Saturday, 6 June 2009

Retro Olympus Digital M4/3

4(Olympus Pen F series film camera to possibly form the basis for the new Oly M4/3)

On Friday, we briefly talked about the prospect of Ricoh introducing the next digital camera basing on the design of its legacy film camera.  Could this trend has been set already?  The popluar Chinese forum Xitek has posts leaking out the next Oly M4/3 to invoke the retro design of its film Pen F camera.  The googlish translation is as follows:

[2009.6.15】 OLYMPUS official M43 machine will be released, on sale in early July

[2009-05-22 10:33 add the following]
Open this with hope that the M43 to share Olympus information, see 6.15 high hopes for olympus M43 was able to give a pleasant surprise?

[2009-06-01 15:41 add the following]
2(The possible front view of the new 4/3)

Olympus Pen E-P1 Olympus Pen E-P1
May 31, 2009 Micro Four Thirds, Olympus Rumors
Possible specs
- 12 Megapixel
- 100-3200 ISO
- BodyIS
- 3.0 LCD (no swivel) with new improved liveview (IS will work while you use the liveview)
- Same autofocus as the Panasonic G1
- Video 720p
- 2 models, one in silver-black, one beige
- thicker than the G10 or DP2 - 17mm 2.8 lens and 14-42 kit lens - US990$ body+kit lens

[2009-06-02 16:16 add the following]
[43rumors draft of the new machine]


[2009-06-05 11:54 add the following]
Olympus Pen E-P1 Olympus Pen E-P1
On sale early in July, 120x70x35mm 300g

Colors, silver and white of the two kinds of prices close to ¥ 90,000 Single Lens plus two second half of the sale of 120,000 to ¥ 130,000

Lens, 17mm F2.8 sale between 4.5-5 ¥ 10,000 pancake and 14-42mm F3.6-sell about ¥ 35,000
SD card recording pixels 13M RAW JPEG RAW + JPEG
1280x720 7min Video recording
And embedded electronic Liveview shake correction
11 area AF
ISO 200-6400
(Shutter speed?) 60-1/4000

[2009-06-06 15:06 add the following]
[43rumors]  Side- and top-view


The following is a Pany's marketing research on the huge market for serious compacts.  A good news for both the camera makers and serious compact lovers.


After reading the news, I have more question marks on what Ricoh and other makers, for that matter, are going to do to make the most of out this fad of retro design in this market segment.

Some extra pieces of information about the Pen F series:

Japan OLYMPUS "OLYMPUS Pen" available for sale to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the series. A special website is open for visit:

Olympus history> the history of the camera> 1936-1970> Pen series (camera)

OLYMPUS PEN 50th Anniversary Special Movie OLYMPUS PEN 50th Anniversary Special Movie

Olympus History> History of Cameras> 1936-1970> Pen Series

Recalling the history of PEN having OLYMPUS PEN GALLERY

Related Links Site

Mr. Rice himself a long time to talk about the United States PEN OM XA

Homeless in Hong Kong

R0015776a (Medium)

This homeless man, or Lo Suk Tse in Cantonese (literally, street sleepers), lives in the open space underneath an elevated highway, which is flanked by roads on the street level.  He has been seen taking Chinese rice spirit in the morning.  A strong foul smell wafted in the air around the platform of an manhole opening where he is sleeping, likely the smell of urine.

Like many modern cities, the sight of street sleepers has never been few and far between in Hong Kong.  When Hong Kong was hardest hit by the Asian financial crisis from 1997 through to 2002, the Cultural Centre as the landmark in Tsim Sha Tsui became a haven of these homeless people at night.  A photographic project was done on the subject, which gave birth to the album of photos of street sleepers.  Its cover shows these poor people clustering on the mezzanine floor of the Cultural Centre at night.  Check this out if you wish to purchase the book, Homeless II.

R0015775 (Medium)

Some statistics about the street sleepers in Hong Kong:

According to information collected by the Social Welfare Department in various districts, the number of known street
sleepers in Hong Kong as at the end of December 2007 was 327 (which I think is an under-estimation).

If a street sleeper is found dead on the street, the police will inform the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), and the FEHD will remove the dead body to a public mortuary. If the body remains unclaimed after a period of time, the officer in charge of the mortuary will ask the FEHD to remove the body from the mortuary. The body will then be taken to a public cemetery or government crematorium for burial or cremation according to the instructions of the forensic pathologist.

