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09-05-2010, 12:09 PM   #1
Marc Sabatella's Avatar

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Location: Denver, CO
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Replacing M100/2.8 and M135/3.5 with M120/2.8 - crazy?

A lot of you know the kind of pictures I typically use my M100/2.8 and M135/3.5 for - if not, feel free to check out my concert photography at Zenfolio | Marc Sabatella. Many of you also have some ideas about my general take on a number of issues due to my not infrequent posting here :-). So with that in mind:

Before I got my DA70, I used the M100/2.8 a ton. Loved it, and still do, actually. probably my favorite single focal length for concert photography assuming I'm shooting from up close in a small venue, which is usually the case.

Since getting the DA70, I am more likely to take it and the 135 and leave the 100 at home in the interest of simplicity. The 135 works quite well when I'm a little further back, and I do find f/3.5 "close enough" to f/2.8 to not be an issue most of the time. I end up using the 135 a lot more more than the 70 when I am further back, but when I am closer up, it tends to be more 50/50, and they make a decent team.

I have to say, though, when I do bring the 100 along as well (because the shoot is important enough to me to want the added flexibility), I still am aware of how much I do like a focal length that is a bit shorter than 135. And yet, I can't see having the 70 and 100 as my main team, both because the 100 isn't long enough if I'm back at all, and also because the 100 lacks a hood, and I'd prefer to identify one lens I can use my main telephoto both for concerts and other situations.

So I keep coming back to the M120/2.8, which I've let slip through my fingers a number of times before. It's getting harder to find now, but I'm trying to prepare myself mentally to be ready to go for it should it show up at a decent (eg, not gokevincameras) price. I am strongly considering selling the 100 sooner rather than later to have money ready in my paypal account (my wife has another copy of the 100 we can share). I could also sell off my A50/1.7 (which I rarely use) and share my wife's M version. If I need to scare up a little more cash, I could see myself selling the 135 (not that it would likely fetch much) and/or my M200/4, knowing full well I could get another in a heartbeat. With luck, it wouldn't cost anything to make the trade. I'm just trying to decide if I'm likely to regret it.

IQ-wise, I love the 100, like the 135 a lot too, but find few opinions on the 120 (and yes, I've read the three reviews in the db here, and the couple on Stan's Photography). Since I shoot so much at high ISO, and even then seldom get shutter speeds fast enough to *totally* kill subject motion, I'm virtually never getting maximum sharpness out of my lenses in these settings. So even if the 120 was a little softer, that's not the end of the world. And I do enough PP that slight differences in contrast or whatever else aren't an issue.

So bottom line: does anyone have any further thoughts for me here?

And no, selling them all and getting the 50-135 is just not going to happen. Aside from the price differential, I just don't do big zooms.

09-05-2010, 12:26 PM   #2
8540tomg's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
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It's hard to advise another on this sort of thing except to describe what I use in concert and auditorium situations. I'm a fan of the 200mm focal length for these situations.

I've seen a lot of your work in this area Marc and you do a great job. For my purposes a 135mm would be too short and slow unless perhaps it were the A 135/1.8. As this one is rare and extremely expensive it has yet to find its way into my bag.

I use the SMC Pentax K 200.2.5. It is fairly compact (about 7 inches), very sharp, bright and fast enough to be hand held. It is a little heavy however but ease of focusing in low light helps to compensate. I know manual focus lenses present no problems for you so perhaps this one might scratch that itch you seem to be developing. This is my favourite all time manual focus lens. This or the A 200/2.8 might serve as well if you can find one and the budget allows.

Tom G

Last edited by 8540tomg; 09-05-2010 at 12:27 PM. Reason: typo
09-05-2010, 12:41 PM   #3
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AndrewG NY's Avatar

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Location: Chappaqua, NY
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Marc, I ended up springing for a rare M120/2.8 even though I already had a M135/3.5, expecting to use it on film as well (if not more). I already also sprung for a pricey K85/ 100 seemed a bit close and also covered by macro lenses, etc. I like the M120 for its compactness and that its minimum focus distance is a bit better (1.2m vs. 1.5m).

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