the camera story

Ok, this one is for Cgzed and Mzeecedric (CG), my DSLR-affectionados:

Some years ago, I think it was in 2000, I traded in an older Nikon F2 with a 50mm lens into a Nikon F70 – both being single-lens reflex cameras. I went for the Nikon range because a) i wanted to use some older lenses we had acquired in Japan during the 1980s and b) I’d first gone for a Canon model but didnt like its weight. There’s a much better grip on the F70 and with a decent 28-105mm lens, it wasn’t as top-heavy as the Canon.

a Nikon F3 with an MD-4 motor-drive, some lenses, filters & bags

Needless to say that my F70 is still almost in mint condition – contrary to Cgzed or CG, I am too lazy for carrying such a huge camera around with me. I guess I’ll keep it for a very very very long time now…

Then came the digital age and my first digital camera was a Casio QV-100 I had managed to obtain for a relatively low price in 1998. Picture wise it came close to what low-budget webcams are capable of doing these days (or even worse) although it came with a CCD chip (instead of a CMOS chip). Battery consumption on this machine was horrible and just one day it went into early retirement. Although I couldnt get it back to life, I had managed to still sell it on eBay. Nice!

Casio QV-100 with data caboools

Next cam that followed was another low budget solution: Mustek gSmart Mini – which only advantage was the limited size. And you could use it as a webcam, which was pretty cool – back then. This little cam was later on inherited to a member of my extended family.

I think the best part about these cams came when I disassembled them – similar to what this guy did.

Years passed on and nothing happened. Then, during winter 2003, digital cameras started to flood the market. Mama Xmas gave me the hint that I’d have the choice between a bigger bed and a better camera. “You decide what you want, JKE”, she said. “I’ll help you kununua a bigger bed, or you’ll save it and get a camera”. Hmm. A bigged bed? What for? My bed was already 90cm wide and 200cm long – what would I need a bigged bed for? Don’t you know that nerds often sleep alone? …Well, I ended up going for a better camera (and later on inherited a bigger bed from my bro-in-law ;-) => Sanyo Xacti J1, 3Mpx with an internal lens which provides a 2cm macro mode . Awesome!

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Sanyo Xacti J1 (not my hand)

The Sanyo J1 is still in use and I’ve often thought about buying a better point&shoot cam, maybe a 7,1*mpx “low-budget” (aka beginners) cam with some more features. Or rather go for a Nikon D40(x)? Of course, Hash will argue that the D50 is a much better deal, but then: unless you have a family and a baby buggy to carry around, there’s no way for me to carry a bulky camera around with me. PLUS: i am way too broke to seriously think about buying just another camera.

There are so many good cameras out there and so many talented photographers. Ok, maybe some of these ppl photoshop their results before uploading them to Flickr & Ipernity, but still: with todays advanced cameras, you basically only require some decent light and the right angle to take a picture. Of course it makes sense to invest into proper equipment, but if you’re as lazy & broke as I am, something like the autofocus 5mpx cam (based on a CMOS sensor) in my Nokia N95 will have to do. Also, it competes with other 3,2mpx cameraphones (N73, SE K800i) and is a real progress to what I had used before, and especially in Kenya: my Nokia 6230(i), which came with a nice & quick CMOS chip. Alas, if you need to take a quick pic without much ado, the Nokia 6230i is still the best cameraphone for that purpose. In fact, it was more fun taking snapshots with my 6230i than it is right now with the N95. But then – I am using the N95 as a real camera substitute, and not for snapshots only.

I’ve now lived with the N95 and its cam for the last 1,2,3….9 months and have taken most of my photos with this cameraphone. Why? Because it’s just around when I need it. Simple.

…and this picture is even geotagged!

I am not such a good photographer and so I actually don’t even have to worry about better equipment (as i does NOT depend on the right equipment + i’d be happy if i could get rid of the inherited F3 equipment above which has only been kept due to sentimental reasons + the bad market situation), but my aim right now is to see what’s possible with a relatively bad camera / good cameraphone. What kind of picture quality is this cameraphone capable of?

