A quest for the ultimate, beautiful, meaningful picture

Quality or Compromise?

When I bought my new camera, a few months ago, I had the firm plan to go for quality. No compromises! So I ordered a standard zoom lens with the camera that would give maximum quality. All of the web said so (for one example: click here). The shop where I had bought the body did not have the lens immediately. ‘Next week’, they said, and later it was ‘In two week’s time’. In this way, more than two months have now passed and still they did not have it. ‘In a month from now’, they promised today after another phone call. I had enough of them and decided to try another shop; all over the net you could find this lens, and quite a few shops said they had it available–not quite for the price of my first shop, but they had it. Well, they said they had it. I called a shop or two, but discovered that the web sites had been too optimistic and in fact they had run out of stock. The third shop did not answer the phone. But that one was not too far from my home, so after dinner I just drove there, à la bonne foi. Lo and behold! Konijnenberg had four of them on their shelves: bigh & beautiful Carl Zeiss 2.8/24-70 lenses! And would I like to try? No, I did not want to try, I wanted to run home with this rare beauty at once. Still, I did give it a try in the shop.
Two quick examples, made inside the shop give some impression of its quality. The first is in the wide-angle setting (24 mm), the second in tele (70 mm). For your inspection they are uploaded full-size (though in jpeg). Of course these are not real test pictures, but still: there is not even a hint of barrel or cushion type distortions in the lines near the margins of the picture. There is no chromatic aberration around the lamps on the ceiling and above the counter, in the corners of the picture. In short: all the high expectations from the rave reviews were made true.
But what the reviews had not told, was that this uncompromising beauty also did not make compromises on size–and especially not on weight! Of course when you look up the specs you can see that weighs nearly 1 kg. But you only realise what that means once you hold it in your hands. This baby completely undid all the good of my camera body’s built-in stabiliser! I could not hold it still for a long time. And I imagined how it would feel on a day-long hike with a backpack on my back and the camera hanging in front. Or what an outing with the family would be like: ‘Don’t say a word to daddy, he’s busy carrying his lens!’ It took a couple of minutes to say goodbye to a dream of quality, but I clearly felt–literally!–that I must make a compromise here. So I went home with a mid-class Sony lens instead of the Carl Zeiss one. Not a bad one, but visibly in a different class. See the third example–I still was not able to hold my camera horizontal, apparently… Yet I’ll be in a much better mood to take pictures, so if the technical quality of the photos may be a little less, my (and my family’s!) quality of life is optimised by this decision.

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