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CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show on March 11-14, 2010

Just when I got used to the name “Photo Imaging Expo (PIE),” they have created yet another incarnation of Japan’s largest camera show.

It is now called the “Camera & Photo Imaging Show” abbreviated as CP+. And instead of being held in Tokyo, it will be held in Yokohama, at Pacifico Yokohama, a large convention complex.

Instead of the four photography-related organizations which held the old PIE show, CP+ will be held by CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association).

For details, see the show’s official site in English:

Pacifico Yokohama is near JR Sakuragicho and Minato Mirai Stations:

About CIPA
The Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA) is an international organization comprised of companies involved in the production and sale of silver-halide camera and digital camera, imaging-related products, software and more. In addition to product specifications, standards and technical research, CIPA deals with environmental issues and other industry-wide issues and seeks to contribute to the development of photographic and imaging culture.
Web site:


As a birthplace of photography in Japan, Yokohama will be staging a full-fledged photo festival from 2012. They will be holding a few activities as a prelude to the festival.

One of them is the Open Portfolio Review. On Jan. 16-17, 2010, they will have a large room with a long table lined with photo portfolios of various photographers who apply for this event. A panel of distinguished photographers, curators, and critics will review your portfolio in your presence.

They will accept applications for this portfolio review from early Dec. See their Web site for details and application info:

Izu Photo Museum opens in Shizuoka Pref.

Another photo museum has opened in Japan. This one is in the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture. Opened on Oct. 26, 2009, the new Izu Photo Museum is part of the Clematis no Oka museum complex.

The museum was designed by Sugimoto Hiroshi who is also the first artist to exhibit at the new photo museum. The museum is near JR Mishima Station on the Tokaido Line. A free shuttle bus is provided from the north exit, leacing once an hour.

See their Web site for more details.

Movie: Katen no Shiro

Released in Japan on Sept. 12, 2009, this movie is about Okabe Mataemon, a Nagoya (Atsuta)-based master carpenter who in 1576 was ordered by Japan’s leading warlord Oda Nobunaga to build Azuchi Castle on Mt. Azuchi fronting Lake Biwa. The main castle tower or donjon was to have an unprecedented five stories. It was to be the grandest and most lavish castle Japan had ever seen. Mataemon and his crew had only three years to complete the epic construction which they did. The movie shows the major and minor tribulations Mataemon and his crew went through during the construction. The movie is also unusual because it has no battle scenes despite being a samurai movie.

Being a castle fan, I really looked forward to this movie. However, I was somewhat disappointed with the quality of the acting, completeness of the story, believability, and overall visual and emotional impact. The movie does have a few outstanding scenes with what looks like thousands of people working, but they were too few and too short. Computer graphics depicting the construction of the mountaintop castle were impressive enough. But I thought there were too many story lines and characters which could not be fully developed or explained within the movie’s 139 min.

For history buffs, it might be frustrating because the movie is obviously not historically accurate since it is a work of fiction. For castle fans, the movie does not show all the major aspects of building a castle. I wish they showed more scenes of the actual construction (which sped by too quickly). Work on the stone walls, interior, moats, etc., are missing. Seeing the stones being cut and fitted onto the walls, the beams being fitted to the main pillar, the construction of the roof, moat digging, interior painting, gold leafing, etc., are all missing. So the educational value of this movie does not attain its potential.

The movie does have interesting story lines. Construction of a major castle with mostly manual labor, Mataemon the carpenter prodigy, Nobunaga’s affection for imported European goods, merchants getting rich from European trade, ninja-like assassins, and a few love stories. But the movie was too short to adequately develop them all. It tries to cover everything, but in doing so, it never really developed any story to its fullest and best potential. It might have been better to make it a TV series rather than a movie.

But I still recommend seeing this movie. It is worth seeing the few outstanding scenes that it has. The movie was filmed in Kyoto; Adogawa in Takashima where they filmed the giant boulder scene with 200 extras, Awajishima island in Hyogo for scenes atop Mt. Azuchi overlooking Lake Biwa, Kiso-Fukushima in Nagano for forest scenes, and Taiwan for the big tree scene.
It is pretty much an all-star cast headed by Nishida Toshiyuki as Mataemon, Otake Shinobu as his wife, and Ogata Naoto (who gave a fine acting performance) as a woodsman.

I have posted a detailed review and detailed summary of the movie plot for those of you who cannot understand Japanese, so you’ll know what’s going on:火天の城)

Official Web site (in Japanese only):

Izima Kaoru: Landscapes with a Corpse, Sep. 26-Oct. 25, 2009

Izima Kaoru will hold an exhibition of his “Landscapes with a Corpse” series from Sept. 26 (Sat.) to Oct. 25, 2009 (Sun.) at BLD GALLERY in Tokyo. This is an unusual series of photos of high-fashion actresses posed as corpses in various situations, sometimes humorous. Read more about his work here:

He is also having an exhibition called “One Sun” at the same gallery, running until Sept. 23, 2009. Gallery hours 11 am to 7 pm.

