Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My recent splurge and the story of 3 nations

Thanks to Alex and Qingkai for enticing me to this hobby again.

A couple of days back, I'd bought a second hand digital SLR in Singapore.

Thanks to the internet, there's a very active online discussion forum about photography and equipment in Singapore, aka Clubsnap.com .

The last SLR camera I owned was a film SLR. I bought it with very limited budget in the year of 2003/2004. My good friend ( also secondary schoolmate and university coursemate ), Mr Alex Neo had raised my interest in SLR initially while we were in UK. Back then, he wanted to get the Canon film SLR EOS 300 and somehow got me interested back in 2000/2001 while we were still poor undergrads pursuing our Engineering degree in Leicester University.

It's funny how he got me started in SLR and he himself only got himself his first SLR only 2 months ago (2010). Well, he is usually more prudent with his dollars than I am.

Canon DSLR EOS 40D was what I wanted

So I went searching at Clubsnap forums for the digital SLR model I wanted and got a few potential sellers. I narrowed down to 3 sellers.

Seller number 1 was a local Singaporean guy whom is relatively young and is still serving National Service. I reckon he should be about 20-21 years of age. We met up relatively late at night and he was quite happy to show me his camera and share with me some of his knowledge. Throughout our conversation during the viewing session, he appears to be one whom keeps his equipment well and takes good care of them. Not to mention that he has a dry storage cabinet to keep his cameras and lenses. Not all amateur photographers will invest in a dry cabinet as it takes up space and consumes electricity. There was only a single light scuff mark on the camera, which was caused due to the camera placement in his usual camera bag. That was no concern to me as I can see the camera is in a very good condition. He is knowledgeable and shared some of his photoshooting experience with me and Alex ( whom accompanied me there ).

Seller number 2 was a Filipino guy working in Singapore. He was reluctant in meeting me late at night and he was only able to meet me the following day morning. We did not chat much as I gathered that he was relatively amateurish like me and he bought his camera from a colleague of his. There were more scuff marks than the first camera I saw the night before. Still acceptable for a camera that was launched for 2-3 years ago. A well used camera means it was not in situ for a long periods of time that will probably attract dust and invite fungal infection. The viewing session was short and we did not have much in common to talk about.

Seller number 3 sent me a message on the forums in the morning just before I met up with Seller number 2. He gave an attractive price but the only drawback was that it came without the original box. I drove up to his place at Emerald Hill, which was a great location for outdoor shoots in Singapore. He was a British working in Singapore. I checked the camera and found zero scuff marks. And according to him, the camera was purchased in Japan and he had no more lugguage space and had to dump the box. His camera's shutter count was also the least compared to the other 2 that I had seen. We spoke a bit about his use of the camera, which was mostly indoor product shooting for his spouse's fashion products. His house on Emerald Hill, which I had the luxury of being invited into, was almost like a studio. It was a nice place to live and work ( I figured it was a home office upon the initial glance ).

My decision?

I bought the camera from the angmo.

Is it because he is angmo (aka Caucasian) expat?
Is it because the camera, being bought from Japan, to have the Made-in-Japan quality assurance?
Is it because of the low shutter count?
Is it because of the good exterior condition?
Is it because he lives in Orchard Road?
Is it because of the low price?

I do not know the answer..
Maybe being Singaporean and behaving like most Singaporeans, I have somehow acquired the mentality of angmo is better.

But logic and reasoning tell me to convince myself I bought the camera, despite the missing paper box and miscellaneous accessories/cables, because of the low shutter count and good exterior condition.

I knew that I was a bit worried after spending close to a thousand dollars on a camera body that is a hobby that I wanted to pick up as a beginner. I was unsure if it was a good choice buying from the British guy and was inner-monologue-ing my decision to buy from him against buying instead from the other 2 sellers.

That same night, I visited my dad. Strangely enough, during our (seemingly unrelated) chat, he was sharing with me that a person's reliability and trust is judged initially by the assets he owns ( or appears to own ). That might probably include his house, car, business, etc.

That stopped my internal monologue and next on my mind was lens. Another good friend, Kit Kwok, once told me while we were in Leicester, the camera body is never as important as the lens that is chosen to use with it. And that is the reason why some lenses are far more expensive that the camera bodies.

I spent the next day reading about lenses and decided on a good general use lens that had good reviews and is reputable. Being a good lens, there are hardly anyone whom are selling it, unlike camera bodies for sale which flood the forums. Camera bodies get hardware revisions and variant upgrades every 6-12 months. Newer camera features, such as higher megapixels, newer shape, better ISO ratings, more evaluative focal points, tend to make camera bodies obsolete in less than 2 years. But for lenses, it is exactly opposite. There are lenses which have existed for more than 10 years, which are currently still in production by the manufacturers and much sought after by enthusiasts and pros alike.

The lens which caught my attention was the Tamron 17-50mm. Relatively wide-angle and with aperture of F2.8, that means that the pictures will come out sharp even under low light condition. It's good for indoor low lighting shots and also for wide angle scenery shots.

Some sample pics below taken by the Tamron 17-50mm lens ( not taken by me )

The bokeh effect on the pictures is one of the main reasons why I wanted to get a SLR camera

Personally, I like the nice "bokeh" effect produced by this lens.  

Due to its popularity, there are not many for sale in the Clubsnap forums and I stalked the buy/sell forums and contacted the seller the moment I saw the sell thread appear. He was giving up the hobby and he bought it new from a local shop. Condition was a 10/10 and there was still close to 2 years of warranty left.

With practice, I hope to take such photos in the near future.

Izzit because I iz Chineze?

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