Sunday 21 February 2010

Trying out lenses in Akihabara (again!)

Last year when I went to Tokyo I discovered Akihabara, the consumer electronics district of Tokyo.  And what an amazing place it was too.  So I just had to go back there when I went to Tokyo last week.  In fact I like the area so much I went twice, once on Sunday when we first arrived and again on Tuesday. 

The main reason for going was to visit Yodobashi Camera, the best camera (and all other consumer electronics) shop in the world.  9 HUGE floors of tech-heaven.  I spent most of my time there on the photography floor trying out lenses, just like I did last year.  So if you’re not a camera-nerd like me I can only apologise and you are best to skip this post.  But if you are read on…

I decided to first try out the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, a lens I am sorely tempted to buy.  I have never seen one in a shop in the UK so it was great to try before I bought one.  Unfortunately a Japanese salesman tried to help me and gave me the IS version to try first.  As this is the more expensive version he had his reasons for doing this of course.  I then took some snaps of my friend Darren to see how sharp it was at f/2.8.  And the answer was very:

 Playing with lenses in Akihabara (again!) (1 of 5)

Playing with lenses in Akihabara (again!) (2 of 5)

The salesman then found me the older version without IS which is the version I want to buy.  By this stage unfortunately Darren had got bored of being my model so I had no choice but to use the salesman instead:

Playing with lenses in Akihabara (again!) (3 of 5)

To my untrained eye the non-IS version looked identical to the more expensive IS version so I won’t be bothering with the more expensive version.  Unfortunately the Pound is still weak against the Yen so I didn’t buy the lens there and then even though I was sorely tempted.  The price in Yen was no different to the UK price so it wasn’t worth the risk of buying a faulty lens.

So I then decided to try out some long lenses, a Sigma 150-500 OS and a Canon 500 f/4 L IS.  The Sigma was available for me to try out unattached to a tripod, the Canon was attached to a tripod (and a 50D, which I removed).  First up here is a photo of a sales assistant using the Canon 500 at f/4 mounted on a tripod (both shots were taken using my Canon 350D):

Playing with lenses in Akihabara (again!) (4 of 5)

And here is a shot of the same salesman using the Sigma at 500m and at f/6.3 (the widest open the Sigma will go):

Playing with lenses in Akihabara (again!) (5 of 5)

Considering the shutter speed of the Sigma photo was only 1/30 the IS has coped remarkably well – the only blur is due to the man not standing still.  But the creamy Bokeh of the Canon is that bit nicer.  But as the Canon costs £5K and the Sigma £700 the difference in image quality isn’t so huge.

So an enjoyable few minutes but as I had a business meeting to get to I didn’t have as long as I would have liked to play with a few more lenses.  May be next time!

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