Want a really nice 135mm equivalent lens for your APS-C Leica CL (Or other major brand APS-C camera)? Or just a great short tele for your L mount, FF camera? I think I have the solution for you.


The second interchangeable lens I ever bought was a Vivitar 135mm f2.8 lens for my Canon TX camera. I thought it was wonderful. Not that particular lens, which wasn't bad at all, but the focal length. It was so different from the 50mm lens that came with my camera. It was also my favorite (only) portrait lens for a couple of years because I was a poor student at the time and could either buy food or gear but not both. 

At one point, closer to the end of my undergraduate career and further from poverty, I took that lens and the 50mm lens, along with my basic TX camera body on a tripod to Europe with a lovely girlfriend. The gear lived in the cheapest camera bag imaginable and I brought back a number of street photos taken with the lens that I still enjoy looking at today. It was another era then. A couple of college kids could spend months traveling, camping and living out of backpacks for a thousand dollars. If you were willing to camp and cook eggs on a portable gas burner and eat fresh bread from bakeries you could actually get by on $5 a day. Hard to imagine now in the time of $6 per cup coffee...

I was thinking about those times when I planned my photo walk yesterday. I missed that focal length. Or, I guess more precisely, I missed the angle of view provided by the 135mm on a full frame camera. Surprisingly, while I have a zoom that covers the range I no longer have a 135mm prime lens for my full frame cameras. Something I think I should remedy. But in the meantime I think I found a wonderful and cost effective workaround. Maybe even a semi-permanent solution. 

Last month I did a portrait on location at a law office using an APS-C Leica CL and a Sigma i-Series 65mm f2.0 lens (imagined as a 100mm on the CL). I was brave that day; I used the lens at its widest aperture. And everything came out remarkably well. So, in my quest for a longer focal length for casual shooting I decided to try using the 90mm f2.8 Sigma i-Series lens I bought a while back for the bigger Leicas, but on the CL. I bought the lens in an L mount but it's available for Sony cameras as well. And maybe a few other brands... But it works perfectly on the CL. The AF is good and quick and all the electronic interface stuff works as well. 

The lens is small and light and looks really good on the front of the CL. It's almost like the 90mm f2.8 and the 24mm f3.5 from Sigma were made for use with the smaller formats, at least the idea was floating around in someone's mind. Both those lenses are small and light but both have excellent optical performance, both are well built and neither of them dwarf the smaller camera body. In fact, if I were rationale and traveling the world shooting for only my own satisfaction, the 24mm and 90mm would make a good travel pair. The gap between the angles of view is a big of a stretch but I guess the equally petite 45mm f2.8 would round out the kit nicely. 

I've been working with 50mm lenses and full frame cameras for most of the last two months and so my brain was calibrated for that normal angle of view. Having a lens that's 2.50 times longer took some adjustment. But seeing isolated images picked out of clutter and nicely compressed compensated for having to think a little harder. 

Austin is gearing up for SXSW which starts on the 10th. Downtown is getting a clean up and we're starting to see some pressure by the chamber of commerce to pull the homeless off the main streets. Temporary display venues are getting built, painted or otherwise renovated. New advertising "billboards" are being painted on the sides of buildings. The hotels are staffing up. This will really be the first, authentic, post-Covid lockdown SXSW and I'm curious to see what attendance is like. If it's like other entertainment and convention events held recently I think we'll see a 25-35% drop in what was a typical show attendance number in years past. Maybe that's why the ramp-up to next week's start seems a bit anemic right now. But with $1,899 wrist bands for attendance can you really blame a skittish potential audience? 

A couple of off topic notes: 

We have some potentially hairy but decidedly short term weather blowing through this afternoon. Part of the cold front that pounded California, Nevada, and others. We're warned that the winds from the West will pick up in the mid-afternoon, preceding an evening of high winds, rain, hail and potential tornados. Never a dull weather moment so far this year... Now finding that inner room...duck and cover.

Weight training is going well. It's a nice adjunct to the swimming. I haven't been this sore in years. Whoever said that it's not the "next" day but a couple days after a weight lifting workout that gets you was exactly right. I just wanted to stay bed this morning since everything hurt but swimming stretched it all out so I'm glad I threw myself out of bed and dragged myself into the pool. 

Today was the weekly, dreaded, I.M. (Individual medley) workout. It's the day we hit all four strokes hard. No relying on only freestyle today... Coach Jen brought the hot intervals and the prickly butterfly-laden sets to the team. We responded with complete compliance but that doesn't mean we didn't gripe and moan about it. We did. 

B. is still out of town and the refrigerator is still broken. I have a smaller refrigerator in a guest bedroom that's the safe repository for necessities. Everything else (food wise) will probably end up in the compost pile (actually a rotary composters = we're so woke...) or in the garbage. I am in charge of logistics re: refrigerator repair. The warranty service guy is supposed to be here tomorrow between 8 and 12. I hope the parts for this three month old unit are still in stock...

I'm spending my down time and "you're on your own" time working on that second Henry White novel. I'm making progress... This might be the year the sequel to The Lisbon Portfolio actually sees the light of day. 

No new cameras or lenses to report. Now wondering when Sigma will release a 28mm in i-Series dress. That might be fun...

Photos below. Some with captions. 

a detail of the Littlefield Bldg. When I was in advertising we had a client who owned this
building in downtown on Congress Ave. and Sixth St. I've always liked looking at the 
rounded front and the cool flourishes of design. 

I suspect this painted wall is a poke at Elon Musk. Cropped out in this view is the logo.
The company this wall is advertising is Patagonia. They have a retail store a few blocks away on Congress. They have no current plans to trek on Mars in the near future. 

Just loving the name. When I saw this I had a concept for a really shitty bar. The name of which would be: Buyer's Remorse. All the drinks would be resoundingly mediocre. 

Wrist guard for street photographers in dicey cities....

Sometimes, usually, photos of signage are made solely for documentation.
Loved the idea of going to see a band/performer called: Tina Piranha.

Detail check on the hat bangles. Not a real mannequin photo.

do I need to embellish?

This woman's shoes were so ornate I actually saw them in passing and then rushed to catch up with the nice lady who was wearing them and asked if I could photograph them. I'm sure she assumed I have some sort of shoe fetish. When B. looks in my closet at all my shoes she certainly thinks so too. 

Loving the compression.

Office-ing in Austin.

The last two images, below, were made with a 35mm f1.4 TTArtisan lens that covers APS-C and is dirt cheap. I was just reacquainting myself with its properties on the tail end of this "roll." 
Or memory card.  I like the black and white rendering from the Monochrome HC setting in the current Leicas. I always add more contrast though.....

Here we are in March already. I guess I should figure out what I'm supposed to be doing this year; besides swimming, lifting weights, walking with cameras and writing a novel. Oh, and writing a daily blog. I guess I should toss some paying work into the mix. Time to get in gear.

B.'s absence for the last week+ gives power to those old blues lyrics: "You don't miss your water till your well runs dry." I take all the support, affection, kindness, and companionship too much for granted. Life is so much better when she's here. But you gotta take care of family.... sigh.