Today was the first day in quite a while that I could take a walk around more than a short block without the certainty that the skies would open and drench me. (I almost took the chance yesterday and was lucky I didn't.)
I took my *ist-DL and just about all my lenses with me (where is
my 55mm f1.7 standard Pentax lens?). Thank God for Tilley's Vest of Many Pockets (or VOMP). Aside from one short interval where I switched to the Sigma kit lens that came with the camera, I mostly used my 70-210 manual-focus lens. It goes without saying that because this thing was designed for a film camera, the effective focal length is more like a 105-315mm zoom.
Now I've played around with it a bit on a stationary target, so to speak, but how would it go on an extended field test shooting multiple different things at various focal lengths? More importantly, how would I
go after years away from manual focus lenses?
The result was not actually bad, and some of what happened was enlightening. Even with the ISO dialled right down to 200 (as low as the camera will go), the first few shots were clearly overexposed when I zoomed in on the preview screen. So I dialled the exposure compensation down a stop and a half, which took me down to ISO 80 or so. That seemed about right, as far as I could tell, so I left it at that.
"As far as I could tell" brought me onto an other interesting problem, about which camera reviewers on YouTube complain, which is the difficulty of seeing the preview screen in bright ambient light. This really
is a problem, and for some compact digitals it allegedly seriously impairs the ability of the user to frame the shot properly or judge the adequacy of the one they've just taken (and after today, I believe it).
This left me in a very interesting position; namely, exactly where I used to be when I was shooting my film SLRs back in the day and didn't know what I was going to get until after the shoot was complete and I had gone home. Of course this time I had two advantages - I had almost limitless shots available (over a thousand, on two SD cards) and the time between finishing the picture-taking and being able to review the results was very much foreshortened (I stopped at the local Tim Horton's for an iced lemonade and, being indoors, was able to examine the outbound shots free of the glare problem). And although I couldn't examine the shots in detail in the field, I could at least zoom in on the previews and know that I was close to a decent exposure.
On the way home, the sunny day came to something of an end. Things are now very different to how they were this afternoon, when I was shooting Canso waterbombers against a generally blue sky, and now we have this:
I finished with the EV meter almost back at 0.0 again. Before I dialled it down, some of the brighter colours (reds and yellows) were very vibrant, practically fluorescent. When the walk was done, I'd have had to dial over
exposure to get that result.
The lens performed well, for the most part. I had the camera set to aperture priority, primarily for depth of field control, and the other reason I had to cripple things down to an effective ISO of 80 was that it was so
bright I had problems opening things up for narrow DOF. When I say 'for the most part', what I mean is that most of the best shots were taken at the shorter focal lengths. By the time I was out at 210, they were somewhat fuzzier. I'm not sure whether this was the deliberate compromise of the designers or a general function of how non-proprietary long focus zooms behave, and I didn't have my tripod with me to go for a slow, stopped-down shot.
The performace at the 70mm end, however, is nothing short of outstanding. At 70mm it's close to being my best lens. It's also half a stop faster at the long end than my 18-250 do-everything AF lens (5.6 vs. 6.3), which might or might not be worth the extra 40mm.
If I ever find that Prime lens, I'll take that out for a play. That will definitely not
be a lens for a bright day, unless at very fast shutter speeds and small apertures. Or with the EV turned all the way down, which ought to put me around an ISO or ASA of 25.