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Japan Exposures on summer holidays

Japan Exposures including our Web and Book Stores will take a holiday starting July 11th until the end of July. The cut-off for Hirano hand-made camera cases will be late June. Orders placed on or after these dates will be processed and shipped upon our return in August.

Orders for products that are currently backordered might also be shipped in August. We will make every effort to inform customers with pending order accordingly to manage expectations.

Please note that replies to email inquiries might also be delayed accordingly. We apologise for any inconvenience.

The holiday will affect the web and book stores and the following products and services, which will resume from early August:


Thank you for your understanding and we wish you a pleasant summer with many photographs to take and to look at.

Interview with Shinya Arimoto

Shinya Arimoto was born in 1971 in Osaka. He won the No.35 Taiyo award in 1997 and set up TOTEM POLE PHOTO GALLERY in 2008. Arimoto has been photographing and exhibiting work since 1994. Currently teaching photography at the Tokyo School of Visual Arts, he has supervised and lead the artist-run Totem Pole Photo Gallery since founding it in 2008.

John Sypal is an American photographer who has lived in Japan since 2004, and joined Totem Pole in 2010.

Please also see this and this special gallery with more images by Shinya Arimoto.

Japan Exposures: 私達は新宿近辺で何回か偶然に会っていますね。有元さんは毎日カメラを首から下げて撮影してるというイメージです。このやる気はどこから生まれてきますか?

We’ve randomly run into each other many times in Shinjuku over the years. My image of you is that you’re always out with your camera around your neck photographing. Where does this desire come from?

Shinya Arimoto: 都市の路上は飽きることがないです。同じ場所を歩いていても、すれ違う人は毎日違う。その一瞬一瞬を見ていたいという欲望があります。

I never get tired of the streets of the city. Even though I walk the same streets, it’s different people passing every day. I have a desire to look at each moment as it happens.

JE: それは素敵な言葉だけど、他の人達も同じことを考えるでしょう(笑)。有元さんは言葉だけではなく、実際に行動していると思います。一ヶ月に何日間「撮影」をしていますか? 大体何時から何時まで? 一日に何本ぐらいのフィルムを撮影しますか?

That’s a common sentiment about shooting on the streets but what’s different about you is that you’re really out there all the time making work. About how many days a month do you shoot? What kind of hours?

SA: 他の仕事が無ければ、基本的には毎日撮影に行きます。去年の夏などは全く仕事がなかったので、本当に毎日撮影していました。正午頃に新宿に着いて、日が暮れるまで撮影しています。なので撮影時間は季節によって変化します。
私の場合、街で出会った人に声をかけて撮影することが多いので、まず大切なのは撮りたい人と出会う事が重要です。これは偶然性の問題でもあるので、その確率を上げる為に多くの時間を〈街にいる〉ことに費やしています。

If I’m not at work, I’m going to shoot every day. When I’m not teaching, such as last summer, I was out there every single day. I arrived in Shinjuku around noon, and shot until sunset. The time I am able to photograph varies depending on the season though. In my case I often communicate with those who I photograph on the streets so it’s important that I just get out there to meet who’s out there. Depending on who I meet depends on random encounters so in order to increase my chances I need to increase the amount of time I spend out photographing in the city.

JE: 一日に何本ぐらいのフィルムを撮影しますか? また一ヶ月間ではどのぐらいの数になるでしょうか?

How many rolls of film do you shoot a day? A month?

SA: 一日に10本撮る日もあれば、全く撮れない日もある。平均すると一ヶ月で50本ぐらいでしょうかね。

Some days it is not possible to shoot at all, other times I’ll shoot 10 rolls a day. The average is probably about 50 rolls a month.

JE: プライバシーの問題は、現在のストリートフォトグラファーにどのような影響をあたえていますか?
How do privacy concerns affect street photographers today?

SA: 社会的に見ると、プライバシーの問題は時と共に重要になってきていると感じています。
しかし個人対個人で向き合った時、その問題は社会的な問題というよりはむしろお互いの問題へと変化します。私の場合、相手に許可をもらってから撮影することが多いので、トラブルにはなりにくいようです。

From society’s standpoint privacy concerns have been growing more important over time. But when you interact with people one on one on the streets it’s less about society and more about individuals. Since I am often able to interact with my subjects and get their permission before I photograph them I personally haven’t had much trouble with privacy issues.

