5.24.2012

Ahhh. The sweet smell of desire.


The shopping gene is irresistible. It's fun and entertaining. And it never stops. The image above was shot on the Via Condotti in Rome. Shopping central. In the spirit of a week spent doing commerce and making money I thought I'd go on a virtual shopping spree and also let you know what stuff I've already bought that I really liked.  Shall we?

So everyone has either ordered or already gotten their brand new, Olympus OM-D cameras and they are delighted.  But have you thought of an extremely cost effective back up body for those times when you want to sport two primes at a time????  You might want to consider the sturdy and reliable little EPL1.  You can pick them up right now on Amazon, brand new, for less than $150.  Why would you?  Have you ever wanted to take your camera somewhere......dangerous?  But you were reticent to do so because, well, it's an expensive tool?  Stick your kit lens on an EPL1 and go forth courageously.  The files are just as good as those that come squirting out of a current EP3.  And you can add the VF2 or VF3 finder for the ultimate in usability.  At $150 it's disposable cheap.  


But you may want something a bit more upscale and a bit more flexible as your cheap as free back up body to your new, gleaming masterpiece.  I strongly suggest snapping up one of my favorite cameras of all time:  The Olympus Pen EP2.  You can snag one right now, new with warranty, for only $269.  You get a second control dial and really nice styling on the body.  Of all the cameras I own it's got to be the most fluid and enjoyable to use.  I'm adding another one at this price because I think cameras like to hunt in pairs, I always like having more batteries and I'd love to walk around and shoot with the 45mm on one body and the 25mm on the other.  VF-2's on both, please.

Included just for show.  Snap up a clean one if you can find one.  It will be the ultimate photo collector's item in five years, or so.....

The next thing on my list is an adapter to use different lenses on my micro four thirds cameras.  I already have an adapter that lets me use the older, Olympus Pen lenses on the bodies but lately I've been thinking about sticking Sony Alpha lenses on the front of the EP2.  I didn't think it would be possible since the Sony Alpha's have electronic aperture settings but apparently Fotodiox makes one.  It's right here.  So, for a whopping $39 I'll have access to even more lenses.  Most interested in plugging the 30mm macro onto the EP's and seeing how that works.  (I haven't tested this one yet so caveat emptor...).

Speaking of Sony Alpha's I've been thinking about the two extremes represented in the lens line.  At one end you have dirt cheap plastic lenses that have great performance in a mediocre container and, at the other end you've got "no holds barred" performance in great tubes of alluring metal and white paint.  Here's my favorite cheapster:  The Sony 35mm 1.8 dirt cheap lens.  $219.  This is my "normal" lens for the APS-C Sony bodies.  It's extremely light weight and very nicely sharp at nearly all of the aperture settings I'm interested in.  If I break it or lose it I won't think it's the end of the world.   At the other extreme though sits my Sony 70-200mm f2.8 G lens.  And if I lost this one I'd be plenty pissed because it would cost me two thousand dollars to replace it.  But it does what I bought it for:  It's fast, it's sharp and clients get all woozy when I pull it out of the bag.  It actually gets about 10% of the use I get from the 35 but when I do need it (for swim meets, cross country meets and fancy portraiture) I'm glad I bought one of the best.

Circling back to cameras for just a minute.  I live in fear of being somewhere far from the studio and being caught with a dead battery in my camera.  But every time I head to the camera store to buy spares I'm stunned by the prices that Olympus and Sony (and Nikon and Canon) want for their camera batteries.  In desperation I tried some no name batteries I found on Amazon in my EP2 and EP3 and I was pleasantly surprised.  The brand I've been buying is called, Maximal Power, and, at $10 a wack they are wonderful.  No failures in two years....

As you know, I've written some books about lighting.  I try to be neutral and stick to the facts and that works well in a book about, say, LEDs.  I'm loving the LED Lighting for Digital Photographers because it's the first book about LED light for photographers in the entire book industry.  I actually have a MONOPOLY!!!!!!! Yeah for me.  If you haven't bought a copy yet please follow the link and at least read some of the reviews. You might not realize how badly you actually need this book. Almost as badly as I need you to buy it..... (kidding, of course.)

