Shopping: Lucky Camera (Shinjuku)

Hello, everybody! This is the first of a new series that I call “お店お初回” or “Camera Shop Introduction” where I will show you around the shops that I frequent and recommend. I will be adding more and more shops here so please come to my site to check if I added a new shop in my directory. This is to help people who visit here in Japan (Tokyo) find the shops and see which shop specializes in what. I will only add shops that have agreed to this series so some shops may not be able to be featured here, unfortunately. I hope you’ll enjoy this new series and do tell me if you did so I will at least get some feedback.

Today, I’m going to introduce to you Lucky Camera (ラッキーカメラ). Situated at Shinjuku right near to the Shinjuku Sanchome (新宿三丁目) station along the Marunochi line, it is a bit off the track from the center of Shinjuku but it’s worth the walk if you are a Leica or Bronica fan. The shop has been around for 7 decades and the current owner is the third generation shop owner, the grandson of the first guy who started this business in 1940. I sometimes get “lucky” here and find interesting stuff. I would also like to say that Lucky helped revive my interest in classic camera gear some years ago. Let’s have a closer look!

IMG_6654.jpgHere’s the storefront. You can spend minutes looking at what’s being sold here! There are many beautiful lenses and cameras on display here and some time in the past, there was a Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 Ai-S here on display and even a Nikkor-N 5cm f/1.1 lens!



Repair: AF-Nikkor 70-210mm f/4

Hello, everybody! I was looking for some cheap eats the other day and I discovered this shack near my work where they sell nice meals for $4.50 only. The meal was great for its price and despite the cheap-looking exterior the meals inside can rival a more expensive restaurant’s offering. It’s the same camera equipment, there are times when some of the better things cost less and if you consider using it despite its age and appearance then it’s going to satisfy you so long as you know what you are looking for. Today, we are going to talk about one of the better deals today in AF zooms. Read my article and enjoy.


Today, we’re going to talk about the AF-Nikkor 70-210mm f/4 zoom! This lens is a favorite of many film photographers back in the day because it’s lite and compact. It’s a very good lens for traveling lite for people who use autofocusing cameras. Its popularity has waned a bit during the DSLR days because it lacks coatings on some of it’s rear elements and we all know that sensors are more reflective compared to film. It has gotten a bit of hype in recent years due to reviewers and online personalities expounding the lens. Let’s see if it really lives up to the hype and I will also show you how to clean this “forgotten” classic.

IMG_1995The lens is small for a tele-zoom with a constant aperture. It’s liberal use of plastics is the key to this lens’ weight. If you’re backpacking then you will know that every gram counts in the field. Despite the plastic housing, the lens feels solid and will tolerate some abuse. More

Report: Nikon Repair Gods (Kiitos)

Hello, everybody! I’m going to introduce to you what we consider to be the gods of Nikon repair here in Japan and that is Kiitos. Kiitos is a camera repair workshop ran by former Nikon employees and they specialize in everything that is not digital. Digital cameras are best sent to Nikon for repairs because they have the parts for those and Kiitos also does not want to compete with Nikon on this field. Kiitos has such a good reputation that even Nikon itself will refer you to them if you have any manual equipment to repair. I had the pleasure of visiting them last weekend and I will show you around their workshop!

Here’s a demo by a Kiitos repairer during Nikon’s 100th Anniversary Road Show. See how she teared-down a Nikon F apart and put it back together in 45 minutes! She is a real pro and I am a pathetic amateur compared to her! I hope that they take me as an apprentice!


Repair: Tokina 28-70 AT-X PRO

Hello, everybody! I’m very busy these days and I only got a good rest today. Today’s just another lazy Sunday and I was just listening to some oldies. Speaking of oldies and easy weekends, I will show you today a very good lens from almost 30 years ago but it’s still a pretty good lens for its price and since it’s a slow weekend for many, cleaning this lens is just as easy as going to the barbershop and getting a haircut (if you’re experienced).


The Tokina 28-70 AT-X PRO is a lens that I owned around 10 years ago and I sold it when I bought a Zoom-Nikkor 35-70mm f/2.8 AF lens. It was a very good lens and I loved using it on my Nikon D90. I shot pictures for billboards with that setup and it was a great lens for general photography. Here we are now almost a decade after and I missed the lens a lot so I bought another one for use with my film cameras because it has a real aperture ring unlike the current generation of lenses where there’s no mechanical aperture ring so it’s useless for use on older film cameras like the Nikon F3. This was a very sought-after lens back in the day and there were many versions of this lens. Every version is great except for the last one which was made with cost-cutting in mind hence the “SV” or super value specification on the name. The most desired version of this lens is the one featured here on this article and it was based on the legendary zoom from Pierre Angenieux. The zoom from P. Angenieux (Angenieux 24-70 f/2.6 AF) was considered to be excellent and common knowledge dictated that Tokina bought the rights to this lens but recent findings actually pointed that Tokina actually made the Angenieux 24-70 f/2.6 AF for the French company until its license expired enabling Tokina to use and modify the design for their own use.

