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Monday, November 26, 2012

Break Stuff

"Lake" Kenilworth.
As you may know, I currently have five bikes, three of which are now in the "active" fleet. (The other two are the Rudge Sports which is rideable but needs some more love and is not a winter bike, the other is the Raleigh M40 mountain bike that I still need to sell.) It's nice to have a variety of bikes to choose from, but because I'm neurotic I need to have all of my active bikes be in good shape. If something is wrong with one of them, I want to fix it ASAP. I'll wait a bit if I'm broke or don't have time, otherwise off to the bike shop it goes. The problem with this rationale is that it's not always cheap to have more than two bikes at 100% all the time. This is what has caused me to sell a third bike in the past.

Anyways, last week I was riding my new and fun Raleigh Crested Butte to work and noticed a grindy type of sound as I pedaled. It was annoying but not overly so. On the way home, however, the grinding got much worse so I aimed my bike towards A Better Cycle. The verdict: the cranks were on the verge of falling off because the bottom bracket was shot. So I had them replace the bottom bracket. I knew something like this could happen, as the bike has probably sat in a shed for 28 years. And bottom brackets aren't really that big of a deal to replace (I paid $24 but I also had unused store credit.)

Because I've been loving riding the Crested Butte, I got it done immediately. This is better than I used to be when I looked at bike repairs in the same way I look at dental work: to be avoided as long as possible. But I could have easily ridden the Crested Butte another half-mile to my house, hung it up to be dealt with at another date, and pulled down either the Raleigh Wayfarer or Surly Long Haul Trucker and used them instead.

So this Sunday I actually pulled down the Wayfarer and rode it for the first time in at least a week. It was quite interesting riding it to work, as I had grown used to the Crested Buttes handling, high trail and all. The steering on the Wayfarer felt twitchy in comparison so it took a little bit to get used to it, then it felt like an old friend. So after work I rode the old friend over to Kenilworth Park in SE because it was nice out (sun, around 50F/10C) and I wanted to take some photos of myself and the bike, as I didn't have much recent pics of either. Using the self-timer I snapped this shot of me.

Then as I was attempting to pick the camera up from the ledge it was perched, I dropped it. You can guess where this leads to.

I'll have to say I've had a good run with this camera, a Kodak Easy Share V1233. It was left unclaimed at the hostel three and a half years ago, so I took it. 12 megapixels and free? Sure. But the camera wasn't doing so hot as of late, as there was a lot of digital "noise" in low-light images. I knew I would need to replace it at some point, but now I'll have to replace it sooner than later, if I want to keep on taking nice photos for this blog. (The things I do for you folks!)

Does anyone have any camera recommendations? I'd like to stay at 12MP or better, and I don't want to spend a heck of a lot of money (which doesn't seem to be that hard these days.) And if anyone out there has a gently used decent digital camera they'd like to sell me, trade me, give me, please get in touch.


  1. Ah, s guy at a camera shop recommended a Nikon Coolpix L26 to my son. Quick research reveals 76.00 through Amazon. It has 16MP with 5x zoom. That's a a great deal.

  2. Sean, I am down to one bike right now and that won't do. I am looking at a pretty rough Raleigh Super Course MKII that will need the whole enchilada, something that I can ill afford. But seeing that photo of you and the Wayfarer is all the inspiration I need to plunge in over my head once again.

    Like your headlight review, I look forward to reading about your camera decision. Maybe it is time to find out what camera Grant is using (lol)...although I would rather just FIND one like you did. It is hard to beat the price point of "free" when making a decision.

    If it is any help, here is a link to my current perusals of cameras:

    Good luck! tj

    1. Thanks! Glad the Wayfarer inspires. As for the camera recommendations, looks like that article is from 2007, which means most of that stuff will be old and out-of-date. But then again, that would mean they are very Retro-Grouchey!

      I always picture Grant using a TLR (Twin Lens Reflex).

    2. Thanks for pointing that out, Shawn. One of the inescapable flaws of late-night cyber-shopping. Plus the fact that anything digital is outdated before the shine is off. I'll just wait and see what you get.


  3. Ha, Grant actually is a pretty serious photog who has written about his various film cameras. I'm sure he has a digital point and click too but doesn't seem so into writing about it.

    My take on digital cameras might seem a bit counterintuitive coming from me as I tend to prefer to buy good stuff that lasts as long as possible as but with these I operate under the assumption that using them on the bicycle drastically shortens their lifespan. So I've been just buying used cameras on eBay under the assumption that using them on the bicycle is going to kill them in a couple of years. There are of course a set of things that I want in the camera one of the primary is for them to run on replaceable batteries. Easy to deal with on tour and with rechargeables I can charge them myself and not waste tons of batteries (though can buy disposables in a pinch). The other thing to consider is that the higher the megapixels the worse it does in low light. There is more noise between the individual pixels at that density.

    So the cameras I really like are the Canon Powershot series. Small, uses batteries, good optics and depending how old you get the full range of MPs. Also the other thing I look for is Optical Zoom above 3x and you can get PowerShots with 4 and 5. Anyway to each their own on these but that's what I like.

