18 April 2013

Kit update - yes, again

Enough tweaks have occurred since the last update a few short months ago - so here we go again!

APS-c and Compact Bodies:
  • K-5, still amazing after nearly 1½ years in my bag.  No real complaints, though it will need to go in soon for a solution to the full-battery mirror flop issue.
  • K-01 (white), great fun since November.  It's definitely a different way to achieve similar goals, some better and some worse.  I find I can manage a few things I didn't think I'd ever be willing to try, which is seldom a bad thing.  I am sure glad it's here so the K-5 can visit the shop!
  • Q: his and hers black ones, with 02 zoom lenses.  Tiny, fun and as good as a 1/2.3" sensor can do.  Nice to have the 'standard' dSLR menu on a compact, that's for sure.  I've still not purchased an adapter  or the PK lenses, but I'm wavering... 
Lenses, in approximate FL order.  
Just for amusement I've added (ff) to those that are full-frame friendly, meaning all but ONE.  Even the Limited primes that I own are deemed FF-tolerant, much to my surprise.  I am not planning to grab a full-frame Pentax dSLR any time soon, but if a windfall were to strike I'm well protected.
  • (ff) Sigma 15/2.8 fisheye: yes the DA15 would be smaller, but this has so many good things going for it that I have no complaints.  It's not all that large in any case, and it's faster, focuses closer and works with full-frame (film) cameras. Oh yes, often a bit cheaper too on the used market!  Great fun and very talented, and really not all that fishy for landscapes on an 16×24mm sensor.
  • (ff) Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4.0: part of what makes this nice is that it doesn't crowd any other lens.  Overlap can be a good thing most of the time, but a Limited lens deserves breathing room.  I owned this in my SonyAlpha days, it was my first really good lens.  If anything it could crowd the fisheye out of the lineup!
  • (ff) Quantaray (Sigma) 28-90mm f/3.5-5.6 macro: another SonyAlpha veteran lens that I liked four years ago.  Dirt cheap, feather light but decent imaging and 1:2 macro at 90mm when you want such things.  An excellent one to have on the camera when you have nothing planned or you want something you won't mourn over if damaged.
  • (ff±) Pentax DA40/2.8 Limited - yes it's true what others say: absurdly small, absurdly talented and worth owning.  For many it's the first Limited because of its price; I got such a good deal that I cannot repeat it, and it's a real keeper even had I paid $100 more like most other owners.  Sharp in focus and smooth elsewhere, thanks to great optics and nine-blade aperture, and too small to justify leaving behind.
  • Pentax DA 50-200 WR: the perennial underdog telephoto lens for Pentaxians, this featherweight and weather-resistant zoom only suffers by comparison to the 55-300 models.  For now I prefer the compactness of this one, and on the K-01 it is a very good copy - now that I know that the K-5 will either need to match or get its first lens ± adjustment.  This is a great zoom for the K-01 as it's small and light - nearly a clone of the macro that's a bit further down the list.
  • (ff±) Pentax DA70/2.4 Limited - ditto at least, except that this one was not to be found cheaply.  It's still worth the price.  Something about this feels illegal, to be a bit telephoto yet tiny and fast - and let's not forget the nine aperture blades to make the images really snap.  Live and learn: Limiteds are worth having.
  • (fF) Rikenon XR 70-150/4: when I put down my bid at auction I barely knew this lens existed.  It's been with me quite a while, relatively speaking, and other than its old-school lens coating it's a real marvel.  I don't recall seeing many 2-ring internal-zoom lenses in my 1980s film days but clearly a few were out there, and this one is smooth and sharp.  It's a bit dense and at 440 grams it's heavier than all but the 400mm - but fixed f/4 through the range, 52mm filter threads and a built-in shade are nice to have.  Optically it's of prime caliber and can sorta do close focusing in its 'macro' mode.  O What Fun!
  • (ff) Promaster 100mm f/3.5 macro (AF): I had tried two other macros, and felt like Goldilocks.  The Tamron 90 was excellent but too bulky, the Sigma 50 excellent but I had to get sooo close for real macro images.  The Promaster only goes 1:2 on its own - but I have the original 'matched' multiplier to achieve 1:1 shots (49mm, so it fits the Limiteds and 50-200), and it's well under half the size and weight (and price!) of the Tamron.  This does very well for my mid-tele and macro work, and is another small wonder.  I've made it pretty clear that I like that in lenses!
  • (ff) Hanimar 400/6.3: and then there's this thing.  A preset T-mount lens (with 16 aperture blades!) it's a curiosity that was handed to me by my father-in-law; for the price of a K-mount adapter any 400mm lens is hard to beat.  I need to use it more but it's done quite well on my few test outings.
Compared to earlier times, that's not many lenses - but it's more than I can use at any one event that's certain.  Most events can go with perhaps two primes and a zoom, and seldom would more than four go anywhere with me.  A very compact, thrifty and comfortable kit.  Again.

This set leaves me with some excellent mix-and-match sets:
  1. 17-35 + 40 + 70 + 100m for best of the best, with 15f optional
  2. 17-35 + 40 + 50-200wr for most compact & fewest changes (probably the backpack kit)
  3. 28-90 + 50-200 for when wide angle isn't going to be a big deal
  4. 28 + 40 + 70 ultimate compact trio that covers many circumstances
Add the 15mm fisheye to any of these for ultimate width, or make other combos to address specific wishes (macro prime lens for example).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

 I now own Elements 10 and Premiere 10.  Plugins include NeatImage for noise reduction, SmartCurve for lighting adjustments and ReDynamix for redistribution of dynamic lighting with easy controls to temper the  HDR-like effects. I also use Picasa software for the easy changes and quick text additions.  No Lightroom or other powerhouse software will appear until my computer is massively updated, which I don't foresee any time soon.