Another calendar year nearing its end and my appetite for gear changes slowing considerably gave pause for some thought about what’s affected my choices over the past few years.
For birding, the first draw was to lenses that were documented as having topnotch optics and build quality. That’s what led me into R-mount lenses many years ago. Those lenses had a tendency to last longer in my arsenal, especially the 180mm APO-Elmarit-R, which was part of my birding combo for several years. Other choices, though, turned out to be ergonomic nightmares or had other niggles about them.
There’s long been a tendency to gravitate towards glass that’s considered desirable by other photographers, a shutterbug’s “bling” of sorts. A prime example (pardon the pun) for me was the 35mm Summilux-M FLE, which I never came close to bonding with. The 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt-R lived up to its reputation as a standalone option, but became very ordinary when a much-needed teleconverter was attached.
Over the years I’ve gone through a number of lenses that weren’t necessarily optically perfect and were never the first choices of photographers but which, for one reason or another, produced images that appealed to me. Some of my worst mistakes were letting them go in search of glass described in the previous paragraphs.
Choosing the lenses I like without regard for whatever’s trendy, popular, and/or optically unimpeachable is what I’ve been trying to do so far this time around. It’s about colors and tonal gradience that appeal to me, not razor sharp images across the frame or something that “looks good” at the front of the camera.
No surprise, then, that Mandler glass has been the choice in most instances so far . . .