Tagged: Pentax 55 – 300 mm lens

Simplifying my Photography Gear



I accumulated too many cameras and lenses.  I primarily did that while trying to cover many different photographic situations and trying to figure out what I wanted or needed.  The above are what I had when I started my recent purging, and you will note that I had a lot of overlapping systems.  It doesn’t include all the other cameras I tried and sold previously.  Lately, I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what I want to do, can do, and will do, in my future photography so that I can simplify.  By-the-way, there are a lot of differences between “want to do, can do, and will do”.

The unmarked camera in the picture at the top on your left is the Canon SL1.  At the time I took the picture I had black tape over the lettering.  I had one other camera in addition to the above cameras that I used to take the picture.  It was the Ricoh GR.

I have given up on reducing down to one camera for the time being, but I am reducing the number of different systems that I have and selling off some of the above with the goal to end up with fewer options.  While trying to decide which way to go, I cycled through each of the above cameras and used them to remind myself of their individual characteristics and why I got them in the first place.  Each has a particular strength and capability so my decision process came down to deciding what, or how, I will not be photographing in the future.

I have tried to pick a subject to concentrate on.  I first thought it would be Hanover streets and buildings, and it might still be; but I have concerns.  In some of my trials I have had minor confrontations which I have been able to walk away from so far; but I am concerned that the confrontations might increase, especially if I use a DSLR camera with a long zoom lens.

I would like to do something with a rangefinder style camera with a focal length of 35 or 50 (e) mm; but that usually means photographing people, and is not likely … in town or within Homewood.  But, that doesn’t rule out such a camera for buildings, landscapes, etc.

What about other possibilities?  The big one is travel photography but for several reasons, that is not likely for me.  Another possibility would be nature, wildlife, etc.  We have limited wildlife but it is still a possibility.  There are also weather, clouds, etc. but that is limiting from an opportunity perspective.  I can’t photograph the weather effects when I wish since it is dependent upon the whims of the weather.

I am still trying to decide what it is that I mainly hope to photograph, but in the meantime I am going to concentrate on what is most likely.  The picture below shows what cameras and lenses I am currently using after going through my initial simplification and concentrating on what will most likely be available for me to photograph.



The Pentax gear and the Lumix LX7 have been sold.  The rest have been boxed up for sale or storage.  I haven’t sold the micro 4/3 gear yet since I haven’t yet decided to give up on micro 4/3.  I like my micro 4/3 gear but I can’t do everything (especially in low light) that I would like as well with it.   You will also see my latest acquisition, the Canon 70D with the 18 – 135 mm lens attached that I am trying for 30 days.  Yes, the Canon is heavy (just slightly lighter than the K-3) but it has advantages and uses that I would rather not give up.  I really like the articulated LCD and fast live-view focusing.  In order to deal with the weight, I might not carry it far or often, and if necessary, I could get a 50 mm lens for it and back off using the longer, heavier focal length lenses.  Currently I am trying the Canon 70D for certain uses like clouds, wildlife, some internal Homewood projects, etc., and using the Ricoh GR for my pocket camera while walking about as well as for several projects close to people, etc. where all I need is an effective 28 mm focal length.

My objective is to just use the Canon 70D and the Ricoh GR for a while as I continue to evolve my future photography over time, and later replace one or both with a camera that is better for a more limited style of photography when, or if, I decide or find I need or want to reduce further.

Winter Morning Thoughts

I am considering slipping into two different modes for much of my photography.  One mode tends to be sharp, clear, and documentary.  I will use this mode for my Homewood and Hanover related projects.  These types of images will probably be primarily made with both my Canon SL1 using the Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens and my Ricoh GR with its effective 18.3 mm lens.

Another mode that I like is similar to the images shown above.  These types are limited, collapsed perspective images made with long focal length lenses like the above made with an effective 300 mm lens.  Due to the necessity of a long focal length lens while at the same time desiring to keep weight and size to a minimum, I am considering using a micro 4/3 system.  I used my Olympus E-PL5 with the Olympus 40 – 150 mm lens for the above images.  My problem is that the camera I used, the E-PL5, doesn’t have a viewfinder and that is a limiting factor for long focal length lenses since it is hard to hold the camera-lens combination steady enough.  In addition, I tend to accidentally hit buttons when I use it vertically, especially when shooting quickly.