JE: ストリートで写真を撮ってる人にはどのような責任があると考えますか?

What responsibility does a street photographer need to keep in mind with their subjects?

SA: 撮らせていただいたからには、自分の望む作品に仕上げる事。私自身はネガティブなイメージが好きではないので、作品が観客にそのように捉えられないように注意を払っています。

When I’ve been granted the right to make the photograph I want to match in respect the desire I have to make the work as well as I can. Personally I don’t like photographs that are negative, and I take care so that I don’t catch my subject in that sort of way.

JE: 仕事についてですが、写真学校での講師の仕事以外にコマーシャルの撮影もしてますか?

In addition to teaching photography, do you do much commissioned photography as well?

SA: 20代は仕事の撮影も積極的にしていましたが、今はほとんどしていません。以前から付き合いのあるクライアントから依頼があれば行っている感じです。

When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I did commercial work, but now not so much. If I do it’s by request from a former client from a previous relationship.

Shinya Arimoto from Ariphoto 2013

JE: I’d like to talk about your teaching experience. What do you feel is the most important part of photographic education?

「有元先生」につい少し聞きたいです。写真の教育において一番大切なのはどのような事でしょうか?

SA: 「写真」とひとことで言っても、その内容は多岐にわたります。様々な写真のあり方を伝えた上で、各個人が目指すべき道を指し示す必要があると思っています。私のゼミ(写真作家専攻)ではテーマやコンセプトの設定や、自作を言葉にすることを大切にしています。技術、知識、経験、の三つの柱の中で「経験」を積むことを重要視します。

Even a though “photography” is a simple word, the content of the term is wide-ranging. In addition to lecturing about the various ways photographs are made and work, it is necessary to help students find their personal way of working that they should aim for. In my classes students need to value the setting, theme and concept of their photographs and also be able to articulate about it in their own words. To gain experience one needs to understand the three pillars of technology, knowledge and understanding.

JE: なるほど。ビジアルアーツの学生は他の学校の学生よりも積極的にストリートスナップを行っているのではないでしょうか? 現在のアート世界ではスナップ写真あるいはストリートフォトは主流ではないが、その事についてどう思いますか?

I see. I get the impression that Visual Arts students do more “street photography” than students at other schools. It seems though that “street photography” is not so popular in the Art World now though…

SA: 東京のビジュアルアーツの学生もストリートスナップしているのはごくわずかです。写真作品が美術作品と認められてゆく流れの中で、写真作品でもコンセプトを示すことが重要となっています。確かに現在のアートの世界ではストリートフォトグラフィーは少ないですが、ストリートフォトグラフィーにおいてもコンセプトを示すことが必要ではないでしょうか。

The number of students at Visual Arts shooting on the streets is negligible. As photography flows more and more into the Art realm, one’s concept has become more important. In the current world of Art there are very few street photographers- so it seems that I think that conceptualism is important now even in street photography.

JE: 有元さんの写真のConceptは何だと思いますか?

What do you feel your concept is?

SA: 「ariphoto」のシリーズのコンセプトは「路上を彷徨いながら、変遷を続ける都市のなかにプリミティブな生命の営みを探し求める。」です。私は都市も人間という生物の作った、一つの生態系だと考えています。生き物としての人間と、その住処としての都市が写真に現われるように工夫して作品をつくっています。また大きなテーマとしては「人間とはなにか?」という疑問が常にあります。かつてチベットの広大な自然の中で、その自然と闘いながら、またそこから恩恵を受けながら生きる人々を撮影してきました。そして今は東京で、その都市機能の恩恵を受けて生きる人々を撮影しています。その両者のなかに、人間としての共通項を見つけたいと思っています。

The concept of my “ariphoto” series is to “Wander the streets seeking out an unrefined or rudimentary, even primitive, kind of life among the city that is always in transition.” I believe that the human organism is of the city and it’s all part of one ecosystem. I create these photographs which formulate that the environment and habitat of man is the city. Of course there’s always the big question “What is Man?”. I have photographed people both struggling against but also benefiting from the vast nature of Tibet. Now I photograph people struggling against but again also benefiting from their environment here in Tokyo. I think that among the two, I’m interested in finding common denominators as human beings.

