06 May 2012

daring to dream - camera gear 'needs'

The budget is tight around most of the globe, and our household is included. I have carefully assembled my gear, having backtracked and reworked it several times as our finances flexed. I have been indulging very few other hobbies, so I am content with what I have.
But if? If more funds dropped into my lap for photography, where would it go? Let me count the ways..

First off: inventory.
On the AF front I am covered from 18mm to 300mm with very good Pentax zooms.  For manual-focus fun I have things covered at 28mm and from 35-150mm with a prime and two zooms (all from what I'll call Ricoh's bronze age - hopefully the golden age begins soon!).  I have a macro lens, several decent filters, a good-enough tripod and bags to carry the gear.  Memory aplenty and two batteries.  Check.

Inventory problems?
I have to say my limitations are few, and thoroughly self-imposed.  I have no "fast glass", and I am very happy about that!  To spend twice as much cash to carry thrice the weight, so that I can shoot at f/2.8 instead of f/4.5?  With a K-5 that can shoot iso6400 or better with careful attention?   As Bilbo Baggins will soon be saying on screen, No thank you!
As to range, I feel only slightly cramped and only at the wide end.  I should like to pass beyond 18mm - though something like 10mm would more likely distract my concentration - why compose when you can take a picture with everything in it?  That's an awful thing to say but I can hear it even now; the lazy imager in me will not be silenced and my guard must stay up. To keep lenses small and scale under some semblance of control, I'd like a prime or two for going ultrawide.

My Mental Shopping List
If money frees up for a large purchase my most likely next lens will be 15mm, most likely the DA15.  Let's face it though, I also fancy Sigma's 15mm fisheye, which yields a bit more speed at the price of bent lines.  One of those would likely be followed by the DA21.  I really like the 28 that I have and it would probably have a comfortable place on my shelf if the 21 came about.  The Sigma EX DG 50mac that I own now is too good to waste my dreams on the Limiteds from 40 to 70mm, which is a great relief even to my dreams. I do not doubt I would really enjoy the DA 12-24 and hear nothing but good about it, but apparently in my dreams it's prime time.
On the tele end: nothing really.  The DA55-300 was made with me in mind - if I need more I shall crop, and if I stay below 250mm I shall be rewarded.
The only other item of some interest is a catch-all that is as good or better than the Sigma 18-200 that I have enjoyed more than once in my imaging career.  I hated to let that go last time but the budget makes demands that must be obeyed.  However, Pentax has mapped out a similar lens in their near future which has my interest.  Other than "DA High-Magnification Zoom" and a fuzzy blur that looks like ~18-200mm we know nothing of substance in May 2012.  Will it have quick-shift, weather seals, faster aperture settings?  Will it be an XS model for the K-01?  Will it be available in fuschia?  No strike that, not a priority :^) - but its final configuration will go a long way to determining if it lands in my bag.

Fun times ahead - as always, budget permitting.

Further ruminations on the 15mm selection
We Pentax users have two very good candidates with distinctive features: the DA15 Limited and Sigma's fisheye. It's hard to argue against two lenses with great reputations, but the differences are clear; each of us will put a 'price' on those differences and choose the right lens. Both have 7 aperture blades and neither are weather sealed. Superlatives abound on the internet for both.
  • On the DA side of things we have less field curvature, quick-shift, filter threads and those features that make Limiteds so beloved. It's a bit smaller and 100g lighter.
  • On the Sigma side we have full-frame coverage, f/2.8 and an aperture ring. It can get close enough for 1:4 life size closeups. The fisheye effect on aps-c is muted but still evident.
When the time comes it will be an interesting decision. Perhaps a used lens will appear just as funds can be found. We'll see!

and a week later, we did see - here's the update.

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