New Year, New Gear…

Having recently found cooperative discussion hard to come by online, I’ve decided to activate my website’s blog feature. Here I can babble as I wish, without the spectre of harsh backtalk–a direct benefit of also having no readers.

The actual end purpose of this is to keep some record of my photographic experiences for my own future reference. I have a tendency to forget why I stopped using certain pieces of gear, which sometimes results in my re-acquiring an item and making the same mistake a second time.

One lens that probably won’t fall into that category is the Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm, a new copy of which fell neatly into my clutches a few days ago. Since I’ve already used “holy grail” lens to describe the 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt-R, I won’t call this one that. The first couple of days with it, though, have left me wondering why I waited so long to get one.

Fact is, a few years back, Leica was kind enough to let me borrow a copy for a couple of days. I shot it on the SL601 and TL2 and found it to be great–just not $7K great, especially since there was no available teleconverter to augment the max focal length. Since then I’ve referred to those shots several times over the years and have chosen to pass on a few acquisition opportunities.

Pixel-peeping photos shot with my manual lenses has made it evident that I’m starting to need faster shutter speeds to get maximum quality at longer focal lengths. That, combined with the recent addition to my kit of the SL2’s roughly 1.365 pixel-width advantage over the SL601, and the notion of dual stabilization, made the 90-280mm look a little more “worth it.”

An aggravating factor in the choice was two consecutive months of dark, gloomy, rainy weather, which made quadruple-digit ISO the starting point with my Lumix 70-200mm f2.8 + 2X, which benefits from being shot at f/8. The Lumix setup had been my daily driver, since R glass hasn’t proved as robust in the several times I’ve been caught in a sudden downpour. F/4 makes shot choices a lot easier in this weather.

The one observation I can make about the lens so far is that it shares the capability of both R 280mm APO lenses (f/4 and f/2.8) to render an incredible amount of detail in mediocre to poor light conditions. Hopefully I’ll have some even nicer things to say about it if the sun ever shows itself for any length of time.

It’s been slim pickings for birds, too, the past couple of days; but a couple of sunbird friends seemed happy to oblige…

Olive-Backed Sunbird
Olive-Backed Sunbird