• Destabilexit: David Cameron finally pushed his famous luck too far. Pride goeth before a fall, and we all know how he'll be remembered now. Just as an aside, do they not teach European history in the UK? Just wondering how 52% of the population could so easily dismiss the value of 70 straight years of stability and peace in most of Europe. Someone should tell them that Europeans haven't always gotten along with each other. That last is the understatement of the century—or rather the understatement of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Didn't the UK already have all sorts of special dispensations from the EU to feed its exceptionalism?
But look on the good side—could be very good for Scotland, if it now leaves the UK and rejoins the EU. I'm part Scottish by ethnicity—related to the Johnston and Hamilton clans. The other part is English, though, and I'm sick about this. I hope it won't be, but June 23rd 2016 could be remembered as a very bad day indeed, in the UK and elsewhere.
• We love our British readers (should I say "like and admire"? Is "love" too strong a word for reticent British sensibilities?) But I have to say there has never been much love lost between me and Hasselblad. The company pursued a nasty vendetta against me for a number of years, in response to a snarky comment (one single sentence!) that I once wrote in a Bronica review. (Snarky? Moi?) Granted, that one sentence was...well, pretty bad. But the great lengths they went to for revenge was over the top and out of proportion. Still...
...How about that new Hasselblad?!? I really like the looks of that. I wrote to a friend recently that high prices help insulate me from GAS in a number of cases—I would really like a Sony A7rII and a Zeiss FE 35mm ƒ/1.4, for instance, but don't have to think about either one—and the X1D-50c (the "50c" bit refers to the sensor, indicating the same camera might get different sensors in the future) is well into that territory. But it gives rise to hope that some other company will compete with something similar. Hasselblad has left room for the X1D-50c to be undercut in price.
The X1D-50c would be the perfect counterpart and complement to an iPhone, if it turns out that it works well and has no problems. Wonder who's making the lenses?
• Panaleica cornucopia: Speaking of lenses, there are now six beautiful Panasonic/Leica Micro 4/3 lenses. That cup runneth over. The picture is courtesy Panasonic via Imaging-Resource. (One drawback of cameras made by multinational electronics giants is that the camera divisions get utterly lost in the vastness. I could not for the life of me find that image anywhere on Panasonic's far-flung web presence, nor could I figure out whom to call to ask where it is. Maybe Kevin Purcell can find it. He's a web-research ninja whose powers exceed even my own.)
Left to right, the 15mm ƒ/1.7 ASPH. (I saw lots of this lens when Ben Rosengart came for a portfolio review—beautiful prints), the famous DG Summilux 25mm ƒ/1.4 ASPH., the new lens, the amazing Vario-Elmar 100–400mm ƒ/4–6.3 Power O.I.S. (which underscores an advantage of 4/3 over cameras with bigger sensors—telephoto reach, without the sensor being too small), the beautiful 42.5mm ƒ/1.2 Power O.I.S. portrait lens, and the older 45mm ƒ/2.8 Macro (which gets relatively little love, except from me—I like its exceptionally nice bokeh).
The new one is the 12mm ƒ/1.4, a superfast ultrawide. (With all 4/3 and Micro 4/3 lenses, simply double them to get the 35mm focal-length equivalents.) Although large for a Micro 4/3 lens, it weighs less than 12 ounces and is less than three inches long, underscoring another great advantage of Micro 4/3.
Early tests of the new lens are highly positive, nay, glowing.
• Naked Miata: A nice video review of the 2016 Miata that shows the chassis and drivetrain with the body removed. I now refrain from gassing on further about that car. Don't think I couldn't.
• Bloomin' 'ell! Last item—come back later to see! [Added now—see below.] I have three or four snaps to post of what happened to the flower buds I showed you the other day. It's extravagant. You won't believe what happened. Astonishing! And you can see what happens when a non-flower-photographer attempts to photograph a Monarch butterfly with a 14mm (21mm-e) Fujinon. But I have to go run and then exercise Butters first—he's always raring to begin his daily project chasing down his beloved tennis ball wherever it goes.
More very soon.
ADDENDUM #1: Re Brexit...please know that I don't bear the slightest ill-will toward any British TOP reader—or any Briton period—regardless of their views or vote. I'm concerned about events, but I'm no expert, of course. I got a solid briefing from a thoughtful and informed British friend (thanks again, TB) and since then have been reading avidly about the issue. That's all. There's no nationalistic competitiveness here either—I'm just as concerned about the bizarre election season in the U.S.—and I certainly have zero stake in being "right" about anything. I do fear Britain has made a very serious mistake but will hope to be proven wrong about that. I very much wish for the best outcome from all this, for one and all.
Let's hope for the best and that the best thing has been and will be done. The passage of a few weeks will do much to soothe frayed nerves and worries.
ADDENDUM #2: Now as promised earlier...in the "Specialists" post on Tuesday I put up a picture of some plants that looked like they were plotting something. That picture was a few days old at the time. Well, you won't believe what those perfectly innocent-looking plants had planned! Check it out:
The crazy things have staged a riot!
I think the scientific name for these is Sumkinda lillyus. They did this all on their own, too—I had nothing to do with it. All I did was water them when I noticed them drooping (we've had a bit of a mini-drought recently). And boom! Well, not "boom." It took a day or two. Still, the whole flowerbed bursting forth all at once was quite the thing. The previous owner of the house set all this in motion. I don't have much natural feeling for flowers, but I'm sentient and alive, and I think you'd need eyes carved of wood not to enjoy the show.
