26 December 2016

Class of 2017

A bit more clarity on the arriving gear for 2017 - hopefully it will still be around next Christmas!

  • The Lumix 12-60mm arrived in time to hide beneath the Christmas tree. The ePL6 arrived on the 27th despite its "3-day" shipping tag. The lens is quite short, slightly stout and overall looks very nice; initial plans were for it to join the Pentax 100/2.8 and Rikenon 70-150/4 as the trio to get things done.  However..
from www.wrotniak.net
  • I found a 4Thirds copy of the Σ 55-200mm zoom online last night. I had owned this DC lens with my K100d in 2010 and I liked it quite a bit, plus using it on a 4Thirds sensor will improve any vignetting or corner-softness issues. Since it goes to 200mm, or 400mme, it has some advantages over the xx-150 zooms available in the micro format. A nice option to have even if I choose to stop at 150mm. The penalty will be its being adapted to the micro mount, which will likely result in deathly slow AF. It has a true mechanical focus with distance scale though, which means manual focus will not be an absolute pain - and the Rikenon would be doing the same thing anyway (and weighs 100g more) - so why not this? Panasonic makes a 45-200 but it too is over 100g heavier (though the 4Thirds adapter covers much of that difference). All the Sigma reviews I found are positive even at 2-3x the price I'm paying, which is less than those µ43 lenses that stop at 150mm - so again, why not? 
  •  The occasional deal on used GX8 and GX85 bodies are out and about, so that's nice to see. No hurry on this - or so I keep telling myself. The GX8 could even close out if they update it with the latest shutter mechanism next spring. And if the focus speed is awful with ePL6 and the 55-200 then an EM1 body begins to make more sense at a similar price!
So the micro kit to take me into 2017 = Oly ePL6 + Lumix 12-60 + Sigma 55-200  plus Pentax 50/1.7 and 100/2.8, 10mm extension tube for closeups, and adapters for PK, 4Thirds, T-mount and 1¼ telescope eyepiece! 

Sigma 55-200 on 4Thirds adapter, M100/2.8, A50/1.7 on K adapter, and Lumix 12-60 on ePL6

 Coming at some point - probably 20mm Lumix, 60mm Sigma and a (hopefully) sealed (Lumix) body - though an EM5 or EM1 would serve quite well.

I feel like I'm off to a pretty good start.

17 December 2016

not again.. yes again

The Pentax gear is (again) nearly gone,  a victim of yet another budget crisis. The home refinance was deferred to January, though we'll see how long that promise holds. At least we're scheduled for the home appraisal visit next week - assuming the snow melts like forecasts have implied.. unlike the 4" that was forecast at 1" max last Thursday, which still awaits a gentle melt!

We've been wading through snow in the Fiat 500 while I attempted to fix the 4wd SporTrac in our garage. My fixes were insufficient so into the shop it went; it broke down on the way ($85 towing bill) and won't come out of the shop until its bail is posted. It seems a major timing-chain malfunction is causing the rattle, which means the engine must be pulled. Ouch.

So the K-5 and several lenses have left the building, leaving the two NX300 bodies and a few good NX lenses. The next plan is in place mentally but only part one is underway.

I'm going µ4:3 again with a used Olympus EPL6 body.
I don't even know which color I'm getting, Adorama hadn't posted an image (Update: it's all black, with shiny red trim!). It has almost all I seek in a camera except weather protection:  a great Sony 16Mpx sensor, tipping touchscreen, small size and interval timing for stills and video. It also uses a spare battery I have around from earlier bodies, and with adapter it can take the 14-42 and 35macro from the E500 kit. I also have adapters for the remaining K-mount (Quantaray) lenses, and even a telescope adapter!  That will do for part one.

Next up: a Lumix 12-60mm lens. It's been tested out as a .. 'decent' lens. Very nice in some things, indifferent for edge sharpness and generally at the longer end. But it's splashproof (useful for part three!) and at 24-120mme it can do most everything I would tend to do. They are planning a faster Leica version of this lens, but the budget and I don't really care: small and splashproof wins over speed and brand-name cachet. Owners are quite happy with the current one, so no doubt I will be too.

Part three is a while off, and could be a sealed GX8 or a smaller but not-sealed GX85.. or an EM5 Classic can fill in as the foul-weather camera if funds stay tight. Hey I have a spare battery for that one too!

28 October 2016

fall classic comebacks

Yes it's game three of the World Series tonight - and yet I do not refer to fall-classic comebacks like the Cubs. I am referring to a pair of lenses that are heading this way.

When I first considered a move from Sony's α A200 to Pentax I recall seeing the DA 16-45mm f/4 and thinking it the ideal lens for my use. A wider 24mme zoom, f/4 throughout the range, and close focusing abilities are definitely superior to the typical kit lens.

I've bought and sold a few copies, each less expensive than before. Its main drawback is the lack of weather seals, though flash users will also be annoyed by its shadow intruding at short focal lengths. The DA* 16-50 f/2.8 was built to higher specs, but in reality its performance is not highly acclaimed - and in fact many reviews give the 16-45 a higher overall rating. Now the HD 16-85 has taken over the 16-45 domain, and while it's proving its excellence I don't have $500 to spend on it. I won a copy of the 16-45 with a bid below $150 - and this time I will be keeping my bargain 18-55WR, so when it's wet I am still able to play outside with no regrets. This suggests the 15mm fisheye is expendable; while undoubtedly wider than the 16mm I just don't venture that wide often enough to justify keeping both of them.


My favorite zoom of the many manual classics that I've tried was a Rikenon XR 70-150. Every now and then I look for a copy, and this week I found one for a nice price. Despite the manual entry for focal length I'm looking forward to having this again.

I've also been trying an smc-A 70-210 f/4 zoom and it works really well with nice sharpness and very smooth bokeh. It's pretty convenient with its auto-aperture setting.. yet the focal length still needs to be correctly entered for Pentax' internal IS to work properly. This lens is a beast though, so it wouldn't get as much use as the lighweight DAL 50-200WR. I'm not yet sure if I will keep the WR telephoto for backup, perhaps it will be sent off to get more use elsewhere.

 It will be interesting to compare these telephoto zooms as both are f/4 throughout the range for nice subject isolation and have a closeup setting (at 70mm!) and have built-in hoods to minimize stray light and flare.  Will the extra range on the Pentax justify that additional bulk?  We'll see soon..

 - - - - - - -  - - - - - - -  - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - update!

I am working on a deal to pick another 50-300mm HD/WR zoom. Doing this would really clean up my telephoto stockpile

This updated kit sounds familiar, and it should: that trio was my original K-mount kit!  I returned to Pentax SLRs after my film|digital makeover partly because of the 16-45 which was pretty unique at the time. I began with a K100d and a Sigma 50-200 but ultimately this 3-pack came about, and its simplicity was hugely convenient. My only change could be a macro 50 instead of a fast one.

One problem of course: once I picked up a weather-resistant K-7 body these unealed lenses were less ideal. Now six years (and a half-dozen WR bodies) later I have the K-5 and the newer HD/WR telephoto, plus an 18-55WR backing up the 16-45. Most likely the A50/1.7 is much better than my Rikenon 50/2 but between 50s the line is pretty thin.

