Ponte de Lima, Portugal…the place of the lens death

I’d come down to Ponte de Lima after hearing on a forum about how it was a pretty old town by a river and decided to take a look. For whatever reason my Garmin told me it was 15 miles away but when I said “Go” it decided it was 30 miles away! The TomTom used to do that too, I must find out why it does that it’s so off putting. 

Anyway I got there and the car park is a massive gravel field beside the river which had just burst it’s banks and a large part of the car park was still under water. What wasn’t under water was soaking wet so simply walking over it meant getting soaking wet feet and up to the eyes in mud. The sun was out though and it was pretty.

I was quickly accosted by a tiny little man in an old peaked cap and a fluorescent jacket about 3 sizes too large for him, who came rushing up to me on crutches. I had no idea what he wanted til he rubbed his finger and thumb together. I’ve been told there is no payment for this car park so I said “No, no pay!” However he produced a badge on a lanyard around his neck. I actually laughed out loud when I looked at it, it was very clearly designed in Microsoft publisher in about 1997 and printed off on a cheap inkjet. I stopped laughing though when I caught the stench of urine from him, it was very strong. I decided it was a novel form of begging and he wasn’t confrontational or self pitying so although when I asked he said €1, I gave him €3. 

Jack saying hello to a cow
Jack saying hello to a cow

I explored the town a little and it’s very nice with a good mix of old run down buildings and new ones too. I discovered a sort of open working farm just on the edge of town where you could watch dairy cows being rested, watch a sow feeding pigs and see the fattest bull I have ever seen. They were even giving 2 cows a haircut using proper shearing tools and wax etc. I guessed maybe there was some sort of animal beauty pageant going on.

Jack loved it of course and tried to kiss every animal going. The only ones who didn’t wanna play with him were the sheep and goats. Cows as always were loving his attention. He’s learned over the years how to cope with cows too, recognising their shyness and backing off then coming back repeatedly until they allow him close and get a sniff of him. He likes to lick their nostrils as he does with most animals, what that’s about I’ve no clue. 

I love seeing him be so friendly with all types of animals, even though I know it’s simply because they’re too big to kill and eat :s

 

 

I think comparing Portugal with many of the other European countries I’ve been in I can say less people speak English than any other country I’ve been to. That could be down to the fact I am not in traditional tourist areas, and I tend to stay off the beaten track a lot of the time. I always manage though with the odd word, hand gestures and google translate on the phone when the going gets tough. 

Despite the language barrier I find the Portuguese friendly enough and I’ve never once felt threatened or even uncomfortable. It’s very quiet at night and although they don’t know what indicators are for the traffic is usually light. 

On the second day I was accosted by the ‘car park attendant’ again. I was not averse to giving him maybe 1 euro for the same reason I gave him 3 yesterday, until he started shouting at me the instant I left the van with the dog. He was a little loud and sticking his hand out and rubbing his finger and thumb together. The smell of stale urine and old sweat was honestly almost overpowering and I just had no time for him at all. He didn’t bother me at all the next day thankfully. 

On the last evening I was taking night shots and one of my own rules is ‘Never walk with the camera attached to the tripod.’ The reason is the tripod was not designed to have such a heavy weight attached while moving and especially when it was not upright. Neither was the camera meant to be supported by the tripod mount, it was simply meat to sit there. Of course most importantly, it’s much simpler to drop it. 

What did I do? I walked about 60 yards to set up for a night view of the Roman bridge and broke my own life long rule and left the camera attached. Of curse due to the mud etc from the flood I slipped and hit the ground hard as did the £700 lens on the front of the camera. (Karma for not giving the smelly man a €1?)
I left the shot and ran back to the van to rinse everything off. Luckily the 5DSr has good water resistant properties so a good rinse to get the mud and gravel off worked fine and there was little damage to the camera except for a scuff on the paint in 2 places. 

The lens however is buggered. The lock was off so the zoom had opened fully so when it hit the ground the zoom action was damaged. It now feels as though there’s rocks inside it when I try to zoom. The lens lock is also broken as is the hood. The lens still works but I’m unsure if auto focus is accurate so I’m just using manual til I get back to the UK and get it looked at.  My own fault? Definitely. I made that rule years ago for good reasons and broke it and the first time I ever break it this happens and could end up costing me hundreds of £’s. 

Where I stayed: Main car park in Ponte de Lima, Portugal, 41.768522, -8.585539

Anyway, here’s some photos as usual, before the lens broke!

Another lens broken

Yet another item has failed on me, this time my new 24-105 Canon L series lens that I bought last year from Portus Digital. I’m so frustrated with these constant problems at the moment. The 17-40 lens is the only one I have left working now that is of any general use on the streets of Venice.

Portus digital want me to send it to them, oh yeah what the hell is that going to cost ahhaa

New lens!

Since selling my Canon 24-105 L series zoom lens last summer I’ve come to realise what a fantastic lens this actually was and how much I miss it. So I was very pleased to take a call from Portus Digital today to say my new one is ready for collection from Shrewsbury. I was visiting Jane soon anyway, so I left Keswick and got here 4 hours later. Can’ wait til tomorrow when I can stick it on the MK III and get the 17-40 sent off for repair.

