Monday, November 24, 2008

Fateful Steps

It was a weekend of continuing down neverending paths. This will be of no interest to anyone - you've been warned.

Saturday - My friend came over and we went camera shopping. Her Nikon D40x succumbed to gravitational persuasion and no longer worked quite right. Underexposed images do not a happy photographer make. So needing a new camera, we spent most of Friday night researching technology and determining what other accoutrements might be desired. Lower prices printed out and in hand, we ventured to our "regular" camera store. I'll pimp it here - Downtown Camera. It's a block west of the much more popular and well-known Henry's here in Toronto, and I like it more.

We strolled in, wandered to the Nikon section, and started the retail conversation that ensues when one is looking to drop several hundred dollars on a purchase. First, the broken camera came out for a repair estimate. Rough guess? "Very expensive to fix." Alright, I'll keep an eye out for a busted D40x and scavenge parts in the future. Next came the old film SLR out, with the purpose of seeing if the cheap lens on it was worth anything. Verdict - token value only for the camera and lens - $50. Sold. Of course, that token value came with a caveat - we must buy something. Well of course!

"I want the D80." Okay. D80 comes out, one of their last 3 (and possibly the last 3 in the city - discontinued lines are fun). It's $10 cheaper than anywhere else, which is a bit of a surprise, considering their site lists it at $40 more than the store. Well then, how about a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 1:1 macro lens too? "This is a GREAT lens" says the other salesman behind the counter, who then goes on to extol its virtues and pull out poster-sized sample photos. Yes, we know it's great, that's why it's being bought. Ah, but your price is ridiculous! Why, Camera Canada has it for $83 less than you! "Wow, I don't know how they can sell it so low. What's the shipping?" "$12." "Give me a moment." He returns, willing to do $60 lower than their sticker price. Done.

Then came the flash. SB600 for the Nikon. Nice flash. I'm jealous now.

But we aren't done yet. No, I didn't come solely to offer moral and technical support or bargaining skills, I came to buy! I had them pull me down a Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro for my camera. No discount is offered. I ask about comparisons to the Tamron, he suggests the Canon still. I'd already decided on the Canon from research and paid the $70 premium over the now-discounted Tamron. Perhaps not the wisest economic decision I've made, but I regret nothing.

The following hours were spent taking dozens of pictures of cats and tiny things around my condo. I love my new lens. I'll undoubtedly post pictures soon.

Next lens on the list - Canon 50mm f/1.4 so I can get some decent night shots and really blur that background. That will be a Christmas request.

Photography can be expensive. I'm so glad it's a digital age now, as film increases that cost tremendously.

Soon enough though, we had to leave for the Food & Wine expo. A stop for dinner first. Osso Bucco, where have you been all my life? Oh, over there? I just wasn't paying attention? I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I'll never ignore you again. Then we cabbed it through Leafs traffic, expo traffic, and made it to the show. Skip the line to pick up preordered tickets and then wait for the doors to open for our Tutored Tasting. The Szabos introduced us to some "cutting edge" wines. Spain, Prince Edward Country, France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, and Israel? Well, not necessarily the most cutting edge countries, but the wines were intriguing. An Israeli Pinot Noir that was FULL of flavours you don't find in a Pinot. An Ontario wine that smelled like dirt and tasted like limestone (but not necessarily in a bad way). Wine that smelled like daisies; a white that felt like a red; the 8 we had were all unique. A worthwhile 2 hours for sure.

But that left us but an hour to hit the floor. We rushed through, stopping to taste the most expensive options we could find. Nothing really stood out until we hit the high-end section (think the high rollers lounge). $24 in sample tickets gone on 4 glasses - two Barolos (which should have cost $16, but instead got two half-samples for $8), a Senit, and a 100% Chardonnay sparkling white. All quite good... I think.

The problem with the rush was that I don't actually recall which wines were which, and didn't have time to take notes. Kind of a shame. Not as much as the Kobe burgers being turned into Kobe hot dogs this year. That's a bad beat.

But the spicy antipasto was fantastic.

That was Saturday. Hundreds on camera stuff, dozens on wine tastings which will doubtlessly turn into hundreds on wine.

Sunday - Up and out for a walk. Brunch with a crappy waitress, and then food shopping. Well.. tea, spice, and cheese shopping. The best Matcha tea I've ever had (admittedly, I have only had about 3 or 4) is now in my posession at the low price of $18 for 35g. Yah, that might be a bit extravagant. Now in the drawer of a thousand teas.

Spices - Marash pepper (I MEANT to get aleppo, but forgot), cumin, and ground orange peel. Plus a replacement pepper mill for my recently busted Trudeau. I expect great things from my tiny $25 Fountainebleu Peugeot mill. My spice collection continues to grow unabated.

Cheese - Really, I was just going to top off my supply of English Applewood smoked cheddar. I did. Oh, and got some melt-in-your-mouth German buttercheese, and some hot chili jack.

I made it home from there without spending any more money on stuff, despite walking past a liquor store.

See? I start down these paths - cameras, teas, spices, cheeses... and keep on going endlessly. Wait until I start talking about my A/V setup changes. PS3 for Blu-ray, new receiver/amp, and probably a new TV down the line as well. Just doing what I can to stimulate the economy.

Oh, and broke even on poker last night.


VinNay said...

Why didn't you look at the Sigma 105mm Macro? I think it performs better than the Tamron and it costs the same. The Tamron exhibits some ghosting and the I have had some issues with field depth. Sigma seemed better in my opinion.

Astin said...

Tamron rates higher for 3rd party macro lenses from what I've seen. The DI version supposedly takes care of reflection and ghosting issues found in digital. Plus, the sigma would have been $60 more. Overall, the Tamron seemed a better bet.

I went with the Canon 100mm for mine ($10 more than the Sigma) since it's got USM, better autofocus, and less flare (just barely).

My everyday walking-around lens is a Sigma 18-200mm OS, which I like a lot. I was surprised that the Tamron was so highly-rated and loved.

VinNay said...

I don't know much about Canon (I'm I Nikon guy), but for macro work, autofocus should be irrelevant. Are you really using the autofocus to take shots? The depth of field is really small in macro work, and focusing should be done with a rail.

The only reason I didn't get the Nikon VR Macro is because it didn't make sense to me to pay lots extra for an autofocus that will never be used.

As for the DI version of the tamron, I'll check it out.

Astin said...

Oh, for sure macro is done with a fixed magnification, but the lens also works nicely for portrait (especially the 90mm, 100mm is a bit tougher) and other uses at a distance. The fast autofocus is key for anything that could be moving in those shots. Right now, the 2.8 makes this my fastest lens until I get the 1.4, so it will see a fair bit of non-macro use.

Yah, same reason my friend said no to the Nikon, the price differential was insane from the Tamron.