Saturday, 24 January 2009

New Low Prices

R0011607 (Large)

The window shopping some hours ago has almost provoked my AgIDS illness.  Just in case you’re in Hong Kong or are coming here, and have the money to burn (All in HK$/ body only):

GX200 = $3,280
GRD2 = $3,380
LX3 = $3,180
G10 = $3,280


Prices are available form a gear shop on the 1st floor of the Mongkok Computer Centre.

 

Besides these new low prices, I found that Wing Shing Photo (55-57Sai Yeung Choi St., MK Tel: 2396 6886/ 91-95 Fa Yuen St., MK  Tel: 2396 6885) is offering a Sony A700 + Carl Zeiss Lens package for HK$9,980 (hopefully, a bargain will make it some hundreds cheaper).

Real Food for Thought

R0012516 (Small) 
Ready to brake your brain for the weekend?  Before that, here is a last exercise for you.  Check out these food items: think and make your best guess.  WHAT ARE THESE?

A local gastronomist's favourite dish they will make.  Known as "Lap Aap", (literally, Salted and Dried Duck) they always make a powerful sight to my eye for their identical pattern and flattened outlook.  I wonder how a fat duck can be murdered and reduced to the thickness of some pieces of paper.  I can tell kids and they will readily believe me that these ducks were run over by a trucks and killed on their way back to a barn.

Seriously, these ducks are deboned, salted and dried in the open air.  A winter delicacy available in local delicatessens, R0012515 (Medium)they are most sought after for the leg parts.   If you have tasted a smoked pork hock, the Lap Aap is similar in taste but more chewy.  The usual way of serving is to steam a  tiny piece with rice.

(A delicatessen selling the Lap Aaps)

Salted food is popular among the southern Chinese.  The more famed one is "Harm Yu" (Salted Fish).  Like the salted fish in the coastal towns of the Mediterranean, North America and other countries, Harm Yu is a time-honoured dish invented by the ancient people before canning and refrigeration were invented.   It was a food for the poor people in the old Chinese Kingdoms.

R0012518 (Medium) (2)(Five Fish Out of Water: They are caught, dried and hung on the railing in an open market neighbouring a busy road)

The choice candidate for Harm Yu is a threadfin.  There is a whole array of dishes served with Harm Yu: the eggplant pot with Harm Yu and minced beef, fried rice with dices of chicken meat and Harm Yu and the simplest steamed Harm Yu, to name a few.   It is worth mentioning that salted food is tested to contain nitrosamine, an agent casuing nasopharyngeal cancer.  Next time when you consume salted food, take it with a grain of salt.

R0012517 (Medium)(All Salted of Food: From up clockwise – salted fish, dried fish guts, two trays of dried squids, three trays of salted fish of other kinds)

Friday, 23 January 2009

Selected Excellence: Now, Is He Nuts?

sigma dp1_001a 
(Self-portrait of SY.  The comedic expression on his face goes very well with the comedic reproduction of his reproductive organ)

SY HSU is an extremely popular amateur photographer in Taiwan and beyond.   I first learned about him on his album site "I Take Photos of Pretty Ladies Alone" some two years ago.   Located in Taiwan, SY has proven his photographic skills and talent especially in portraits of unique charactristics, the very reason why GX GARNERINGS is putting up a special regular section to show some of his portrait works done with small sensor digital cameras.

Yes, compacts, virtually any compact, can take great portraits and even photos of other themes.  I can never be too emphatical in advocating that again, in photography, our photographic skills count much more than which camera is technically better.  A better camera can make a better tool, but never a better photograher.

So, back to the captioned question: Mentally, no, he surely isn't insane.  He is an intelligent man studying for a master degree in photography.  Well, he's a real photography nut for sure.  But what, or who, to be exact,  he 's really nuts about is a girl whose photos would be published alongside an account of the love story, if I may call it that.

I have exchanged correspondances with SY.  He impresses me as a frank man with a great sense of humour and a passionate personality, which I think are reflected in and enrich his works.

Until the next special post, here are some introductory images:

sony dsc-s85_003

sigma dp1_018

 sigma dp1_003

sigma dp1_002

(All photos are courtesy and copyrights of SY Hsu)

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Is He Nuts?

R0012503 (Small)(What's Wrong with Him:  Wrong place to preach a wrongly put message)

People are baffling with the financial tsunami.  Some are losing money, some home, some sanity.  This is happening in almost every corner of the world.  Last Saturday, I was at a road junction waiting to cross the road.

"He shows up here at the weekends," murmured two passers-by standing next to me at the crossing. They were talking about the man in Islamic clothes on the safty island at the bustling road junction.

I looked some four metres ahead.  The man wasn't there last month as I  was aware.  There on the safety island he was holding a placard written with some religious message.  That was a wrong place, at least a dangerous one, to preach the message put in a wrong order (numbers 1 and 2 should swap places).  In any case, however, it was the world which wronged him.

Maybe he has lost his sanity.  Maybe he is homeless.  Puzzled by the sight, I took time to turn on my camera, figuring out with what composition I should shot at what distance and did this shot when the green light was on. When the flickering green light was about to revert to red, the man, remaining on the safety island, skilfully rotated his body at the hip to face the other sidewalk and dutifully hold up the placard with the other hand.

R0010474a (Medium)(Home of the Homeless: This is the living room.  The bedroom and the kitchen are behind the abutment)


Turning away from the scene, I was thinking of the dealer who got rich by trading old cellphones.  I wondered if he was still flying all the way to Dubai to get laid in the luxurious Burj Arab Hotel regularly.  I could still see the gloomy face of his wife as she confided it to me.

We are living in the same place on the same planet.  But we are actually living in a world apart in standards and beliefs.

R0012557

(Home of the Homeless: This is the storage room)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Again, GX200 Can Really Zoom

gx200zoom1
(A GX200 to be fitted with the Nikon teleconverter)

For those who are as creative, you would be interested in this post published by Ricoh GRDII Journal. Bhuminan wrote in the post about a Thai user building a lens converter to fit a Nikon converter into a GX200.


image[11] This is probably a big draw to more users for the future GX models. A Taiwan user's similar creative expansion of the GX system is a head turner no less, which was reported in a previous post on GX GARNERINGS.

 

(A Taiwan user's GX200 fitted with a zoom lens with the longest focal length at 500mm)

Making Big Money

R0012538 (Medium) (Dealer in Old Goods: His ad board is extraodinarily large, on which he wrote wanted old items including old wristwatches, speakers, pagers, air-conditioners, cellphones, video recorders, fax machines and TVs.)


When you are in Hong Kong, go to the neighbourhood of a residential area, especially those which are old or where there are the old government subsidised housing estates. Their neighbourhoods are more lively and exotic.

Being in such neighbourhoods, you are destinated to see one or two roadside dealers in second-hand goods. They operate in a similar fashion: a man sitting on a chair next to a wooden ad board or placard on which the wanted second-hand items are listed out. Some dealers may even display broken T.V. and Hi-Fi sets to catch attention. For small second-hand items like a broken GX100, customers usually bring and sell them to the dealers for a minimal R0012549 (Medium)price. If the items are bulky like an unwanted desktop com-puter, custo-mers can first agree on an approximate buying price with the dealers who will then quote an exact amount at where the items are.



(Attention Seeking: A broken washing machine was displayed alongside the ad board to catch attention)

Don’t belittle these dealers who may be ragged in clothing or manners. There are more than meets the eyes.

Their wealth can be an eye opener. These dealers look for every money making opportunities, like in government auctions where used and confiscated items are auctioned away for a cheap price in large volume. These dealers will sell all the acquired second-hand items to the less developed countries. How much money will this earn the dealers? Big money.

I met a man migrated to Hong Kong from the Mainland China in the 1990s. After some unsuccessful endeavours, he started selling second-hand cellphones to the so-called third world countries. Some years later, he managed to buy in unsold old models from big-name mobile communications companies. His own company has made a fortune by selling these old models to people in the poorer countries. When I visited his place, I was shown to his bed which costed around US$20,000.

R0012544 (Medium)
(Attention Seeking 2: Another way to catch attention is to write the ad on a placard in neon colour.)

No, I don’t envy him but now that you know selling used stuff can actually get people rich.

If you are curious about the true colours of these ordinary, rich dealers, you may try the old neighbourhoods in Yau Ma Tei (literally, Oily Sesame Place), Mongkok (Bustling Corner), Shek Kei Mei (Stone Gorge’s End), San Po Kong (New Cattail Hillock) and the side streets of Tsim Sha Tsui East on the Kowloon side, and Fortress Hill, Tin Hau (Heaven’s Goddness) and Sheung Wan (Upper Circle) on the Hong Kong side. These are destinations accessible by the underground railway, or, MTR as known in Hong Kong. Of course, there are much more to see in the New Territories. But it should be talked about in some other posts for a variety of topics.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Imaging Hong Kong

R0012530 (Large)(Skirt Up: This is my favorite photo in the exhibition. It was taken during a memorial service to pay tribute to the British soldiers died in the fighting against the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong. The memorial service was held once a year in Hong Kong during the Bristish colonial rule. It still is but not at the Cenotaph adjoining the Statue Square in Central)

I am just back from the “Imaging Hong Kong” photography exhibition. Some of the exhibited photos were intriguing in the way they were presented. Photography has a very long history in Hong Kong, which is actually as long as since the French government announced the invention of photography in 1839. Not long afterwards in 1845, the first photographic studio was established by a Mr West at Sydenham Terrace near Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong. In the beginning, under the British colonial rule, all the photographers in Hong Kong were expats but in around 1860, local Chinese photographers began to emerge. Among them Afong Lai, owner of the locally renowned Afong Studio, was especially famed. Both foreign and local customers praised Afong for his scenery and portrait works. His works are available for sale in different countries and on the Internet.

R0012534(3-D Marketplace: The photographers made a large print of the photo and painstakingly pasted same overlapping images on the large print to present the marketplace in a three dimensional way)

Art photography was first recorded in Hong Kong around 1888, when a photography group called the Camera Club exhibited some ninety photographs in the City Hall, the then only performing and cultural complex here. But it was only until the late 1920s to the 1930s when the art photography scene became livelier, with annual photo contests and the emergence of more photographic societies. The number of art photographers further increased in the 1950s, among whom many won entries or awards in international photographic salons, making some hail Hong Kong as the “The Kingdom of Photography”.

R0012527(Recording Redevelopment: Another photographer consistently took pictures of the street from its prime time with old shops (the middle row of photos) to its doomsday (rows of photos both ways from the middle row) when the government forced a redevelopment of it )

Generally speaking, local photographic works prior to the 1970s belonged to the style of Pictorialism, which aspired to make photographs look like paintings following classical rules of composition and with didactic messages. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the first generation of post-war, locally-born photographers arose; man were educated abroad for new ideas about photography. These photographers representing a “new school” advocating the aesthetics of “straight photography” which argued that a photographer should explore the medium’s intrinsic properties and truthfully express the nature of the subjects through his or her viewpoints. In the 1990s, under the influence of postmodernism and post-colonialism, some photographers produced works that emphasised symbolic meanings and cultural awareness instead of forms. A noticeably greater diversity of art photography styles started to breed and has been carrying on the evolution until today.

R0011978 (Small)(Leica prototype 35mm camera)

R0011977 (Medium)Besides this, I had the opportunity to see some old camera exhibits a month ago. The Leica prototype of one of its early 35mm cameras, the Compur model, interested me the most, also not least was the Konica C35AF. The Camerapedia.org puts it this way, “The C35AF is a "milestone" camera in that it was the world's first production autofocus camera. It used the "Visitronic" AF system developed and produced by Honeywell. This was a "passive" rather than the subsequently more popular "active" system (annouced two years later by Canon in the AF35M).”

R0011981 (Medium)(Konica C35AF. Too dim, no flash allowed and a bit blurry)

So, we are in a way given a tool passed on by people from as far back as over 150 years ago. In the "Imaging Hong Kong" exhibition, I admired some old photos a lot as they recorded the daily life as it was in the old days. This strike me that photographers, besides having fun in taking photos, have a duty somehow to use the tool to give the memory back to the next generations.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Wrap-up: Links to Reviews

wrap (Small)

The Week of Reviews was fnished yesterday, thanks to Colin, Wouter, the Co-editor and myself. I have just wrapped up the posts to put the links in order as follows:

1) Review of GX200 by Wouter Brandsma: Parts One, Two, Three

2) Mini Review of GRDII by Colin Bradbury

3) A SLR User's Verdict on GX200 by Nevin Young: Parts One, Two, Three

4) Comparative Reviews and Photos of GX200, G10, LX3, P6000 and G1

5) Impressions on LX3 of a Former GRD II User

6) Film versus m Digital Images

Some previous posts that you may also be interested:

7) How to Read a Camera Review

8) Simplifying A Decision in Buying a Camera

9) Does Noise Really Sound Bad

10)Non-Commercial Reviews of GX200

Comparative Reviews: GX200, G10, LX3, P6000

comparative

To sate any wistful sense left after the Week of Reviews, we draw your attention to a recent comparative review of the above four cameras done by a Chinese popular website, Pchome.net. The translated pages in Googlish is here, and in traditional Chinese here.

