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Used bikes

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https://www.ebay.com/itm/Salsa-El-Mariachi-Titanium-Hardtail-MTB/274459817600

Salsa El Mariachi Titanium hardtail mountain bike, size large. Frame is low mileage, great functional and cosmetic condition. The frame itself looks nearly new–very little wear and the finish still looks terrific. No dents or dings. 

The bike is set up with Jones loop bars for bikepacking. XTR/XT 3×9 drivetrain with XTR shifters, derailleurs, and hydraulic brakes. White Brothers fork, Chris King headset, Mavic crossmax wheelset, WTB Nanos running tubeless. WTB saddle. A light, fast hardtail for your adventures. 

I’m located in New York City, free pickup for locals. 

Revelate frame bag included!

The ad was misleading and outright lying.

Excellent Used Cosmetic and Functional Condition.

Should have read:

2012 Salsa El Mariachi Ti 

Condition, fair to good

Ding on left fork stanchion

Rear rotor will need replacing

Front brake doesn’t work, needs a new brake tube, brake fluid, and bleeding

Drive train is worn, dirty, and could use a new cassette, chain, and cleaning.

Shifters are 2010 Shimano XTR ST-M975 Dual Control Shifters Brake Levers 3 X 9 Speed

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These shifters were only made this one year. They shift by pushing the brake lever down and up. This takes a while to get used to if you are used to grip shift or trigger shifters.

Bid starts at $899

Lesson learned.

I bought this bike based on the sellers feedback, the titanium frame, my prior experience having a steel El Mariachi, the XTR groupset, and the Jones bar set up.

Mistakes I made:

  1. The XTR groupset was from 2010 and had 10 years of wear on it and is easily eclipsed by Shimano 1x drivetrains of 2018-2021 so don’t get fooled by the XT or XTR group set if they are more than 5 years old.
  2. The ad didn’t have close up pix of the drive train which was dirty and worn
  3. There were no close up pix of the brake rotors which were worn and needed replacing
  4. There were no close up pix of the fork stanchions which had some dings on them
  5. The model year of the bike wasn’t listed in the ad, so I couldn’t immediately price it on bicyclebluebook. I should have figured this out from the pix to get a price range to make an offer. But even at $500-$600, I would have to put a new drivetrain and brake system on it and have the fork serviced so basically I’d be buying the frame.
  6. I ended up losing 3 hours of my time and $50 to box up the bike. Ebay got me all the money back.
  7. Jones handlebars are only $50-$150 depending on the model and material so I wouldn’t let that sway you to buying a bike.
  8. If the bike ad doesn’t list the year, get the seller to email it to you and double check online that the year is consistent with the way the bike looks.
  9. Get a price range from bicycle bluebook and start there as a price
  10. If the ad doesn’t have close up pix of the cassette, chain, fork stanchions, brake rotors, tires, ask the seller to post them. These are high wear area and subject to damage so if there are no close up pix, there may be a reason…

It’s $50-$150 to box up a bike and $100-$150 to ship a bike so $150-$300 to box and ship a bike. 

Unless you can put a new 1×12 drive train on the bike, it’s doubtful it’s worth it. 2021 Deore 1×12 is better than most groups from 2018 or earlier.

Notice the picture? There are no close ups so you can’t really see the wear on the drivetrain. 

Has the fork been serviced? No, that’s another $200 for removal, service, reinstallation. Since the stanchion has a nick, that will have to be smoothed down or it will damage the deals when the fork travels over that area.

Do the tires need sealant?

Trade in range on this bike is $477-492 for a reason. 

https://www.bicyclebluebook.com/value-guide/product/3042891/

New rotors, pads, brake bleed, cassette, chain, tune up would be required and then you’ll still have a bike with funky shifters so to replace those will cost another $200-300. Ideally a 1×10 set up would best so another $100 for a crank.

A ten year old groupset even if XT or XTR is still 10 years old. 2021 Deore would be much better and 1×12.

Luckily eBay makes the seller pay for shipping back when there is a return, at least in this case. I’ve returned other stuff where I had to pay the shipping so research this before you buy a bike on eBay.

