Saying goodbye to a beloved lens

I've owned my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 AF-S VR since 2003. It was my first modern (AF-S, VR) pro lens that I bought brand new, at the exhorbitant cost (to me) of $1750. I have had zero regrets on spending all that money, as it has been my go-to lens for events and sports. The lens did have to go in for repair (intermittent AF issue, a "feature" of this generation of the 70-200mm), thankfully under warranty.

The 70-200VR replaced a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D one touch lens that was a good intro to the world of fast, pro lenses. No comparison between the two as the newer lens has better IQ, faster AF (even on a D2H with the stronger AF motor), and VR. Coupled with the TC-14EII, I used this lens for parades, street fairs, performances, surfing, and drifting. This lens has taken the majority of the thousands of photos that I've taken. I don't think I can think of any other lens that would come close in terms of usage.

So goodbye, old favorite. You have a lot of life in you yet, and I hope your new owner enjoys you as much as I did.

A faster Contax 50mm

It's usually not a good idea to pair two new items at the same time, but I was itching to try the 2.0 firmware on the Z7 and the Contax 50mm f/1.4 AEG that I picked up a week ago. Off to Carnaval SF to see how it all plays together.

First the firmware: I can't say that I noticed if AF was faster or more accurate, but the Eye AF feature didn't work too well for me. It's not that useful on the 24-70mm and shooting events as there are too many faces for it to lock on. I'd like it more if the AF area could be limited to a box instead of the entire frame. I'm curious to see how it performs with surfing shots, and hopefully there will be some waves next month.

Carnaval was wet at the start (first time in over 15 years of shooting at the event), but it eventually stopped raining, and the sun came out every so often. Otherwise it was pretty grey; great for portraits, not so great for making the vibrant colors of the event pop. 

The Contax 50mm f/1.4 AEG has too much veiling flare wide open. By f/2 the contrast is back to normal though, so I mostly shot at that aperture or smaller. No surprises on the IQ, it looks just like the other Contax lenses. I did notice the ninja star bokeh in some shots, but only when viewed at 100%.

Overall, it's not a bad lens, but it's not a great lens either. The quest for an f/1.4 lens continues.

And now for some sample photos.
More photos can be found here.

Life can be a time suck

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Almost six months have gone by since my year end summary. So what's been going on? Quite a bit, although none of it would be considered earth shattering.

Learning the Z7 has been slow. I have yet to get my standard noise reduction profiles created (I probably should just get a new NR plugin). I swapped my HDD for an SSD, and accidentally wiped out a lot of my NR profiles and PS actions. Backup, backup, backup. And don't erase anything until several months after you're satisfied everything is back to normal.

Lens count has grown just a little. I caved and got a Nikon 24-70mm f/4 S to satisfy the native lens craving. It does live up to its reputation for being sharp and contrasty across the frame, although without the isolation I'm used to with an f/2.8 lens. I also found a Contax 50mm f/1.4 AEJ (ninja stars!) that is sadly too dreamy wide open. I'm not sure that it's any better than the f/1.7 (more ninja stars!), and I'm too lazy to do a comparison test.

So that's it for now. My Blogger template (or plugin) is now broken as the slideshow on the right side is gone. Time to hunt for a new template and plugin (suggestions/recommendations are highly appreciated).

Oh, and I've become more active on Instagram; drop by and say hi.

Year end musings 2018 edition

Looks like my last post was almost a year ago 💀 This has been a very busy year, and this blog is one of the many things that have been neglected.

My kit is undergoing a major upheaval. The Nikon Z7 has joined the kit, along with the FTZ adapter. No native S mount lenses yet as I didn't want to spend too much; the new camera required new batteries and memory (yeesh, XQD is expensive!). And sadly the Sigma 500mm isn't compatible with the FTZ; it focuses occasionally. So the Nikon 200-500mm f5.6E VR has also joined the kit (courtesy of a $200 discount from the normal price). 

The Z7 is a nice camera. AF may not be at the level of the D3, but it's much better than the Fuji X-T1. The EVF is also superior to that of the Fuji. The Contax 100mm f2 that I've had so much trouble nailing focus on the Fuji is a joy to use on the Nikon.

So what's in my kit at the moment? For bodies, I have the Z7, the D3, D5200, V2, X-T1, and X-E2. That means I'm supporting four lens mounts. Current lens count is 27 F mount, three CX, five Contax/Yashica, six Fuji X-mount, and a handful of M42 and FD mounts. Quite the alphabet soup.

How did I end up in this situation 😓? Next year's goal is to determine which lenses and bodies need to go.

Merry Christmas to all. I'll be doing my usual surfing photos in a few weeks, testing out the Z7 and the 200-500mm.

Year end musings 2017 edition

Another year is drawing to a close in several hours. My kit has grown quite a bit this year. The Nikon D3, D5200 and V2 are still in the kit, but are rarely used. The Fujifilm X-E2 has been joined by an X-T1, and it's this last body that has seen the most use in the latter half of this year.

The lens cabinet is now overflowing. My list says I have 34 lenses, ranging from 10-500mm. Joining the kit this year are four Fujinons (14mm f/2.8, 23mm f/1.4, 35mm f/2, and 56mm f/1.2), two Nikons (28mm f/3.5 PC, 60mm AF-D micro), two Contaxes (85mm and 135mm f/2.8), and two Zeiss ZF.2s (21mm f/2.8 and 28mm f/2). All these lenses were purchased primarily for use with the Fuji bodies, not with the Nikons. Maybe when Nikon finally releases its FX mirrorless body, I'll switch back.

I've also bought into the Peak Design system quite a bit, having done two Kickstarters programs with them. I now have five straps, two bags, and one clip. I do love their gear, although I have yet to figure out what to do with the clip.

So what's in store for 2018? Maybe an X-T2 as the X-T1's AF is disappointingly slow. Not even the 35mm f/2 can bring it up to par with the D5200, let alone the V2 and D3. Maybe the rumoured Nikon FX mirrorless, as long as it's smaller than the D5200 and less than $2k (fat chance). I've also been hunting for a Fujinon 16mm f/1.4, but that itch isn't strong enough yet.

My backlog of photos is now hopelessly stuck at the start of 2015. Hopefully I'll have more time in 2018 to clean it up. Oh, and fix the darned template as the right side is still broken.

Onwards to the new year!