[Online adventures] #8 – EBay – Bike helmet (Motorcycle helmet PGR ST01)


Hmmm it doesn’t fit in our usual “product shot” frame


Better

EBay: 32USD (45CAD 2015)

I needed a bike helmet as I would be riding on the road. I looked at Sportchek to see what the prices are:


40CAD protect half of your head

45CAD protect your entire head

The choice is clear.

So why don’t people wear full-face motorcycle helmets on bikes?

I googled that and mostly people say there is less ventilation and that could lead to a heat build-up.

In programming, we have a saying: One man’s bug is another man’s feature.

I’ve lived in Edmonton for four years, and our winters are about -20C. Heat build-up? Yes please!

Wearing the helmet

I think I am the only person in town that wears a motorcycle helmet on a bike. I am bound to get some attention.

Situation 1: Conversations

Someone saw my helmet and asked: “oooh what’s your ride?”

Me: “Oh, I ride a bike.”

Situation 2: Checking into storage

I wanted to check my helmet in at the front desk of a gym and they wanted a driver’s license. I told them that I didn’t have one and they were annoyed instantly. Due to the motorcycle helmet, they assumed that I must
have a motor bike and therefore have a driver’s license. They thought I was trying to be difficult and unwilling to show my driver’s license πŸ˜› I then told them “Oh, I ride a bike.”

Situation 3: Stare-downs

I bike on a route where there are other cyclists.

When it was still 10C, they give me this “wow what an overkill” stare

Currently the weather is around 0C so cyclists generally mummify their head + goggle up + helmet on top. They now look like me πŸ˜›

On a more serious note

– This helmet is warm, so unless that is a feature for you, this is not the helmet for you.

– Wind noise is a problem. Even at bike speeds ~30-40km/h you can clearly hear the wind blowing.

– The helmet hinders hearing a little bit. You can still hear cars, but they are definitely not as loud as before.

– Your field of view is narrower, you will have to learn to compensate for that by turning your head more. You also have to be a lot more careful as the procedure for making turns and switching lanes is more complicated than on a motorbike.

– You feel safer in this helmet, and you’ll be more likely to put yourself in an unsafe situation. Again, something you will have to take into account.

If none of those things bother you, the helmet is super comfortable. The cushioning inside is detachable for washing.

Final thoughts

If you live in a warmer climate, wear a regular bike helmet. The extra field of view and not sweating yourself out is a huge plus.

If you live in a colder climate, you might as well give this a shot. But do note the narrower field of view!

[Online adventures] #7 – Amazon – Fujian 35mm f1.7 CCTV lens


This time around we have a C-mount lens. Its original purpose? For CCTV cameras (surveillance). Why would one mount something like this on to a mirrorless camera? Because it is a 35mm f1.7 on the cheap!

Amazon: 32CAD + free shipping


The lens itself + E-mount to C-mount converter ring


Sony NEX-5R + E-mount to C-mount converter + Fujian 35mm

This is why I love mirrorless cameras, the short flange focal distance means you can use *almost* any lens with a simple passive adapter ring.

Using it:

I am using it with a NEX-5R, an APS-C camera with a crop factor of 1.5x. Meaning this lens will have a field of view equivalent to 52.5mm.

This lens is small but not as compact as say a pancake lens, so it is still not pocketable. With that being said, due to the small lens, it kind of feels like using a point and shoot instead of a mirrorless.

There is no optical stabilization for handheld use however, thanks to the large aperture, if you are coming from an f3.5 lens, you’ll gain an extra ~two stops of shutter speed, which is good enough to offset the lack of stabilization.

Focus is easy thanks to Sony’s peaking mode. I was able to teach a friend how to manual focus with this lens in less than a minute!

Let’s talk aperture

This is probably the #1 reason why anyone would buy this lens. 35mm @ f1.7? Bokeh!


Cheap lenses like the Canon 50mm f1.8 have 5 non-rounded aperture blades.

Expensive lenses like the Canon 24-70 f4/L have 9 rounded aperture blades.

