Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Best Part

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Old things always fascinate me.  I still remember how I spent three and a half hours in the Warwick Castle in the UK and left with a wistful sense of anti-climax months ago; so was it when I left Shakespeare's houses and the Roman Bath after several hours of touring on separate days.

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I have a penchant for historical heritage.  Maybe there's why I still haven't switched to any DSLR…,well, yet.  Knighthood is certainly one of the most marvellous relics of the past.

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For reason of this passion, I have learned a few things about the castle.  Here are two questions for you: 1) Do you know why the stairs leading up to the top of a tower in a castle were always built in a right-to-left spiral fashion? 2) Do you know what a wardrobe was used for in a castle?

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For the same reason, I went to the movies for Alice in the Wonderland this morning; Not because the story was old, but the period costumes are interesting.  The best part is Alice in full armour nearing the end of the movie.

I brought the ticket, a big pack of popcorn and a soda, happily seating myself and enjoying the movie like a five-year-old.  Such literally colourful movie is the best way to educate photographers about colours in a totally submerged environment.

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I definitely recommend it to you.  It brings you back to childhood too.  After all, who in the whole world haven't read and heard about the story?

R0018778 (Medium) Oh, Alice in the armour.  Impressive!

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Friday, 26 March 2010

Photographer, This is a Big F~ Deal!

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The Vice-president is correct. It's a big fantastic deal! Hey, what are you thinking?

What I am talking about is Samsung's NX10. While Ricoh is laudable for impacting the camera market (it had been quite some time for other makers provided us with compacts fitted with a 24mm lens and a 1/1.7" sensor since Ricoh's models) by the strength of creativity, Samsung should be applauded for letting us get a APS-C-core compact camera without draining our purse or making us niggardly in spite of ourselves when beefing up our acquisitions for the system.

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As revealed by the Co-editor yesterday, the body plus the 30mm pancake kit set costs just HK$6,590, which can be a bit lower at the retailing level. In comparison, Pany's GF-1, which uses a sensor a wee bit smaller, is sold by at around HK$6,900 (already the street price) with the 20mm pancake.

If compared to, say, Canon EOS 550D tagged around HK$ 6,800 (there is a way to get it at HK$5,700!), the Samsung NX10 has lower the threshold which can effectively make perspective buyers feel bound to stand up for it.

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I still believe that price is not an issue when considering moving from the embrace of DSLRs into the arms of interchangeable-lens large-sensor compacts; certainly not for new comers without past investments in lenses and accessories. But, for sure, pricing is a strong factor to entice. When the price is low enough, it can rule the decision of buyers as the moon rules the tides.

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And, I can admit that I could be wrong in suspecting the determination of Samsung in owning this market segement. Having checked out the accessory list posted here yesterday, I now have no doubt that Samsung is putting its shoulder to the wheels in developing the NX10 system.

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The three avant-garde lenses are selling at afforadable prices too. Take for example, the 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 zoom lens. The suggested retail price is HK$2,190 (street price can be around $2,000). Now, look at Panasonic's LUMIX 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. which is asking for the lowest price of HK2,700 according to some recent buyers. What a price difference!

50-200mm(Lens) (Large)

Now, when I think about the HK$6,xxx asking price for a GXR A12 lensor.... Isn't the decision already ruled by the moon ... er ... price? Okay, the bottom line: price can become an issue when it is low enough.

Oh, if you're buying the NX10, either get the twin-lenses kit set (not available as such yet) or the pancake-lens kit set. It is wiser in money term to buy the cheaper zoom lens rather than the dearer pancake separately.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

NX10: Full Ranges of Accessories and Price List

NX10_004 (Large)Samsung Hong Kong officially launched the NX10 last week. Size-wise, the camera is hardly a head-turner. It is similar to the Pentax K-m. But for the matter of accessories, Samsung lives up to its vow/ dream to "own" this segment of the camera market by offering a wide range of choices.

On the launch ceremony, three local young lady photographers were invited to share their hands-on experience with the NX10. This proves that this market segment is mainly targeted at the ladies. Are we going to see the NX10 in pink, orange, red ...? Likely.