I'd really like to have a prime group, but sadly Pentax doesn't play much with WR primes so: drat. They did seal up the 55-300 so hopes remain high for future products.

 - - - - - - -  - - - - - - -  - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - update!

A shopgoodwill bid came through and for $25* I have

  • another copy of the Quantaray 100-300mm f/4.5.6.7!
  • another Q-ray 28-80mm, this one not 1:2 macro - but swap mounts with my broken 28-90 1:2 and score!!
  • a Pentax ZX-30 camera from the Late 35mm Film Epoch, meaning it makes use of AF/AE lenses!
  • and another bag.



Here's an earlier review of the 100-300. Generally speaking it's a near match to the 55-300 except for a few items:
tighter range (the 55-100mm zone is quite handy!)
slightly slower (4.5-6.7 not 4.0-5.8)
no quick-shift manual focus
Faster to focus - or faster hunting in poor light. Quite a bit faster!
Full-frame friendly and aperture rings, so more versatile in the Early Digital Epoch
no weather seals compared to the HD 55-300
- but I believe that I mentioned the price difference right?

I have never owned a Late Epoch SLR, having stopped with the Program Plus in the late '80s. The ZX-30 sure does look like a digital, with AF/MF switch right where I'd expect it and a control dial just like the K-r or other sorts. It will be curious to try this out with AF, power winding, a Date Back(!) and digital controls.

 - - - - - - -  - - - - - - -  - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - update!

So much for the 50 macro: the DA50/1.8 went on sale for about $70...

16 October 2016

Reunions

A new K5 team is coming together. First up is the 50-200 WR - in DAL form now, unlike the DA-only during the K-5's heyday. A copy of the DA not-L 18-55wr makes the team even more familiar, and wet-weather shooting is available again! Toss in the throwback Pentax 50 & 100mm primes, sigma 15/2.8 fisheye & the Q•ray 300/5.6 mirror-lens and we'll call things decently covered for K mount, at least for a while. Perhaps at some point the 18-55 will mutate to a *16-50 or HD16-85, but no hurry. Even more appealing would be to catch a DA21 and a 35 or 40!



The K-5 looks very good (was listed in E condition) but shows over 22k actuations! That makes its appearance even more impressive with that much use. I look forward to re-gaining experience with what has been my most-used (or longest-in-hand at least) Pentax body. Change may be a good thing, but going through a half-dozen bodies in two years is not.

__________________________________

Another reunion came this week when I became reacquainted with a photo I took seven years ago. It was a dark and stormy afternoon, but the setting sun caught a line of storms as I walked across our local park. I took my Sony A200 home, broke out an early copy of PS Elements and removed some green tint and a few power lines. 



It's a nice memory- especially considering my wife was quite healthy in November 2009 when this was taken. Seven months later her health took an odd and frightening turn which even now has not been fully diagnosed or treated.  I've taken a few other good images since then, but seven years of our life together has passed that cannot be returned, and what comes definitely will never be the same as what could have been.



13 October 2016

y2sys?

Why two systems, is that what you asked? What a coincidence, I was just about to speak on that.

I'm down to two systems again, with the NX300 and Pentax K-5 Classic. I can't say enough good things about the GM1, but having two mirrorless systems makes minimal sense. The GM1 has nearly everything the K-5 has in a far smaller package - but no Weather Resistance.  The NX300 has great features the others don't have, like sweep panorama - plus I already own 24-300mme in stabilized lenses - plus a 18mme fisheye!

Owning two systems makes sense when neither one covers the full user needs. Adding a third system can add to that coverage but generally duplicates (or triplicates!) so many features. That's what the GM1 was doing to me, and I had to Make It Stop!




So how does this all work in my circumstance? Let me count the ways -
  • Pentax for WR, familiar handling, silly-good battery life and excellent post-capture features
  • Samsung for video with AF, sweep panorama, tilt+touch screen, focus peaking, compactness
  • either system for excellent image quality, old-lens capability and stabilized images
Other features exist but those are the ones I seek and find truly useful. Wet weather is abundant west of the Cascade Range for much of the year so that's a clear need. Pentax is great at simple fixes like crop to 1:1, filter to pseudo-infrared or change nearly every exposure parameter, process raw in-cam, save as raw after the jpeg-only shot,  shoot DNG format for near-universal software use.. many others. Samsung trims the overall size of the kit (though the 50-200 is pretty bulky), allows the touchscreen or zoom to set up a crop in play mode, and has some great little lenses like the 16/2.4 and 30/2 for bonus compactness and great image quality. The sensor is not quite up to the K-5 level to my eye, but something about its tonal range (even in monochrome!) sets it apart from other cameras I have used.

As of right now the Pentax kit is least filled out, especially in WR lenses.
15/2.8 fisheye, 50/1.7 and 100/2.8 all manual
18-250 superzoom, 50-200WR all auto

Samsung kit can use any of those with a proper adapter but includes its own native set.
16/2.4, 16-50pz OIS, 20-50, and 50-200 OIS

dXo sensor scores, for what those might be worth. Man that K-5 dynamic range (at ISO80)!
Some day a Pentax WR will cover the wide end, and the NX 30mm f/2 will return!

11 October 2016

a long, strange trip

My K-5 history will resume shortly with an EX copy coming from KEH. I owned my original copy of the Classic model from January 2012 to December 2014* and later tried the II and IIs versions. All did marvelous work.

I had hoped to grab another II - but current finances dictate that saving $70ish is worth doing.. so I did it. I nearly went for a K30 in white, but several factors steered me back to the K-5: familiar control set, iso80, quiet shutter, incredible battery life  - and I already own a 2nd battery + usb charger that's charging in advance! Such extras as a grip don't interest me much, but it's available. The K30's better video specs do not compensate for the positives noted above, especially since the nx300 is available when video beckons.

*Ouch - here's an insightful quote from January 2012, when the K-5 arrived.
Several packages arrived at our house today, heralding a new era in my imaging 'career'.  Lately, 'career' has been more like 'careen' as I hopped from one K-mount camera to another in the past twenty months, attempting to have the best possible camera while paying medical bills.

It's tough to admit, but it stuns me that I owned a Pentax camera for nearly three years, as three months feels about right lately. I'm hoping that my previous experience with the K-5's staying power will keep my wanderings in check for a while!


08 October 2016

Wet weather blues

So now the GM1 and NX300 stand alone to face the wet season. That isn't ideal in the least, as my only "safe" wet-weather gear is the Pentax 50-200mm wr lens! Our budget is tight for a few months so it will have to do.

What are my options for future foul weather? Let us see:
  •  Samsung has nothing for me under $1500 with the NX1 & S-class glass. No thank you.
  •  Pentax has a few choices for $500 or less, best options being a K5 variant, a K7 or another K50. A wide wr lens would need to come along though, as the current 50-200 is not a full purpose option.
  •  For micro4:3, Panasonic has a couple of weather-protected choices now, the GX8 and G85 being the sub-$1ooo choices while Olympus checks in with EM5 and EM1 options. My preferred choice would be a GX8 and Lumix 12-60, with the GM1 and 14-42 becoming our spousal cam. 
  •  The bargain of the bunch would be an older Olympus EM5 and 12-50 for $500ish, since my 14-42 lens for the E500 is not weather sealed. 
So this decision will wait for Christmas and its potential bargains. I think.

