Thursday, August 24, 2006


I have pictures now! Yes, that means I have a digital camera. More on that below.

This is the view from my apartment/hotel room where I'm staying. The view is looking roughly south (the road in the immediate foreground is Renfrew Road, the main road by HKBU, and runs due south).

The beige buildings on the bottom left are part of HKBU (Hong Kong Baptist University, in case you forgot), and in fact, that's pretty much the end of campus. The greenish buildings on the right, surrounded with barbed wire, is, well, I guess I can safely say they're classified. In the distance you can see a bunch of tall buildings. I don't know exactly which buildings are where on the map, but that should be the main shopping areas of Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui. After Tsim Sha Tsui is water, which you can't see, and then Hong Kong Island, which you can see as the mountains in mist in the very back.

Lots of those very tall buldings you see (except for the ones in the way back on the right) are residential. The shorter residential buildings are older, and pricier. The taller ones represent the rush to build more housing on not very much land.

Here's my adventure in getting a digital camera. As I mentioned before, I didn't have a camera, and I figured the best (meaning cheapest) place to get one was where I was going: Hong Kong.

The reason I didn't have a camera was this: I don't use one. I had a camera a long time ago when I was in grad school, and once, when I went to Germany for a math conference, I took a bunch of pictures. When I got back I completely forgot about developing these pictures for years, until I finally brought it in. The developed pictures were a good example of minimalist art: nothing but gray. In some cases, darker on one end.

I figured, if I wasn't going to develop the pictures, why take them?

On later trips I just bought postcards. Here were photos that a professional took, under ideal conditions. Why not go with those? Then I discovered that I never looked at them. As in, when I moved, I packed them in boxes, and when I moved again, I didn't need to repack the boxes because they were unopened from the last time I moved.

So as you can see I'm not much of a scrapbook person.

But with this blog, I figured this might be a good way to start up again, now that there are things like digital cameras.

So I was in the market for a digital camera. Not a nice one per se, but one that will take pictures that I can put on my blog. In Hawaii I looked at some prices, and it seemed that the low end was around $100.

In Hong Kong, most of the prices I saw in shops were in the HK $3000-3500 (about US$400) range. But these were very nice cameras. In Tsim Sha Tsui I looked around at a Nikon store that didn't have prices on any of the cameras. I asked for a cheap one, and the person showed me one for HK $1200 (US$150) and I said I was looking for something more along the lines of HK $700 (US$90). I walked away, and he said he could do it for HK $900 (US$117). I said no.

Ever since I've been looking for a digital camera. Yesterday in Mong Kok, they had lots to sell (I got a SIM card for Pepperdine's cell phone there) but I didn't see any camera stores.

Now, my Cantonese tutor back in LA had suggested the Sham Shui Po district for cheap electronics. I went there last night. I was kind of procrastinating, so I arrived around 9pm. To my surprise, many of the stores had already closed (Hong Kong is supposed to be a city that never sleeps, just like New York). And most of the stores I saw were selling cell phones. Down the block, most of the stores were selling stereo systems. Not many were selling cameras.

I did see one store that sold lots of different electronic stuff. I said I wanted a cheap camera. He pointed me at the HK$1200 ones. I said I was looking for something more along the lines of HK $800 (US$104) (The experience at Tsim Sha Tsui had me thinking I had lowballed my view of prices). He pointed me at a few cameras he said were HK $890 (US$116). I said 800. He said 890. I said 800. He said 890.

Now you must realize that I was pretty tired of looking for cameras at this point. And I had given up finding a camera at the price I saw in Hawaii. So I said OK.

He then tried to sell me memory cards. Oops: I forgot all about that. I suggested that maybe I didn't need one. He said that the camera would only have 32 MB, enough only to test the camera. I asked how many pictures that was. He said 4 or 5.

Now I didn't do any research on these so I had no idea whether he was right or not. For most blogging purposes I would only need one photo at a time, but when we take a field trip, I'd want more than 5. He showed me a 512 MB card for HK $360. Yikes. So much for saving money. I told him I didn't want to buy it now, that I could buy it later. I already had the HK $900 in cash out in my hand.

He went to ring it up, and came back, asking if I was paying with cash. I said yes, with the actual cash fairly visible this whole time. He told me he would sell it to me for HK $260. I gave in and said OK.

So for HK $1200 (US$156) I have a digital camera and a 512 MB memory stick.

So much for getting cheap deals in Hong Kong.

If I had to do it over again, I'd have bought a camera in LA or Hawaii. It was cheaper there.

The camera, for the geeks out there, is made by Speed, and is a GL-130. It says it is 12.0 megapixel, but that's probably not right. The files turn out to be about 1.6 MB (the one above I degraded through a program to make it smaller and therefore faster to download). It has a digital zoom of 4x, but that's irrelevant given that I'm downloading them to my computer where I can play with the image anyway. It's also a video recorder, for some reason. I suspect I'd need a lot more memory to do that if I want to try it.

Oh, and I estimate I could probably have taken 10 pictures without the memory stick. I probably would have been fine except for the educational field trip we'd take to Vietnam for a few days. Then, I would have had to make on-the-spot decisions about which photos to keep.

So, I've now officially entered the 21st century. I have a digital camera. And you will now see pictures on this blog.


At 1:33 PM, Blogger Robert E. Williams said...

Okay, Kevin. That's step one. Now get out there and take some pictures! Go beyond the postcard views. We want to see snakes in the market, construction projects, your apartment, and more.

Congrats on the purchase.


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