An unfair contest?

This is our last new year’s day in this house. You all know the view. Today we went over to the remaining apartment we have on HK Island and now I can show you the difference in views. It is not pretty. Rural HK spreads out. Urban HK reaches up. I also wanted to test my M9 to see if there were any signs of the sensor corrosion issue that is plaguing Leica’s brand. A brand that sells mediocre digital cameras at a super-premium can not afford this sort of damage. Leica in HK is being more inept than most, telling us several weeks ago that they had no instructions from H.O. on how to deal with the issue. Solms is at least more proactive. And I decided to pit the M9 against my trusty X100s, a camera costing a fraction of the M9. Here are some images from the shoot. First up the Fuji X100s. From the balcony of our apartment.View2The M9 next – shot from just above street level – no sign of a sensor problem that I can see.TowerblockNow from street level – M9 again – the signs of incessant renovation that bedevil HK. You can see the green netting behind on the wall where work is being carried out. Owners can not maintain the outside so everything is dealt with by a management company. Here in Tai Koo Shing that means Swires and generally they do a very good job.RenovatingA few modern buildings are creeping in as the property hotspots on the Island become too expensive. New “affordable” areas extend the catchment area. Office blocks and hotels are appearing fast and that pushes up local property prices. (Hooray!).  Our small apartment – about 1,200SF – would cost you close to US$2.7M today. It is madness. HK has a history of boom and bust property cycles but the latest boom has supposedly been about to become a bust for several years and it has not happened. HK wealth is largely built on buying property low and selling (or renting out) high. I can hear Michael Miles asking now: Take the money or open the box? L1004309This is in my view the best of the frames – the M9 at its best. That is one of the Star Cruise ships leaving HK, probably a gambling cruise as it seemed to be called Genting. In the bottom right hand corner you can see old decommissioned fire boat The Alexander Grantham (bright red). The spaghetti routes you see carry high volumes of traffic day and night. With the windows closed we hear nothing. But open them and there is a constant drone. Thank goodness I only have to survive two weeks here.GentingAnother Fuji shot. Not bad but lacks a bit of punch. I could pump that up in processing.DSCF2790 The M9 certainly shows no sign currently of the sensor problem. I am very happy with it. I still rate it as a better camera than the M240, which I bought last year. Expensive mistake. I should have tried the X-T1 today as well. The M9 was armed with a 35mm F1.4 ASPH lens and the total combo new would cost about US$12.5k. The Fuji has a fixed 35mm equivalent lens. Total cost maybe US$1k.

Is the difference worth the money. Probably not to a hack like me. I think the X-T1 gets me much closer to the M9 – better lenses I suspect rather than better sensor. The Fuji did however win hands down in one important aspect. Sensor dust. The M9 frames needed extensive cleaning in Lightroom. The Fuji with a fixed lens had beautifully clean frames. The digital Leicas attract dust and grime like no other camera I have known. Worse than the Canons and much worse than the Fuji X-T1.

As to views – well TKS can’t compare with Sai Kung. We bought and kept the apartment so Mrs. Ha will have somewhere easy to live in and look after when I die. She could not have maintained the house alone. Now it will function as our HK home when we visit. Not the most exciting start to 2015 but it is a stepping stone to what we hope will be a more peaceful and healthier life in Britain. We shall see.

31 thoughts on “An unfair contest?

  1. I havent been on WP for a while, and so much has happened!
    Im sorry to read your health hasn’t been too good, hope things are improving now.
    So you’re moving back to the UK then, was it planned or the result of your recent health problems?

    • A bit of both, Vicky. We found I was better each time we left HK so the idea had been growing on us for a while. We will keep a home here but if my health is better in Britain we will stay there most of the time.

  2. Lovely skies. It reminds me of when I went with my family when I was 14. It’s weird, not somewhere I felt necessarily comfortable, but a very distinctive place.

    • HK is a place of many contrasts, Denise. Can you remember where you went? Away from the hotspots life is less frenetic. I spend little time on HK Island and our home has been fairly rural. It is changing though, not for the good. I am not sure how it will be in 5 years time, let alone 10.

