Took this picture on my way to work this morning while walking across London Bridge. This is a picture where the R10 was best due to the extra zoom. I cropped it to the 16:9 format since it reminds me a bit of a scene from a Michael Bay movie. Changed the levels in Photo Shop and used the highlight recovery tool but did not change much else. Turning sharpening down to -1, contrast to +2 and color depth to +1 gives great results with the R10 as long as you don't underexpose much. RAW would be great to have or the option to turn the noise reduction completely off.
A very nice and cold day so perfect for another walk in Richmond park. Today, I had the R10 with me and it allowed for better pictures of the deer. I am still quite pleased with the R10 and think it performs excellent if you watch your exposure and use the right settings. If Ricoh could add RAW via firmware it would be the perfect companion to a GRD or GX. My full review will be up in the next days.
Quick update today as I haven't been taking that many pictures. I see E.T. every day on my way home and always thought to take a picture but never got round to do it. Today I had the R10 with me and decided to take the picture and see how it comes out. It is not as I hoped for but at least now it's done and I can walk past without thinking how it would look in a picture.
Went for a walk in Richmond park today and saw this tree trunk. I found it fascinating since it looks like a real landscape. Had to think of the movies where people got shrunk to ant size and wondered how this would look and feel like if you are that small.
Following some recent comments on my blog by Lili and Wouter, I decided to change the cameras and take the Panasonic LC1 with me for an outing again. It has been a bit neglected due to the size and weight but still has some of the best controlls on a digital camera although it is impossible to control it fully with one hand like the GRDs.
Initially, I planned to take a few pictures of the Christmas decoration in London. Well, there was only one problem with that. There is not Christmas decoration at all in London and if you have something that looks like it could be decoration it is really boring. I do not expect the decoration in any european city to come close to Tokyo, Hong Kong or New York but this is just appaling. Since I moved here, the decorantion around Christmas got worse and worse and is none existent this year. But who needs to decorate their shop windows if it's enough to put a big red sign with 'Sales' written on it and people will come in masses.
Ok, it get's dark early and it is grey when it's light so it's not the best time for outdoor photography. On the other hand it is a good time to experiment a bit. I saw this spider in front of my window a few months back but did not have a tripod to help stabilizing the camera. Now with my new small and flexible tripod and a chair it was possible to use a 3 minute exposure to get this shot. The most difficult part was manually focusing in darkness where the LCD was almost completely black. Processed it to get the look I wanted, including adding noise and vignetting.
Ok, today's post is probably extremely boring from a photography standpoint but I finally managed to create a logo for my blog. I did take the picture of my GRD I that used for the logo but unfortunatelly it is not the real 2006 Red Limited Edition GRD I, although I would like to own one :). It is only a photoshopped image of my GRD I where I colored the red bits in. I have to say while I am not a fan of the blue 1st Anniversary Edition, the red GRD I looks extremely cool.
After my holidays in Hong Kong I decided to take it easy this weekend so have only been out for a walk around Greenwich Park and the Observatory. It gets dark very early, this does not help to inspire me to go out and take pictures.
Back in the UK it is difficult to take many pictures, it gets dark at 4pm already and I am so far not overly inspired. I find it a bit boring when compared with Hong Kong. Need to re-adjust and start seeing the pictures again, also for street photography it is important to anticipate the picture.
Back in the UK but not much time to take pictures. It gets dark early and the weather is not very nice either. Took this picture during lunch, as always. More and bigger updates will be coming soon. I will publish the R10 and GX200 reviews, a long exposure and landscape comparison and of course more about my factory visit.
Last day in HK, flight back is tomorrow morning so a quick update today to bring my blog up to date again. Went to Lantau Island again but did not climb the peak this time, just visited the big Buddha and monastery. They had a festival so it was very nice to take pictures. Used the R10 and GX200 only. Both did a good job but the display freeze and shutter lag on the R10 makes it almost impossible to use for fast changing shots. The picture is from one of the statues there, I wanted something different for today. This is unprocessed straight out of the camera and looks exactly as I wanted it to, including the blur and softness.
Today, I got the chance to take more pictures around Mong Kok and also saw the "Ginger Man" from my previous post again. He did remember me and smiled when he saw me, this was very nice. Thought of featuring him but this picture works better.
Another very nice thing was getting to meet Nevin and walk with him around the night market. As you might have guessed it from his blog he is very enthusiastic about the GX200. It was a very nice meet up and shows how a camera and a blog can connect people from all around the world. I am very happy I could meet up with both him and Mike during my stay here. Both are very enthusiastic about photography and their Ricoh cameras. Both also bought them for the same reason, the great controls and excellent, award winning design.
After Guangzhou it was nice to have a break and be away from crowds and big cities. Lamma island is fun and a nice visit, at least once. The GX100 got drenched by a wave while being on but it still worked fine and after drying it for a while it's like new. The lens might be wobbly as a design choice and there are dust problems with it but it survived this without a problem.Water definitely god inside but drying got rid of it. My GRD I started acting up after having water get inside through the lens.
