A Photographic Journey

Introduction

Preface to my equipment reviews

Before buying any piece of pricey equipment, it is recommended to do thorough research before laying down your hard earned money.  For me this research in to camera equipment is part of the fun of photography and through this research I often learn more about what I am buying.  For this my camera life, I am going to do reviews of various bits of equipment that I have used in my camera life, but I think more importantly I am going walk the reader through how I made up my mind to select that piece of equipment.  There is a saying that goes:  “if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you’ll feed him for a lifetime” , so what i plan to do is to teach you how I select which gear to buy.

The gear that I ended up selecting to buy and keep may not be what is best for you.  Every one has a different circumstance that leads up to different decisions.  To understand the choices I make, you must understand my situation and circumstances behind my choice.  My circumstances are, like much in life, dynamic and ever-changing.  My circumstance five years ago is certainly very different to my situation now.  But there has always been an underlying theme to my purchases, I usually buy things from a user’s perspective and I am fairly price conscious.  I also understand that good camera equipment could potentially last a life time, so on occasion where I think it important, I’ll pay the premium to own something that I can use for years and years.  So reliability, quality control, support and workmanship is also a factor.

Aside from the more practical world of cameras, there is also a world of collecting.  I think most readers would be only interested in what is practical but there are those in the minority that are interested more in the equipment’s collectablilty.  A collectable item invariably becomes more and more unaffordable as time goes on and so with only rare exception, my philosophy here is to buy what I need to make my photographic vision come true and not to buy some antique for the sake of treasuring its rarity.  For those buying their first DSLR camera, you may not know of this collecting world, but it’s there.

So for my future reviews of equipment I am going to walk you through my decision process as closely as possible.  I am going to separate reviews into three subgroups:  mini-reviews where I am just glossing over my experiences with the piece of equipment and in effect summarising what I felt about when using that particular piece of equipment, these reviews will be opinionated and only partially objective at best and hence I will restrict these reviews to stuff I actually use day-to-day rather than making grandiose passing comments on pieces of equipment I don’t own or rarely use.  There will be comprehensive reviews where I try to be objective as possible and going over every aspect that is important to me.  Then there will be comparison reviews where I compare similar products highlighting differences and each’s strength and weaknesses.

The scope of items for review is actually quite enormous, as I own many different systems, from common DSLR to rangefinder, medium format and large format…  So this is probably going to take years to review the equipment I actually own, not to mention any new gear in the future.  I am going to jump around a bit, I am hoping this site will be an enjoyable read, that surprises the reader with each visit, rather than being a dry infomercial that some other sites tend to become over time.

In time I hope what I write here will accumulate to become a review reference for those interested in the gear that I own.

One advantage of reviewing from Hong Kong is the small size of our geography means that there is a inordinate concentration of exotic gear here, when I run out of gear to write about or feel up to it, I will start reviewing and interviewing others with their own views on their gear and more about other people’s camera life.

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Welcome to HK Camera Life.

A passion for photography have lead me down the strange path over the years, an unpredictable path that have meandered from being a snapshooter with my very basic Kodak P&S in the eighties, to my very first serious foray into my camera life with the purchase of my first DSLR in 2002 with my Nikon D100 and then an organic and hyperbolic growth in camera equipment from there, with forays in the past decade into all types of cameras, such as the Canon EOS system, Hasselblad Xpan, Leica and its wonderful lenses, Rollei 6008 system, Ebony 4×5 and the large format world, the dimunitive Olympus Pen FT and is modern M4/3 counterpart the E-P1 and many more.  This expedition into the camera world has not been aimless, I have not lost sight that the camera is just a tool to self-expression and it is with this compass direction that I explore the camera world.  I seek cameras that gives me a new way to express my visual world on the screen and paper, so my collection of cameras have few duplicates in function and form.  I choose cameras that allows me to photograph differently, will it be a different format, lens availability, specialized functions, a different viewfinder and a myriad of other functions that make each camera unique.

My camera life doesn’t start nor end with gear, far from it, it has been a tour d’force through all aspects of photography, such as camera and photography history and philosophy, the many books and references I’ve read, the high tech world of photo editing to the low tech world of film developing, the difficult process of getting the perfect print and the most important part…  the process of taking the photo itself.  The more I learn about photography, the more I realize that photography is much more than just taking a satisfying photo, at its simplest it is, but the scientist in me wants to learn more, to master what I learn.  And it is this trip to master photography that I have embarked upon, that is never ending, with an unknowable final destination that I will never reach but through this site I hope to share the journey with you.

I hope to share with you my camera life so far, the many experiences I have gained and to compile the research that I have done in this field and show you the remains of its digestion, and to show you the reader a single possible photographic path that you can take.   I want to show you all the detours I took in my photographic journey to reach where I am now.  The journey continues still and I hope to share my new discoveries in this, a camera life.

Eric Lai