Probably better to buy from craigslist of just get one new if you can find one.

Rumors

So people naturally want to know what products are going to be released in the future. Why? It influences buying decisions. Do I want to buy an iPhone 7 the day before the iPhone 8 is going to be announced? Probably not. There are sites dedicated to rumors or future products. They get their information supposedly from informed sources.

The current M line is pretty well filled out and up to date. The M100 as the entry level model, the M5 as the advanced amateur with a viewfinder, and the M6 without the viewfinder. A used M3 also works great, I have two myself and still shoot with them in addition to my M6. The current M line is not really lacking any must have feature or some new technological development. Some would argue they need 4K video, but that’s not something I personally need.

The one model that there has been speculation about is a full frame mirrorless model from Canon. This would be the next logical model in their line up. Since Nikon has announced they are working on one, Canon really needs their own too. I’d like to see the latest iteration of the 5Dn, 6Dn, and 7Dn lines in a mirrorless body with a similar feature set and image quality. The current M line is equivalent to the 80D, so a 5Dn or 6Dn would make the most sense. I’d most likely buy the 5D equivalent, though I am wondering if EF and EF-S lenses will fit on with no adaptor? I’m not concerned about fitting EF-M lenses since they wouldn’t work anyways, but will EF lenses fit? I would guess they would have to and that they won’t have an entirely new lens mount.


Update 3/1/18

In Feb 2018 the Canon M50 was announced with 4k video, Digic 8, fully articulated screen, etc so Canon is clearly dedicated to the M line for the future. Moreover, Canon shifts focus from SLR to mirrorless cameras explains the company’s thinking about shifting focus more towards mirrorless and away from DSLRs since that’s the way the market is moving. Note however the M bodies are $980, $780, or $450 so price points suggest entry level and advanced amateurs. No 7Dii, 5Div, or other body of this caliber.

My guess is that a higher end APS-C M will be introduced and hopefully an entry level full frame M system at some point. The APS-C entry to advanced amateur seems to be well addressed.

M for Sports – The US Open

So popular opinion and thought is that to shoot sports you need a camera with state of the art auto focus, a super high frame rate of 7-16 frames per second, and a super telephoto in the 200-500mm range. If you are getting paid by Sports Illustrated, ESPN, or Yahoo Sports then sure, a Nikon D850, D500, D5, Canon 7Dii, 1DX Mark II, 5D Mark IV, or other pro level camera and long telephoto is required to maximize your chances of getting the shot. However, the Canon M series and EF-M lenses took the following pictures at the 2017 US Open in New York. No tripod and from up in the promenade (cheap seats that still cost $90-$200 each) with an M3 and 55-200 I still got the following shots:

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Sloan Stephans was playing Venus Williams in the picture above. Sloan won this match and then beat Madison Keys for the Women’s Singles Championship.

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Mike Bryan serving.

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Bob Bryan

The following three shots is an actual sequence with Bob Bryan serving:IMG_7865IMG_7866IMG_7867

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Those oversized tennis balls are $45. IMG_7902

If you plan on shooting sports with an M, I would recommend the M6 or M5 due to their fast frame rates. Keep in mind that their buffers are smaller than a DSLR so you will get 2-5 seconds of holding the button down before the camera stops shooting while it clears the buffer. This 2-5 seconds is based on shooting with Sandisk Ultra class 10 80MB/s cards. Sandisk makes faster cards, 90, 95, and 300MB/s so try these out if shooting sports is important to you. The M5 or M6 with a 300MB/s card should be fine for all sports photography needs but pros. These cards are expensive with MSRP of 128GB = $300, 64GB=$150, and 32GB = $100. The 95MB/s cards are significantly cheaper with a MSRP of 128GB = $65, 64GB=$38, and 32GB = $23

Regarding the US Open:

The outer courts don’t have reserved seating so you can just go see other matches going on simultaneously. Here are some juniors doubles matches. You can get front row seats to a future grand slam winner. There is usually a $20-$40 grounds admission fee, but then you can just roam around and see as many matches as you want. Thursday there was no admission fee so we roamed around and saw several matches. You can see seniors like John McEnroe or Michael Chang playing doubles. Martina Hingis is actually still playing in the doubles matches and doing very well the past few years.

