Perhaps a bit of red, white and blue is a good way to start this post on Memorial Day. I shot this last week as I explored a few antique stores around Austin. My mission was two-fold. I was casually looking for interesting cameras to add to my collection and the dense assemblage of kitsch would make curious subjects for the new Olympus 7-14mm super-wide angle lens.
It’s rare for me to visit antique stores nowadays though I did frequent them as a kid in New York, back when I collected coins. Though my house tends to be modern, fairly minimal and devoid of antiques, I have a certain interest in old things. Maybe I’m getting more nostalgic as I grow older or it’s the appreciation of robust objects that weren’t simply tossed out when they broke.
I’ve bought a couple of classic film cameras this year, and have even shot them, though I have yet to blog about them. Both are beautifully made solid metal works of art, that happily still work. They are decorative pieces that I can use when I want to challenge myself with film. I was looking for more.
Conversely, I was hoping to find crappy but noteworthy plastic cameras from the 80s or 90s — the ones with prime lenses. These have very little aesthetic value but if cheap enough, they might be fun to shoot.
I visited three places, one up north and two on South Congress. These visually rich targets were certainly fun to shoot. The new Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro lens worked beautifully, especially mounted to my OM-D E-M5 Mark II. I’ve already mentioned how the 5 stop in body image stabilization is a game changer. I shot all these photos at ISO 200 at f2.8. Shutter speeds ranged from 1/3 of a second to 1/30. Who needs tripods.
While I often shoot super-wides, this is the widest I ever shot. Back when I had my Canon 7D, I used a Sigma 10-20mm which gave me a 16mm equivalent. This Olympus super-wide goes to a 14mm equivalent (a 2x crop factor). After I sold my 7D, I shot with a modest but still wide 22mm for a while. Recently, both with my Olympus and Pentax Q7, I’m back to 18mm.
To be sure, shooting this super-wide at an antique store is unusual — the most typical usage is landscapes. This lens would have been fun at Big Bend and also for shooting star trails. Super-wides can be challenging to use. Typically you want interesting things in the foreground, mid-ground and background. This leads the eye through the entire frame.
My search for interesting cameras was a bust. Each store had s smattering of cameras but mostly useful as display pieces. I ideally want neat looking cameras that still work. Someday, in the future, I might get some display only models if the prices are right. One location had some cheap plastic cameras but they were zooms with slow lenses. Those aren’t worth much and they were asking too much for them.
This unconventional lens test worked out, I think. Interesting eye candy shot with an interesting lens. I’ll shoot architecture with it too – just to see what it can do. I have less than a week with this lens until I need to return it to Olympus. Unfortunately, the subtropical monsoons we are having in Austin puts a crimp in the photography schedule. At least the rains are making a dent in the drought.
That’s Texas weather for you. Perpetual drought broken up by floods.
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