Friday, 13 November 2009

Newthink of Yore


^ A past glory of Oly and sensation of the time, OM-1

A great deal of online discussions is going on between the aye-sayers and the nay-sayers about the rationale behind Ricoh bundling a lens to a sensor for its GXR camera.

There is a famous common saying in Hong Kong, which is in Cantonese, "Bae four bae hak". Literally, it means "A hundred kinds of merchandise items to cater for a hundred types of customers."

So, despite it's all well and good to debate the technical aspect in the discussions, the reasoning can be put into a proper perspective if we see the matter in the context of market share.

The niche market is where Ricoh has been surviving best facing the keen competition from the big names. Its previous crown of 24mm-lens-serious-compact was taken down. While it has abdicated the throne, Panny and Oly are having a banner year selling the even more tempting MFT cameras like hotcakes. In comparison, the series of GRD and GX simply lacks lustre.

When a company feels stuck, it has to think up a way out and out of the box too. Something catchy. Newthink. A make-it-or-break-it tryout. It's risky yes. The history is simply repeating itself.

And history has seen such a newthink not just once.

om1cutaway_1024^ A cutaway of the OM-1

In 1973, Oly introduced the OM-1 which was later followed by enhanced products in the OM Series. The world's smallest and lightest 35mm single-lens reflex camera was the acclaim given to it then.

Apart from its small size, the cloth curtain shutter was fitted with strings instead of ribbons. Another newthink was to put an air damper in the camera body to absorb the shock from mirror movement.

Other innovations include eliminating the condenser, using a pentaprism with a curved lower surface and new designs to reduce body size and the noise and shock caused by shutter operation.

The list of innovation didn't stop there. Shutter was improved for durability to withstand 100,000 operations. The finder screen could also be replaced from the lens mount side.

The result? Initially, the OM-1 was sold under the codename M-1. It scooped up the market share so much so that Leica asked Olympus to change the name. That was a lesson learnt.

Has Ricoh stricken a fine balance here? Let's bear in mind that our generation will finally give way to the next and the next after. The old definition of camera from the lore of the old days has been evolving. So will be ours.

When the young kid grows up and goes into photography, will it be possible that we will reflect and say the same about the GXR as do about the OM-1?

Time may prove the GXR a failure or otherwise. Both "Well done, Ricoh" and "Shame to you, Ricoh!" have the cogent arguement. But, my bottom line is that we need more cameramakers like Ricoh to advance new ideas about photography. It will be absolutely better if it refrains from pricing its products on the high side.

(Photo Copyrighted to: Zuikoholic)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Praya of Kennedy Town

*Praya was a term used in Colonial Hong Kong to refer to a promenade by the waterfront. The name comes from the Portuguese term for broad stone-faced road that runs parallel along the harbour in front of the city.

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The name of the place may hint a connection to the late American President Kennedy. But actually, it is named after the 7th British viceroy, Sir Arthur E. Kennedy running Hong Kong in its colonial years.

Arthur was an Irish and an old boy of Trinity College, Dublin. Kennedy Town, developed under his charge, is located at the far-left of the Hong Kong Island.

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The place is accessible by the century-old tram, which I have no reservation in recommending to you if you fancy going there. It is still not within easy reach by way of the underground railway, hence retaining an old quality to it.

After dropping off at the tram terminus, a two minutes walk will take you to the breathtaking view of the harbour at the praya. The harbour looks differently from the praya since this part of the waters is the widest and against a background of minimal concrete buildings.

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Oh, if for the sake of photography you are brave enough to cross the railings which forbid passers-by to go near the edge, mind the unexpected wave. I saw a photographer being thoroughly wetted by a sudden gust of the sea water. He was holding his camera….

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The map below gives you an idea of where the Kennedy Town is. There are some bars at the side of the praya with outdoor seats. Enjoy!

Map picture

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Ricoh Special Webpage for GXR

Here is the special site where you can click to view the 360° view of the camera, gallery and more.

The intro shows the combination of the system with the readily available units. You'll not wish to miss it.

Ricoh GXR: Innovative Future Components!!

DC Watch of Japan reported the launch ceremony of Ricoh's GXR in the country. The following are the exciting new thinking to be made available to the camera body in the future. Well done, Ricoh!
These units are not available yet but certainly in the manufacturing pipeline.
1) GPS Unit
2) Wireless Unit for Photo Transmission

3) Projector Unit!!!

