Today's Thinking

My ideal kit is now here. I may not recognize it yet but it's still true.. probably. Sure it would be much different with a $2k budget, but that is not coming about soon.

Part of my kit problem is that some of this should not be here. The 55-300 was supposed to be a check, the 17-28 fisheye would not be here if the 10-24 deal did not fall apart for 10 days, and in fact the K-5 was supposed to be a GM1! Go figure. On the other hand, the E500 and 4Thirds gear became much more useable as the 17-28 and some of these lenses can still become cash.. inevitably.

So here is today's Favorite Kit. *
F17-28, because small is beautiful
S18-50 for silence and a pinch more speed
DA50-200wr, see 17-28 + wr protection
S100-300 fast focus and decent IQ
S28-200 to pair up with 17-28 now and then

* Tomorrow is another day; I shall worry about that kit tomorrow. (Katie Scarlett O'Hara)

Honestly, I really like the other lenses. Nobody really dislikes results from the 55-300 in any of its many forms..but oh that pokey focus. And going to 10mm is amazing..now and then. The 18-55wr is small and talented and wr, and anyway I can't sell it with a non-wr lens mount. Guess it stays too, in the closet.


1 Thing still missing?

Looking over the pile of recent acquisitions it seemed that nothing major was lacking. I have coverage from 15-450mme plus the 600mme Hanimar long telephoto, weather seals from 27-450mme, a fisheye zoom and a couple of fast manual primes. All is well..

The one thing I lack here is a quiet lens for the quiet body. The K-5 has a nicely muted shutter sound but a typically noisy AF screw drive. The best options to beat this are Sigma's HSM lenses with Pentax SDM good but tarnished by a few bad copies (make that several dozen bad copies..).

 I found a Sigma 18-50 f/2.8-4.5 HSM OS Macro &c lens for under $100. I've owned this before and it does a good job. No weather seals but zoom and focus are internal so water is less apt to get inside. Focus is nicely nearly silent, and it even has in-lens stabilization which is very rare in Pentax mount. It has switches for both OS and AF (which allows for catch-in focus on the K-5). I will get an extra stop of light along with silence.. and an extra 100g of bulk.
Given the advantages of silence I'm letting this one back into my lineup. Maybe someone else will take a white 18-55wr off my hands?


The gang's all here

A few final items have now dropped into the Pentax pile. 
Now to decide what stays!

As noted earlier, the whole Pentax thing came about because the µ43 bargains dried up and K-mount items became cheap and plentiful. Definitely not my plan, but circumstances are not under my control! I re-joined µ43 because it was where good cameras could be had for $200 ..and so was my K-5. When the auction on a K-mount 10-24mm was canceled I swapped unused 4Thirds gear for a Pentax-F 17-28mm fisheye. When the 10-24 seller repented I took that too! When B&H had trouble sending me a check for some trade-in gear I converted it to store credit, then into a Pentax HD 55-300. When KEH had a $16 "UGly"-rated Sigma 28-200mm I grabbed it. When i could not find a lens mount for my 18-55wr I bought a bargain 50-200wr and robbed it.

It all happened so fast!

So what did I learn? No surprises:

  • The HD 55-300wr is a typically excellent copy and offers me a weather-friendly kit with the 18-55wr.
  • KEH still undervalues slow-selling lenses. The 28-200 looks new and works great (as good as the 55-300 in tests, and focuses much faster & closer), so a fair-weather pairing of this with either 10-24 or 17-28 is fun and light.
  • The 10-24 is relatively large but is like nothing I've owned before. The 17-28 is great in different ways.
  • In the closet I also have Sigmas 28-80 (1:2), 100-300 f/4.5-6.7 and Rikenon 70-150/4, and two primes (A50/1.7, M100/2.8). And oh yes, the manual-focus-only DA18-250! Kits beyond calculation..

posted from Bloggeroid


Battle of the Bizarre

Nothing is normal when shooting below 24mm - but that's why ultra-wide lenses exist! Their exaggeration of perspective makes for dramatic or curious images like no other lens provides. Add in a fisheye distortion curve and you're well off the map for images that non-techie shooters would consider 'traditional'.

In my film days I recall my first view through a 24mm lens on my Pentax ME Super. It was a distinctly different look even from the 28mm in the early 1980s and I really enjoyed it. In recent times I've tried 8mm and 17mm fisheyes and the DA10-17 fisheye zoom. And as noted in recent posts, I'm suddenly in a spot with two very different and very wide lenses.

So how can one compare a full-frame-friendly 17-28mm fisheye to a rectilinear 10-24mm lens? Plenty of ways - but whether they are 'fair' comparisons is debatable. I must start somewhere so here goes!