Izima will also give a few talk shows at the gallery (reservations required and admission charged). See the gallery Web site for details (in Japanese only). The gallery is near JR Yurakucho Station, Ginza Station, and Ginza Itchome Station.

Canon EOS 7D on my shopping list

When I bought my EOS 50D in fall 2008, I thought it would last me for a few years. But I was wrong. I’m ready for the EOS 7D.

I wish the 7D came out last year. But this is what I always say about new D-SLRs. There’s no end to it. One key feature of the 7D is the viewfinder with 100% field of view. This is what I really want, and really miss.

The 50D’s viewfinder coverage is only about 95%. That 5% sounds minor, but it actually makes a significant difference in how it affects your composition of the shot. What you see is not what you get. I often find myself reshooting a shot after noticing that the image has too much space on one side.

The 7D’s weather-resistant construction is also very welcome. It often rains/snows in Japan, so it’s quite essential. The faster continuous shooting speed of 8 fps is nice, even though the 50D’s 6.5 fps is nothing to complain about.

I really hope the 7D will last me a few years. I cannot afford to buy a new D-SLR every year.

I also take videos, so video cameras with better image quality is always of interest to me. It’s really amazing to see how much the image quality of videos taken by compact digital cameras has improved in recent years. Everything is now HD at the 16:9 aspect ratio. It makes me want to reshoot all my old videos with a new camera.

I looked at the Lumix GH1 which is causing a lot of excitement among video enthusiasts. But I decided against buying one because of the lack of power zooming. You have to zoom manually, and since I zoom a lot while shooting videos, manual zooming won’t work for me. I think if Panasonic offers a D-SLR camera geared more for video than for still shooting, than it would be revolutionary. Right now, all D-SLRs are mainly for still shooting.

Which forces me to look at conventional video cameras. The problem with conventional camcorders is that they do not have very wide-angle lenses. Maybe 35mm or 40mm at the widest. I need a 28mm wide angle at the very least. It is possible to attach a wide-angle lens attachment to the camcorder, but it’s pricey and I wonder about the distortion. My temporary solution is the camera I just bought last month. It’s a compact digital camera with an incredible 25-300mm zoom range and takes HD (but not Full HD) videos. The image quality is quite good and I’m happy with it. I wish I had a camera like this a few years ago.

There’s no doubt that we’re witnessing a revolution in video technology and video culture with the popularity of YouTube and so many people taking and uploading video clips. Of course, the quality of the clips is another story. Most people are amateurs shooting video which often is too shakey or not good at all.

I’ve always taken movies or videos with a conventional movie film camera or camcorder since high school. My first digital movies were taken with my first compact digital camera in 2003. Then came YouTube. I started uploading videos to YouTube in July 2006, and I’ve come a long way since then. New digital cameras improved the video quality by leaps and bounds. I can still remember Casio’s super slim digital cameras which could shoot videos, but without sound. Made no sense to me. My Canon Powershot S50 at least recorded sound as well.

At first, it was a very casual thing. I shoot a video clip, then upload it to YouTube. I was happy just to record some motion and some sound, to add some background info to my still and silent photos.

But now, I’ve become much more seasoned and sophisticated, taking videos more seriously. I now shoot to create a story or record a logical sequence of events. I also use professional and amateur video editing software to edit my videos. I try to make each video as interesting as possible. And also add annotations. If you watch my early videos on YouTube (uploaded in 2006) and my most recent videos, you can see the difference in not only the image quality, but in the content quality as well. I would have to call myself an “advanced” amateur videographer (instead of just an amateur videographer).

My problem, though, is shooting both video and stills at the same time. When I’m shooting video, I’m usually shooting stills at the same time with my D-SLR. Yes, I’m holding two cameras at the same time. That’s why in most of my videos you may hear my D-SLR taking pictures or see the flash being fired. I’m doing a pretty good job at shooting both stills and videos at the same time. I won’t tell you how I do it, but often there’s a compromise between the still shooting and video. Of course it’s hard to shoot very well with both cameras at the same time. But if one or the other is much more important, I will stop using the other camera and just concentrate on shooting stills or video. Note that in most situations, I cannot use a tripod.

But I continue to perfect my techniques for shooting both stills and videos at the same time. It is a challenge.

Update: In Feb. 2010, I sold my EOS 50D body and bought the EOS 7D body.

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