4) Storage Unit

5) Printer!!!

(Source: DC Watch; Use your Google Toolbar for translation cos the Google Translate and Yahoo Translate can't do the trick for this page.)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

GXR Size-wise


Photographyblog produces some shots comparing the GXR camera to Panny's GF1 in size.  Click here to see more.

Ricoh GXR: Another 5 Minute Video

Here you go:

Observing the Mundane

R0017035 (Medium)^A sight seen almost daily of similar old shopkeepers giving delivery to his customers

It is a duty of a street photographer to seek out from the mundane daily happenings the intriguing folk scenes, which requires an unceasing effort to train the ability to admire what are normally considered commonplaces.

If photography is a religion, the offering on the alter is the ability to observe and discover. It is not foolhardy to say that photography is as much about decisive moments as it is observation and discovery, and least about taking many pictures. How well a photographer does in observing and discovering, so goes his or her works.

R0016514 (Medium) ^A young kid, probably at age eight, helps his mother carry some of the baskets for fruits to the shops. He follows her crossing roads without attending to the traffic. Children helping adults at work might be a common sight some 40 years ago but not now.

When we as photographers can observe and discover as an instinct, the photos we take will easily overflow with a peculiar and prominent expression and viewpoint, delivering the otherwise common street scenes in more sensational images.

Technicality aside, photography masters are basically masters of observation. They are simply more observant than most of us do. In most cases, the best scene which can make a keeper is in proximity to us. The crux of the mastery is whether we can see it. The only difficulty is our patience to practise our photographer's eye.

R0015910 (Medium)^The weak jog in the air-conditioned room while the real tough do it outdoors.

Today, when you see a scene in the street, practise your ability to observe. Surely, to read widely will stand us in good stead for our practice.

Oh, don't forget to pick your camera with you everyday.

Ricoh GXR -- Lenses and Sensors Interchangeable

The deleted Youtube video about the camera can be viewed here. A fact sheet can be viewed here. Briefly about the camera:- Size: smaller than the available M4/3 cameras. Sensor: interchangeble with a mount body fitted with a 10MP CCD or a 12.3MP CMOS sensor Availability: December Lenses: interchangeable with 24-72mm f/2.5-4.4 or 50mm f/2.5 macro lens Price: Comparable to the M4/3 for the system as a whole (Source: Photorumors)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Vague Outlines

R0016253 (Medium) ^A backlit scene can make an intriguing blurry image which renders the subjects into obscure silhouettes possibly reminiscent of a scene of the aliens' arrival in a sci-fi movie.

If ambition has a birthplace*, the Internet is its address. Even writing a regular blog can open the author up to some opportunities. If you're a regular blogger, the invitation to write on Blogcritics, which carries a great deal of weight with Technorati, has probably not skipped you. Before its official launch, I was invited and admitted too. Application is now extended to all at the site. Surely the prospective authors need to go through some screening before admission. *"Birthplace" is a word invented by -- guess who -- Shakespeare.

At one point, I fancied being a part of it. Well, worldwide exposure for free is simply tempting. But – and this is a big BUT - I can't quite see the vague logic.

At present, there are reportedly about 2,000 authors writing for the site. This is not a lot of them by any measure as the invitation was worldwide.

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To be brought into the fold, the candidates are asked to comply with some conditions bewildering to me.

An author is required to publish his (/her; same below) post on Blogcritics before posting the same on his own blog (Why?).

Once a post is published on Blogcritics, the company owning the site is entitled to use the materials given in the post.

But if there is any legal matters arising from the post, the author alone has to bear the consequences and indemnify all the parties concerned (What the!).

The authors are also encouraged to participate in writing and commenting on posts, and to click the ads! ("Great" idea!)

When I read on the terms and conditions in pre-launch the application, it sounds like a free lunch in the making. But it is not me to be served it.

R0016932 (Medium)^Hong Kong at night is always aglow with a motley array of colours ideal for defocusing an image.

It doesn't add up. The confirmation for registration was left uncompleted at last. That said, the worldwide exposure on a sizeable site is still tempting. Well, my poison may be your meat. Check the site out and see if it suits to be the address of your ambition's birthplace.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Let Me Think

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No wonder Hong Kong is a shopping paradise. When young children are bewitched too, it can be a shopping hell as well.

This is Sunday. Spend time with your family.