The Most I’ve Ever Spent

My hands are still shaking.  Numb.  Anxious.  Sweating.  Shivering.  Elated.  Nauseous.  Guilty.  Prickly.  Who could have thought all these moods can fit in one body, at one time?  It feels like a panic attack is about to hit, but this is just my reaction to spending a LOT of money.

I just spent $1525.

Canon 24mm f/1.4 L lens.

On this baby….

There’s tons of things we want in life, and not that much that we need.  I wasn’t raised to be frugal, I was raised to be cheap.  But you know how it is with the second generation!  We know how to “treat ourselves”.  Not only that, we know how to spoil ourselves.  What I worry about, when looking at my peers, is whether I’ll know when and how to stop.  It’s impossible to fully enumerate all the bad spending habits of my generation.  When I was working during high school, my mom would take my earnings and put it in a savings account for me.  Some girl found out and told me this was the wrong thing to do.  What I needed to do, what the smart thing to do was to take my new income and INVEST it.  Sounds good so far?  Nope – she wanted me to “invest” my money by buying LV purses.  Not to resell…but to use and enjoy.  Spending is not investing, however, those are two different things!

Don’t get me wrong.  There are definitely high priced things I WANT to buy, such as the following:

  1. Cintiq 22HD – $2000.  For more enjoyable digital illustrations.  Sucks not being able to look at what you draw on a regular pen tablet.
  2. Intuos5 Wacom Tablet, Medium – $346.  For work.  Cintiq isn’t great for that, but I fully admit this may be redundant if I do get a Cintiq.
  3. AKG Acoustics K240 Semi Open Studio Headphones – $80.  I used to have the old Bose On-Ear Headphones, which were the BEST. Super comfortable, amazing sound, never hurt any part of my head ever.  Even with piercings in.  But they sadly broke, and the new version is crappier.  I don’t know what happened to Bose, but they’re degrading, they no longer stand for the quality they used to stand for.  AKG K240s sound great and cost only $80…..I borrowed a friend’s and found that they didn’t hurt my head or ears at all for the entire work day.  They seem like a good compromise!  Plus I think my old Bose ones broke partially because they’re always swiveling and folding (as intended).  Something went lose in the wiring and one side no longer works.

Now I should say…this list used to be longer.  A LOT longer.  But in 2012 I definitely started to treat myself.  Financially I’m doing alright, better than before.  I’m no longer on Medicaid, which is awesome.  I can afford my own insurance, though it does suck to see how insurance greatly diminishes my income.  I treated myself this Autumn to 2 things I been wanting for a very long time…sewing classes ($440), New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes for minimalist running (been wanting since I read Born to Run in January, on sale for $78), and a very expensive camera lens.

And oh…that camera lens!!  It’s the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 II L-lens.  New, it’s $1800 (though Canon is running a discount on new items at the moment).  But the refurbished lens sale is going on right now on their official site.  It happens every now and then, often enough during the year.  People wait for it and spring for new lenses, dropping over $2500 on a single item. You’d think it would take a while for something to sell out when it’s the price of a used car, but this stuff disappears faster than roaches when you switch on the lights.

Good glass is expensive.  Doubly or triply so when it’s a “fast lens“; in layman’s terms, a fast lens allows you to shoot in indoor/dimly-light/night-time situations without tons of grain and blur.  It’s an inverse relationship when you look at the numeric values, so the lower the digits go on the f-stop, the “faster” a lens is.  An f-stop of 1.4 is faster than 1.8.  An f-stop of 4.0 is faster than 11.0.  Oh, and that “L” at the end of the lens name?  That stands for “LUXURY”.  Seriously.  So you know it’s going to cost a lot.

Although I acted quickly on this refurbished sale, getting the 24mm f/1.4L wasn’t completely an impulse buy.  The only other lenses in my possession are the 18-55mm f/3.5 kit lens that came with my T2i, and a 50mm f/1.4 that I bought.  The fifty is AMAZING, beautiful, and has such a smooth, blurry background on out of focus objects.  Because of it, I now see how awful the quality of the kit lens is.  Sometimes I take shots and I think wow, this is an awesome shot…but there’s purple fringing and noise and junk everywhere. It has been outgrown, my eyes have finally evolved.

What makes the 24mm f/1.4 perfect is that it’s:

  1. Wide.  A 50mm on my crop sensor is more akin to 80mm or so.  That’s just too telephoto; I stand a few feet away from a person and still can only fit their head and neck in to frame.  In order to take most of their body or their entire body, from a few feet away, I need to take like 8 pictures and stitch them together in to one on the computer.  It’s very tedious and annoying. Plus because I have to stand so far away and take so many shots, people walk in and out of my picture.  When you’re indoors too, there isn’t much space to back up in order to get things in frame.  This is exactly where a wide angle lens would come in handy.
  2. Fast lens.  Because it’s so fast, and I usually want a wider lens when I’m indoors, this is perfect.  A fast lens is good indoors because there is less lighting.  There is absolutely no way a manmade lamp can rival the power of the sun.  Not even the moon can compete, and thus the 24mm L is also great in a night time setting.  What’s more….I DON’T NEED A TRIPOD!!!  For some people, lugging a tripod around isn’t that hard.  Some people are strong, some people have goddamn CARS that they drive.  But I live in NYC, we don’t have cars.  I can’t afford one.  There’s no where to stash my tripod as I go about my day, you either carry it or you leave it at home.  Because it’s a fast lens, I don’t need a tripod to stabilize my shot.  I can fire away, handheld.

A friend of mine does own this exact lens, and he pushed me off the fence about buying it.  He said it’s one of his most favorites, one of the lenses that just never comes off his camera.  He uses a 7D, which is also a crop sensor camera, and still enjoys it.  So I figured, why not?  This lens hits all the points that I wanted my new wide-angle lens to hit.  The ONE little flaw is that I had something closer to 20mm in mind.  But 24mm may be good enough. I’ll still have to “zoom with my feet” to fit things in frame, or exclude things.  At least the 50mm has taught me that much, and I don’t find it too difficult anymore.

My boss also encouraged me to buy it, saying it would be a great lens for me.  Wide angles, he told me, are easy to be lazy with.  It’s easier than a telephoto lens to get things in focus, and it’s easy to just thoughtlessly take a big wide shot of something and move on.  But he’s seen my other photos on Facebook, and he especially mentioned that I wasn’t afraid to get low or get weird angles on things.  Hopefully I don’t regress and get lazy….I am still NOT used to getting complements.  I really appreciate that he said that to me, but of course…I acted awkwardly and said thanks, but quickly switched topics.

Can’t wait for the new lens to get in so I can test it!

Just that stupid Hurricane Sandy messed up the package delivery system all up and down the East Coast.  I’m waiting on 2 other packages already, from 2 weeks ago.  You can bet your life that I’ll be posting sample shots with my first L-lens here in the future!

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