My other option is to expand my use of the Canon camera and get a longer lens for it.  The advantage is primarily using one Canon system; the disadvantage is the increased weight and size.  In addition, if I found a lens I liked and could handle with the SL1 camera, I could potentially sell all of my micro 4/3 gear and Pentax gear.

And then there is the “big option” … my Pentax K-3 with the 55 – 300 mm lens.  The advantage of it is that I have it and the lens is better and longer (effective 450 mm at the long end).  Other advantages are that I also have a vertical grip for it and I prefer the vertical/portrait orientation with this style of image, and it a weather resistant system.  The disadvantage is that the K-3 and lens and vertical grip is large and heavy.

Of Little Interest

I have been pondering two things … what will I photograph in the Borough of Hanover and what focal length lens will work best.  I really need to find the answers in order since what I photograph determines what camera and lens I need; but maybe not.  Since I have already photographed the most interesting areas, I have been exploring some of the back areas.

I was standing in one of the public parking lots when I took the above pictures.  My reaction was that there was nothing of interest around me but I took some pictures anyway so I could continue my evaluation of the Canon SL1 camera with the 24 mm lens.  Even after studying them, I found nothing of interest, unless it was the thought of what was missing.  From the size and age of the trees along with their locations I imagine that these lots were previously plots where buildings once stood.  They were probably vacant and falling down so the Borough acquired the lots, tore down the buildings, and paved the lots for parking.  This parking lot is typical of many such lots through-out the Borough.  I am guessing that what is missing was of more interest, but I can’t photograph that.

I then tried cropping a section out of one of the pictures, and converted it to monotone.  You can see the results below.

And the answer is, using an old phrase, “you can’t create a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”  I found nothing of interest in any of these pictures and it means that I will have to work at making images around Hanover.  I have already photographed some of the “noted” areas that others think of since they are on the main roads and that is why I have been, and will continue, looking for the unusual and mostly not seen areas.

I still have no idea as to whether to concentrate on details or the bigger picture; but if I wish to concentrate on details I will need a longer lens.  The problems are that longer Canon lenses are heavier, larger, and expensive if they are good fast lenses.  That means more compromises if I get a long Canon zoom lens and my gut reaction is that I have little interest in more compromises that will probably end up as wasted money.  I might just use my K-3 and 55 – 300 mm lens and shoot from close to the car so that I don’t have to carry it far.  If not that, I might use a micro 4/3 or one-inch system.

Not Alone

I haven’t just been using the Canon SL1 while I have been learning, and deciding, how to best use it.  For the above pictures I used my Pentax K-3 and made these images at a focal length of 300 mm, or effective 450 mm.  I am still concerned about not being able to take such images if I mainly use my prime 24 mm lens on the Canon SL1.  I have decided that I really don’t wish to carry the heavier K-3 and 55 – 300 mm zoom lens, but that I still would like to be able to make such pictures in the manner of the above.  My indecision is what to do about it.

I may give up long focal length photography or I might compromise and look for a lens to use on the SL1 that is lighter.  Another choice might be to use my micro 4/3 Olympus EPL-5 with a long lens.  For some reason, I keep “walking away” from my micro 4/3 imagery.  I liked using it for my most recent long-term project of photographing the model railroaders here at Homewood, but my primary outlet for those pictures will be a video/slide show made with shorter focal lengths.  My problem is that I would like a higher quality longer focal length lens.  I have been using my low-quality 40 – 150 mm f/4 – 5.6 lens.  If cost was not a concern, I could try the new Olympus E-M5 II and the Pro 40 – 150 mm lens; but I don’t wish to spend that much money for such limited use.

Another “discomfort” that I have, is switching back and forth between cameras with totally different control and menu set-ups.  That and the need for multiple lens collections for different systems is a drag on my photography and finances.  Resolving these issues requires owning just one system; but, which one?  I now have Pentax, Canon, and micro 4/3 systems.  I would prefer to use one.  Should I replace the non-Canons with another Canon DSLR with some longer lenses to supplement my SL1?

