Continue with Nikon digital

Somehow I never liked the DX CCD chip size. This is just a subjective thing but as cameras are my hobby facts are less of an issue, aren’t they?

Today, Nikon offers excellent and affordable digital FX cameras. With the D800 release I thought that is the camera I had been waiting for more than 10 years. But some reviews indicating that this is rather a studio and tripod camera kept me waiting. The D600, D610 seemed to be OK. The D750 feels right. This could be a Nikon plan:

Many options, lots of money to spend until my retirement. And except my old SB-25 flash I can use my old lenses here. But does this really fit my requirements. Mhmm… Good idea. What about my requirements? That is the topic of my next blog.


Finding the next digital camera…

Due to my work in 3D digitizing I was happy to be an early adoptor of digital photography. It all started with Kodak DCS we had at the Daimler research lab in Ulm in 1994. This was a Nikon body with standard lenses like 50mm 1.4 and mainly used for photogrammetry. From time to time we took some photos on the side and here is one Georg Wiora shoot: my wild time as a PhD student.

In my private life I relied on my Nikon F601, my favorite lens 85mm 1.8, a Tokina 28-70mm 2.8-3.5 for everyday’s purpose, and the strong SB-25 flash. Later I sold the Tokina and a seldom used Sigma 70-210mm (ugly pictures). As digital DSLR became stronger I got a F80 with a 28-80mm 3.3-5.6 very cheap. That is my Nikon collection now:

While waiting for the „perfect“ digital camera my wife was smarter and surprised me with a christmas present in 2002: Canon DIGITAL IXUS v3. The IXUS turned out to be my omnipresent partner with reasonable quality resolution of 2048 × 1536 for nice family pictures. The combination of IXUS and Nikon analog served our needs quite well. Even when the IXUS went „CCD-dark“ at one day in 2010, Canon was so kind to replace it with a complete new model: the Canon DIGITAL IXUS 70. The new IXUS has a higher resolution 2304 × 3072 but the lens is not as sharp. Over time the cameras in mobile phones reached the quality of the IXUS: BlackBerry, iPhone 3s, and now my Samsung S3 offer enough for snapshots. That’s why the IXUS stays home most of the time.

My father bought a Miranda collection in the late 70s, I proudly completed over time:

  • Miranda Auto Sensorex EE
  • Miranda 50mm 1.4 EC Auto: I love it
  • Soligor 28mm 2.8 EC Auto: only OK
  • Soligor 135mm 2.8 EC Auto: I love it
  • Soligor 85-210mm 3.8 MC Auto (include Macro): Cannot recommend it. Very blurry…
  • Additional exchangeable viewfinders: VFE-1, VFE-3
  • Extension tubes for Macro

This is a great camera performing like a Nikon F3. I did all my learning with it and will never give it away!

During our last vacation in Ireland I was not really satiesfied with the picture quality of the IXUS or all the smartphone cameras we had with us. At my friend house I played with the amazing small and good Sony DSC-RX100 I with Zeiss lenses. At the same time I got the first news about the Nikon D750 and here we are with the question: Do I continue with the Nikon DSLR camera approach and buy a Nikon D750 (the D810 seems to be more for static shooting) or should I switch to a smaller system camera now?

Here are my options:

  1. Stay on the Nikon train:
    • D750  €1900 and some more add-ons
  2. Switch to digital Leica, yes expensive!
    • Leica M9, M, M-P €3000-€6900
  3. Switch to Micro Four Thirds
    • The small Lumix GM5 with lenses €1300 and up
    • little bit bigger Lumix GX7 with lenses €700 and up
    • or some other
  4. Switch to Fuji x-mount
    • the small Fuji X-A2
    • or the bigger Fuji X-E2, Fuji X-Pro1, or Fuji X-T1
  5. Just replace the IXUS with a good small high performance lens compact camera
    • Sony DSC-RX100 I, II, or III €350-€650
    • or some other brand Fujifilm.

Let’s explore these options over time in the following posts..  Sources for my decisions are:

Meteoplug = Meteohub + DreamPlug Online

It took me more than two years to find a better solution to run a local data collection server in my home. Up to now I used an old laptop with all energy saving options available. But this turned out to be noisy and not really reliable. Moreover the software that comes with my Weather Station and Energy Control on Windows is buggy like [….]

My newest gadget is a DreamPlug with preinstalled Meteohub software. This collects now data from my Weather Station and Energy Monitor. Believe it or not: It is a Debian Linux system and was plug-and-play!  Meteohub pushes every 5 Minutes a GNU-plot generated .png file via FTP. Here is the latest version

Latest Temperature Measurement from my Weather Station

Next step is to make a nice dashboard…

Dualism of virtual and physical existence

Here comes another facet of the dualism of information about someone or something versus the physical existence. I strongly belive that in web 3.0 we will confuse or favor the virtual existence over the physical. Some days ago I have visited mobile metrix  and have read „More than 1 billion people in 120 developing countries have no official record of their existence“. This project has the vision to improve poor people live with an official record or I would call it a virtual existence. The news page even says: „How do you serve people if you don’t know they exist?“ I am impressed.

