Challenged or a Challenge?

mirror_lens by p_d_t
mirror_lens, a photo by p_d_t on Flickr.

Because of financial challenges in my life I cannot afford the best equipment in pursuit of my photography hobby. So I settle for what I can afford and challenged myself to turn out the very best possible work I can with the equipment I do have. Recently I started in earnest shooting birds and other small wildlife and while I was getting some nice shots with my Sigma 70-300mm I really felt I need more reach. Coincidentally I came across an article in my Outdoor Photographer magazine discussing Catadioptric Lenses otherwise known as Mirror lenses. I was a bit skeptical of their ability to give acceptable images considering their price point (under $150) however after looking at a number of images in the Flickr groups dedicated to these lenses I was impressed. Yes they have severe limitations but that a large part of the fun, making the most of what you have instead of just buying the most expensive camera or glass you can get. This is a lesson I learned from my Dad many years ago when I was a child. My Dad loved to hunt all types of game. He grew up with hunting as a way of life, of putting food on the table. Later when he had a family of his own he continued hunting even though he no longer had to do it for survival. He enjoyed the challenge and I believe he also enjoyed just getting out, going somewhere for a day. Dad never killed anything he could not bring home and eat. He was a sportsman with the utmost respect for what nature provided him. From time to time the owner of the shop he worked at would invite Dad to go hunting with him and his friends. Dad was financially challenged and could not at the time afford a pump or automatic shotgun like the others he went with on these trips. Dad used an older bolt action 20 gauge shotgun but he never let that stop him. Dad took the challenge of making the most of what he had instead of feeling sorry for himself for what he did not have. Dad became the best he could be with what he had and most times he came home with more birds than the guys with the fancier guns. He could keep up with a pump and just nearly use that bolt action as fast as an automatic. It also made him a better marksman since he had to be a more disciplined shooter. Dad knew how to stay within the limitations of his equipment and maximize it's potential. This is why I do not feel anything negative towards my new low-cost lens. I have seen the capabilities of this type of lens through the work of others and once again remember the lesson that it is not the equipment that makes the photographer. Dad would understand.