28 September 2016

once more on the merry-go-round

Today the K-3ii left the building, a week after the 20-40 Limited zoom. The debt-reduction strategies were not quite sufficient to change our financial situation. The original plan of buying a new camera at Christmas-time was correct, and buying early to catch the silver model was unwise. It hurts on several levels: poor budgeting, buying too much too soon, and going back to institutions for restructuring of debts. A refinance will happen soon which will 'finally' put us right - but we must watch things more closely.

So the GM1 with its simple looks and talented insides will take charge for a while, with the NX300 on deck. More Pentax lenses will go and a bargain 35-100 or 45-150mm Lumix lens will complete that kit at some point. Depending on circumstances the NX300 team might leave as well; funds outpoint gear right now to ensure no last-minute surprises interfere with the home-refinance process. And that will be fine, for now.

HOW COULD I let go of the K-3ii?
While I was sure the top-level APSc body would serve me well, several factors caught me off guard; combined with another financial crunch, this was easier to decide than I expected.

For one thing, the GM1 has multi-exposure and time-lapse stills & video. I have always liked having those items available but did not expect to see them in the minuscule Lumix. While I believe the K-3 series has more versatile options in the combining of multiple exposures that I could use, that use would not be all that frequent.


Another is the overhead that Pixel-Shifting brings to the table. I have no doubt that it can be used to great effect in many places I like to be (e.g. above timberline where few things move), the truth is I haven't been in those places recently. Also the time expense to get my software in line to accurately massage and motion-correct any issues then deal with other image factors.. well those really aren't my photographic 'thing'. Pretending that I want to do that will not fool me for long.


Finally: 24 megapixels. I find 16 to be more than enough, and usually too big to put online. When I print I feel that's sufficient, but again that's not something I have done in a few years. Having the capability to do things that don't greatly interest me is the wrong path right now. Perhaps in a few years I'll take a road less traveled, but as a homebound caregiver for the past several years it's not a time to overextend my gear. I need to accept that reality.


So 16Mpix, micro4:3, and simplicity will do - for now! And if I must carry something larger I can still pull out the E500 and its chunky 18-180mm zoom and look more like a pro. A pro visiting from 2007 yes, but still..

10 September 2016

the 'simple' GM1

The GM1 and K-3ii are both excellent cameras with numerous features that add to their capabilities. Both have intervalometers for stop-action video or time-lapse imaging, sensor sizes are similar (4Thirds / APSc) so enlargements are of high quality, and each is pretty compact for its type. The Pentax adds weather seals, the larger sensor with more resolution, an optical viewfinder and really long battery life; the GM1 is essentially pocket size, can use its own or Pentax lenses, makes great videos with minimal fuss, and its touch-screen allows for precise AF and other rapid adjustments.

The 4Thirds sensor in the GM1 does very nice work; I tested it to iso20k and found it 'acceptable', meaning it looks rather like a phone capture except it's basically shooting in the dark. Studies like those at dXomark show the K-3ii wins for all sensor specs, but how often will I notice the dynamic range is narrower (especially when iA modes or shadow adjustments are enabled)?

The best news is really that the GM1 is so small that it can come along pretty much any time! However I must admit that for over a week the tiny Olympus 9mm fisheye had gone missing - that lens is so small and light that it was found in a day-pack pocket that I had already checked!


04 September 2016

Mirrorless options

My greatest challenge with the GM1 is that it wants its own lenses! Such small wonders as the 35-100 would be a great match to my Lumix' 14-42ii (e.g. they both use 46mm filters) and in-lens stabilization would lead to improved telephoto images.

The problem is that I have a Pentax smc-M 100/2.8 that is really small and takes excellent images that are 2 stops faster than the Lumix zoom. The smc-A 50/1.7 can make that same claim. The GM1 has focus peaking so these small prime lenses are easy to adapt and focus with that little body.

So the temptation to buy µ43 lenses must be tempered for now; maybe at a future time I will add a Lumix lens or two. In reality the 12-60mm Lumix is the greater threat with its extended range on each end!

The other mirrorless kit is the Samsung NX300 team. The white one now has the 16/2.4 prime and matching white 20-50mm lens, both quite talented but with no IS. The brown body comes with 16-50/OIS, and a 50-200/OIS is available for both. Since all are interchangeable this is an arbitrary alignment.

Lumix 14-42ii and Pentax DAL 50-200wr w/o adapter
taken by the Sigma 28-80 1:2
Pentax lenses are also adaptable for either mirrorless mount. The Lumix 14-42ii is an excellent and absurdly compact lens, and its 35-100mm counterpart is equally so.  However, the Pentax 50-200 that I own has more range, the same f/4-5.6 range (so it's brighter than the tiny Lumix tele at 100mm) and is reasonably small and light since it's built for the APSc sensor size. My other nice option is the Sigma 28-80 (also f/3.5-5.6) with 1:2 macro. It's very similar to the Pentax lens in bulk but going close up to 1:2 'macro' is very nice to have!

While the AF and especially OIS will be missed for a while (especially for telephoto shots!) these options are good ones. Indoor shot here was at iso8000 which works decently on the GM1.

19 August 2016

timetable shift!



As I mentioned in this pentax-forums post, I needed to accelerate my next-camera timetable today.

I planned to update my camera gear around Christmas-time.  First thoughts were a K-3 but the news that pixel-shift images can be corrected with computer software moved me toward the model II instead.  When I learned that silver bodies were available at the Pentax webstore, I was certain I had chosen my next camera..  and the last one for quite a while!


Then it struck me today.  Pentax seldom makes a lot of silver bodies, and when they run out it's over.
Sure enough, websites aplenty announced this was a limited run of 500 to commemorate Ricoh's eighty years in the camera business - and assuming those would last until December just wasn't a safe bet.

So it ends.
All my recent work to acquire some big-ticket items is done, and especially camera gear needs to settle for several months.
  • I sought out smaller cameras and ended up with a GM1 and the YoCam
  • I sought out a new vehicle for our rural home and found a used Ford Expolrer SportTrac
  • We replaced washer, dryer & refrigerator with efficient new Samsung models
  • The dream of a Pentax K-1 became a more practical but similarly impressive APSc option -
  • and we paid down a bunch of debt!
Now to figure out how to delete those ads for used cars and K-1 cameras..

tiny white cameras

A trio of little white cameras are here now: the GM1 
(shown here with 9mm fisheye 'body-cap' lens), YoCam and Motorola cellphone. 

Image taken with my HUUUGE K∙50.



Each has its place. I really dislike cell phone cameras, but a visit to Mt. St.Helens forced me to give it a workout. In HDR mode images were okay, somewhat - though the brightening haloes in some shots were really annoying. It's definitely the emergency camera.