    I do like taking pics and I used to have a nicer and bigger off bicycle camera but one the death of a P&S I took it on a tour and thus it's inevitable decline began. I would like to have a nicer camera again, but it's gonna have to wait.

    1. I was hoping you'd chime in, because I was thinking "What Camera Would Robert Use?" (By the way, I checked your flickr to get the answer.)

      I am a bit torn on all this. Like you, I'd like to get a "quality" camera and probably wouldn't mind spending more money. But I don't know how much more one gets these days with more expensive electronics, as they are near-impossible to repair (or if you tried to service it, the cost wouldn't be much less than a new unit.) Compare this to cameras thirty years ago or so. Electronics is now a disposable culture, something I am really not into. (Maybe that's why I like old bikes so much?)

      I've pondered getting a nice SLR over the years. I almost bit the bullet in '97, in the pre-digital era, but due to stupid money problems, I didn't. I know cyclists who use full digital SLR, but let's face it: SLR is bulky and fragile. Modern digital point-and-shoots are soooo much better than their film equivalent, and they are small. I always kept mine in my bag and never thought about it.

      For various reasons, I've been thinking about getting a smartphone (horrors!), one of them being having the all-in-one of internet, phone, and camera. (Simplicity!) But while the cameras on smartphones aren't bad, they are not that great either, %MP seems to be the most I've seen, most don't have flashes, and it would be harder to stage shots like the self-portrait I did above. For example, I borrowed April's smartphone to take some pics today. And the quality left me wanting. I may still get a smartphone, but I would still need a decent camera.

      Anyways, this comment response has gone on a bit too long. But thanks for the tip about pixel noise. Would shooting at a lower res take care of that?

    2. Thanks for the used tip. May go that route. Probably won't get a new camera for a few weeks, though.

    3. It's a big topic and I haven't researched it in a bit now. The disposable nature of consumer electronics grates on me as well (no surprise I'm sure) but there are options. If you get a dSLR you can keep your lenses as you replace your body. The body is where updates to sensors, video, interfaces, display and all of that reside so it will get the most out of updating. With lenses it's all about the optics and those can remain great forever if you take care of them. You can put those lenses onto film SLR bodies as well. So if one really was taking pro pictures and wanted something not so disposable that's the way to go.

      However if one's pictures end up on the internet at 72dpi and are primarily viewed at smaller sizes then that's overkill (and not good for the tour but like i said I'd have a good camera I wouldn't take on tour and stick with my used p&s cameras). So there is kind of a "middle way": Micro Four Thirds. Theses are also interchangeable lens cameras but the lens contain a certain amount of the electronics. This means the bodies are cheaper and the lens a bit more expensive. But it acknowledges that most people primarily use one general purpose lens and if they are serious might get a telephoto (and if REALLY serious a wide angle).

      Anyway this article covers what there is in all the categories now:

      Micro Four Thirds are in the "Entry Level Interchangeable Lens" category of which there are now apparently some competitors.


      Most of the pictures I posted from this years tour were taken on my iPad. The sensor is smaller so it was worse in low light and of course no zoom, but its 8MP took pretty good pictures I have to say. And being able to see them at basically display size allows for one to really get the framing right which IMO is the really important part of good photos. Of course you do look like an idiot taking pictures with it...

    4. Thanks for the tips. I think even the Micro 4/3rds are out of my price range, as I don't want to spend a heck of a lot. Most likely will be a point and shoot for now, mostly because I like small and unobtrusive. I can see getting something better at some point, but I don't know if I'd use it enough to justify. Right now having a camera in the bag at all times is nice.

  4. I don't know the first thing about cameras except that I have one, and it works good. Standing behind the Wayfarer, you look much like the caricature of yourself in your drawings.

    You may have covered this elsewhere, but what wheels and tires are on the Wayfarer? Have you stuck with 590s?

    1. gypsy/Nicholas, and you take good photos! I didn't think much about my camera other than it was "a camera", until yesterday.

      Thanks for calling me a caricature! ;-) I thought I looked more like "if Grant Petersen went on a shopping spree at Goodwill".

      Yep, the Wayfarer has 590mm wheels (aka 26" x 1 3/8" or 650A). More here:

  5. I hate breaking stuff.

    For cycling I like having one of the rugged point and shoot cameras. You know: waterproof, freeze proof and shock proof. They're available at a range of price points. They cost a little more than a standard point&shoot but I like the piece of mind. There are trade-offs of course. I'm using an Olympus Tough TG-610 which I mostly like, but which could be better in some ways. I blogged about this camera when I first picked it up:

    Another approach is to buy cheaper conventional point&shoots and accept that you might break them.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up. A water "proof" camera would definitely be a good thing for bicycling. I'll look into it.

  6. Good to see you out n about on the Wayfarer again,y friend :) Sorry about the camera...I have no recommendations other than to not buy aNikon Coolpix S3100,not satisife dwith it's pic quality at all (cost twice as much as the Canon it replaced,shoots half as good).

    The DC


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