21 September 2011

oh no: lens tests again!


So, I did it again. I trimmed my kit down, only to let it grow again. I fell for the Costco Principle: look how much I saved by.. er.. buying stuff! ? !! Slow learner, that's me -- assuming I'm learning at all.

I picked up a kit lens the best possible way: from the Ugly bin at KEH.com. I have yet to hear anyone complain after doing this; I am sure that some are quietly returned and no more is said, but what one tends to hear on forum sites is flat-out praise.

Now I'm one of them: in my case, Ugly meant no hood or front cap, but otherwise a great lens in excellent Ugly condition.

Then I began to lose it - first to a student down on his/her luck, then to a person leaving Pentax. So I should get a gold star for promting education (if not a tax break), and putting an ex-Pentax user out of their misery was nice of me too. But suddenly here I am with an 18-55 II kit lens, a DA16-45 and a 17-70 Sigma. I've liked the 17-70 since my Alpha days, and had one for the Pentax (why did I get rid of it, I wonder..). And I love the focal length of the 16-45.. well OK just the 16 part, that 45 part is why I've sold this one Twice before! And the kit? I hear Allan Iverson in an interview room somewhere, saying "we're talking 'bout KIT LENS, man. Really? KIT LENS?". But they're good, and often very good.

So - more tests. I hate lens tests, for two reasons: they are often of things I seldom shoot, and I screw them up. I screwed this test up too, by forcing all lenses to use the same aperture And shutter speed - great to see exposure differences, sure, but a lousy way to let a lens show what it is capable of doing. Oopz - er oops. So I shot all lenses around 50mm (threw in a 55-300 and two Rikenon primes too), then closeups, then as wide as they go. And I looked them over for a good 10 minutes before picking a winner. OK more like 45 minutes.. but it felt like a week. I hate lens tests.

And the winner? Well of course, everyone's a winner - pass out the medals and take a bow! Well, to my profound embarrassment I give the overall prize to the Ugly 18-55. Not excellent at anything much, but the others had certain areas where they failed worse than the kit. I so wanted a 'better' lens to take on my backpacking trip.. but hey, I'm taking a 240g lens that shoots .35x closeups and takes 52mm filters! Those are mighty good points, so I'm satisfied. And I'll be even more satisfied when I recoup 80% of my expenses selling the other lenses.

Now go get some sleep, and when you awake you won't remember this article, and those lenses I put up for sale will sound perfect as your kit-lens replacement.

"we're talking KIT lenses, man!"
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02 September 2011

change is the only constant

The bank balances dictated a constriction to my imaging deals, with more emphasis on 'outgoing' -- so out went the DA35 and DA16-45 (with great reluctance). In six months I expect to reacquire the zoom, it fits my style very well. I toyed with letting the k-x go, and the 18-200 Sigma, then finally put both together and off they went. The money from that deal went truly sideways though, as a local offer on a k-r was truly too good to pass - so the bank balance dropped but not by as much as planned. A few more deals may trim the 'fat' from my lens collection and make this sting a little less.

So how did the k-r catch my eye? Well, the k-x felt like my ideal camera, and I felt certain that I could wait at least another generation before moving it. However, the k-r catches all of my "but.." issues re. the k-x and with a very small size/weight penalty. The sensor is equivalent if not equal, and that means amazing. Had the k-r been priced $30 higher I'd have looked the other way (albeit with discomfort) - but there it was, and here it is. If the budget breaks further I will more likely let the micro-43 gear go instead, as I have a good amount of Pentax gear at prices that just cannot be duplicated until another generation of cameras is in people's hands. Several $50 primes, a couple of zoom bargains and the k-r in absolutely pristine condition - yes, once again I can say "this will serve me well for years" and believe that I mean it. :^)