What You Should Know Before Buying a 135mm Lens

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The 135mm lens is a magical wonder for many photographers. It’s a long lens: arguably the longest practical portrait lens. In the past, many photographers loved the lens for more than just portraits. It’s a great candid lens; you can be far from a subject before being noticed. And if you’re a certain type of photographer, it might never leave your camera. The 135mm lens has lots of desirable qualities about it, but before you make the commitment, let’s go over a few things.

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How to Buy Used and Refurbished Cameras and Lenses

Sometimes buying renewed or refurbished cameras and lenses is better than buying them new.

“But it’s so expensive,” is what everyone says when a new camera or lens goes on sale. And so I’d like to welcome you to the world of photography that Leica users have known for years. There is a massive benefit to the used and refurbished market for this reason. Don’t want to pay $3,000 for that new Sony lens? Do you think the Canon R5 is way too much money? Well, focusing on the original price point, I think, is sometimes excessive. It gets in the way of having that new camera or lens. The truth is that people are switching systems all the time, so you can always get a camera or lens at a lower price on the second-hand market. And in the case of refurbished cameras and lenses, sometimes they’re in fantastic condition.

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The Inevitable Rise of the 2nd Hand Market for Cameras

I never thought I’d see the day where it’s sometimes less expensive to buy a new camera.

COVID-19 caused something bizarre to happen to the photo market. There’s actually a giant mess of things that happened, and I don’t think that COVID-19 is the only factor. But, it’s caused major issues with low stock supply. People want cameras and lenses, but they’re very hard to get right now. That’s caused second-hand market pricing to go up a bit, and in some cases made the second-hand market more expensive than buying new.

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Know Yourself: How to Buy Your First Real Camera

If you’re buying your first real camera, then ask yourself these questions.

How does one buy a camera these days? Do you still even care about megapixels? These are essential questions for any budding photographer. Of course, there are tons of professional features. But most people who buy cameras these days are hobbyists. And those hobbyists care about the things that pros get simply because they want them. They don’t need them. In fact, you don’t even need a real camera–but you buy one because it’s your passion. So if you’re considering buying a new camera, then check out these questions you should ask yourself.

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Don’t Stress About Buying The Right Camera Lenses; Just Buy Them All

camera lenses

The used markets are your friend when it comes to buying camera lenses.

Buying new camera lenses is a big deal. New camera lenses aren’t cheap, and no matter how much research you do, or how many reviews you read or watch online, handing over your hard earned money can be tough. There will always be that nagging voice in your head that asks ‘is this what I really want?’ ‘Are you sure this is the one?’ ‘WOW that’s a lot of money’. How in the world are you supposed to be able to try out all the toys when everything is so expensive? The answer to this dilemma are the used and second hand markets. Continue reading…

The Truth About Rangefinder Cameras That No One Else Will Tell You (Premium)

Rangefinder cameras are hot; they’ve gone through a period of glory, then spent time in the darkness, then returned, and now they’ve returned again in one of the biggest ways. The type of camera typically associated with Leica and used as an icon for loads of different graphics is indeed something that most folks would want. Though if you’ve never considered one, then you probably may not know where to start or you may have gotten one or two things wrong. Take some advice from someone whose screwed it up a number of times now.

Who Needs a Rangefinder

In some circles of photographers, the obvious answer to the question of who needs a rangefinder are the same photographers who need a hole in their head. But the world’s enthusiast photographers have grown exponentially over the years and so I’m going to be incredibly honest here: no one needs a rangefinder. Like this publication in some ways, it’s an addendum to what you have. It isn’t necessary, but it’s a niche that can be satiated in the right ways.

Rangefinder cameras offer an advantage over a number of others out there though with their low profile looks. They let a photographer be able to see what’s going to move into the frame and they also make zone focusing and getting a subject/scene perfectly in focus very simple. In the hands of a skilled photographer, a rangefinder can focus faster than any autofocus camera system out there. Street photographers and documentary photographers typically use rangefinders in the 35mm format. But in medium format, it’s typically used amongst not only these photographers but also portrait shooters.

What is a Rangefinder

Rangefinder cameras work in a very different way from SLRs and mirrorless cameras; but in some ways they’re a combination of both. Rangefinders are mirrorless–so that mirror and pentaprism is surely removed. They work in a fairly complicated way that can require maintenance, but we’ll get further into how they work in just a bit.

They take smaller lenses than DSLRs and SLRs, are smaller, lighter, and often quieter. Where an SLR will have a big, heavy, mirror slap a mirrorless rangefinder will have a quick, fairly quiet shutter. It’s tough to get blur in your shot with all the conditions are otherwise ideal.

How do they work?

Rangefinder cameras use what’s called a rangefinder mechanism. Colloquially speaking, rangefinder cameras are any camera with a focusing mechanism built into it. But over the years, that term has evolved. For a number of years, rangefinders and viewfinders were separate on cameras. A photographer would frame with one finder and focus with the other. But these days, they’re combined. They’re not through the lens, so you won’t be able to figure out how to use them and focus them that way. Instead, there is a picture in picture and you essentially need to line up the frames.

If you’ve got a Fujifilm X100 series camera that is modern, then you’ll have this option with the EVF/OVF hybrid.

Rangefinders, like SLRs can be big and bright, or small and very dark. The bigger the rangefinder and therefore the rangefinder mechanism, the brighter it will be to focus. If you’ve got bad eyes, then you need a big, bright rangefinder. Otherwise, good luck. My Leica CL next to me focused very clearly and easily outdoors and with a lot of natural light around. But in my aunt’s dark basement, it’s tougher. A Leica M4-P or a Leica M6 won’t have that problem though due to not only the viewfinder but also the magnification for that viewfinder.