It’s cool to see players you’ve watched on TV for years play in real life. The ball and action move much faster in real life compared to TV. If you’re a tennis fan the US Open is a must see.

I’d expect more opportunities to actually play tennis on site. There was only one court set up and the line was like 45 minutes to play for 5 minutes, so not really a good deal. There is no demo facility where you can try out different rackets!! I expected a huge demo facility with rackets from each manufacturer but there wasn’t any at all that I saw. Maybe this is by design as there wasn’t much at all to buy. I found this really odd and a missed opportunity.

The food was overpriced and not very good. Eat before and after you come here since the food is not worth it. Flushing is a great place to stay since you can walk to the Open and eat the best Chinese food around. One place of note is Spot Dessert Bar an all around 5 star place. https://www.yelp.com/biz/spot-dessert-bar-flushing and

Photography is a hobby

Unless you are getting paid for your images, remember, photography is a hobby. You should enjoy it right? Hauling my medium format gear up a sand dune in Mojave National Preserve was not fun. It was early morning so it was still cool out, but in no way did I enjoy carrying all that gear up a sand dune and worrying about getting sand into the camera and ruining it.

(Insert dunes pic here with the coke can and other MF images) Of course you don’t need MF for the web… so really the only application is enlargements starting at 24×36. Why? Full frame is fine up to 24×36 and even larger. APS-C will even make great 24×36 prints, it just depends how critical you are about resolution and sharpness.

I didn’t get better results than my 35mm camera, and I really hated the whole experience. Should I hate doing my hobby?

Luckily, I don’t enlarge images larger than 24″ x 36″ and a full frame 20-36mp camera does fine at that size. APS-C 24mp sensors look great at 12×18 which is the most common enlargement size for me. Medium format and a mega pixel count over 30 isn’t really necessary for my work.

I didn’t enjoy shooting with the Sony A6000 or A7r. The UI on both cameras was terrible.  I bought the Sonys after shooting Nikon for 30 years and Canon for 7. If you’re coming from an iPhone only background you may think differently. Finding what I wanted in the menus was a chore and totally user unfriendly. The A7r had a terrible shutter shock vibration that made the images focus soft. The colors were way off, so far off that the sliders on adobe camera raw were maxed out left or right before the colors looked right. I didn’t enjoy this,

Keep in mind that you should enjoy your hobby! If you aren’t, then why do it? I didn’t enjoy carrying MF equipment with me so I sold it. I hated shooting with Sonys so I got rid of them. The weight of my DSLRs, a full suitcase of lenses, bodies, and a tripod with a big head when I traveled got to feel more like a job and a burden than a hobby so…

I now shoot Canon M cameras exclusively and enjoy the act of taking the picture, the post production afterwards, and the viewing of enlargements in my house every day. Sure, I may give up some resolution or lack the sharpness of an L lens, but looking at my enlargements on the wall, you would never know it.

Don’t beat yourself up

Okay, you didn’t get the shot you wanted. You woke up late and missed the sunrise. You got out to your spot but fog came in and obscured the sun and everything else, you’re a failure. No you’re not. Just remember this is a hobby, enjoy it. Nature will often not cooperate and give you the best light. Sometimes you mess up and all your images are out of focus or under or over exposed. This doesn’t happen that much with the latest DSLRs and MILCs but it can still happen. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Be happy about the shots you do nail instead of regretting the ones you missed. You’ll be a lot happier. I know I am.

Backstory

So I’m a big fan of the Canon M series cameras, especially the M3 and M6 and use them as my only cameras. Of course I shoot with my iPhone 6s, but not for serious work. I enjoy the whole photographic process with these cameras. I didn’t realize this until I bought and used a Sony A6000 and A7r in 2016. I hated both of the Sonys. I bought a M3 in April of 2015 and a M6 two years later. I’ve sold all my DSLRs and have been just using these cameras exclusively. Why? I hated carrying all the DSLR bodies, lenses, and accessories with me on a hike or vacation. Unless it’s a block or two from the parking lot, I hated carrying all my DSLR gear. I used to take an entire suitcase just for my DSLRs, lenses, and a tripod. I still see people with a backpack full of gear whenever I got out and shoot. The weight and effort just isn’t worth it to me anymore.

