Thursday, October 28, 2010


I was surfing in google reader one day to an interesting post on regarding CODB. This term refers to the Cost Of Doing Business.

How does it relate to me today?

During lunch hour, three gentleman came to the counter and asked for a quote for some Nikon lenses. After checking up the price from our files and letting them know what was our selling price, they counter offered a price that was even lower than what we could afford to sell.

Some of us can afford to walk into KFC or Mc Donalds and order a meal worth RM 15 without batting an eye. Ironically we purchase camera equipment worth thousands of dollars and negotiate to the last dollar (or ringgit). When you set up a business or sell something, we do so with profit in mind. If you're not making any profit at all from the sale (on the contrary, you may be making a loss), what is the point of continuing the transaction?

Frankly speaking, the prices of camera bodies in Malaysia are as cheap as they can get. D700 bodies are selling for approximately RM6,000 (1,937 USD) while 5DIIs aren't that much further behind. Adorama in comparison sells the D700 at 2,700 USD. I guess the cheaper labor costs in Malaysia help to reduce the prices too. So if you're interested in a new camera and you'd be visiting Malaysia, I'm sure you'll know what to do ;)

Indeed, some larger photography shops can afford to give more discounts, because they sell heaps of gear as compared to my shop. The prices quoted can even reach dealer prices, which is even more incredible. (It's due to the rebates , and the volume of the items that they sell). As I've said, everyone would logically sell something with some profit in mind.

If a customer insists that another shop has given them a price that is below what we can afford, we kindly and wholeheartedly advise the customer from that shop. No such thing as 'Please match the price... I've driven all the way from Puchong' or 'I'm lazy to get the camera from the other shop. If you can offer me a better deal, I'll get the lens here and now'. Camera shops in other areas may attempt to outdo each other by reducing prices as much as possible, but not ours. We spend so much to acquire the camera gear, yet the profit margin is only about 2 percent (or even less) for brand new items :s

If our shop were to rely solely on camera gear sales, we will never be able to survive, which is why a bulk of the company's income is from doing convocation jobs or event photography.

I guess it ends my rambling's for now. Always remember CODB. If there's nothing much to be gained (or rather, you end up losing), re evaluate your current business, and improve on it, or find something else to do.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stone cold

I'd like to relate a short story ..

I was attending the counter downstairs a few weeks ago when an elderly Indian man walked into the shop with his wife. He had a bag by his hips - a sign of renal failure. They wanted to collect their son's stage photos from a convocation two years ago. I referred them to the office upstairs where all the pictures were kept.

"Do you have a lift?" he asked. I was quite surprised that he inquired, but I understood that he would have a lot of trouble going up four flights of stairs to the office. He wasn't very impressed when I mentioned that we didn't have a lift, but he walked upstairs anyway with the aid of his wife.

Much much later..

He came down looking very exhausted. The secretary couldn't find the photos upstairs and referred them to the counter again.

I started to pay more attention to their story. Two years ago right after their son's convocation, this gentleman did come over to collect the stage photos. But at that time, because of his kidney complications, he did not have enough money to pay the fees for the stage photos which were priced around RM 100. One of the staff actually did show the photos to him and was on the verge of completing the transaction. But alas, the money was the issue, and the photos were taken upstairs again, eventually to be misplaced in our eternally messy store room.

I wonder how the man has only decided to collect the photos two years later. I guess a lot has happened in their lives in those years, and life hasn't been kind to them.

They supplied all the details of their son - his full name, course, date of convocation, etc. But it was too late. The files have been wiped out from our computer servers, never to be recovered again. No back up DVD copies were made apparently.

The man and his wife sighed heavily. They did request that if we 'miraculously' found their son's photos again, that we contact them again. I doubt we will.

Reflecting upon the policies of our company right now, money rules. No money no talk, as they say. All receipts must be checked for any funds owing, and the more add ons, the more money is collected. Every single dollar counts.

Are we so heartless to deny a simple family the right to collect their own son's photos? They've been unfortunately afflicted by health issues, and the financial burden must be very great. I guess if my employer was sympathetic to their plight, he would have surely just let them take the photos, no strings attached.

