Playwright. Stephen Dietz.
Many of you who tuned in to VSL last week read the saga of the flash that wouldn't. It's the sad tale of a frightfully expensive flash that is so moody and unreliable that it drove me from the world of TTL flash to a more pedestrian and workaday model of flash that eschews automation altogether.
When I finished writing my scathing review I decided I would take it to Precision Camera and see if I could make a silk purse out of Sony's sow's ear. I walked in and talked to the people at the repair and rental desk because they also handle trade-ins. They took the flash, tested it and tossed out a monetary value. Since my own estimation hovered around zero I thought their much higher offer was generous enough to preclude haggling so I turned the flash over to them and spent some time looking around for something to spend my trade in credit on.
I played with a used Olympus EM-5 and remembered once again just how nice the shutter sounds on that camera and just how confusing the menus are. I put it back in the salesman's hands. Then I spent a nice half an hour on one of Precision Camera's comfortable leather couches, getting to know the Panasonic GX-7 (which is on my short list of cameras I might want to have if I needed more than four). While the flash trade-in was generous the spread between my trade-in credit and the GX-7 was a bit too wide to justify and so I started concentrating on lenses.
I played with two Nikon lenses that I considered strongly. One is the 105mm 2.5 ai, a variant of at least ten that I've owned over the last two decades...(it's a marvelous lens but it tends to get flushed at transition points from Nikon into other systems or Kodak/Nikon cameras into other systems...) but I eventually decided against it because even though I maintain the overly romantic notion that I will, someday, go back to shooting some images with my Nikon F4s, deep down I know that my days of whipping film through the system are largely over. Especially 35mm film...
As the afternoon waned I came across a silver, used Olympus 17mm f1.8 and I seemed to remember reading something nice about it somewhere so that's what I decided upon. When I came home I read some of the lukewarm reviews and decided to ignore them and find out for myself. The lens is good for almost everyone, anywhere unless you demand absolutely linear performance across the entire frame. Me? I like em blisteringly sharp in the center and if they can do that I'm happy. So color me happy on this one.
I've traded a useless flash for a fun lens. Now I am out the door to see how it handles Austin's amazingly exciting downtown scene.
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