So long, 2011.
Saturday, 31 December 2011
Friday, 30 December 2011
I am quite satisfied with this philosophic scene. As I am typing this, my gaze has kept fixed and re-fixed on the image. My eyes stay much longer on this shot than my general shots. It manages to capture my mind probably for the simple repetitive patterns in the image and the unique postures of the sitters. Taken together, the image draws the viewer's attention to the four human subjects and what is going on in their heads.
Thursday, 29 December 2011
"Colour not bad!" the Grandpa continues, "And the bokeh is, well, nice."
The girl replies, "The camera sports a fast lens at f1.8 and an extraordinarily large sensor. It surely takes better pictures. No doubt."
The narrator: Great image quality, XZ-1, Olympus.
1) The colour of an image cannot be judged on the LCD display;
2) The colour of an image can depend on what mode it is on and the character to the taste of the viewers;
3) The camera is fitted with a tiny sensor, much smaller than the APS-C one. The truth is that its sensor is not extraordinarily diminutive like that in a point-and-shoot;
4) Unless in macro mode, such a small sensor cannot afford the photographer images with bokeh even at f1.8, which is instead made to allow shooting at lower ISO values to maximize image quality in a dimly lit environment; and
5) No camera can take better pictures if the photographer sucks.
In a nutshell, the whole commercial is based on lies. Probably only "XZ-1, Olympus" is the indisputable fact. What a shame! Oh, that's Olympus. No wonder.
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Tuesday, 27 December 2011
This is the last day of the Christmas holiday in Hong Kong. There are still lots of free performances in town, hence lots of photography opportunities for faces and facial expressions of the spectators. The author has have the honour to do such shooting occasionally on public talks by some big wigs including the former government Chief Secretary Anson Chan and also on performances at, e.g., the side stage.
With what may be limited experience in this respect, the tips to be offered are to be on the scene early, scout around for the best shooting spots and observe and select the targeted spectators before the show starts. Then anticipate the coming intense or amusing moments (watching the show/ rehearsals beforehand will certainly help) so that you can capture the right feel in the shots. Of course, it takes a photographer's instinct and trained eye to do the job well. A zoom lens at least to 300mm is a must. If you have a camera with a less noisy shutter noise, you may wish to make it the tool for such an occasion.
Monday, 26 December 2011
Water (in Cantonese, "sui" literally meaning "water" refers to money) has been extravagantly spent in the holiday. What are left may be only the some amount of coins, like these water droplets? Or are they your teardrops of regret? This is the Boxing Day after all. So maybe put the sorrow behind and open the presents for a moment of joy.
Saturday, 24 December 2011
Friday, 23 December 2011
Thursday, 22 December 2011
It gave me a déjà vu kind of feeling when preparing this virtual Christmas card for it seemed that the previous one was made just a few weeks ago.
As the cliché goes, time flies. This year, GXG hasn't done as much camera reviews. At the beginning of the year, the GF2 was reviewed. At the tail end of 2011, it was the much loved GXR M-mount with the Nokton 35mm f1.2 lens which got reviewed. Again, GXG is indebted to Shun Hing and Laikok for lending us the cameras and lenses for testing.
But the blog posts of this year are as usual full of ideas and topics about photography and Hong Kong. A special mention is the Ricoh HK Meetup held in November. The latest special news is my winning a Leica X1 – I am yet to receive and test it.
So thank you for visiting over the past 12 months. Wish you a Merry Christmas and the best of luck in 2012!
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
Monday, 19 December 2011
Sunday, 18 December 2011
Saturday, 17 December 2011
Friday, 16 December 2011
(GXR M-mount with Nokton 35mm F1.2 ASPHII)
Thursday, 15 December 2011
(GXR M-mount with Nokton 35mm F1.2 ASPH II)
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
(GXR M-mount with Nokton 35mm F1.2 ASPH II)
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
(GXR M-mount with Nokton 35mm F1.2 ASPH II)
Monday, 12 December 2011
(GXR M-mount with Nokton 35mm F1.2 ASPH II)
Sunday, 11 December 2011
Saturday, 10 December 2011
Friday, 9 December 2011
Thursday, 8 December 2011
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Monday, 5 December 2011
Sunday, 4 December 2011
Saturday, 3 December 2011
Friday, 2 December 2011
(GXR M-mount with Voigtländer Nokton 35mm F1.2 ASPH II)
Thursday, 1 December 2011
1) Selling Points
2) Manual Focusing and Others
3) Unique Features and High-ISO Performance
4) Voigtländer Nokton 35mm F1.2 ASPH II Lens
5) Conclusive Remarks
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
The saddening scene of the old woman caught the author’s attention to stop and take some shots.
The considerations for taking this shot: 1) no flash because it would make a scene to attract people looking into the lens; 2) a shutter speed just enough to freeze the action with a slightly blurred effect; 3) a foreground should be included to give the image a spatial feel and better isolate the homeless woman.
So 1) the flash was off; 2) in the case of fast-paced Hongkongers, the shutter speed was dragged to 1/25s; 3) moved back to allow passers-by walk into the scene between the camera and the homeless lady.
If you're interested, GXG has an old post about doing flash photography tricks.
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
For two years or so, we have seen a flux of digital cameras ostensibly modelled after the vintage design. From Oly’s MFT series to Fujifilm’s X100, a new passion for vintage-camera lookalikes has been ushered in among photography enthusiasts. This is all well and good, but precisely because we are huge fans of such digital-and-vintage hybrids, it pains us to say that these models are felt as vintage cameras in appearance more than in spirit – factors contributing to this impression include the plastic feel of some flimsy camera bodies and lenses. We have no qualms with what all these commendable cameras can proudly do. But it is arguably that the GXR M-mount module brings users the real and rare choice to experience the fun of full manual functions with top quality manual lenses, most importantly without the prohibitively expensive outlay.