After the factory tour yesterday I decided to spend the day in Guangzhou. It is a crazy place and people are everywhere. This gave me the opportunity to take some of my best street shots. I know that this is a different picture and more a canal shot ;). The reason I chose this is because it is a stark contrast to the rest of my pictures as it's more calm and has warmer colors but also because it is a picture taken with the R10. You can find all other pictures as usual in the Dropbox gallery. The R10 is very nice and capable but just does not work as well for me. The massive zoom is too much and the lens not fast enough. It is however very versatile and well built so I like using it.
Now after looking at today's title and picture you're probably wondering what I've been up to?
Well, today was the highlight of my trip to Hong Kong and made the trip really special. Thanks to the great people at Ricoh I could visit the factory where all these fantastic cameras are produced.
We left HK in the morning and took the ferry to China where after a short drive we got to the factory. I got to meet some of the people working there and got an introduction about the factory. After this we started the tour and I got to see how the GRD II lens gets assembled and how the GX200 gets built. This was a fantastic experience and I will write more about it when I am back on my Wordpress blog.
For now, let me say that the cameras are indeed all assembled by hand and can go through 120 people before they are ready. Then they are tested by computers and people in the QC team. Every measure is taken to avoid any problems with the assembly or dust getting into the lens from the factory. The manufacturing process is also constantly reviewed and refined.
I will write a full report as soon as I am back so there will be more details coming.
Let me finish by thanking all the people at Ricoh for making this possible, this is more than I ever expected.
If you're in Hong Kong a visit to Macau is a must and it only takes 1h on the ferry. It is very different from HK and feels more like a Mediterranean city by day and like a mini Las Vegas by night. This is only if you stick to the main roads though. Step into the small side streets and it all changes though, it loses the glitzy facade and Mediterranean feel and remains the Chinese small city character. I find it quite fascinating and think it definitely deserves a slightly longer photographic excursion next time. More pictures from the side streets as usual on my Dropbox gallery here.
One of the best things about going to Macau was the chance to meet fellow blogger and Ricoh GRD lover Mike (http://www.photoblog.com/eelekim). We got in touch through my blog and exchanged some tips and observations about the GRDs. He is also the only person I know to own not only most books written about the GRD but also the blue anniversary edition GRD I. It was great to meet him and spend some time talking about the GRDs. Unfortunately we did not have much time but we'll definitely keep in touch and meet up next time. This made it the first unofficial 'Ricoh Macau meet up' ;), next time we'll try to organize an official meet up.
On my first day in Hong Kong I got the chance to meet up with the local Ricoh representatives, one of whom I've met at Photokina. It was a great opportunity to meet up again and we arranged another meeting. This time it would be for a full day. This meeting was today and it is fantastic to see them again. Let me say a big thank you to everyone involved for meeting me and for arranging everything. Today's meeting was not only with Ricoh but also with their main distributor 'Laikok' and the people from 'DC Fever'. We had lunch together and also discussed the recent price drop for the Ricoh cameras, discussed here by Nevin. The discounts are because of the current economic situation and not because of a new release. The earliest for a new camera release or announcement will be in 2-3 months but rather later.
A big thank you to the guys from DC Fever for getting the red Artisan&Artist* neck straps for me in such a short time. They have some very unique accessories that are difficult to find elsewhere so be sure to check out one of their shops when in HK looking for cameras or gear.
Afterwards we went to the HK Exhibition & Convention Centre to see the 'Inno Design Tech Expo 2008'. Ricoh are present there for having won the 'Good Design Gold Award 2008' for the Ricoh GRD II. If you ask me, this is well deserved since the GRD is the best designed digital camera available with perfect ergonomics.
This is what the jury had to say:
"In the digital camera market, where new products appear in rapid section, this series has always aimed for long-lived design with the high-end amateur users in mind. Ricoh doesn't want its cameras to become mere commodities. I appreciate Ricoh's effort to lengthen the life of their products from an industrial designing standpoint."
The Ricoh cameras at the stand were very popular, especially with girls. Something to the contrary that girls want pink 'soap box' cameras as Canon thinks. This comes as no surprise since women make a big part of buyers for Ricoh cameras, especially in Taiwan.
There is another very interesting meeting with Ricoh scheduled in the next days so check back :).
This will probably be what you are thinking after today's picture. Well, the answer is simple. First, I wanted something different and second, I went to Stanley today and it felt like a beach holiday so decided to share this. Should also bring some more color in my blog. At the same time it is a different part of HK and shows that HK is not only tall buildings, narrow alleyways and markets. Don't worry, you can find my street shots and b&w pictures in my Dropbox gallery. Also today no camera or gear talk, just the picture :).
