30 November 2010

G-1 and K-7 parrt 1: the weigh-in

Clearly this part holds no surprises: the G1 is smaller in every way, though just slightly in overall length. Lens is smaller and very light. The K-7 has my lightest DA lens on it, the WR 50-200. On the scale the K-7 weighs in ready to shoot at just over 1kg; the G1 so equipped is 600g.

I also recorded the capture sounds on my little Casio with both about a foot above the cam. Sounds were surprisingly similar but K-7 screw focus whines before the shutter while the G1 has a very soft whir that probably didn't reach the microphone.

Clearly the K-7 lives up to the 'enthusiast' label with higher-res screen, the top LCD panel and the weather sealing. Those will be hard to top, but the flip screen on the G1 is a point in its favor. The investment was small, so let the games begin!

28 November 2010

the Sigma 15mm f/3.5 (manual focus)

The great lens deal I closed a couple of weeks back had a gotcha - that happens to me with regularity in the 'classic' lens biz.  In this case my copy is a true manual lens: despite the 'A' setting on the aperture dial, and the electrical contact that goes with it, this lens will only shoot wide open on the camera's auto modes.  I found that out the hard way, shooting its first gig in the Redwoods.  Nearly every shot has a vague focus point rather than pin-sharp detail and immense depth of field.  It was a cold and wet day, and I trusted the 'A' setting despite the suspicious lack of aperture feedback in the viewfinder.  The rest of the trip had its own issues, so it will go down as my least-recorded trip in a very long time.  More recent tests definitely show more promise with this lens!

50-200WR lens: it's a keeper

Further tests of the 50-200WR showed the lens to be worth keeping, so my DAL 55-300 has a new home.  Tests between this lens and my DA 55-300 at 200mm are close enough, and thanks to its size I could hold the WR lens more still which always helps images!

I took this shot at my local park; exposure was correct, but in software I liked it more as I turned down the light.

what's this? another camera??

In a few days a Lumix G1 will arrive on my doorstep. Why is that?!? Well..
  • smaller and lighter, to displace my compact Casio, yet
  • enough features to challenge the K-7 in casual use (nearly all I've done lately) 
  • well reviewed for a 4:3 sensor
  • flip screen could be easier on my aging eyes 
  • dirt cheap for a lightly-used model
  • the 14-45 OIS lens costs more than this whole package!
It will have to serve amazingly well to displace my K-7 though -  but if it does I'm OK with that, since I could sell off the Pentax gear and put quite a bit back in the bank (even after 'splurging' for a 45-200 telephoto) - plus a $30 adaptor would let the G1 use my Pentax lenses.  If it serves poorly I'll just send it back, and search for another way to spend my gift card.  Since I haven't made use of the Pentax' video capabilities the G1's lack is not a real issue. We shall see what the next week brings.

So why don't I just buy more Pentax stuff with that gift card?  Fact is, I'm all out of 'needs' there.  I have modern lenses for 16-45, 50-200 and 55-300 plus a half-dozen manual lenses at 14, 28, 50 and intermediate zooms.  I have a nice tripod and a flash sufficient for my needs, and several SD cards.  Not only is that enough, it's too much - especially as I've been homebound and not able to use much of this.  A smaller camera with decent IQ would provide just as much camera satisfaction and be a smaller cash drain.

14 November 2010

test-drive of the WR 50-200

First tests of the weather-resistant zoom were ideal - then again they weren't. A thick drizzle was good for testing its  resistance to foul conditions, but shots were hard-pressed to show much in the way of contrast and color. Even the birds I had hoped to shoot were choosing not to be available! Test shots show a bit of darkening in the edges at f/5.6 at longer focal lengths. As to sharpness, that will need to await brighter days. This shot was processed a bit and cropped a bit; hard to complain at this point!  It's the imager's fault that a tripod was not used despite the gloom.

The bird in the scene is apparently a cormorant; I was thinking something heron-like, but the webbed feet and throat the color of a salamander's belly make it a clear match with online bird sites. On a brighter day it would look like this - it even struck that wing-drying pose before I took the shot. On a day like this one, no pose would be a drying pose!

The lens is pleasantly small and light - sure, I'd heard this online many times, but one must experience it to understand.

11 November 2010

let's make a deal..

For the next couple of weeks I'm swapping my DAL 55-300 for a 50-200WR. I have no weather-resistant lenses, and its compact size has appeal; its owner has a similar interest in extended range and the 'aura' that Pentax 55-300 has acquired. Perhaps it will be a permanent swap; we shall see.

In other news I was re-offered an auction item when I came in 2nd. The Sigma 14/3.5 is a relatively compact ultrawide, and was picked up for substantially less than a less-interesting-but-still-fun 8mm fisheye I was considering. I hope it serves me well.

That really needs to be the end of import season; time for some exporting!

And a final farewell to autumn, as the leaves have been stripped away on most of the local trees.  A shot from my local park: