In this day and age, there’s no shortage of information on the internet that you can use to further your hobby/career. You use the net to self-promote, to release your own novels, movies, music, etc. But as with photography, every voice on the net “knows best”. It’s hard to know exactly what source you should be referencing every time you make a purchase or look for advice.
In terms of technology (read: reviews), I’ve been a longterm fan of http://www.steves-digicams.com, which is comprehensive, expansive, and very well laid-out. For lenses, I tend to see what DigitalRev say about any new developments.
In terms of where I get my physical equipment, again we go to the internet, where http://www.ebay.com gets a lot of my money. In South Korea, electronics are insanely priced whether they’re produced domestically or not. 6 years ago I priced out a Toshiba laptop as a desktop replacement in Korea, and the 15″ model with half the innards of its Canadian Toshiba counterpart was almost double the price of the 17″ Toshiba laptop I bought while I was back in Canada visiting family.
The E-PM2 happened to be a little tough to find even at the Olympus shop in Busan, but the newest models were priced at least 30% higher than they should have been. The guy in Seomyon sells a used 17mm f1.8 M.Zuiko lens for about the same as a new lens would cost online. The older 17mm f2.8 M.Zuiko he sells for 300,000 won when I can get it for half that on Ebay. I understand commission sales, he’s trying to make money and has tremendous overhead, but come on!
The difference is the warranty, but on Ebay if a faulty product is shipped out, you generally have more than enough time to return it. Go by the seller ratings and you won’t have many problems.
I recently bought two ancient Leica Elmar lenses, a 90mm f4 and a 135mm f4 for about $300 in total, and am still waiting on the 90mm and the adapter to arrive so I can give them a test drive.
The 135mm is a work of art. The craftsmanship is incredible; the heft of the lens, considerable. When I hold it up to my 40-150mm M.Zuiko, it looks like the difference between a toy lens and the real deal. Obviously with these lenses, I will be sacrificing AF and making my backpack much heavier, but if the results bear out the immense praise that the likes of Ken Rockwell have for them, then they’ll be worth it.
Mr. Rockwell seems to be ready to leave his family for the 135mm, based on the amount of praise he bestows on it, and I’d like to be able to put that praise to the test and provide some kind of archive of photos for others who are equally interested in vintage lenses. From what I’ve read so far, they’re adept for B&W photography, but decidedly less sharp for color images (something that doesn’t concern me, although I will draw my own conclusions and post them here in the future).
The depreciation of these lenses also seems to be a moot point–if they turn out to be crap, or if I’m not pleased with them, I know I can re-sell them on Ebay and get my money back, if not more.