IMG_5895The Tokina 28-70 AT-X PRO is very well-balanced when joined with a heavy professional camera like the Nikon F4. The setup feels very balanced and inspires confidence. Shake is also reduced because of the weight and you can even shoot at slower speeds than usual.


Repair: Nikkor-N 24mm f/2.8 Auto

Hello, everybody! How are you guys today? I am sure that you have noticed some of my personal things creeping into this blog like my work-related things. I work as a creative but I also do lots of technical stuff that is a bit closer to engineering. There will be times that I will have to devise a clever solution to a problem and this is what’s keeping me up in my game. Being both a creative and technical person, I’m comfortable working in both scenarios and that makes me a generalist of some sort. Speaking of being multi-role and using clever gimmicks, I will now showcase to you a very innovative lens that utilizes a very clever solution to a problem, making it flexible for more than one purpose.


We’ll talk about a very influential lens this time so let me have the pleasure to introduce to you the Nikkor-N 24mm f/2.8 Auto lens! The Nikkor-N 24mm f/2.8 Auto is the first lens to introduce the innovative CRC (Close-Range Correction) mechanism. The CRC system is used for altering the spacing of the elements as you focus in or out. This is a creative and efficient concept because up until this lens, most if not all lenses use simple rack-focusing  wherein the objective only moves in and out. In a CRC lens, rack focusing is coupled with another movement wherein one or more lens elements groups move closer or further in relation to the film plane to correct for some optical flaws. In the case of this lens, CRC is in-charge of making this lens achieve an impressive 0.3m minimum focusing distance. It also ensures that the image remains sharp through-out the frame at 0.3m. This was hard to achieve back in the day for a lens this wide and it also helped make the lens compact while giving it a reasonably-fast f/2.8 maximum aperture. Retro-focusing techniques was used on wide-angle lenses of the day and it was yet to be perfected because the technique is known to produce terrible corners at very close ranges. This was the main reason why the then-amazing Nikkor-H 2.8cm f/3.5 Auto lens only has a so-so 0.6m minimum focusing distance. CRC enabled this lens to master that because a wide-angle lens that can’t focus really close is limited when it came to creative use. You just don’t use a wide-angle lens to get things in-frame in tight spaces, this is one thing many beginners get wrong.

IMG_5763.JPGThe Nikkor-N 24mm f/2.8 Auto is such a lovely lens. It’s dense and compact so it balances really well on most cameras. This lens is also great for people who shoot videos because 24mm is pretty good for videography to help give your composition some depth. You can use this for storytelling or simply to showcase a subject in your story.


Repair: Nikkor 105mm f/2.5K

Hello, everybody! I’m busy these days due to some pressure at work. Since I don’t have a lot of time these days, I am going write something short this week. I haven’t written any lens repair articles for some time now so I think that this will be a good warm-up for me. I am going to introduce to you today a lens that has very good value because it’s not very collectible as far as Nikkors go and they are quite boring in terms of style. Just think of it as an “awkward stage” for one of Nikon’s longest-living lens line. Read on.


The Nikkor 105mm f/2.5K is merely a cosmetic upgrade with a new barrel and look to the older Auto-Nikkor-P.C 105mm f/2.5. The optical design is the same but Nikon is known to do small updates to the optical design in production without announcing anything. This is also the case for this lens. I have confirmed with an official source that the lens went a little bit of tweaking during production to fit engineering requirements like fitting a lens element to a reengineered housing. While the elements themselves don’t get tweaked in terms of curvature or spacing as a regular practice, there are times when that happens but the general formula is not changed. It has a new cosmetic design to give the popular 105/2.5 lens line a look that is in-line with the New-Nikkor (K) theme in the ’70s. The all-metal scalloped focusing ring was redesigned to have a rubber grip. The lens barrel is also now mostly black since the shiny silver scheme has been out of style after the ’60s. These are inexpensive even with the factory-made Ai-ring. You can find these for under $100.00 and they offer very good value for the price they’re sold.

IMG_6347.JPGThe Nikkor 105mm f/2.5K still feels substantial despite losing the all-metal construction of the previous version. The rubber grip makes the focusing ring easier to grip and because rubber doesn’t conduct heat as good as metal, it feels better to hold in the winter.


Ghost in the Shell VR teaser Rigging Notes

noname-2Kusanagi Motoko’s setup was made using an in-house tool that I wrote in 2014 which is a variation of an auto-rigging tool that I made around 2008. The character setup was made to be simple yet useable so sending data to other teams will not require a lot of effort or conversion because native Maya nodes were used.

preview.pngIt’s also capable of squash/stretch and even bendy joints were implemented but we never really use those because of the nature of our projects. Another reason for keeping the rig simple and robust is because we wanted it to be able to accept data from MotionBuilder without a lot of conversion work. Keeping things simple is the way to go.


The rigging done for Motoko was partly featured on CG World magazine. The picture to the right shows the team who worked on this including the motion capture crew and the producers, composers, artists and director. Thank you for this memorable project! More

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