Saturday, 10 July 2010

Over Eighty-eight Percent

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In 2006, over 88% of the digital cameras produced by the Japanese camera makers were shipped to the overseas market.  Put in a layman’s term, nine out of every ten cameras were sold outside Japan then.

That’s the old statistics.  It is probably well beyond that percent now.  The advantage is that the economies of scale make the digital cameras cheaper yet more feature-laden.

The reason for mentioning this is that the Samsung HZ30W (WB600) is now a companion to my two GX200 at a price of just HK$2,200 (roughly US$280 or UK£200) which include a 8GB class 6 SD card, a mini-tripod and other usual free stuff.  Given the 24-360mm Schneider lens and the stereo HD videoing capability (lens can be zoomed; recording can be paused; plus various shooting settings can be customised),  the camera is almost unbeatable. Well, it has PASM modes too.

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That said, it is made to a very different end than Ricoh's CX3.  Samsung's is packed with a wide array of playful functions to cheer up potential buyers, while the CX3 is more focused on ergonomics and controlling to suit the more serious photographers.  But it is a shame that the CX3 does not have manual mode or shutter priority mode which is needed especially for the 300mm focal length.

By the way, you must have noticed that the Big Site has published a compact superzooms group test.  The HZ35W (WB650), the higher-grade brother of this new purchase, has got a "recommended" alongside the Casio FH100.  The CX3 scores a very low mark.  First, honestly, the difference in image quality and so on is minimal for the similarly small-sized  sensors

Second, I suggest you make your own conclusion instead of buying their comments about the IQ for the pixel-peeping crops.  The comments are fairly opinionated to my eye. 

Third, the strategies of the camera makers are not the same. I mean, take for example Samsung's HZxxW (WB) series.  They come without a proper battery charger (just a USB cord and AC adapter) or a user's instruction (only on CD) or a HDMI cord.  The workmanship has left much to be desired.  When I tested them in the shop, the HZ35W (WB650) has a defocusing problem for 100% of the shots while the HZ30W (WB600) froze after making adjustments to the settings.   That says something.

But, we all know: look at the price.  It is cheap.  Samsung is surely trying hard to edge out the competitors and achieve further economies of scale.  It is fighting so fiercely in both the P&S and the serious compact markets.

Friday, 9 July 2010

When Light Pollution Is Invented

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These are some of the candidates for the 5 photos to be given for the Ricoh Around the World project.  Without a theme in mind, the photographer would have been really like loitering without intent with the R10.  A theme really helps us to stay focused and be more effectively in spotting the right scene.

So the theme is Light and Light Pollution in the case of most shots under consideration.   Standing under these ultra bright spotlights to shot photos can make one become more aware of how polluted they are: not just the nuisance of the eye-blinding brightness, but also the warming of the ambient temperature.

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Thursday, 8 July 2010

Walking In the Air

walking in the air (Medium)[2]P10 zoomed to the max. The title rightly describes how most people feel this morning on their wobbly feet – the semi-final match took place at 2:30 a.m. Hong Kong time.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Sniper with a P10

Long-time readers of GX GARNERINGS have read here posts about carema enthuaists doing stunts with their cameras: they disintergrate'em, gut'em, remove the low-pass filter or mount on self-made zoom lenses....

Here comes another enthusiast from Japan, Mushimizu, who is actually a bit of a moderate in comparsion. He didn't tamper with the camera. He only has a head-turning device which he calls dot sight slipped in the hot shoe on his GXR. On account of his testimony, the device facilitates aiming minature moving subjects which is helped by the long focal length of the P10.


Take his dragonfly shots for example. He wrote that the dragonfly photos were taken with his GXR P10 at telephoto setting and continuous shooting mode. The focus was manually fixed at 3 - 5 meters with the lens pointed to the flying dragonflies by way of the dot sight. Fact is, the dot sight operates like what is used on a machine gun.

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If you are interested in the nitty-gritty of how the dot sight works, Mushimizu offers a reference on Wiki here. Those who are contemplating one, the dot sight with hot shoe adapter is available on a Japanese online shop here.

(Photos are used by courtesy of and copyrighted to Mushimizu)

A Bit of An Extreme, or Not

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(from upper-left to clockwise) GX200 with the wide-angle converter, GXR P10, CX1, CX3 and R10

Taken together the GX200 which took this photo, I am handling six Ricoh cameras in one go. The thought of making such a line-up shot compelled me to do it. I looked at the image and mumbled, "This is a bit of an extreme."

Really? I doubt.

Although I don't own all of these cameras, I bet lots of us have as many cameras – maybe overlapping ones too --  as shown in the photo. These owners have simply been compelled to buy. Honestly, most of us have either become sophisticated camera buyers, review readers or technology connoisseurs or all of them than real photographers.

But, to another extreme, are you too sophisticated a photographer? I mean, maybe you have been engrossed in all sorts of knowledge about photography to beef up your photographic skills. Then, having read books on the topic aplenty and after a full day of shooting, you discover that the images are technically overwhelming but soulless.
More often than not, we find ourselves in this quagmire of being either an extreme camera critic or an extreme photography learner.  We may have got over it but later on, we could be trapped again.  It is also our experience that we stumble upon a photo by a tyro which is however one of the best we have ever seen.  It is expressed with such a huge sense of freedom that you see not the strengths of the camera or the rules of photography but just the soul of the photographer.
If you feel yourself a bit of an extreme after all these years in photography, why don't you pick up your camera and shoot as your eye sees it and your heart dictates?  Free yourself of the bondage to the technicality of the camera or the principles of photography which you have known enough, and just observe with your soul and shoot.
You wanna be a bit of an extreme, or not.  For me, not.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Some Fun With Light

I tried this for fun while testing the GXR P10 (that big site is testing it now and we can already foretell the overall score cos Ricoh does not start with a C or N). Anyway, let's have some fun with light! Click them open to see in colour.

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"King, why are you in such a hurry?" "Dude, haven't you heard that the sky has fallen? I'm going to the spot."

RIMG1033 (Large) "Hey, wait for us! We're going with you!"

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Meanwhile, in a pitch-black woods several miles away, a flash came down from the sky at tremendous speed. Almost immediately, a silhouette of something mysterious appeared against the backlight.

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The mystery was solved when the thing was lit up by the laser rays it beamed to the sky -- it was the robot outlaw from the Dead Star. Why was it here? For what purpose did it beam up the laser rays to the sky?

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No one will ever know the answers because our hero, Kungfu Panda, came to the scene just before the robot made its next move. Kungfu Panda, using his newly acquired space situational awareness monitor, detected its arrival and timely destroyed the robot with the advanced GXR P10 laser cannon.

Notes on these shots:

1) Turn off the light. 2) The shutter speed was dragged to 6 seconds, enough for me to arrange the light beams. 3) Cover the ground with a plastic sheet to achieve the reflections. 4) For the second photo, the camera was pointed to a dark surface for the pre-flash, then to the light source and finally to the pre-arranged cars for the second-curtain flash. The focus was locked before pressing the shutter release fully. 5) Do try this at home.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

First England, then Brazil

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...they were both ousted. ("Brother, remain composed.")

This is Sunday. Cheer up!