Photosynth experience…

Yesterday and today I played arround with Microsoft Photosynth. My expectations were quite high as I had experience from my 3D-work and photogrammetry years ago. But overall I was disappointed in many respects. First you have to create an Microsoft account, the you can run Photosynth only online, it allows only JPG-files, it requires correct orientation even if the orientation is stored in the JPG-file, the „space-navigation“ is really outdated, and in the end you do not get a real 3D-model. It is only a correct orientation of 2D pictures. I think today you could do a lot better. Anyway, here is my result:

My favorite among the photosynth collection is this:

See you…

Additional temperature sensor and new pachube feed

As I’d like to make use of the senors already available in the house I got a „Pt1000“ test sensor connected to my C-Control. Unfortunately, the C-Control features only a 8-Bit A/D-Conversion giving pure accurency at normal temperatures. Anyway, I added a new pachube feed because I couldn’t extend my old one. Please watch now here . I will leave the old feed as it is for documentation purpose. The software I posted here and all the example pictures use the old feed.

An Unheroic Story: Connecting Java to C-Control

After the end of the year parties I had some time to continue my web 3.0 project. In a very incremental way I want to connect my Conrad C-Control V1.1 which features a temperature, humidity, and air pressure sensor to the pachube service.

After looking at several alternatives to implement the connection from the C-Control to the Internet I decided to use the serial port of the C-Control, connect it with my PC and run a Java application to send the XML-data to pachube.

Of course there have been some technical alternatives (Perl, C++) but I decided to build on Java as I would learn most how easy I could integrate the old embedded technology with the current Internet standard.

First I installed the newest Eclipse IDE Version: 3.4.1 Build id: M20080911-1700 from This turned out to be easy even though I had already the Eclipse CDT for C/C++ development. I just have two instances of Eclipse in separated sub-folders: one for Java and one for C.

The I started browsing for data streams in Java to read input from the PC serial port. Boy, I was shocked. There is NO serial or parallel interface support in standard Java. The only Sun support is an outdated and officially not supported Sun Java Library called Java Communication 3.0 API. For Windows one has to relay on the open source development from So first I registered as a Sun developer to acquire the Sun comm API 2.0.3. Therefore, the Sun download tool was installed on my PC. After that I struggled quite a while to find the place in Eclipse to add the library to my project. It took me even longer to find the promised example for using the serial port interface…

The I googled for the rxtx windows support and had look to find Eclipse plug-ins: The the real unheroic story begin to start. I was not able to direct the rxtx windows dlls to the Sun Comm API. After reading dozens of bug reports, howtos, and news I went to bed ;-(

Next day I found a pretty simple solution: Do not use the Sun Comm API at all; instead use the .jar-file from rxtx. After importing the sample java file Eclipse was happy to compile the executable. But this didn’t mean that things worked out already. The input stream from the serial port captured by Java had very strange characters (NULL and others) though the Windows Terminal Software did not have these problems.

After another couples of hours in bug reports and news postings, some testing here and there I found a bug in the „official sample“ file. The readBuffer size did not fit well the characters really read from the port. Quite annoying…

Overall it took me about ten hours to display the serial port input stream on the PC screen. The code to do this has 195 lines. In Perl this would be a small exercise of 10 minutes at most. Stream in C++ would have been much easier also.  My first conclusion: Java is not ready yet for embedded world at all! The code is here:

The next story will be the XML-Output in eeml-format for the pachube web service.

Definition of web 3.0

There are many discussions and definitions out there which define the term „web 3.0“. I think it is much to early to judge as I can recognize only convergence in technology and who should know what this finally means…

Here are some theses I’d like to share.

First, I believe that today’s millions of embedded software systems and the Internet will get connected. Many people think that Internet invades embedded systems. I see it differently. As embedded systems are much more natural to work with it is the embedded systems replacing PCs and laptops while using the same network infrastructure created for the PCs.

Often people say the web 3.0 is the Internet of things. e.g. this quote „It’s not the documents, it is the things they are about which are important“ from timbl’s blog. Even stronger is the concept of RFID chips in each object of the world. Of course this gives a unique ID to every peace on the planet but how to make use of this.

Other people argue that web 3.0 is all about semantic webs.

I am thinking more like a dualism in web 3.0 of 1. physical objects connected and 2. information about the objects and there connection. Only if objects are somehow accessible in the Internet and semantic meta-data about them is in the Internet the story will work. This gives some heavy philosophical questions. There has been the century long discussion about existence and essence which is strongly linked to the fact what human can observe to be existent. If you put the above bold „and“ literally this would mean a object is only existent if a human can physically recognize it and its semantic meta-information is in the Internet. The latter could even be the essence of the object. If you think this is strange, I have an interesting question: How much of you is physically visible, touchable, or in general sens-able and how much information about you is in the Internet. If you are a very famous person there is a lot information in the Internet. This might even be wrong but has a strong impact on you „physically“. Dualism looks like the right concept for this phenom.

Finally, the development of web 3.0 depends heavily on the societies trust, security, and stay-in-charge needs.  It looks like that you people are very open to share very private information in the web. Older people are much more reluctant. Data security flaws are not new but the impact and the amount of data is much higher today putting much higher risks at stakes. I see this a the wild card in the game.