This? I present to you the Fujian 35mm f1.7, has 12 rounded aperture blades


@ f1.7


@ f16 we have full closure! Wait what? I am not sure if you can call this a feature but it is possible to shut out all the light purely with aperture πŸ˜› But hey more features the better right? Maybe someday I’ll find a use for this f9000 mode (disclaimer: not accurate description).

Also, the aperture ring is completely smooth (analog). So if you can do the math, you can really hit any aperture size you so desire starting from f1.7

But who buys this lens just to stop it down? You are throwing optical quality, optical stabilization, distortion, and basically everything image quality wise out the window just to get to that bokehlicious f1.7 for a low low price of 32CAD.

Test shots!


Sure we might have a 12 blade rounded aperture, but that doesn’t mean you are going to get round bokeh circles. Here we see its short comings in optical quality. But hey! Good colors.


*side note* The Chinese says εŒ—δΊ¬ι£―εΊ— which means Beijing Restaurant, the English says Korean Restaurant, the letters in the logo and on the side are Korean characters. So what is it? Beijing or Korean restaurant?

This lens is only “usably” sharp in the center. So not only do you get the bokeh effect thanks to the f1.7 aperture, everything near the sides and corners are also blurred out. Once again, we have thrown everything image quality related out the window to hit f1.7 at 32CAD. But hey! There isn’t much distortion.

This is where I would like to say this:

Stop complaining, understand the short-comings, and use it to your advantage.

The lens is only sharp in the center? Then put things that are important in the center!


*side note* I personally think the restaurant’s statement is a little rough. I believe that selfies have their place. As long as a photo evokes memories, then it’s a good shot πŸ™‚


*side note* 3CAD for one liter of bubble tea, good times in Vancouver πŸ˜€


My birthday cake in 2014 from Sobey’s. Friend had no experience with bad lenses or manual focus. Within minutes of playing around with the lens, she nailed every shot! So good I had her take the rest of my birthday photos with this lens πŸ˜€

Final thoughts

Aperture ring and focus ring is smooth. Focus at infinity is questionable. Macro shots are possible as they include two macro rings. But really, focus in general is questionable πŸ˜› It is usably sharp in the center but everywhere else it is not. In general, this is a fun lens and should be treated as such.

At 32CAD, if all you care about is the large aperture, this is your lens.

Yes, this lens has a crazy amount of short-comings, but really, nothing is perfect. You can spend as much or as little as you want and you will end up with something that has its fair share of strengths and weakness. This is where I would like to use the quote again: If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

[Online adventures] #6 – EBay – Konica Hexanon Zoom 80-200mm F3.5


I almost engaged in a bid war for this lens… who am I kidding, a bid war happened πŸ˜›

Back in July 2015, I had the opportunity of bidding on a mint Konica Hexanon Zoom 80-200mm F3.5. So mint that it was still in its box! However, I missed the bidding date, and lost it πŸ™

Then this popped up

A near mint version of the same lens that I lost the chance to get a couple months ago. This time I was determined to obtain this lens πŸ˜›


Me (in black) vs mystery EBay bidder (in gray). Within 8 minutes we raised the price of this lens by 1100% and 2200% from the starting bid price. In the end, I am the victor!

EBay: 22.2USD + 15USD shipping (~50CAD total in 2015 CAD dollars)

The lens that I won is a Konica Hexanon Zoom 80-200mm F3.5 lens. Around 35 years old.


Sony NEX-5R + E-mount to AR-mount converter + Konica Hexanon Zoom 80-200mm

From Wikipedia – Mirrorless cameras are designed to have the advantage of smaller size, lighter weight, and lower cost than SLRs, while still allowing users to swap lenses, unlike most compact cameras.

I think I have successfully nullified most of the advantage of owning a mirrorless camera here.


This lens is 1200g and 28 centimeters long. IKEA cup for reference.

Using it:

I am using it with a NEX-5R, an APS-C camera with a crop factor of 1.5x. Meaning this lens will have a field of view equivalent to 120-300mm.

The weight is definitely a factor here. Trying to frame a shot with this lens kind of feels like aiming a shot with a bazooka. Similarly, pedestrians that see you shooting with this lens will stay out of your way as if you are armed with bazooka.