The YoCam is the miniscule adventure camera. It can do HD+ video, still shots, live feed to the phone (e.g. backup cam for the car), and go 30 feet underwater.  I must test this before we go anywhere important, but for unusual shooting it definitely has its place. Its wide angle f/2 lens is handy too.

The GM1 is smaller than our old Q, most especially with this lens attached - yet it has a full 4Thirds sensor inside, no pinkie-fingernail sensor here. It will be a challenge to adapt to an advanced camera so small, but the touchscreen can handle most of the controls.

Why are they all white ones?  Simply because I'm tired of black (phone, YoCam) and the used GM1 came this way. I'd have taken red or some other shade if the choice were mine, as white items hide nearly as well as black inside a house with papers strewn about.

Oh wait, I forgot my wife's white NX300 - another shot coming soon, but I'll wait for her pancake 16mm lens to arrive later today!

14 August 2016

micro's last stand

I've tried and enjoyed the micro 4:3 gear, but it's clear that Pentax gear fits my hand and brain just right. I've tried Lumix at least 3 times, and recently gave Oly gear a full workout. Since the NX300 is my wife's clear choice I let all that go, so we're pretty locked down for small-body big-sensor imaging.

from imaging-resource review
 A post recently spread around about the demise of the Lumix GM series. It's since been clarified to mean that Panasonic is redefining the product lines and only the letters "GM" may be demising. Anyway, the GM is truly as tiny as can be with the 4:3 sesnor, and especially when paired with the 12-32m, owners have really liked it.

As I was unable to sell all of my micro gear, a used GM1 is coming soon in order to make use of the 'spare parts'. It can be the telescope cam (with my 1¼" eyepiece to m43 adapter), the ultra-tiny cam (with 9mm body-cap fisheye lens), and a true pocket camera.

I chose to skip is the 12-32mm collapsible lens though. It's wonderful and all that, but the 20mme difference for longer shots is too much to bear. I found a 14-42mm lens at a great price - but which one is it?? It was labeled as the 14-42 II, which I've tried and liked; the shipping order shows the X-Vario 14-42, another collapsible design that would be handier for pocket travel & also gets good reviews. I won't lose as either 14-42mm will serve nicely.

In Samsung news the 16-50 PZ now has a 50-200 III to keep it company, and the 16/2.4 will be here in a bit. Other than the 30/2 that should be enough fun for that setup. Easy to say, now prove it..

07 August 2016

playing with color - NX lenses

Samsung's NX system cranked out many great little primes before going dormant.  (Not that their zooms were bad, but I don't wish to lug around their fast zoom pair - the 16-50pz is just right though!) In the past I've owned the 16 20 and 30mm pancakes and found them to be talented lenses and handy enough to carry any time.

The other curious thing about Samsung is that they do several things similar to Pentax - and that includes colors!  Several bodies came with color options (the NX300 came in silver-trimmed black, brown and white) and other NX and NX-mini bodies also played with colors.  The fun part is that they made several lenses to match the bodies.

I didn't think of color-coded pancakes until my wife asked about a pink lens, and I showed her the NX 16/2.4 prime in a pearly pink. She thought it was cool, but I also showed her white and black primes like the 30/2.0 that many camera folk feel is the best of the pancake primes (they probably did not try Pentax Limiteds, but other than build the NX30 is excellent). We ordered a pink 16 - and now I think about a time when their 10mm fisheye and 30/2 join us. The 3 pancakes look almost identical.. but not if I buy each in a different color! That would force me to buy the 10mm next as it's the hardest to find, and its color would determine the 30's. Or we could just get the Samyang 7.5mm which is easy to distinguish!
  
our new 16/2.4 (via eBay) 30/20/16mm trio from B&H 2012 website

In Pentax news, no surprise: I was just outbid on a 20-40 Limited. I expect it to go over $420 before it's over (in 4 hours) which is too much right now for us to deal with.

Our next priority is not a lens but a heat-pump, which will both cool us in summers (well in typical summers, it's drizzling here now!) and will be a much more efficient heat source than our 1980s furnace. With a wood-stove to supplement in chilly weather, it's a nice set of choices.

04 August 2016

so much for making lens plans

The demo K-50 came with a DAL 18-55wr! 

shot with K-01 and 100/2.8 smc-M

That's just a bargain beyond belief!

Yes I'd prefer a 20-40 Limited, but clearly this will do quite nicely. The matching 50-200 arrives next week, eliminating any great needs on the Pentax side. I expect this team to last me until Christmas, when dreams of sugar-plums and a K-3ii dance in my head..

03 August 2016

another K-kit

Given what I 've learned of various K-mount lenses (a little) and what I still have (plenty!) - the 'best' lens arrangement for my future K-# camera has changed a bit.

For one, I have 300mm covered well enough with the baby Quantaray mirror. since it has no aperture it can be set to Av and be done with it! That re-enables the 50-200wr to reappear in some form, for weather comfort and decent size/quality. I've found the newer DAL 50-200wr to be a more consistent performer for no sensible reason, so one of those will cover telephoto. On the wide side, the Sigma 28-80 with its 1:2 closeups really deserves more time, so crowding it on the low end is less vital. My WR options are not thick on the wide end - the 18-50, 20-40 or large *16-50/2.8 are in play. I have a bid on the 20-40 that will not win without more padding, but the new RE 18-50 really would be a small treat - especially with the knowledge that above 35mm I can switch in the 28-80. Another wonderful option is the 16-45 f/4, no weather seals but a great hiking choice. If money were less of an issue, the 15 and 21 Limited would be welcome additions!

So here's the K∙50/K-3ii kit plan
  • zooms: 'wide', 28-90, 50-200 (see next post: 'wide' = DAL 18-55wr)
  • primes: 28M, 50A, 100M, 300Q, 400 Hanimar.
.. but what if? 
The monster options for a K-1 differ a bit. I can easily pick up a bargain FA/J 75-300 or FA 100-300 for autofocus (at the cost of that f/3.5 aperture), or just shoot the 50-200 in crop mode.
  • zooms: 28-90 and JCPenney 80-200/3.5
  • prime kit: same as above.

compromising positions

Our debts are now going in the right direction, and my wife agrees that a new Pentax should be included. To my surprise and admiration she feels a K-1 is not too steep a price if it represents the greatest advancement in camera history (my words); I was thinking the K-3 would likely be my highest step.

It should be noted that some bills are not gone though. We need a new fiscal diligence to make things better for good. The K-1 would be a great choice if income from photos were to come with it, and that's something I cannot guarantee. However the K-3ii now feels more reasonable as a choice with nearly the best of everything!

How do they compare?  
Like this: http://camerasize.com/compare/#619,659

The K-3 is just a pinch bulkier than my K-5 that fit so well, but a few buttons and dials have changed. Everything is larger in the K-1: sensor, SR system (better stabilization), screen (with tip and pivot!), number of control dials (3) and of course, price ($1k more±). Each have the new Pixel-Shift mode that provides full color data to every pixel, but the K-1 can correct for moving objects in camera.
However II: the Pentax computer software can correct for motion on both cameras!  This is a recent discovery and really makes the 3ii a more appealing option. The best possible images, APSc size for body and lens savings, 24Mpix (actually more pixel density than the K-1's 36Mpx but gentler on the hard drive) and a similar feature set.