Overall size = 17-28. Small and light at 260g, though the 460g Tamron is not as bad as many.
Lens Speed = no difference, both f/3.5-4.5.
AF speed = 17-28 by a comfortable margin. The Tamron's minfocus is partly a factor.
Filter choices = 10-24. While 77mm filters are spendy the 17-28 cannot use filters at all.
Min. focus =10-24, it's ~half the 17-28 minimum (0.8' vs 1.4'), .2x 'macro' vs 0.08x.
Sharpness = ? Ratings give the 17-28 much better scores but my copies look equally very good.
Color = both look excellent in flash images of a box of many colors.
Distortion = ? The 10-24 shows some barrel distortion, not a major thing though.

Lesser information worth knowing -
micro43 range = 10-24. The 17-28 (34-56mme) has very little fisheye effect on the smaller sensor.
micro43 convenience = 17-28, which has an aperture ring. The Tamron needs a special adapter.
36x24 versatility = 17-28 is entirely film-friendly - though the 10-24 is useable above 14mm or so.
Resale value? Not sure, perhaps a slight lean to the 17-28 now that the K-1 can use it fully.

It appears that this is the Tamron's game to lose. It's tough though, as the F17-28 is a talented lens and very fun to use. Its overall aspect is wider than the SMC 17/4 prime but its close-focus skills are a bit less. I will continue the tests, but that's where it stands right now. Neither one is really a factor on other cameras; I have a film body but a K-1 is not in my near future, and I didn't plan to use these with my GX1. I do have one of the stop-down K adapters around here somewhere though..


camera-kit chaos

How do things like this happen?

I decided to chuck it all and go whole-hog µ43 in mid-December, when a budget crunch from delayed home-refinance issues stole my Pentax camera and several lenses. At that time, the bargains were all in the small format, and that's not a bad thing.

So I picked up a small Oly Pen ePL6 and a lens or two (including the rather large but talented and foul-weather-friendly 12-60), and posted about whether it would still be around a year from now. Silly me, that's never been how it works - nice though it sounds on most days!

I shifted from the Pen to a GM1 and felt fully satisfied, for most of two months. I then grabbed a GX7 and it was very nice. I picked up another bargain lens or two and we became a happy 2-µ43-camera family.

Then someone offered to buy a GX7 and 20mm at the right/wrong moment and I let it go. I wanted a second GM1 in any case so that wasn't a bad thing.

Well in fact it was, because at that time no GM1 bodies could be found for under $500!
Given my retreat to smaller bodies and having no splash-sealed body, I offered my 12-60 for sale. Instead of cash I was offered a GX1, which works quite nicely (and suddenly made the GM1 less appealing to my wife). At her direction I traded the GM1 off for another GX1 and additional lenses, so our team kit is made of GX1s and not GM1s.

And at that time the bargains all became Pentax! 
Due to my lost hope of getting a weather-sealed µ43 body I wandered past the PentaxForums Marketplace. For well under the price I received for the GX7 I picked up a K-5 and 50-200wr lens, and suddenly my closet of K-mount lenses were useful again! So my Pentax-free era lasted about five months.

I traded all my Four-Thirds gear (E500 and lenses) to a local shop in trade for a 17-28mm fisheye. I picked up a 10-24mm Tamron for a bargain price as well - but that deal fell through so the 17-28 came into play. Now I learn that the 10-24 is in fact coming soon!. I also bought a couple of dirt-cheap lenses in order to resurrect some better lenses that were doing nothing in my closet other than occasional cameos on the µ43 bodies.

Today I closed out the bizarre six-week trading time with a B&H Photo deal.
I had traded in a couple of µ43 items for cash in early May, just before the GX7 left me. That check never arrived, so I called them today determined to be satisfied. First I looked through the µ43 used section, hoping to deal for gear instead of cash. Finding no bargains there that fit my kit, I checked the Pentax section - and there sat a copy of the HD 55-300WR. Cool: it is a great lens in and of itself, but it also means my bargain 50-200WR could be raided for parts to resurrect a broken 18-55WR. In a trade I did not expect to make I suddenly had two WR lenses covering 27-450mme! It also meant I did not need the dirt-cheap items as parts (which would have been effective but not WR!) so those could be sold or donated.

So how did all the deals at this time work out for me?
  • GX7 and 20mm Lumix -> K-5 and 55-200WR (50-200 parts ->18-55WR) - net cash $200 back to me
  • 12-60mm Lumix -> GX1 and viewfinder, plus batteries - net cash $0
  • GM1 and 12-32mm -> another GX1, lenses and flash gear - net cash $75 to me
  • ePL7 and Oly 17mm pancake -> HD 55-300 (allowing 50-200 to be parted out) - net cash $0.05

Just plain silly..