August 2010

My full review of the Kodak Playsport ZX3 is now online at!

I’d like to think I treated the product fairly, describing both its great features and its shortcomings. It really is the first of its class, being the only mobile HD digital video camera (currently) that can survive a dunk in the swimming pool.  Just check out the article to see all the pros as well as the cons.

Bottom line is that this is a really good product for what it is and at this price point, so I am quite happy (and proud) to 0wn one .

To celebrate, here’s a silly video.


Aside from thrift stores and rummage sales, I like digging through the stacks at used books outlets. There’s always something to be found — either you look long and hard, or you hope that a cosmic bird poops good luck on you. Here’s a couple of books I picked up today. Both are gorgeous collections. Steve McCurry, of course, is the photographer who shot the iconic Afghan Girl. Stanley Kubrick, on the other hand, is the director of film classics Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.

Steve McCurry's The Path to Buddha

Page from The Path to Buddha

Christiane Kubrick's Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

Page from Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

Page from Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

Gotta love thrift stores. I found myself early for an event last Friday, so I took the opportunity to drop by one of the thrift stores in Cubao X. After looking through crates of vinyl, stacks of books and piles of cheap cameras I chanced upon something hanging off a nail, something I’d been wanting for quite a while.

Needless to say, I snatched it up, paying P350 or just under 8 dollars.

Here’s a photo:

Minox A IIIs

I identified it as a Minox A IIIs via the presence of a flash synch PC connector on one end. This particular unit was built between 1954 and 1962, as indicated by the built-in red and green filters. Later A IIIs models would instead have the green and neutral density filters that would find their way onto the Minox B.

Small, but built solidly.

This tiny camera uses equally tiny film, referred to as 8×11. Impossible to find here in Manila but still being produced by Minox. Unlike Polaroid, Minox has recognized that their brand identity is so closely associated with 8×11 film and the cameras that use it that they’ve committed to keep on producing sub-mini film. One of these days when I have the cash to spare, I’ll order a few rolls off Ebay or some other online seller.

After WWII, Minox set up headquarters in Wetzlar, West Germany, the birthplace of that other great German camera brand Leica. At one point in history, 1996 to be exact, Leica bought the Minox company, which was then bought back by management in 2001. It remains an independent company to date.

Made in Wetzlar

Some cool things about the Minox in general and the A IIIs in particular. First, the Minox is a true spy camera, due to its small size and short minimum focusing distance. Wikipedia even says that: “There is at least one document in the public record of 25 Minox cameras purchased by the Office of Strategic Services in 1942.” The A IIIs was even used by fictional spy James Bond in the movie On His Majesty’s Secret Service, the one starring George Lazenby.

Another cool thing is the metal chain attached to the Minox. Look closely and you’ll see fixed metal rings spaced out along the chain. These indicate distance from focal plane to subject, making it terribly easy to measure and set your focus.

By this chain do I measure.

Whether I’ll actually shoot with this or not is simply a matter of economic viability. I’ll first have to purchase film for it, then find out if someone in Manila can develop it. Sending film off to a lab abroad will likely be too pricey for an experiment. If the stars do align and I find someone who can develop and print these, and perhaps someone who can cut 35mm film to size and respool, I’ll be very very happy. Meanwhile, I will enjoy just looking at this on my shelf.

Focal length is 15mm and aperture is set at f/3.5

And just like that, Manila Design Week 2010 is over. I was able to drop by four of the week’s events, a welcome distraction from the tedium of my day job. Hanging out with other creatives has the effect of energizing me, and I enter this week with a little more pep in my step.

Here are some scenes from the Cut&Paste design competition on Day 2.

When I need to get around Manila quick, I usually leave the car at home and take one of the city’s three light railway lines. The system is nowhere near as complicated as New York City’s subway or the London Underground, so traveling via these (mostly) elevated trains is painless, except during rush hour when the queues are long and the cars are packed. Quitting time is the worst because everyone doesn’t smell as nice anymore.

The stations are also a good place to people watch, as you’ve got folks from many walks of life using this method of commute, but I do like it during the dead hours when few passengers are on the platform.

Here are a few shots taken with the Ricoh Auto Half E with Kodak BW 400CN.

More photos at my Flickr.

A few weeks back I happened upon a cosplay convention at one of the bigger malls here in Manila. I had with me my then-recently purchased Ricoh Auto Half E, loaded with Kodak 400CN film. Cute people in costume? How could I resist?

Danbo and Mrs. Travelomo

More photos on my Flickr.

Oh, this was also the day when my brand spanking new Ricoh CX3 was stolen from our car while it was parked at the parking lot.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been going to Pandin Lake, a quiet, out-of-the-way rural community just outside San Pablo City that comes straight out of an Amorsolo painting. It’s a place where time has stood still. Here there are no cars or trucks or industrial smokestacks which belch pollutants into the sky. Instead of jeepneys there are horses which tread the narrow paths. There are no jet skis or speedboats, just bamboo rafts which glide through the still water.

Pandin Lake is a model for sustainable eco-tourism, run mainly by the women of the lakeshore community. What they offer is simple: a couple of hours on the lake on a bamboo raft, and simple home-cooked meals of lake-grown tilapia and shrimp, a fern salad and fresh coconut milk right out of a coconut.  They tie the raft under an ancient tree at the far end of the lake where you can enjoy your lunch afloat in the shade.

Here’s a scene. More to come (I seem to keep making that promise but usually forget to deliver ha!), after I have my 120 roll developed.