3.25.2021

I wanted to show you how ISO 50 looks on the Leica SL2 but Blogger tends to compress the goodness out of images. So I made you a gallery on Smugmug. Details in the blog.

https://kirktuck.smugmug.com/ART-AROUND-AUSTIN/Austin-with-a-Leica-SL2-at-50-ISO/n-PsF2cm/


Whenever I write something about the color rendering of a lens or a camera, or the sharpness of one of them, and then post images here on the blog I'm inevitably a bit disappointed by how the images look within Blogger. 

Today I was using the recently acquired Leica SL2 and the ancient and battered Leica 28-70mm (which vignettes like crazy on the L-mount adapter at the wider focal lengths...and close up) and I was experimenting with ISO 50. I wanted to see what the low ISO (which is native) 50 would look like. How would the colors look? What does the ISO 50 setting do to the dynamic range? Is it better? Is it worse? I tried it and liked it a lot and wanted to write about it here but why write if you can show pictures, right?

But the conundrum is that whatever I show here is size limited by the program and the format. Not so on Smugmug.com which is where most of my client galleries happily reside. Then it dawned on me that I could just create a gallery and share the images with you that way. 

If you follow the link you'll see that I've required no password and the images can be downloaded at the full resolution at which I shot them. You can look on your own machine to your heart's content. 

The files started life as middle resolution Jpegs which is about 22 megapixels. The downrezzing in camera makes them appear a bit sharper. I set the WB manually to the cute little sun icon. I was able to set a lens profile in the camera menu for the exact Leica lens. 

If you click on the image you'll go larger but there are tools on the left hand side that allow you to go all the way to the full res. Also, if you choose to download an image it will download at the full resolution. 

These are for personal use. Please don't repost them. Thanks!

It's taking me a while to get used to the SL2 since the interface is so wildly foreign compared to just about everything else. But now it's starting to build up some happy momentum. See if you agree....

https://kirktuck.smugmug.com/ART-AROUND-AUSTIN/Austin-with-a-Leica-SL2-at-50-ISO/n-PsF2cm/

One of the best parts of using mirror-free cameras is the vast choice of lenses one has. Here's some images from one of my perennial favorites.


I've owned a lot of 50mm lenses. I still own a lot of 50mm lenses, but when it's time to put one on a camera just for a comfortable walk I eschew the big, brutal, take no prisoners lenses, with their extensive collections of complex and specialized glass elements, and reach for a lens that's more than adequately sharp but has a low profile and, even with an adapter, an equally low weight. My choice, across mirrorless systems for the last five years (at least) has been the "pedestrian" 50mm f1.7 Contax/Zeiss lens made for the Y/C system. 

It's easy to handle and is an appreciated weight-saver in combination with heavier cameras like the Panasonic S1R or the Leica SL2. I like that the external aperture ring is instantly accessible and that the lens is manual focus and comes complete with a nicely done focusing scale which allows me to go back to the time-tested approach of setting approximate distances on the focusing ring and figuring out the best aperture to cover the subject area I'm interested in. With a lens set in that manner one can walk around and shoot as fast as the shutter can react and not worry about AF hunting or pesky sensors locking onto the "wrong" target. It's the quickest way possible to shoot. 

While the sharpness isn't as astringent and over the top in the way you'll see with many current, high dollar 50mm lenses (looking at you Panasonic!) it's very, very good for its age, provides a nice, but rounded softness wide open and then becomes fully competitive by f4.0. While only a few years ago, in that era where the block-headed Luddites were still rampaging about the sins of electronic viewfinders and making promises that we'd only be able separate them from their flapping mirrored DSLRs upon death, one could pick up a nice, mint copy of the Contax Zeiss 50mm f1.7 for somewhere between $125 and $150. Now, with the delayed realization of the potential of electronic viewfinders, people are flocking to mirrorless cameras and, upon learning that just about any older SLR lens can be used on their new, mirrorless camera with an inexpensive adapter, the supply of exceptional but inexpensive older lenses is not just getting more expensive it's drying up altogether.