Graduating is a one-in-a-lifetime experience. Other than keeping your certificate, one of the other things that you'd treasure greatly is having some photos to remember. The costs of photos are insignificant (hence thats why folks are willing to fork out more money for them), it's the sentimental value that counts.

I didn't feel much when the couple went out from the shop, but after reflecting upon it, I feel very sorry for them. They definitely appear love their son very much, and having some pictures of the event will surely make their joy more complete in the midst of life's challenges, especially for the gentleman.

Is money more important than everything else in life? How many people will we send away with their heads hung low? Where is our conscience?

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Do you remember the last time you took something which was very important to you for granted? I certainly have for a few times; one of which are my spectacles. It crashed onto hard tiled floor today, and its cracked right in the middle. I'm not so sure if the spectacle shops are open on Sunday, and most likely they wouldn't be able to produce one immediately either.

Yes, my glasses are not as pricey as my cameras, but they enable my vision which is important for the photography tasks that I am undertaking currently. I use them also for almost the whole day... If my camera isn't used, I just keep in in the bag.

I guess the last few days have been so hectic that I'm almost totally worn out. There's another convocation which I have to attend to tomorrow morning, and I'm pretty much exhausted by now. My mind's not working properly, and half of the time, I don't even know what I'm thinking about , even as I am typing this blog post out.

Oh well, never mind. Be mindful and careful of the things that you use everyday. Its a bit too late when they're spoilt or gone for you to do something about it. I guess I'll have to bear with some cracked eye vision for some time.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Night shooting in KL

A friend called me up yesterday and asked if I wanted to join him to do some shooting because he also had an E-5 review unit. I agreed and we headed to the pasar seni lrt station.

A view of KL's river. Now its nothing more than a large drain IMO.

*Note to self.. I shall always clean my sensor before doing long exposures.

All these images were taken using the awesome Tamron 28-75  lens.

China town was a little deserted once we got there. Its the weekday after all.

There are heaps of fruit sellers around here. I myself wondered if fruits were that popular at all, but it seems that they are.

Chinese herbal drink stall. Quite refreshing.

Mobile drinks stalls are also in abundance here.

Somehow tourists like to sit in the sweltering hot weather and have our expensive local beer. On the contrary, we will try to visit an airconditioned restaurant as much as possible to escape the heat.

Heaps of tourists here.

Pork burger - the cheaper version.

Amidst all the vibrancy of Petaling street, we can choose to turn a blind eye to other things, such as this uncle collecting recyclables from rubbish bins.

Restaurants and backpacker hostels are quite common nowadays.


Lonely uncle eating supper

Making our way to masjid jamek LRT station.

Road side mamak stall.

 Taxis and buses operate late into the night in central KL.

 I'm not sure why they choose purple lights to illuminate the Sultan Abdul Samad building. I still prefer the orange lights that they used previously though.

 Lots of people gather at the padang surprisingly at night.

 Shooting stars with Olympus' new f1 lens :p

That's about it folks. Thank God its Friday :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


In my line of work, I'm exposed to many cameras.

These are our workhorse cameras. They're full frame beasts which are very durable and capable, and are meant to be reliable precision tools for the jobs that we do.

*Note the very shallow depth of field enabled by using the Nikon 85/1.4D. Some say the new AF-S version is on par with Samyang's manual focus 85/1.4. Surprisingly for a 3rd of its price, it looks pretty good.

I had the chance to hang out with two David's yesterday. Each had Olympus' pioneer cameras. The E-1 was the first camera to be launched in the 43rd format, while the EP-1 was Olympus' first micro 43rds camera.

It has a very retro look similar to film cameras of old. It's metal chassis looks great too.

Look how small screens were in yesteryears DSLRs. Nope , it wasn't a time for pixel peeping, so I guess you're in a sense forced to use more time to shoot rather than chimp. Oh well..

This is a classic Minox Leica M3 digital camera with a 5 MP sensor and a prime lens. It's body is made from well crafted steel.

To recharge the camera, simply insert the plug into the camera body.

The Minox fits your hand very nicely. It's very light and portable too.

The monster and the little baby.

Last but not least, trashed cameras. This was a disposal camera, but the customer told us to rip it apart for the sake of acquiring the battery inside the camera body.

Such a sorry sight. I feel pitiful for it.

Have a good evening everyone


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