but it has full USB functionality that none of my very much more expensive tablets, except the Surface, have, including my poxy iPad 3, the world’s most expensive paperweight, that doesn’t even have a sodding USB port (I did buy Apple’s approved adapter, only to find, like so many other third-party items, with the upgrade to iOS7 it stopped working! The others do work, but only work when connected to a PC, not to a flash drive (so clearly they don’t have a power supply – you wouldn’t believe how long it took for that to register!), so completely useless for what I need.

The GoTab, with a basic  gallery app loaded, will display the pics on my cameras’ cards, and while the screen isn’t fantastic, it’s still better than the tiny screens on the cameras (in fact the photo quality is much higher than I expected), so I can go and take photos, adjourn to the nearest pub for lunch and a couple of pints (my limit in these morphine-soaked days), review my pics, and all will be well with the world.

I do have a feeling that the powered USB port might do some serious damage to battery life – time will tell. Unfortunately, if it does, the thing has a dedicated charger, not generic USB, so I can’t boost it with a battery pack. Oh well…

I’ve also ordered a couple more quick-release plates for my new tripod (one comes with it), so that I don’t have to keep swapping between cameras, they can each have their own (at a rather ambitious £6.90 each!).

ScreenShot087

 

Ordered on Prime, Saturday, for delivery Sunday, but when the order acknowledgement arrived delivery had gone out to the end of June!

So they got a bollocking, and a demand for an explanation – and magically the delivery came back down to June 3.** Today (Sunday), though, it’s still being offered for tomorrow, and I am getting severely pissed off with Amazon’s incompetence.

**Now Monday and they arrived this evening at 18.00, along with  the battery pack, below, and a 64GB, Class 10,  SDXC card.

Hell, in the last 6 months they’ve had 84 orders from me. By any definition I’m a damn good customer. I don’t expect preferential treatment but if they want my money I do demand efficient treatment and if an item is in stock I expect a 24-hour delivery offer to be honoured, not stretched to a month. The thing is, they obviously had the plates in stock and available, so if I hadn’t said anything would I have been kept waiting for a month? And if so, why? WTF is going on at Amazon?

And I’ve noticed a growing trend on Prime items – delivery in 6 to 8 weeks or some variant thereof. What the hell is the point of that?

For those of you who don’t know, Amazon Prime is a premium rapid/free-delivery service for which we pay an annual fee (about £50 when I signed up last year). What we also pay – and which Amazon failed to mention until relatively recently, when I think they were compelled to provide the information that other vendors on their site were cheaper – is that we also pay a price premium, and if you’re not very careful that can be pretty bloody hefty. And yet, up-front fee and a per-item premium notwithstanding, I still get deeply shitty service when Amazon Logistics are involved! For those who thought Yodel was bad, AL are worse.

I won’t be renewing my Prime subscription (now a whisker under £80, with “free” video streaming, which I don’t want), and I’d love to be able to walk away from Amazon entirely, but I can’t.

For ebooks, dead-tree books, and mp3 downloads, for coffee to feed my Dolce Gusto machine, for a whole load of electronics plus photographic and computer bits, even for some food items, I’m locked into Amazon because I can’t get the same choice, at the same price, anywhere else. But in the future I sure as hell won’t be paying them a penny more than I need to.

What Prime provides, primarily, is almost instant gratification, and that’s what Amazon bank on to keep people sucked in. I think they’ve miscalculated badly with the new fee, and the continuing price premia, in not providing an opt-out, at the original price, for those of us who don’t want streaming video. For me, that service is currently free until my subscription expires but, even free, I still don’t want it – Amazon seem to be having a hard time grasping that fact.

On to a less contentious issue, and I’ve made another addition to my hospital kit – another battery pack. True, I’ve managed to stay out of the place for almost 7 months, and my leg, with daily dressing changes and my self-prescribed Doxycycline, is improving,  but I know from past experience that this could change in a matter of hours.

I have two battery packs already, but this new one has a slightly higher capacity, and is cheaper (sale price), at £25.99, than the larger of those I already have (see, that’s why I’m locked into sodding Amazon!).

Between them all they give me an additional 26,400mAh, invaluable as not all beds have a spare 13-amp socket. A lot of people who have, but don’t need, profiling beds just unplug them. I actually need mine so don’t have that option, and taking my own electricity is essential. Of course, if I’m not out again in a few days, I’m screwed, so I have to take in some dead-tree books for emergencies, if I can’t recharge my Kindle (keeping my phone charged is the priority, so I can stay in touch with the outside world).

ScreenShot088

Called EasyAcc Power Bank, it has a capacity of 12,000mAh, and can charge 4 devices at once. More importantly, for me, it’ll recharge my Samsung Galaxy S3 6 times from flat. It will also, though not in hospital, charge/power my camcorder. I’m tempted to get another one for my Kindle.

Talking of which, nowhere does Amazon disclose the battery capacity of my Kindles. For my Paperwhite 3G all it says is:-

“A single charge lasts up to eight weeks, based on half an hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 10.”

Which frankly is bullshit. No-one reads for half an hour a day, and using the device as nature intended, with wi-fi on, it lasts a day. With wi-fi off it lasts for 2-3 days. For any normal person the 8-week claim is complete and utter crap.

So, hopefully, I can get back into photography soon. The logistics are going to be difficult – physically, it’s going to be very hard. I won’t know if I can do it until I try but, as I said previously, something has to change.

I just hope the price isn’t too high.

I wrote most of the foregoing Sunday evening – Sunday night I was plagued by angina. Monday morning, scared shitless!

Still am.

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