Friday, 7 April 2017

The Greatest Show On Earth With The X-Pro2/18mm

In his 2013 episode of Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain called the Robot Restaurant as "The Greatest Show On Earth". It is in the narrow streets/alleys of Kabukicho, Shinjuku, that the Robot Restaurant's facade immediately assaults one's senses, by standing out in its utter glitzy gaudiness amongst its more "normal"neighboring establishments.

Since Bourdain got the shock of his life here, it has become a magnet for foreign visitors seeking to experience the same "buzz' he had. the cabaret show is reported to have cost in excess of $10 million (some say $100 million, which beggars belief), and provides an overwhelming LSD-like experience of robots, loud thumping electronic music, strobing neon lights, giant animatronics, hyper pop songs and naturally, scantily-clad shapely dancing girls whose names range from Namie Osawa, Love Katase and Rin Tanba.

While the whole atmosphere looks more like the interior of a very gaudy cruise ship and more lights than Las Vegas, the show is unique and mind-boggling (or mindless). It's very popular despite that it's $60 per person to watch the 60-minutes show. Imagine robots engaging in mock battles with beautiful bikini-clad, drumming and ninja fighting Japanese women riding neon tanks and giant fembots; while other robots roller-skate and dance swathed in a rainbow of neon lights.

I had read somewhere that photography with "large" cameras was prohibited, and that's perhaps the reason I was freely able to use the small X-Pro2 and the Fujinon 18mm 2.0 during the whole show. Its small size let it slip under the radar. l just pushed the ISO almost as high as it would go and, almost instinctively, snapped away as fast as I could with little disregard to composition. The blinking strong multi-colored lights often fooled the camera's exposure system.

I wasn't optimistic at the number and quality of the resulting images, so was extremely surprised that there many more that were completely usable...way more than I expected. I knew Fuji cameras have been known for their high ISO performance, but I am very pleased with the performance of the X-Pro2 and the 18mm Fujinon lens (at its largest aperture) at such a venue with disparate light intensities, and rapid movement of the performers.