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Monday, 11 November 2013


Need I bring up Black & Decker toasters -- or any other small kitchen appliance bearing that name?

I don't know whether a thousand different manufacturing firms pay for a license to use the brand name on their crappy products or if Black & Decker actually searches them out to make this stuff on contract.

You want to see flames? Leave the kitchen to answer the doorbell while a couple of slices of bread are toasting away.

Something like the three stikes rule has kept me from even reading Sony reviews. I'm sure that their camera division has great people, but I'm not interested because of:

1) the Sony BMG copy protection rootkit scandal (breaking your paying users' computers),

2) the Sony Computer Entertainment America v. George Hotz lawsuit (suing your paying users), and

3) the PS3 OtherOS scandal (stealing functionality from your paying users).

As far as I'm concerned, Sony cameras don't even exist.

I have an approach for the reverse situation: when a manufacturer or provider delights me. When I feel delighted by my purchase, I have trust in the company that provided it and will generally ignore all competitors regardless of cost. This has the beneficial side-effect of reducing bad purchases.

nail polish a good idea, but the solution was a little bit of Loctite liquid thread locker.
from auto supply etc. never would unscrew after that.

Sony? I had to threaten to set myself on fire infront of their Manhattan building if they did not find and return my camera sent for repair. Faggett about it. Time to repair? comment on that.

sony wega televisions. 2 went out on me without warning. found out there was a class action lawsuit that was settled. found out to late, i was never notified. settlement expired.
Ryobi 18 volt cordless drill. never worked, never held charge. thanks home depot. sold it at a garage sale, cheap, as new.

I feel that way about entire groups of products: inkjet printers for example. I don't sell enough prints to justify paying exorbitant prices for ink and paper and trying to keep everything running smoothly and predictably. This is not so much a product defect as the manufacturer's pricing model. Regardless, at this point in time I doubt I'd use an inkjet printer even if someone give me one for free.

I have a similar aversion to buying products from companies that have burned me in the past. For quite a while I wouldn't buy from Sony -- I had a car stereo, CD changer, and one other item I can't remember that all went wrong fairly early on (the car stereo failed under warranty, was fixed, failed the same way again while shortly out of warranty and Sony told me I'd have to pay for the second repair myself so I tossed it). None of these were cheap items either.

However I'm currently a NEX-6 and RX100M2 shooter, so I can get over it. But it took many, many years to be willing to take a chance on Sony again.

(I was also burned numerous times by products recommended by Consumer Reports, and ended up deciding not to subscribe to Consumer Reports any more as I seemed to have better success on my own.)

I have to say Sigma UK have given me fantastic service on a lens I was given (new) it died and I got it back in 4 days from sending. They were very helpful, I am tempted to give the 60mm a go for my µ43 cameras as it makes a 120mm near enough to 135 that I love as a tele.

I gather, given all the vitriol directed towards Sigma, that the company must have had awfully poor QC and general standards in the past. Something they admit they have worked on and fixed with the new lens brands.

But the two Sigmas I own (the e-mount 30mm which is really worth getting if you like the 60) and the 50 1.4 for Alpha mount are both wonderful lenses and have no issues. So I like Sigma.

Not only does the 30mm e-mount rattle, but it hums as well. It's all sort of disconcerting but it "just works" and it was cheap so I'll live with wondering what's going on inside.

Loctite. A few drops and you're done. Various grades available at home centers, hardware stores, and auto parts stores. Don't use red Loctite unless you really mean it. Nail polish is not a thread locker.

[Thanks, but too late for me...that lawnmower is long since gone via Craigslist.

After that, I tried to buy a Honda lawnmower...but I unknowingly bought a cheap no-name brand with a Honda motor in it. And not a very good Honda motor at that. Most recently I have hired a service to cut my lawn, but they do not do a good job. I do not have good luck with the entire subject of grass cutting. In fact, come to think of it, I have been having problems with lawnmowers all of my grownup life. --Mike]

I confess that I've deliberately stuck to Nikon brand lenses for my D7100 for piece of mind but somewhere during my internet browsing travels I managed to get my email address hooked up with new product announcements from Sigma and I have to say that there is some VERY tempting new glass coming out.

I don't trust Sigma for autofocus lenses (which is to say, anything produced since c. 1990) because they have a nasty history of putting out lenses that don't work well with later models of cameras. The basic issue here is that Canon, Nikon, and most other camera companies don't really want third-party vendors like Sigma taking lens sales away from them, so their electronic interfaces are proprietary. This leaves companies like Sigma, Tamron,and Tokina with the unpleasant task of reverse-engineering the digital communications between the camera and the lens, and unfortunately Sigma has historically done a rather poor job of it. Their lenses will work with cameras already on the market, but a few years later you buy a newer camera only to find that your old Sigma lens doesn't work right on it. I have never seen this happen with Tamron or Tokina lenses; apparently they have better engineers.

Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds is an open, published standard, so probably Sigma is able to do better there. I don't recall offhand whether Sony has published the specs for the A or E mounts.

That said, the one Sigma lens I own is an old manual-focus fisheye from about 1980 or so, in Minolta's old SR/MD mount. It's not bad at all, and focuses significantly closer than Minolta's own fisheye of that time (or Nikon's, or Canon's).


I've had a similar experience with Brother products. Back in the dark ages of computing, I had a series of horrible, maddening, frustrating, experiences with Brother printers and dial-up modems and fervently swore off their products.

Well, a year or so ago, I saw a can't resist deal on a Brother dedicated label printer and decided to take a chance - price was low enough I could write it off without qualms. Turns out I love the little thing. Small, quiet, does only one thing and does it well. Perfect for gallery cards and back of frame labels.

Companies evolve.

Thanks for the comments on the Sigma lenses for NEX. I'm pretty happy with micro 4/3rds for now, but (and I know that this sounds like saying I like zebras except for those darn stripes...) I still don't like the 4:3 frame. There's a well-worn groove in my brain composing the 3:2 frame of classic 35mm. If I loosen the screws on my GAS, the NEX and the Sigma lenses would be something I'd be looking at.

Mr Licata of Lensrentals.com spoke to our camera club a few months back and said that the founder of Sigma had turned over the compant to his sons, one of whom wanted to keep the company going, but felt that if he was going to do that he would fundamentally change the product line and focus on improving the quality. He says he (Roger) is now a believer.

I'm a wonderful example of someone who changes systems A LOT. The camera store I frequent find it comic. I just say if I could AFFORD every system I'd probably keep them all concurrently but have to use one at a time. I'm currently have come full circle and am back with a Canon but have moved back from a 5D2 to a 5D 'Classic'. I'm also using a Sigma 50 1.4 and a 70-200 2.8 (non IS). Both are EX. Both are lovely. Both have replaced L glass and I'm most happy. For now...

Drill a hole in the lawn mower axle (outboard of the nut) and insert a cotter pin?

Hm, the three strike rule. Exactly the reason why I don't buy anything from Leica anymore.

Your string trimmer had a bad connection. Instead of a low resistance which doesn't use any power to speak of, the connection had a relatively high resistance. This uses power. The connection heats up and so the resistance rises, which means more power is used so the connection heats up and so the resistance.........

As you now know, this can soon get out of control. It was probably the contacts in the switch. Every time you switch a motor on, there's a little spark. In time the contacts become covered with pits and lumps where metal has gone from one contact to the other.

That's fine until the pits on one don't line up with the lumps on the other. The power has to go through only a small contact area so the switch starts to heat up. I used to carry an emery stick for work. About an inch by an eighth and a foot long, it's covered in emery paper for filing down 1950s made contactor contacts. The trick is just to file the lumps off, because there is no chance of filing the contact back by hand to remove the pits and still keep it flat.

This is what usually happens to starter motors, but the starter contacts are sealed away nowadays where you can't get to them. Contactors are just big relays, in this case the size of a film hasselblad body or bigger.

I'm not a Black and Decker fan either.

Couldn't agree more about Sony and their lens road map. Haha! I am holding my breath, not, on what their plans are for the new FE mount (I.e. Full frame E-mount). I am curious if / when the large indy lens manufacturers announce their FE road maps.

I will spare you the long story of my first new purchase of a Chrysler Le Baron in 1984. Suffice to say, I have never purchased a Chrysler product since. However, I am told that Sergio (Fiat fame) is making huge positive changes, but if Daimler couldn't do it, I hold to my perverse decision to NEVER buy Chrysler again...
(Damn I like the Fiat though)

I've long held the same rule for certain companies and products, but it's only "two strikes and you're out." Maybe I'm easily bruised...

Sigma, on the other hand, has handed me some duds and "optical conundrums" over the years, but I keep going back to see what they're offering. Perhaps it's because they seem to find, and fill, every goofy niche in the lens market (and a few in the camera market)... where else to find a 4.5mm circular fisheye for APS-C, or an 18-35mm constant f/1.8 that can be user-programmed within an inch of it's tolerances? Sigma might be late to the NEX/m43d's market, but they will put out some interesting gimcracks, for sure.

Sigma got a lot of bad press for the first decade or two I heard of them. But the Sigma lenses I've owned, starting with a 105mm Nikon AF macro lens in about 1995 and then much more recently adding their unrivaled 12-24mm full-frame zoom and their 120-400 zoom (which got better reviews than the Nikon 80-400 old model pretty consistently) have all been very successful for me.

Living in the future is wild. I mean, a 12-24mm full-frame zoom? Most of the time I was learning this field, 24mm was exceptionally wide, and only professionals had exotics like 21mm. And eventually there were wider things, maybe out to 14mm, but they cost a fortune. And then one day I bought a 12-24mm zoom for around $800 and it's quite good.

