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The curse of expensive equipment?
Old 05-27-2014   #1
YYV_146
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Unhappy The curse of expensive equipment?

I was reading a very fine article on using the Noctilux ASPH as a B&W lens when I noticed some comments beneath, calling the Noct a piece of "pointless bull****" and stating that the author was "simply trying to justify his needless purchase". Other comments noted that "nothing this lens can do a $800 Voigtlander can't do" and suggested to "sell the glass and go traveling" and "stop creating bokehy mess and make real pictures".

While RFF is wonderfully devoid of such rude remarks, I have been on the receiving end of similar comments on a variety of forums (and in different languages, no less). About why expensive equipment, with the Noct being the obvious worst offender, are overpriced and impractical. People have told me that I should stay away from them and use the funds more wisely, such as buying a car or touring the world.

So yes, I bought a pre-owned Noctilux a short while back. I'm aware of how much traveling I could do with an extra 9 grand, but the Noct produces amazing pictures and gives an extra stop of light beyond any of my other lenses. I will admit that I bought it partly to explore the incredibly shallow DOF, but is there anything wrong with that?

In other words, is it just more "noble" to carry a cheap film set or P&S and sightsee in the most beautiful cities of the world, compared to loading up on top-of-the-line cameras and lenses but only working in the 20 blocks around your home?
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Old 05-27-2014   #2
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“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” - Mark Twain.

Yet at the same time, that 20 blocks around your home could be an intense and exhaustive study, truly rewarding if you make it so.

Your ownership and use of that lens is all up to you and your work. The only one you need to justify it to is yourself. If you're a good photographer, you're a good photographer and that lens will lend its signature to your vision. If you're not a good photographer, well, lets say you can polish a turd all you want but in the end it still is a turd. A Noctilux won't help the latter.

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Old 05-27-2014   #3
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whatever floats your boat.....and don't let others tell you how.
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Old 05-27-2014   #4
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As you put on counter your own money not my then my opinion isn't worth words I could type on this kind of choice. We all are free to make choices and mistakes, this is fine as long as it's not hurting someone else....too hard.
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Old 05-27-2014   #5
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Noctilux (f/1) was what got me into the Leica M world. However, soon after I am totally immersed into Leica, I got rid of the Noctilux.
There are simply other aspects of Leica that I enjoy more.
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Old 05-27-2014   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil_F_NM View Post
“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” - Mark Twain.

Yet at the same time, that 20 blocks around your home could be an intense and exhaustive study, truly rewarding if you make it so.

Your ownership and use of that lens is all up to you and your work. The only one you need to justify it to is yourself. If you're a good photographer, you're a good photographer and that lens will lend its signature to your vision. If you're not a good photographer, well, lets say you can polish a turd all you want but in the end it still is a turd. A Noctilux won't help the latter.

Phil Forrest
And Kant made some of the most important advancements in Western philosophy without leaving his hometown. Granted, mail delivery by horse was pretty fast in Europe in those days

But even if I'm - or some other Noct owner is not a good photographer, then either being in an interesting place or having an interesting lens won't be helpful. And even if you are the single worst photographer that ever walked the earth, there is still nothing you can't try to create, right?
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Old 05-27-2014   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axiom View Post
Noctilux (f/1) was what got me into the Leica M world. However, soon after I am totally immersed into Leica, I got rid of the Noctilux.
There are simply other aspects of Leica that I enjoy more.
Sadly, many people - even some Leica people can't see past Leica as a status symbol. Or maybe they think some Leica are status symbols, and some aren't...
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Old 05-27-2014   #8
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Works both ways. There's a lot of gear snobbery about. Those of us who can't afford mega-expensive gear, but still enjoy photography get looked down on by the guys with the bling.

Perhaps we could all just relax about it.
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Old 05-27-2014   #9
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You really like caviar.
someone bashes you about your expensive taste, and that in fact, a good omelette is just as tasty, but you know it's BS, because you really really hate lobster.

Noble?
why would photography be noble? or not?
Use the tools you feel comfortable with and can afford. end of the story.
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Old 05-27-2014   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sejanus.Aelianus View Post
I think that much of the antipathy is engendered by the way in which Leica products, among others, are over-enthusiastically touted by some users.
Leica's image has been trending towards the over-enthusiastic by their own engineering - I mean, all camera makers occasionally bling up their products for a markup, but Leica does it as if it's their main business...