The one thing for sure is that a K-50 bargain body arrives tomorrow.  I had considered sending it back for a time, but we have many financial decisions to make before the camera hits the agenda. The K-50 uses the famous sweet-16Mpx sensor, uses pre-Ricoh controls that I have used for years, has weather seals and does a fine job where it counts.

For a few months at least, the K-50 will do just fine.. and it will feel quite familiar!

30 July 2016

the E500 saga

While toying with µ43 gear I decided to try the E500 and 4Thirds lenses. Several of those are both unique and well liked, and they can be adapted to the newer micro cams. So why not? I added both K-4T and 4T-µ43 adapters to ensure my many lenses could take advantage of as many systems as possible. The E500 takes Compact Flash and xD cards; I bought adapters to use microSD inserts but that didn't work too well, so I ended up with an 8G CF and 2G xD for the ever-increasing pile of gear that the experiment was requiring.

Well here's a bit of what happened - -
The e500 and lenses (35mm macro, 18-180mm and 11-22) arrived about the same time. And the E500 battery would not charge.  That sent me out to buy a spare battery, which arrived the absolute day that I could still return the lenses. A few quick tests led me to cancel the returns that I had filed - these lenses were quite good. The 18-180 had typical superduperzoom challenges (especially f/6.3 at the long end) but it looked like a good investment.

Then the bargain µ43 adapter arrived.  It didn't really work, waaayy too tight mounting to the lens. I got the 35 macro to work and it was fine. I got the 18-180 to barely fit, and AF speeds were awful (as expected and reported by every 4Thirds/µ43 owner). The 11-22 would not fit at all without becoming permanently fixed to the adapter.  Hey no worries, I bought from a US listing (as reported by eBay).

When asked to return the adapter a Hong Kong address was listed. Oh sure, the "USA address" was "Ontario, United States" - a vague drop-box sort of address. You could add California to your fake listing at least.. but they had me. No way was I going to ship internationally for a $30 refund, wait two weeks and learn I get 80% or nothing because they cannot duplicate the problem.





So what to do with all this stuff?  The most productive answer would be to buy an EM1 with phase-detect AF on the sensor; that allows the 4Thirds lenses to reassert themselves as excellent lenses.  Oh wow those are $500 used, $900 new - no thanks.

So I ordered another Pentax camera and will dump this experiment ASAP.

The µ43 gear is already gone, victim of the last pre-IRA financial crunch - so there's no point to holding 4Thirds gear. As noted in an earlier post, the E500 cannot easily do action or low light (in its era 3-point AF and iso400-max shots were the rule).

If nobody speaks up soon for the gear soon it's off to the resale companies where I'll be lucky to get $200 for the bunch.  Better than keeping it here and recalling these moments. These are still excellent lenses and hopefully an EM1 owner will give them new life. It's just not for me.

29 July 2016

don't believe anything I say

.. but why are you still reading?

I really so want one of the $1500 K-1 bodies that I saw online today.  THREE of them, each a demo/likenew and each at a different location.  I will have some cash next week but very little right now - so even at $500 I must say no.

That includes all the K-3 bodies I saw a few days ago, which have all been sold. Even at $200 I must say no.

So Adorama drops in a surprise just for me, it seems: a demo K50 body for about $150. My paypal-dumpsite balance this evening (just after another lens sold) is.. $145?

OK: so for now I'm a K50 guy. 
This is a K50 iii - not because of Pentax introducing another silly-suffix camera model (and they are not alone doing this!), but because I have been forced to dump two previous K50s! However this one's black so I'll pretend the red ones didn't count!

Maybe next week I'll return it for another demo K-1.. or K-3?  Highly unlikely, but dreams die hard..

This means the white K-01 is now even more expendable as its similar sibling with Phase-AF and a real eyepiece rejoins the team. I'd love to say I don't need those items, but remember not to believe me if I do say so!

28 July 2016

mostly right

self portrait with mirrors
I've always had a soft spot for the underdog.  The Pentax K-01 fits this role perfectly (as the K-s1 did later). It was reviled by the press for being unconventional yet delivering big-time on image quality. It's a K-5 in everything but shape viewfinder and AF system! It's not a great fit with bulky telephoto lenses but give it lightweight lenses and it will produce consistently excellent images.

I have another white K-01 body and recently I stuck the Sigma 28-90mm 1:2 'macro' lens on it. Generally it's fast to focus (although the K-01 CDAF is not swift at all times) and it is a sharp lens. 

I have found that 1:2 satisfies my closeup needs quite nicely and this is a $30 lens that does the job very well.


I may be moving the K-01 soon to finance a K-3 body - and I'll miss it again.

all wrong

Recent plans have been adrift, planning without verifying. Once again I was buying bargains, but if the system is not the best of fits it will all be re-sold so 'bargain' is less the correct term. I had figured that the possibility of using a viewfinder would make a big difference to her over the Samsung body she has now.  But no - my wife really likes the NX300, and she has now made that clear. This means we have NX as our mirrorless system, and µ43 gear is all wrong as a second camera.

The little Olympus (and Panasonic) cameras go great work, and I've been impressed.  However, a second mirrorless kit is not a sensible answer. I sort of knew this and grabbed some 4Thirds 'bargains' too - and I enjoyed it for a bit until I found myself stranded in an ideal photo shoot with less-than-ideal gear.

The E500 simply cannot do action or low light, which is precisely where I found myself when a crowd of pelicans visited a local pond.  Even the NX300 with PDAF on the sensor could have outdone this - though right now I can only go to 75mme with that camera, so the pelicans would have been absurdly smaller compared to these taken at 350mme.  Very sad to be stuck between systems at this moment, but it's a learning experience that will stick with me. I have a K-01 (yes, another mirrorless body) that might have improved on these, but holding its VF-free body steady with a larger and equally-slow telephoto lens could easily have produced fuzzy birds too even with its SR system working.

For surrealism I like this second image.. but I'd greatly prefer some frozen pics of flying pelicans at iso4000 or so. And none of the gear that I have now cannot manage it.



A final spasm of financial pain came as I was learning all this, and in a flurry of deals the µ43 gear has pretty much all departed. The 4Thirds gear is still here for a while; I had ordered spare batteries and cables so until they arrive they aren't much of a package.  Hopefully I can get most of my ill-planned investment back once the package is fully assembled; the Zuiko 11-22mm is very much a sought-after lens in the Four Thirds and adapted world. That sale plus the pending IRA funds will put us in a better situation for thinking things through and moving on.

"Moving on" comes in two steps.  Part One is a second NX300 so that my wife and I have matching kits. Those bodies are still at around $200 for a decent used copy which is what hers cost. I had considered an NX30 instead, but those tend to cost more than I deem reasonable for our needs.  The 50-200mm ois telephoto can be had for $150, so I might as well have a shareable copy of that. And the 10/16/30 primes might come later if they strike me as great deals.

