I don’t go to Taipei very often. I’ve never been a huge fan of massive, crowded, busy metropolis. Every now and then I have too, though, so I get on the bus from my small countryside town and ride for 1 hour (if traffic allows me) and end up in “Skydragon City”.
It’s an interesting city nonetheless, and if you get the chance to avoid the traffic and walk around a bit, it’s actually quiet enjoyable.
Yesterday I had to go there to pick up my new business cards, and also to have a walk with a newly found old friend. I’ve recently bought a fairly old Canon lens, the 90-300mm. I was looking for mid-range zoom, but it’s a focal length I don’t use very often so I was not feeling like spending a lot of money on it. 30$ were a reasonable price for me, and the seller was kind enough to let me try it before actually paying him. That was a great relief for me, because I’ve had a few problems with older lenses recently, mostly from Tamron and Sigma.
This is the part of the post where, in a movie, the leading actor would say:”Oh wow, the image quality of this lens is stellar! Just because it’s old, it doesn’t mean it can’t perform! What a bargain!”. Unfortunately we’re not in a movie, and from an optical point of view this lens is rubbish. It’s understandable though, it’s a very old lens that was supposed to work on film and early digital cameras, nowhere close to the amount of detail that modern cameras can catch.
I’ve enjoyed every moment shooting with it, though. There’s something that I like about the idea of giving “new life” to something that has been forgotten or abandoned for a long time, it gives me a warm feeling inside. How long has this lens been closed inside a drawer or a dry box? When was the last time someone took it out to have a trip and take some snapshots? Was it sitting there alone, expeting to be destined to become trash? Do lenses even have feelings? What am I going to have for dinner?
Some questions are best left unanswered.
If I had to say something good from a technical point of view, is that the autofocus was much better than I expected. Apart from that, this lens forced me to spend quiet some extra time at the computer to work on contrast and sharpness, as well as trying to remove the HORRIBLE distortion that it has at all focal lengths.
I packed my 50mm prime as well, but eventually I spent the whole day shooting just with the 90-300. I think we both enjoyed it, I managed to take pics that my other lenses wouldn’t allow me to do due to more limited range, and while flat and lacking contrast I’d still take an optically poor image over no image at all.
The images from the sunset that I posted yesterday were all shot with the 90-300 as well. I should have probably picked up a different lens, but I thought that I’ve had so much fun with that lens, it very well deserved a proper sunset. I wonder if it had ever been used for this kind of image before?
The elephant in the room is: why would I, or anyone, spend some (little) money for this lens, instead of buying a more modern, optically competent version?
Well, I tend to take the vast majority of my shots between 14mm and 50mm. I also have an 85mm lens that I enjoy using, but I don’t need it as often. This leaves me with a huge gap when it comes to taking pictures of things that are a bit far away from me. In Canon’s current lineup the 2 options are the 70-300 IS which is rumored to be replaced around August, and the 70-300 L which costs well above 1000$. I had the 70-300 IS last year, but I’ve never really loved the results from that lens and I eventually sold it at a smalll profit. I’d love to buy the 70-300 L once it gets a bit down in price, so I consider the 90-300 be a temporary substitute that will eventually become my backup (and lightweight) plan. For roughly 30$, the sheer convenience of its zoom range and the decent-enough autofocus made it well worthy for me.