A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend of mine, Lem Fugitt, while he was at my place for some private consulting on his new camera, and we got onto the subject of where I buy my gear, so I told Lem about Map Camera. It turned out that although Lem has lived in Japan longer than I have, he wasn’t aware of Map Camera. He visited Map Camera the following day, and was quite impressed but also surprised that he’d not yet heard of this great shop. I’ve been asked where I buy my gear here in Japan many times, so when Lem and I got to talking about how I should do a Podcast episode to let other westerners or visitors from overseas know about Map Camera, I figured it was probably a good idea, so that’s what we’re going to do today.
When I initially went to see the people at Map about doing this Podcast episode, they were a little hesitant at first about my talking about their shop because they didn’t want me to give overseas visitors the impression that all the staff in the store speak good English, because my blog and Podcast are released in English. If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ll know that there are few places where you can find really good English speakers, but hey, if you are just visiting with work or as a tourist, I’m sure that most Japanese people speak more English than you speak Japanese, so hopefully you’ll see this as part of your Japan experience, and enjoy the language challenge.
Map Camera is in Nishi Shinjuku, so if you come into the main Shinjuku station on the JR Train, you’ll want to head for the South Exit. If you come in on one of the other train company lines, it can be a little more difficult to find, but if you look for West Exit and Bus Terminal, or signs for Yodobashi Camera even, that will get you close. Here’s a Google map with a pin to Map Camera to help you, but basically, as you go past the Yodobashi Camera Multimedia store, you can see the first Map Camera number one store to the right on the next block. In this photo look for the black sign with GMT written on it, and then above that, you’ll see Map Camera written in black on a white background. You’ll need to click on the photo to view the larger size to be able to make this out.
Down the Road to Map Camera
Now, before we go on, I should tell you that I’m not suggesting that you totally ignore Yodobashi Camera. The chances are if you’ve been to Tokyo and asked about where to buy camera gear, you’ve already been to Yodobashi, and I do enjoy walking around Yodobashi, and buy plenty of stuff there. But, when it comes to buying camera bodies and lenses, I pretty much always buy from Map, because they’re generally cheaper. For stuff like the 5D Mark II which has been out for a while, the price gap is to just a few thousand Yen, or about $15, but for lenses, the gap usually increases much more.
For example as of Dec 10, 2011, the Canon EF 70-200 F2.8L IS II USM lens is ¥249,200 at Yodobashi, but the same lens, both new, from Map Camera is ¥212,800. That’s a difference of ¥36,500 or around US$469 at today’s exchange rate. That a 15% difference. You would get 10% or ¥24,920 worth of points that you can use the same day if you already have a card, or from the following day after you create your point card if it’s new, but you do need a valid Japan address to register for a point card, so that rules out visitors from overseas.
Map Camera Number 1 Store
Even if you calculate the difference with the points though, the price difference is still ¥11,580, or US$150, which is still significant. The good thing about Yodobashi is that they will discuss a discount if you can show them that what you want to buy is cheaper elsewhere, but it usually takes time and the shop attendant has to go and get permission from their boss etc. I personally just prefer to walk into Map, know that they have already included the discount, and just buy what I want without haggling.
The other reason that I buy at Map Camera is because they give great prices for your old gear, and they throw in a bit more if you tell them that you are going to use the money to buy some new gear at their store. They actually just give you a credit that you take to the floor with your new gear, and then you pay the difference. I pretty much always do this. We don’t cover the part exchange floor today, as they wouldn’t let me photograph it, but basically, if you want to sell something to Map Camera to partly pay for your new gear, make sure you give it a clean, put it in the original box if you still have it, include your manual etc. and take it to the 4F in shop number two, just a little further down the street. We’ll take a look at that later.
So, as you walk down towards the Map Camera sign, you could very easily walk past it if you aren’t paying attention, because the first floor of the Map Camera number 1 store is a watch shop. The entrance to the camera store is down a corridor to the left, below the checkerboard style Map Camera sign.
At the end of the passage, there’s an elevator to the various floors. I was accompanied from floor to floor by the deputy manager from the store, a young lady that used to work on the Canon floor, so I’ve known her for some time. We started on the Nikon Digital Camera floor, which you can see here (below).
Nikon Floor (5F)
Each floor contains both new and used kits, or bodies and lenses sold separately. I didn’t shoot every cabinet on each floor, but just to give you a taster, for example, as you walk around the Nikon floor, you have some cabinets like these, with used Nikon bodies (below left) and lenses (below right – click on the images to view larger).
Used Nikon Bodies (5F)
Used Nikon Lenses (5F)
They usually stock all new cameras from the day of their launch, also cheaper than most other stores in Tokyo. Here we can see the latest Nikon camera lineup (as of Dec 2011). There are also new bodies and lenses in the other cabinets, and they do sell accessories and batteries etc.
