3.27.2020

Revisiting a film portrait. The medium format negative was scanned on a Noristu printer.

Old school portrait. 

I finished my time critical work early this afternoon and I spent some time looking around the web for potential camera bargains. I found two at Precision Camera's website; on the used digital section. Both were Mamiya Pro cameras (digital only) that sported the popular 80mm f2.8 lens AND an Aptus II-5 22 megapixel digital back. Both in EX+ condition.  I'd shot with the Aptus-7 back and found it to be really good in its time. The Aptus II-5 back was introduced for around $8000 in 2009 and boasted 12 (real) stops of dynamic range and (real) 16 bit files. Oh, and the sensor size was 36 by 48mm. The finders on these cameras are/were very good and the camera, lens and back combo retailed for around $12,000 new. Precision Camera has two of them listed for $1299 each. Less than the price of a new Fuji X100V. And yes, that includes the lens.

I almost called to reserve one but I took a beat and remembered that I promised myself I would not buy medium format camera until someone put a model on the market with a (native) square sensor and a sensor size of at least 48 by 48mm. My real interest right now is in acquiring a perfect, used Leica SL as cheaply as I can.

There are several Leica dealer sites that I've been following which each have a fair number of used 9+ condition SLs in inventory. I'll explain my interest in the SL in a different post but my goal today was to take a run at seeing how firm listed prices are from a representative dealer. I selected what looked like the highest serial number, like new in box, camera, priced at $2599 and asked, pleasantly, if the prices were absolutely firm or if they were in flux, what with the imminent arrival of the newer/new SL2 bodies. It's also good to know that the SL came to market with a $7500 price tags while the improved SL2 debuts at $5900 (or around there).

I got an e-mail back almost immediately letting me know that I could have that camera for $2295 and it would include free, second day shipping. I think I'll wait a while and see if they drop down under $2,000 in a mid-to-short time frame.

A program note: I lived in Turkey for two years and I really do enjoy bargaining for purchases. It's fun. 

Emboldened by this new information I may make an offer on one of the used, excellent condition Panasonic GX-8's now taking up space at my local retailer. If the stock markets can dive 35% and still find buyers then why not the same with aging digital cameras?

The image above reminded me that I originally purchased the 47 megapixel S1R cameras (X2) to use in the square aspect ratio as a portrait camera. I guess I'd better find some people who need to be photographed from six or more feet away and see if we can't get busy making more portraits. Time is always running short.

virus note: The city of Austin seems to be doing a decent job of social distancing and other measures to slow down Covid-19 spread. We have just recorded 160 positives for the disease along with one death. The local health authorities say that the person who died was over 70 and had "significant" and severe pre-existing conditions. One interesting data point is that a large percentage of people testing positive are under 40 years old.

My local Trader Joe's is playing an "A" game in their ongoing engagement with our community. They have been fully stocked for most of the week, have made special accommodations for people over 60, and have been managing customer controls (distancing, anti-hoarding) nicely and firmly. I'm impressed. I was in and out in under 7 minutes today --- it took me longer to wipe everything down with Chlorox wipes when I got home --- and I was able to get everything I needed, including Trader Joe's hand sanitizer.

I hope everyone is safe and sound. My "thoughts and prayers" are for all the people who suddenly find themselves out of work and feeling precarious. It's a tough position to be in, more so because we all hate uncertainty. Do what you can for the people who need it most. Might be a good year to shift your usual, generous donation to the opera over to the local food bank. Just a thought...

Stay safe and well fed. And don't forget to pick up and use that camera every day. KT

5 comments:

ANTHONY B said...

Great article! May be one day I'll be able to afford one of these ff cams... No panic-buying so far) Stay safe. Cheers from Russia.

Hugh said...

I thought you always bought two identical cameras and two identical standard lenses.

Seems like the two Mamiya Pro deal cameras deal was made just for you!

Have you considered making an offer for both cameras?

;)

arashm said...

Would love to hear why you'd like the SL now....

paul said...

My memory may be failing me, but I don't recall another one of your portraits in which the subject looks so somber. Curious to know what stands out in this one for you, and why you chose it for the post.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Hi Paul, I'm never really sure why I pick what I do. My subject does look somber but that's part of the human condition from time to time. I guess, after spending too much time on Instagram, it's just a reaction to hundreds of thousands of young women trying so hard to look sexy. Or maybe I'm just sharing my semi-depressed point of view today.