I’ve always been partial to small cameras. My first camera was a Nikon EM bought in 1982. I loved that camera. I got the auto winder that went with it. On a community college field trip to Point Reyes National Seashore we saw a ground hog I think, but hey we were city folk so everyone in the group was like “Wow, let’s take a picture, we don’t see these back home.” Anyways, I turned around and pressed the button and people heard the auto winder which was high tech back in 1982 and were all, “wow, that’s cool.” I had no idea…

Unfortunately that camera broke, I don’t remember dropping it or anything, it just wouldn’t pop open the film door. Oh well. Not sure why I didn’t send it into Nikon for repair but I didn’t have much money in 1983.  I then bought a used Nikon 8008 soon after it was released in 1988. Wow. Autofocus! I bought it used from an ad in the SF Chronicle for $600-$800 I think? I was so enamored with the autofocus until I realized it wasn’t focusing accurately. Crap. The guy I bought it from said he was selling it since he got a Nikon F4 and thought the auto focus was much better. Now I know what he meant! I sent it to Nikon and they fixed it for free and wow, focus was tack sharp and super fast. I went from getting 50% of my shots in focus with the EM to over 90% with the 8008. That was a serious upgrade. I was super excited about photography now and started buying lenses. 35-70 was the main lens, then a 70-200, a 24, 20, 16, 80-400 all followed. Fast lenses didn’t mean anything to me since I mainly shot landscapes. The current discussions about how many AF sensor and how many are cross type are all just noise to me. I was happy with one AF sensor! I’ve never missed a shot that I can remember because I didn’t have enough AF sensors.

I bought every new Nikon body, the 8008s, N90, N90s, F100, F4, F5. I hated the F5 since it was so heavy. I quickly returned it to bandh. When the APS cameras came out, I bought a Pronea S in 2000 a year or so after they were released. I loved the size, but even with 100 ISO film shooting a 85 f1.8 lens at F/8 on a tripod using a timer, the image quality was noticeably a huge step down at 5×7 and forgot an 8×10 or larger. This was so disappointing that I quickly sold the Pronea and lenses I bought for it.

APS cameras were a last gasp for film due to the digital age fast approaching. Film camera manufacturers saw the horizon, but this APS film idea was not the way to address it. APS cameras were supposedly smaller, lighter, more convenient, easier to load, easier to order prints, without a loss in image quality. Ugh, what a lie. There was a noticeable degradation of image quality so even an 8×10 was really unacceptable compared to 35mm film.

What about APS sensored digital cameras? Well, they are cheaper than a full frame camera and have price points from $400-$2000, where full frames start at $1300 and top out around $4500. On the telephoto end APS sensored cameras have a longer reach since the focal length is usually multiplied by 1.5 or 1.6 so a 70-200 zoom is now a 112-320 zoom – a very nice telephoto! Image quality? With the Canon M3, a 12×18 print is indistinguishable compared to a full frame camera. TBD Not sure about larger sizes since I need to make some more prints to compare.

Why did I start this site? I was inspired by my friend Stephen told me about his site retrenders.com and said, “Dude, do it, you have a passion for it!” It was photography in general and shooting with M cameras specifically. I also feel that so much I read online especially dpreview is just splitting hairs and most cons or complaints are not even photographically significant or relevant. The main complaint or con about the M cameras? “They don’t have 4K video!” Which is pretty much irrelevant to most photographers. Video was a brand new feature for DSLRs back in 2008 with the introduction of the 5D Mark ii and then to the masses with the T2i in 2010 for $850. 4K is a different animal since 4K market penetration is so much smaller.

Zoom or Prime lenses?

Should I buy a zoom or prime lens? For the vast majority of users, I recommend zoom lenses. Zooms have a range say from 70-200, 11-22, 18-55 etc. Primes have a single focal length and it is fixed. Zooms allow you to reframe a shot without moving. They save weight since the equivalent prime lenses would weigh much more and you would have to change lenses more often.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – JR Smith.

I heard JR Smith of the NY Knicks say this when being interviewed after a playoff game. Like basketball, this is also true in photography. I realized packing in 20-40 pounds of gear on a hike was really not much fun. In King’s Canyon I ran out of water on a hike, but I had all my prime lenses! I was young and thought I needed prime lenses for sharp images.  I would ditch my camera and gear altogether since I got tired of carrying everything. Yes, missing 100% of those shots since I didn’t even have my camera. I then bought zoom lenses since overall they were lighter than a bunch of primes. I also didn’t have to waste time changing lenses. I bought a Canon Rebel since it was lighter than my 8008, N90, F4, and F100. The same lesson applies to the digital age. No outdoor photographer likes to carry around a 10-30 lb backpack full of gear. No photographer traveling by plane wants to carry a whole suitcase full of gear.

How can you lighten your load? Zoom lenses.

So instead of carrying a 20, 24, 35, 50, 85 I just got a 20-35 zoom and a 70-200

omg, what about when you need a 36-69mm focal length to get your shot? Simple, either back up or move closer to get your shot. Sounds too simple but try it out in the field and let me know if you actually can’t live without a lens that covers 36-69. The only prime lens available is a 50mm anyways which though commonly supplied as a kit lens in the dinosaur days of film, isn’t very useful unlike the kit zooms being offered today.

So advantages are weight, not having to change the lens which saves time and eliminates an opportunity for dust to get into your lens and camera body. Crop while shooting. Instead of cropping in post production, crop in production will yield better image quality and is how you should shoot anyways. The “not having to change lenses in the field” is a huge advantage for outdoor photographers.”

For the Canon M series, the 11-22, 18-55, and 55-200 are all you’ll need. If you want to get into macro close up than the 28mm is a great lens.

There are primes available for the EF-M mount from Samyang and Rokinon. The problem is that they are all manual focus. They are fast though, really fast. I’m hoping Canon will follow their lead and produce a group of fast primes like a FF 20, 24, 35, 85, 105 and then some fast zooms.

Bigger is better?

What is better?

Bigger is better. More expensive is better. Faster is better. These are ideas in our head that we rarely question. A medium format camera must be better than a DSLR right? A large DSLR must be better than a small mirrorless camera right? A full frame must be better than an APS-C sized sensor right? But how exactly is better defined? Sharper enlargements ? Faster auto focus? More accurate autofocus? More frames per second? Sharper enlargements people associate with megapixels, so a 24mp camera is better than an 18mp camera. Faster and more accurate AF is associate with cross type sensors and the number of sensors.

Bigger is better case study 1

Define for yourself what better means. In 2014 I bought a 5Diii and after shooting with it for a few months I realized that the 6D was all I needed. Technically one could argue that a 5Diii is better than a 6D, but I didn’t need fancy AF settings for my landscape shooting. In fact, it was a little bit intimidating and totally not required for the type of photography that I do. I blew up the picture below shot on my 6D to 24×36. Wow, super sharp. I don’t need any more resolution than a 20mp 6D for a 24×36 enlargement. I don’t enlarge bigger than that so no need to buy a camera with more resolution.

Bigger is better case study 2

In the 90’s I bought a Pentax 645AF since the negative was so much bigger than 35mm I figured I’d get better results. I didn’t. I didn’t really like shooting it either, but still bought into the bigger is better idea. I sold it and bought a Contax 645AF thinking it was the camera. Wow, what a camera, all $8k worth including lenses and accessories! Again, I didn’t get better results though the camera was much bigger and more expensive. What’s the problem? Bigger may be better in the studio, but I shoot outdoors, when I’m biking, hiking, traveling. Bigger just meant heavier, bulkier, more inconvenient, slower to shoot, resulting in substandard results. Bigger means you need a bigger tripod and head which by itself is a pain to carry around. Bigger is not always better. For outdoor photography, goes as small and light as possible for best results.

More expensive is better right? A $3500 Canon 5Div  is much better than a $1300 6D right? Depends. blah blah

Faster is better right? If shooting BIF is your thing, then getting the shot may mean a super fast FPS rating.

A better camera will help you get the shot you want. If 12×18 is the size you enlarge to most often, a 20mp FF or 24 APS-c camera is fine. If you shoot sports or birds in flight and other fast moving wildlife, then a Nikon D500 or Canon 7Dii or 80D with long telephotos is probably your best bet.

Like buying an expensive gas guzzling large SUV and only driving it solo on city streets, never using the 4WD or the 7 seat capacity, a high end DSLR can suffer the same fate. Ten FPS, 36mp or more, a million AF points…

Conclusion for the case studies:

In 2014 I hiked up to the top of Multnomah Falls in Oregon with a 5Diii and 24-105 and a large tripod. I picked it up for $2800, a steal at the time they were $3499. Totally not worth the weight. The top of the falls was not interesting at all. Looking back, I wish I would have had an M3 back then. So, lighter and smaller is better for me at this stage of my photography.

 

Camera Retailers are an endangered species

Brick and mortar camera stores are quickly disappearing. Adolph Gassers in San Francisco closed up shop in March 2017 after 67 years in business.  Showcase Cameras in Atlanta, Georgia close up shop in Feb 2017 after 40 years in business. Keeble and Shuchat in Palo Alto closed its doors in October 2016 after 51 years in business. Ritz and Wolfe are effectively gone. Two stores and an online presence. Why? A good article from petapixel Another Big Camera Store Fails: Why Are So Many Closing? explains why. However, I would add:

  1. “An uneven playing field” I agree that sales tax is a huge reason why brick and mortars lose sales to online retailers, but I would still buy from Amazon and pay tax over buying at a brick and mortar. Why? The convenience of shopping online and having the product delivered to my door and the generous return policy. The price including tax is also cheaper than a local camera store so sales tax is not the only issue. Convenience, return policy, and cheaper prices push me to Amazon and bandh over a local or not so local brick and mortar. The closest one to me now is San Jose Camera a good half hours drive. Not sure they’ll be around much longer. How good is the return policy? I bought an F5 from bandh, tried it out. Hated it since it was so heavy. Returned it. They charged me shipping and I thought that was fair. Amazon doesn’t even charge for shipping. Why go to a brick and mortar?
  2. “Information boom” Sure, this is a big reason. I no longer need the advice of a salesperson who has a vested interest in selling me whatever he has in stock anyways. This instantly accessible information is a good thing all the way around.
  3. Bestbuy. If you need it today, best buy probably has it and is closer than a camera store.
  4. Costco. Costco sells Canon and Nikon kits. With their generous return policy, price, and convenience why would I go to a brick and mortar camera store? Back in the film days, I went to costco for all my photofinishing. It was about $15 for a roll of 36 to develop and print. It was cheap, convenient, and as high quality as the other places. In the digital age, I go to costco for all my printing. It’s cheap, convenient, and as high quality or even better than other places. Drycreekphoto has a printer profile for all the costcos so color management is much easier. I get the results I want. What I see on my monitor and photoshop is what comes out of their printer.

If costco, Amazon, and bandh sell a product that your store relies on for a good percentage of your sales, I would figure something else out and quickly. The return policy, price, and service will be too hard to match so customers will shop at one of these three stores and not yours.

The future doesn’t look bright for brick and mortar camera stores. Technology is one of the main reasons. To be successful, I would recommend opening up a store in a state like Oregon that has no state sales tax. Offer your customers the convenience, price, and return policy of Amazon prime and something that they can’t get from Amazon. Otherwise, there’s no point in having a camera store.

What does this mean for the camera and lens buying photographer? Not much. I bought my first camera a Nikon EM at Adolph Gassers in San Francisco back in 1982, but haven’t bought a camera in a camera store since 1999. It was a Nikon Pronea S. I could have got it mail order, but the price at San Jose Camera wasn’t all that much more than mail order so I bought it on my lunch hour.

Where should you buy a camera from then? Online at Amazon, bandhphotovideo, or Adorama. The best deal is directly from the manufacturer refurbished since it’s indistinquishable from new and has a 1 year warranty. For brick and mortar stores costco or best buy. Used from craigslist or eBay.