Saturday, 15 November 2008

Port of Call

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The Victoria Harbour was the dividing line between the Kowloon Peninsular and the Hong Kong Island, and literally so before the takeover of even the Kowloon Peninsular more than 100 years ago by the British who had taken charge of the Hong Kong Island. When the British first entered into the Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong was remarked as, "a barren rock".

Then as time worn on, Hong Kong started to dR0010515 (Medium)evelop itself more into a modern city. Before it reached the height of the present development, the Victoria Harbour had much fewer activites, hence cleaner enough for fishing and the annual cross harbour swimming galas.

Now Hong Kong is a major port of call in Asia for passenger liners, and the home port of several cruise operators. The old airport -- the Kai Tak Airport famous for giving passengers an illusion of landing on the roofs of the flanking buildings and on the waters, and being one of the ten most demanding airports for flight captains -- are being developed into a big cruise terminal that will allow bigger liners to dock.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Nightshots Comparison: GX200 vs G10 vs G9 vs LX3 vs P6000

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(invalid links REALLY FIXED)

(Note: At long last, I garnered some test shots from different pages and arranged in order here for you. I didn't take the photos. Do come back to check out another comparison between G1 and a proper DSLR. I need more time.)

Subsequent to the last how-they-fare-in-real-life-situations approach of comparison (to me, the most common aspect of use in general is shooting JPEGs), here is another comparison. Check out how good or bad these serious compacts see with JPEGs at night below. The photos are resized, yes. But they suit the need: they give an impression of what the photos are like in a real life situation in which they are viewed not at 100% magnification but at a normal size.

Bear in mind that noise may not be a bad thing when doing the comparison. And small sensor compacts, however serious, are not endowed with a good ability to see at night. Don't judge them only by what they cannot do but more by what they can:


ISO64, 1/2,F2.5

ISO80, 0.6s,F2.8

ISO80, 1/2,F2.8

ISO80, 1/4,F2ISO64, 0.7s,F2.7

ISO100, 1/3,F2.5

ISO100, 1/3,F2.8

ISO100, 1/3,F2.8

ISO100, 1/5,F2ISO100, 1/2,F2.7
ISO200, 1/6,F2.5ISO200, 1/5,F2.8ISO200, 1/5,F2.8ISO200, 1/10,F2ISO200, 1/5,F2.7
ISO400, 1/13,F2.5ISO400, 1/10,F2.8

ISO400, 1/10,F2.8

ISO400, 1/20,F2ISO400, 1/9,F2.7

ISO800, 1/25,F2.5

ISO800, 1/15,F2.8

ISO800, 1/20,F2.8

ISO800, 1/40,F2ISO800, 1/20,F2.7

ISO1600, 1/40,F2.5

ISO1600, 1/40,F2.8ISO1600, 1/40,F2.8ISO1600, 1/80,F2ISO1600, 1/37,F2.7

Futher reading: 1) Does Noise Sound Really Bad? 2) Dpreview Forum 3) Stop and Think

Your Market Research Here

Stop and Think

(A mother and her two children were on their way to the kindergarten. They were walking towards the Nathan Road, the longest thoroughfare and lifeline of the Kowloon Peninsular of Hong Kong, and stopped by the traffic light where a delivery man swished past in a bike that was unusually small for a delivery man. Back in the days when Hong Kong was under British colonial rule, you would have seen traffic facilities shipped from Britain at every zebra crossing. In those days, probably such a short-distance crossing would also have a safety island in the middle with two British made lamp boxes. You know what the British were getting at then. Guess what? Now the traffic lights use the lamp lids that resemble those used in China.)

