Blind Photographers Exhibition, Shinjuku, Tokyo

The annual National Blind Photographers Exhibition (Zenkoku Mojin Shashin-ten 全国盲人写真展) featuring photographs taken by blind photographers will be held in Shinjuku, Tokyo as follows:

Date/time: Dec. 7 to 12, 10:00 am – 5 pm
Place: Shinjuku Monolith Building, 1st floor

When you walk from JR Shinjuku Station, the large building is on the left of the Keio Plaza Hotel (and on the right of the KDDI Building).

Yes, there are blind photographers! How do they do it? Well, imagine how you would take pictures if you were blind. First, your ears would serve as a guide. By listening carefully, you can tell where the subject is and how far away. If you want to photograph a person, take the picture when you hear laughter. Your ears can serve well as a guide to when to take the shot.

For still-life subjects, you can touch the object (flowers, etc.) and decide which angle to photograph it from. If you’re waiting for a sunrise, feel the heat of the sun on your skin before taking the picture. You can also discern which direction the sun is in. Besides using your other four senses, a major boon is having a seeing person tell you what’s going on and when to take the picture.

The exhibition is quite big, showing 65 photos. They were selected from among 300 entries. There are two versions of each photo. One is a normal photo, and the other is an embossed or relief version which you can touch and feel.

A special copying machine by Minolta is used to make this 3-D print. Unfortunately, after Minolta and Konica merged, plans to further develop this special 3D copying machine has been shelved.

The exhibition is organized by the Nihon Bunka Kyokai (日本文化協会) advised by famous painter Hirayama Ikuo.

It has been held since 1985. More info here:

Satoshi Kuribayashi wins Lennart Nilsson Award 2006

Congratulations to insect photographer Satoshi Kuribayashi for winning the 9th Lennart Nilsson Award in 2006. This Sweden-based award is for scientific photography, and Kuribayashi-san was selected from among 25 or so candidates nominated by 50 nominators (including one from Japan) around the world.

The awards ceremony will be held in Stockholm, Sweden on November 2, 2006. The prize is worth SEK 100,000 (around USD 13,500).

I personally corresponded with Mr. Kuribayashi one year ago to introduce slides and movies of his fantastic work at a nature photo festival in Kuusamo, Finland. He is a very nice man, and his work was very well received in Finland.

I also have a few reviews of his books here in English:

See his official site here (in Japanese):

Award’s official site here:

From the press release:

The Lennart Nilsson Award was founded in 1998 with one of its objectives to recognize the work of the world-renown Swedish photographer for which the award is named. The prize awarded annually is given to someone who similarly to Nilsson, works in ways that furthers the discipline of scientific photography and reveals what was previously unknown.

The Award of SEK 100,000 (around 13,500 USD), will be presented in Berwaldhallen in Stockholm, Sweden on November 2, 2006. The occasion will also host the annual installation of Professors at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden’s largest medical training and research centre and the home of the Nobel Assembly. Dr. Nilsson will be present at the ceremony.

Abductee Megumi Yokota exhibition

Asagao-no-kai, a group supporting the family of Megumi Yokota, opened a Web site showing photos of young Megumi and her family before she was abducted by North Korea in 1977 at age 13.

The online photo exhibition is based on a real exhibition that has been traveling around Japan.

Soon after the Web site opened on Oct. 13, 2006, they received widespread news coverage and a flood of hits. The site had to be shutdown temporarily as a result. Hopefully it is up and running when you access it.

Ginza Nikon Salon’s new address from Oct. 7, 2006

Nikon Plaza Ginza, which includes the Nikon Salon photo gallery, Nikon camera repair center and showroom, moved to a new place in Ginza on Oct. 7, 2006. The new location is more difficult to find than the old one. It’s almost behind Matsuzakaya Dept. Store in one of the back or side streets. You’ll definitely need a map. See the link below.

New address and contact info:
Nikon Plaza Ginza
Ginza 7-10-1
Chuo-ku, Tokyo

TEL:03-5537-1469 FAX:03-5537-1533

STRATA GINZA(ストラータ ギンザ)

Interview with Canon’s camera development director

There is an interesting interview with Mr. Ohara, the director of Canon’s camera development center who talks about the development of and ideas behind the new Canon EOS Kiss Digital X (400D/XTi).