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Samsung's suggested retail prices of the NX10 kit sets and accessories in Hong Kong are as follows (the street price will be 2-5% lower; very affordable indeed!! -- but for the CPL filters, you can buy a product of a better grade for the same price):

Kit Set
EV-NX10 ZZBCBHKNX10 BOBY + 30MM F2.0 PANCAKE HK$6,590
EV-NX10 ZZBABHKNX10 BOBY + 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OIS HK$6,290

Key Accessories
EX-S1855SB18~55mm Standard Zoom Lens, OIS, F No. 3.5~5.6 HK$2,190
EX-T50200SB50~200mm Tele Lens, OIS, F No. 4.0~5.6 HK$2,490
EX-S30NB30mm Lens, Pancake, F No. 2.0 HK$2,990

ED-MA9NXKK-Mount Adapter HK$1,690

ED-SEF20A Flash SEF20A, Guide No. 20Gn HK$1,490
ED-SEF42A Flash SEF42A, Guide No. 42Gn HK$2,590

ED-BP1310 Premium Battery Pack, 1,300mAh HK$690

ED-SR9NX01 Shutter Release HK$490

ED-PCJ9N1B Half Jacket Case & Shoulder Strap, Genuine Leather, Black HK$590
ED-PCJ9N1N Half Jacket Case & Shoulder Strap, Genuine Leather, Brown HK$590

Filter
ED-LF58PT Protection filter Φ58mm (for 18-55 mm lens) HK$290
ED-LF52PT Protection filter Φ52mm (for 50-200 mm lens) HK$249
ED-LF43PT Protection filterΦ43mm (for 30 mm lens) HK$249

ED-LF58PL CPL Filter, Φ58mm (for 18-55mm lens) HK$490
ED-LF52PL CPL Filter, Φ52mm (for 50-200mm lens) HK$590
ED-LF43PL CPL Filter, Φ43mm (for 30mm lens) HK$490

ED-LF58ND4 ND Filter / ND 4 : 2EV step), Φ58mm (for 18-55mm lens) HK$490
ED-LF52ND4 ND Filter / ND 4 : 2EV step), Φ52mm (for 50-200mm lens) HK$390
ED-LF43ND4 ND Filter / ND 4 : 2EV step), Φ43mm (for 30mm lens) HK$290

ED-LH30NB Lens Hood for EX-S30NB (for 30mm lens) HK$149

Battery/ Cable
ED-AD9NX01/GBAC Adapter (Charger Kit) HK$490

EA-CB08A12AV Cable (8 Pin) HK$90
EA-CB08U12USB Cable (8 Pin) HK$90
EA-CBHD15CHDMI Cable (19pin) C type, 1.5m HK$190

Carrying Case & Strap
ED-CC9N10B Carrying Case (Premium Pack), Leather(PU) + Fabric, Black HK$490
ED-CC9N10E Carrying Case (Premium Pack), Leather(PU) + Fabric, Brown HK$490
ED-CC9N60A Carrying Case (Premium Pack), Leather(PU) + Fabric, 280.0*225.0*165.0, Gray HK$790
ED-CC9N60U Carrying Case (Premium Pack), Leather(PU) + Fabric, 280.0*225.0*165.0, Blue HK$790
EA-PCC9U30B Carrying Case (Simple Pack), Fabric, Black HK$290

EA-HS9B1 Hand Strap, PU Leather, Gray HK$290
ED-SS9M10B Shoulder Strap,595.0*40.0*4.0 (39g), PU, Black HK$290
ED-SS9M20B Shoulder Strap, 593.0*30.0*4.0 (30g), PU, Black HK$190

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Atmosphere

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When you take a photo, what are your calculations? The exposure combo, check; the composition, check; the suitable focal length, check; the focal point, check; subjects to be taken in and out, check. The decisions are arrived at a split of a second. But wait a minute.

What about the atmosphere of the scene? Adding atmosphere to an image is like accentuating your points in a speech. An image with a proper atmosphere or not is like a speech by President Obama or by George W. Bush.