Why get a rangefinder?

So why would you even consider getting a rangefinder? Well, they make you think and shoot in a totally different way. You essentially stop your lens down and focus away to a certain distance. Your lens will tell you just how much of that scene is in focus. For example, if you’re stopped down to f5.6 with a 35mm lens and focused to around six feet away, you’ll probably get anything from seven feet to five and a half feet in focus depending on the imaging format.

You can do this easily with an SLR or a mirrorless digital camera, but the accuracy can be better assured (arguably) with a rangefinder. Plus, since you’re manually focusing you don’t need to rely on a machine to do the work for you. This can sometimes ensure that you get more keeper shots as long as you pre-plan for the image making process. That’s what shooting a rangefinder is really about.

Don’t Go Cheap

I’ve own the Yashica GSN Electro 35mm, Canonet QL17, Leica CL, Leica M4-P, Mamiya 6, and the Fujifilm GW690 III. When working with a rangefinder, I strongly suggest not going cheap. While that may sound like something that is a bit more consumerist in opinion, I think that paying the extra money for a good, clean rangefinder and/or a bigger camera with a brighter rangefinder is worth every extra cent.

Oh, and don’t ignore getting a good CLA. A CLA is a cleaning, lube, adjustment. It recalibrates the rangefinder into being in tip top shape. You should probably get one a year. But if you get it, your rangefinder is going to work very efficiently over time.

Interchangeable Lens or Fixed Lens

Now here’s what I get really, really strong feelings about owning a rangefinder camera. If you don’t need an interchangeable lens camera, then don’t get one. That’s it. Lots of people like it because it makes them feel better about their purchase. But if you’re a 50mm type of person, then stick with 50mm. If you’re a 35mm person, then swear by that. But if you want a true variety of focal lengths (mostly primes is what you’re getting with a rangefinder) then go ILC.

There are a number of great fixed lens rangefinders in the same way that there are fantastic ILC rangefinders.

This Chart Will Answer Whether or Not You Should Buy That New Lens

If you’re considering buying a new lens, here’s your answer

Photography is of course an expensive hobby; but you always do need just one more lens. Lenses are a million times more important than cameras and are sometimes worth even more. They surely hold their value; and this cheeky infographic will help you out in your purchasing decisions. You see, the holidays are coming around and when it comes to getting new gear, there are always complications of some sort. If you’re a professional photographer, then most of the time it can be expensed within reason. But if you’re not a professional, then sometimes it can be more complicated unless you’ve got money sweating from your skin. Of course, there are always discounts, rebates, etc.

And let’s be honest, sometimes nothing is better than getting a new prime lens and experiencing the sweet, glorious bokeh you get from it. With all this said, let this special infographic help you to get exactly what you need.

PS: We should probably let you know that there are a ton of new lenses available on discount over at Amazon.

H/T: Thanks Dragos!

Inside the Mind of a Camera Restoration Genius

Brownie Reflex 20-1959-X3

All images by Douglas Bailey. Used with permission

Photographer Douglas Bailey is not only a photographer, but he’s a collector and a special type of reseller. Like many of us, Doug went through a particular inspirational dry spell that lead him to exploring new things. He discovered the analog world and fell deeply in love with it. “Shooting film causes you to slow down, shoot less, think more about composition because you know every time you push that shutter you’ve just spent real money.” says Douglas. “And there is that edge of excitement not knowing if you got anything worth keeping for days until you get your processed film back.”

Doug’s love of analog cameras turned into a special type of gear acquisition syndrome. He collected cameras, restored them, and eventually found himself with too many. So he started selling a couple. Then he would use the investments to buy new cameras, fix those up, and resell after playing with them for a while.

The story of how Doug found his inspiration in the analog world and how he restores his cameras is after the jump.

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Let Logic Guide Your Gear Purchases

Picking new photography gear can be an emotional experience–especially if there’s almost always a photographer you really admire who used a particular camera or lens to create an image you love. If you want to grow as a photographer, it may seem as if all the ads and reviews out there label you to fail if you don’t own what’s advertised. This is the point where you have to step back and let logic take over. This will help you avoid obtaining that which you do not really need.

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Should You Consider Secondhand Photography Gear?

Back in the dim dark ages otherwise known as the 20th century, I bought a lot of second-hand camera gear. New gear was expensive and I preferred to spend my meager income on film and processing rather than equipment. I also convinced myself a camera was a dark box to hold film and a good lens was a good lens, regardless if someone had used it before me.

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DSLR Buyers Guide, Winter 2010

It’s been an innovative year for the photography world. This winter, there are more available options than ever for creativity-inspiring cameras, lenses, and accessories. In this entry, we’ll take a look at some great cameras in five categories, Full Frame 35mm, Cropped 35mm, Micro Four Thirds, Mirrorless 35mm, and Digital 645. You’ll also find links to recent reviews and comparisons and, as always, purchases made through links on our pages support the growing staff at the Phoblographer! Read on for the best DSLRs of 2010. Continue reading…

Know Yourself: How to Choose a Point and Shoot

Maria Sharapova and her Canon Powershot Diamond Collection

We’re in a recession, so consumers (and photographers) naturally have to rely upon themselves to make smarter financial decisions. This can be tough, especially when choosing a camera. You probably have a camera right now and are not happy with it or you’ve got the money for one and are looking to make a purchase without breaking the bank. Throw what you know about megapixels, zooms, features, colors and compactness out the window right now. It’s time to know how to ensure that you’ll be satisfied with your purchase for a long time.

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