Stability is an issue as well. My hands are pretty steady. With a more typical zoom lens (like the SEL1855) at 18mm (27mm eq.) with optical stabilization I can get a clear shot at ΒΌ easy. This? At 200mm (300mm eq.) combined with the weight, 1/200 is as slow as I can go.

Thanks to its large f3.5 aperture, getting 1/200 is not that hard. Along with the fact that this lens does not have image stabilization, at 200mm (300mm eq.) I recommend 1/320 or faster if you are using an APS-C camera.

We solved the image stabilization problem, but that’s not all to getting a clean shot. Problem #2 focusing.

This lens is over 35 years old, manual focus is the name of the game. At 200mm (300mm eq.) we are looking at some serious shakiness. It is almost impossible to discern whether or not you are in-focus when everything is shaking. However, thanks to Sony’s peaking mode, I could safely assume something is in-focus as long as I see some red highlights on the screen. With this in mind, I generally stop this lens down to f5.6 for easier focus, at the cost of high ISO.

Personally, I would always use a higher ISO to solve image stability problems and focus difficulties.

Test shots!


Problem #1 – Chromatic Aberration. It is so pronounced it is almost like watching a 3D movie. However, this is an extreme case


Problem #2 – Soft. It is almost like I missed the focus (but I didn’t). This was taken at 200mm @ f3.5.


Same shot 200mm @ f5.6. Better, this gives us another reason to stop this lens down a little.


200mm @ f8


200mm @ f11


200mm @ f16 (smallest aperture)

At this focal length, we can achieve some sort of bokeh regardless of f-stop.

One might think, wow this lens is crap. However, once we take this lens out of the hard to handle situations into more conventional situations, this is where the Hexanon line starts to show its value.


200mm, 1/640 f3.5 @ ISO 800 – I was a solid five meters away


200mm, 1/400 f3.5 @ ISO 400 – at this focal length, you are almost guaranteed some bokeh


200mm, 1/1600 f3.5 @ ISO 400 – Colors are okay too!

Final thoughts

The lens is very well built, almost full-metal. It feels so well built that one would not have a problem in using it like a baseball bat (but please don’t!)

In edge cases it does very poorly, almost a complete fail if you compare it to modern lenses. However, in real life situations, you’ll find this lens does what it needs to do – providing a long focal length with acceptable quality at a low price.

At 50CAD, this is a great poor man’s zoom.

Understand your gear and use it where it shines. As the saying goes: If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

[Online adventures] #5 – EBay – Bike – Speedometer

Not sure how much one would cost in Edmonton. Whatever it is, it can’t be lower than this one:

EBay: 1.99CAD + free shipping (~30 days)


What comes in the package?

– Zip ties to tie on to handle bar

– A mount

– The speedometer it self

It requires a LR44 battery to operate (included and fairly common)

Features:

Odometer: Total distance recorded by the cycling computer

Distance: Distance of last trip

Max speed: Max speed of last trip

Average: Average speed of last trip

Time: Total moving time of last trip

Scan: Cycles through all of the above except “Odometer” repeatedly

Time: Keeps current time.

Comments:

+ Splash proof!

+ Drop proof!

– Resets once in a while because the battery loses contact (so sudden shock/vibration will make it lose its memory. It doesn’t happen during normal bike rides though)

Verdict:

Works as expected, if you want a simple speedometer for your bike, you can’t go wrong with this one.

[Online adventures] #4 – EBay – iPhone 5/5s glass screen protector


Question: LOL Jacky, did you get sent a piece of paper?

Answer: No, but I gave it out to someone for free and all I have left is the paper to go on the IKEA Mammut stool for this post.

In Edmonton: 10CAD

I didn’t need an iPhone 5/5s glass screen protector. I don’t even have an iPhone. But as I was scouting around for a glass screen protector for my Galaxy S4 and I found this protector.

The bid started at 1USD, and had minutes left so I was like wow, if I bid, are they seriously going to ship one to me for 1USD? I also knew someone that could use a glass iPhone 5s screen protector. So, I entered the bid and within minutes, I was the sole bidder and won with one bid. Final price: 1USD. After currency conversion:

EBay: 1.33CAD + free shipping (~30 days)

It is amazing how they produced a glass screen protector, shipped it all the way from China to Edmonton and still managed to cover all their costs with 1USD (or do they cover their costs? *queue the economic conspiracies*)

So far I haven’t heard back from the person I’ve gave it to, but I guess no news is good news?