JE: 最近インターネットの世界ではストリートフォトが再び注目されているそうです。ストリートフォトはこれからどこに向かうべきでしょうか?。新しいことを産み出してゆくべきですか?。それとも「新しいこと」は必要ないと思いますか?

There’s been a resurgence interest, at least online, in “Street Photography”. Is there any place that “Street Photography” can or even needs to go in the future? Is there anything new that this kind of photography can do, or is “new” even important anymore?

SA: 新しい試みはもちろん必要だと思いますが、新しければそれでよいという訳でもない。過去の作品をリスペクトしながらもエピゴーネンにならないように、常に挑戦的であることが大切です。インターネットの世界では多くの人が挑戦的な作品を発表していることに期待が持てます。まだそれは萌芽のようなものかも知れませんが、その中から突出した作品が出てくることにより、今後大きな潮流になってゆくことと信じています。

I think there’s importance in attempting new things, but just because something is new doesn’t mean it’s good. Photographing while respecting the work which has been done before without becoming an inferior imitator is a very important challenge. Regarding the internet, I have an expectation that challenging photography will continue to be shared online. It might still only be something like a sprout, but I believe that from all these pictures a greater trend will follow.

JE: 「挑戦的な作品」という言葉は人によって捉え方が違うと思います。有元さんにとって「挑戦的な作品」とはどのようなものでしょうか?

How would you classify “Challenging Photography”? It seems that this could vary widely from person to person…

SA: アイディア、行動力、テクノロジーの全てにおいてです。特にインターネットの世界ではテクノロジーの進歩が目覚ましい。
例えば従来の「決定的瞬間」のような写真は、高解像度ムービーをキャプチャーする方法に変わっていくでしょう。

It concerns the idea, movement, technology, all of these things. Especially with the internet, there’s been remarkable progress with technology. For example, with “Decisive Moment” photos, they’ll probably be come to be captured through high resolution video.

JE: ですが、有元さんの撮影方法はかなり伝統的でしょう...。 暗室でプリントして、マットに入れて、フレームをギャラリーの壁に貼って展示している。

But you stick with some pretty traditional gear for your own photographs… Not to mention you print in the darkroom, mat your prints, and hang them on the walls of a gallery.

SA: 暗室=伝統的、デジタル=挑戦的 とは違うと思います。新しいとか古いとかいう概念は、ある程度時間が経てば意味をなさなくなります。
私はこの7年間に23回新作の展示を行いました。もちろんこれは今後も続けてゆきます。手法はこそは新しいものではないが、自分にとってそれは挑戦的な試みであります。

I don’t agree with the idea that the darkroom equals “tradition” or that digital equals “challenge”. As time passes the concept of “old” or “new” has less meaning. Over the past seven years I’ve held twenty-three solo exhibitions of my work. Of course I plan on continuing with this. I’m not after a new approach, the main challenge is with myself.

JE: 写真生活や日々の撮影を継続させる為に重要な事はなんでしょうか?

What encourages you in your work to keep you going?

SA: 街に出て撮影をし、ギャラリーで定期的な発表をすることは、私にとっての日常になりつつありますので特別な思いはありません。
しばらくはこのようなスタイルにこだわってゆきたいと思っています。

The cycle of shooting out on the streets, then exhibiting the work in the gallery is what keeps me interested. By now these actions are so engrained I don’t differentiate photography as something separate from my daily life. This is the lifestyle which I’m going to continue living.

Shinya Arimoto Gallery

To me, the recent use of the term street photographer is similar to calling oneself artist or art photographer with an intention to add artificial value. I don’t think any respectable practitioner worth their salt would proclaim themselves with this title in this day and age. Nonetheless it appears that it is often banded around, especially on the social interwebs, with an intention to gain credibility or cool the same way teenagers would display branded clothes or gear to gain attention from peers or lowly outsiders.

Photographing strangers in public is neither new, nor does it deserve our increased attention or respect, especially when it is obvious that the photographer has no real interest in the subject except as a means to get the next best 15 seconds of fame and bizarrely unreal looking decisive moment. What Shinya Arimoto is presenting here could not be more different. The photos show that an interaction between photographer and subject must have taken place before and during which the photographs were made. Arimoto does not steal the moment while passing a subject and never shall the two meet again; instead he engages on a fair exchange, respectful and sustainable so that an ensuing photographic encounter would not appear unreasonable to either side.

