X1 KAP: the idiot checks

White squares of doom. So now the bad news, after weeks of waiting the wind is as  forecast: ‘just enough’ Easterly, the sun finally breaks through the relentless overcast sky, the kite is flying beautifully and the video screen shows the most wonderful views of my chosen subject: it’s time to trust the system and shoot shoot shoot!

The flight progresses well, the preview looks amazing, 2 hours of magnificently controlled flight later (thank you Clive!) we recover the rig in a state of excited anticipation and, before the kite is down, I flick on the camera preview screen expecting to see the wonder of the aerial views I have been thrilling over…

….and there are 270 high resolution 12.2Mp white rectangles! All the cursing in the world can’t change this! I have, despite checking for the shutter click on launch, managed to waste the time, light and precious lift by shooting rubbish: what a disappointment!

Yes they are ‘super fine’ white rectangles!  So what went wrong?  And why am I sharing this hideous embarrassment with the world?  Sadly this is ‘user error’, and the usual ‘replace user and press any key’ option is not possible! Simon Harbord has been very honest about this sort of thing and I have found his sharing of the worst immensely valuable in getting KAP working for me. I feel if you can learn from my experience it lessens the sting of this tale too: Simon Harbords KAP Failure Page

An examiniation of the SD card, although puzzling at first (where are all the pictures then?)  confirms the worst:

Sadly I know exactly what I have done. I am in the habit of keeping the camera ‘flight ready’ on the rig. The unique design of the Leica X1 uses a very unusual set of controls for a ‘compact’. I did not check the knob settings before launch. The camera flew like this:

It should have been like this:

In transit the shutter and aperture setting knobs have got knocked off the ‘A’ settings and the result is massive over-exposure of every single shot! Unfortunately, when the camera is set up in the rig, these knobs are not visible as they are obscured by the hot-shoe mounted shutter servo/mini-cam assembly. They move very easily, and as we hurtle along towards our carefully chosen KAP site and a frighteningly tight weather and tide window, they jolt towards the white square of doom settings, as if by themselves!

So the solution to the problem is simple: either I tape up the controls or I make damn sure the thing is shooting; if I can remember (and there seems to be a problem with that!) I need to spin the rig to see the review screen and check a test shot before it’s loosed into the air. I can’t believe I didn’t do this! It was a two and a half hour drive to site and I knew those knobs can move too easily so why did I fail on launch procedure?

Kappers fog and KAP frenzy. Simon describes the misdirected KAP flight very well as a ‘mental fog’ whereby you are convinced things are working well, even to the point of  spending a lot more time doing it, but in fact things have been wrong from the start and an over-confidence in the process breeds failure. My problem on these ‘white square’ flights is similar: I know what’s wrong but in the surge of excitement at getting into the air I forget the checks! This has happened before, I failed to connect the RC Rx antenna once in the same way: its a case of ‘hurrah…at last I can fly: to the sky, to the sky!’ but it should be ‘check, check, and check again!’

It’s almost as if the greater the effort to get the camera where you want it the greater the chance of overlooking a simple procedure and messing it up!

So another test flight with full check procedures in place just caught the last of the sunlight before the Atlantic weather front hits and summer’s over:

So there we are, shutter control, video relay and now idiot checks sorted: see the best of the shots here:




About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
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