Recently at the Ricoh Hong Kong Meetup, users shared with great gusto their experience in using on the GXR M-mount module a dozen of manual lenses from Russian to Nikkor and to Leica lenses. At the same time, they lamented that the emergence of the M-mount module has resulted in a shortage, hence inflated prices, of mounts for manual lenses. This certainly speak volumes for the success of Ricoh’s move with this module.
Body and UI
The GXR body is sturdy, with a well-thought out button layout and a well-balanced weight distribution (i.e. when the heavy Nokton lens is dismounted; but not all manual lenses are as bulky). Everything feels perfect about the camera body ergonomics-wise, except for the body’s imperfection of featuring the wheel-and-rocker control combination, rather than a twin-wheel system. This is not terrible, just less than ideal.
(Direct-screen menu for making adjustments direct)
The user’s interface of the GXR body is still arguably a head and shoulders above the competitors. Users seldom need to dive into the menu system, thanks to the GXR body’s highly customisable Fn keys, one-press quick menu and memory slots, as well as the Direct-screen menu. These are very beneficial to doing manual operations on the M-mount module. For example, the Fn keys help speed up the focusing process when work with the focus assist function and focus magnification. For doing manual focus swiftly, a tip is to customise Focus Assist and focus magnification into the two Fn keys on the directional dial, which has proved to work well during the review. Previous discussions on the UI of the GXR body can be found here and here.
On the note of focusing, it should be mentioned that no matter how high a resolution the LCD display boasts, the focus magnification is done digitally. In other words, in Mode 1 (subject in focus displayed in glittering dots), the magnified image may not be satisfactory in clarity for focus confirmation under some situations – for example, when the subjects are delicately patterned or the near background is cluttered with similarly coloured objects.
However, some users have pointed out that Mode 2 (scene displayed in embossment-style grey colour with the focus highlighted by a white border) gives a much clearer indication for focus confirmation. So, for Mode 2, the above issue of magnified images is non-existent. But I still have two concerns concerning Mode 2: first, the actual scene can only be seen when half-pressing the shutter release; second, as shown to me, the grey colour makes it doubtful if a scene is underexposed or overexposed as intended. On the second point, I must say that the demonstration was done for extreme exposure values. In real-life photography, the same may rarely happen, if it will happen at all. After all, one can always view the histogram or half-press the shutter release to check it out. Of course, this is a matter of workflow and may not just suit everyone.
|Suggested Mode 1 ||Suggested Mode 2 |
If I were asked, in addition to the Focus Assist function which facilitates visual focus confirmation, something can be done to improve the focus confirmation: for Mode 1, an on-screen indication to highlight the focused area in specific colours; or an addition of a presently technically wishful thinking – as there is no communication between the lens and the camera body – a sectional indicator a la some battery level indicator whereby the clearer the focus is, the more sections will be lighted up in the indicator. As for Mode 2, the scene can be displayed in normal colour (or in black and white when doing such shots) while the focused area is displayed in grey with highlighted border.
That said, at the Ricoh Hong Kong Meetup, some folks using the M-mount module revealed that they had shown it to their retired grandpas who regrettably could no longer focus with their Leicas owing to deteriorated eyesight and shaky hands. What happened next was that those grandpas became GXR M-mount owners since its focus confirmation modes work well for them. Also, the M–mount module is a much affordable option to resurrect the Leica lenses according to these now happy grandpas.
Fun and IQ
Ricoh puts in some unique functions like the adjustable Peripheral Illumination Correction and a high-contrast black-and-white mode which I recommend users to experiment with. For the other regular scene functions, the M-mount module simply does them as good; they are useful but I am not big fans of them.
|original image ||100% crop |
On image quality, with the advantage of supreme manual lenses and the omission of the low-pass filter, the M-mount module gives lots of juice in the images it produces. I am gobsmacked to see the sharpness, solid colours and a distinct sense of depth in the final images. In addition to the superb optical performance of the lens, the omission of the low-pass filter in the module has much bearing on such great results.
Frankly, Ricoh is not a mainstream brand. But with the GXR system, it is creating another market of its own after the mirror-less cameras ate into its previous niche market with fast-wide-angle-lens, small-sized cameras like the GX and GRD series. If the sales of the GXR system has been sluggish, the M-mount module can said to be giving it a new lease of life. The new module helps the system reach out to the market of interchangeable lens. The M-mount module offers a tailor-made body with truly manual operations to use premium, legendary lenses. Of course, the M-mount module is not a Leica in terms of specifications, operations, prestige and value. But this plebeian version against the much more expensive Leicas does not disappoint. For old-timers and traditionalists, it is worth every penny of the admission price. For younger photographers without any experience in manual focus lens, it is advisable to first figure out what to expect when doing mostly manual operations with a camera. If possible, get your hands on the M-mount module to see if it suits you. The operations on the GXR are easy to get familiar with, and once you are used to it, you will be glad to have made the choice because the M-mount module with the premium lenses will return you with razor-sharp images. Whether they are good images is, without doubt, a matter of talent, practice and taste. That is another story.
Price: HK$6,000（GXR M-mount module）；HK$7,800（with GXR body）
Image Sensor：23.6 mm × 15.7 mm CMOS (12.3MP effective)
Display：3 inches TFT LCD at 920KP
ISO：ISO 200 to 3,200
Weight：370g（with GXR body）
(Kudos to Laikok for lending GX Garnerings the camera unit and the lens)