The Lenses That They Don’t Sell


The customers in our shop are a dedicated lot – in some cases dedicated to driving the staff crazy – but in other instances they concentrate their efforts on themselves. They read the internet 26 hours a day, consult constantly with other photographers, attend classes, courses, seminars, workshops, riots, exorcisms, and crochet circle tea evenings. They apply themselves to the study of the minautae of the art with the enthusiasm of religious converts.

None of the topics occupy them more than the lenses. Every aspect of the photographic lens is tabulated and debated. Endless test shots are taken and then stacked side-by-side for comparison. Charts are produced and then argued about in forums on the net and camera club meetings. Passion flows, and heated words are exchanged.

When it comes time to think about purchasing and paying, all hell breaks loose. Every seller of optics is consulted in an effort to cheapen a price and every trick in the book is tried – up to and including fraudulent claims to the federal government for GST rebates at airports.

Few of the debaters ever give much thought to the two lenses that they have in their possession that were given to them for free. The ones that sit either side of their nose. They get a cursory thought every five to ten years when a new optometrist¬†advertises a free eye exam…but even then little heed is paid to what they are doing.

Don’t think I am guilt-free in this. I recently took my nose and eyes to the optometrist with the complaint of blurring of vision in the right eye. I was pleased to find that I am not developing glaucoma but annoyed that there are cataracts forming – I will need eye surgery in about 3 years. Apparently if this is performed one can lose the eyeglasses for distance vision, retaining them only for reading. I can’t say I look forward to the prospect, but at least the fear is gone – and a new prescription for my current glasses went in this week – the improvement to distance shooting is phenomenal.

How often have we sat there looking at the LCD screen of the camera and deciding momentous things – expensive things – on the basis of what may be our own flawed sight? Do we spend vast sums on half-vast lenses because we see worse than they do? Would we be better soaking it out into an eye exam and a new pair of glasses?


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