As long as they keep making world-class lenses, though, I'm fine with it.
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Old 05-27-2014   #11
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Then I have to ask if every owner of porsche, ferrari and similar cars are masterful racers? Many of them just are enjoying what they drive.
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Old 05-28-2014   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btgc View Post
Then I have to ask if every owner of porsche, ferrari and similar cars are masterful racers? Many of them just are enjoying what they drive.
I frequently find them far more annoying than the most boastful-incompetent Leica owner. Showing off with a camera does not kill, showing off with a fast car may...
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Old 05-28-2014   #13
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Make the most of what you have available to you and stop worrying about what other people think.

Chances are that Joe Blogs on the street has no idea what a noctilux is, let alone what it costs. My kids think it sounds like a shell that you might find washed up on a beach.

Chances are that people on photo forums know what it is and how much it costs. So what?

Snobbery - don't get me started... there are many photo enthusiasts around who think that owning the odd one expensive lens is somehow a bad thing and that owning 10 different cheaper 50mm alternatives is somehow more admirable.

It takes all sorts of people to make the world go around. If they are happy with their many choices - good. If you are happy with your one choice - good.
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Old 05-28-2014   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sejanus.Aelianus View Post
I'll try again. It's a bit like political correctness. If you tell people they can't use certain words or discuss certain subjects, they'll overuse those words or become determined to make a fuss about the banned subjects. We're seeing a lot of that in Britain and France where there's a great deal of support for questionable parties like UKIP and the Front National.

If you say that the Noctilux is the finest lens ever made and only a fool would argue otherwise, some people will take a great delight in pointing out how a £50 lens is just as good in real terms, if not better. It's the sort of fight that neither dog can win, nor deserves to.
Not that I was disagreeing with you in the previous reply - just making an observation of Leica fanboyism, but this I wholly agree with. There are some lenses (and cameras)with way too much surrounding hype...
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Old 05-28-2014   #15
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I frequently find them far more annoying than the most boastful-incompetent Leica owner. Showing off with a camera does not kill, showing off with a fast car may...
No, but if the camera is big enough, heavy enough - maybe you could drop it and break someone's neck
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Old 05-28-2014   #16
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both ways:
one says can't you afford a good camera (lens, car, ...) ?
the other one sais can't you take good photos with a simple camera (lens, ...) ?

I take different photos since I've had a Leica. Probably I could have taken them with any camera, or mostly, but I didn't, so somehow the equipment has an influence.

And is some 1000$ is much money? Who around here is a smoker? How long do you need to burn the money for a Noctilux?
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Old 05-28-2014   #17
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Then I have to ask if every owner of porsche, ferrari and similar cars are masterful racers? Many of them just are enjoying what they drive.
On the contrary, many of them are horrible to drive. Stiff suspension, heavy short clutches, noisy, with uncomfortable seats, and unreliable. Its purely for status.
At least a Leica doesn't need a track day to be used to its fullest potential.

And to the OP, how dare you own AND enjoy something I can't afford! Show me a picture you took with it and I'll tell you you're not good enough

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Old 05-28-2014   #18
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They just need to voice their thoughts.
If you change, then fine. If you keep your Noct, that's your choice.
It's not like they're putting high expectation that their words will change the world. :P
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Old 05-28-2014   #19
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Ricnak’s post is pretty bang for me: “Make the most of what you have available to you and stop worrying about what other people think.”

I’m long over the – for me – pointlessness of responding to Leica-bashing by people who take great delight in goading about their perceived Leica elitism.

Two examples:

Back in the 70s/80s, when I was a working photo professional, one bloke who worked in the office and wasn’t ‘into’ photography, was forever banging on to me when he saw me with a camera “not another lens/camera… how much did that cost?” which rather made me smile, as he overlooked the irony of boasting to all and sundry at every opportunity to the point of boredom about his latest new fishing equipment acquisition that cost a lot more than any of my camera gear ever cost.

On a different tack were some of the members of a camera club I was involved with for a time, who spent more time trying impress each other with their latest camera or lens purchase, and making sure everyone knew what they paid for it, and who hardly ever showed any work.
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Old 05-28-2014   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelwj View Post
On the contrary, many of them are horrible to drive. Stiff suspension, heavy short clutches, noisy, with uncomfortable seats, and unreliable. Its purely for status.
Obviously you've never driven a Cayman

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Old 05-28-2014   #21
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On the contrary, many of them are horrible to drive. Stiff suspension, heavy short clutches, noisy, with uncomfortable seats, and unreliable. Its purely for status. .. .
A friend of mine had his new 911 delivered without seats so he could have leather Recaros installed. It certainly wasn't uncomfortable, noisy, horrible to drive or unreliable. He just liked fast cars and could afford them. His other car was a Maserati Ghibli which was rather less reliable.

