Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Busting a Budget

Updated to add: Rereading this entry I realize I've made an assumption that the reader is psychic and/or has spent many lonely hours contemplating his/her camera and the quality of light. So let me translate: I am obsessing about a glass filter (called a circular polarizer or CPL) that screws onto the front of my camera lens. This particular filter works kind of like polarized sunglasses for your camera only it's screwed in front of the lens and rotates, so the sky in the image looks bluer and bright reflections are toned down -- all depending how you rotate it, hence the circular part. The 77mm part is the diameter of the filter that fits on the lens. This filter is great for landscape shots, of which I take a lot, and also for shooting fish. (Lately I am also obsessed with koi -- which is how I lost my last polarizer, by having the pieces unravel and fall in a koi pond I was leaning over.) If you have the ability to use filters on your lens, I highly recommend buying yourself a circular polarizer filter and trying it out. It's a lot of fun. Thus ends the prologue.

I talk a good game, but when it comes down to sticking with a budget I have my idiosyncrasies. I become easily excited and impatient, even though I understand how important it is to plan for the long-term.

For example, I broke my 77mm circular polarizer 6 months ago. I turned it, the spring exploded, and half of it fell into a koi pond in San Diego, CA. There was no fixing it. (Sleeps with the fishes, see?)

I was content not to replace it for 6 months because I don't use the wide angle as much now that I have the 50mm fixed and the fish-eye. But... I just bought a fancy new long lens that takes 77mm filters. And a CPL is my most treasured filter. So now I have two lenses that can use this filter. (Also someday when I upgrade bodies I can give any extra filters to Jer)

The CPL I really want is a Singh-Ray, but it is expensive. I know it's priced high for a reason, but I just can't justify the expense yet. What I can justify however, is a $35 Hoya which will get me through the next couple of months. Plus I'd rather buy two of the Singh-Ray graduated neutral density filters (2 stop soft and 3 stop hard) that I've been lusting over for the last 6 years. My priorities may be skewed but at least I have them.

In the end I am about to spend $36 (with shipping) to buy the bare minimum I can get away with -- well that's not exactly true, I could get away with washed out skies and specular reflections if I *have* to, I just don't *want* to. It is the same type of filter that exploded six months ago, but it works well enough.

Back to the point of the story. I'm eating a slice of $1.37 bread from the drug store with a smear of generic brand peanut butter for breakfast every morning, making my own coffee, subsisting on sandwiches for dinner, and the occasional Lean Cuisine on sale, all to save money -- and then I go and buy this filter.

I don't know if I'm ashamed or proud of myself, but I do feel a little bit dirty.


Melain said...

I have no idea what you just said. Are you talking about a camera? That's what it sounds like...

and you should be PROUD. I once ate only 1 meal a day for 2 weeks so I could buy a pair of designer shoes at an upcoming sale event. I'm not sorry at all!

Christy said...

Ha, thanks. I feel better about it now.

I got so caught up in my rant I forgot to be clear. I'm obsessing about a glass filter that screws onto the front of my camera lens. This particular filter works like polarized sunglasses only it's screwed in front of the lens, so the sky in the image looks bluer and bright reflections are toned down. The 77mm part is the diameter of the filter. It's great for landscape shots, which I take a lot. Hope that makes more sense. :)

danf said...

I assume when you mention upgrading bodies, you're still talking about cameras? :)

Christy said...

Man, I just can't win. :)

Karen said...

Apparently I get bonus points for understanding every word of your post when I first read it, pre-update. :) And I'm right there with ya on the money thing. My honey wants to spend $12 on a new frame piece for one of his kites (because the old one broke), and I'm all about the "you can't; we have no money." But suddenly when I want to buy some new camera accessory, or an organizational item for the new house with a $50 price tag, it's "But I want it, so I'm sure we can afford it somehow. I'll just buy it and figure out the money later." For some reason he takes issue with this....I can't imagine why. :)

Also, this is why I will never be able to take photography beyond an occasional hobby: for me, a $35 Hoya is an expensive filter. I remember buying my very first one, years ago: "They want how much for this little piece of glass?!"

Damn, I hate being poor.