They've also been innovative in other ways. They tried that 50-150/2.8 for DX (same angle of view as a 70-210 on FX), which was in interesting idea, though everybody I know happily continues to use their 70-210 because apparently we really wanted at least 300mm-e for reach, and there's the 120-300/2.8 zoom, and very well-reviewed 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 lenses, and a number of other things.

Lensrentals.com still says they break far too often. I'm fairly soft on my equipment, certainly compared to a rental place, and my Sigma lenses have stood up to me. The two photographic things I've actually had repaired (as opposed to just cleaned or adjusted) in my life are my M3 body (dropped, by somebody other than me, denting one corner) and my D700 body (AF failed completely).

It's good to have more companies trying to innovate their way into our wallets!

I can't remember whether you noted this article about the transformation of Sigma when it came out a month or so back, but it's worth a read -

The new 18-35 looks to be a very sweet (though rather heavy) lens, too.

After two B&D products that caught fire (neither a yard trimmer), I will never give them the opportunity for that third strike. They have plenty of competitors whose products don't catch fire through the ordinary use of their products (as they were designed to be used).


Lock-tite would have secured the wheel bolt

I'm with you there re Black & Decker. I think their products are manufactured in underground caverns where rodents spinning in hamster wheels generate electricity to power up the assembly lines. QA/QC amounts to dropping a product from the waist-level of a short person (no offense to short people--on a good day,I'm five feet four. If nuts and bolts don't spew out upon impact, the item is boxed, loaded up on a cargo vessel, and then ultimately, magically lands on a box store shelf. The clerks at these stores often earn less per hour than a pack of cigs. Now Black and Decker's upscale brand, Dewalt, is pretty good.

You have a lot more patience than I do. I have no problem dropping a camera if it's manufacturer leads me down the garden path with promises.

Sigma recently has really impressed me - I had sworn off the brand after my 28-70 cracked in half during my wife-to-be's graduation(before I had ever asked her out, even!), but their 30 1.4 DX lens made me curious, and proved to be worth the risk. Their new 35 1.4 makes me happy - I have no idea of what it's better than or worse than, it just makes pictures that I saw in the viewfinder. that's enough.

I have the Sigma µ-4/3 version of 60mm f/2.8 and use it a lot.

I understand your "three strike" rule; fortunately, I have only had two Sigma lemons in my life, and have had 4 good/great ones in addition to two I have now.

Some example photos in this flickr set of mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsi42/sets/72157637201197756/

You are more patient than me. I go on the two strikes and you're out, especially if you don't fix your mistakes. However, I disagree with one comment: "barbed-wire sharpness that all the noobies seem to love". "After 65 years. I'm not exactly a "noobie" and I still prefer razor sharp lenses with good contrast (which I usually can't afford!). If I want less of either, its easy to do in post processing, but you can't add information that isn't there. Sharpening algorithms have limits, as do contrast controls, but I can always abstract what I want -or don't want. Its easier now with PShop, but was possible in the darkroom too.

Maybe a good test picture would be of the burned up B&D trimmer.

[I wish I had taken a picture. It got set out for the trash pickup. --Mike]

I personally have a two strikes and you're out policy,so for roughly 45 years now,Sony has been on my don't buy list....I really, REALLY hold a grudge! I won't name the two products,because my oldfartness,(is that a word?) will shine too brightly.
On the other Hand,I have owned two Sigma lenses for just shy of four years now with no problems what so ever.

In a June 2013 blog post at lensrentals.com, Roger Cicala says,

A few years ago I was accused of being a Sigma hater. (For the record, I did hate their quality control and so-called repair service at that time, and I didn’t hesitate to say so in this blog.) For the third or fourth time in the last year, I’m about to be accused of being a Sigma fanboy.

I’m pretty certain I haven’t gone soft over the last 4 years. I am certain, though, that Sigma Photo, Inc. has changed a lot in that time. Truth is, they’re making serious waves in the photo industry these last few years. They’ve improved their repair service and quality assurance. They’ve released some world-class lenses at way less than world-class prices lately.

thumbs up for Sigma!

I have the Sigma 19mm f2.8 ex dn for micro four thirds, and it is absolutely magnificent! very smooth and pleasant bokeh, at about 40mm equivalent ;)

I also have a Sigma DP2s (non-Merril), and it also has a very very nice lens.

so, my encounters with Sigma are only positive!

I have an old K-Mart mower that a neighbor sold me 10 years ago. It refuses to die no matter how poorly I treat it. I'm using the method a friend used on his old Chevy Vega...don't change the oil because that's probably the only thing holding it together.

I'm carefully giving Sigma a chance... the full frame 35/1.4 is a very competent lens. The 30/2.8 for Nex is a hand little lens and a bargain, though I feel it lacks character.