I would like to consider my next system as my last one … one that will serve my needs into the future.  I doubt that I am alone relative to this issue.  Does anyone out there have any recommendations?

Rainy Night

It was a cold dreary rainy night last night.  These are just a few images that I used to try some different adjustments on.  I am thinking about making more similar images this coming year.

These images, as well as the pictures of the sun in the previous post are part of what I call abstracts.  I refer to them as abstracts since they have been altered and are bits of what others might take a picture of.

Approaching Darkness

As winter approaches and I start wondering what I will find to publish throughout the winter, I start thinking about alternative ways to process pictures since I can sometimes republish old pictures finished differently.  Those of you who have followed me for a long time know that I sometimes slip into my “dark periods.”  I like dark pictures.  I recently took these images in our front yard just for working on a variation of one of my past techniques.

Just for Fun … No Tripod


This morning the moon was eclipsed by the earth’s shadow which created a “blood moon.”  Just for fun I attempted to get a picture of it while hand-holding my camera.  I cheated a little by leaning against the porch post which wasn’t a steady enough situation since I was shooting at ISO 6400 with a shutter speed of 0.8 sec. at a 300 mm focal length for this image.  This is one of the better images, but all suffered from camera motion.  My later images as it reached totality were taken with a 1 sec. shutter speed.  None of them were any good due to my inability to hold the camera steady enough.

Some of you are wondering … why didn’t I use a tripod?  I have one, but previous attempts at using it didn’t work much better since it isn’t sturdy enough for this camera and heavy, long lens.  Since I have little use for a tripod and don’t desire to spend the money for a heavier one, I haven’t gotten a better one; but I might since I really need it for these types of images.

Morning Contemplation Time


I took this picture yesterday morning as I was sitting in my computer chair and thinking about the tasks I have ahead of me.  I have volunteered to do some work for the Association here at Plum Creek and it will be taking a little bit more of my time.

In addition, I have been looking at the new cameras that were announced in Photokina 2014 … well I am allowed to dream occasionally.

And I still haven’t made the changes to my computer system such as moving files to an external drive, installing a new modem and new router, etc.  Some might say that I have been procrastinating, but I’m not sure that is the reason.  Sometimes as we get older we just don’t feel like everything has to be done “right now.”   Is that procrastination or is it wisdom that comes with old age?

I have also been having more trouble with my knees so I have been walking shorter distances and less often.  I have an appointment with the doctor to get an assessment of them.

In addition, thinking about my constant concern of what to do with my photography and blog has taken a lot of time.  Since some of my projects and photography for groups here have also been taking more of my time, the accumulated issues mentioned above might mean fewer pictures and fewer postings.

Another Reason for having a Pentax K-3


Another primary reason that I want to have the Pentax K-3 is to be able to get quick pictures of the unexpected flights of birds and ducks.  I took the above picture while walking for the first time with the K-3 and the 55 – 300 mm lens hanging from a sling strap.  It is heavier than I like, but I will just walk shorter distances and less often with it.  A few of our neighbors will be glad to see me walking with my camera again since they like to see my images of wildlife, etc.

I am still in the trial stage with the K-3, but I think I will keep it just to get a few shots like the above and for inclement weather photography this winter.  I can also use it for some of my photography for Homewood publications.  I would really need to get some wider, faster lenses for greater use indoors; but in the interim, I can use my Olympus E-PL5 with fast prime lenses for my indoor projects.

Starting a Shift in Cameras

I have been sorting through and testing various lenses and cameras as part of my decision process for determining how I am going to proceed with my photography.  One of the results was my finding that my new Pentax 55 – 300 mm lens back-focused and that the extra 100 mm over the 55 – 200 mm lens was not worth the increased weight and size, so I returned it.

Another result was finding that I like flower pictures made with my X-E1 camera and the 18 – 55 mm zoom lens.  I have always used my Pentax long lenses for these kinds of images in the past.  I doubt that will be the case going forward.

Another finding was that the Fuji 18 – 55 mm zoom lens suits me better under some conditions than I had assumed.  I had thought that I would use the prime lenses and not the zoom but the zoom is really good and it has image stabilization.  My only problem is the larger size and weight.  It puts more pressure on my thumbs while using it, but I might be able to alleviate it some by obtaining the add-on hand grip.