Electronics and Optics, Some Geek Talk

I am usually very careful with my cameras and lenses, but on my recent trip to Europe, I dropped my precious Canon 70-200 f/4 lens… thrice. <bleep>. At the end of the trip, the lens still worked but there was a big crack in one of the glass elements. The Canon Factory Service Center in Irvine was happy to repair the damage in exchange for a hefty fee. Ouch. That will teach me to treat my lenses with care.

Before the trip, I wanted to remove a big dust spot on the sensor of my Canon DSLR, and at first I was looking at either cleaning it myself or having it wet-cleaned at Precision Camera (for about $70, I think). The guy at the service desk there took a look at it through a magnifying loupe, blew some compressed air on the sensor, checked it out again with the loupe, and pronounced it good to go. Thirty seconds, no charge. Talk of great service!

My Sigma flash also suffered some damage some months ago, so bounce flash has not been on my list of techniques in recent shooting. Available light is enough for now, thank you. Kinda refreshing, actually. Less equipment to mess with.

This week I bought a Corsair F60 SSD from Fry’s, in an attempt to speed up my thin-and-light wonder laptop, the HP dm1z. The transfer of my existing Win7 image to the new SSD went very smoothly. However after two hours of use, the drive was dead. The BIOS couldn’t see the drive any more, and moving it over to a different system didn’t help.

This is a well known problem with this drive. Current ratings of some Corsair and OCZ SSDs on Newegg show that between 15 and 20 (!) percent of all purchasers reported a similar failure in short order (look for the 1/5 user ratings). That’s a ridiculously high failure rate. Rather than deal with RMA from Corsair, I wanted to return the drive to Fry’s. I went back to the store with the receipt. The guy at the customer service desk ran a few tests on the drive. He came in a few minutes and reported that…

The serial number on the drive didn’t match the serial number on the box! The last two digits were different. Seriously, Corsair?

After four Fry’s employees and managers looked at the discrepancy in turn, they called the “cage” to find out if other drives of the same kind had a serial number mismatch. They didn’t. Finally one of the managers came back to the customer service desk and apologized for the delay, and explained what had happened. He said that they’d accept my return and refund my money but Corsair probably wouldn’t take the drive back, so Fry’s might have to bear the loss. I do appreciate Fry’s standing behind the products they sold, but no more Corsair products for me, I think.

I am now back to using a plain old hard disk on my HP dm1z laptop. I have enabled full-disk encryption using TrueCrypt on that system, after years of using encryption only for my data partition. More on drive encryption some other time.

My excellent Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 lens sold on eBay a couple of days ago. I hope the new owner puts it to good use; it was a great performer on my camera. My “plastic fantastic” 50mm f/1.8 prime lens is also up for auction right now, and the reserve price has been met; so it too will leave my hands early next week. The cash from both these transactions will fund a Tamron 18-270 super-zoom, which will be a one-lens solution. Let’s see how well that lens works out for me…

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