The 60/2.8 is tempting for the price, but in that approximate length range one can use several adapted lenses given that one is ready to give up AF. I never use AF on Nex; doesn't suit the style and the AF on Nexes has been uninspiring so far (Olympus and Nikon are much better in this respect.)

I have a corded Black & Decker electric mower that doesn't have the wheel problem but it does have a different one. After a year or two, the lever that adjusts the mower height started jumping out of the selected slot to the lowest position. I'd be walking along and BAM the mower would drop to the lowest level and scalp the lawn. I started kicking the lever back in at each end of the lawn which looked a bit weird, I expect. I initially solved the problem by hiring a lawn service and then, after I decided that was too expensive, by replacing the lawn with native midwestern perennial prairie wildflowers and grasses. It's much prettier now and doesn't need anywhere near as much water.

As for Sigma, I think they've stepped up their game. I had a 17-50 f2.8 OS that I recently sold and now wish I hadn't. The thing was probably the sharpest zoom I've had and kicked the Canon 24-105L around the block. I'm thinking of replacing it with their new 17-70 f2.8-4 C which I'm reading good things about.

I never had one of the "bad old days" Sigma lenses with the construction problems but I heard all about them from others. Then I got one of their 180mm f/3.5 macros and was blown away – by both construction quality and image quality.

Did you ever contact Black and Decker about your problems? Too late now but sometimes companies are good about making things right. If they aren't good about that, all the more reason to never buy their stuff again and inform anyone you know about your horrible experience.

I had a bad experience with Troy-bilt. I had a self-powered mower that the gear box died on and cannot be repaired. Turns out they knew a problem existed and they replaced that design in newer mowers but refused to do anything to help their existing customers who had bought their crappy design. I never called customer service because I found plenty of forum posts by people who had called and were told the PR equivalent of "tough $%@#." I took off what I could to make it very heavy push mower. Oh well, and I won't make the mistake of buying their junk again. If my grass is ever decent I will buy what one commenter already recommended- the Fiskars reel mower. Now there is a company with good products and great customer service. They replaced my shovel even after I told them *I* was at fault. They said, one shovel is all you get and if you break it again using it for something it's not designed for, then too bad.

Black and Decker almost ruined their brand by expanding into all kinds of things like food choppers and handheld vacuums. Then they found that they were ruining their good name for power tools. They had just bought a company known for making very good jobsite saws- DeWalt, so they slapped that brand on their tools and changed the plastics to yellow and black and now the DeWalt brand is well regarded. Or it used to be. I don't pay attention any more. I don't think Black and Decker's top end power tools ever got bad but they sure had diluted the brand by making things in all grades of good to really poor. I could be wrong, the DeWalt tools could be improvements on the Black and Decker tools but that's not the usual M.O. for money-hungry companies.

I try not to be too brand-conscious. Large companies make a wide range of products over time, and their goals and resources vary during that time. It seems foolish to hold a grudge over some lousy 1980s auto, or some unrelated malfeasance by a company's legal department. But the products themselves have reputations and track records; that's what I look for.

I do share a strong opinion about Black and Decker, though. They make innovative and irresistible niche products that fall short in their construction. My B&D Alligator is unique, AFAIK. It's an electric chainsaw built like a giant pair of scissors. Genius! It's safer, because you must hold switches on both handles to get it cutting. Safer and easier because the chainless arm of the scissors puts a stable hold on the wood to be cut. Only one problem: chain tension is held by a spring, not an adjustable screw, and the spring isn't strong enough. The chain will gradually sag in use, and pop off when cutting with angular force. I keep using it because if its virtues, and carry a pair of pliers in my pocket for the inevitable repairs, which I call work breaks.

BTW, I used to drive an excellent but obscure NSU automobile. Driving to a national meet, I spotted an NSU off the road with one wheel missing. I knew why-- both axles used the same thread, so one side would loosen if you didn't use the special crimping washer to stabilize the nut.

Mike, here's a self-powered lawn mower that never throws a wheel:


"At all times let a man be as supple as a reed and not rigid as a cedar."

I was once a Sigma hater too, even though I never actually owned any of their lenses.

Today I own *six* Sigma lenses.

Why? Because Sigma is one of the few companies still supporting APS-C DLSRs. For example, the 17-50 f/2.8 OS and 50-150 f/2.8 OS for crop DSLRs, the wide angles, and the mirrorless lenses for NEX.

Sigma is also the only one still innovating in APS-C, such as with the new 18-35 f/1.8 and the 8-16mm ultra-wide.

For full frame, Sigma has put out 3 new f/1.4 primes in the last five years, and has made telephoto zooms that no one else dares - a 120-300mm f/2.8, and a 300-800mm f/5.6 for example.

Not all of their lenses are brilliant, but Sigma today is a completely different company than they were even 5 or 10 years ago, much less 20 or 30 years ago.

