Just something quick and non-camera-related.

It’s finally here! MUJI, my favorite no-brand brand has finally opened its first store in the Philippines, and just a ten-minute walk from my condo, no less! Now I don’t need to fly to Hong Kong to get my essential supplies: recycled paper notebooks, minimalist bookends, frill-free shoes and quirky Japanese snacks. I spotted a small bag I can use as a camera pouch, just need to line it with padding. Must go back for it before my trip to Beijing next week.

Here are scenes from the press launch, shot with my ever-present Kodak Playsport. Photos from my Olympus UC35 to follow next week.

My full review of the Kodak Playsport ZX3 is now online at Techie.com.ph!

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.

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.

Shifting back to digital video from a few days of analog lusting, I finally found time to make a test video of the Jelly Lens “Polorizer,” quotation marks because I do know how to spell polarizer.

Surprisingly, this thing does actually work. Surprising because even el cheapo screw- on polarizing filters for SLRs and DSLRs are typically pricey. This one cost me less than a small Starbucks latte. I tested the polo on two monitors and a leather handbag to see how much the filter could cut down on reflections. The monitor tests show significant effect.

I’d like to see how this filter works with blue skies and color, but I’ll save that for a future video.

Before I plunk down money for that Gakkenflex I saw being sold locally, I thought I’d try my luck with Mijonju’s Gakkenflex Giveaway contest. I’m extremely lucky when it comes to raffles – might as well have a go at this.

Note to readers. It borders on the ridiculous to try and edit video using a weak-ass one year old netbook. It just doesn’t have the juice to handle video editing software, especially when your camera captures video in 720p.  I’m using a Kodak Playsport to shoot video, ArcSoft Media Impression to do minor edits, FormatFactory to convert from .mov to .wmv then Picasa to put it all together. Tedious, but until I get a desktop that can handle the processing requirements of video editing, I’m stuck wif this.

As promised, here is the second of my sample videos using Jelly Lens filters with a Kodak Playsport, this time with the delightful “Starburst” filter.

There’s a sweet spot near the center of the filter (but not dead on) where the image is clear. Radiating from it are etched rays, which gives this filter its distinct effect. I call it my “dream sequence” filter. My colleague calls it the “stalker” lens.

Apologies to Jason (the bald dude at the end) for including him here, but not really. Your thumbs-up was too good to pass up, even though it was shot in poor light.

To edit these videos, I use Picasa , which doesn’t natively process .mov files in its movie editor mode. I have to do a bit of file conversion using FormatFactory, from .mov to .wmv. Crossing my fingers this thing dosn’t have spyware, heh.

During my lunch break the other day, I made a dash to a nearby department store to purchase something I knew would add a cool dimension to my already cool Kodak Playsport.

Near the Ladies’ Lingerie section, at the bottom of a rack displaying bangles and bracelets was a row of Jelly Lens phone camera filters. These are el cheapo plastic filters from China designed to attach to the lens of most phone cams via a non-permanent adhesive jelly ring (hence the name). I’d spotted them a month ago while shopping there with my wife.

At about 2 US dollars a pop, these are criminally inexpensive upgrades to mobile imaging devices such as the Kodak Playsport and most likely the Flip cameras, which have small fixed lenses, like phone cams. There’s about a dozen in the series, and you can find them at http://www.jelly-lens.com.

I immediately bought five of the most useful ones: closeup, vignette, soft, starburst and “polorizer.” Ripped them outta the packaging and immediately started trying them out while walking out of the mall.

Best damn upgrade you can get for ten bucks.

Here’s a sample using the closeup lens and shot in 720p.  I’ll post more in the next few days.

BONUS: Here’s a clip I found of the Playsport’s water resistance being put to the test.