[Online adventures] #3 – EBay – Bike – Back light

Well, if you buy one for the front, you buy one for the back. We are back for another EBay adventures.

In Edmonton: 10CAD

Well, that is actually not too bad, but guess what? EBay does better

EBay: 2.68CAD + free shipping (~30 days)


A laser button! Does it shoot out laser beams and destroy things 007 style? Nah, but it does do something pretty cool:


*Off topic note* Please do not configure the gears as pictured, it stresses the rear derailleur and chain!

These laser lines say this area is my personal bubble, stay away!

Personal road experience. Cars still give me about the same clearance. However, they tend to stay behind me instead of attempting to pass and immediately cut in front (which is dangerous)

What comes in the package?

– A mount

– The light itself

It requires 2xAAA batteries to operate (not included and finally, a common number of batteries)

Features:

LED flash modes: On / fast strobe / slow strobe / right-to-left scroll / left-to-right scroll / circular / left-right-right-left bounce / off

Laser flash modes: On / strobe / off

Here is my only problem with this light, you press the LED button to toggle the LED flash modes and there are seven modes. Usually I want slow strobe. That means three clicks to turn on, five clicks to turn off. What are we doing here? Morse code? Oh right, we are trying to turn it on and off. It doesn’t matter which flash mode you prefer. At the end of the on-off cycle, you would have clicked that button eight times. This button is going to wear out quick.

Verdict:

Great value! Not only was it cheaper, it also has a laser feature that is not a gimmick.

[Online adventures] #2 – EBay – Front light


I bought a flash light, online.

Okay, so this is not an ordinary flash light, it’s a flash light for bikes. The difference between a normal flash light and one that is designed for a bike is minimal, but the difference is there. The ones for bikes usually have a mount and have multiple flash modes.

In Edmonton: 20CAD

I am definitely not paying 20CAD for a flash light…

EBay: 1.8CAD + free shipping (~30 days)

Not only did I bought a flash light online, it is getting shipped 10,000km+ for free. What? *mind blown*


So, is it any good? We will find out! What came in the package?

– A mount

– The flash light itself

It requires 3xAAA batteries to operate (not included and an odd number too)

Features:

Flash modes: On / Strobe / Off

Features after a couple days:

Flash modes: Off

/\ Well that sums up my review

[Online adventures] #1 – EBay – A 2CR5 Battery


Well, this is unexpected, buying a battery online.

There is a reason behind this though!

In Edmonton: 16CAD+

Woah, in Hong Kong I could probably get this in a shop for around 40HKD (~6CAD). EBay to the rescue!

EBay: 4CAD + free shipping

I was in a slight hurry as I just received a Canon EOS 650 camera as a birthday gift and I couldn’t wait to get it up and running. So I went with a Canada based seller which raised the price to 10CAD and gave me a shipping time of a week.

Overall, it’s a battery, it’s from Panasonic, it works.

My airline reviews

Instead of writing a typical review, I decided to do something different. I will instead write a review in a hypothetical situation where an oxygen mask is required… In no particular order:

Β 

Air Canada:

Oxygen masks will be available at the cost of 10 dollars, oxygen can be provided at your convienence for a dollar per minute. Mounting straps are also available for an extra 5 dollars. We accept credit cards.

United Airlines:

Oxygen masks are currently unavailable at the moment, please try again later.

ANA (All Nippon Airline):

Oxygen masks will drop automatically. Upon wearing it, you realize it has 20 other useful features you never knew they exist/belong in an oxygen mask.

Cathy Pacific:

Oxygen masks will drop automatically, they are made of paper. Everything is fine, just that it feels cheap and the oxygen smells funny. But hey, it works.

Air China:

Oxygen masks drop and they work, cool.

China Eastern Airlines:

Oxygen masks will drop prematurely. Followed by a snap which will deattach it from the oxygen supply. Forget the mask, you might be able to breathe through the hanging tube that was supposed to be attached to the mask.

Dragon Air:

Oxygen masks drop and they work. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, customized to fit the person’s needs.