Sony's on my two-strike list for the reasons you note, they won't settle and make the same thing for three years in a row. Annoying.

Sigma drives me nuts with half their zooms zooming clockwise, the others ccw. What the hay? But they create some fine lenses like the 50-150 f/2.8 (which only the II comes in PK mount - a foul tip, but others make far less in PK). I tolerate them but I won't run them out of my kit just yet.

If your Sigma 60mm "doesn't have that hard, screechy, barbed-wire sharpness", there might be something wrong with it! LensTip tested the m4/3 version and found it among the highest resolving lenses they've tested for the format:
Despite that, everything I've seen from it suggests it makes lovely pictures. :-)

Now you need to try the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 for your Big Dragoon. It might not be to your taste, but it's reported to be an exceptional lens.

Sigma seems to be doing a lot of things right these days. I'd like to put in my request for a 90mm or 100mm f/2.8 (180mm-e or 200mm-e on m4/3) with similar performance to the 60mm. A 10mm f/2.8 for m4/3 would also be most welcome.

No experience at all with Sigma lenses, but I've got some B&D "Industrial" tools that I bought back in the eighties; a hammer drill, a screwgun, and a drill bit sharpener. They were well made, repairable tools, and they still run great. I'm pretty sure they don't manufacture that line under the B&D name any more though. These days the B&D label is mostly found on homeowner-grade tools that are designed with the knowledge that they'll spend most of their lives hanging in a garage rather than working on a jobsite.

The corporate history of most tool manufacturers is a subject that would fill a multi-volume treatise. Many of the formerly great manufacturers of high quality tools survive in name only. B&D is one of them.

You can add Samsung to the list. First I had a very expensive flat screen TV crap out a month after the one year warranty expired, then a dryer that malfunctioned one month after I got it (top of the line, too), and finally, last summer, a DVD player that lasted for exactly one movie. One!
Never again.

I seem to have bought more bad B&D than lenses in my day. The first two were Dustbusters that did not really pick up anything much and the battery failed on the second one. The last tool was an electric sander that was incapable of holding the sandpaper in place. Last B&D ever. Three failures and you are out. I also bad mouth the brand whenever I get the chance.

Never had a Sigma anything but I used a Black and Decker cordless electric mower on my two acre yard all summer. Did not lose a single wheel.

Well, lemme tell ya about Sigma, Mike. You have an A900, I have an A850.

The 85 f1.4? Shockingly sharp. I'm using it for fine arts repro, just superb.

The 24 f1.8? Not as sharp, but the fastes wide in my arsenal, and a fine lens. Most people have no idea this lens exists.

The 50 f1.4? Well, here's a story: got it based on the glowing reviews it got----and just felt it wasn't that great. Didn't use it much (and I'm not much of a normal lens guy, or at least I didn't used to be). Then I microadjusted all my lenses---and this one continued to be not great: in fact, started to look bad compared to the others. Then i tried it for this repro work i've been doing, manually focising with a right angle finder with 2x mag. Something is definitely not right. So, I call Sigma, wanting to know how much this is going to cost me, since i'm sure it's out of warranty (been well over a year). Actually get to talk to a tech guy up on Long Island. He gives me a kind of ballpark figure for the repair charge, and then says "wait a minute. When did you buy this?" I tell him , and he says "well, that's still under warranty, so no charge."

3 year warranty. Sent it out that day, had it back within a week. It's perfect.

Now we have all read about how Sigma has started their own testing procedures, because the old standard random lens test wasn't working, so now they'll test 'em all (I think), and now they are making a straightforward distinction between the consumer grade lenses and their "Art" lenses...

I'm with Sigma for life. Also have their inexpensive little 30mm f 2.8 for my NEX7....just fine.

BTW, not Sigma, but....Rokinon/Samyang are for real. Got their 35 f1.4 manual lens: sharp as a tack. Now I have the 24mm f3.5 T/S. Don't have any results of my own yet, but everything I've seen by other users looks fine. All of these are Sony mt for me, btw. AND: Samyang/Rokinon are going to be the first company after Zeiss to do their lenses in the FE mount, for the A7/A7r.

The Sigma DN 60mm has been a keeper so far for me:



These are two of mine from a recent vacation. The lens held its own with a Zeiss Touit 32mm as far as image quality is concerned. I'm not sure about the build quality of any of the Sony E-mount lenses I've seen, over the long haul but so far so good.

Yep, I'm another Sigma proponent and have only ever had good experiences with these lenses. To the point where (back in my 35mm Nikon F100 days) Sigma lenses were just about all I had in my bag.

While I never much cared for the weird matte/sparkly coating of the "EX DG" lenses, I loved the value and apparent quality. Heck, I had the whole set of 1.8s - the 20, 24 and 28, as well as the big 70-200/2.8 and some others I don't recall and only the only dog of the bunch was the old 28-70/2.8 and that mostly just because it was such an unwieldy beast with so-so IQ.