Ok, I just love the GRD I for street photography. I know, I said it before but there is no better camera out there. The JPGs at ISO 400 and 1600 look great, grainy but very crisp and with lots of detail. The huge depth of field and instant shutter release are also very helpful and allow me to look for photo opportunities and compose my shot rather than worry about various things. The GRD I never gets in the way and I can rely on it to take the shot when I want to. Having both the GX200 and GRD I with me in HK is great as it helps making clear what I really want and expect from a camera.
HK is great for street photography and especially in the evening you can get some great shots. I can only recommend you walk around and step away from the main roads and into the dark and narrow side streets, this is where you get some great shots of people and the gritty stuff :).
The weather was great as usual here and since it was Sunday, I thought, I will do some hiking in Lantau. After all the people yesterday I needed a change and also wanted to trial the GX200 as a landscape camera. Taking the cable car took a while since it was packed but once up there it was fine. I took some pictures of the big Buddha and visited the temple but did not stay long since I will be revisiting this. What I won't be revisiting however is hiking all the way up to Lantau Peak. Before starting the hike I went on the 'Path of Enlightenment'. My enlightenment came although a bit too late. I realized two things while climbing up. First, do take enough water with you and if you think it is enough take some more. Second, this was the last time I ever carry my UMPC and more than one camera up a mountain ;). The hike was well worth is and despite the haze I've been rewarded with some spectacular views. I can only recommend this but do follow my advice :). As much as I might have complained about the GX200 yesterday as a decisive moment camera and the poor quality at high ISO but for hiking it's fantastic, the extra resolution and mainly the zoom are essential. If you want a compact camera to take along for hiking, this is it. Forget the GRDs or Panasonic LX3 and don't even think of lugging around the Canon G10 brick, this is the camera to take. You will appreciate the excellent lens and extra zoom compared with the LX3 and the extra wide angle and lighter body compared with the G10. Enough talk, enjoy today's series.
Today, I have a series from the Mong Kok district. This is a fantastic place to take pictures. It has lots of markets, people bustling around, old buildings and narrow side streets full of character. I could do a series or release a book about every single street if I had more time. I used mainly the GX200 with EVF and wide angle lens and it performed admirably, at ISO 64 that is. Above that it still can't match the GRD I but at ISO 64 it surpases it and has more detail. The most annoying thing however is the LCD/EVF freeze when focusing like on the GRD II. Also like the GRD II is the biggest fault and something Ricoh MUST fix, it has focus priority and with this quite a considerable shutter lag. I have not seen ANY compact camera that would come close to the GRD I in terms of focusing speed but I expect Ricoh to fix this or will have to look for alternatives, Snap focus or manual focus are no real alternatives for me. I need a camera that takes the picture when I press the shutter, even if it's not fully in focus. So far the GRD I and GR1 are the only cameras I can fully rely on to always take the shot. I had the Nikon D70 fail on me on a few occasions when I used it, so a dSLR is not the answer. Other than this the GX200 is a fantastic camera and the EVF way more usefull than I thought and better than an OVF due to the fact you can tilt it and it displays the full shooting information. For low ISO and long exposures it is the best Ricoh camera and easily beats the GRD II although you have to sharpen the RAW files slightly more. I went through 3x2gb SD cards and 2 batteries with it today so this should be proof enough how much I like it. Reviewing the pictures however shows exactly why the GRD I is still the best compact camera ever produced. The JPG quality is fantastic, the images crisp and the noise fine grained. But more than anything, it always got the shot even if it did not always manage to focus perfectly. The pictures are taken with the GX200 at ISO 64, ISO 200 and ISo 400 in RAW and the GRD I at ISo 400 in JPG. I will let you figure out which pictures are which. You can find more pictures in my Dropbox HK Gallery.
Took it easy today, had a look around the shops for UMPCs and cameras. Ricoh cameras here are more expensive than in the UK so this was a big surprise but they are available everywhere and not only in selected shops. Need to check out some more photography oriented shops. To bring this into perspective, the cameras cost more but mainly due to the British Pound being not much worth at the moment. Hope they will introduce the Euro in the UK or it will be very expensive to travel soon. For UMPCs I had a look at the 'HP mini 1000' and the 'Asus eee S101', both are very sleek and light. While the Asus looks slightly more expensive, as it is more expensive, it is the HP that has the best keyboard I've seen on any notebook. The Q1 Ultra however is still one of the best portable devices and turns heads wherever you go, still don't get how Samsung managed to completely mis-market this or not market it at all. I still hope they will release a Q2 Ultra with a keyboard like the 'Wibrain B1/i1'.
Arrived in Hong Kong and went straight for a walk. It's much hotter than expected but this is quite nice after the weather in London. Hong Kong so far is great for street photography and long exposures at night, so my choice to take the GRD I and GX200 was definitely right. Although I also have the R10 and GRD II along but these are here to help me finish the reviews. If you're interested to see more pictures from HK have a look here, the Gallery will be updated as I go along and have time. Dropbox is a really good tool for this.
As a note, I will not always have time to reply to the comments but will reply to all the latest when I'm back.