Buy a used lens, or not?

Jim asks:

Hi Michael just wondering about your advice on a used camera lense….. I am looking at on Facebook market place …. it’s a canon wide angle zoom 10-22 for my canon 70D …. I am a little leery about buying a used lense and also buying and having it shipped sight unseen …

I understand the hesitation. The world is full of cheats and thieves.

But there are also at least as many honest people. Here’s my thoughts on buying a used lens.

  • Lenses tend to work practically forever, so I am generally in favour. You get a great lens for less than the new cost: why not? DO not expect a really really big discount though: lenses keep their value for decades.
  • Always ask the seller to promise that the lens is undamaged and in fully working order. Communicate via email or some other way that keeps a record.
  • Make sure you agree some course of action if that should not be the case.I am not talking about a full warranty, but what if after three hours the lens dies?
  • Ask for history: why are you selling, what did you use it for, do you have the box, etc. A good reason to sell would be “I am upgrading to full frame and this is a crop sensor lens”, for example.
  • Always ask for full contact details. I check them, and if it’s an expensive lens I have been known to take a copy of the seller’s driver’s license. After all, the lens could be stolen: it’s no more than a sensible precaution.
  • I am weary of Kijiji, so this caution doubly applies there.
  • As does this caution: “meet in a public place”.
  • eBay has warranties, so that is a little safer.
  • I like Facebook marketplace too: much fewer ‘flakes’ than on Kijiji. Check how long the Facebook user has had an account. If that’s “one week”, then you know there are alarm bells ringing.
  • When looking at a lens, take some photos at the extremes: fully zoomed in and out; lowest and highest f-number.
  • Check the prices on eBay – only look for “sold listings”!

Of course always keep in mind the old adage that “if it seems to be too good to be true then it probably is too good to be true”. But there are many good lenses to be had. So if the above all checks out, you should be fine. And there’s nothing like a new lens – fun!

Store, School, Gallery, Shop!

Big news — in a few weeks, I am opening my new mall studio/school/store/gallery on Orléans, Ottawa, Ontario. Based in Place d’Orléans mall, this shop will have me in it much of the time and will do the things outlined in its web site, www.michaelwillemsphoto.com.

The opening is August 15, but as you can see, it’s almost ready for business. If you are in or near Ottawa, give me a call!

Corporations

Now that we are on the subject of corporations… we live in interesting times. What I see around me is corporations making poor decisions, based mainly, from what I observe, on their need to report greater profits every quarter.

We have Adobe being predatory (see last article, below), and we now have Apple completely losing its direction. Apple updates used to be exciting. Now, they are just messy. Minor updates fort major money. And I have no idea what all the iPhone versions are. 7, 8, 10, XR, XL, XS, whatever. I can’t even remember them. And the equipment lasts a year, maybe two, before the battery dies. Inbuilt obsolescence. And the Mac, which used to be the mainstay of Apple, is now an afterthought.

This mess is there only to make profits: not to make sense, let alone to make our lives better. For all his obvious faults, Steve Jobs would have never allowed this.

Corporations forget that you should never disrespect your customers. Seeing customers as mere cash cows, as Apple and Adobe clearly do, opens the field for competition. There will be Lightroom competitors. And there will be Apple competitors (Huawei was coming on strong: perhaps that’s why Mr Trump is trying to kill them. But it will not work.)

And in our field, Canon is doing the same. The drive to “mirrorless”, a fashionable but not yet very useful phenomenon, is designed mainly, I think, to make us all buy thousands of dollars’ worth of new equipment. New cameras, while the “old” ones work perfectly well. New lenses, which are more expensive than the “old”lenses.  New accessories (as mentioned before, some of the new cameras have a non-standard flash hotshoe so you have to buy new flashes and can’t use standard radio triggers.

I was all ready to promote Canon in my new shop (www.michaelwillemsphoto.ca) but it seems that Canon want a large investment (think tens of thousands) before they will talk.

Well, corporations: we are paying attention. You are risking a Bastille day; a day when we all revolt and “en masse” jump ship to whatever competition there is. That’s how markets work: they are not all about extricating more cash from your customers every quarter. And it behooves you to remember it.

Meanwhile, my search for alternatives goes on. Interesting times.

Adobe, oh Adobe

Adobe is stretching the limit of what is acceptable to me and other pros. If they gop on, I will look for alternatives to their software sooner rather than later.

One thing is the pricing model. You can no longer buy a license, you have to pay monthly “or else”. Thus costing you many, many times what a license used to cost. Over my dead body, Adobe. No way will I let usurious suits decide at any moment whether I am allowed to run my company. Forget it.

But there’s more. Adobe is doing almost zero development. Even bug fixes aren’t being done: When you try to export a slideshow, Adobe LR hangs if the slides include horizontal as well as vertical slides. Old bug, still not fixed. This is intolerable!

The speed also hasn’t improved. Again, intolerable.

So, another few nudges like this and Adobe, which is already a company I intensely dislike, will be a company I advise all my students to avoid.

In this, they are a metaphor for all US business, which thinks it is invulnerable. Apple is another example: $1400 for a cell phone? $600 for a Mac Pro screen stand? Really, Apple?