Please also see this interview with the photographer by photographer John Sypal.

Shinya Arimoto — from Ariphoto 2013

Shinya Arimoto was born in 1971 in Osaka. He won the No.35 Taiyo award in 1997 and set up TOTEM POLE PHOTO GALLERY in 2008. Arimoto has been photographing and exhibiting work since 1994. Currently teaching photography at the Tokyo School of Visual Arts, he has supervised and lead the artist-run Totem Pole Photo Gallery since founding it in 2008.

Please also see this and this special gallery with more images by Shinya Arimoto and an interview with the photographer by photographer John Sypal.

Hidekazu Maiyama — from Stadt der Engel

Hidekazu Maiyama is a Tokyo-based photographer who was born in 1962. Maiyama graduated from Kyushu Sangyo University in 1980. He makes his living as a commercial photographer photographing for mainstream magazines. The personal work series that this image is taken from was photographed in Berlin, Germany in winter 2011/12. It was inspired by the now classic film Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders. The film is about invisible, immortal angels who populate Berlin and listen to the thoughts of the human inhabitants and comfort those who are in distress. Even though the city is densely populated, many of the people are isolated and estranged from their loved ones. (Wikipedia). The photos aim to take the viewpoint of angels and bring the idea of the film into the contemporary.

The whole series will be shown at Gallery E&M nishiazabu from 6-24 November.

MS Optical Sonnetar 50/1.1

MS Optical Sonnetar 50/1.1 @ f1.4, Leica M9 JPG, photo by Ming

We are pleased to announce the release of the MS Optical Sonnetar 50/1.1 lens in Leica M mount.

The lens is available for order now in our web shop. Orders will be served in the order received. Please note that as usual there might be a waiting period between receiving your order and fulfilment, due to the nature of the lens and its production. Shipping is scheduled to commence on or around 10 Oct 2012.


Japan Exposures has over seven years of experience of selling MS Optical products, including several hundred of Super Triplets 35mm and 28mm. This includes efficient and cost-effective shipping, handling of after-sale warranty and repairs and even intra-EU shipping to save on import duty. Thank you for your continued support.


The Sonnar type is a photographic lens originally designed by Dr. Ludwig Bertele in 1924 and patented by Zeiss Ikon. It was notable for its relatively light weight, simple design and fast aperture.

The name “Sonnar” is derived from the German word “Sonne”, meaning sun. It was given this name because its large aperture was much greater than many other lenses available at the time.

Compared to Planar designs the Sonnars had more aberrations, but with fewer glass-to-air surfaces it had better contrast and less flare. Though compared to the earlier Tessar design, its faster aperture and lower chromatic aberration was a significant improvement.

Source: Wikipedia

Here are its key features:

  • 5 elements in 4 groups Sonnar formula lens
  • Compact design, weight 190g, 220g with hood (36mm long, 55mm diameter filter thread)
  • Premium quality Tantalum glass, superior to Trium and Lanthanum glass with best refractive qualities
  • 14 blade aperture for smooth and pleasing bokeh (Made in Germany by Otto Niemann Feinmechanik GmbH, Berlin)
  • Minimum focus distance 0.8m
  • ALL six glass surfaces multicoated, 97% light transmission
  • Initial lot of 300 lenses, designed, manufactured and hand-assembled in Japan by Mr Sadayasu Miyazaki
  • Native Leica M mount

The MS Optical Sonnetar 50/1.1 is available now in our web shop.

Mr Miyazaki of MS Optical, a small independent manufacturer of lenses and camera accessories, has also added a world first: positioned with the rear element of the lens is a “coma adjustment ring”. Coma (aka comatic aberration) in an optical system refers to aberration inherent to certain optical designs or due to imperfection in the lens or other components which results in off-axis point sources such as stars appearing distorted, appearing to have a tail (coma) like a comet (Wikipedia). The coma control has the distance settings infinity, 4m, 2m and 1m (up to 1m setting should only be used with mirror less cameras or cameras with live view). As it is well known, early Sonnar lenses encountered issues with aberration when used wide open. The coma adjustment control allows to select the subject distance and slightly repositions the rear element to compensate for the selected focus distance by reducing spherical aberration. This also changes the focal length very slightly (only by fractions of a millimetre). Alternatively one can set it into the opposite of optimum direction for a soft focus look that makes Sonnar portraits so attractive.

