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Symptoms Of GAS


Dallas

It’s almost like I could hear it’s heart beating from miles away. A slow, steady rhythm drawing me closer and closer. It wanted to seduce me with its svelte outline and cool, irresistible metallic finish. 

 

I had no idea it was there, but something inside me (or maybe outside of me) was being pulled towards the electronics goods shop, where a few years ago I had purchased not just one, but three Panasonic Micro Four Thirds lenses for my new little camera system. It must have been a sixth sense of sorts drawing me there this past Saturday. 

 

I walked into the shop specifically to ask a question about whether the proprietors were going to be getting the new range of Panasonic MFT lenses in, seeing as Panasonic has decided to start redistributing their photography products in South Africa again and this particular shop has traditionally always carried their stuff. I was particularly interested in the new Leica designed 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ultra wide angle lens. With the increase in the amount of real estate photography I am doing, it would be nice to have a top end lens to do this sort of work instead of the mid level one I have been using. It’s a confidence thing, you know. 

 

Bootie manages the Pavilion branch of Govan Mani (the shop I was in) and he was busy checking his computer for a Panasonic price list when I looked up at the glass cabinet behind him and almost swallowed my tongue on the spot. There on the top shelf were four brand new Panasonic lenses and one of them was the very one I was asking about! Providence for me to enter the store and make such a discovery? More like The Last Temptation Of Dallas, a man crippled with financially debilitating photographic GAS for almost 20 years! 

 

The moment I held this 8-18mm lens in my hands the first thing that flashed through my mind was that in spite of its chunky, metal appearance, it was actually very light. It looks way heavier than it feels. The metallic finish is exquisite and very Leica-like. The zoom ring turns as smoothly as pate spreads across a canapé. When you touch the finish there’s no tell-tale sign of finger prints left behind at all. I knew then that resistance of such allure was going to be nigh impossible. Oh Lord. What have I done by coming in here, I thought as I immediately contemplated extended overdrafts and accessing whatever equity I might have in the studio equipment I no longer use and might be able to sell to make up the rather large number required to acquire this beautiful lens? 

 

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you view the situation from a slightly different perspective), the Panasonic camera they had in the store didn’t have a charged battery in it, so I wan’t able to see the lens in action. Bootie invited me to bring my own camera in any time to conduct an examination of this lens’ charms on a working camera. It’s an invitation that has been disturbing my sleep patterns since Saturday. 

 

There’s nothing wrong with the Olympus 9-18mm that I have been very happy with since I got it in 2012, but you know us photographers, if there is something even remotely better than what we have, well… the GAS becomes irrepressible. And I have been feeling it building up since the weekend. Something’s got to give! 

 

But why do we lust after these things the way we do? Do we somehow believe that by possessing them we will be magically endowed with better photography skills? Experience of my own splurges into gear I couldn’t afford, as well as years spent observing the photos of those who can afford it, seems to suggest that the answer is an obvious no. It certainly doesn’t improve your photography much at all. So why do we do it? Why do we crave upgrades and why do we spend so much time obsessing over the gear we think we absolutely can’t live without? 

 

I don’t really know. I wish I did but I don’t. There’s possibly a psychiatrist or two out there who does know the answer but they will likely charge me more than the cost of the gear I lust after to provide an answer, so logically speaking… I suppose it will be cheaper to succumb to the GAS than getting therapy for it. 

 

Anyway, getting back to the lens in question; 

 

From what I have read online by a variety of reviewers (some of whom are actually photographers), the Panasonic/Leica 8-18mm lens is very good, but it also suffers from the same problem that most ultra-wide angle lenses do, namely flare when pointed in the direction of a bright light source. If there is one thing that prevented me from buying the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO that was it. The flare was something that would cause me a problem in most shooting situations and if you know how much I hate editing photos, you’ll know that anything that causes me to do more editing than is ordinarily required is going to be frowned upon. 

 

The 8-18mm apparently has better flare resistance than most other wide angle lenses because of the “nano coating” that it has on the elements. Sounds like snake oil, doesn’t it? That said, if there is any truth to the matter, then the lens becomes something that will actually improve my photography if I don’t have to worry about losing contrast in photos where I have a broad range of brightness in the scene (i.e. real estate interiors) and there are fewer element ghosts to worry about cloning out. The 9-18mm Olympus I have doesn’t do too poorly in this situation, actually it does a lot better than the supposedly superior 7-14mm PRO lens does where flare is concerned, but where it falls short of gaining the all important Fotozones Stamp Of Outright Approval (10/10 in any review I do) is its handling of barrel distortion at 9mm. And I suppose it could be a tiny bit sharper too. It certainly isn’t soft though, don’t get me wrong. Far from it. 