  3. A serious health scare, like the one you’ve just been through, does make one think about death a lot (too much, I suspect). But it can also make one realise just how beautiful life is — and how much there is to live for. Two huge events coming together (leaving HK and the heart problem) are a LOT to deal with — be kind to yourself, Andrew, things will start looking up as your health improves and you get over the shock of moving. Find somewhere peaceful and green to live …

    • I am sure that in 12 months time this will all seem like a bad dream. I need the green and pleasant land. Keep posting about Tassie. We’d love to go there one day.

      • I will, I promise! And, as they say on those deep and meaningful posters: “one day you’ll look back on all this and laugh” …

  4. Well, highrise seems to be all the rage. Here too, a spectacular real estate bubble, mainly by Chinese couples buying up on a big scale. All a bit of a mystery. It seems to resemble the tulip-bulb madness of hundreds of years ago.
    Good photos again, I don’t see any corrosion of lenses, just great sharp shots.

    • You can’t live in tulip bulbs, Gerard but I know the sentiment and the Chinese were underpinning prices here too. Its a double-edged sword.

  5. How funny that you should be showing those high rise shots today. I spent a part of yesterday evening going through our old photos of Jakarta – not once did I think ‘oh, how sad, I wish I still lived there!’ I hope that once the pain of moving is over, you will enjoy being back in the UK. Lots to look forward to and it will be fun to read about your take on England-shire once you are settled. Wishing you a Healthy, Happy and Productive 2015, and all the VERY best to you and yours. Lottie 🙂

    • I can believe that you don’t miss Jakarta, Lottie but I am sure it was a good experience in some ways. I hope Britain is as I remember it and hope for.

      • It was a good experience in many ways! what I meant was the noise of the constant traffic, the pollution and the over-crowding etc. I hope that Britain is as you remember it but it may take time to adjust and of course some things will have changed but that’s inevitable. Are you still looking round the Winchester area?

      • Yes Lottie but we are flexible. Winch is close to London, good quality of life etc so ticks many boxes. We shall see.

  6. Your M9 seems a fine box of engineering, Andrew.

    I think there are some wonderful black and white graphics to be had with the building in the fourth photograph…..especially the second column of windows in from the right with those diagonal lines. It offers a nice confusion.

    The few occasions I have had to drive around Manhattan have shown the same issues with construction of high rises in the tightly developed urban NYC landscape. Trump has a lot of high rise properties that always seemed to be under construction. Maybe he says “You’re fired” too often.

    • I could not quite get the perspective correction right, Steve. I did consider B&W and I may go back and give it another go. I know who Trump is but ignore him as loud-mouthed, arrogant and of little productive value to the world. He may of course be very good to his family.

  7. Thanks for sharing your views of HK. It’s unlikely I will ever get to HK, so it was nice to see it through your camera lens 🙂
    When is your move planned back to Britain?

  8. Andrew, there is no such thing as a perfect camera. Every cotton picking one is going to have some sort of flaw. But hey, cameras are your weakness and I can think of things much worse to be hooked on.

    Those high rises look scary. No place to build but up. Population congestion does have its problems. The harbor sight is an excellent photo with the cruise ship.

    Stop talking about dying. You are going to be just fine. Get an excellent Cardio MD when you get to GB. I think that you will like being back in your home country. Stay out of the congested areas and get some fresh air.

    • I am not planning on dying just yet, Yvonne but I want to leave things tidy when I do go. I do believe the fresh air will be good for me. HK is not a healthy place.

      I plead guilty to the camera offence and ask for multiple other offences to be taken into consideration.

  9. I need to catch up with your past blogs. It doesn’t sound like you are happy about moving. What an expensive place! Your shots are great. I just replaced my X-TI lens with a Tameron lens (my second one). I fell out of my car and broke the last one. 😦

    • I am ambivalent about the move, Marsha. I can live anywhere if there is greenery around me. I so prefer space though and hopefully we will find what we need in Britain. I hope your fall was not serious. All the best for 2015.

  10. A very happy new year to you and yours – and a big thank-you for brightening my life last year, with you photos and wry humour.

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