If the forensic pathologist advises burial, the body will be buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery and exhumed after six years, and the cremated human ashes will be placed in the communal grave of the Sandy Ridge Cemetery. In the case of cremation, the cremated human ashes will be put into a bag marked with the words "unclaimed body" and the name, age and sex of the deceased, as well as the cremation date and the number of the cremation permit. After being kept in the government crematorium for six months, the unclaimed ashes will be placed in the communal grave of the Sandy Ridge Cemetery.

Friday, 5 June 2009

The Ricoh Nova


I was, and still am, a fan of the now defunct Minolta for their cameras and photographic accessories. Minolta had came up with some of the best ideas and quality with its photography department. Sadly, it has scaled back its business footprint to photocoping technology. The younger generation will know scantly about Minolta's camera, just as they are rather ignorant about Ricoh, which they put a equation to office automation. In fact, Ricoh has every DNA as Minolta in making cameras. Suffice to say it that Ricoh produced the first plastic camera in 1934, and the first twin-lens reflex camera (RicohFlex III) which is still very much alive today.

From Riken to Ricoh

"Riken" is an abbreviation for the Japanese name for "Institute for Physical and Chemical Research". It exists since 1917 as a private institute to promote Japanese private institute to promote Japanese industry. Many Japanese firms have been established around this source of inventions.

The official founding of the Riken company we know as a camera company was in 1936. Riken Kankoshi Co. was founded to exploit a copy-paper patent. In 1937, they bought the Olympic Camera Works to produce their own cameras. They took the new name :Riken Optical Co. from 1938 to 1963, and from 1963 to present they have been "Ricoh Company Ltd." Ricoh is active in cameras, digital products, networks, computers, office systems, printers, telephones, etc.

The Ricoh Nova

Before the burgeoning of digital cameras, the GR was one of the stars in the camera market. Its DNA was finally reproduced in the digital version GRD I and II, and somewhat in the GX series, except for the GX lens as compared with GRD's. The grading is understandable even though I have not any chance to confirm the rumour myself.

Now that summer is approach, the birth of the next Ricoh nova is heaving into sight. Apart from the new technology, Ricoh has so many great legecy designs to borrow from a hall of its old camera. I'll be very surprised if Ricoh come up with a digital version of its RicohFlex. Until that day comes, let's photo-shop (as against window-shop) some of its old film cameras below and contemplate on the possible digital versions of 'em:


Ricoh 35 EFS
c1963. 35mm film camera with slennium meter. Rangefinder. f=40mm Ricoh lens. Shoe and sync post for flash.


Ricoh 35 ZF
35mm film camera. Rangefinder. 1:2.8 40mm Ricoh lens. Hot shoe for flash.


Ricohmatic 126 - C EE
126 cartridge film camera with selium cell around lens, takes 1 x M504 15v battery.


Ricoh 300
Made in Japan. 35mm Range Finder. Noninterchangeable Rikenon f2.8/45mm lens in Riken leaf shutter 1/10 - 1/300.


Ricoh 500 G
Made in Taiwan. Compact 35mm rangefinder camera. CdS automatic exposure with manual override. Noninterchangeable Rikenon f2.8/40mm lens. B, 8, 15,30,60, 125, 250, 500.

(WOW, I like this!)

Ricoh 500 ZF
Made in Taiwan. 35mm camera. Noninterchangeable Rikenon f2.8/40mm lens. 1/10 - 1/300.


Ricoh AF-5
Made in Taiwan. Aout wind and re-wind. Rikenon Lens 1:2.8 f=38mm. In built pop-up flash. Takes 2 x AA batteries.


Ricoh AF-5
Strap & lens cap. Made in Japan. Plastic body. Ricoh lens f=34mm 1:4.5. Motor drive. On/off switch for in built flash.


Ricoh Auto 35
1960-65. Made in Japan. Top half of the body is chrome, bottom blue-grey. Automatic electric eye meter cell surrounds lens. Ricoh f4/40mm fixed focus lens, shutter 1/25-1/170. Lever advance on the botton.


Stock No 915
Ricoh XR-2s
35mm SLR with XR Rikenon 1:1.7 50mm Bayonet fitting lens. Hot shoe.

(This design could be for the digital version.  Cool!)

