Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Color "Pants Left in Wash"

(Title of post is from an Eddie Izzard routine where he talks about laundry.)

I wear enough red clothing that reds get their own load. Pity the poor white article that gets accidentally swept into that pile! One particular expensive t-shirt was abused in just that manner, oh, many years ago. I kept it around, not sure how to remedy the pale pinks and splotchy reds now decorating the whole of it.

Technology has advanced, and now they sell small packets of dry chemicals to remove evidence of this particular moment of stupidity. I tried out Carbona's color run remover on the shirt. After soaking for about an hour, most of the shirt was whiter than when I bought it. The commercially applied graphic was not harmed at all. There is a small splotch of very light pink where the darkest red splotch used to be, but you have to know it is there to see it. (I think the chemicals in one packet were exhausted by removing the rest of the color, and didn't have enough strength to take care of the last portion.)

The next time I was in Hancock Fabrics, I bought another box to keep on hand. I've also been very annoying telling my friends about this in person, so I figured I'd put it up here and tell all of you at once. Please do make sure the colors you want to keep are colorfast, or you'll have the experience of the upset Amazon reviewers who are blaming the product for ruining their stuff. Sigh... - only one entire panel of the box is dedicated to warning you against using it where it would damage the garment!

Monday, May 3, 2010

New Lens?

Now that I have basically the nicest camera I can imagine, I've been working on upgrading my lens collection. In late November of last year, I bought a Konica Minolta 28-75 f/2.8 lens, used, from eBay. It is my absolute favorite lens ever, and I love having the constant f/2.8 aperture. The focusing is fast, and the only thing it is missing is macro capability. In most situations, this is the only lens I use.

My wider angle needs are covered by a Vivitar 19-35 f/3.5-4.5.

My candid very-low-light shots are handled by a "vintage" (thanks, Barb + Nik!) Minolta 50mm f/1.7 prime lens.

The hole in my arsenal is at the telephoto end. I've got a Minolta 75-300 f/4.5-5.6 (known as the Big Beercan style lens) that I also bought used from eBay but has MAJOR problems.
For example, it can't change apertures anymore and I think the AF motor has a short circuit inside the lens, so it is manual focus only.

I've got a Quantaray 75-300 f/4-5.6 that I bought used from a local guy, for $30, which is functional but not very good. I can tell from the shots of the Lens Align focus targets that it just can't resolve fine detail very well.

In the middle of March, for the special occasion of D&R's wedding, I rented a lens to cover this hole from I had a good experience with the site, and would recommend them to you if you need this sort of a thing. For $62.25 they shipped me a fully-insured Sony 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 G SSM to use for nearly a week. (A four day rental ordered on Monday to receive on Thursday actually arrived on Wednesday and they didn't want it shipped back until the next Tuesday because they don't consider the rental period to start until the first full day of use that you scheduled. Sure, I'll take it. All of this UPS-ing back and forth was included in the price.) It is supposed to be a very nice lens, and retails for $850. I thought I'd love it.

Eh, not really.

I used it at the St. Louis Zoo, and wasn't floored with the experience. I ended up not using it at the wedding at all, partially because quarters were so close, but mostly because it wasn't fast enough. (As in aperture size, not focusing speed. It focused very quickly.) The previously mentioned favorite lens took care of almost the whole event, excepting a few wide angle shots of the venue.
(The ducky shot above was taken with the Konica Minolta lens.) I was glad I had just rented, rather than buying, an expensive lens I ended up being less than thrilled with.

Now we come to the point of this post. I recently learned that a patent I am primary author on was issued! We get some $ as a reward for IP disclosures, and more $ when the patent is issued. I like to do something significant and optics-related with these bonuses. The first patent I got, I put the money towards buying a lifetime membership in SPIE.

I am considering getting a nice telephoto zoom lens this time. Specifically, the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 Macro which is also about $800 but does have the f/2.8, does have Macro, and is getting very good reviews. On paper, I'll love it. But, I'm wondering if I should rent it first, to be sure? That would be $84, insured, for another four day rental. If I don't like it, I send it back and keep looking for my knight in shining armor. But if I end up buying it anyway that adds 10% to the cost of the lens for the risk-reduction exercise. What do you think?

(P.S. If you know who I am in real life, please do not comment on WHICH patent I got on this blog. I don't need the Internet to know my full name, etc. Not that facebook gives a rip anymore...)


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