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!

Template issuse

I just noticed that the template I'm using is broken. Not sure what happened, but it may take some time to fix it.

Let's try 135mm again

This is my second 135mm lens. I tried a Vivitar 135mm f/2.3 before, but wasn't too happy with it. Mechanically it's a beautiful lens, hefty and nicely built. But too much CA, coupled with the Fuji X-E1 with its slow EVF in dim light made me sell the Vivitar. The weight also made it nose heavy on the Fuji. I also didn't have the Zhongyi at the time, so effectively it was a 200mm lens. 

Now I have a Contax 135mm f/2.8. Smaller and lighter than the Vivitar, but still a solid lens. Coupled with the faster refresh rates on the EVFs of the Fuji X-E2 and X-T1 (did I mention that I have an X-T1?), this lens is a better fit.

So far I've only managed to take it on two outings, but I'm happy with what I see. It's not as sharp as the other Contax/Zeiss lenses wide open, but it does have the slightly nervous bokeh of its siblings. The version I have is an AEJ, so it does show a bit of the ninja star. 

Overall, not a bad buy. Now, on to some samples.

Hollywood dreaming

Ah, eBay, my wallet's nemesis. I had the first and only bid on a Zeiss 28mm f/2 ZF.2 that should have sold for much more than I paid, so pleasant surprise, another new lens for the growing kit. I think I need to stop my eBay and craigslist browsing as it's been an expensive month.

Online research says this is a copy of the Contax version, nicknamed "Hollywood" in some circles. It's yet another hefty lens, with all that glass and metal. Focusing is very smooth, with just the right heft (are you listening, 24mm Samyang?). Definitely a pleasure to use. The hood is another story; who still uses flocking in this day and age? Sharpness and contrast are excellent, and the lens produces bokeh that's typical of the Zeiss lenses that I've used: smooth with a hint of nervousness. There isn't much falloff wide open, but there is a bit of chromatic aberration, both purple and green.

I've only managed one outing with the lens (being sick is no fun, especially when there's a car show), but I'm looking forward to using the 28mm more.

I now have four Zeiss lenses (granted, only one made in Germany). The 50mm Ultron is still the most Zeiss of them all in my opinion, having that special something that makes photos taken with it stand out.