But if you poked me, or watched me work, you'd realize that my real love in lighting is the use of big, soft sources.  I've used Photek Softlighters for years but I've been on the look out for something bigger (72 inches) and sturdier (thick, fiberglass rods instead of crimp-able metal rods) and just as cost effective.  I've finally found my ultimate umbrella system.  It's from Fotodiox and it's a 72 inch umbrella with a white (or silver, if you need a bit more contrast) interior, a black backing to control spill, and (super bonus) a white diffusion cover to make it the ultimate umbrella/softbox combination.  I bought one and I'm thrilled with it.  Well made and, when used well, soft but directional.  It may be the perfect Kirk Tuck Lighting Modifier (KTLM).  I have the product bookmarked and I need to go back and get two more as back up.  When I find something I really like I want to get a few more in case the product changes or the distributor gives up....

Also available in Silver....  You'll probably want to use this one with a nice monolight or flash head instead of an LED....

If you are overwhelmed with technical product and lighting tools I can change course here for second and recommend a book.  It's by superstar photo documentarian, SebastiĆ„o Salgado, and it's a decade long photographic study of Work in the industrial Age.  It's an amazing book.  If you are into photo journalism and black and white photography you'll be delighted by the work of a master in both...

Finally, after having worked with my favorite tripod for a year I can whole heartedly recommend it for just about everyone.  It's handmade in Germany.  It's constructed of wood and metal.  It doesn't absorb heat or transfer vibration and chicks really dig the organic nature of it.  It's the Berlebach tripod.  You'll need to buy a tripod head separately.  That's your call.  Just don't put a cheap tripod head on a work of art.....  There are bigger and techier tripods out there but none with more useful personality.  An older post on the Berlebach's: http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2010/07/tripods-love-em-or-hate-em-sometimes.html

I'm heading out to lunch with a new dining companion.  My dog.  She and I are going to P.Terry's for burgers.  She'll love the adventure and she never minds when I sit there and talk to her about camera gear.  In fact, I think she likes it.  She's always sniffing around the rangefinders.....



22 comments:

Gregg Mack said...

Nice shopping list. I'm all worn out and weary of spending money after this week, though.... But.... Maybe when I get back from vacation I'll get a couple of those 72" umbrellas! It looks like it should work OK with my Einstein strobes.

rlh1138 said...

Trying to trick us with that book link. :)

kirk tuck said...

Good catch, rlh1138, link now fixed. Please click again....

darius kromoser photography. said...

Kirk, that Fotodiox adapter has aperture blades built into the adapter itself. It's not labeled with actual stops, but it's supposed to give quite nice results. No AF, but I guess you're aware of that.

Also (as this is my first comment) big fan of the blog!

kirk tuck said...

A post lunch follow up: My dog (who prefers to remain anonymous on VSL) and I went to P.Terry's for lunch. She was nervous around all the cars but the person at the order window gave her a big dog biscuit and that steadied her up a bit. I had a veggie burger with everything, on whole wheat and she had.....the dog biscuit. On the way out of the patio she came across a spot where someone had just spilled their french fries, so fresh a spill the ants hadn't even found it yet. She scarfed down a few before I remembered that they give her tummy "distress." I bribed her away with a small treat I'd brought along in my pocket. She was sad to leave a treasure trove of "discovered" free stuff.... Again, desire...

We got back home so I could process some files for my friend, Rip and she curled up on her pad next to my desk and has been napping ever since. Except when her nemesis, the mail man, came by. She had lots to say about that.

kirk tuck said...

Darius, that makes it even cooler, in my estimation. I can hardly wait to get mine.

Thanks very much for letting me know.

John F. Opie said...

Thanks, Kirk. I just found one on German eBay, body only, for €160, and it really does make the perfect back-up. Plus my EP1 can't handle the EP2, and I've really, really, really wanted to get a body that does. :-)

My wife, on the other hand, thinks you're a TERRIBLE for finding something for me to spend money on.

Keep up the terrible work! :-)

kirk tuck said...

My Pleasure.