 

This is a developing story. Stay close to find out if I am able to resist the GAS or succumb to it! Did I mention that they also have the 45mm 1.2 Nocticron sitting right next to the 8-18mm? Let's not even go there... 



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The saying "resistance is futile" leaps to mind!

 

The only thing you can do is burn rubber to the shop and then you know the drill!

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I really am genuinely worried about you Dallas. LOL

 

In thinking about whether a psychiatrist may be of help to you, I sadly recall that many of my fellow university students that went on to become medical doctors, including psychiatrists and clinical pschologists (or are they clinical psychotics now days?), have likewise succumbed with quite a few of them suffering from highly advanced forms of photographic GAS and in my expert opinion are well beyond salavation - for they have terminal GAS!  So I really am genuinely worried about them as well.

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Hi Dallas, 

 

as you may know I own this lens. It took me some time to get used to this lens, it's a variable aperture lens (not my favorite, I prefer fast fixed aperture lenses) and being a true wide-angle the extreme corners especially at close range (perhaps due to wide-angle specific field curvature?) are not as sharp as my favorite zoom the Olympus 12-40mm. However, for a wide angle it's very good and arguably the best for the M43 system. Would it be possible for you to borrow the lens from the shop for a critical test run to see if it fits the bill for your primary use?

 

The set with my 8-18mm images on Flickr is available at this link Panasonic 8-18mm images

 

A few samples

40994157341_24ea0da605_b.jpg

 

40952558932_1fe48db0d1_b.jpg

 

40969735091_98c4e3a48b_b.jpg

 

39885440574_cdd5e0e00b_b.jpg

 

38786198590_4acef9d3f2_b.jpg

 

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I had actually forgotten that you had this one, Luc (see, you need to post here more often :)).

 

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    • By Dallas
      Last week I was pretty busy with photographing Real Estate listings. I think I ended up doing 8 for the week. Some were great, some were just awful, so I am thinking of changing my official title from “Property Photographer” to “Turd Polisher”, because that is a very appropriate description of what I am doing when editing some of my work. 
       
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      Google Earth 3D view of the city, looking south west. The harbour mouth was once an estuary and the entire point area is actually a giant sandbar. On the horizon you can see the Drakensberg mountains. 
       
      Since I’ve been alive and living here (50 years now), it’s been an ongoing battle. Sometime in the early 1980’s the city engaged the services of an overseas company who came up with the brilliant idea of taking the sand normally dredged from the harbor mouth and pumping it onto the beaches with water via massive 2m diameter pipes. As kids we watched this operation unfold with fascination and were astonished to see the beach grow from it’s usual width of (roughly) 50-100m to more than triple that in places. It was a huge success and the city then built its own, somewhat smaller, but permanent sand pumping system to maintain the shoreline. 
       
      Sadly, as with most infrastructural systems that had been put in place by the previous regime, it fell into disrepair after the transition to democracy and only the southernmost central beaches were having their sand replenished a few times a year, while the more central and northern beaches were literally disappearing from the coastal scour that affects them. This year it reached crisis point and finally lit a fire under the new city management’s collective behinds to take emergency action. 
       

      The structure you see being eroded was actually once a pump house for the original reclamation scheme. Ironic that it is now becoming a casualty of the thing it was designed to protect us from. 
       
      On my walk this morning I see that they are doing it slightly differently this time around. Instead of pumping it from the harbor mouth and spraying it towards the ocean, the sand appears to be getting pumped from a point about 300m from the shore directly onto the beach into huge mounds which are then being bulldozed flat. Honestly, I don’t think this is going to work very well and it certainly doesn’t make much sense from an economic point of view to have these big diggers and dozers running all day, taking sand from where it is being deposited and manually moving it across the beach when all they have to do is point the outlet towards the sea, pump the sand in that direction and just leave it there. That’s how they did it in the 80’s and it worked perfectly for a long time. 
       

       

       

      Bulldozers in action.
       

      Not a great pic, but this is the floating connection point for where the dredger drops off the sand to be pumped onto the main beach. 
       

       

       

       

       
      These are all iPhone pics of the current operation, taken using the Lightroom CC app. 
       
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      View full article
    • By Dallas
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      Are you kidding me? 
       
      Nope. That’s the way it works now. 
       
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      If this change is also annoying or interfering with your workflow please follow this link to add your voice to the chorus calling for this to be turned off or at least provided as an option (it's currently "under consideration" by Adobe). 

      View full article
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