As I was waiting for the shot above—I wanted the sun to illuminate the flowers but not the barn wall—I happened to see a butterfly, so I had to while away ten minutes attempting to make his portrait. To say that a 14mm lens on APS-C (21mm-e) is not the proper tool for shooting butterflies is probably an understatement. Although I have no idea what would be better. Some things are your thing and some things aren't, and insects are not mine, and I'm resigned to my fate, and over the years have learned to live with it.
Here he is:
Handsome little fellow, eh? Not half bad under the circumstances I don't think. He wouldn't pose and hold still. With a lens as wide as this I really had to stick the camera in the little fellow's face, although he didn't seem to mind. Yeah, I'm an amateur...I'm not sure I've ever photographed a single butterfly in my life, at least as something I meant to do. And if this is indeed the first, it could be the last as well. But it was nice to have the challenge. I have always accepted that photographing insects is a challenge, often a formidable one, for those who are good at it.
As I believe you can tell from this picture, there might even be more blooms on the way. Things have been happening all over this yard. I don't have any idea what to expect next. Only one thing is for sure...
"Life is good."
—Mike the Ed.
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
D. Hufford: "I recall back in September of 2008 watching the financial crisis suddenly pick up speed and knowing my career and life were going to change completely. Though it seems less likely, I am getting a bit of déjà vu. I just bought a Panasonic 12–35mm earlier this year. Turns out I don't really like Panasonic lenses. Except for the Leica branded ones. I love the 25mm ƒ/1.4 and it is probably my favorite lens of the digital era. (Well, the Nikon 14–24mm would be, but I sold mine years ago.) Had I not bought the Panasonic 12–35mm, the 12mm would certainly have interested me...after the price came down a bit."
David Cope: "No, 'love' is fine. We need a lot of that right now."
Jim Allen: "Ya know Mike, you're really starting to draw me into that gravity well the Miata represents. I can feel the slow and inexorable pull as my wallet slowly accelerates towards another impulse purchase.... Seriously though, having an actual engineer discussing details like that in a review is awesome. I don't want that car, I need that car. I wish there were curvy roads in Florida."
Ed. Note: The following two comments came in one right after the other:
David: "I'd just like you to know that I find this at once insulting, condescending and ignorant, so please think a little more before dismissing a brave vote by 17 million people, that must mean a lot to them given the authorities that were telling them to do otherwise and the likely short term pain to be experienced in extricating the country from this institution. This is not like expressing an opinion on sensor size! It is condescending to think that those voting to leave don't know about European history and wars, especially given Britain`s involvement in WWII. It is a simplistic conclusion that recent peace is a result of UK membership of the EU, and that some special clauses you don't know about mean that the other rules of membership you don't know about must be acceptable. P.S. I am an occasional reader and used to pay a volunteer subscription, that is how I came across your post."
Richard Parkin: "No, the specific name is lower case: Sumkinda lillyus. [Fixed again —Ed.] When moving to a house with an established garden it is good practice to wait a year to see what you have so you are doing the right thing.
"Likewise on Brexit wait and see may be good advice because it is now even more obvious that Brexit politicos want something different from what the Brexit voters thought they were voting for. I voted to Remain in 1975 when I was 40ish and have voted to Remain again now I am 80ish so I think I can claim consistency and that I don't fit the demographic of the Remainers. As you will see from some of the comments, some of the most vocal Brexiters are still fighting WWII. I defend your right to have a view on Brexit—when the French asked the US to remove their soldiers from France I recall they were asked if they want the dead ones to leave too."
Mark Cotter (partial comment): "To understand the EU, one has, as an example to think of a pan-Americas organisation that had it's capital in, say, Caracas, and whose trade rules and economic rules and currency applied to everyone from southern Chile to the tip of Alaska: while it would be good for some, it would not be good for others and countries like the US and Canada would tire of the inept bureaucracy and politics of South American countries and the free movement of, say, Mexicans into the US. We live in interesting times over here in the UK and in US politics as well."
robert e: "Would we Americans tolerate an EU-style agreement? The irony! The US was established with an EU-style agreement—the Articles of Confederation. Further irony: the Articles were deemed too weak by our founding fathers, who found inspiration for our second, current, constitution in the far more sovereignty-obliterating Anglo-Scottish union of 1707. I don't suppose I need to rub in the further, sadder irony of the now imminent dissolution of that older union. In other words, we are the result of not only tolerating such an agreement, but doubling down on it, thanks to the example of Great Britain.
"Yes, it was a different time, a different place. But the stakes were even higher. It wasn't put to popular vote, but then neither had been the UK. And we doubled down again, waging bloody civil war to maintain it 100 years later. As Mike said, the arguments persist, and you'll even find active secession movements in several states (most notoriously Texas, Alaska and California)."
Brian Ripley: "In scientific taxonomic nomenclature (not just botany) the genus name is capitalized but not the species name. In butterfly terms, that is not a 'little fellow,' maybe 3x the size of a typical non-tropical butterfly. It is Papilio machaon, the Swallowtail. In the UK (since you keep talking about us) it is the largest resident butterfly and rather rare, but common in most of the rest of the world. Indeed, common enough to have been named by Linnaeus."
Mike replies: I could write a book chapter about this comment, but I shall spare you all, and you're welcome! :-) But thank you Brian for providing those facts.