27 August 2019

reality check XXI$

I found a spot on eBay where one can look back on purchases back to Jan 2017. By searching, copy/pasting and sorting I rediscover an ugly truth: in less than three years I bought eight cameras, 23 lenses and 14 accessories e.g. usb chargers and a travel tripod. The list includes two GX7 and two GX85 bodies, and two Sigma 60/2.8 lenses. That's sloppy thinking and incredibly indecisive - and of course shamefully cash-foolish. Of the 31 bodies and optics less than a dozen reside here now - and that's still too many.

I am choosing not to investigate the camera forum buy/sell chat-lists, where I fear as many or more purchases might be revealed..

I resolve, yet again, to do better.

11 August 2019

time for a change

So here's my online activity in the recent past -
  • listen to people golf ($10/month to watch - so I listen)
  • read about soccer, hiking, and other sports
  • read extensively about people taking photos on trips, or buying new stuff
  • buy used /new camera stuff and sell other used /old camera stuff

None of this brings me joy. Taking pictures within 100 feet of my living room doesn't do much for me. Accumulating nice gear then selling it for the next large life-expense steals the joy of ownership. Having no expectations of a fun new place to shoot makes the same subjects tedious - even if our local cats are cute.

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I feel that my burnout time is fast approaching.
If true I shan't complain, as I spend waaay too much time at these places. It piles on my previous life-rant, where time in standby-assist mode is getting wasted on deep trivia, mostly related to imaging and gear.

It's truly time for a change.

This blog will now go from confessional to cheap-seat talk.
Better yet: a new blog!

See granitix2.blogspot.com ("Moldbreaker") for a clean start.
over and out

23 July 2019

the small camera kit..er kits

I like my camera gear to be small. Cheap and incredibly talented is nice too.. but let's not get greedy. Well one can be greedy.. with the right gear.

My K-5 with the 18-50re is really compact for aps.c, and now the compact 50-200wr has arrived. That's a nice 27-300mm∙e kit that can go out in the rain and shoot quietly from 27-75mm∙e.

Maybe I meant the GX1 kit? With 14/2.5, 30/2.8 and 45-150mm zoom it stays small & does many things well. The 4:3 sensor does not show off to K-5 level but it's a fine 16Mpxl sensor. Its video specs definitely outperform the Pentax; it was hacked to produce 36MB/sec video with better audio too.  It could be set higher still, but then the camera cannot play back the video :(

Hm, how were these two small-kit pictures taken? That was done with the YI.M1. Yes it's also my small kit: with 12-40mm XiaoYi and 45-150 Lumix it can manage 24-300mme. It can go to 4k with its video specs and has a nice 20Mpx sensor. It does not 'do' stabilization with my current lenses but is still a talented little camera!

Any of these kits can be made larger with current lenses  (e.g. Lumix 12-60 or K-mount 100-300 or fast primes) but for small gear I'm in a good place.. and when more is better I'm good there too!

P.S. it should be noted that my wife's GF2 plus 12-32mm Lumix out-smalls all my kits!
It uses older tech but raw images are very nice and for size it is hard to beat.

15 July 2019

just saved a bunch of money..

And it has nothing to do with car insurance :^|

My plan was to pick up a gap lens between the 18-50 and 100-300 zooms. The clear choice would be a DA70/2.4, which would be $200 (used, black) at best. Silver would be nice.. oh that's $375 if I am a lucky bidder. Well, no hurry.

No hurry became no need, as I found a bargain DA∙L 50-200wr lens. Now weather seals extend from 18 to 200mm, no gaps and about $150 less spent than on the Limited 70. Sure I'd still love to have one.. but that is for another day.

I've used numerous copies of the 50-200 - in fact I believe my first copy came as a swap for my first copy of the 55-300mm lens. I've tried both DA and DA∙L copies, both WR - and strangely enough the L version (composite mount, no quick-shift focus) has provided consistently preferable images! In any case I have preferred the overall results from the 50-200 over the 55-300, whose slower focus and less-consistent bokeh are drawbacks. OK I also admit to greatly preferring the shorter lens' bulk.

The image here is with an early copy of the DA 50-200wr on a K-7. I dropped the exposure deliberately, because it's my photo and I can do what I choose with it.

11 July 2019

plus 3

using center-point autofocus
That seems to be a good bias for the K-5 autofocus system with my recently-(re)acquired Sigma 100-300 'slowpoke' tele-zoom.

A reasonable color match!
Yes I own one of those again - but this time in silver to match the K-5 Special. A few quick tests and application of +3 AF adjustment for this lens only, and results look better than before. Yay!

Speaking of Sigma - today they announced their first L-mount body. It's tiny, cubic and using a Bayer RGB filter array (i.e. Not Foveon) so it's an unusual Sigma camera in many respects. We shall see how it fares once price and performance are fully set.

06 July 2019

the DA∙L 18-50 RE∙tractable

The weather-sealed K-5 demands at least one WR lens for foul weather. On a kit-lens budget that has always meant an 18-55 or 50-200mm as a staple; later the 55-300mm caught up with a HD/WR version. All of them have performed well for me at one time or another.

In the last couple of years the higher-grade 20-40 Limited and 18-50 RE have also been introduced. I owned and liked the 20-40mm, but its price is not available to me right now. The 18-50RE replaced the 18-55 as the basic wide-to-normal kit lens. and retracts almost to Limited-prime size. While I was seeking a deal on the 18-55 I stumbled upon an "as-is" copy of the 18-50RE at an excellent price. Wow: why not?