FotoEdge said...

I have been shocked by the prices of the upcoming Panasonic 12-35mm F/2.8 lens and the new Olympus 75mm.. $2200 dollars for the pair, for this money you could buy 2 OMD's and a Panasonic 20mm lens.. That type of pricing does not seem to jive with owning a micro four thirds system... The cameras are so low cost and these lens are right up there with the Big Boy Lenses in price. The Sony Lenses seem like a much better value with the Alpha series cameras, I am getting close to ordering the A77 with the 16-50mm lens for all of it's features and a real good lens. I think $399 for the Oly 45mm lens is very fair, but $900 and $1300 for micro four thirds lenses make me Gasp!

arg said...

I must say when I saw the title, and the top photo, I thought you might have been referring to the ladies' legs!

Dave Levingston said...

Damn you! I was not even thinking about buying another camera. And I'm still paying for my daughter's wedding last weekend. But that price for that Olympus, coupled with the $18 Leica M mount adapter and the thought of those old Leica lenses sitting in the cabinet beside my old M2...well, that's what plastic is for, right? Just please, please, don't tell my wife...I must figure out how to keep her from seeing the box when it arrives...

kirk tuck said...

Kirk's Rule: Ship all camera purchases directly to office or studio....

Neal said...

Dogs love rangefinders? who'da thought... also they only see in black and white and they love to rome the streets... hrm, sounds fairly conducive to some good street photography to me. now if only they had opposable thumbs.


**ok ok I know dogs aren't actually colour blind but that wouldn't have sounded as good.

Ed Lara said...

Great looking lunch companion! And I am really loving the E-p2.

Ed Lara said...

Sounds like a good rationale to me. Maybe I'll rename my dog Henri, the very apropos code name for the Leica Monochrom test models.

BLB said...

For you to recommend it, I'm guessing manually focusing with the epl1 must be pretty easy?

John Passaneau said...

Darn I was lusting after the new OM-D but no way could I come up with that much dough but the EP2 and kit lens I could... I've been looking for a smaller camera because of health problems, I sure hope this is it.
PS I also picked up a micro 4/3's to Cannon FD mount so I can play with my old lens again.

John Passaneau

John F. Opie said...

Yaaargh. VF2. My EP1 can't handle the VF2...

WilliamJns said...

Excellent timing for this post. I stumbled across your blog a year ago, looking for information on the Olympus E-PL2. I bought the camera as a graduation present to myself. Over the past year, I have added a flash, the 20mm f1.7 Panasonic, six lens adapters and over a dozen old lenses. The total cost of all the legacy lenses and adapters was about the same as the Panny 20mm. My OMD just arrived, and I already have a bag full of accessories and lenses to go with it. I have no plans to part with the E-PL2, and will continue to use it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Micro Four Thirds system. Your blog posts helped convinced me that MFT would be the right system for me.

Klarno said...

I picked up one of the E-PL1s that have reached fire sale prices, because I needed a camera to play second fiddle to my GH2 (the reason? last time I went out shooting with two cameras, my boring m4/3 mount telephoto lens was on the good camera and the exciting 4/3 mount wides were on the less good camera--and this simply could not stand. I needed a less good camera specifically to put my telephoto zoom on!)

In actuality, I'm quite impressed with the E-PL1. The interface may be button driven rather than dial and wheel driven, but the way it's all laid out works really well. Using the 4 way D pad for aperture/shutter adjustment and exposure compensation is nearly as good as having two exposure wheels. And its image stabilization is fine as well-- it pulled off a nicely sharp 1/25sec handheld exposure at 150mm. And the way LR4 is treating its files is great, as well.

And having two cameras with different lenses on your person, ready to use, just makes things so much easier. ESPECIALLY when one of the cameras takes up no meaningful space or weight.

hugo solo said...

and the faces ?

Dave Levingston said...

I've been having a lot of fun with my Olympus E-PL1 and my old lenses. I've just done a blog post showing what it looks like with a bunch of old lenses hung on it and a few samples of what it can do with those optics.

http://davelevingston.com/2012/06/05/camera-porn/

Thanks for the tip.