Shaking my head.

 

 

AdNObe?

I just bought a new MacBook Air, to replace my older, and failing, MacBook Pro. That in itself was a mixed blessing: Apple is doing everything to make life for its users miserable. No more connectors: no Thunderbolt, no Lightning, no HDMI, no SD card slot, no USB, even… a dongle is now needed for, well, everything. I cannot even use the new laptop to connect to a second screen or to a projector—which is what I do for a living!

So I have had to order two dongles. Which I will lose an hour after they arrive, I know myself. Also, no more magnetic power connector. New and different passwords required for, well, everything. And a lot more inconveniences. Apple is dead, l as far as I am concerned: this will probably be my last Apple product. SMH.

But this post is about a subject for photographers: Adobe. Lightroom, in particular. Lightroom licensing, even more specifically.

Lightroom version names are a mess. See my previous posts about this—just the search field. Confusing, and they change mid-stream.

But anyway, onward and upward.

I use the perpetual Lightroom 6 license. Because I do not want to give Adobe the power to shut down my business any time they desire; and I do not want to pay Adobe $10, $20, or whatever it is or will be, every single month for the rest of my life. So I use the perpetual license, not the “Creative Cloud” version for which you must pay every month.

This perpetual (“stand alone”) license is still available, but it is very, very difficult to find. Precisely because Adobe wants me to pay them money every single month for the rest of my life (as said, the “creative cloud” version), and if I don’t, they will shut down my business, because that is what shutting down Lightroom would do.

So anyway—I need to install LR 6. Fortunately, I kept an install file (a “DMG”). So I install that. Next step, I need to enter my serial number. But there is no way you can read that from an existing installation. So I contact Adobe support, and they send me the serial number.

Then the install fails because “no qualifying product is found”. It turns out I also need the serial number I was provided for a previous version of Lightroom—and I need to remember what v version that was. 5? 4? 3? 2?1? How the hell would I remember that? I have used (and paid for) every version since 1.0.

In the end, I figure this out with the support department. So now I enter two serial numbers and two version numbers. But then the install fails, for unknown reasons. So I reboot and re-install, once again entering both serial numbers. This time it works. Then I need to update the freshly installed version.

Finally, I am done. Whew. That took over an hour, for something that should have taken one minute. This is why I cannot wholeheartedly recommend Adobe products to my students. Life is too short to spend it Kowtowing to Adobe’s need to make infinite money.

Ny all means use Lightroom, it is excellent—but be careful, you will end up either spending too many hours, or spending too many dollars. And in the process, you will lose too much control.

Incidentally, talking about control: a new laptop, and so I have had to enter various passwords (mainly Apple passwords) over 90 times so far. All without being allowed to see what I type, so I get them, wrong half the time than I even remember them, which its rare.

When I was young, IT was about making life easier and about empowering end users. Now, it seems that all too often, it is the complete opposite. Oh, how the pendulum swings.

Christmas. Balls.

I love teaching. And I feel generous—read this post until the end and see why, and see how you can benefit!

First, though, here’s a few snaps from Sunday’s Get Out And Shoot. Starting with a Christmas ball…:

This walk was in downtown Oakville:

So why am I happy?

One of my Sheridan College students just sent me an unsolicited student testimonial:

“Thank you for your wonderful teaching style. I have learned a lot from you as a photographer and have taught me many things and you have always responded to every question I had with knowledge. You make the class like Christmas day.”

I am honoured by this; it is exactly why I teach.

Incidentally, I also teach privately or in small groups. And for all my students, there’s now a 30% discount for any orders (for training or anything else) paid by Dec 31, 2018. To benefit from this, all you need to do is to use discount code Student2018 on http://learning.photography. Happy festive season!

Another family shoot

Here’s a few samples from another family shoot I just did, of a friend (an ex student) and his family:

Fall is a great time for these portraits—in spite of the cold.

A few notes on a shoot like this:

  • Lit by two Bowens studio flashes, powered by a big battery. No modifiers: it was windy and the umbrellas would have pulled the lights to the ground quickly.
  • I pointed the group away from the sun; else, they would have squinted.
  • I used the 85mm f/1.2 lens, set to f/8-11.
  • Avoid too much direct sunlioght on the subjects.
  • But do use that sunlight – as the “shampooey goodness” light (a.k.a. the hairlight).
  • You can do this without flash, of course. But I prefer the brighter subjects and the saturated colours. Matter of style!

To see what I mean: this is with flash:

…and this is without:

I encourage you all to have family portraits done. Because they last, and it’s the only time travel we do. You’ll be delighted later to have them, and the extra few hundred dollars are a small price compared to that.

 

 

Because photographer

Photographer. Not just anyone with a camera.

For this, for instance, taken during a recent baby shower…:

…you need this…:

…and a lot of time. Just loading and unloading all that gear and setting up takes an hour or more.

And that is why photographers charge a fee for their work, and that fee covers all that work plus the post processing. Your nephew with a camera can click, but he can’t give you the quality images that you get when you do it properly.