New Nikon Cameras (5F)
Next, we dropped down to the 4th floor, where I have parted with many a Yen, the Canon Digital Camera Floor (below)!
The Canon Floor (4F)
It’s a similar layout to the Nikon floor, with lots of camera bodies, lenses and accessories. Again there are cabinets of new and used gear, such as these telephoto and TS/E lenses (below right), and I also bumped into another Tokyo based photographer Paul Stevens (below left).
Paul Stevens on the Canon Floor
Used Canon Lenses (4F)
There’s a cabinet full of used 1 series Canon bodies (below left), and a fancy stand with the Canon consumer cameras, with pride of place in the middle of the room (below right).
Used Canon 1 Series Bodies (4F)
New Canon Cameras (4F)
For some strange reason I seemed to spend about twice as much time photographing the Canon floor, but again, there’s not much point in including too many photographs here. I just want to give you a feel for each floor, and also give those of you that haven’t been to Japan or Map Camera a feel for what the Camera stores here are like.
On the third floor, we have the Pentax, Sony and Sigma range of Digital Cameras (below).
Pentax, Sony and Sigma (3F)
Orobianco Italian Camera Bags (3F)
Slightly more sparse than the Canon and Nikon floors, we now have room for a Christmas tree and some Orobianco Italian camera bags. I thought these were quite funny actually (right).
They look like the designer bags that you see around town, but when you open them up, they contain padded compartments for a camera and a couple of lenses. Ideal for not drawing attention to the fact that you are carrying around expensive camera gear, but depending on where you are, you’re probably more likely to get mugged for a purse full of cash and credit cards with bags like these. That’s not much of a problem here in Japan of course.
Having skipped the watches on the first and second floor, we dropped down next to the Leica, Rangefinders, Twin Lens Reflex cameras, and the Medium and Large Format Cameras in the 1st floor basement.
Leica Rangefinders, Medium and Large Format Cameras (B1F)
They’ve also got some second hand tripods and new and used camera bags as well, as you can see here (above), but at the back of the floor, there are a number of cabinets full of Leicas (below) and cameras that take Leica lenses, as well as medium format and large format cameras.
Leica Cameras (B1F)
Map Camera #2 Store
That finishes a look at the four camera related floors in Map Camera number 1 store. Just a few buildings down from this is the number two store, with an equally camouflaged appearance, as this store has a noodle shop on the first floor.
This second building contains three floors of Map Camera, and the first building contains two floors of watches and a pen store on the sixth floor. I believe these are all owned by the same company, and really can’t understand why they don’t just put the three watch and pen floors in this building, and have one almighty camera store on all floors of the first building, but then, it’s not my company, and I’m sure they have their reasons.
It’s the same story as Store #1 here, you go down the little passageway to the left to an elevator at the back of the building. It feels a little like you’re walking into a some seedy joint, but once you get up in the camera floors you’ll see it’s just good old Map Camera.
On the third floor we have Olympus and Panasonic DSLR cameras and compact digital cameras from various companies (below).
Map Camera #2 Store (3F)
On the second floor we have a bit of a mishmash of film cameras including Canon FD, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, Olympus and Ricoh, as well as Contax and other Medium Format cameras, Leaf backs and compact film cameras.
Map Camera #2 Store (2F)
It was weird to see so many old Canon FD mount lenses lined up like this (below) as well as some old Canon F-1 and Nikon FM3A bodies that really changed photography as we know it, back in their day.
Canon FD Lenses & F-1 Cameras
Nikon Film Cameras and Lenses (2F)
So, as I mentioned earlier, the fourth floor of the second Map store just down the street from the first is the Trade Center. This is where you can take your old gear to sell for cash, or part exchange for something else. I believe the percentage changes depending on what you intend to buy, but you generally get more for your old gear if you are selling it to buy something else.
As you’ve seen, the Map Camera store floors contain a mix of new and used bodies and lenses, and I’ve actually never bought anything used here. Everything comes with a warranty though, so you can do so in confidence if you’d like to save a bit of money buying used. Map is a reputable store, and will see you right if something did go wrong with any used that you picked up here, as long as you’re still in Japan when it goes wrong of course. I doubt that they’ll work with you to replace something that went wrong if you take it to another country, but I might be wrong.
Note too that if you do shop at Map while visiting from overseas, in addition to them already being the cheapest store I’ve found to buy in Japan, if you show your passport, they’ll give you another 5% discount, by removing the tax from your purchase.
