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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A general update

 

 

As usual it has been a while since my last update! I'm going to make this a general update just to make up a post!

A few changes have gone on recently and I made the decision to offload a few cameras that it made no sense for me to keep any longer. I also wanted to save some money to buy some decent autofocus lenses. There is a child on the way and I wanted to get a few killer lenses to last me a long time because money will surely be going elsewhere in the near future! This sounds simple but in reality it has turned out to be very complicated!

I sold my beloved Canon PowerShot Pro1, I really have no need for a prosumer digicam, especially when it is no more compact than a mirrorless model with a smaller sensor. It was and still is a highly capable camera with a great lens but I just never use it anymore, it was just pointless keeping it any longer so I sold it on ebay where it fetched a surprisingly good amount of cash, that L badge is still unique among Canon compacts and it shows in the resale value which is incredibly high for such a dated camera, it made twice as much as my Olympus E-410 which I sold last year!

I also Sold my Panasonic G1! This camera was almost perfect for using manual lenses and the kit lens was about the best on the market too, the external controls were amazingly comprehensive, the EVF is still impressive and the overall handling is excellent but there was just no escaping the poor sensor performance which to be honest has put me off the idea of ever owning a m4/3 camera again. My former Olympus E-410 was a noisy camera but the G1 was something else! I often found RAW images taken at ISO100 became very noisy after a little PP, admittedly my RAW converter of choice CaptureOne tends to bring noise out in any file in the quest for amazing detail but to have so much noise at base iso was still a shock. To make matters worse, noise seemed to be worse when using legacy lenses, we all know micro 43 cameras perform in camera lens corrections even to RAW files but I soon discovered the level of noise was different when using the kit lens too, I found photos taken at iso 400 with the kit lens contained no more noise than photos taken with manual lenses at iso 100 but had as much detail even at identical exposure settings, quite why there should be a difference in noise handling depending on if a legacy or native lens is attached was a source of bafflement and frustration. The nail in the coffin for the G1 came in the form of an excellent offer I saw online for a Sony NEX-5, I knew the camera had less manual controls and no EVF but reviews pointed to a far superior sensor so I couldn't resist trying it out and I was no disappointed, the Sony handles noise just as well as my Canon DSLR which means I can dare to go above base ISO and still have relatively clean images to show for it. Just about everything about the G1 is better than the Sony except for the image quality which to me happens to be the most important thing so reluctantly I decided to let it go and keep the Sony. Now I need a camera that combines the features of the G1 and the image quality of the Sony, the NEX-7 has just been leaked and it appears to be that very camera! I just hope it doesn't cost too much!

So earlier I was saying how buying a few good lenses hadn't turned out to be as simple as I had hoped, the key phrase here seems to be quality control! I swear every time I try to buy a more expensive lens I get a cheap experience in regards to quality control! In the past few months I have been through four copies of the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 and am currently awaiting the fith! The first was de centred, the second had extremely soft edges, the third front focused at all focal lengths and the fourth which I have just returned focused fine at 17mm and 55mm but front focused severely at 28-40mm! I am currently waiting for my 5th copy! I have also tried the Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 both macro and non macro and have had no more luck with those, excellent image quality when if focus but all of the three I have tried have had focus problems! I'm going to Bristol next week for the hot air balloon fiesta which is probably the highlight of my year in regards to taking photos and at the rate I'm going I won't even have a reliable walkaround zoom to take! To say I'm pulling my hair out is an understatement! I even bought a 17-85mm as a stop gap which focused absolutely perfectly but I should have read the reviews, I had no idea the corner sharpness was so poor at the wide end! I have two options at the moment, hope the next copy of the 17-55mm is a keeper or buy the 15-85mm which whilst having a slower aperture is apparently a match for sharpness whilst having a more versatile range!

The other lens I was looking for was a long zoom for airshow and nature photography, again I chose a lens and proceeded to go through four different copies before giving up, the lens in question was the Canon 100-400mm L, the closest I came to a keeper was pin sharp wide open at 400mm, but only on the bottom half of the image, the top half gradually degraded to mush as you got to the top of the image! In the end I decided to compromise on focal length and try the 70-300mm L but when that turned up the zoom ring was almost seized solid so that one is currently on the way back too, I'm dreading receiving the replacement because I have literally gotten to the point where I expect a dud copy every time. I also tried two copies of the Tamron 70-300mm SP but neither were as sharp as reviews led me to believe! I'm getting sick of sending lenses back to say the least!

The one lens I have purchased since my last update that was fine was a used Canon EF 85mm F/1.8, it focuses fast and accurately and is sharp at all apertures, if it wasn't for this lens I may well have thrown my camera gear off a bridge in a tied up sack this month!

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