Part Two is clearly Pentax.
I know their gear, like it a lot, and still have a few good lenses for it. The 28-90, 100/2.8 and a 300 mirror remain in the closet, and a few others could hang about as well. I will seek weather seals so either an 18-50re or 20-40 Limited zoom would be fine, with 16-50 or 16-85 as outside odds to join me. With the 300 mirror I could be satisfied with a 50-200wr, but we'll see when the time comes.

The body - well, the pelican shot suggests that an AF upgrade would serve me well at times. The K-3 has far more AF points within a similar screen area, and its logic systems outdo the K-5 combos as well. Many other features hide within as well that I'd like, and while slightly heavier and harder on battery life the body size is very K-5ish. That's where I'm leaning for now, with K-3ii and K-5ii as outsiders and the K-01 a disappointing fourth.  The extra $1000 is too much to bear in the near future, not to mention more grams and lens requirements.  The temptation is great though!

09 July 2016

retro move

In an attempt to step back to the CCD era and continue use of some of my Pentax primes, I picked up a gently-used Olympus E500. The Four-Thirds standard produced some very nice gear and Excellent lenses, but failed to convince users that a large camera with a small sensor was worthwhile.  It spawned the micro-Four-Thirds era which is going quite nicely, and which I now use.

Back in 2008 my tests showed the E500 to be as good as anything I tried in the store - at least at whatever settings the previous user tried. It definitely bettered the E510, which was sad because image stabilization was important to me. I left the E500 two-lens kit on the shelf, but always wondered about whether that was the right move. I went with the Sony-α A200 which I used for a year before shifting to Pentax, which I've used until the past few months when the EM10 joined me.

Four-Thirds lenses are not greatly sought after, so a few attempts to pick up good copies of well-reviewed lenses paid off. The curious zoom pairing of 11-22 and 18-180mm will arrive next week. Both zooms cover rather odd ranges; the 22-44mme is not a common range from other brands and the 36-360mme clearly abandons the more complex wide end while still achieving superzoom status. Most folks would go with the traditional 14-45 and 40-150 zooms but I can go both wider and longer with these two - and the 11-22 is weather protected as well.  I also picked up the 35mm f/3.5 1:1 macro that should serve nicely. All three are generally well regarded - and with an adapter all can be used on µ43 systems and retain electronic connections! Some Four-Thirds lenses focus very slowly when adapted, so it may not prove worth doing.. but it will be interesting to try. At the very least the 35 macro will be a nice addition to the micro kit.  A Pentax K to Four Thirds adapter is already here (K to µ43 too!) for the K primes that I already own.

28 June 2016

R.I.P. NX

I just visited the Samsung website, and I see nothing about cameras at all. Galaxy phones and refrigerators with cameras inside - but no NX system, no general Cameras category, not even Consumer Electronics. That's very sad. The NX system had some great concepts and very good plans, even if the NX1 and huge f/2.8± lenses was not my style. The NX300/500 were great ones though, but other than the 50-200mm they made no telephoto products for me. We've now shifted to Olympus for compact cameras with excellent image quality - but the NX300 and 16-50PZ+ois will hang around for a while.

So much for that contender in the bottom left. The white NX will definitely stick around though: with the 24-75mme lens that focuses very closely at 16mm, and the impressive Samsung touchscreen (no doubt Samsung knows how to do those!), it's a very easy camera to use and not worth much to sell.  The upper EM5 camera has been replaced by a silver/black EM10 - so the equations are quite different today.  As is quite typical for me lately, that didn't take long!


25 June 2016

the temporary trio



Interesting how the new Lumix lenses have contracted, compared to both earlier versions and the Olympus counterparts! It's decently smaller but still has OIS inbuilt. The 14-42/II shows the same reduced-cubic-inch design philosophy, and reports are great about improved IQ for both lenses.  Nice!
That 14-42/II will arrive early next week, racing the silver em10 to my door.

24 June 2016

So much for sense

Many options exist for the wide end of µ43. Tiny 12-32mm, fast 12-35 or 12-40, versatile 12-50 or 12-60 - or simple 14-42 or 14-45 kit lenses.

Of the 14-42s this makes the most sense to me:


This is 14-42/II, the 3rd-generation Lumix 'kit lens', assuming the PZ version is #4. This one has neither 52mm filter threads nor an OIS switch, but it's smaller sharper and better made than the others in this range - even the Oly IIr that I own now, according to reviews (ir, pz). Sounds like a good match for the 45-150. I'll survive with two filter sets, I have done so before.

No to go back and edit the last few posts to match up with reality. Yes i am rewriting history, again.

Equiv. focal length.     28-84mme
Optical construction    9 elements in 8 groups inc. 2x aspherical 
No. aperture blades    7 (circular)
min. focus      0.2-0.3m (max. magnification: 1:6)
Dimensions    56x49mm
Lens Weight    110g
Filter thread    46mm (non-rotating)

19 June 2016

changing direction, aka swerving

After a few attempts to get the best-value combination of micro-43 gear, I made a decision yesterday.

I bought one of the last new em10 bodies (silver like this one!) and will let the em5 go. Primarily this is a convenience move: the em10 uses epl5 batteries this shift is quite practical. I have already tried to stuff an em5 battery into the epl5, which is a problem, especially with micro-43's shorter battery life. Even more interesting are the new features that the 'lesser' em10 brings to the table compared to the elder, 'more talented' em-5* e.g. live-composite and interval shooting. Those could definitely be useful.. plus it crowds my Pentax gear a bit more with the interval modes.


OK so now the em10 and pl5 are the new dream team for my wife and I.  The 14-42 and 40-150 are the lenses of choice, though I'd prefer a smaller tele like the Lumix 35-100 or 45-150mm.  I've one of the latter coming to compare with my 40-150, we'll
monox.JP image
see how that goes.. assuming the Oly doesn't sell first. And it could, as I have posted that lens and the em5 in a sales site or two. I've also bid on a few 14-140mm Olympus bodies, but no luck so far.  That's not a bad thing, since as I've said before that Panasonic zoom rotation is more familiar to me because all my Pentax zooms turn that way.  I had already made a false start with the 12-32mm, perhaps I will need to find another - or splurge in a few months on the 12-60!  Oh what fun.



* Every camera maker has this same problem: newer bodies incorporate more features yet use parts at a lower cost, so lower-spec cameras have features before the same company's flagship bodies! In Olympus' case the em5 came out and amazed, the em1 came with the top-end specs, then the 'base' em10 came with several em1 features and a few new items that neither had. Oly quickly came out with a 5-II to address the imbalance, and an em1-II will arrive soon. No matter - tech will continue to march on and keep this game going. Pentax' new K-70 has the same problem, surpassing the K-3ii in many ways as the top APSc body.

09 June 2016

the Contestants

In the category of Most-useful Compact Camera with Interchangeable lenses in a Personal role, we now have three* possibilities.

the Big Little Three: EM5, ePL5, NX300 (clockwise from top). Image taken with K-01.