As I say, don’t expect these guys to speak great English, though I believe a few of the staff members do. Remember that you’re in Japan, so both sides of your communication will need to work at it a little, but I believe like Lem, you’ll be happy that you took a look at what Map Camera has to offer. I know that as long as they are in business, this will be the first place that I go for my camera and lenses.
I’m not affiliated with Map Camera in any way, and have received nothing for doing this Podcast, other than permission to photograph most of the floors of their store. If I recall correctly, the first lens I bought from Map Camera was my old 100-400mm L lens that I bought back in July 2003, before my first trip to Hokkaido. Since then I’ve bought almost all of my lenses there and always part exchange old gear for a good price when I buy. I’ve never had a problem with their gear, or the people that I’ve interacted with, so feel comfortable recommending Map to you too.
Here’s a Google Map to Map Camera: https://mbp.ac/mapmap
Map have a Web site, which is great, as long as you understand Japanese: http://www.mapcamera.com/
Music by UniqueTracks
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This year marked the start of a new event, the Camera and Photo Imaging Show, at the Pacifico Yokohama exhibition hall. I can see from the updated Web site, which is at cpplus.jp, that they had around 41,000 visitors over the four days of the event, which I guess isn’t bad for a new show. The day I visited, March 13th, had the most visitors with almost 13,000. It wasn’t particular crowded when I was there, but I left at just after noon for some Canon Video Seminars nearby, that I’ll talk about later.
The show was free to attend if you registered in advance, and I arrived just as they opened at 10AM. I shot images with my iPhone, so that I could upload to Twitter as I went around the show. If you don’t already follow me on Twitter, and would be interested in these kinds of updates, please do follow me, as I rarely announce that I’m going to do this sort of thing beforehand. I chose the 1D Mark IV as my DSLR, because I wanted the good quality high ISO images, and I also knew that I wasn’t going to need the highest resolution possible.
Welcome to CP+ 2010
As I entered the exhibition hall, the first stall to my right was the Epson stand, and then in front of that was the huge Canon stand. Although Epson were the closest, the Canon stand was the first to come into sight. I got a distinct feeling that Canon put a lot into this new show. I tweeted an iPhone image of part of the stand, with all of the big white lenses that Canon usually lines up for people to look through, and we can see from the image that they were also making a point of their 50 millionth EF lens sale, from 1987 to 2009. Which reminds me, I pick up my new 70-200mm F2.8 version II lens hopefully this coming Friday, the 19th of March, and if possible, I’ll be reviewing this lens in comparison to the old version in next week’s Podcast and blog post, so stay tuned for that if you are interested.
Canon Stand with Big Gun White Lenses
As you can see from the next picture, Canon also put on their usual slew of models for people to shoot, using their own camera or the ones provided. It’s probably no surprise that the big gun white lenses are also pointing this way. There was also an area behind the stand, like a large L shape surrounding the two areas I just showed you, where Canon was showing their cameras and printers. They had the new iPF6350 and iPF 6300, 24″ printers on display. I’m still very interested in this format, to enable me to do my own large prints, but as I mentioned last year, I have to move apartments first, and that is taking me longer than expected. 🙁
It was nice to see some large prints, including canvases that Canon had done with their wide roll paper printers. Being a fan of the large print, it got me all the more fired up about wanting to move and get myself one of these big printers. I asked one of the Canon reps if they had any intention to remove the silly borders that they enforce on the user when printing to their fine art papers from the Pro 9500 series printers, and he didn’t have a clue. That’s to be expected of course. I told them that I’d provided the photography community with a workaround, which has been popular, and that Canon are probably losing at least some sales because of this restriction. He politely thanked me for the feedback, and of course I know that he will forget this the moment I walk away. But, I feel that I have a moral duty to tell Canon that this was a very silly idea, whenever I get the chance.
From the front of the Canon stand as you face it, if you swung around to your left, you could see the Olympus stand, and they were of course pushing the new Pen camera, and then after that there was the Nikon stand. Probably about two thirds the size of the Canon stand, and with the slightly less prominent position, Nikon didn’t seem quite as willing to invest in the event.It’s hard to say if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It was the first year for this event after all, and maybe Nikon even feel that they don’t have to invest in events like this, and they’ll still sell lots of cameras.
As we can see from the pretty bad iPhone image that I shot here, instead of models revolving slowly on a merry-go-round, Nikon put on a colorful bush like flower arrangement for their visitors. I actually shot this with one of the DSLRs that they had on display, and it was great for seeing how well the LCD displayed the colors that the camera had captured so well, so I don’t really want to make fun of this. They obviously put a lot of thought into it. It certainly came across as being just slightly cheap-skate compared to the Canon stand though.