For a start, check out this Nokia N95 user group on flickr.

*there was this discussion on the net the other day where some camera testers argued the best mpx resolution/chip size was achieved at the 5-7mpx range – can’t find the relevant link though…

trouvailles (part 3)


Vol. 3 of the “Golden Afrique” series I mentioned some time ago….

(@Steve & Mshairi: yes, that’s something for our collection, right?)


An automatic, self-cleaning toilet seat. Amazing.

Just one day, Mental & yours truly will buy 1000 toilets like these and install them all over Kenya. Right?

(No no no, we will install Ecosan toilets instead and teach ppl not to dispose their old batteries inside and other waste one so often finds in public toilets around the world…).


Came across this booklet with proverbs from Africa.

So, are there any books for sale in “Africa” with proverbs from “Europe”?

Kulturschock & Co.

Oh oh oh…Germany. Kulturschock.

I’ve spent the last four month in a dusty room in Embu, Kenya, and was happy with my life. Of course, there was loud music every night due to the bar next door. Frequent power failures, especially on mondays (which is why there are no workshops in Embu on mondays), used to be part of the game and the water sometimes required some filtering. Heck, I even killed a few Embu roaches and ate mud when I sliped on matope infested roads on my daily work to the office.

But it was nice. It was nice because I didn’t ask for anything else + it was enough luxury for me. Also, I was used to it. I am settled in Kenya. I grew up in Nairobi, this vicious little kijiji with a golden heart. I have my favourite hairdresser in Nairobi (hey, that IS important), I have my friends there, I know where to get my car radio repaired, I know many shortcuts in town to avoid the usual traffic jams, there are shops where you can buy anything you’ll need and there are good fundis who can quickly repair your car on a sunny Sunday afternoon. With or without my own car, I just know how to survive in Nairobi, Embu and other parts of the country. I live(d) in these two worlds Binyanvanga described the other day, and it just works. Home is where your heart is, they say, and my heart is in Nairobi.

Kenya…and as much as I will always remain a mzungu for those who just judge by skin colours, I still believe that I am sometimes even more Kenyan than many others who traded their patriotism in for a better life abroad. The beautiful thing about Kenya, I think, is that you can always be proud of the country no matter how far away you are and how stupidly some GoK officials behave.

And then I arrived back in Germany. I didn’t want to return at this time, I still had other plans in Nairobi, and also had some work to do. But life is ….well, I had to return. So here I am now.

And maybe you can do a post on what Germany is like coz i have a friend who has been telling to kuja and after asking for what i shall be seeing once there all i have got were erm’s and pauses.

…fellow blogger D_Q asked the other day. Yeah! I should actually write a bit more about Germany like I’ve done before when I joined the blogosphere & KBW in June 2005. Something to compare these two worlds, something that will make you guys feel welcome here in Germany. Something nice.
You ask tourists about Kenya, and they reply something like “oooh, that’s such a beautiful country…and the ppl were so nice!”. Yes, why shouldn’t they? At least, they live in a beautiful country. :-)

I wish I could say the same about Germany. Not that it isn’t a beautiful country, but I sometimes think ppl don’t or can’t appreciate all that luxury they are enjoying here. Have you ever experienced the feeling when you turn on a shower with clean hot water that’s safe for drinking? Or 24/7/365 uninterupted power supply at a constant level? Or smooth roads? Or even broadband internet?

The most of you have, I guess, but many of you also know the difference, and what life back home is alike. We know about these different worlds, and even in cities like Nairobi you can easily have lunch somewhere in small hoteli built of corrugated sheets in a muddy place, and dinner somewhere in a very posh place where cocktails start from Ksh. 300/= onwards.

See? I am still talking about Kenya. It is here with me. All these little impressions and things that filled up every day. I can’t talk or write about Germany now, not at this time, maybe during the next few weeks.

Instead, let me pls share some of the things I caught on camera while doing some shopping during the last few days at home:


Ok, so I came across this t-shirt on a 2nd hand market for clothes in Embu. Yeah! So you all know BECK’S beer – but you don’t know that it actually comes from Bremen, where I am right now.