Here is my summary in English. Note that this is not an official translation and it may or may not be entirely accurate. Use or believe it at your own risk.

– Canon started investigating dust reduction methods since 8 years ago in 1998 with the EOS D2000. By then, there were users wanting some way to reduce dust on the sensor. So Canon knew that they had to do something to alleviate the dust problem.

– Investigation of concrete ideas for dust reduction methods started 4 or 5 years ago. They decided that the system had to be very effective and reliable and not just a band-aid-type feature. Otherwise, they would not incorporate it.

– With the thin crystal plate (low-pass filter) in front of the sensor vibrating to shake off dust, there might be concerns about affecting the plate’s durability. So Canon spent quite a bit of time testing it and found that it was not a problem.

– There is no standard criteria to measure the effectiveness of a dust reduction system (effectiveness not mentioned in the camera specs). Like how much dust can be removed by the system. The effectiveness varies depending on the type of system. So how can users judge the effectiveness?

There are various types of dust. The dry dust particles fall off easily. However, oily dust such as those mixed with your sweat or oily skin, and sticky particles are difficult to shake off.

However, he thinks that the dust reduction system is effective enough on a practical level. To see how effective it is, the only way is to actually use it yourself and see. The effectiveness cannot really be quantified.

– Canon did not think that just shaking off the dust was enough. So they also incorporated the following four approaches for maximum overall effectiveness:

1. Minimize dust generation (from moving parts inside the camera such as the shutter curtains)
2. Minimize dust attraction (Anti-static coating)
3. Remove dust from the sensor (with shaking sensor and dust absorption material on the periphery)
4. Post-processing (removal of dust spots with software)

– Older cameras cannot take advantage of the post-processing method, even with a firmware update. This is because the distance between the low-pass filter and sensor is different in previous cameras. This distance is taken into consideration by the software when removing the dust spots. (This distance affects the size of the shadow on the sensor caused by the dust on the low-pass filter. The dust spots are actually shadows on the sensor caused by the dust particles on the low-pass filter covering the sensor.)

– As to whether the dust reduction system will be incorporated in other EOS D-SLRs, the answer seems to be yes. However, it may not necessarily be the same system used in the EOS Kiss Digital X (400D/XTi). They will keep developing and improving the dust reduction system or use any method which is more effective, easier, or cost effective.

– He says that, although it is a tight fit, it is “not impossible” to also install a vibrating crystal plate in front of the sensor for dust reduction in full-frame D-SLRs. Instead of having a cover glass, the first layer is already the low-pass filter (like with the EOS 5D) (which can vibrate). So dust reduction in full-frame EOS cameras may well appear.

– About the S/N ratio of the sensor as affected by the smaller pixel size (pitch), he says that the quality of the signal obtained from the sensor is exactly the same as the Kiss Digital N (350D/XT)’s, but not better.

The internal image processing is the same as the 350D, but since Picture Styles have been incorporated, the image might look different between the new and older cameras.

– For years, Canon has worked to improve the level of image detail, more so than just reducing noise. This also applies to the Kiss Digital X. It does not make sense to have more megapixels if it does not also obtain better image detail. Instead of relying on image processing to reduce noise, we go back to improving the design of the sensor and other analog components to improve the original signal.

– Users will probably not really notice the difference in image quality between images taken with an 8-meg and 10-meg sensor.

– DIGIC III has already been incorporated in Canon’s compact digicams, but not in the new Kiss Digital X. The development cycle is different for compact cameras and D-SLRs. Incorporating a new DIGIC circuit in a D-SLR would entail a wholesale change in the internal electronics.

In any case, the speed and response of DIGIC II is more than adequate for the new new Kiss Digital X. DIGIC III will be incorporated when the time comes, he says.

– The grip has been improved. The part where the palm of your hand touches the grip is fatter. There is also a thumb pad. They did not go to great lengths to improve the grip. However, they tried to make at least some improvement.

– The LCD monitor is bigger, and the AF sensor is the same as in the 20D and 30D. Compared to the Kiss Digital N, the AF sensor is more sensitive and precise. With 10 megs, the AF precision had to be improved.

– They did discuss switching to SD cards. However, CF cards currently have high (or higher) capacities and they are cheaper per megabyte. Yet they are aware of SD cards being more popular and more laptops having built-in SD card slots. So they will keep this open for discussion.

– Regarding lens stabilization in the camera body like Sony and Pentax, Canon plans to continue incorporating lens stabilization in the lens instead. This is more effective since the IS (Image Stabilizer) can be designed and controlled to suit each lens. It is more effective this way especially with longer lenses.

As to the question of having IS in both the body and lens, it would not be practical to invest in the development of both and to have the user bear the cost of both. With a body-based system, you cannot see the stabilization effects through the viewfinder. Thus, there are more advantages with a lens-based system. We hope to expand our IS lens lineup so more people can use it. (Seems to be a hint that cheaper IS lenses are forthcoming.)

– Final words: The Kiss Digital X looks similar to its predecessor. However, inside it is totally different. Instead of judging the camera by its looks and specs, you have to pick it up and see it for yourself. The image quality is also top-notch.

See black lens kit here
Black body only here

Related article:
Canon No. 1 in Dec. 2006

Kenji Ishikawa Exhibition till Sept. 5, 2006, Tokyo

A few days ago, I got a call on my cell phone from Ishikawa-san who kindly informed me about his major show at Tokyo’s Daimaru Department Store.

He specializes in photographing landscapes under the full moon. His images are very pacifying and often astonishing.

When: Aug. 17, 2006 to Sept. 5, 2006, 10:00 – 20:00 (till 17:30 on last day)
Where: Daimaru Museum Tokyo (12th floor of Daimaru Dept. Store at Tokyo Station)
Phone: 03-3212-8011

Admission: 800 yen

Web site in Japanese:

Book review:

Oyako (Parent-Child) Photo Contest

Photographer Bruce Osborn is organizing the following contests:

OYAKO PHOTO CONTEST: Send us your most unforgettable family photo!
This year’s theme is “OYAKO LOVE”.

Olympus digital cameras (1ea.)
Lexmark printers (5ea.)
Trinity Line Cosmetics Basic Sets (3 ea.)

1 Send photo on the theme of Oyako Love
2 Include a brief note telling the story about photo
3 Your name, address and age (If you do not want your real name to appear on our web site, use a “handle”.)
4 Deadline: July 31, 2006

please include “OYAKO photo contest” as your e-mail’s subject line


Example subjects: “now we can laugh about it”, “an unforgettable memory”, “now that I’m a parent, I finally understand”, “what a crazy family”…

130,000-yen JTB travel pass for travel within Japan (1 ea.)
Lexmark digital printers (5 ea.)
one year supply of LivLon Supplement (1 ea.)

1 send500-1000 word essay
2 Include your name, address, age, and title of essay (If you do not want your real name to appear on our web site, use a “handle”.)
4 Deadline: July 31, 2006

please include “OYAKO essay contest” as your e-mail’s subject line

Japan photographers need not worry about PSE seal

The new PSE safety seal law is creating a major stir in Japan during this month of March.

From April 1, 2006, a new law in Japan will require electrical appliances to have the PSE safety seal which assures that the appliance is safe for consumer use based on tests conducted by the manufacturer (instead of the government).

The PSE safety seal has been required since 2001. So electrical appliances made before 2001 which do not have the PSE safety seal cannot be sold new or used in Japan from April 1, 2006.

One important thing to note is that this law applies only to retailers and recycle shops who sell new and used electrical appliances as a business. It does not apply to individuals selling such stuff at flea markets, Internet auctions, etc.

It also does not apply to personal computer equipment which conforms to a different safety standard. And very fortunately, it does not apply to cameras, both film and digital. This means that used camera shops in Japan can stay in business.

The law applies to electrical appliances which need to be plugged in to a power outlet to operate, such as TVs, stereos, refrigerators, etc. This includes darkroom equipment such as enlargers, darkroom lamps, and print dryers. Also, slide projectors, overhead projectors, studio flash and power packs, and lightboxes. Such equipment made before 2001 cannot be sold at all by retailers from April 1, 2006.

PSE stands for “product safety of electrical appliance and material.”

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