The view of downtown from the north balcony of Zach Scott Theatre.

I've been documenting the progress at the new Zachary Scott Theatre which sits just across the river from downtown Austin. So much of the documentation consists of inward looking images: The new stage, the lobbies and amenities... But I think one of the overlooked attractions of the new building is its close proximity to Austin's downtown.  The heart of Austin.

I stepped out on the balcony, stuck my Sony a77+16-50mm lens on an old, wooden tripod and did a quick, three shot panorama. The PhotoShop file, in layers, is a whopping 150 megabytes with a long edge of nearly 30 inches.  I think it looks pretty cool. I'd love to have a view like this right off my living room or dining room.

On another note, I had to return a lens today. I'm glad I bought it locally since taking it back was beyond painless. I'd read some good stuff about the Carl Zeiss lenses for the Sony Alpha cameras and I'd had my eye on the Sony/Zeiss 16-80mm 3.5-4.5 zoom.  Seemed like the perfect range for an "event documentation" lens.  The old school equivalent of a 24-120mm.  I bought it on Saturday and immediately stuck it on a camera and walked around shooting familiar stuff with it.  Loved the range and the resolution but hated the obvious corner vignetting at the wider focal lengths and the lilting lack of snap.  The details were there but there was none of the snap, crackle and pop one expects from a great optic. When I got back to the studio I compared the results with similar images I'd done on the Sony DT 16-50mm lens.  The difference was pretty big. The 16-50 has the snap and acutance I love to see in a lens.

Taking the Zeiss back was a no brainer.  Why keep as lens that doesn't make you sit up and take notice?  I bought it at Precision Camera and the return was this simple:

"I'm returning this."

Ron:  "What's up with it?"

"No pizzazz."

Ron:  "Okay. Sorry it didn't work for you. Let me credit your account."

Reverse transaction complete. It's pretty comfortable to shop locally.  Nice that Amazon is now charging sales tax.  Now our local merchants can compete on a level playing field.  And if they are competitive tax revenue flows into our communities.  If they aren't competitive the tax revenue still flows into our communities. For our kids, our roads, our urban transportation resources, and our city governments it's a total win-win.  Nice.

Next step.  All on-line businesses should collect sales tax for the states to which they are shipping product. We're all obligated to pay sales tax (at least in Texas) even if the out of state merchants aren't required to collect it.  This just makes it easier.