Right in front of the Nikon stand was the Gitzo and Manfrotto stand. This was actually a small island with Gitzo and Manfrotto on one side, and Kata Camera Bags on the other side. I was disappointed again in the reply from the Gitzo rep when I asked if there was anywhere in Japan that I could get the zips on my Gitzo jacket replaced, because they keep jamming, and he didn’t have a clue.
I have been planning to buy a Manfrotto fluid head for video though, and found the Manfrotto rep very helpful. He knew roughly what weight each of their fluid heads would support, I thought it was great that he could walk me through to the Gitzo room next to theirs, and explain exactly what I would need to mount their 519 Pro Video Fluid Head to a Gitzo Tripod. The he told me that I’d need a 75mm bowl adapter, and a Systematic Tripod. When I got home it made it very easy for me to find what I needed on the B&H Web site, so full marks to Manfrotto here.
Manfrotto and Gitzo Stand
After this, I went around to the other side of this stand, and found the Kata Camera Bag people. I had heard a lot of good things about the Kata bags, and so decided to take a closer look, and was greeted by a helpful rep called Bellina. I had my Zoom H2 digital recorder with me, and although there isn’t much point in me recording conversations in Japanese for this Podcast, because Bellina spoke English, after speaking for a while we decided to record a quick interview. So I’m going to insert that here, and then we’ll come back and I’ll talk a little more about my impressions of the Kata Camera Bag line of products.
Bellina from Kata Bags
<<Here I play an interview with Kata Bags, so there’s no transcript. Listen to or download the audio at the bottom of this post>>
It was nice to chat with Bellina, and I was pleased to be able to record that for you guys. I really was very impressed with Kata Camera Bags, and can’t wait to get a hold of one or two of these and bring you a full review. From what I saw, they are light, well designed and well made. As Bellina said, they design their bags first and foremost around the person that is the photographer, and not around the gear, and I really think they are on to a winner.
Here’s something else that’s really cool too. If you go to the Kata web site at kata-bags.com, click on the photo link, you will see their Photo Bag Navigator. Here you can narrow down your choices with a number of variables, and the thing that I found most cool was that they list most laptop models from all of the main manufacturers. I have an Acer 9620, and could quickly see which bags I can chose from if I want to carry my laptop as well as my camera gear, and I can tell you, the HB-207 ruck sack style bag is looking pretty tempting.
I don’t carry my laptop that often though, and for when I also won’t be carrying so much of my gear, the new 3N1-33 that Bellina showed me and was wearing in the “X” Position in the photo I posted on my blog, is totally amazing. The way you can wear and carry the bag is so many different configurations, and the layout of the pockets for quick access to your camera and lenses, as well as the space for and access to your personal belongings is awesome.
I actually didn’t have much time to walk the floor at the CP+ show, because I’d registered to attend three Canon seminars that turned out to be just down the road from the show, in a different building. I had maybe another 30 minutes after talking to the Kata folks, so I continued to walk around, and looked at the Lite Panels that were available, including ones with White Balance control on the back, which was pretty impressive. I found that they could also be controlled by a central control unit, rather than going to each light. It didn’t seem possible to control them from a laptop PC or anything though, which I thought would have been better than making the user buy a separate control unit, but I guess that’s a good marketing strategy.
Canon EOS Movie Seminars
I left the exhibition hall at just after midday, and grabbed a sandwich at the convenience store, then walked the 10 minutes down the road to the Canon EOS Movie Seminars, which were to be held at the Brillia ShortShorts Theater. The first seminar I watched was by a photographer and videographer name Juumonji Bishin. For the most part, I’d seen the video that was being played, and although beautiful, was starting to feel a little bit disappointed that the seminar was really just rehashing stuff that had already been published.
Then Bishin started talking about his experiences when Canon first came to him with the 5D Mark II when it was still in prototype. Apparently they asked him to take the new camera out and get some photographs for their marketing, to show how good the camera was, but before he left, they said, by the way, this camera can shoot full High Definition video. If you have time to get a few video clips as well, that would be great! Because Bishin has a lot of experience with video, and has used film HD camera for a number of years, he said that he was excited because he immediately realized that the full sized sensor in the 5D Mark II would give him much more ability to shoot with a shallow depth-of-field, compared to even the largest 35mm film HD video cameras, at half the size. He also said that he simply couldn’t stand digital HD cameras, because the sensors are so ridiculously small.
He went on though to show us what is probably the first DSLR Video shot in the world, outside of what the Canon R&D team would have obviously shot during the development and testing of the camera. It was a small patch of equinox flowers in the rain. It was a simply 15 to 30 second clip, that he says he just shot between shooting stills, to see how it looked. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful, what I call “moving stills” that I’ve seen. The way the rain hit the long tendrils of the equinox flowers, making them bend down then spring back up again, and the light was amazing. I love shooting in the rain, so I was maybe more responsive to this, but it really was a beautiful clip, and to see it on a full sized movie theater screen was great.
