Friday, July 21, 2006


Since posting an entry last June about Canon 5D digital camera, I was somewhat dispirited upon realizing that SM Department Store was the only store to buy it from. Not that I question its reputation when in comes to electronics and cameras, but SM's price tags rarely deviate from the manufacturer's suggested retail price.

For discounted prices, Jeff of Dubai Chronicles once recommended the camera stores over at Quiapo’s Hidalgo Street. However, daunted by my lack of experience with the integrity of the merchants in that district, I abandoned that prospect.

In the interim, I grappled whether or not I was willing to lug around a bulky digital SLR camera and risk attracting the attention of snatchers as I walk around Metro Manila with it. I wouldn’t want this newly-purchased camera to reside in the closet, either; only to see the light of day on certain occasions (i.e., birthdays, family outings, and etc.). So, I considered a point-and-shoot digital camera as a safer and more portable alternative, but just the same, I only have SM Department Store as its retailer.

Nonetheless, at the back of my mind was the comment made by BW of Warped Zone. He bought a 35mm SLR film camera at an unbelievably low price and instead of prints, he has the film developed and stored in compact discs. Indeed, this is a viable alternative to a pricey digital camera.

I have a Canon T70 SLR I got from my brother. Although antiquated, it still works fine and I even have a telephoto lens for it. The only thing lacking is its flash unit — a Canon 277T. There’s a few available on eBay (US) but none here in the Philippines. When I asked around where I might find one here in Metro Manila, I was once again directed to Hidalgo Street. Not knowing anything about the reputation of its merchants, as before, I dumped the idea; that is, until I came across Chris Lagman’s blog site.

Chris has posted a very interesting and informative entry — “The Hidalgo Project” — a group effort to renovate Hidalgo Street of Quiapo as a true haven for all local photography enthusiasts as spearheaded by John Chua (a.k.a. “Magic Eye”) of AdPhoto. On July 13, John together with 72 other photographers gathered at Mayor Atienza’s office to present the project.

The vision includes:

The group and its proposal were received with much enthusiasm by Mayor Lito Atienza. The Mayor said this is timely and gave the go ahead signal to one of his administrators to start clearing the street which is mostly blocked by street vendors. Completion of the physical renovation of the street is expected by the end of the month.

I immediately contacted Chris and he responded in kind with a recommendation as to where to go and whom to talk to when inquiring about a flash unit for my 20-year old semi-automatic Canon SLR.

I had also signed-up at PinoyPhotography with the intention to take advantage of its forums for photography professionals and amateurs alike. This site also has a directory of many dealers and merchants of Hidalgo Street. I called a couple and was pleasantly surprised to find them generous with their time and advice.

Once I have a flash unit for my SLR, I will lug it around wherever I go and see how comfortable (or not) I am walking around Metro Manila with an expensive-looking camera hanging on my neck.

posted by Señor Enrique at 7:21 AM


Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

I'll be getting me an SLR in a year or two. I'm thinking of getting the 4/3 lens system eh.

You know, the US sells digicams cheaper than Hidalgo. :) Do you write for magazines as well ?

July 21, 2006 11:11 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

come to Singapore ..digicams are cheaper here :)

July 21, 2006 11:30 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "Hidalgo Project" would surely improve the Quiapo area further, as it had been for sometime now. The underground stores/mall was much improved the last time I was there compared to so many years ago when it was almost decrepit-looking. I used to buy cheap electronic products there...

July 21, 2006 2:11 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

This four thirds system as a standard for digicams is defnitely a wonderful idea, Senorito Ako! Do you think Canon and Nikon will join soon?

This is the other thing I failed to articulate -- I will be paying an arm and a leg for something that may become obsolete in the immediate future due to advances in technology. However, if I were of professional caliber, I might go ahead and buy one now and trade it for a newer model later on. But I'm not; only an unpaid enthusiast. And no, I don't write for magazines. I wish I did, this way I can easily afford this high tech stuff :)

Yes, anything electronic seems more affordable in the US than in the country/continent where they were produced like in Japan/Asia.