In parallel, if you are interested in our previous posts for the comparative photos taken with these serious compacts and others, check out the links below:

1) GX200 vs LX3 vs G10 vs DP1 vs P6000

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

3) Nightshots Comparison (Round Two): G1 vs DP1 vs GX200 vs G10 vs LX3

Sunday, 18 January 2009

GX200: A SLR User's Verdict (Review 3 of 3)

R0012432 (Small)

The lens

The GX200’s lens has a very useful focal length of 24mm 72mm F/2.5 to 4.4. In terms of portability, and somewhat in speed, it is superior than my Minolta 24mm to 105mm F/3.5-4.5 (i.e. Sony SAL24105). It is proved in numerous online reviews that the GX200’s lens have suffered from only mild barrel distortion. Surely, for edge to edge sharpness, the proper Minolta lens is the winner. In a nutshell, GX200’s lens covers a useful range for landscape to portrait with an agreeable quality. I do not miss carrying about extra pounds of lens and the film camera for some extra image quality really.

The only lament I have for the lens is that it requires optional accessories to be able to put on filters (The GX200 has the handy colour tone function which works like colour filters though). I used the filters a lot with the Minolta lens. Unless I am ready to invest in a compact camera system, I do without the filters with the GX200 for the moment. But, again, in most cases, some extra time and effort in post processing can do similar tricks as if with filters.

R0012425 (Small)

Coveat Emptor

Compact cameras like the GX200 are versatile but is not invincible. There are some caveats about the GX200 as compared with my film SLR:

1) Unlike the G10 and LX3, the GX200 has no shutter priority mode. Although this can be worked around by using the M mode to adjust the shutter speed, this causes inconvinence in, say, syncing the flash to a desired shutter speed.

2) Depending on the aperture value, some shutter speed may not be available.

3) The auto-focusing speed is undesirably slow, obviously slower than with LX3 and G10. It is always possible to pre-focus. But when I played with the LX3 and G10, I wondered if pre-focusing was really necessary.

4) As compared with my Dynax 7, the GX200’s auto-focusing fails more easily for less contrasty subjects under brighter light (even though the subjects are surely contrasty enough for the Dynax 7).

5)This is with all good digital cameras: I have been taking more photos than I have ever imagined. It takes me more time to categorise and file them.

R0012265 (Small)

Closing Remarks

I like the GX200 for its great controls and the very useful focal coverage. It wins my heart over other comparable cameras primarily for its superb ergonomics. The light weight makes it a more preferable companion than a hefty SLR / DSLR. It has afforded me freer and less expensive possibilities to practise my creativity in photography, shooting photos of themes that I might not have tried with films. It has allowed me to enjoy my trips as a holiday-maker as much as a photographer.

That said, as a SLR user, I am neither content with a compact without a bright viewfinder, the possibility to use different lens without optional add-ons nor, at least for GX200, the slow auto-focusing speed. That was one of the reasons why I borrowed a 450D to play with some weeks ago just to compare, especially for some proper DSLR’s IQ at high ISOs.

Having used the GX200 for six months, I am more and more into the belief that DSLRs are to drift towards the small size of serious compacts, or, the other way round, the serious compacts should drift towards the sensor size of DSLRs. Exchangeable lens may not be necessary if I can be benefited from the portability of two compacts with a APS-sized sensor or larger, one on a 24mm to 72mm lens and another on a 75mm to 300mm. The wide angel lens should be as fast as from F2.0 up and the long focal ones from F3.5 up.

My last remark is that the next time I buy a camera, it would very likely be a lightweight DSLR unless a compact with the performance of a DSLR emerges then. For the time being, the GX200 will still be popular with me on the dance floor, being envied by the wallflower Dynax 7 I am afraid.

If you're interested to learn more about GX200, read here.  The following are some of the photos taken with GX200 and posted on GX Garnerings.

R0010467 (Large) (Small)

 R0010324 (Large)

R0010543(Custom)

 sex_sign[16]

R0010967 (Medium)

R0011391 (Medium)

R0011054 (Large) 

R0010517 (Medium)

 marco_portrait (Medium)

R0011725 (Medium)

colour_clouds

 R0011125 (Medium)

 To Parts One, Two <---