So far 2018 is proving to be interesting, I reached 60, retired from full time lecturing, became attached to my friend Mark Playle's Photograph France, discovered a whole load of new photography kit and will be moving to France in July. I will be writing a Blog for Photograph France and this will make up the first post in that. I am not very good at regular blogging but hopefully I will have more time now I am retired.
It has been a strange year for me from the point of equipment. It is not unusual for me to acquire new kit, I admit I am a bit of a gearhead and have way too much. But usually I buy old, secondhand from sources like Ebay and I am happy to wait until the price is right.
For example, I am fond of old Tamron Adaptall 2 SP lenses (adaptall-2 is an excellent web page dedicated to them) f/3.5, type 51B, produced from 1979 to 1984, the 500mm catadioptric f/8, type 55B, produced from 1979 to 1983 and especially the 70-150mm f/2.8 Soft, type 51A, produced from 1979 to 1983, possibly the best portrait lens ever made.
Over the last couple of years, I have finally come across all three of them, the 17mm from a good friend who no longer used it, the 500mm in my local camera shop for a ridiculously low price and the 70-150mm, slightly mis-described, on Ebay for a fraction of the usual price.
It is rare that I hurry to get something and rarer still for me to get new equipment rather than second hand. It is also rare for me to stray away from Nikon or Tamron glass.
So far, this year, I have part exchanged a camera and a lens, returned to using Lensbaby kit both for teaching and personally and finally obtained the Laowa 15mm f/4 Macro.
So, in order:
I finally got fed up of my old Nikkor 80-400mm which I got for a very good price on Ebay, unfortunately the bidding ended at 22:15 on my 56th birthday and I allowed myself to bid when I was drunk so not the best possible price but still good. Having had it for 4 years and not used it a lot I was hankering after the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 and so I swapped them using MPB A pleasant experience, except that they noticed a scratch on the front element so I didn't get as much as I hoped. Still the new lens was in immaculate condition and works beautifully, I still love Tamron SP glass.
At about the same time I tried a Nikon Df that a friend had bought. I have liked the look of the Df since it came out. Basically, it looks like an F3 series camera (I still have an F3 and always liked it), it has the sensor and electronics of a D4 and the focus system from a Nikon D610. I have had a D600 for 4 years, it was the first full frame camera I owned and was bought new in a sale, and it is an excellent small digital camera, 24MP, full frame and not as heavy as its big brothers in the D800/810/850 series. However, after 4 years I fancied a change and so part exchanged it for a second hand Df from MPB.com.
I have been using Lensbaby products in teaching for about 5 years, initially they were a way to get a similar effect to lens whacking (a way of shooting with the lens not actually attached to the camera with all the associated dust, damage and risk to camera, sensor and lens) that had become popular with the video students. Once introduced to them the students liked the effect and we bought 2 Canon and 1 Nikon mount Composer Pros and various optics. When I talked to Lensbaby founder Craig Strong about this he generously donated a couple more Composers and optics and gave me a healthy educational discount for more. I took the opportunity to get a Twist optic that I have wanted for ages and a Velvet 56. Hopefully, when I got home I there was a Burnside 35mm waiting for me too. It produces amazing swirl effects that make photographs look very painterly.
I have also been loaned two of Craig's original Lensbaby prototypes and Rachel Shomsky and I have started a mailing list so that they get passed around for other people to try, the list is run through Facebook and a link, as well as links to the main Lensbaby groups on Facebook, is below. For a bit of plastic shop hose and a simple lens they take amazing pictures.
I now have a range of Lensbaby kit. With interchangeable optics I have the Scout, Composer pro 2 both Nikon and Canon mounts and a Spark with 12mm Fisheye, Sweet 35mm and 50mm, Twist 60 and Edge 80 as well as the four original optics, Plastic, Single Glass, Double Glass and Pinhole/Zone Plate. In the fixed optics I have the Velvet 65 and the Burnside 35 and, finally, I have the LM-10 for the mobile phone.
My friend Paul Harcourt Davies has been praising a couple of lenses from Laowa a new, founded in 2013, Chinese optical company whose mission statement is "Our mission is to design and create our own portfolio of photographic lenses that are truly unique, practical and affordable.". Formed by a group of photo enthusiasts they seem to be able to make macro lenses that are truly amazing. Paul was kind enough to put me in touch with one of their directors and I have been playing with the 15mm f/4 Wide Angle Macro and the 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro lenses.
That's all for now, I will be adding blog entries reviewing most of the above as soon as possible, but for now here are a few pics.
Post by Danny
MPB who advertise as "The world's best marketplace for trading used cameras \& lenses"
Adaptall-2 an excellent web page dedicated to Tamron and Adaptall lenses
Laowa, also known as Venus Optics
Lensbaby on Facebook: