Tickets for the Messiah – By Duncan Harley


Canon make some splendid camera equipment and I have to own-up as an aficionado of the brand.
I have owned and used quite a few of the products including a couple of high-end camera bodies plus several high-end lenses – or bits of glass, as they are often referred to in the trade.

A couple of 5D’s and a more than a few of those splendidly red-ringed ‘professional’ lenses made up my collection until quite recently when, in a fit of poverty, I decided to sell some surplus.

The 5D Mk2 went to the hammer first and fetched a tidy sum. It had been, in the words of my partner Janice, a good friend, and it was hard to let go of it. But, at least the new owner – somewhere in Wiltshire as I recall – will get good use of it. I mean, who really needs two big full-frame cameras anyway. I paraded round a few shows and events with two 5D’s wrapped around my neck and all I got was that one golden shot plus a big piece of neck-ache. I mean, why would you bother.

Then the 300mm telephoto went under the Amazon hammer. Rarely used, except to take some Royal photo’s at Braemar and at Turra Show, it was largely redundant and, immersed within the original packaging, it duly made its way via Royal Mail to a new owner in Darlington. She texted to say how pleased she was and later bought some accessories to enhance her telephoto-experience.
Intent on capitalising on my Amazon selling experience, I listed yet another redundant lense. This time a largely unused EF 50 mm-f/1.4 USM.

For those not in the know, the EF50 is one of those once in a lifetime close up lenses. Great for shooting close-ups of flowers and bees and maybe even portraits, it beats the competition bang into the side-lines. Want a blurred background with a pin-sharp subject or a nicely focussed close-up of the Dalai Lama in Inverness? Then get yourself one. The clue perhaps is in the ‘1.4 USM’ descriptor.

The 1.4 and I had a turbulent history. In some past year or other, Janice and I went to London to meet up with some friends at the Albert Hall. It was Easter and, appropriately, we had tickets for the Messiah. The performance was of course moving and it was great to meet with friends. As a parting gift, said friends presented us with a jar of honey. Now, post 9/11, honey found itself on the difficult list airport-security-wise and in due course I was confronted then luggage-searched at the security check-in at Heathrow.

Suffice it to say that it was embarrassing in the extreme and the entire contents of my cabin-bag were dusted for explosive residue. The honey was, of course confiscated and later destroyed. But the trusty 1.4 USM made it to Aberdeen unscathed after a wipe-down and a security scan.

Imagine my surprise when, this week, Amazon again placed the trusty 1.4 USM lense under suspicion.
Seemingly from today, despite being previously able to sell my surplus camera equipment on-line via Amazon, I am no longer allowed. I must now buy a license from Canon if I want to flog my second-hand glass.
Makes you want to weep really.

Anyone want a largely unused EF 50 mm-f/1.4 USM – used only the once to take a photo of the Dalai Lama in Inverness ….

Words and images © Duncan Harley – Inverurie September 21st 2018
Duncan Harley is author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire plus the forthcoming title: The Little History of Aberdeenshire- due out in March 2019



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