It has been a while since I’ve last written about photography, up until the last blog post anyway, and there have been several changes since.
First, as this post’s title states, I have joined the ranks of Leica rangefinder owners. I have been lusting over Leica film and digital rangefinder cameras for a while (2-3 years), mainly due to the major retro experience. My fascination with Leica also deals with how small the camera and lenses are, as well as how the whole system works. The fact that the Leica M system is manual focus only did not bother me, as I already own several manual focus-only lenses for my Nikon D300. I was also getting tired of lugging around my D300 with its support system every time I wanted to take pictures. Continue reading
About four months ago, I posted that I would change my focus from purchasing more lenses to focusing on getting better supporting equipment for my camera and lenses. I have spent the last several weeks narrowing my tripod and ballhead options down to a select few.
For the tripod, it really came down to several Gitzo Systematic models, since I wanted a tripod that can be set up with or without a column. Out of the various Systematic models, I opted to go for the GT3531S due to the combination of relatively light weight (about 800 grams less than my current tripod), optional column and collapsed/extended dimensions. A $40 mail-in rebate also helps deaden the blow to my wallet. I hope to pick up the tripod in the next couple of days.
For the ballhead and clamp, I had been considering various models by Kirk, Acratech and Really Right Stuff, in which all would take Arca-Swiss compatible plates (versus proprietary plates, as used by some ballhead/clamp manufacturers). After fiddling around with a couple of Acratech ballheads, I wasn’t really impressed with the overall tension controls or ergonomics. At the end of the day, it came down to the Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead with either the quick release or knob release clamp. While the knob release clamp provides more control and would be compatible with more Acra-Swiss style plates, the knob would badly interfere with any tilt-shift lens that I would want to purchase. Continue reading
In a previous blog post, I mentioned that I was done with buying lenses and will start focusing on the supporting equipment. Well, the all too common feeling of lens lust has taken hold of me and I’m starting to ogle over a lens that is made for taking architectural and landscape photos: a tilt-shift lens.
A tilt-shift lens allows a photographer to not only change the depth of field and focus area, but also correct for converging lines. Instead of trying to mangle the purpose of tilting and shifting, there are two informative articles on the topic (perspective control and depth of field). The tilt-shift lens that I have been thinking about is Nikon’s 24mm f/3.5D PC-E (which has two macro relatives, a 45mm f/2.8D PC-E and an 85mm f/2.8D PC-E). Due to the complex mechanics, specific purpose and low volume, the lens is quite expensive.
Before I decide to pick up the lens, I still need to get a better ball head for my tripod, as well as an L-bracket so that I can mount the camera in either portrait or landscape without having to re-frame. While my tripod isn’t great, it will still provide me with a pretty sturdy platform for framing and (manually) focusing in on to my target. I also have a cable release and a mirror-up function to reduce the amount of camera shake when I’m ready to take a picture.