Feb 18, 2021

Gear and More Gear

I’ve spent the past month thinking a lot about gear. 

Lenses: 

When I bought the Sony a99 it didn’t dawn on me right away that my Tamron 17-50 was meant for APS-C and that I would need another wide angle zoom for the full frame.  There are a few great lenses out there in Sony A-mount, but in most of the online reviews it seemed like they were all pretty close in performance.  So, I ended up purchasing a used Sony 28-75 f 2.8, nothing fancy, but most of the reviews said it was close to the top end performance at half the price and comparable to their Zeiss version and Tamron’s SP 28-75.

But it got me thinking a lot about lenses.  Which led me down a rabbit hole of thinking about the lenses I already own and whether or not to start upgrading them.  I even went so far as to do my own little in-house test shots and also going back through my LR catalog from the past year and looking to see if I could see any patterns of which lenses I preferred. 

The in-house tests were pretty surprising! One of the strangest things I discovered was that I owned a lens that was pretty sharp and produced a good quality image…and yet, I had never even taken a photo with it until I did the test!  It was an old Minolta 35-70 that came with a film camera I bought.  It feels cheap, lots of plastic, and so I just never even bothered with it.  It was so surprising that I did a bit of googling and read some reviews and it turned out that others felt the same way about the lens…very good image quality for a lens that you can pick up for about $15 on CL.

What I discovered when going through my LR catalog was that the lenses aren’t the thing that holds me back.  Just skills and persistence.  There was only one photo that I thought, “Hmm, wish I would have used a better lens.”

Packs:

I enjoy hiking with a camera pack.  I currently use a Lowepro Flipside 400 AW and a Lowepro Fastpack 250 AWII.  Both have worked very well for me.  But, while I enjoy hiking, the reality is that I love riding bikes more.  However, trying to figure out how to carry gear around on a bike hasn’t been easy.  I’ve got a few setups that sort of work.  I have a frame pack for my gravel bike that sort of works, but limits access to H2O bottles.  And I have a funky pack from KATA that I think is supposed to be worn so that the pack is at your chest and gives great access while walking or hiking.  But, I flip mine around while riding and wear it on my back and with a quick unclip it slides to the front so I can get the camera.  But neither of these have worked extremely well. 

In trying to find something better, I ended up picking up two more packs and I’ll see how they work.  The first was the Lowepro Photo Active 200 AW.  A cool, light backpack that might work when I am out for short rides and want to carry a bit more gear (16 liters) than what I have been using, but still be mobile enough to hop a log.  The other pack I picked up was the Osprey Raptor 14.  This will be my new hydration pack for mountain bike rides.  Bigger than what I have been using (Camelback Lobo) with plenty of room for the NEX5 or the a6000 and a pancake lens or even something a little bigger.

So, now, no more thinking about gear!  Until tomorrow when I realize there is something else missing in my kit.

The rose below was snapped with the Sony a6000 with a passive adapter and the Minolta 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5.  Two of the chess piece photos were shot with the Sony a99 and the Sony 28-75mm f/2.8  The image of the chess piece that is a bit closer and in portrait was shot with the Sony a99 and the Minolta 28-85mm macro f/3.5-4.5