Additional experience with the Sigma i-Series 35mm f2.0 Contemporary Lens. This has almost converted me into a 35mm focal length fan. But the lens had some help from a favorite camera.
OT: My car review. How is it doing one year+ in?
That's my car. It's a 2022 Subaru Forester. It may be the most practical and boring car you can buy. But I love it. In fact, it's my second identical one in just four years (previous was a 2019). I have to special order them because I want all the premium driving and safety features but I have a dread/hatred/engineering bias against sun roofs, moon roofs or any other spurious hole cut into the middle of a car's roof. I've been told by BMW mechanics, Toyota mechanics and Independent mechanics that the one long term flaw of every car with an open-able rooftop is the inevitable potential for water leakage. In most cars they also cut down on available headroom by about an inch. They are just a bad idea all around. You don't need to be staring up at clouds while piloting your vehicle.
So far, in about 11,000 miles, two trips to Santa Fe, NM. and lots of hauling gear around this particular car has had zero defects. Nothing. No rattles or mysterious noises. No electronic failures. It even connects with my iPhone with zero issues. Go CarPlay.
The ground clearance is great. I can drive over parking lot blocks with impunity. I've never bottomed out.
The interior trim is utilitarian and I like it that way. If I wanted a big, padded Barca-Lounger for a seat I'd buy one for the house and be done with it. But in a car I think I want only two things from the driver's seat: the right driving position and good back support. The Forester has both.
Car "enthusiasts" (AKA people from a certain generation....) go on and on about the Forester being "underpowered." It's not a heavy car by any means and the engine that's in it generates something like 185 horsepower. There were no other optional engines when I bought it. I have never felt that the car doesn't accelerate quickly enough. It's perfectly quick. In fact, when I look back at a six cylinder BMW 5 series I owned for the second half of the 1990s I am reminded that it weighed about 1,000 pounds more than the Subaru and had about 10-12% more horsepower. It also sucked down premium gasoline and started falling to pieces the day after the warranty ran out... It wasn't really much faster on initial launches from stop lights than the Forester. But in today's dollars probably cost at least twice as much money to purchase.
One benefit of the flat, "pancake" engine is a lower center of gravity than a V-type engine or Inline engine. That effectively offsets any potential handling problems that might have arisen based on the ground clearance of the car.
On my giant, two-days-out, two-days-back trip to Santa Fe in April I consistently drove over the Texas and New Mexico highways at speeds averaging 75-80 mph and was able to get over 30 mpg. Considering the constant use of air conditioning during the expedition I consider that fuel economy very good. Not as good as my European friends might want but much, much better than those folks passing me at 110 mph in giant, dually pick-up trucks with confederate flags flying furiously from their antennae.
The real value to a working photographer of any vehicle is the ability to load it up with everything you might need for a job without killing the interior or blocking your field of view. With the back seats folded down I can bring it all. It's not as spacious as my old Honda Element was but my load out is smaller these days too. And, most important, a long roll of seamless background paper fits in nicely. You put one end in the passenger footwell and the other end has a comfortable ten inches or so of space to the rear window.
The two Subaru Foresters are the first cars I have owned that come with four wheel drive. It actually works well. I've driven through mud and sand and never lost control of the car, or gotten stuck. It's much better in that regard than the front wheel drive Honda CR-V I owned previous to these. The Element was also a front wheel drive version and I remember getting stuck on a muddy incline with an art director who was scouting locations with me. We had to be towed out of the ditch. It was embarrassing.
After having lived through some pretty nasty Summers since 2008 I will never own another car that is not white. And I will never own a car with very dark, or black, seats. When it's 115° from time to time you learn to always use a sunshade on the windshield while parked and I augment that by putting a white shop towel over the top of the black steering wheel. I'm not quite ready to get my fingerprints cauterized off by a sun-charged steering wheel....
I drove my previous (almost identical) Forester during the giant freeze that gripped Texas in 2021 and it did well on all the snow and some of the ice. Without snow tires or chains I'd say all bets are off on really nasty ice or in areas with steep inclines but that's what coffee at home is for...
I paid about $27,000 for the most recent Forester and I consider that a screaming bargain. I have two close friends who made different choices. One splashed out on a new Range Rover and a year later is still taking it back to the dealer regularly for annoying things like not being able to sync her phone. A total shutdown of the app screen in the center. A couple of times when the vehicle just would not start. She's pretty adamant that she'll be moving on from the Range Rover long before the warranty expires. Another friend is a BMW adherent who bought an X3 used. He's already, in the last year and a half, spent about one third of my car's purchase price on non-warrantied repairs. I'm certainly not saying Subarus are perfect. Far from it, I'm sure. But B. and I both drive Subarus now and our experiences have been nothing but good on our current cars. The idea of spending $50K or $75K or more on a "luxury" car is just crazy to me.
Not when you can get a highly functional, comfortable and reliable car for about half the spend and you can invest the rest for the future.
So.....no moon or sun roofs. Always white paint. Never black seats!!! In Texas, no heated seats. Get the all weather floor mats and you are done for at least a few years. Next time I'm sure I'll start looking at electric cars. I'm pretty sure we're at a good inflection point for the average car buyer/income demographic.
But till then I'll be the guy driving that white Subaru Forester and trying to avoid all the people driving fast on Austin roads while texting their friends or watching videos on their phones.
Just thought about this as I drove home from the pool and enjoyed the drive.