I’ve been shooting this sort of moving still for a while now, and have a number of them from Hokkaido as well that I will share with you soon, but having already gotten the bug to start to do more of this, and after being inspired by one of this year’s Hokkaido workshop participants, I really enjoyed this clip, and started to feel happy that I’d attended. After all, it was getting the video bug that made me decide to sign up for these seminars, and I’ve actually just placed an order for a Manfrotto 519 Pro Video Fluid Head and some other things from Really Right Stuff to hopefully rig up my cameras so that I can drop them onto a video head easily without having to remove my RRS Arca Swiss type plates. My main focus will remain stills, but I hope you aren’t going to mind if I talk about video a little bit more in the coming months as I get more into this.
The second seminar that I attended was called “EOS Movie Practical Techniques from a Pro Photographer. These guys spent a lot of time talking about the new plug-in for Final Cut Pro that will basically enable people to convert video to a better format much quicker than has been possible so far. One of the take-aways was seeing how they used LiveView on a laptop PC and a second HDMI monitor coming straight out of the camera, to accurate focus and view the video stream on a large screen as they shot. I hadn’t realized that you can attach something like the Manhattan 8.9” HD monitor screens to the camera and use it for LiveView, and although I knew that you could use LiveView on a Laptop using the EOS Utilities, I hadn’t really thought of using this for video until now, so this was good information for me.
Probably my biggest take-away here was when they showed some 60fps video played back at 30fps. I knew about this technique, and rather than it looking like slow motion, it just had a dreamy feel to it. I thought that was entirely down to the shallow depth-of-field being used, but then they said that this is how we view our memories. Basically, when we look at something with interest, and commit it to memory, then recall it later, it is played back to us slower than the actual scene was, and this clicked with me instantly. The footage they showed seemed like the recollection of a precious memory.
The last seminar that I attended was on tips and techniques from a music video director. I almost didn’t sign up for this one, and I almost of wished I hadn’t. There were a few things that I enjoyed, like watching how the director works with the photographer and seeing the gear that they were using. Again, they had Manhattan HD Monitors and PCs hooked up to the camera, and using all sorts of gear to get their video footage. They also gave a lot of background information on the video that they did called “the passage”, which you can see on the Canon web site at the moment as well. They said that when they chose the young Italian model for this video, the agent had told them that she had loads of video experience, and when they turned up to start shooting she said it was her first video job, which I thought was quite funny.
Anyway, a relatively enjoyable afternoon, although Canon’s handling of the logistics could have been better, and I wished it hadn’t been so far from the main exhibition hall so that I could have gone back, but in general I’m pleased I went. My one complain about the whole thing is that it’s too short. The doors open at 10AM and close at 5PM, so if you want to attend some seminars as well, there really isn’t enough time to talk to many of the exhibitors. I got to all of the stands that I was interested in, but if I’d had a few more hours, I could have looked at a few more stands in more detail, to see if I could find any other hidden gems.
CP+ Web site: http://cpplus.jp/
Kata Bags: http://www.kata-bags.com/
The new Kata 3N1-33 Sling Backpack: [Removed invalid link]
WebSpy giveaway: http://www.webspy.com.au/blogs/index.php/new-webspy-soho-giveaway/
Music from Music Alley: http://www.musicalley.com/
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On Sunday the 26th or March, 2006, I visited the Photo Imaging Expo or PIE 2006 at the Tokyo Big Sight international exhibition center. In this episode I’m going to relay some thoughts on the visit, based mainly on what I wanted to get from it. I am thinking of investing in a new Epson printer, and wanted to talk to someone about my options. I also watched the “Adobe Lightroom public beta 2” demonstration, and was very impressed. Before leaving, I attended a seminar about digital nature photography by Yoshiko Kobayashi, one of the top nature photographers here in Japan, whom I was lucky enough to visit Hokkaido with in February on his photographic tour that I spoke about in episodes 25 to 28 of this Podcast.
There are also a few other snippets of information in this week’s episode, but I am not going to give an in-depth report of the whole show. As the title of this episode says, this will just be my impressions backed up by around 10 images.
Also, before we get into today’s topic, I’d like to mention a new method of listening to these Podcasts that I hope will make at least some of you happy. I often receive comments from people asking me why I don’t do Enhanced Podcasts. You know, these are the ones with chapters that change the thumbnail images for you in iTunes. Until now, I’ve not been able to do chaptered Podcasts because Apple has not released a piece of software they call the Chapter Tool for Windows and I don’t have any other good reason to give up all my Windows Software and switch to the Mac OS. Last week though, I bought into a piece of technology called the PupuPlayer Pro.
