One of the earliest unboxing experiences (or unwrapping) I can remember aside from Christmases as a child were opening NBA booster packs. Depending on the pack you choose, you get 8 or so random cards, most of which are common, and if you get lucky, a very rare and expensive one. I remember going to the store, feeling the sides of the pack even though I had no idea what I was doing, going home, and opening it. The smell of a freshly opened pack was amazing. A mixture of old air, inside a small, sealed, plastic pouch, with newly printed cards. I liked it better than smelling markers.

The magic of it had to do with the fact that you’re actually opening something with your hands. It’s not just seeing what’s inside too, but the smell, the weight of the product, the difficulty of opening a box or a package all contribute to the overall experience. For me, my favorite is the cutting of the tape that’s sealing the box, or more recently, peeling off those tabs on the tape. I bet somebody at Apple decided how peeling off those tabs would feel when you get a new iDevice. I remember each time I have a new Apple gadget, and how I took my time trying to just peel one side of the wrapper so I can put it back together. How do I know? Because I still have them all!

The closest thing I’ve seen on YouTube that showed an honest excitement and love for opening something was of Openboosters opening a pack of Magic: The Gathering cards and finding a Black Lotus. Leeegit! Unfortunately, every other unboxing video I’ve seen has destroyed me at some degree and is slowly killing me on the inside.

Don’t get me wrong, I still watch unboxing videos, but mostly because its how most YouTube gear reviews start. I’m happy (and lucky) if the person opening the box seemed like they cared about what they’re opening. I like it when reviewers go through everything: the free pouch, the manuals, the extra cable, the warranty. I like seeing everything, and I like it when they take the time to lay everything out on the table. I bet these people take footage of that too, but with the power of editing, the only shots being used are the ones where the reviewer is tossing these things to the side. Ouch! You know, somebody actually designed and made those things too. Somebody had to imagine how each piece fits in the box. I mean, have you seen a Leica camera being unboxed? That shit is satisfying! Then again, its a camera thats around $10,000, and a good chunk of that went to the packaging. If you don’t appreciate the unboxing, then you’ve simply got too much money and you should buy me a Leica, or you’re just cold.

Sure, an unboxing for an $89 lens is no match for a DJI Drone in terms of what’s-inside-the-box, but you could still show some appreciation right? You could still open it carefully and not throw stuff around like a savage. I can imagine a rich kid, being given 20 or so gifts, opening them one after another and during all that time, have a thankless look on his face. I don’t know what happened in the last 5 years, but I think people now are just too spoiled. The element of surprise is now gone, and so comes the death of my desire to buy new things. So how did this affect me? Well, one good thing that came out of it is that I started buying used gear. A cheaper alternative, and you get the chance to not be the first one to put a ding something.

One of the more recent things that I bought was a Fujifilm lens, the XF16-55 f2.8. Apart from the lens being great, it also came with the box! Yup, lens+box, and nothing else. No lens pouch, no plastics, no extra pieces of board. Well whaddya know, those unboxing videos helped me feel nothing about those missing items. I guess they were useless after all. I’ll just find an unboxing of those items and get my fix.

Take care now. Bye-bye then.

 

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So I just got myself a used version of the popular Fujifilm XF35mm f2. Y’all know it, you’ve YouTube’d the hell out of it, and read everything you can provided it’s not a shady site (unlike this of course). It does not disappoint I tell you that, but before having the privilege of that lens, I was using the Meike 35mm f1.7. I just feel like I need to show some of my love for it. Manual focus, cheap (most people say “inexpensive” but let’s be real), and not as sharp. I’m sure those old vintage lenses aren’t perfect as well, so this can’t be that bad right?

A lot of people don’t really like this lens, but a handful of people also do. I hated it during the first couple of weeks. I didn’t know how sharp or how bad it should be. I didn’t get anything good out of it, and I thought that I reached its limits. Then again, I was always shooting at f1.7, which is probably its worst f-stop. I kinda felt like it was just too much effort to like this lens, and it was not functioning how I wanted it to. My fault too for relying too much on focus-peaking. I found that turning any MF Assistant feature off is best with manual focus lenses.

The Meike 35mm f1.7 just got its own vibe though, so I stuck with it. It will give you something different, not worse, than the official X lenses. The way it handles color is just a love-hate thing. On one hand its a unique look, but on the other, its an inaccurate look too. If it’s giving you what you want then great. If you are expecting to get something in the quality of Fuji lenses, then you’re out of luck. It’s more compact than the xf35mm f2 though. The Meike doesn’t ship with a hood, but regardless it is still shorter than the Fuji f2 counterpart despite the bigger opening and wider filter thread. In terms of weight, I felt like the Meike lens was a bit heavier, which also gives it a premium feel.

35mmVS-4

A plus on this lens too is the not-very-accurate depth of field scale. Not perfect, but usable and way better than zone-focusing digitally. If you find your sweet spot, it’s basically point and shoot. I shoot mine mostly at f8 with the focus just between 10ft and 4m. Once you find that sweet spot, you’re good, and you will learn to love it. If you’re not a fan of having everything in focus, you might as well just get the XF35 f1.4, for the convenience of AF and wider aperture if you can find it for a good price.

The lens flare I could live with as well. I do like the work of Andrew Kramer after all.

If you have the Fujifilm X Series camera too, using Acros on this is just heaven. I almost want it to have scratches like I used to have using those old Colplan black and white film (Yes, Colplan is the goal!). It almost feels like cheating because using an affordable lens like this on a Fuji-X body and getting great images is just too good.

I hope each Meike35mm is unique. Like there’s a different characteristic or sweet spot for each lens; kinda like how 2 guitars could have a different magic to it even though they’re the same model. For me though, I think I got a keeper.

Overall, now that I have the Fujifilm XF35mm f2, I don’t think I’ll miss the Meike 35mm. That’s because this lens still has a place in the bag and will see its use. It’s still the best lens for those days you just feel like shooting JPG. Highly recommended, 5 stars, must-buy and all that jazz. Bye!

 

WhatIsLA? Series01 is a collection of digital illustrations about different meanings of LA. Some matter, some don’t. Some are relevant, most are not. But hey, I like finding different meanings in the simplest of things.

These are all available as prints and shirt at my online store so feel free to check them out!