Spherical aberration is also often dubbed as a “friend of bokeh” as the very soft rendering will pronounce out of focus areas even more. The famous Voigtländer Universal-Heliar, introduced in 1926, incorporated the ability of the central lens element to be adjusted by the photographer, thereby introducing varying amount of spherical aberrations. Its images are legendary.

This is what Carl Zeiss say themselves about their C-Sonnar T* 1,5/50 ZM, similar can be expected for the Sonnetar 50/1.1:

This lens design helps to achieve pictures with a special artistic touch. This lens ‘draws’ your subject in a fine, flattering manner and is therefore ideally suited for portraiture. It renders a sharpness that is slightly rounded, being less aggressive than in contemporary lens designs, but at the same time not soft in its rendition.

Many famous portraits of glamorous and prominent people during the 1930s used this technique to great effect. These images are characterized by portraying the person in a shining, nearly celestial way. This effect is very well balanced and not exaggerated; therefore many viewers see it in a subconscious way. The trained observer, however, understands the underlining technique and enjoys the results.

This lens design exhibits some additional effects, which should be understood to achieve the maximum benefit from the C-Sonnar T* 1.5/50 ZM:

Because of the above mentioned classical characteristic of the lens the best focus position in the object space can not be kept exactly constant for all f-stop settings. The passionate photographer might notice a slightly closer best focus in his pictures than expected. When stopping down the lens to f/2.8 or smaller this effect is minimized, so the focus position will be as expected. In order to balance the performance at full speed and other f-stop settings the lens is adjusted with above described characteristic.

Just like MS Optical’s lens conversions, please be aware that this lens is slightly different in operation from “normal” mass-manufactured lenses. For example, the aperture scale rotates with the whole lens barrel when the lens is focussed and there are no aperture click stops. This is not a lens for photographers who want all their lenses to function in the same way and cannot adjust to a different way of working. This is a design for the connoisseur with an appreciation for optics and their history.

There is no other independent maker of Leica M mount lenses that offers the same level of quality and creativity as MS Optical in the world today. This is not just a lens, it is a celebration of the spirit of photography.

MS Optical Lens News

MS Optical Perar Super Triplet 35/3.5 Silver

The MS Optical lens Super Triplet Perar 4/28 continues to be popular, in fact so popular that the complete batch of 28mm Perar is close to being sold out and there are currently no plans for another production run.

Stocks for the long-selling Super Triplet Perar 3.5/35 Mark II are also depleting and while there are plans for another run, it will not happen this year.

We have a limited supply of both lenses, to be considered “final stocks” for the above reasons.

For a limited period we are in the privileged position to be able to offer either lens with EU shipping at a small additional cost, therefore bypassing any customs obligations. Please select the EU shipping option when ordering.

At the risk of overusing the word limited in this post, the above photo shows the silver version of the 35mm Super Triplet, originally only available in Hong Kong. Only two lenses are available. SOLD OUT

Lastly, a new lens by Mr Miyazaki is on the horizon, the MS Optical 50/1.13 Sonnetar. The lens offers a very wide aperture and is a Sonnar design. Ten copies will be assembled in early September and details published at that time. These are not prototypes, and to use Mr Miyazaki’s own words “I do not make enough mistakes to justify building that many prototypes” — these are full production spec lenses. After that more lenses are made to produce 300 in total. The lens will be available via various outlets and is priced at Y109.000. We are aiming to offer a EU shipping option for this lens as we are doing for the Perars. More info on this item will follow shortly.

UPDATE: some photos of the lens can be seen here.

UPDATE2: buyers in Hong Kong can buy this lens at Leitzian Limited in Tsim Sha Tsui. Ming Wong will have priority stock and in the beautiful store you can try before buy, and of course meet other Leica people.

MING YUEN WONG
Leitzian LTD

Room 1302, Lee Wai Comm Blvd
Yin Chong street
1-3A Hart Ave, Tsim Sha Tsui
HONG KONG
Tel:+85292221013

We hope you find these MS Optical lens news of interest and welcome questions or comments.