Now despite the name, this is not a tool to allow you to play pooh pooh, although I’m sure it’ll do a great job if you point it at another Podcast. What it does allow to do though, is to change the images being displayed at set times, the same as an enhanced Podcast. It also allows you to stream the Podcast from my Podcast page, so that you don’t have to wait for the file to download. This will still not work the same as an Enhanced Podcast in iTunes or on your iPod, but once you’ve clicked on the new “Stream Podcast” button you can now see above the Download button for each episode on my Podcasts Page, you will see a small Window open and the episode you chose will start playing in moments as the rest of the audio file is streamed to your computer.
You will need the Adobe Flash player for this to work, but this is available for free and can be downloaded automatically if you don’t already have it. Once the audio is playing, you will see the images in the bottom right of the player change as I move on to the next one, and all you have to do to view it full size is click on the image, just like an enhanced Podcast in iTunes. The difference is that the image will be opened on my Web site. I will be going back and adding the chapter data to all of my previous Podcasts too soon, so if you have any favourite episodes that you want to listen to again in future, you will still be able to use this method.
Although the player is quite small, it’s relatively feature rich, and includes a list of all Podcasts to date, so that you can select any other to listen to, either from the list or with the advance to next Podcast and go to previous podcast buttons. It also has a volume control and timeline scrubber, and is totally advertisement free, as I’ve paid for it. I hope you will find this a useful change to the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast.
OK, so on to today’s main topic. As I mentioned in the intro, on Sunday the 26th or March, 2006, I visited the Photo Imaging Expo or PIE 2006 at the Tokyo Big Sight international exhibition center. Today’s photographs are more just for information, so I won’t be giving details on how or why I made the images as usual. If you’ve started listening to this Podcast with the PupuPlayer, you will now see that the image in the window of the player has changed to one of the Tokyo Big Sight. This is shot number 945 if you still prefer to enter the number in the field in the top page Podcast section or on the top of the Podcast page itself. I shot the building in the morning on arriving, to let you get an idea of what it looks like, but this shot was actually one I captured before getting on the train to go home at 2:15PM. The sun was around the front of the building by this time so it just makes for a better photo. Tokyo Big Sight, as in what a sight to see, rather than site as in venue, is built in and area of Tokyo that I heard called reclaimed land when this area of Japan was discussed in a documentary that I saw recently on I think the Discovery Channel. I personally prefer the term landfill though, as I’ve never quite understood this “reclaimed land” term. It kind of suggests that we once owned it in the past. Maybe billions of years ago when we still lived in the ocean it might have been our home, but since we gave up our gills in favour of lungs, I find reclaiming the ocean as our own a somewhat strange concept.
Tokyo Big Sight
Anyhow, basically the whole city here with the futuristic Yurikamome railway system that runs on a road-like track with rubber tires rather than steel rails, the sewage works that looks like a UFO and also houses a health club with tennis courts, the amusement parks and even the Fuji TV company building, is all build on landfill ground. It actually makes quite a difference walking around very wide streets and open spaces, compared to most of Tokyo which is often quite cramped and crowded.
Lowepro DryZone Camera Bag
If you registered beforehand as I did, entrance fee to the Expo was 750, or about $6.50. This gets you a free photography related equipment catalog that covers everything photography, including studio lighting and photo frames, camera bags and other gadgetry.
Once inside, as I walked into the main area, the KFC booth caught my eye with the large LowePro sign. As some of you will know, I use LowePro bags with the SlipLock lens cases and pouches almost religiously as the main method for carrying around my gear. I was interested to see the DryZone bag that you can see in the next picture, which should now be available in the flash player too, and is photo number 946. The bag was sitting in the well of an artificial waterfall, and with water dropping directly on to it. This was easily the amount of water you’d get from a heavy rainstorm, but when the bag is opened, the insides are completely dry. All of my current LowePro bags are shower proof, but come with an all-weather cover that has to be fitted to the bag if it starts to rain hard, so I probably won’t be replacing these bags soon, but if I was in the market for a new bag, the LowePro DryZone series would definitely be on the top of my shortlist.
By the way, I’ll drop a list of links for all the companies or gear that I talk about today into the show notes.
Next, I approached the Epson stand. You can see this in the next image, which is number 947, from which you can also get a feel for the numbers in attendance today. I came to this Expo last year too, on the Saturday though, and got a distinct feeling there were more people here then. Most booths today looked very similar to this. A good number of visitors but not particularly crowded.
