With what?

Yesterday offered the first break in the constant rain in over a week, but indoor commitments made it impossible to take advantage. And today, more rain. Endless rain.

Hard-headed me grabbed a Billingham, an umbrella, and out I went. Just trying to shoot flowers and maybe a six-legged critter or two, the SL2/Lumix 70-300mm setup managed about 25% critical autofocus accuracy under the heavy clouds.

Even with the lousy hit rate, though, I came to realize that this kind of photographic pursuit is almost a necessity for me. With constant crowding here in the ant farm, the world’s most densely populated metropolis, getting uncluttered, well-framed shots can be near impossible on some days.

But resuming critter-chasing would not be practical with the current zoom, good as it may be when it nails focus in good light. Unwilling to go back to the heavy stuff, my mind drifted to the notion of a bridge superzoom. A V-Lux 5 would fit right in, but for one major shortcoming: no weather sealing.

A quick internet search and review of what’s out there turned up zero bridge camera possibilities about which I could be enthusiastic, along with many totally unacceptable (to me) sample images. A Sigma 100-400mm can be had for a song in these parts (and most everywhere else, by now, I figure); but the AF niggle would be worse than with the current lens. And no full weather sealing.

That nudged me over to manual focus options, which I wouldn’t mind at all with the SL2’s magnificent EVF. If I can nail f/1.25 with critical accuracy 100% of the time, a slower lens or lens/TC combo would be a breeze. But which lens or combo?

The first notion was of my old reliable combo for several of my early years of critter-chasing: the 180mm f/2.8 APO and APO 2X. But good as it used to be, it has obvious limitations on a modern, high MP sensor. Beyond that, I’m back into the heavyweights again.

Tokina has 300mm, 600mm, and 900mm catadioptric APS-C lenses on the way imminently, but not in L-mount. And Leica has the old 500mm Mandler design, about the only R telephoto I’ve yet to try other than the prohibitively heavy Telyt-Module glass.

So . . . shoot crtters, fine, but . . . with what?

SL2/Lumix S 70-300mm