I've long since divested myself of all these cameras and older Sigma lenses in preference of medium and large format gear, but I do still have a D300 and a beautiful Sigma 17-70/2.8-4 DC which has both IS and internal "AF-S" type focussing. It's one of their newer lines with the little chrome "C" badge (whatever that stands for) and the new, smooth and redesigned aesthetic which is quite pleasing. Not to mention that it's an excellent normal zoom with pretty great "IQ" to my eye.

I always have and probably always will look to Sigma first for small format lenses for their great value and diversity as compared to OEM glass.

You need the "I fought the lawn and the lawn won." tee shirt.

With the kids grown up and outta the house the wife and I moved to an apartment. Lawn problem solved.

Sigma lenses? Never had one. Have read on the internet that, at least in the past, the name meant SIG-nificant MA-lfunctions. But, like several posts here suggest, they seem to have cleaned up their act.

The new line of Sigma Art lenses look pretty good.

I have had similar issues with Sigma over time. OTOH, my budget is such that a normal prime for m4/3 is not in the picture - except for the Sigma 30/2.8 DN. On the long end of normal but not too far & the price is right. Still, my past experiences make me waffle.

So here are you biting on it's short tele brother. I will be watching your experiences with this one very closely because I want your experience to work out. I'm not going to have the coin for a Panasonic 25/1.4 in the foreseeable future but I could afford the Sigma by selling some things and eating ramen when The Boss isn't looking.

I probably won't be able to jump till after Christmas (an 11 year old's presents have a far higher priority) so you'll have some time to wring it out. I hope, for both of us, that it works out for the best.

For years, Chrysler cars had lug nuts that had reverse threads on the driver side wheels. The idea was to prevent the lug nuts from loosening due to the rotation of the wheel. Chrysler eventually stopped doing this, as it really was not necessary if the lug nuts were properly torqued down. Also, people who did not know this about those cars couldn't figure out why they could not loosen those lug nuts. It makes things especially frustrating when you are trying to change a flat tire.
I think that some toilet handles are also reverse threaded for the same reason.
Is there a machine shop near you that might be able to cut a reverse thread that side of the axle with a die?

I have a similar love/hate relationship with Sigma.
Their old "Apo" 400mm is a disaster and they won't fix the focus for me. Then again I got it second-hand, so who knows what the previous owner has put it through?

On the other hand, the DGEX 24-70/2.8 (old model with the separate aperture ring) and the DGEX ApoMacro 180/3.5 are two of the best I've ever mounted in my Nikons. Incredibly good for the price.
And the 19/2.8 for m4/3 (smaller beer bottle, black) is nothing short of amazing!

If they keep this up and put out an apsc or m4/3 sized foveon sensor camera, I.might.just.be.tempted...

"1) the Sony BMG copy protection rootkit scandal (breaking your paying users' computers),"

Andrew, I thought I was the only one. Good to see another who remembers!

Hilarious B&D story. Well I had a Bosch reel mower a few years back. After a while the wheel to blade transmission failed. Turns out the inside gears are made of plastic (!). I changed them for a few bucks, Bosch service keeps them in stock, one wonders why.

Then it dawned on me: Our family reel mower in the 1970's (!!) - unknown brand, not Bosch - already kept on failing for the exact same reason. Not to pick on Bosch, I like many other of their products. But sometimes, it seems like there just is no progress.

Black and Decker hit 3 strikes with us solely on the basis of drip coffee makers which all failed in the same way, they just quit heating. 3 of them in as many years. They made subtle changes to jazz up the outward appearance of the things over that period but apparently never addressed the fundamental failure problem. I can forgive a lot but a lack of coffee in the morning is not one of them!

I also have one of their battery powered drills which threatens to light on fire every time I use it. I have to "work the smoke out" before I use it in earnest and am always ready to drop it in a bucket of water if need be. But, it keeps working so far.

Aussie here.

Sigma is why Pentax in Australia has been dead for the last twenty years or so.

The distributor of Pentax is also the distributor of Sigma lenses. Plenty of people like Pentax, but are blasé about Sigma, for good reason. Many of their lenses, especially the cheap ones, are simply terrible. I concur with the other poster who had a Sigma that literally fell apart. Wouldn't surprise me.

So, I'm guessing, CRK (the Pentax/Sigma distributor) has/had deal with Sigma where they must sell X amount of lenses per year. And since no one was buying them...guess what happened?

CRK made it nigh-on impossible to buy a Pentax with either a genuine Pentax lens, or even without a lens at all.

You had to pay for the lowest, scummiest, distorting-est Sigma lens there was, whether you liked it or not. Go to any pawn shop and you'll see about a million 28-90 Sigma kit zooms in (plastic) K-mounts.