Contax also made a 50mm f1.4 lens in the same mount and it's very nice too. But it's no better than the f1.7 version and having tested both I could find no real differences in their overall performance from f2.8 on to f11. I've never bothered to pick up the f1.4 version since it adds at least 50% more weight for no real world shooting advantage. Especially in current times when camera ISO engineering allows us the freedom to shoot in almost any kind of light. 

The focusing ring on my lens is smooth as greased Teflon and the overall look of the files from that lens is beautiful. Different than the look of my hyper-real Lumix S-Pro 50mm, but beautiful nonetheless. 

I took it out for a brief time on Wednesday just as excuse for another walk. We (the camera, lens and I) got stuck in some rain but I had an extra face mask in my pocket and it covered the lens and lens mount nicely. I didn't worry about the camera; the SL2 has an IP 54 weather resistance rating. I've no clue what that really means but their website ensures me that the camera sealing is prodigious. Doesn't matter. It wasn't raining hard. 

It was the performance, proven over time, with the 50mm Contax that led me to also buy the Contax Y/C 28mm f2.8 and the 135mm f2.8 (a lovely lens!) lenses. With cheap adapters I use them all the time with the big Panasonic S1x cameras and the new Leica. They are so easy to use and manually focus with those EVFs that I sometimes ignore focus peaking and magnification altogether. 

Seems a bit silly to put a cheap, used lens on a pricy camera but the whole point of a great camera body is how well it fits in one's hands and how much fun it is to use. The whole point of a great camera lens is that it gets out of the way and lets one shoot in the style desired without letting any egregious flaws diminish the quality of the final product. Iris slicing sharpness is not always my highest priority parameter in a lens. 

I am always brought back to reality when it comes to lenses and our collective (and misguided) desire to always have the very best, by the thought of how excruciating it would be to take a casual walk with a camera bag filled with Zeiss Otus lenses. Or a bag full of Sigma Art Series high speed primes. The happy reality of working with the old, manual Contax lenses makes photography and walking about aimlessly as fun as it can be. 

Sign in a soon to be opened, new restaurant on 2nd St. 

I ate my multi-grain super toast with intense purpose today. 

It was good.

Checking in with my downtown mannequin friend. Late evening.

One of the many wonderful things I like about Austin
is the high proportion of truly fit people who live here.
Not just young people but also 75 and 80 year old marathoners
and pools full of former Olympians as well as people just out walking for fitness and pleasure. 
While we have peripheral 
suburbs filled with regular, chubby Americans it's so 
refreshing to see fit people all over the place. 

Maybe, subconsciously, that's why I'm putting my
camera bag on diet today...

 

3.24.2021

Technology rocks. My dental procedure was so much less dramatic than my anticipation. I was so inspired I immediately ordered another Leica camera.


 So.... I went in for the root canal today with all the trepidation you may have sensed in yesterday's post. My endodontist was amazing. She delivered Lidocaine injections so gently that I almost burst into tears at my emotional relief. The optical instrument she used to magnify her view and carefully check her work had a big logo on the side. I took it as a sign from the photo gods. It said, "Leica." 

The procedure lasted about 40 minutes and I was sent on my way with a few advisos. The most important thing being not to chew food while numbed so I don't merrily bite into my own cheek! Or drink hot coffee and risk drooling down my nice, clean, white shirt.

On the way home I thought about the omen of the logo on her optical device and assured myself that any residual pain would be minimized if only I had something fun to play with, and a new menu and interface with which to challenge my aging brain.

I already had an item selected and in a shopping cart at the LeicaStore in Miami so I went ahead and did the Apple Pay magic and committed. In a few days I should be the happy owner of a mint condition Leica SL, the predecessor of my current SL2.

I've been interested in that camera for nearly six years now. I know the technology has mostly been superseded by the march of time but I'm also interested in it because of the industrial design and the historic position it occupies as Leica's first interchangeable, full frame, mirrorless camera. 

