My New Friend – Venturing into Serious Beginner Photography

Just got back from my short trip to Manila last January 10-14, 2009 with Vince. The agenda was to buy my first DSLR, a Nikon D40 with a Nikkor 18-105mm VR lens. I initially wanted to buy the 18-200mm but I wasn’t able to conjure enough money :(

We arrived at Manila during lunch time where I was greeted by Bernie and Eric, my travel blogger friends, and my sister. Our first destination was Hidalgo St., in Quiapo – The mecca of anything that has to do with photography in the Philippines. The whole street is lined with camera shops selling cameras, equipment, and accessories at a price far lower compared to those sold in malls. If you’re interested in knowing more about Quiapo, the Digital Photographer Philippines Forum is a great resource that can help you.

I bought my first cam (Canon Powershot A700) at Henry’s Photo. I trust the store because my powershot has survived despite several years with me during my travels. Henry’s was my first choice for the new purchase but I also inquired at other stores like Avenue and Watsons, which also gave me a good deal. I’ve read about Mayer’s in DPP but I wasn’t able to inquire beforehand because I wasn’t able to find their email address.

While we were already in Quiapo, I was standing in front of Mayer’s and pointed out that I’ve read about the owner (Mang Ramon) being hot tempered and, at times, rude to customers. My sister insisted to inquire inside but I was hesitant because maybe Mang Ramon would unleash his temper at me for some reason. I finally sucked up my fear and took the courage to go inside. I saw a man behind the counter and knew right then that it was indeed Mang Ramon, while my lips were still shaking, I asked him for the prices. To my surprise, he was very friendly and accommodated us well. Maybe he already knows if a customer is a serious buyer or not, I read that he’s not very receptive to those who are just “canvassing”. Vince was able to buy a D40 with kit lens for P20,000 and I was able to buy my D40 with 18-105mm VR for P32,500. So cheap! and it even has a free camera bag and 4GB SD card. I was able to walk out of their store as a happy consumer :)

The next day, we returned to Hidalgo because Vince wanted to replace his bag but all the stores in Hidalgo were closed because it was a Sunday, totally forgot about that. I was able to read in DPP that there’s a stall near Henry’s that sells delicious siomai, the poster adds that the “siomai is worth the trip to Hidalgo.” Indeed he was right, the meaty goodness sold for only P20 / 3 pieces was indeed worth the trip to Hidalgo, I even ate two orders that afternoon.

On Monday, we went to Quiapo yet again and visited Henry’s to look at their bags. They were quite expensive so we checked out the store next door, Watson’s. The guy behind the counter showed me a Tamrac bag that was just perfect for me. It costs twice the money I planned on spending for a new bag, but I was attacked my impulsive buying so I bought it anyway. After walking out their store, I felt very guilty because I really didn’t need it and I used up all the money in my wallet (an ATM machine was just nearby). I could have bought a UV filter instead.

During our Manila trip, we toured the old streets of Quiapo, Binondo and Intramuros to try out our new cams. It took me a lot of time to adjust in using an SLR, most of my shots were not as good as I wanted them to be because I was still not familiar with the controls and stuff. I’m also not used to looking through a viewfinder and a wide angle lens so I didn’t pay to much attention to detail. I’m hoping to fine tune my skills in time for the Dinagyang Festival.

Camwhoring at a Coffee Shop in Chinatown
Self-portait at Lord Stow’s in Binondo

Next purchases would be a handy tripod, flash unit, and a set of filters (67mm) specifically a UV filter, ND Filter, and Polarizer

More about my Manila trip in future posts!