The Epson Stand
When I set out for today’s Expo, there was one thing that I expressly wanted to get out of today, and this was also discussed in a forum topic recently, and that is that I wanted to see output from both the Epson Maxart PX-5500 that uses the K3 inks, and the Colario PX-G5100. These printers, that in the west are called the Epson Stylus Photo R1800 and the R2400 respectively, both output prints on up to A3+, or 13×19 inch paper. The R1800’s list price is $549 and the R2400 is $849.99. So there’s quite a lot of difference. The thing is that the R2400 has the ability to create much richer, archival quality black and white prints. The R1800 on the other hand, produces wonderful hi-gloss prints. Now what I was worried about was how good the colour gloss output was from the R2400, as I would like to invest in this printer for it’s superior black and white, but most of the original prints from my Web site are colour, some of which are gloss, so I can’t accept lower quality than what I’m currently getting with my PM-4000PX, or the Stylus Photo 1280 as I believe it’s called in the West.
So, as you can see in next photo, number 948 I was pleased to see that Epson had provided a wall full of photos from the glossiest gloss to the mattiest matte output from both printers for me to compare. Actually that’s not quite true as the highest gloss paper from Epson is not supported for use with the R2400, so it was not available for comparison, but I was able to see that the R2400 does indeed create better black and white shots, at the same time as being able to keep a very high quality in the colour prints. I for one could not really tell the difference in the output from both printers when it comes to colour, and I’m not too worried about not being able to output to the highest gloss, as most prints when viewed in a frame are better if the gloss is held back a little. So I think I’ll be investing in an R2400 or the Maxart PX-5500 before too very long.
Epson Printer Output Comparison
In the next shot, number 949, we can see the Canon booth, or maybe we should say campus. The area Canon used was huge. I guess they are making too much money, which is not surprising with the amount of cash that people like me throw at them each year. I first had a chat with one of the guys showing Digital Photo Professional about the fact that the new Canon Picture Styles information is not transferred to Adobe Camera RAW, and was a little disappointed in his defensive attitude. He didn’t seem very concerned about the real issues that a photographer has in not being able to simply open his or her RAW images in ACR and have the Picture Style recognized and applied, and seemed more concerned about the dangers of making the Picture Style attributes or code public. I said that I agree that simply making it something similar to open source would not be a good idea, but think that there should be some way for Adobe or other companies to work with the Picture Style. It was at this point that the guy said that Adobe still don’t recognize the EXIF data in digital images, and when I said of course they do, he said “Yes, but only for the last few versions”. It was at this point that I realized that I was wasting my time talking with him, so I thanked him for his time and walked away.
The Canon Stand
In shot number 950 up next, we can see the crowd gathered around the EOS Digital stand on the Canon booth. Much of the fuss was over the 30D soon to hit the market, but there was also a lot of attention still being given to the 5D and the 1D series DSLRs. We can also see a row of super telephoto lenses being explored at the top of this image, behind the EOS Digital stand. I remember drooling over the 600mm F4 at this point last year, but was lucky to pick one up last December, so didn’t bother to go up there today. All in all there was a lot of buzz around the Canon stand. They had an area for consumer point and shoot digital cameras as well as the DSLRs. It was also possible to take a look at Canon’s printer line-up, video technology and their digital projectors etc. I was also interested in attending one of the seminars at the far right of the Canon area, but we’ll get to that a little later.
Canon EOS Digital Stand
I next walked to the stand directly opposite the Canon stand, which was the Adobe stand. I was just in time to watch the Lightroom Public Beta 2 demonstration, which I am very interested in, so I sat down and waited a moment or so for it to start. You should now be able to see a shot from shortly after the demonstration started if you’re listening with the new flash player, or go to shot number 951 if you’re following on my Web site. The demonstration was incredibly professional, as one would expect from a company like Adobe. At some points there was a video with hundreds of photos flashing around the screen, almost dancing as though choreographed to music. The screen you can see in the photo is just half of the actual screen used for the demo, so it was really quite impressive.
Adobe Lightroom Demo
Things that I was very impressed with, with Lightroom itself include, the speed at which the operations were possible. I know that they probably have mountains of RAM and CPU speed in the computers that they were using for the demo, but even so, the motions were very fluid indeed. The RAW images were viewable in no time, and switching between viewing the entire image to 100% and moving between the various screen modes was very fast. I also liked the Greyscale Mixer too, which allows you very accurate control over the way your image looks in black and white using sliders for each colour. I can’t wait for the Windows version of the Lightroom beta to become available so that I can have a play with it myself.
Unfortunately there will not be an image to show you of the Apple stand, as Apple stopped me photographing it saying that there were copyright issues with the photos on the screen, even though they would have appeared no bigger than probably 50 pixels wide in my image. I’m not going to go into detail of how I feel about this, and I do respect their views and of course other photographer’s copyrights, and that’s why I’m not going to publish the one shot that I did get before they stopped me, but I will just say that I was disappointed and don’t quite understand the marketing strategy behind spending all this money setting up a stall at a trade show like this, then denying people the chance to give you free advertising.