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Old 05-28-2014   #22
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Old 05-28-2014   #23
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Old 05-28-2014   #24
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I think one should distinguish an "expensively embroidered" piece of equipment from a high quality/highly specialized/expensive equipment.
A gold plated camera with lizard skin would be in the first category, and is probably best left sitting behind a glass in your display box, while a Noctilux, like many other special lenses, would be in the second, and frankly I see nothing wrong with using one.
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Old 05-28-2014   #25
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I think one should distinguish an "expensively embroidered" piece of equipment from a high quality/highly specialized/expensive equipment.
A gold plated camera with lizard skin would be in the first category, and is probably best left sitting behind a glass in your display box, while a Noctilux, like many other special lenses, would be in the second, and frankly I see nothing wrong with using one.
A beautiful analogy! I shall borrow it forthwith!

On an entirely separate note, who else finds it ironic that a picture of a Porsche has been posted unnecessarily big, so that we have to scroll from side to side to read posts that obey the rules?

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Old 05-28-2014   #26
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That's an important distinction, mfogiel
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Old 05-28-2014   #27
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Quote:
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On an entirely separate note, who else finds it ironic that a picture of a Porsche has been posted unnecessarily big, so that we have to scroll from side to side to read posts that obey the rules?

Cheer,

R.
Referring to my Porsche are we? Doesn't look big on my screens at all, even my iPhone (no side-to-side scrolling). Don't know what kind of screen you're using.....
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Old 05-28-2014   #28
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Referring to my Porsche are we? Doesn't look big on my screens at all, even my iPhone (no side-to-side scrolling). Don't know what kind of screen you're using.....
Fits easy on my screen about 60% no scrolling. You are exonerated from breaking the RFF rules in this case I believe, but tread carefully
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Old 05-28-2014   #29
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People have different priorities and different obligations in life. Those people who say you are wasting your money are viewing the matter through their life's lens. Traveling is great, but I've always been more interested in things I can use for the majority of my life... Meaning I can use a lens for the other 49-50 weeks of the year that I'm not traveling. I don't need a car in NYC. Also, people make varying amounts of cash and what is expensive to me may be cheap to someone else. That's just life.
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Old 05-28-2014   #30
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One of the "curses" is that it is impossible to "downgrade" your gear once you start to purchase the pricey stuff. I always ended up acquiring expensive gear ever since I started treating myself to the luxury. Any regrets? Not really!
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Old 05-28-2014   #31
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Fits easy on my screen about 60% no scrolling. You are exonerated from breaking the RFF rules in this case I believe, but tread carefully
Appreciate the blessing -- I need all I can get!

Interestingly, things may not be as expensive as they might appear (of course 'expensive' being a relative term), and the cost of running them can actually be quite low. At least that's been our experience.
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Old 05-28-2014   #32
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It's called jealousy.

I don't have a Noct, nor do I think I ever will, because $10k is way more money than I would spend for one lens, especially when I have other options. Do I think less of you because you have one? Nah. If I wanted, I could sell $10k worth of my gear and get one, but I'd rather have the other stuff.

Personal choice is just that.

Personally, most of my best work has been done in my extremely boring small town. The trick was finding the right thing to shoot. It's not as easy but since I have 24/7 access it's fine. On the flip side, when I'm traveling, I don't have that inside knowledge of the area, and usually end up making mediocre photos (and the more I visit the same area, the better I get). So staying local isn't necessarily bad.
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Old 05-28-2014   #33
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I allocate a monthly budget for personal discretionary spending after I have paid for all the necessities for my family and then a large sum of cash for my wife. She handle the finances and I bring home the dough. If I choose to spend $10k on a Noctilux then why not. I don't have one but why not damn it! I have done my part and paid my dues. On the other hand I can't relate to people who feels they need to spend more than $20k for a new car. Priorities.
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a different take....
Old 05-28-2014   #34
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a different take....

This from the OP:
"stop creating bokehy mess and make real pictures"

Certainly an offensive statement meant to suggest that shallow-focus is some kind of parlor trick maybe - and might be an example of gear envy as, more and more, photography of the masses is done with tiny lenses, tiny sensors incapable of shallow depth.

That said, I think there may be a grain of truth in there, for me. Shallow focus is in a way like B&W - an alternate vision not directly related to the way we normally "see".

I do see lots of money and effort spent on this elusive "bokeh" - going back to when I started in photography 40 year ago, nobody called it that, nor, does it seem, was it so highly regarded. A whole school of thought was devoted to stopping down and seeing everything in the frame clearly.

