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Garmin Alpha Review: Still the top dog?

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A review of the Garmin Alpha 100 dog tracker
The underdogs and I like to go places.  Remote places...places no man has gone before.  At least no man not wearing blaze orange.  This means being prepared for the unknown.  The unexpected.  The lost.  This means gps tracking.

The Garmin Alpha is the Thundarr Barbarian of the dog tracking world.  Rugged, a little rough around the edges but the technology it wields may just bring peace in a post apocalyptic world.  This thing opens doors just not possible prior to owning it , and does so while sweating testosterone.  Yeah, I like it just fine.
As a reminder, my reviews are not technical specs or full of scientific testing.  My reviews are about how any given product may fit into or enhance the life of a mid-life fool like me.  There may be a few like-minded souls out there.  The wise ones, I call them.  Those who know to really disconnect, you need* technology.   Those of us battling mortality can often take solace in the distraction of ou…

Review of the 7Artisans 55mm 1.4 Lens

The Pocket Rocket

This is not the greatest review in the world.  No, this is just a tribute.

He is fast...the 7Artisans is faster!  Ok...maybe a tie.

Review disclaimer:  Review is from a middle-aged road warrior and applies only to how this product fits in with his legion of followers*

When you invest in an interchangeable lens camera system you quickly realize it is a crazy expensive hobby.  You begin to sell things to fund your obsession for just one...more...focal length.  This goes on for a while until you finally realize two things:

1.  You are not a professional and if you were you would likely hate photography...and 
2.  You are middle-aged, facing mortality and start to realize the importance of getting the most bang for your buck in every decision.
Tiny metal warrior.

This little gem packs an awful lot of bang for the buck.



As I have covered in countless other blogs (countless means two), I am pretty well entrenched in the Fujifilm ecosystem.  Part of the appeal of Fuji is they make arguably some of the best glass (lenses) in the entire solar system.  I have not actually traveled to other planets, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

Once you have been sucked into this cult that is a Fuji fandom, you quickly realize a couple things.  Their lenses are crazy good.  Their lenses are crazy expensive.  Time to get smart about your collection and learn to pick your spots.  That is exactly what a shrewd NoEgg sniper does to perfection...picks his spots and plugs the holes with camo color duct tape.  

We are talking here about a little, tiny, lens that is INSANELY FAST camo duct tape.  Pocket Rocket indeed!  Considering most of my audience (my pretend audience) is not really into photography, let me lay out what fast means.  A lot of light gets in the lens, which means you can have shutter speeds that will make the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.  This also means razor thin focal planes which converts to CREAMY SMOOTH BOKEH.  Sorry, geeked out a bit there.  It means that out of focus area that isolates your subject is dreamy, and it is good to have dreams.

It just has a vintage look I really love.


I am a man's man.  By that I mean in this blog I am a man's man.  That means I hate plastic.  I loathe it.  Everything should be made of metal.  EVERYTHING.  This lens is glorious, sturdy, amazingly solid metal that if thrown could kill a ninja from 60 feet.  It is also gloriously small and light.  Did I mention that?  Seriously gang, this is cool and can be had at just over 100 bones.  That is 5 or 10x less than comparable lenses and yet its fit, feel and overall health is just super solid.

The downsides?  Well, only two really.  Ok, maybe three.  First it isn't made by Fuji so you may be shunned at the Fuji gentlemen's club.  Two, it doesn't have autofocus.  No third party lenses not made by Viltrox have auto focus.  I like to manually focus.  With the Fuji focus peaking it is like candy from a baby.  Spin that well dampened focus ring.  Nailing the shot when you manually spun it like a Val Kilmer shot glass...well...your a daisy if you do.  Clickless aperture, perfectly stiff focus with just the right throw.  Yums.  The only other down side is it doesn't communicate exif data.  That means when you post your photos on Flickr you need to manually tell the camera what focus length it is if you want to have it accurate so you can argue on photography forums about who's lens is bigger.  Yawn.

Remember to set your camera to shoot without a lens as it doesn't recognize it, flip that power button on, and make magic happy time.  I own the 7.5 fisheye, the 35 1.2, and the 60mm macro all from the 7dudes.  That is how impressed I am.  

The performance for the price will leave a smile on your face bigger than the one on your subjects.  Only you know you paid a nickel.  Oh yeah, this bad boy is your Huckleberry.

A completely solid NoEggs carton 10 out of 12 eggs.  Two cracked eggs for ever so slight vignetting, softness at the corners wide open and the lack of auto focus and exif data.  For 100 bones it's a pretty spectacular bullet in the gun belt. 


Yeah, it does just fine in monochrome as well.  This is actually a color shot but Obi was born in monochrome.



*Disclaimer:  Legion of followers is meant to imply there is a guy in South Dakota who saw a blog post on here last Tuesday when he was surfing for bacon recipes and accidentally was lured in by Ham in the title.

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