I have seen raw files from the camera that I like very much. For portraits it has a look that's different and more convincing than what I get from other cameras. I think the lower pixel count will make it a nice adjunct to the SL2 --- for all those times when I want to shoot raw but don't want to deal with the storage of more huge files. 

The SL is not a sports camera or a wildlife camera since it depends entirely on contrast detect AF but for the way I use cameras, using the center focusing square and sticking to S-AF the focusing, it is reported to be both fast and accurate except in really low light settings. 

SL cameras were originally sold at $7450 when they first arrived. The price dropped to $5995 near the end of their run. A very clean, hardly used body can be had, with a 30 day store warranty, for about $2,000. It's not cheap but neither is the expense ruinous. 

24 megapixels, a body carved out of one piece of aluminum, an insanely big and high resolution EVF and the ability to use all my L mount lenses. What's not to like?

If I thought I could get away with buying myself a new camera every time I visited the dentist I'd be darned sure to go in for a cleaning and check-up every three months....

A full report is promised as soon as I take possession. "Now, bite down...." 

3.23.2021

A new adventure of me. I'm heading into to see an Endodontist about a root canal Wednesday morning. If I have to sit through that I'm hellbent on rewarding myself with some juicy photo-toy.


 So there's one thing in life I hate more than just about anything else and that's having a shot of lidocaine administered into the soft tissue inside my mouth, next to my gums. Can't stand it. I'd rather accidentally drop an expensive lens into a wood chipper that's running at full speed. But that's what we've got on tap for tomorrow morning; if I'm unlucky. The injection, not the lens sacrifice...

My dentist took x-rays at my last check up, a few weeks ago. Harnessing some magic power she wields she was able to intuit that I might need to have the first root canal of my life done so she sent me to a specialist. 

I'm meeting with said specialist tomorrow and she (the endodontist) is planning to take her own x-rays and run a few other tests to either confirm or repudiate my first dentist's diagnosis. If all their stars line up together then they'll want to do the procedure right then and there. 

I'm old enough to have heard horror stories about root canal procedures from the old days when mechanical shock and awe was the oral strategy of the day. I've been told by many friends now that there are new, modern techniques having to do with ultra-sonic this and that which are mostly pain free and less....dramatic. 

But what neither dentist, nor my well-meaning friends, seem to understand is that it's not the procedure itself that fills me with gut-twisting dread. No. It's that numbing injection with which the whole process begins. That's the part that rivets my anxious brain into the paralysis of conjecturing about the worst case scenario of pain and suffering every time. 

I'm so wound up about tomorrow's (mis)adventure that I haven't been able to play with a camera or even consider taking a relaxing nap on the couch today. In fact, since I exited the swimming pool this morning (it was a nice and challenging swim, thank you for asking!) I've thought of very little else than the first half hour of tomorrow's ordeal. 

There is one glimmer of hope for me though. I've discovered that I can take my mind off the torturous anticipation, even if it's just for a little while, by going through a list of all the fine photographic products I might choose from to help balance myself and offset my trauma, after the fact, from the slings and arrows of outrageous dental anxiety. 

I have one thing in mind already but it's rather pricey and wholly unnecessary. But as my friend, Paul, quipped when I talked it over with him, "When did that ever stop you?"

So, who here has had this sort of brush with dentistry lately? And how well did you survive it?

Oh, the unfairness of life. Who would have thought that there is specific karma for not flossing as often as you're instructed? 

Ah well. We'll be through with that saga by lunch time, but the sour memory will continue through the day since I'll be nerve blocked and constrained to eating only bland and non-chewy food like yogurt until the numbness subsides.

Signed, Petrified with fear in Austin. KT

Hey. I figured if MJ can complain about the rigors and desperation of learning to type correctly I can certainly splash out my deepest fears as well....

Lens of the day. The 65mm Sigma i series lens. On the Leica SL2.


It's a nice combo; the Leica SL2 camera and the Sigma Contemporary 65mm f2.8 lens. They work well together. The resulting files are crisp and detailed. The focal length is almost perfectly optimized for my personal preferences. 