July 21, 2006 6:53 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I find that hard to believe, Melai ... talaga? Mura dyan sa Singapore? Don't they charge tariffs or custom duties for those imported electronic cameras?

Kanya lang Melai, gusto ko ring mag-establish ng relationship sa mga local merchants natin, eh. That's why as much as possible, I'd like to buy things locally.

July 21, 2006 6:56 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Not only will the Hidalgo Project inspire further physical improvement of the entire neighborhood, Major Tom, but it will also encourage a much better (win-win) relationship between the merchants and consumers! And this is what I'm really excited about.

As I delve more into it (PinoyPhotographer forums, calling some merchants listed on their directory, and etc.) I am more and more encouraged to believe that this Hidalgo Project might set a precedent amongst other groups of dealers/retailers, as well as professional groups like those in the medical and legal arenas -- much to the advantage of everyone!

I am truly excited about this, Major Tom!

BTW, yes ... the Quiapo district seems to be getting better, though slowly, but nevertheless for the batter :)

July 21, 2006 7:04 PM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Nikon and canon ? don't think so.. not yet atleast. 5D is full frame so sulit yung mga wide lenses mo. Nikon is coming out with the d70 replacement. Ebay might have some good deals on 'used' d70's.

To me. Lugging around a very expensive camera might stifle your creative eye kasi you'd be paranoid so as to 'not scratch/damage' the equipment rather than look for the actual shot. Just my 2cents.

My brother-in-law told me to invest in lenses. Camera bodies come and go but the lenses stay... assuming you are 'locked' to a particular brand.

As computer chips gets smaller the yield on computer 'wafer' becomes greater. Hence full frame ccd's won't get cheaper in time but might be more expensive pa.

Tingin tingin lang muna ako... dami pang gastos eh. :) Since start from scratch ako pwedeng 4/3 mount or the 35mm mount.

July 21, 2006 7:17 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ayun na nga, eh ... I was thinking that I may be better off with my old Canon T70 because I wouldn't be so concerned about it getting scratched.

Also, in case I get mugged for it, I wouldn't even think of putting up a fight for it -- just hand it over to them.

Tama ka ... tingin tingin muna.

July 21, 2006 9:29 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You were of tremendous help, Chris! And again I thank you!

I'll be visiting your site often to look for more news, as well as enjoy your photos :)

Enjoy your weekend!

July 22, 2006 11:15 AM  

Blogger silentmode_v2 said...

waw, special mention! nde ako may-sala nito! hehehe..

i'm glad that you joined the forum and found out few months back as well. i hope they'll make hidalgo a real safe haven for photographers and others.

as for your camera... "indulge yourself, you won't regret it!" -- d's advocate

July 23, 2006 1:32 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jepaperts!

Yes, really hoping na maging magandang hang-out place ng mga local photographer ang Hidalgo para madaming exchange of ideas, tips, and etc. Exciting talaga ito.

For now, hanap muna ako ng flash unit para sa film camera ko. Tignan ko muna how serious I will be about it.

July 23, 2006 1:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a price to pay for the commercialization and beautification of the area. I don't think the price of camera stuff will be the same when this proposal pushes through.

July 24, 2006 5:53 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Good point there, Donvito, but I tend to be an optimist in this regard -- more people will feel comfortable to patronize the shops in the area; hence influx of new customers' money will have a balancing effect. And lower prices being one of the top draw or allure, it will only be self-defeating for these stores to refrain from giving discounts.

July 25, 2006 6:16 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend recommended this place when purchasing cameras and accesories. I wasn't able to go there and instead purchased my camera in SM North. But I heard that if I wanted to buy anything associated with a camera, I'd go here. Maybe I should go visit someday :)

And it's good that there's this 'make-over' :) It will be a nice place to visit for an amateur like me :)

Thanks for sharing :)

October 08, 2006 4:46 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Now that I'm getting to know more of Hidalgo's merchants and some of their loyal customers (pro photographers), I feel comfortable in walking from store to store; will definitely buy my new gear from this area from now on instead of SM.

My pleasure, Drawing with Light!

October 09, 2006 3:45 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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