A bit of a devil's advocate here, as I like experimenting with focus as much or more as anyone - but wondering about other's take on the pursuit of bokeh nirvana?

As for expensive gear, it's all relative - and people always spend their money where they get the most reward. Even if, for some, the reward is the status implied by the ownership of such goods. Oh well.
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Old 05-28-2014   #35
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When it comes to expensive equipment, or any equipment for the matter, very few will devout the time and passion or possess the talent to create anything special. So if one posts to a public forum regarding their 9k lens, and receive some bad replies, I suggest poster and responders have a "shoot-off." Each posting 3 of their best photos and see what's what.

Personally, if someone craves a piece of gear and has the resources to purchase it, more power to them. Even if all they shoot is their cat, the benefit to other photographers is that their purchases keep the manufacturers upon whom we all rely in business. And should they grow tired of their purchase it may become available to a shooter at a reduced price -- so everyone wins.

As for a Noct lens, my point of view is that a 1.4 should suffice. And if one can shoot wide open with a Noct and consistently get sharp photos in real situations of candid moments, I take my hat off to them. If the owner of such an expensive piece of glass can use it without worrying about damaging it -- that impresses me too. I like Mellencamp's song title: Nothin' Matters And What If It Did.
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Old 05-28-2014   #36
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I respect OP's gear choice.
We have boat which we paid 15K new and using it few times per year.
For those money we could purchase one of those expensive lenses and digital Leica. And use it regularly for family pictures. Compact size camera, good quality images...
But some how my Canon 5D with 50L is much more practical for family pictures.
Is it more practical to travel with cheaper camera, lens set? Yes.
But pleasure of ownership isn't always practical
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Old 05-28-2014   #37
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Quote:
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I think that much of the antipathy is engendered by the way in which Leica products, among others, are over-enthusiastically touted by some users.
This is the second reason I refuse to use Leica products. Random events evolved such that I can buy them without consequence. If I had never found RFF or read other Leica-centric Forums I would probably have bought some.

At the same time I support YYV 146's decision to buy and use what makes him happy. Life is too short to compromise if you really don't need to. The facts here are clear. The Noctilux is an incredible tool and it's worth every penny. Insulting an aesthetic approach (the anti-bokeh rant) reflects a narrow minded and selfish mind.
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Old 05-28-2014   #38
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Originally Posted by YYV_146 View Post
In other words, is it just more "noble" to carry a cheap film set or P&S and sightsee in the most beautiful cities of the world, compared to loading up on top-of-the-line cameras and lenses but only working in the 20 blocks around your home?
I guarantee you if it was the other way around, that is if you sold some expensive gear and decided to keep it simple, you'll definitely find somebody else to criticize that choice too. Forget people's opinion, it's your money and your gear, who cares ?
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Old 05-28-2014   #39
Paddy C
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Location: Too far north for my liking
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YYV_146 View Post
I was reading a very fine article on using the Noctilux ASPH as a B&W lens when I noticed some comments beneath, calling the Noct a piece of "pointless bull****" and stating that the author was "simply trying to justify his needless purchase". Other comments noted that "nothing this lens can do a $800 Voigtlander can't do" and suggested to "sell the glass and go traveling" and "stop creating bokehy mess and make real pictures".

In other words, is it just more "noble" to carry a cheap film set or P&S and sightsee in the most beautiful cities of the world, compared to loading up on top-of-the-line cameras and lenses but only working in the 20 blocks around your home?
"Comparison is the thief of joy." – Roosevelt

I think there is some envy in the comments you were reading.

I also think photographers have become obsessed with fast lenses and that they are often not necessary, have lots of downside, and often aren't used to produce great photos etc.

I love to travel, but I also find travel overrated. We inhabit a small part of the world for the majority of our lives. If one can't find wonder and happiness in that patch of land, there are bigger problems that need to be looked into.
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Old 05-28-2014   #40
zuiko85
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While a noctulux is not my cup of optical tea (actually I have an old 50 f1.4 Takumar that had a weak tea color in the glass) it is not only the price. Even if I were flush with cash don't think I have such a heavy and large lens. I've always liked compact and lightweight equipment and that has usually been the slower versions of lenses. Since I've stayed mostly with film this personal preference has limited what I can do in low light, a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

As to your own choice, well, there are folks who spend 8 or 9 hundred dollars on cowboy boots. If you like fast glass then what you buy with your money is nobodies bussness but your own.
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