The lens is part of Sigma's new Contemporary "I" line of lenses which also includes a 24mm f3.5, the 35mm f2.0, and the 45mm f2.8. I'm certain Sony's recent announcement of new, smaller, slower lenses is a concept directly and shamelessly derived from their keen observation of the Sigma 45mm lens's popularity on the market over the past year but, whatever it takes... It's just nice to see a bit of rational thought come back into the lens market. 

The Sigma "I" lenses are constructed of metal, are incredibly well finished, are weather resistant, have external aperture rings, and are one of the few lens options for L-mount users who might not want to start a new hobby in weightlifting in order to photograph more than a few feet away from their cars.

When the newest of the Sigma I lenses hit the market I took one look at the 65mm and ordered it from my local camera shop. I like normal lenses but I like longer normal lenses even more. This lens and the 70mm Sigma Art macro lens I bought this year are both right in the sweet spot for me as good compromises between portability and having a bit of distance between myself and my photographic subjects. Since portrait styles are changing, generationally, I'm also finding that I'm willing to put up with a bit more distortion in order to use a focal length that's shorter than what I used to be comfortable with. I cheat by using the 65mm f2.0 mostly on 47+ megapixel cameras when I shoot portraits because then I have the safety of shooting with some air around the subject and being able to crop the images quite a bit, if necessary, to gain back a modest degree of beneficial foreshortening. Viva compression!

The 65mm is an excellent performer. Check out the review on Lenstip.com and you'll find, that when it comes to resolution and sharpness it is currently one of the highest rated lenses on the entire site; regardless of price point. Even wide open, within the center 2/3rds of the entire frame, it's sharp and resolves well. 

The lens is designed with 12 elements in 9 groups and also utilizes 1 SLD element and 2 aspherical elements. It's amply engineered for a lens with a modest focal length and a less ambitious maximum aperture. It's one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used and its rendering of contrast and color are equally impressive. It's available in E mount as well as L mount and it's exactly the kind of lens that both Leica and Sony should be offering to the market.

When the L mount version is used with the Leica SL2 the camera makes use of software corrections for geometric corrections as well as vignetting control. One of the things I really like about the camera and lens combination is that Leica makes it easy to use their very well implemented focus peaking feature and it's a perfect complement to the Sigma's big, comfortable focusing ring. The combination makes manual focusing fun. And I like fun. 

I bought the lens and paid the full asking price of $699. No one flew me to Maui or Portofino to convince me to either try the lens, buy the lens, or sing it's myriad praises. My acquisition and use is based solely on the idea I have that this focal length, and the impressive performance of the optical system, are conducive to getting better images in my own style. It didn't hurt that I'm an avowed "lens nerd" and this lens also comes with a magnetic lens cap. The lens cap didn't push me over the edge to purchase it but it sure didn't hurt. 

Sigma continues to do some very interesting stuff. Maybe they think their mission is to show the bigger and more awkward camera and lens makers what the future looks like in order to guide them into a better tomorrow for the sake of the entire Japanese camera industry. Then again, maybe they are just a more creative company which is less afraid to dabble in a little bit of risk. 

The 65mm combined with the 35mm f2.0 would make a perfect match for travel and street photography. With the 35mm one could crop a bit and get a useable 50mm equivalent from that lens. With the 65mm and a high resolution camera one could crop to an 85mm equivalent without much image quality loss. Add in the 24mm f3.5 and you're ready for everything but sports and wildlife. But you wouldn't be buying middle focal range lenses for either of those pursuits, right?

All images below shot with the 65mm Sigma and the Leica SL2. I'm also pretty sure I shot them all at ISO 50 which is a native, not "extended" ISO option on this camera. Works for me.





cropped down to 25% of the original frame. 


I was on a kick when I shot this group of photographs of limiting myself to using the SL2's ISO of 50 for everything. I figured the in body I.S. would make everything okay. When I look at the full size files coming from the camera I am amazed at the purity of the colors and the amazing detail. Can't wait to try this out in the studio for portraits. ....nice reds and nice blues together in the same frame.






building with dorsal fin.