(Published with courtesy and copyright of photos plus some illustrations of
John Cooper. We have no business connection. I just googled and ended up at his website)

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Morse Code

For the whole day today, I have seen things differently.

20_1 (Small)



R0015818 (Small)After some time, I walked past a restaurant.  There on the display window a sticker said, TWO ZERO anniversary.  It struck me that people have really very different stories.  While at the time some were busy pushing forward something more eternal, some other people were engrossed in making relatively earthly pursuits.  History, unlike the weather, is not transitory.  A flash ligths up the darkness and dies down in a split of a second, while with persistence the better side of humanity will eventually triumph.  In remembrance I remain of them.

R0015789 (Medium)

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Best Strategy on Laughters?

R0014336a (Medium) (Clown in Laughter: This picutre of the clown was taken at the Chime Long Hotel at Punyu, China. I should write some posts about the hotel cos it is unique place for a visit in this part of the world)

A reader left a message wondering if the theme of the 9th Ricoh Photo Contest was Laugther as said on the English site or Smile as on the Japanese site. In doubt, I searched for the contest site but in vain. I sent the question to the Ricoh's inquiry email account which was unreachable as Ricoh's returned message suggested. Let's me see how I can get an answer.

Either Smile or Laughter, the theme is, so to speak, more than meets the eye. To take picutres on this theme is one thing, but to win in the contest is a very different matter. A casual representation of the smiling faces in an image will not suffice. As far as I am concerned, the usual winning images in any contests are the one which are crisp and direct in composition with a focused but rich message.

So, before doing any photos for the contest, we need a strategy: How can a smile/ laughter be infective and impressive to look at in an image?

R0014443a (Medium) (Smiling Lion: The lion was caged right in the hotel. It was sitting right in front of my dining table at breakfast time)

Before thinking up the answer, we have to figure out the major ingredients in it:

First, we have to decide our subject: a person, an anminal or even something which you can associate with the theme. A group or individually? There are lots of elbowroom to work on the theme in terms of the subject. So even if you seldom take pictures of a face, you will stand a chance of winning some prize.

Second, the purpose: to give the viewers some food for thought; to move them; to entertain them; to amaze them; to make them smile/ laugh; to make hear the laughters; or you name it.

Third, the style: serious; formal; informal; contradictory; complementary; humourous.

What follows is the representation: the image format; the image colour; the white balance correction; the special continuous shooting mode. To make things easier, the composition could be determine at the time of shooting.

When we shoot a photo with a purpose an the strategy in mind, we will know exactly where, what and how to shoot. I think that will stand us a bigger chance to win.

Until I know for sure the theme, I will be an armchair contestant for the time being.

Ricoh Camera Giveaways and the New GRD Bet


The recent months have seen Ricoh’s heavy-handed promotional efforts.  edm_snapsho_b3e23 (Custom)Apart from the photo contest in collaboration with Greenpeace concluded some weeks ago in Hong Kong, there are three more chances for aspiring photographers to get free Ricoh cameras.  There are lots of Ricoh's cameras to be given away.

(A poster about the photo contest co-organised by Ricoh, Greenpeace and Jurlique for Hong Kong only, which was concluded in May.  Winners are to be awarded with airtickets plus hotel accommodation, several fully-geared GX200 and CX1 cameras)

Ninth Ricoh Photo Contest

The first one is open to contestants from around the world, namely, the Ninth Ricoh Photo Contest to close on 21 August 2009.  The theme of the contest is easy on the surface, but actually requires some effort to ponder on and express in the final image.

The prizes are:

Main Award: GR DIGITAL II + optional lenses and accessories (one person)
Special Award: GR DIGITAL II (5 persons)
Photo Style Award: CX1 (1 person)
Photo Style news Award: CX1 (1 person)
GR BLOG Award: GX200 (1 person)
GR DIGITAL 4 Anniversary Special Award: GB-1 GR Bag (1 person)
Award of Excellence: Special album (40 persons)
(*prizes may be the subject of change)
All 50 winning photos will be displayed in Ricoh RING CUBE gallery in Tokyo!

For full details, read here.

