Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tamron 17-50 verses Tamron 28-75 for Social Gatherings

A while back I sold sold my Tamron 28-75, having acquired a non-BIM version of the 17-50mm. This was a hard sale for me personally, as the 28-75 was one of the best lenses in my collection but it simply wasn't getting used anymore with the more convenient DX sized 17-50.  In some ways, these lenses are like little brother and big brother, and some ways, they are not. A few quick thoughts:
  • One the same camera, the 28-75 produces nicer headshots at 75mm than the 17-50 does at 50mm... that's a given considering the extra perspective compression. The bokeh rendition is also better, as the smaller lens can be a bit harsh in out of focus areas. However, for casual purposes, I find that any of the 50mm primes are usually a better choice than either of these two lenses for portrait shooting, as the zooms tend to produce a harsh bokeh if the background gets busy. This is especially true of the 17-50.
  • With the 17-50, you really don't miss switching back and forth between lenses that is necessary with the 28-75. If you are in a big space, it's no problem, but mounting and un-mounting lenses gets old fairly quickly in small spaces. The 17-50 is much better matched to the DX sensor size. With the 28-75, the awkwardness of the focal length constantly reminds you that it's there.
  • 28mm on DX is still in the 'normal' category. You really miss the feeling of depth that the 17-50 range provides, and have to work hard to exaggerate perspective.
  • The 17-50 is sharper at f/2.8. The plane of focus is quite curved, especially at the wide end of the lens, but the 17-50 is bit more contrasty wide open.  Both lenses are superb by f4, but you can shoot at f/2.8 with a bit more confidence with the 17-50.
  • The 28-75 is practically vignette-free on crop frame. This is a weakness with the 17-50, the dark corners are fairly apparent when you shoot against big expanses of light background. However, for people shots, it's not that intrusive and is rather welcome at times.
  • The 17-50 is a tad shorter than the 28-75. By normal zoom standards, the 28-75 is fairly small, but it still feels a bit on the long and heavy side when mounted on a DX camera.
No surprise, then, that the crop frame lens works better on a D80 (or D90, D7000, etc.) than the 28-75. There are a few opinions out there (mostly from working pros) that normal zooms are boring because most pictures are taken in this range, and consequently, don't stand out. That may be true, but there is a reason why Leica shooters collect 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 90mm primes... which is the full range of the so-called 'normal-zoom'.

If you have a chance to get either 17-50 or 28-75 on the used market, especially the AF-D non-built-in-motor versions, go for it. They're great deals, and for anywhere between $250 to $350 on Craigslist, you'll get a lot for your money.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Panasonic DMC-LX5 Review

No, I have not given up my dSLR, but I have been re-evaluating some priories as of late. My philosophy used to be that a camera is for the using, and that the quality afforded by a dSLR beat relying on somebody else's compact hands down. If portability was a factor, then it was simply a matter of strapping on a prime lens and making the kit smaller. Well, more is more, so it doesn't hurt to have a second camera kicking around. I found my copy of the LX5 for a price that couldn't be refused and jumped on it. And to be honest, as a portable kick-around camera, it's going to do nicely.

The build quality is very nice... very nice indeed. You get a metal body... a real metal body... something that you wouldn't get in full in the Nikon dSLR world until you reach the D300 level of camera. Cameras are for looking at things, but the LX5 is very nice to look at in itself. The whole range-finder aesthetic thing works very nicely for it... it has a very precise, very purposeful aura about it. Shooting in public, you wouldn't be mistaken for anything less than an enthusiast with this piece of kit.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Cheapest Way to Get a Leica M9

This one came up on our Craigslist today:

Leica M9 like new
Date: 2011-04-04, 9:58AM PDT

I am offering this beautiful black Leica M9 in terrific condition. I have owned it for a year, and the camera has been babied and not used very much (under 1500 actuations). It looks as new, and comes in the original box with all accessories, plus a gorgeous handmade leather half case and strap by Luigi Crescenzi. It simply isn't being used as much as it should be, and rather than tie up the money I have decided to move the camera on to somebody who will use it more frequently. There are a few more accessories, such as a Thumbs-Up, and a special bottom plate (M-Mate) with an opening for the SD slot. The case and these accessories are worth at least USD700.

The camera works perfectly, I have had no troubles whatsoever - of course, it takes great images, especially with great Leica or Zeiss glass in front of it.

The camera is leased through Vistek in Toronto. The three year lease has a $10 buyout at the end; one year has passed so there are 24 payments remaining. The buyer would not need to pay me anything, they simply need to assume the lease and for that purpose supply some credit information to the leasing company. There is a small transfer fee which the buyer would be responsible for.

Serious enquiries only. I can provide photos on request to a serious buyer. I also have some M-mount lens that might be available.

Communication by email initially. Thanks.

If you go to Vistek's website, you can see the terms of the leasing program. It's just a shade over $406 CDN a month for three years, or almost $4900 a year. Body only. The $11,299.00 list price has something to do with it... One has to wonder about the economics of this transaction. On the face of it, leasing something this expensive makes sense if you are savvy with your money.. some of it can be doing work while the camera is being paid off. But I think it's plain to see where the buyer's remorse started to kick in. Add on a Summilux lens and you'll have spent enough to buy a new Honda Civic.

I think given that the ad hits all of the right notes and spells out a few details ahead of time, the camera will find a new home. And they key point is, on something this insanely exclusive, the ad hits all of the right notes, which it needs to, since the potential pool of buyers is significantly smaller than your usual Craigslist transaction.