My recent obsession with yellow. And red. 

Again, 25% of the original frame...
 

Personal note: I'm so delighted with my friends and colleagues. Just about everyone I know (in the vaccine-able age groups) has gotten either their first dose or both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. I just got an invitation to meet for coffee with my favorite creative director. We'll get together next week and see what kinds of new projects we can collaborate on. Then I got a call, not ten minutes later, from a photographer friend who is having an outdoor BBQ on Sunday. He had a caveat. He could only invite me and could not extend an invitation to my spouse because she is still a couple weeks behind us on getting her second dose of vaccine. The BBQ party is strictly limited only to people who have been fully vaccinated and then put in their two weeks of immunity nurturing. I accepted in a heartbeat since my friend's version of BBQ ribs is life altering. Forget being inclusive --- the lure of ribs is powerful. 

All over our social media feeds friends are starting to check in to see where we are in the process and when we can all get together for coffees, lunches, dinners and happy hours. We're still shy about restaurants and indoor dining but it's prime time for outdoor dining in Austin. Finally, finally, finally seeing some social light at the end of a long and ominous tunnel...

A much better documentation of this photograph of Gov. Ann Richards.


 ©Kirk Tuck.

3.22.2021

A Portrait in belated celebration of the vernal equinox....


 Michelle.

What Zoom Lenses Am I Currently Using? How do I like em?


My lens collection is almost like a living organism. Some stuff wanders in from the street and makes itself comfortable in the gear drawers, some succumb to ennui and slowly vanish while some eventually are injured and die. Zooms seem more susceptible to transitioning in and out than single focal length lenses but I guess that's the nature of this particular life form. 

I have a little flock of zoom lenses that, I must admit, I'm looking to change around a bit. But I'm not sure where it will all end up. But here's where we are today. This is what my choices are when I need to stock up my camera bag and go out for fun or profit: 

1. Panasonic 24-105mm f4.0. My all around, most leaned on, extended normal lens. It covers everything. If I were a rational human I'd just own this lens and the next one on my list and I'd get back to my job as a statistician who enjoys the benefits of a calm cup of decaf....

2. Panasonic 70-200mm f4.0. As above. This is a wonderful longer zoom and it has no discernible personality. It's totally transparent, just does its job and goes home to watch the weather channel. I love it for its high performance but dislike it for its lack of drama and excitement. 

3. Panasonic 20-60mm f3.5-5.6. This lens makes me feel like I have the wider focal lengths adequately covered. I owned a 20mm Art lens that weighed three times as much and cost me twice as much but I never, ever used it on a job. With this little, cheap, plastic lens I feel as though I've given the concept of very wide angle focal lengths the attention I believe they deserve. 

4. Leica R 28-70mm f3.5-f5.6. I had very low expectations for this one because it was cheap and a little beat up but have come to like it more than all the rest because it has....personality. It can be really sharp. The colors can be very deep and accurate. But sometimes it flares and usually the corners are...whimsical. The built in lens hood has lost its grip so I've lashed it into its fully extended position with ample helpings of black gaffer's tape. The first R to L adapter I used on the lens was a bit loose so the lens vacillated between focusing on infinity and just pretending to focus on infinity, which made for a bit of healthy user friction. But every once in a while the camera and this lens really bang out some nice images and it's the most fun to use. 

I like all the lenses but I like the little, cheap, used Leica zoom the same way I like a clumsy puppy. It's adorable and has potential. 



What am I saving up all my discretionary cash in order to buy next? 

I think I would really love to play with the Leica 24-90mm f2.8-4.0 SL lens. It's supposed to be really sharp and contrasty and it covers my favorite focal lengths well. It's big, fat, heavy and ponderous but we'll keep the smaller Leica zoom I talked about just above. 

I turned in all my post production, etc. this morning. I delivered it to the client on a 1 terabyte HD. I'm happy with how smoothly the whole process went. Ready for the next round. 

 

Has the mania for ultra-fast lenses hit a peak? Will it now subside and allow lens makers to concentrate on better compromises?

another portrait. 