Samsung NX300. Largest sensor, most pixels (20M), a few great little lenses.. and a system whose future is in doubt. Samsung has gone totally silent, and no rumors suggest that another brand is picking up the tech.  Nobody wins with this: bad Samsung PR, poor user comfort even if they own great gear. They still have nice small primes (16, 30, 45, 60 macro), the compact 16-50 with optical stabilization and very few telephotos that are either massive (50-150/2.8) or the 50-200, a decent but not amazing lens.  So Samsung has chosen to take itself off the radar.. too bad as the NX300 is a really nice camera.

Olympus ePL5. The best micro4:3 sensor to date (this is the 16Mpix sensor, the new 20Mpx has not been reviewed much), NX size or a bit smaller, all necessary controls and an option to add a viewfinder. Very comparable to the NX300 but with a future that's more visible and reasonable.


Olympus em5. A bit larger than the ePL5 but same imaging pipeline (sensor, processing, options).  A bit taller since the eVF is built in, and weather seals too. Two control dials for easier adjustments while preparing to shoot. And at some point one might be able to see the 5-axis stabilization win out over the ePL5 and its lesser axes of correction. I don't plan to actively seek out the difference so I'm not greatly concerned.


*The fourth possibility is the Pentax K-01 that took these photos. Far larger than any, another great 16Mpix sensor but APSc / NX300 size. Also white like the NX300, curiously enough. It uses a bunch of lenses that I already own, has focus peaking (the Olympi do not) and can take decent movies.  Here's the K-01 and ePL5 matched up, the 28mm f/2 Kiron is on the K-01.




*Might as well include the fifth option, which is/was the Oly ePM2.  The red one I briefly owned was great fun and smaller then the PL5 but it has no tilt screen. The VF option is there though, and that does tilt - and images equal those from the em5 and PL5. So the PM2 is still a decent choice, really, and the bargain of the bunch. The shot at right compares the PM2 and NX300.


So how do they all compare in the real, non-laboratory world?

All are quite good at what they do, and any differences in image qualities would not impact me. I owned the Pentax and Samsung first so they are more familiar to operate, and in many ways do things in similar ways. I do wish Pentax could take over the NX technology but no news of that = no more time spent on that dream. The Olympus menus are a bit more dense than the others, but worse than that is their cryptic, non-traditional references to what is actually being adjusted.  Irritating, but ultimately one can adapt.

Having seen the various results I'd say the most recent Micro4:3 and APSc sensors are quite evenly matched - it took a few years to get there but with Sony making sensors for both sensor types that's not a great surprise.  No doubt shots above iso6400 will reveal differences, but one can fine-tune the camera before the shot and mess with images later with desktop software. Therefore the differences aren't sufficiently relevant to me that any of these cameras is rejected or required.

For basic zooms the kit 14-42mm is much smaller than the Pentax 18-55, though Pentax now has a retractable 18-50 kit zoom which I have not tried. I've found that the NX 16-50 is pleasantly small and images with it are quite nice. As to primes, all three systems make excellent primes and the 'larger' Limited lenses from Pentax are easily as good as the others. So the wider end is not as big of a deal using any of these systems for lenses that I tend to choose; it's the telephotos that show the most difference.

The Olympus 40-150mm and Samsung NX or Pentax-DA 50-200s (all 80-300mme) do similar work, but the Oly is much less bulky and therefore more likely to come along. If one must have f/2.8 telezooms those lenses for all systems will be large, and I would want a large body to hold such lenses; however I am not interested in shooting at f/2.8 above 100mm so it's not relevant to me.

Given similar enough results and both lens sizes and Samsung's uncertain future, I feel that the micro4:3 gear will serve me/us best going forward. My wife and I can enjoy the ePL5 and em5 with pretty much identical results. The issues between them are small but could become nagging, as they use different batteries. I'm tempted to seek the em10 as a swap for the em5 - I would lose the weather seals but gain a match for power source and get a slightly smaller camera as well. We'll see about that. Or the ePM2 could make a return visit and go along with either of these. In any case images will be more than sufficiently excellent for my needs and uses, and I will dare to say for my wife as well.

05 June 2016

mini tech rant: am I there yet?

I'm typing this from my ASUS Transformer 10" tablet with Windows and detachable keyboard. It's been sidelined for about a year as technology marched on.  In fact here's my note from October 2014 about it (tablet rant #2). Why was that?

The easy answer is that I've been busy as usual, as caregiver to my wife.  The correct answer however is that I updated to Win 10 for free - and the wireless subsystem promptly failed. The Broadcomm wireless b/g/n SDIO drivers that want to update for the new system just don't work - seek these terms online and wince as you count the rants from unhappy users. Mostly I see ASUS users since I'm searching for them, but I've seen many HP users commenting on it as well.


Last week I found a site where a user pointed to the old but working drivers. I unZipped the file and copied the two .bin files that were reported in the Win10 driver popup, and now the tablet is online again after Nineteen Months.  Red flags will fly in the system as the auto-update politely clobbers the functioning drivers with new/bad ones; I expect this to begin soon.  I have the two .bin files on my desktop, ready to drag to the \drivers folder as needed. Silly, but at last it's effective.

The 10" tablet runs Office 10 and all modern browsers as well as a few apps. For variety it's nothing like my Android 8" store apps but I tend to grab and overuse games - so perhaps this is my better choice in the long run! It is a bit awkward to use as I'm used to Android with phones and tablets, but nothing I cannot manage - and the 10 hour battery life will be nice.

04 June 2016

simply Wow (Kiron 28/2)

The K-01 and Kiron 28 have arrived. The 28/2 is quite impressive, and that just sent the smc-M 28/2.8 packing.  Even at f/2 it's quite sharp and contrasty, and the K-01's focus peaking means I can actually focus the thing where I intend. If wide open is good it means I can use aperture-priority setting rather than going Manual and hitting the green button to meter, which is a speed boost I can use at times. Like all lenses past the age of 20 or so, it's not perfect: the coating allows for plenty of flare to leak into the image from bright light sources, which affects the contrast at times. It's not ideal in a dark room with bright windows, for example.

I also attached the 28-80 Sigma from days past, with 1:2 close focusing.  So far so good with results there too, no surprise as I have owned this lens before a few times (both 28-80 and the Quantaray 28-90 variant).  Each time I've been impressed, yet budget forces a sale sooner or later.  Maybe those days are past - but this one cost $28 even with the K-1 now available to absorb all full-35mm lenses.

So the K-01 can now rest in its 'cabinet' (2 shelves in a closet) and meet the other K-lenses in the group. Those include the 100-300 Sigma DL, 80-200 JCPenney and primes from the 28 Kiron, 50-100-135mm Pentax, 300mm mirror and 400mm Hanimar.  Should be fun!


03 June 2016

hate when this happens

The K-01 passed over on its way from Kent to Portland. Its Thursday arrival date still shows on my Friday-morning search which shows it in Portland on Thursday morning. This is really not informative. It's probably in Longview now (24h later) and about to be 'out for delivery' - but why have a website if it cannot keep up?


Five minutes after that post.. see what happens when you complain? :^)



31 May 2016

Return of the Thing

Yes, this thing.  The K-01. 
Another barely-used white version is coming!