After this, I had a walk through the rest of the Expo, and along the way made image number 952 that you should now be able to see. This is probably the only shot from the day that I really thought about from an artistic perspective. All through the Expo there are models posing for the almost invariably entirely male crowd. If I was interested in portrait photography, I would probably be at the front of the crowd anyway, so I can’t say that I find anything particular wrong with this, but I wanted to get a shot that shows the crowds and the models both. I walked up to the Sandisk Compact Flash memory stand, which I must say was really very impressive, focusing on their fasted card technology to date, the Extreme III cards, and as I raised my camera, the model with the hat on here looked directly at me. The eye contact in this shot makes for quite an interesting image I thought.
Shooting the Booth Models
I walked right through the Expo to the very farthest point from the Canon booths, and there I found the Nikon guys. This photo, image number 953 gives a view of the side of the booth. Don’t be fooled by the lack of people in this shot. I waited quite some time to get just a few people in the shot, and was quite pleased to see that guy in the far right peeking around in a somewhat sinister fashion, as though following the guy in the hat walking across the center of the frame. The inside of the booth was of course teaming with photographers trying to get what for most would probably be the first look at a new D200, that we see plastered across the side of the booth here.
The Nikon Stand
After this I wandered outside, and ate the lunch I’d picked up on my way out here. There are places to buy food inside, but I recalled last year, when I was so overwhelmed by all the camera equipment and goodies inside that I felt it a waste of time actually spending time finding somewhere to eat and then queuing to buy it. I also recall that by the time I did decide to do so, much of the food was sold out, so I’d brought my own lunch today. I spend just a few minutes outside before going back inside and going to the upper floor of the exhibition center to look around the stands up there. This floor is where the smaller companies congregate, and I didn’t really find anything that I personally was interested in.
By the time I’d looked around upstairs, it was about time to go back to the Canon stand, to listen to a seminar from one of the top nature photographers here in Japan, that I was lucky enough to visit Hokkaido with in February. This was the photography tour that I spoke extensively about in Episodes 25 to 28 of the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast. In the last photo for today, number 954, we can see the person I’m talking about, Yoshiaki Kobayashi, talking to a crowded room about digital nature photography. Kobayashi Sensei said a number of things that rang very true, like using a tripod whenever possible for Macro photography, and when you really can’t, shoot in bursts to increase your chances of getting something that works, but I really want to mention one thing in particular that I also feel very strongly about. He said that just because with the advent of digital photography and it now being very easy to correct exposure in post-processing, there is no excuse for not getting it right when you are shooting the original.
Yoshiaki Kobayashi Sensei
I too really want to stress the importance of doing this. Many people think that now that we can change things in post processing that we don’t have to be as careful as when we shot film. Let me tell you though, pretty much every piece of post processing you do is going to be destructive, and if you don’t get the exposure right at the point of shooting the image, sure you can raise it or lower it in your RAW software or in Photoshop, but the quality of the image will be reduced. I have tweaked the exposure myself on the odd occasion when I just didn’t have anything better, so I’m not saying you should never ever do this, but you will get higher quality results more consistently if you pay attention to the fundamental photographic skills at the time of shooting, than by messing around with your shots in post-processing.
Anyway, with that little rant to finish with, that just about wraps it up for today. I’ll include a link to Kobayashi-sensei’s Web site in the show notes too. I’ve so much respect for this guy and his work and his vision, so please drop by his Web site and take a look for yourself too.
And finally, I’d like to thank those of you that have taken the time to complete the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast’s listener’s survey so far. If you haven’t already completed the survey and you can spare 5 minutes, you can find a link to the survey in the small Podcast section on the top page or linked with a larger graphic on the Podcasts page. I’ve also posted an announcement in the forum about this, with a link, so I’ll put a link to that post in the show notes. I’d really appreciate it if you could take five minutes to complete the survey as it will enable me to learn more about you and hopefully help me to find a sponsor for this Podcast at some point.
So, whatever you’re doing this week, I hope you have a great time doing it, and keep shooting too. Bye bye.
And finally, I’d like to thank those of you that have taken the time to complete the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast’s listener’s survey so far. If you haven’t already completed the survey and you can spare 5 minutes, you can find a link to the survey in the small Podcast section on the top page or linked with a larger graphic on the Podcasts page. I’ve also posted an announcement in the forum about this, with a link, so I’ll put a link to that post in the show notes. I’d really appreciate it if you could take five minutes to complete the survey as it will enable me to learn more about you and hopefully help me to find a sponsor for this Podcast at some point. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a listener or how frequently you listen to this Podcast. Thanks in advance for taking the time out to complete this survey.
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