I'm the first to admit that I've been suckered into the wild enthusiasm camp about lenses with very fast apertures for most of my time in photography. When we shot with film cameras a faster lens meant a brighter viewfinder which meant easier focusing. An added benefit of focusing with a fast aperture lens at its widest setting was very narrow depth of field which also helped with nailing focus. 

Since everyone (most people?) were able to focus their faster lenses more accurately a mythology about the lenses existed. Since the lenses were better focused the resulting images at any aperture were sharper so they looked better. This led people to believe that the faster and more expensive lenses were also capable of higher overall performance. It made sense to people because they were, daily, judging the results of more accurate focusing and mistaking at least some of the benefit as coming from a better designed lens when compared to slower lenses. 

In the mid-1990s autofocus technology got better and better and camera makers didn't need to make focusing screens that were optimized for highest acccuracy (at the expense of brightness). Since nearly everyone buying newer and newer cameras used AF for almost every shot the camera makers looked at the compromise matrix of focusing screen engineering and changed the mix to favor super bright screens at the expense of manual focusing discrimination. All in all it's a compromise that makes the most sense for the most users. 

Now lenses both fast and slow would benefit from the same accuracy in autofocusing because the focusing was no longer done on the screen but buy an AF sensor instead. So, essentially, the need for super fast lenses for higher focusing accuracy was cancelled. But the mythology continued. 

I read an article which I can't source at the moment but it was about lens design. It may have been written by Irwin Puts about Leica lens manufacturing but it essentially made the point that more modest aperture lenses were much easier to manufacture with consistency and high quality than faster lenses. 

It seems that every time you need to increase the diameter of the lens elements to increase the speed of a given focal length a doubling of diameter requires many times more manufacturing accuracy than a slower lens. Also, fewer elements are required for optimal correction. 

For the first ten years of mass acceptance of interchangeable lens digital cameras (roughly 2000-2010) the one reason to own faster lenses was the rather poor noise performance of then available sensors. On my Nikon D2Xs any ISO over 400 was mostly unusable for commercial work. Noise reduction apps for post processing proliferated like bunnies. An argument could be made that companies like Sigma started designing their ultra-fast Art series line of primes in order to provide a sharp, wide open aperture to compensate for the low ISOs we needed to use at the time. But that never meant that fast lenses could be designed to out perform slower lenses for things like: contrast, sharpness, resolution and lower distortion. 
And those are all the things needed in most lenses to make them successful.

Now we've entered a new age with digital. It's the age of miraculous ISO performance in cameras. One no longer has a rationale, beyond the look of a particular lens design, to splash out two or three times (or more) money to buy a faster lens if an f2.0 lens offers all the performance of an f1.2 or f1.4 lens that weighs three times as much and takes up a lot more real estate in your camera bag. 

I write this because I'm trying to reform my bad lens buying habits by introducing some rational thought into the process. I guess my epiphany came when I struggled with the weight, size and ponderous AF of the original Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art series lens. It was a monster to handhold, and, if truth be told, it, like most ultra-fast lenses, was a one trick pony. It could do really great zero depth of field images. But after you've seen a few years worth of strangely narrow depth of field you come to realize that it's not a vital part of usual and successful imaging. Better to concentrate on shooting at apertures that let one actually see the majority of a subject clearly and with acceptable focus. 

Another rude awakening has been my odd dance with the Panasonic S-Pro 50mm f1.4 lens. Optically, it's magnificent. At f1.4 it's as sharp and contrasty as any Leica or Zeiss super star lens I've ever tested. When you stop it down it gets better and better. But it's ponderously large and also weighs a ton. I find that I very rarely take it out and shoot it for pleasure. Though I've had it well over a year I can count on my fingers and toes the number of times I've actually needed its particular performance envelope in the work that I do. And the work I see most commercial photographers pursue. 