The other effect of this was that, no kidding, camera staff started telling me in the mid-2000s that Pentax doesn't make lenses anymore.

Pentax. Not making lenses. That's some strong stuff they're smoking.

When I bought my *istD, the only option was a Sigma zoom. I asked for a Pentax one. Nope. Not possible.

When I bought my K100D, again, same thing. Sigma-only kits. I asked the salesman for a Pentax that was actually cheaper than the 18-200 hyperzoom that was the millstone around the K100D's neck. Nope. Asked if I could have it without the lens. Nope. Even if I still paid full price for the kit?

"No. We're not allowed to do that." Actual quote. Verbatim.

So, Pentax's reputation down here suffered. Because how pathetic is this camera company that can't even make its own lenses, right? They have to get some dodgy third-party stuff in. And this is what they choose to put on it?

Fortunately, they've pulled their head in now, and you can get Pentax kits. CRK have upped their game, but the damage is still being repaired.

Craig, Sony disclosed the E mount specs and invited lens manufacturers to contribute to the mount in 2011 (http://support.d-imaging.sony.co.jp/www/e_mount/en/detail.html) without licensing fees.

At the time of the initial announcement (http://www.dpreview.com/news/2011/2/8/makersbackemount) Sigma, Carl Zeiss, Tamron and Cosina made encouraging noises. Samyang (Rokinon) have also produced native E mount lenses (like the 8mm/2.8 fisheye).

I've previously shied away from Sigma lenses due to bad press but I did get their 19mm/2.8 for E mount (original version). I'm pretty happy with the results and have no regrets. Hopefully we'll see the native lens line-up for E and FE mount fill out with both OEM and third-party lenses soon.

I have to put in a good word for my Sigma dp2 Merrill. Its an amazing camera and in many ways it seems to fulfil your desire for a simple straightforward camera with great IQ. It produces tonally rich and sharp medium format like colour images up to 400 ISO and beautiful b/w up to 1600 ISO. It weighs less than 400 grams. Michael Reichmann raved about it http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/sigma_dp2m_review.shtml and curmudgeonly Lloyd Chambers has written frequently about its virtues. Highly enjoyable. Unfortunately their RAW converter is the worst software imaginable and necessary to batch convert to tiffs for use elsewhere. Nonetheless it's my favourite camera.

If you want to make money from your lovely little site, Mike, you should be linking to Amazon every time you type Black and Decker…

opinions do change. Purchased one of the very first Sigma DP1's and used it through repeated mechanical failures. 2 years ago, after the 3rd such failure I swore them off (3rd strike rule). Recently I needed to access images from my Sigma Library and was once again impressed with what a genius photographer I evidently am. Now I use a DP3M. It appears to be quite well built, but I did buy a 4 year "every possible failure" warranty.

What about y'r old friend, the Takumar 1.4/50mm? Do you still have it? Then a simple adapter was all you needed, to get a short tele.
Novoflex (Germania) makes both an M-42—to—Sony and a Pentax-K—to—Sony model.
I believe the Sony's have a feature called "focus-peaking" by which you can manually focus old-school lenses.

[Hi Nicolaas, No, I no longer have that. --Mike]

I have the 19mm and 30mm for M4/3rd's, before they were "upgraded", and when they were being blown out at 99 bucks apiece. They seems to be very functional lenses in terms of imaging, but they also seem like they won't last very long and are very "loosey-goosey". There's certainly a huge difference in construction between them and the 45mm Oly I have...huge!

Have to say, one look at the back of a photo magazine at the B&H ads for Sigma, and you have to wonder how they're producing a lens line that's 5 times bigger than any other indie lens manufacturer; it's gotta give somewhere and I'm thinking QC is probably it. Haven't been happy about some Sigmas in the past, we'll see how the 19 and 30 go. Back in the day, always considered Tamron and Tokina beter than about anything, with Vivitar next, and Soligor dead last (whatever happened to Kiron, their locking zoom ring was a blessing to prime lens users!).

BTW, looking at the same listings, what's the deal with Tokina (one of the better manufacturers), making so many lenses that are virtually the same?

>> it's true that it doesn't have that hard, screechy, barbed-wire sharpness that all the noobies seem to love these days

My thinking: I can always soften sharpness, but it's much dodgier trying to sharpen softness. Thus: pay for sharpness if the lens is otherwise sweet.

In 1983 I bought a well used mostly metal Black & Decker electric mower at a garage sale for $5. It needed a switch and there was a B&D Parts store on my way to work. Once I put in the new switch, it started every time. It was our only mower for 30 years. Put in one set of brushes. Last year we moved to a condo, so I sold it at a garage sale for more than the purchase price plus parts.

Now the Canon AE-1 Program I bought in 1982 never did work right...

For your lawnmower, one world: Loctite. The red one is for permanent things, it needs heat to loosen it, but there are plenty of other colors depending on your thread size.