Have you ever stopped and thought, "When has buying a camera started to become so complicated and time-consuming?" As an amateur photographer for two decades and with a GX200 for some months, I have been amazed by the details that reviewers have gone into for even the serious compacts. Good to them cos without them we would not have made the more informed choices. But do you find that you are more undecided as you keep on reading' em? Are we too addicted to and too informed by the technical reviews? For some of the technical details, I as an amateur do not find them actually essential in reality. Knowing a camera technically is one thing, taking great shots is quite another as far as I am concerned. An Australian professor in fine arts who was (deceased) a friend of mine had used his old camera for some decades and took great shots out of lots of practices, not out of the technically greatest camera. The former chairlady of a local professional photographer's club has succeeded in photography by one of her practices in which she thought up unique angles to tell of the subjects/ themes that someone worked on before. She didn't practise by trading in for the greatest camera. Sure enough, a fine camera will be fine enough. Most of the serious compacts and DSLRs are fine cameras, with some being better. But in reality the more obviously essential thing may be: does the photographer feel all right about his? I used to read a lot of reviews before making up my mind for a purchase, but now resort to a simple strategy that I recommend to you: toy with the cameras in a shop and find out which one suits you best. Buy it and practise your photographer's instincts instead of wasting too much time on and growing puzzled by what a camera cannot perform. Yes, I still need reviews beforehand. But more of those about a user's impressions, less the technical ones. If need be, I'd rather spend time comparing online photos taken with the cameras on my list to find out what suits my taste best. If you are undecided on the GX200, go toy with it in a shop. In case you need some impressions from users. See the previous post here or my impressions that I reposted below: 1) Corner sharpness Gx200 does well in this area. But its JPEGs are sort of soft indeed. Shoot RAWs for more serious shots IMO. 2) Vignetting GX200 does a very well job here. 3)ISO Performance I wish the next GX will put a faster len at f2. I don't mind the high ISO noise (well, indeed, not really complimentary over ISO 400 but PP work will handle the noise) but a faster len will help a great lot in dim shooting occasions. 4)Start-up Time Not slow but on some occasions I missed the shots because of that. 5)Shutter Priority Mode Wish the next GX will put it there even though the lack of it can be easily worked around in M mode. (Point to the subject and press left arrow, then GX200 will give you the "right" exposure combination. With the two adjustment dials, you can correct it to the desired shutter speed in an instant. You can even stored the most used shutter speed to the M123 for a quick access. It is not called shutter priority mode, but it works like one ;)) 6)Fn and M123 GREAT features I must say. Take for example I set M1 to snapshot mode and it saves lots of shots I would have missed otherwise. I also put one of the Fns as M Focus -> A Focus to be able to lock the focus easily. M2 for 1:1 format in Continuous B&W, Colour, B&W (colour-filtered) mode. M3 for dedicated combination for special shots. 7)Portability and Controls 200 marks out of 100. No match whatsoever. After using the GX200, I even don't miss the controls on my Dynax7, which has been known for its great control. 8) Dataless black stripe Until the next instalment of firmware, the RAW will show the dataless black stripe when opened in some PP software. 9)AWB This is about G10's if you're considering it. I tried it in the showroom and its AWB was ugly. Was it my fault? Dunno. 10)Zoom range This is about LX3 if you're considering it. I tried it in a shop and its zoom range gave kind of "that's it?" feeling. I didn't quite realise that it had actually zoomed to the longest end.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Is that a Bird? A Superman? It's a Plane!