The Second Ricoh Photo Contest (Hong Kong and Macau Only)

1701779583 The contest is open to Hong Kong and Macau residents until 30 June 2009.  Entry photos must be taken with a Ricoh camera, to be sent in JPEG format at no more than 4MB in size with all the EXIF kept intact.  Of course, contestants have to send in their names and contact number.  The email address is

The theme is Faces of Macau, which means you should pay a visit to Macau if you live in Hong Kong.  Prizes include one each of the GRDII, CX1 and R10.



s_1203464592GX200 Giveaway Quiz

Another COMPLETED promotion was not photography related but fun and easy.  Upon purchase of the DVD (Region A) of the movie Australia, patrons could enter into a quiz game here.  The one who gave the highest number of correct answers at the earliest time was given a FREE GX200.

A Bet on the New GRD

If these contests happen not merely out of coincidence, Ricoh is being rather keen to empty their remaining stocks as well as to gain wide publicity in the market.  Taken together with the approaching time of the next GRD model’s release in summer, these contests are heralding the coming of the next beast.

As once Ricoh’s niche market, the serious compacts have burgeoned with a whole array of choices of models and technologies.  It is a fair bet that Ricoh has been working very hard to regain/ upkeep its share in this market, which is pretty much the only surviving space for it (where it has done exceptionally well so far IMHO).

So will the next GRD feature a larger sensor?  If so, it will more likely be a larger CMOS sensor as used in the DP2 rather than the APS-C sensor used in DP1 or the Samsung NX.  The guessimate is based on the venture of the CX1 into using a CMOS sensor and the advances of the CMOS sensor.

Will the sensor boast any advancement in imaging technology.  Unless we are going to hear the imaging sensor makers for OEMs like Ricoh's, I don't expect a great extent of advancement.

For lens, I venture that the next GRD will stick to the fixed lens, which is pretty much a signature feature of the camera.  Probably, the lens will be faster.

For sure, Ricoh is not going to put any idiotic funny feature in the new GRD.  But if you are thinking about it, Ricoh, please don't.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sigma DP2 Nightshots plus Essential Samples

Samples are at the end of the post.


I have read what Sigma says of its DP2.

Photographers have dreamed of a compact digital camera with an SLR-sized image sensor. A camera small and light enough to carry around everywhere, yet offering the technology for serious photography. Those dreams have come true with Sigma’s DP series.

Lens-wide, the DP1's wide-angle lens is good with perspective,—geared towards dynamic shots of scenery, buildings, celebrations. The standard lens built into the DP2, on the other hand, has a narrower field angle, giving a stronger effect, making the subject stand out. In other words, we've given it the ability to create the photo that you, and only you, can see in your mind's eye. Naturally, this is great for portraits. And for capturing the elusive beauty of ordinary, everyday subjects, this standard lens is ideal.

Its focal length is longer than the DP1's lens. So, at low F-numbers (larger apertures), you can create amazing pictures by deliberately blurring the background. This makes the subject stand out sharply, in a compelling, almost mystical way. In this sense, you could say the DP2 turns ordinary into awesome.

The conclusion is: I want this but, well, in Ricoh's version.  Now that the market for serious compacts is quite congested, a groundbreaking version will be needed to secure the market share.  I can bet this on Ricoh's upcoming GRII's replacement.

The above are just some of what Sigma has said about the DP2, more of which can be read here (the link lands on the spec page).

For the sample shots, here they are:


1.6s F5.6 ISO50          1/2s F2.8 ISO50

1s     F5.6 ISO100       1/4s     F2.8 ISO100

1/2s   F5.6 ISO200       1/8s F2.8 ISO200

1/4s   F5.6 ISO400       1/15s   F2.8 ISO400

1/8s   F5.6 ISO800

A night shot on tripod at ISO200

A CLEAN night shot on tripod at ISO50

Other Shots

An outdoor shot in pleasing colour

An indoor B&W shot at ISO 200

A beautifully defocused shot at F2.8

A cat’s portrait

An outdoor shot of the fundamental colours

A boy’s portrait


Sunday, 31 May 2009

Short Distance Call

R0012880a (Medium)

"Hey, son, I've lost sight of you," the old dad speaks into his cellphone.

"Dad, you don't really have to call me," the son replies.

"Where on earth are you really?" the unconvinced old man pursued further.

"We are closer than the distance the microwave travels from your cellphone to mine," the yound man continues, "Man, I'm right behind you."

The moral: Don't rely too much on technology.  Rely more on our own abilities.

This is Sunday.  Have a good day!