A familiar friend is coming home again: a K-01 in zuzu white (Zuzu's our tuxedo cat). I enjoyed my time and images with this camera quite a bit. Yes a few things are disturbing about the K-01, most notably the viewfinder and glare off the screen on bright days.  I bought a flip screen cover long ago to help with that, and really this is the best way to acquire a super-16Mpx sensor on a budget. The K-30 is commanding cult prices and the K-50 has yet to fall to this point. So I'm regaining native mode for my K lenses, time-lapse stills/videos, and 500 shots per battery charge (that addresses my biggest grouse about µ43 bodies). I even have a white 18-55mm sitting near that screen shade - it needs a new mount, but perhaps I can pirate one off another old lens.

Part of today's problem for me is that the em5 is not quite the ideal body for me. How can that be, with all its great features?  Beats me - but every setup I try seems to have an issue for me that the ePM2 did not have with its single control wheel.  I've run into this 2-wheel mental lockup before, for unclear reasons adding a second wheel does not improve my interaction with my cameras. The best way for me to use a camera with two control dials is to completely ignore one, then act surprised when I see it work.
Call me crazy.. I often do!

image via imaging-resource.com
Since the em5 and epm2 were both just a pinch off, one way or another, I'm splitting the difference with a nicely-priced used ePL5.  Goldilocks lives! 
The epl5 will have the the em5's tilt screen, mode dial and image quality and a size closer to the epm2. It's quite tiny, sized between the Q and NX300 - so for my wife it will be ideal and the nx300 is free to travel. Whether the em5 or a second epl5 + viewfinder is the best answer for both of us, let's just say.. reply hazy, ask again tomorrow.

One thing is quite clear though:  the gear swapping must end!  Again.

28 May 2016

micropriorities

Although my transition to micro-four-thirds gear was not planned to be a complete kit makeover, the budget insisted that some changes be made. It turns out that shooters on a budget can do quite well in the µ43 gear pool! Finding a Pentax dSLR for under $200 takes one back many generations, but I'm managing to find Olympus Pen and Lumix G/GF bodies in that range pretty regularly. Basic m4:3 lenses and my Pentax primes can make up a decent kit in a hurry.

So despite the siren calls from forum folk and advertisers, many products just don't resonate with me.
  • Fast Zooms will not find a place for me. Yes the 12-35 and 12-40s are quite compact and perhaps one awaits me in the future. Definitely not the heavier f/2.8 telephotos however. I like this gear because it is compact and still talented, so adding big zooms will damage both budget and shoulder strap.
  • Ultrafast Primes also don't speak to me. The primes that reach f/1.7 (and even Sigma's f/2.8 trio) are enough for my sort of subject isolation, so f/0.95 just is not my style.  This excludes the speed-booster anticonverters as well.
  • 4k video cannot get much traction with me either.  The G7 swayed me with that call, but I have neither monitor nor TV screen that can show me the benefits. And pulling 8Mpx stills sounds wonderful.. but I so seldom shoot video even at 720p that I can recognize it for the gee-whiz feature that can grab my attention but only briefly.
So this list leaves a lot of gear available even at good prices. What do I expect to reach me next?
  • probably a Pen Lite, whether ePL5 or ePL6 it's hard to say. The pm5 is available at an excellent price, and it has enough features to challenge my need for the weather-sealed em5 I have now. It has the same internals, the tip screen and several more assignable buttons that the pm2 did not have, and if a viewfinder is needed it's a $100 clip-on option.  Even if this does not unseat the em5 it could take the NX300 out of the back room and send it away, so from a budget viewpoint that's a plus. The PL6 includes time-lapse functions; I always liked Pentax for including those, and used the feature perhaps.. twice? Maybe this is why I recognize the 4k feature as a must-have-won't-use option..
  • if the em5 survives the PL5/6 reality check, a sealed lens would be valuable.  The 12-50 is the easy and cheaper option so that's the nearest thing to a plan right now.
  • Primes.  Sealed primes would be a wonderful thing that even Pentax has not yet offered, but a few great primes would be very nice. I've found the Sigmas and the Oly 17mm (all f/2.8) to be sufficiently excellent for my needs, and the price & bulk that I avoid are both highly valued.
Just don't ask me to do this again tomorrow.  I hate seeing how those siren calls can sway me!

24 May 2016

more reconsiderations

Yes I did grab a 12-32mm Lumix, and I liked it.
However -

Given current circumstances, many beyond our control, the timing is really wrong for it.  About a half-dozen 40-150mm Olympus lenses are up for sale with no takers, and no Lumix telephotos are up for swap or purchase, neither 35-100 nor 45-150mm. I have two excellent m.Zuiko lenses right now, and I need to use them!

I did manage to sell the ePM2 body so when no lens went with it the time was right to change plans (again).  I put the 12-32 up for sale - and no surprise, it immediately attracted some interest.  As mentioned before the 12-50mm Olympus EZ is available at the same price so let's zoom that direction for a while.  At the same time my wife has stated that if I think something more suitable than the NX300 is available for us to learn on she's OK with that Christmas-present becoming a different camera. That suggests the 12-50 on an em5 and the silver 14-42 lens on an ePL5/6 would be a sensible thing to shoot for. So about face, sales closed on the m.Zuikos and farewell (again?) 12-32! 

from http://www.techhive.com

That's today's story, and if it disappears tomorrow (like yesterday's post just did!) - 
well it's my blog, and these things happen. Especially here.


Update - the 12-32 has left the building - so the BCL 9mm, 14-42 and 40-150 trio will do for now.

13 May 2016

updates, down-dates

I pulled two recent posts after seeing that they both referred to non-events.  A busy two weeks of gear swapping with no actual results to show.. well, not yet!

First up/down was the Sigma 60mm DN Art, whose purchase coincided with news of more medical bills in the near future.  A great lens was returned in preparation for that.  I must say that the Sigma Art series has an issue for shooters who use AF with MF override: with the entire lens now a focus ring I have no place for my left hand without actuating the MF zoom feature.  Turning off the zoom or going just AF or MF aren't great options for how I shoot. So I love the images the Sigma 60 takes but its design is a poor fit for me.
edit- the answer came later in the mu-43 forum: keep the hood on and hold the lens there.  Good idea!

Another recent non-deal was a K-7 with some AF issues.  I was unable to get a single image with the camera in any mode, and the seller agreed that was not how it was when he listed it - so another refund and more thoughts for later.  I also bid on a silver Limited K-5 but that was trumped as well.  That would have been cool to own, but budget limits are in play. My consolation in the Pentax world (and m43 as well) is a good deal on a smc-M100 f/2.8; it looks a bit worn but some day it will get a fresh coating!

However! A twice-used em5 came up at mu43.com with Three batteries, several valuable extra features and for a net cost of $120 - assuming the ePM2 sells.  So yes that deal actually did happen, and it might stick!  It should arrive on Monday. For now it will do fine with the 14-42 and 40-150, as the 17/2.8 should help the ePM2 sell.  I really like that little camera, but adding a mode dial, second control wheel, viewfinder and tip screen will be great steps up.  Bummer that the batteries are not compatible with the ePM2..