Happy days. lens

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.I.P. my Canon 24-105 L series zoom, Welcome…brand new Canon 24-105 1:4L IS USM zoom!

This is it. The Canon 24-105 mm 1:4, L series lens with IS and USM. IS is image stabilization, which I tend not to use, and USM is the ultra fast, ultra quiet ring motor that drives the auto focus.

Probably the best all round daily lens ever made.  It goes wide to 24 mm, zooms out to 105 mm, and has a macro mode where you can focus right down to 9 inches at 105 mm. It’s weatherproof, which is just as well as it got soaked a few months ago on Snowdon. It’s also robust, and has been dropped many times, twice onto concrete from about 4 feet and once onto wood from about 6 feet.

I originally got it as a kit lens with my 5D about 5 years ago? Since then I’ve taken about 19,000 images on it on the 5D and the 5D Mk II. It’s been a dependable workhorse and the most used of my lenses.

I was walking Jack by the river in Dumfries and it was gloaming and the riverside looked lovely in the light, so I went to take some photos and I could feel the lens juddering like mad as I half pressed the shutter. I tried to take a photo but it locked up and an error message came on the screen saying I needed to clean the contacts. I did that, but each time I tried to take a photo it was the same. I turned auto-focus on, then off again, then turned IS on and off again. I changed shutter speeds and aperture, wiped the contacts of the lens and camera, and also spun the focus barrel in case there was a jam.
All sadly to no avail. I got 2 shots in half an hour, there was obviously something wrong.

Canon 24-105 1:4 L IS USM zoom
Canon 24-105 1:4 L IS USM zoom

When I got back to the van I googled the error and apparently it’s very common, it’s sheer wear and tear and madly, only a couple of hundred pounds to repair. You might think that’s a lot but for these lenses it’s cheap. I was quoted £450 just for a service last year.
Anyway after googling some prices, I found the average new was about £860, the average second hand was about £550. Yet I found a brand new one for only £589 after a lot of searching! I googled the company offering them so cheaply and they seemed ok so I rang them and they said that because they don’t come in a shiny colourful retail box they can charge much less. So I ordered one and within 2 days it arrived in Dumfries Post Office. Oh joy!

 

And there it is!   ^^ Beautiful isn’t it 🙂

So the plan is, sell the old one broken for about £200 or have it repaired and sell it for £400. (Already got a buyer if it’s fixed) Then I’ve got £200 off the price of it so a brand new lens for only £389. Cracking or what?

Who are these magical people who sold me the lens? Well they’re HDEW Cameras and they’re down in Surrey. They were great on the phone, very knowledgeable and helpful, and for less than a tenner my lens was with me in 2 days. They even pointed out on the phone that they aren’t allowed to send an item anyway other than the billing address if paying by debit card, so instead, as I’m in Scotland touring, they gave me their bank details to do a direct bank transfer.
Great service and great price, I’ll definitely be using them again in the future.

 

Jessops gives me the brush off Grr!

Rubbish brush
Rubbish brush

I bought a small air-pump and brush from Jessops. It was only a couple of quid, and “Yes,” enthused the young lad behind the counter, “this should be in every photographers kit and is specially developed for digital SLR’s such as the Canon 5D. Furthermore … ” he excitedly told me, “it will save you loads of money as sensor cleaning is about £20 a time.  Not only that … ” he fervently continued, “but you can use it for your lenses too, and all the hard to reach areas such as the viewfinder window and around the controls.” OK I’m sold on it then. Sounds to me like my life hasn’t been properly complete without it.

So, sitting in the garden of the Chateau de Versailles I decide now is the time to clean my sensor as I’m getting tiny marks on every single picture I take. Out with my infallible high-tech cleaner and lets be at it then. So, the first brush against the sensor makes one thing clear and one thing not clear. It’s clear that despite frantic pressing of the small rubber bulb, I’m not going to get enough air out of this thing to dislodge a feather. You can’t hold something stable and press it that hard and that frequent anyway. Hmmm.

Also, it’s left streaky brush marks on my sensor! Grr! OK out with the trusty optical cloth and wipe those nasty marks away. I’ll start again. Ahhh but … starting again has the same effect. Not only is this device useless for blowing air out of, but it’s also leaving streaks on my sensor.  Now let me tell you these sensors are not cheap to replace!

Now another problem. The optical cloth is guaranteed not to scratch your glass, so I always carry one for the lenses. However, they make no guarantee about lint from the cloth. So now I have hundreds of tiny hairs and dots all over my screen. After much huffing and blowing, I reckon I’m about 100 times worse off than when I started. 🙁

The moral of the story is, do NOT believe the spotty kid in Jessops who says those £2 blowers are good for digital cameras. They are cheap, ineffective CRAP! and look up ^, there’s a mug shot of one of the beastly things. I’m now off to find a decent camera shop to get the sensor, mirror and screen professionally cleaned.