Saturday, 4 December 2010

Freeze Tag

Early on this year, Canon's commercial Freeze Tag has won several awards.  It is the 2010 EMMY Winner, 2010 CLIO Winner, 2010 Gold Addy Winner and 2010 YDA Winner.

Also check out the video below for the BTS nitty-gritty.

Up for Grab This Week

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(Click the image to visit the Candid Photo Gallery by Ricoh China's "promotion ambassadors")

Three new serious compact cameras have been put up for purchase this week in Hong Kong.  Surprisingly, despite the appreciation of the Japanese Yen to a new high level, the Ricoh GR Lens A12 28mm f/2.8 is far less expensive than the A12 50mm.  Is the pricing strategy adjusted?  Likely.

The suggested retail price of the GR Lens A12 28mm is HK$5,500, and that of the GXR body with the A12 28mm (free hood)is $7,300.  As a reference, the NEX5 with two lenses or the NX100 with one kit lens now asks for about HK$5,500 to HK$5,700.  [Use the exchange rate widget in the sidebar.]

Panasonic has also released the pricing for its two new cameras.   The slightly compact GH2 body is selling for HK$ 8,380; the body plus 14-42mm lens for $ 9,380; the body plus 14-140mm lens for $ 12,990.  Since these are suggested retail prices, the street prices can be about two hundred HK dollars cheaper.

Another is the seriously compact GF2, which is ready for pre-sale only.  Customers who order the pre-sale item will receive a free Panasonic leather camera case.  The GF2 will be available for hands-on in the Panasonic showroom in SOGO at Causeway Bay and iSquare at Tsimshatsui as soon as 11 December. The prices are:

Panasonic GF2 body HK$4,990
Panasonic GF2 body + 14mm F2.5    HK$5,990
Panasonic GF2 body + 14-42mm F3.5-5.6    HK$5,990
Panasonic GF2 body + 14mm F2.5 + 14-42mm F3.5-5.6    HKD$6,990


Friday, 3 December 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Possibilities of Contrast Detection

R0010438(L)
(Camera: Ricoh CX1)

It is generally thought that indecisive focusing is quintessential of contrast detection adpoted in smaller-sensor compacts.  This detection operation has an inherit constraint: it is limited by the level of contrast available for detection.  In a nutshell, in low-light situations, the photographers have to convince and wait for the focus to really lock on the subjects.  This observation still holds true.  But the perception of contrast detection as such is changing.

Until recently, contrast detection has lagged behind in focusing when compared with phase detection.  As the Panasonic's top-class model GF2 attests, the MFT sensor using contrast detection is really fast in good lighting situations.  Probably in those situations, it is marginally slower than phase detection.  If you've not checked it out, go here.

So, while contrast detection still sucks in low-light settings, it has caught up quite close focusing-speed-wise.

The common saying goes, "There is no rose without a throne": but this time use a bit of reverse thinking and look at the rosy side of the moral.  Fact is, contrast detection has a big advantage since it uses the whole plane of the sensor.  The photographer can theoretically (in effect the marginal areas are excluded) run through the frame to choose any points to focus and meter.  Take the shot of today for example.

The shot of today was taken with the tiny-sensor CX1. Unlike the big boys, the CX1 uses contrast detection which, in this case, allowed easy selection of the AF on the buildings and AE metering on the bright part of the scene. For a camera fitted with an APS-C or bigger-size sensor using phase detection, the photographer would have to spot-meter and recompose. That is not a lot more troublesome, but troublesome enough when decisiveness is important for a decisive moment which is usually short.

In another development, the Fujifilm F300EXR offers the capability to use contrast AF or phase AF on account of the lighting situations. There is a high chance that the two will become complimentary in the coming camera models.

Fujifilm is being creative too with its X100, which is heard to hit the stores in February, to combine the EVF and OVF.  Rumours have it that Sony's next translucent model will adopt the same trick.
 
So, it is not foolhardy to predict that new camera models which blend the two detection modes and both types of viewfinders will soon exist.  The dream camera could be one which adopts these technologies, coupled by Sony's lightening translucent-mirror focusing-speed and Sigma's Foveon sensor.
 
The codename?  Let's call it Big Daydream no. 1 for the moment.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Walking on the Stave

SAM_2150(L)

SAM_2153(L)SAM_2158(L)

(Camera: Samsung WB600)

The light and shadows of people big and small entering a stadium are fascinating.  The shots were done with the WB600 of which the 24mm to 360mm focal range were really handy for the shooting occasion with wide and far-away scenes. Trimming and some post-processing were applied.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Now You See Me, Now You Do not

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Today, let's enjoy a set (and many more here) of amazing yet mind-boggling photographic works of Bolin LIU from China.  He took and, by painting on himself  to blend into the background, modelled for the picture.  Simply clever!

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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Speed

SAM_2419(L)
(Camera: Samsung NX100)

Recently I came across a blogger who called himself a gear-whore. What a word! But it, I would say, vividly depicts how the photographers' head is always filled with thoughts of new cameras. These photographers -- I mean, we can be one of them -- can glue themselves to the monitor for the Internet news and reviews as much as their depreciating stamina after a day's work or study can carry them forward. Of all the concerns, the matter of ISO speed in terms of useable image is the most common.

After trying out a dozen of new enthusiast compact cameras -- fitted with a 1/1.7" or APS-C or MFT sensor -- over the past twelve months, our impression is that we have only pushed the cameras to ISO 800 top on 80% of the shooting occasions. For one thing, anything above that ISO800 threshold is generally on a downward curve of image quality. The image quality, so to speak, plateaus at ISO 800.

Back to the shot "Speed" today, it was taken at ISO1600. At a reduced size, it looks great. But a comparison with the one taken at ISO800 at 100% shows that the latter wins hand down -- sorry you can only trust my word; evidence later when the review posts are published. On the technical side, what were needed for this shot were a shooting location with a dim background (otherwise the slow shutter speed will render it too bright), patience (a 15-minute wait for this right shot), a smile to the police officer who checks you out, a slower shutter speed and panning along the subject at a comparable speed. If you wish to add light trails to the final image, surely you will need a slower shutter speed and popping up the flash on second curtain slow-sync.

As a side note, the GH2 is up for grab in Hong Kong now. Check out our notice board at right for the pricing info. As for the performance of GH2 at ISO1600 against the 60D, check it out here. A detailed review is here.  He coined the word gear-whore, didn't he?  Hmmm....

Monday, 29 November 2010

Before Crossing the Road

SAM_7661(L)

(Camera: Samsung EX1)

I like the way he casually held the cigarette in his mouth.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Slow Down

SAM_8212(L)
(Camera: Samsung EX1)

You have to wait for the pedestrian traffic to clear up slowly.  Your vehicle can't go really fast anyway. Learn to be patient. 

At least you don't have to hurry today.  This is Sunday.  Slow Down.