Dilemma’s…….Some Thoughts…

Sooo…. I got the hair brained idea that I might like an intermediate level prime lens.  Back in the days of 35mm, I had two lenses for my Canon F1 that I used constantly.  They were the 85mm f1.8 and 100mm f2.8.  Portrait lenses, actually.  These are a bit specialized as they are targeted at portrait work, but because their wide aperture, they are awesome for those “bokeh” type shots Smile  At this moment in time, this was something that I really didn’t need but more of a “nice to have”.  I already have the 40m f2.8 Micro Nikkor for the DSLR’s but I wanted something that was slightly longer and just as fast.  All the reviews said that the 40mm would ultimately be too short and they were right.  I got a manual Tamron 70-200 with macro, and it’s pretty awesome, but I wanted something in a an autofocus prime as well.  AND, because it wouldn’t be used a whole lot YET, I didn’t want to drop significant coin on it either.

Sigh…. so I’m researching this and finding that anything I was interested in was going to set me back at least $500.  I already had a feeling it was going to be that. For APS-C, the one I was really considering was the new Tamron 60mm f2.0 but I couldn’t find one locally close that had one.  I wasn’t prepared to spend a lot of time hunting and I didn’t want to get this online  – I like to touch and feel first.  So… why this focal length?  Back in the 35mm days, this was a bit of “sleeper”.  Despite the fact that it was a portrait type lens, that little longer length over a 50mm was handy.  For me, it was handy enough that one or the other was always attached to one of the bodies.  My two constants were the 24mm and 85mm or 100mm for everyday shooting.  And then, I got thinking a little more…  What about Micro Four Thirds?  Smile  What I DID find caught me right off guard.  So…. here is a Sigma 60mm f2.8 at about $220 before tax!!!  What!!!!!

Anything I had looked at previously in this class was pretty big coin, so I decided to be happy with my two zooms.  There was “other fish to fry” so to speak.  Namely the move to DSLR’s.  I do use my Panasonic GX1 a fair amount but for very specific things.  With MFT (Micro Four Thirds) – a 60mm would bring me to 90 mm – right about where I wanted to be!!!   For me, this felt like it might be a worthwhile investment.  So I bought it Smile  Yes – I did some research on it’s performance and in the bigger picture, this would get me into a different space.  Sort of like what the 28-200 Macro I got for my DSLR’s did – whole new world out there Smile

My first impressions.  It was smaller than I thought it would be.  Being a macro lens as well, the first thing I tried was the macro of course Smile  This was like the Tamron zoom at first – I had to get used to being a little farther away.  Once I got that figured out, the other thing I wanted to see was the f2,8 piece.  I wanted something a little faster, but then again the slightly longer focal length might offset the 1/2 stop for the background blur I was looking for.  It did Smile    Of course, for the the more advanced folks, this is a “trick” that can be used to increase the amount of bokeh with a longer lens.  Get farther back and snap that aperture wide open.  Even something like f4 can produce a pretty nice effect with longer lenses.  One pro I know uses a 400mm for certain types of work Smile  In my 35mm days, I was using a 200mm f2.8 in some instances.   There’s a rattle in the Sigma lens until you power up, then it goes away.  Not annoying, but just so you know Smile It’s been mentioned in articles and even the sales person mentioned it.  It has to do with the built in drive motor or something.

sigma rightSigma Top


The macro piece.  I gotta say here, that compared to my Auto Nikkor 40mm, getting farther away is going to take a bit of getting used to Smile  This is no different than using my  Tamron on my DSLR’s though in one sense. Sharp?  Absolutely.  I haven’t done any pixel peeping yet, just a few quick snaps to test it, but it’s impressive.  In the end, I don’t expect it to be near as good as my DSLR’s due to sensor size, but in saying that, by keeping it in perspective (for what the camera is capable of), it’s a fine lens Smile  Here are a few that I’ve taken so far:



Handling.  The lens barrel is completely smooth and if you aren’t used to it, a little disconcerting at first, but it’s only for a moment.  Its quite light so the weight is towards the body more than the lens end so balance is quite good.  The focus is quite quick.  Not quite as fast as my kit zooms but more than acceptable.  It tends to “hunt” when you are at the edge of it’s minimum focusing distance.  Just something to get used to. 

The slightly longer focal length AND being a prime, of course, makes for a bit of a head shift.  When I was in 35mm, all I pretty well used was primes.  In Digital, it’s been mostly zooms, so there’s a bit of a dilemma in taking the GX1 out with just the one lens.  I actually did that this morning as I didn’t have room in my Caden sling.  I packed the Nikon P520 AND the Panasonic GX1. 

I’m ranting a bit.  OK – back on trackSmile  When I think about serious amateurs or anyone moving forward in photography, a constant that keeps coming up is equipment.  We read tons of articles on gear – the latest and greatest and everyone is trying to get your dollar.  When one is acquiring more gear, this is one of the biggest challenges I’ve seen – even in my 35mm days.  Back then, bucks were super tight and I had to save for a lot of months before I could acquire my next lens so it had to be pretty pragmatic, to say the least.  Zooms, back then were prohibitively expensive and the third party ones were good but not near as good as the brand names, so I tended to stay away from them. 

Fast forward to today, and the one thing I have found, is that the kit zooms, actually are good place to start.  No.. they still aren’t good as primes, but in saying that, again… it’s perspective Smile  I’m also not quite as fanatical as I used to be Smile Quality against what you are doing.  For what I do, they are more than fine.  They are surprisingly inexpensive.  For my DSLR’s I got a 55-200 for around $300.  Amazing…. AND it works fine.  Where I find the primes to be a huge advantage, is lens speed.  That’s also why I have other cameras that have higher lens speeds.  My Fuji X10, Panasonic LX7, Fuji XF1 all work fine for what I do. 

My recent acquisition the Nikon P520 is a f3.0 which is pretty quick for a camera with that type of zoom.  What has caught me off guard, though with that guy, is that the image quality is surprisingly good.  Again – perspective.  BTW – the photos of the GX1 were taken with P520 in my light box Smile If I pixel peep, I already know it’s not close to my GX1 which is Micro Four Thirds, or my Nikon D3200 or 5100 at APS-C, but you know, for what it does – color saturation is good.  It’s highly functional and it was inexpensive.  Interesting category of cameras to say the least.

So now, a bigger dilemma has reared it’s ugly head.  I just looked at couple of cameras in this class and now, there are a couple that are sitting at f2.8 thru a 20x + range.  And then of course, there are a couple out there at 60x zoom… On the other side of the coin, I’m looking at the future on the more serious side and starting to contemplate a full frame unit.  THAT is a long way off at this point though – unless, of course, I get a huge lump of cash suddenly.  And then there’s always the option of adding another DSLR in the DX area – D7100 with the 18-140..Hmmm… that’s actually more practical.  OR I COULD just sit still for a bit too Smile  I just rolled off my contract, so until I get another one….  Maybe a present to my self….



About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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