Initial gear reviewers emphasized the flimsiness of the RE design. Too much 'plastic', wobble in the front-element extension, and so on. Just the sort of things that can go wrong with an "as-is" lens? As it traveled toward me here on the wrong coast I chose to look at user reviews ..and I was surprised by its rating, which was on average comfortably higher than the 18-55. People really do like this version - users not reviewers - and my hopes went up that my incoming copy would be better than 'as-is'.

Well it's here - and it's great!

That 'as-is' disclaimer was quite pessimistic; I expected issues with AF, zoom/retraction mechanism or ..well, something. I have found no issues that limit its full capabilities. Hooray!

So I have a silent-focus WR lens that fits snugly against an equally-WR body. Nice! That saves me plenty of concern about the short end of the focal range (no 17-50 or 17-70 types need apply). It does make the 70 Limited more useful than a DA21, and beyond that the smc-M 100mm and 200mm can take over when the slowpoke Sigma 100-300 isn't the right choice. Sure the 18-50 is pretty slow in the aperture dept. but if that's its only 'issue' I can live with it.

Too bad it doesn't come in silver..

27 June 2019

the danger of looking back

Aside from becoming a pillar of salt..

I was reviewing some older images (Pentax, of course) and to my horror it got me to thinking. The enjoyment of photography and the benefits of 24x18 sensors is valuable to me!

I've commented before on the distinct difference between dSLR imaging and modern mirrorless cameras. Here are some of them /the short version/.
  • The EVF has benefits, but it is yet another screen to look at along with phone tablet computer and TV. I've had numerous issues this past week with all kinds of screens so I'm more vulnerable right now.
  • The auto corrections for lenses is nice.. but having better lenses is my preference. When µ43 lenses are reviewed without corrections one sees just how hard the camera is working to reprocess images; the outer 1/3 of shots is reworked pretty hard.
  • While µ43 depth of field is decent enough, it's not as impressive as aps-C shots.
  • The GX1 is nearly as well known to me now as the K-5 was in the past; that's a good thing yet apparently makes subsequent bodies harder to enjoy. Yes, the complexity thing, again.
  • Sensor specs, in-camera effects, yada yada²...

So off I went again, for the last time. Sure.

My first stop was shopgoodwill, where several Minolta A-mount deals were within reach for absurd prices. I bid on a Sony A100 and Maxxi 35-70/4 and 50/1.8 - for a total of about $50. Those were outbid, though amazingly not by much.

In the meantime I looked over various Pentax listings for a decent K-5, K-5ii or similar. I found a K200d in silver - I had no idea that they were made in silver!! - but it wasn't cheap compared to the black bodies. A seller had a K-5 available (black of course) and I sent along a note, which sat without response for a few days.

Then 'disaster' struck: a K-5 Silver Special edition for $220. Bingo! 

Now of course I need a silver lens. Maybe two.

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Oh yeah - this means the GX85 is leaving to fund this.. perhaps the 12-60 as well. Heck the 14-42 could also go if a 19mm Sigma shows up..

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Update: re-integrating the K-5 into my shooting
I'm surprised at what I remember, and what I don't. I used a K-50 most recently so it will take a bit of muscle retraining to get the buttons right again. At first blush I miss the touch-screen, love the optical view, and cannot tell the grip is different*. I do believe the shutter sound is slightly quieter than my non-Special K-5 bodies; it's a well-muffled click. Cool.

* and now I know why. According to PentaxForums the Silver Special was released twice: one with altered grip, and the next year with a silver DA40 xs lens (and apparently the standard grip). My grip is on the right here so not the super-special Special camera! I'm OK with this, but it's nice to know that a good reason exists for my not being able to tell the difference from my previous K-5 bodies.
Hm, I also just noticed my Silver body has the red/silver SR label not silver on black. Interesting!

16 May 2019

for the last time II

As noted recently, I've struggled with the choice of kit lens for my GX85. I love the features of the 12-60 Lumix, but it's a bit bulky on the smaller body. That drives me toward the tiny 14-42ii, which is nearly 12-32 small but has a focus ring + 10mm at the long end. And what about the XiaoYi 12-40?

Taken with GX85 and SMC-A 50/1.7. A nice combination
Today's thinking is that the 14-42 is the better option. The ii has dual-IS for improved stabilization (the 12-60 also has this), and its size and similar feel to the 45-150 is quite nice. I'll admit that cash is another reason, as the 12-60 has better resale value.. sad but true.

Update II - I read in the comments section at a forum site about the YI 12-40mm 'retractable' kit zoom. The writer noted that, with the M1's minimal reprocessing of data, their lenses cannot make use of Pana/Oly's inbuilt corrections of distortion and vignetting and must therefore do more themselves.

Sad but true: the big names use internal post-processing tricks to render an acceptable image (one of my peeves about the μ43 system). One can use alternate software to look at raw images, and many Zuiko/Lumix lenses have seriously silly distortion characteristics.

The point that I left behind is that the 12-40mm xiaoYi zoom does not have those dismal specs to wash away in the camera's after-shot routine - so the lens is built with better corrections to limit those distortions. It may not appear to do as good of a job but in fact it's a better standalone optical setup than even some of the high-grade gear from the Others.

 Hadn't thought of that.. and glad it's still here!