When I head out the door for fun I look into a drawer filled with lenses and ponder. I like the 40-60mm range and at first I look to the 50mm lens and fantasize about how wonderful all the subjects I photograph will look by dint of the lens's amazing performance. Then I quickly become more rational, realize that I'll mostly be shooting at f4 or f5.6 and move on to finding a more comfortable and more than adequate alternative. Usually it's something like the Contax/Zeiss 50mm f1.7 or the Sigma 45mm f2.8. Lately, I've been shooting more often with the Sigma 65mm f2.0 and am finding it to be a powerful imaging tool. Very sharp at f2.0 and among the very highest performance long normal lenses extant, when used at f4.0 and f5.6. Why carry the weight if the f-stops at which you'll be photographing are in the middle of the range?
Even older lenses made for film cameras, if well designed and built, are delivering surprisingly competitive results at middle apertures. Even at f2.0 most of my lenses hold up well. Making the purchase of ultra-fast lenses kind of....stupid. 

Photographers are being regaled this month by a torrent of "news" about a new 50mm f1.2 lens from Sony. It's supposed to be really good, and maybe it is. But it's too expensive and it's not going to deliver a better photographic experience for most users compared to good lenses in the same focal length with which they already use. It might be better at f1.4 but by the time it gets to the optimum picture taking apertures of f2.8-f8.0 most of the benefits essentially are limited by the resolution and imaging potential of the camera sensors and the techniques of the users. But they will have splashed out big cash to mostly end up with performance that's a near even match with lenses with smaller maximum apertures. 

I'm also seeing an endless parade of 50mm lenses from Chinese makers that boast f.095, f1.0 and f1.1 apertures. Interest seems to be running high among the faithful. 

I've tested a couple of these and find them to be very difficult to focus well, wide open, and not very high performers when used that way. When stopped down they become....adequate. That's a pretty sorry review for modern lens. 

I'm more interested in lenses like the Sigma 45mm f2.8 which I've written about here from time to time. It's not great performer wide open but in the middle ranges it out performs just about any zoom lens and is better than similar focal lengths from Sony and several other makers when stopped down just one stop. Soundly outperforming them at two stops down (f5.6). It's built like a tank, is fun to use and still compact enough and light enough to be a 24/7 carry lens.

I think the reasons to own fast lenses are diminishing and as our hobby and industry continue to change I'm betting we'll see more and more lenses done in a traditional way = a fast enough aperture for any real use. A small enough footprint for comfort, convenience and handling, and a price that is affordable to many more users. I count all that as a win. 

Interested to know how you feel about this. Am I once again totally off base and wrong? What benefits (if any) do you get from using ultra-fast aperture lenses? Share?

Program note; written a few hours later:  Matti Sulanto is a Finnish photographer and a Lumix Ambassador. He has a nice and informative YouTube channel where he discusses nuts and bolts, reviews cameras and goes out for photo walks in all kinds of crazy weather. Today I wrote this blog post and ten minutes later I was on YouTube at Matti's channel only to find that his post today was also about the same subject. We posted almost simultaneously!!!


He's got a very slightly different take on it than I do.... but mostly we're in agreement. check it out.

I photographed a set up for a book cover a while back. I just got a high res version of it. Fun.

 

I'm not a golfer though I once played 18 holes with boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard, (but that's another photo story for the a future blog post...). But my friend,  Dr. Jim Grubbs is really, really into the game. By day Jim is a psychiatrist but I'm willing to bet that these days he spends more time chasing the little white ball around some beautiful golf course here in central Texas.

I shot the image for the cover of his first book three years ago and it was fun. The book sold well and everyone was happy. So when Jim got a contract to do his second book he called to set up a quick shoot and he arrived with props in hand and an idea ready to go. 

Book cover images are a vital part of marketing books in many genres. I've done a fair number over the years and, surprisingly, the cover I like least is one that was used on one of my own books. Again, a story for another day...

The first book Jim wrote was pretty great. I can hardly wait to dig into this one.

Here's a link that doesn't benefit me financially. It might benefit Jim, but only if you enough are into the psychology of golf (and other applicable pursuits) to buy his book: 

Jim's new book.  

Here's the cover of the previous book: