Ricoh GR Digital II – Best Seller

Still haven’t decided if I’m going to get me a new GRD or not, my finances look bleak so it’s probably going to be a no-no. But according to the sales ranking of cameras in Japan for the month of November, many people don’t have the same qualms as me:

Ricoh GR Digital II

It shot straight to 1st rank right out of the drawing board. Impressive for such a special camera, definitely not aimed at the basic consumer. But as a friend of mine always tells me: “Don’t under-estimate the power of the Japanese otaku…”

GR Digital 2 – it’s official

After my post 2 weeks ago about rumors of a new GR Digital coming out, Ricoh has now officially announced the GR Digital II for Christmas 2007.

Ricoh GR Digital II

It looks like a nice evolution over the older model: the same body with the addition of just one button on the side for manually popping up the flash, the same focus on lens quality over anything else, much faster RAW capture, a better screen and a ton of little features to make your life easier (horizontal/vertical level meter, fast shortcut buttons, focus helper, etc.) while keeping the full control of manual mode and no hand-holding.

In these conditions, I think I might be forced to buy it when it comes out… :)

New GR Digital possibly coming soon

GR Digital - no moreAccording to the official Ricoh website, the GR Digital is now out of production. It had a good life, now it’s over.

As you may know, I bought this camera last year after reading raving reviews and a friend of mine recommended it. A lot of photography enthusiasts own this camera in Japan and you can see that from the GR Digital photos on Flickr.

Its killer points were, among others:

  • a wide angle 28mm lens (convertible to 21mm with an extra adapter)
  • old school film-like grain with higher ISO
  • full manual mode
  • double clicker wheels for ultra-fast, one-handed option settings

All in a snazzy black magnesium body for a professional look&feel.

Now from the different rumors running around photography forums and camera shops of Shinjuku, it seems there might be a new version coming to replace my favorite camera in November/December of this year. I can’t wait…

Shiodome Park Hotel – 33rd floor

Since my girlfriend is in town and I have tons of vacations to take before the end of my contract, I organized a special night out in Tokyo with her last week. I’m such a romantic guy…

First we went for drinks and dinner at her favorite restaurant: T.Y. Harbor Brewery in 天王洲アイル. It’s a Californian cuisine restaurant in a sort of hangar (not the old crummy ones, the cool ones that they transform in loft apartments and hype designer offices) right on the canals of Shinagawa. The place also brews it’s own beer in big vats behind the bar. Dinner is a bit expensive at 5-8,000¥ per person but the food is really delicious and the portions are big.

33rd floor view of Tokyo Tower from Shiodome

Then we headed to our hotel: the Park Hotel Tokyo in 汐留メディアタワー. I had booked a room with a special plan guaranteeing a window facing straight on the Tokyo Tower. We had a little scare as we came in the room at 12:05am and as I opened the curtains I couldn’t find the tower: they had turned off the lights! I was really pissed… As my girlfriend had forgotten some cosmectics at home, we headed down to the combini at B2 level and as we came back we had the good surprise to see the Tokyo Tower had been lit back on. I took some cool shots of the view, check them out on my flickr page.

Watching the fireworks from the roof

Last weekend I went to 熊谷, the bigger town close to where I live, to watch the city’s 花火大会 from my friend’s roof.

fireworks from the roof

Firework shows in Japan last very very long compared to anything I knew in France, over 2 hours. That’s because in between every 2 minutes sets they make a 3 minutes break. Why, you ask? My theory is that it’s all to encourage consumerism, so that you have time to get up and go buy a beer or some たこ焼き from the closest 屋台… What do you think?

Hotel Seikai in Beppu

I came back yesterday afternoon from Hiroshima, barely escaping the closing of the airport for cause of typhoon closing in. The trip was short, but well-packed with fun and relaxation. I will split the story of the trip in several post to keep the not so photo intensive, and I’ll start with the hotel.

As I said previously, we arrived in Beppu in the afternoon for just one night and we spent this first half-day recovering from our long-long trip. We ended up with the square bath room in the end, but everything was just as perfect as in the brochure, I was thrilled.

our bath with the  sea view

After soaking up good and taking a little nap, we headed for the hotel’s restaurant for dinner. In a Japanese 旅館, the room always come with a special Japanese style dinner that is usually the highlight of your stay (at least for the locals, I’ve kept my european habits and put more importance in the quality of the room).

the menu was tooooo long

The dinner was excellent, with more courses than I could count. It kept on coming and coming: seaweeds, sashimi, japanese beef, monstrous shellfish, 唐揚げ, etc… We had to stop the guy at one point, we were stuffed. After a good glass of a fine local 日本酒, we headed to the hotel’s bar to take our dessert facing the beach with a couple glasses of 梅酒 and Whiskey.

The next day, we had requested our breakfast at 8:30 (the checkout was at 10AM) but never woke. The reception started calling around 8:45 and we ignored them, then some guy came around 9AM to hit relentlessly on the door until I finally opened.

Hotel guy: Your breakfast is waiting.
Me: I know, were not hungry.
*slams the door back shut*

I hate when people can’t take a hint… Anyways, apart for the breakfast obsessed reception guy, Hotel Seikai in Beppu gets my seal of approval and I recommend it to you if you’re ever in the vicinity.

Surfing in Shonan

I’ve got a new hobby. One of my friends with whom I went snowboarding in Hokkaido this winter lives in 湘南 in a cool house 300m from the beach, right in front of 江ノ島.

surfing in front of Enoshima

Since the last month I go surfing there almost every weekend. I can check the weather / wave size on Yahoo! Weather and hop on a train. I got my mother to send me my wetsuit from France by mail, so all I have to pay is the ¥3,150 daily rental fee for a longboard and off I go riding the Pacific’s waves.

Additional flash

Sigma EF-500 DG STYou never see a photo taken with the flash on in my flickr photostream. That’s because I hate flashes, and my GR Digital‘s flash in particular: it burns everything.

So yesterday, as I was on a day-off and had nothing else to do than watching season 2 of House M.D. and browsing flickr, I got to contemplating buying an external flash like the ones you pt on big SLRs. My camera has a shoe for it and it would let me swivel the flash up to bounce on the roof for a softer effect.

I got my eyes set on a SIGMA EF-500 DG ST as is recommended by my camera’s manual. It goes for ¥16,000 on kakaku. I’ve talked with a friend of mine though, he pointed out that the flash with batteries would weigh around 500g, considerably more than the 200g of my GR.

I can’t really visualize like that what it would feel like to have such a bulky contraption sitting on top of my slim camera. I’ll try to drop by a shop in Akihabara or Shinjuku and find a nice salesperson to let me have a try…