Atmosphere is a crucial aesthetic element to photography. The apt atmosphere present in an image can highlight the theme, as well as boosting the sense of reality and aesthetic impacts of the image.

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There are several ways to play up the atmosphere in an image. The actual setting and environment of the scene are some of the useful tools in this regard. The two photos here, hopefully, serve as examples.

I had stood at the crossing for some time, waiting for the chance to take some photos of vehicles whizzing past late at night. While waiting, I calculated that the sense of speed and night had to be shown in the final image to make it tick. This is how I played up the atmosphere:

- tuned the GX200's WB to veil the image with a yellow-bluish tinge, making the first photo look old, mystic and really late at night;

- panned along the movement of the bike and motorbike at a slow shutter speed, adding light trails to give a sense of speed; and

- kept the flash off so that the main subjects were also blurred, accentuating the speed and lateness in time (firing the flash would have frozen the subjects in sort of a spotlight effect, ruining the mystic atmosphere)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Lenses, Lenses, Lenses

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Now that we fans of interchangeble-lens large-sensor camera in a relatively compact body have been pampered with a wide array of choices, are we satisfied? Can we buy such a compact to replace our old DSLRs or SLRs?

Let's take the stock:

We have the newthink from Ricoh pitched at a high price level.

We have the GF1 and E-P2 which can work with different lenses by way of adaptors. But since the reflex mirror is gone, the shortened focal length to the sensor as compared with a DSLR or SLR strips the non-MFT lenses of their optimal optical performance.

We have the Samsung NX10. But it leaves much to be desired in size and the choice of lenses. R0016747 (Large)

Although it seems that price is an issue, it is not. At press time, Ricoh is offering a HK$1,400 discount in Hong Kong off the rack price for purchase of the GXR body plus the VF-2, making the cost of two at HK$3,600 and a total of HK$9,600 for inclusion of the A12 33mm module. The GF-1 with a pancake costs around HK$7,400 but without the viewfinder. If you know your way, there are plenty of retailers selling these stuff at lower prices. For sure, an extra GXR APS-C lensor can cost double the price of an extra MFT lens. (Afterall, the GXR is in a different (or tricky?) category.) But, for people considering investing in either a DSLR system or a large-sensor compact, the price difference is not really huge.

So the issue is about the lenses. First, the lenses for these large-sensor compacts have a reasonably fast focusing speed, except for the A12/33mm in its Marco mode, mark you. But there is still room for improvements. As a major part of photography is about focusing speed, this is an issue remained to be solved.

Second, as discussed above, the non-specifically structured lenses cannot give out the best performance when used with these compacts. That is to say, the owners of such compacts must still rely on their arsenal of DSLRs plus the old lenses when, say, making an overseas photographic trip.

Third, since the photographers' heritage of regular DSLR lenses is the stubborn resistance behind their reluctance to jump boat, and so is it the case for camera makers doing well in the lens sales, there should be some time before we see Cannon and Nikon heading into this market. Their presence is crucial because their power to grab a large market share then will push others (Sony again?) to drop prices, which is also why I believe price is not an issue in the end.

Lenses, lenses, lenses; they are the problem.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Side-by-side Nightshots: E-PL1, GXR A12/ 50mm, GF1 and E-P2

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We haven't done this for some time.  Check out the images after the links to make your own conclusions.

LENS


ISO
ZUIKO
14-42mm
A12
50mm Kit
14-45mm
Minolta
M-ROKKOR 28mm F2.8
x NR NR (high)
100 E-PL1 GF1 E-P2
200 E-PL1 GXR GXR GF1 E-P2
400 E-PL1 GXR GXR GF1 E-P2
800 E-PL1 GXR GXR GF1 E-P2
1600 E-PL1 GXR GXR GF1 E-P2
3200 E-PL1 GXR GXR GF1 E-P2

(Copyrights of the images belong to their holders)

Sunday, 21 March 2010

How to Trash a Trash Bin

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This is how, by a naughty somebody.

This is Sunday.  Be good and get some rest.