(Click the picture for the colour photo)
Ricoh GX200 is a great camera. I take it with me everyday, hanging it around my neck with a neckstrap and slipping into my skirt pocket. As my workplace is so close by that I walk to the office and on the way, I have taken tons of photos. One of my secrets about GX200 is to customise the snapshot mode to M1 so that I can go for a quick shot when a scene arises. Thanks to the snapshot mode which sort of pre-focuses already.
It is autumn in Hong Kong. And if you are an observant photographer and live in a place not far away from the equator, you already know that autumn is the best season for photography because the sun is at the right angle to bring out most of the colours we can see. In Southern Australia, it would be like taking pictures on a late afternoon at the tail end of winter (late August), which I did when in Melbourne having a spin in an old man's car. It is also like taking pictures half an hour before sunset when the sun is at that right angle to spray colours all around.
Autumn is also the best season to travel to Hong Kong. The temperture is a constant 20 degree centigrade with light breeze. The sky is brilliantly blue as this is the season when the sea breezes blow away the pollutants drifting from China.
The snapshot mode of GX200 has given me a full play for my planecreativity as a photographer. Look, this photo was captured when I was about to cross the road in a second, looked up the sky and saw the plane, grabbed the GX200 in my shirt pocket, turned it on and shot in two or three second later. It was lightening fast!
Just in case you are interested, my M1 settings are:
Focus: Snap
Aperture: three stop from the widest end
Image Setting: Auto Levels
Fn1: White Balance Compensation (i.e. the function that lets me change the colours cast of my shot). It actually offers you a whole array of colour filters
Fn2: Auto Exposure Lock

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Non-Commercial Reviews of GX200

(My Minolta Dynax 7 with 24-105mm and GX200 with 24-75mm)

Tempted or considering to grab a GX200? Puzzled by the "info-mercials" about GX200 in the commercial sites? Here are some of the non-commercial reviews you will certianly find useful: Wouter's Impression, Keithcooper's Review, Carl's Review and Pavel's Comparison of GX200 and LX3.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Does Noise Sound Really Bad?

(This is the Cultural Centre sitting astride a large piece of land fronting the famous Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. Climb on the second deck of a podium in front of it at night and you'll have a great shooting opportunity for the backlit scene on the one hand and for the amazing harbour aglow with a motley of neonlights on the other. Now, can you guess if the shadows are of one person of two? )

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(Cultural Centre, Hong Kong) noise badBefore I post the nightshots comparison of the GX200, G10, LX3 and other beasts, may I ask: How does noise sound to you? "The high ISO shots by GX200 are noisy," one commentary goes. "The high ISO performance of G10 is not as good as LX3 noise-wise," another review says. "The noisy nightshots of P6000 make it a headturner," the third one laments. Does noise sound really bad? A friend of mine looked at her wedding shots at the studio and sounded really puzzled, "Why are these film photos not as clean as the DSLR's?" The photographer explained with a twinge of emarrassment that it was only because the digital photos were too clean. [Note: Luminance noise makes an image look grainy on screen, but usually not visible on prints while chroma noise is visible as random red and blue pixels and is usually less obvious on both] Save for the presence of excessive chroma noise, noise could give a grainy (and richer, to me) taste to a photo. Maybe there is a reason in my thinking: I came from the film era. For those who start with digital gears since their first sorties into photography, noise may sound bad. So, how does noise sound to you:

Sex-Service Sign?

sex_sign A reader has observed in the photo of the post "Buntings" an understatement about the far distance between the ladies's underwear on the left and the man's navy underpants on the right. In fact, in the old areas here in Hong Kong, if you notice a window with no washing hanging outside to dry but a set of ladies' underwear, it is likely a sex-service-available-here sign. The understandment is probably to draw the distance closer instead. 

I cropped the photo. Now, look again and guesssex sign why the bras and panties are hanging so far apart from the rest and the windows are shaded and shut. Yes, you've got it. Very, very likely.

By the way, brothels are illegal in Hong Kong.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

I Won the October Photo Contest

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i won chinese(Title: Basic Instinct)

Yahoo! I've got the highest number of votes in a photo contest for October.   If you are one of my voters, a BIG thank you!  Making use of GX200's S-Continuous mode, I titled the photo "Basic Instinct", a sracarstic way of saying about the little girl turning to the most basic resort to cure her itching nostril when her mum was away.

By the way, further to the last comparison, DO COME BACK to check out the nightshots comparison between the recent serious compacts including GX200, G10, LX3, P6000 and even G1!  It will be ready in a few days!

And dear visitors, please support me by clicking the ads by the way: my frustrated wife has been asking why I spend so much time blogging.  My very effective reply was, "The site can earn money."  So, please give me a hand.  Thanks!