“Don’t be jealous that I’ve been chatting online with babes all day!”. ROFL :-)


…and then you walk into Jatomy, Embu’s 2nd biggest supermarket, go upstairs where they sell all kitchen stuff and the inevitaboool stuff Made in China.
Mbuzimoja and I stood in front of this shelve and wondered what this “thing” is supposed to be. I am clueless. Fun, anyone?
(and WHO buys these things????

The other thing I like doing whenever there’s some time during lunch breaks is to stroll through older bookshops. Those ones where you still find older books that sell for something below Ksh. 100/=. Like Chania Bookshop on Moi Avenue.



Here is where you’ll find the last two remaining copies of the loooooong time out-of-print “Wilderness Guardian” handbooks, which are selling for Ksh. 1700/=, and which I really recommend to anyone who diggs such manuals. (story goes that in around 1999, I tried to get a copy of it from an online bookshop based in the UK, and after 3 months they informed that this thing wasn’t available anymore. My jamaa Kilonzo then organized it for me some time later on. So if you come across some fresh copies, go and get them!).


Didn’t I tell you I wanted to become a chicken farmer?


And THEN….ahhh….check this out:




Ati? :-)


The “TOP SIX ODM-KENYA WARRIORS”, beautifully arranged in a collage for a 2007 calendar next to a Kenya Cabinet poster and other indescribabrrrry kitsch. :-)

Now you know why my love for Kenya is….



Gideon Boot

Nairobi is a weired place:


A BARBIE doll within a cake!


The exclusive public toilets @ Stanley Hotel.


A flooded and congested subway @ Globe Cinema Roundabout…


An awesome poster on haircuts (top) for 60 bob and some “complete sex guides with 750 explicit singles” for 100 bob @ River Road. Hey, that’s the Play Boy next to Farmer’s Journal!

You try to merge all these different impressions to one big picture – the Nairobi picture – and hop into the next Matatu where they are playing Richie Spice’ “Gideon Boots”.

…i got a strong Nairobi beat and a blog in me hand :-)

100 years….

Upon arrival in Nairobi this morning, I took some time off to enjoy the hectic chaos downtown and just walk around without any proper destination.
Just these precious moments when you don’t have to work and actually have the time to open your eyes and see a bit of this Nairobi world which constantly hides between modern buildings and still shows the very beginnings of this not-so-old City in the Sun.

What I especially like are these old builindgs – some of them dating back to 1920 – that still exist within the old parts of this city and give it the extra charm.

Nairobi, I think, wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for these old structures that really “add value” – not only from a touristic perspective.

So I came across Jeevanjee Gardens…


The last time I’ve been to Jeevanjee Gardens in downtown Nairobi was……1996?

I remembered this place being a dusty, dirty and very dry hide-out for glue-sniffing street children. A forgotten place which had been ignored by most Nairobians just like many other city parks.

And today?

Green grass after the rains, beautiful trees, a cleanded up and apparently maintained environment and – best of all – lots of Nairobians relaxing on the grass.



….”donated in 1906 to the Residents of Nairobi”.


And upon seeing this statue in honour of Queen Victoria, I suddenly realized that this place has been a public park since 100 years now. 100 YEARS!

Thank you, Bwana Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee!



Ok, this is for Acolyte and my jamaas from home – “Topaz” (behind the park). We used to get our oily chips from here when all other shops were already closed and something like “Steers” & Co. didn’t exist.


Na Steve…I needed to pop in(to) pop-in on Moi Avenue again and enjoy this vintage arrangement of old computer games. You know how many collectors there would be on Ebay who’d bid for any of these old video game machines?
Pop-In always is a journey back into childhood.


Look! Another “iMatatu“, but this time a SONY MP4 player. Rocks just as well.

The Matatu driver smiled all over his face and praised the little player for its size and convenience. Is this the future of mobile entertainment in Kenya?
(the switch mutes the output signal of the player)