As far as lawn equipment and power tools go, I will never buy anything by Ryobi or Poulan Pro again. A Ryobi leaf blower's noisy, underpowered engine seized after one season of use and a Ryobi drill's exterior shell actually melted into rubbery goo after a couple of years. The Poulan Pro weed whacker I bought had a motor mount break apart after two summer's use. Since the motor mounts were part of the motor itself, it went in the trash. I'm currently limiting my lawn equipment to Echo and Stihl brands and Anything But Ryobi for power tools.

I honestly can't name a brand of photographic equipment that I would never buy again. Individual samples here and there were disappointing but I can't think of a single brand name that I would avoid.

Black and Decker has had recalls on their trimmers in the past, mostly for a shock hazard from the handle.

The mistake that many consumers make, though, is not using a proper extension cord. I purchased a 15amp, 100ft cord after burning up a B&D leaf blower using an old cord of unknown amperage rating. A 15amp cord that long is about a $50 investment, but well worth it.

Black & Decker were once, a good manufacturer. Then the new owners decided the name was more important than the product(s). So now the name is applied to far too many home, kitchen and yard products which B&D has acquired the rights to produce and in turn lower the overall quality of the product to self-immolate or worse. I found two identical bread toasters at a local big-box store. One was the store's "house-brand priced at C$11.00, the other a Black and Decker at twice the price.
Purchased the house brand, ditto a small hand mixer with the same side by side test. That was six years ago. Both the house-brand items are still doing yeoman service. When I purchase anything look firs tto see where it was manufactured and who assembled the product. Many companies have disposed of their final assembly lines, letting somebody else do so and collecting the profits from the name on the box. I use a 50 year old Sunbeam Mixmaster, which was converted from 25 cycle to 60 cycle in about 1956; it still does a superb job of mixing cake batter. Three speeds, 1,2,3 and stop. As to lenses, Sigma and Tamron are best used for target practice, see if you can shoot a straight hole down the middle of the barrel while the lense is sitting on a pole 100 yeards away. Shattering and muc required instant death.

Sigma managed to get on my avoid list with just one product: the 30mm f/1.4 (Nikon DX mount). I used it casually for all of 7 months before the AF motor stopped working. Sent it in for repair only to be told that the fault was due to 'impact', and thus the warranty did not apply. I tried to argue the point (the only 'impact' it had seen was that of being screwed onto the camera's bayonet), but was unsuccessful, so I very unhappily paid $250 to have my nearly-new paperweight repaired. Three months later, the focus motor failed again. This time at least they honored the warranty, but I sold the lens immediately. I'll still buy Sigma products in the future, but only with the assumption that the item is being purchased 'as-is' (no warranty, and priced accordingly).

In todays world, the big box stores dictate to the manufacturers what they will pay for a given item. So, the manufacturers must de-content accordingly in order to move the merchandise. An example of this is the Milwaukee (an old line American brand)Sawzall.
One of the 'improvements' in Sawzalls destined for sale in certain big box chains was the substitution of cheap sleeve bearings for anti-friction (ball and roller) styles. Accordingly, the basic tool went from being 'contractor' grade to just another 'homeowner' tool. Over time, the downward pressure on cost eventually forced the entire hand held power toolindustry off-shore. One has to wonder when viewing the faux pallets of Nikon and Canon DLSRs at Costco.

I think every manufacturing culture reaches its apogee of reliability for a number of years and then declines. At this height, you can reasonably expect to buy well known brand of manufactured goods and expect them to last for decades with good care, if not for a lifetime.

For example, in 1965 you could walk into an American store and buy a Maytag washer or a Frigidaire refrigerator and reasonably expect it to last a couple of decades or more.

My sense is that British goods reached this peak and then fell away before the Second World War. Things made in West Germany were at this level of perfection from the 1950s to the 1970s or so. I have a German pencil sharpener bought in 1962, and it sits on my desk where I have used it daily to this day.

In the US, 1970 was about the last date this was a common experience, but many manufacturers honorably continued to offer that level of reliability in their goods for another decade at least.

Japanese consumer goods (think old Sony Trinitron or a Nikon F2) were at this level from the mid 1960s to the end of the 1980s.

With global, outsourced, distributed manufacturing, these country specific generalizations are no longer possible, I think. Certainly goods from the current manufacturing powerhouse, China, have no special reputation for reliability (as yet).

Individual manufacturers may still continue that old tradition in their corporate culture, but the market itself no longer values durability or reliability over a long period. Everyone is now used to, and furthermore, wants to, upgrade their phones every two years and may even secretly wish for failure in durable goods in order to justify their next spending expedition.

In other words, why won't my Nikon D100 die already, darn it? It's been around 10 whole years!


Yeps, a wannahave......but until Christmas.

Greets, Ed.

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