Sun, Aug 09, 2015 - Page 14 News List

Young Hong Kongers go analogue in a digital world

By Aaron Tam  /  AFP, HONG KONG

Lai Chun-fai stands among an array of vintage items and cameras at his Classic Camera Shop in the Prince Edward District of Hong Kong on July 2.

Photo: AFP

In a city crammed with neon-lit tech stores, smartphone vendors and high-end camera shops, a digital backlash is mounting as young Hong Kongers seek out an old-fashioned analogue experience.

Hong Kong is a buzzing market for cutting edge technological offerings, with lines around the block for the latest iPhone or tablet.

As consumers focus firmly on the new, there has been little demand for old-school gadgets — retro collectibles are much harder to find in Hong Kong than in other major world cities, where vintage stores have long been a shopping staple. However, interest in the pre-digital era is growing as the territory’s younger generations seek out everything from film cameras to vinyl records in response to the high-tech deluge.

“We are constantly bombarded by an endless stream of advertisements for the newest and latest gadgets in our everyday lives, said Sonia Ho, 24, who works at an architectural design firm.

“The functions of a radio, typewriter or even a light meter can be easily downloaded onto our smartphones... but we’re losing the idea of how a particular item actually works,” said Ho, who now prefers a second-hand Nikon FE2 film camera to the digital models she previously used.

“It’s like being assigned to continue the adventures of the camera from the previous owner and start to capture your own,” Ho said.

A growing number of younger photographers in Hong Kong are experimenting with old film cameras — some painstakingly scanning their film photos onto a computer to share on social media feed Instagram. Ho shares hers under the handle @soniahyh.

Tinny Kwan, who owns a film processing store popular with young photographers in the residential area of Prince Edward, says they are starting to discover the joys of delayed gratification.

“It’s like the feeling of gambling. There is a sense of excitement right up until you can see the photos... with digital, you can see it immediately, that sense of curiosity is lacking,” said Kwan, whose shop is popular with young photographers.

There is also new interest in vinyl from music fans who have only ever known CDs or digital, said Mr Chan, owner of record shop Collectables in Central District. Chan’s collection spans hundreds of classical, jazz, rock and Cantonese pop records.

“If you have always listened to digital, you may not have experienced the audio characteristics [of a vinyl record] before,” Chan said. “When you listen to the vocals, you realize there is something more in the recording.”

Browsing the vinyl section at the HMV music store, which also sells vintage records and reprints, 15-year-old high-school student Alvin Fan said analogue albums have given him an alternative way to listen to music.

“It creates a different atmosphere, a different mood and a very different feeling,” said Fan, who was introduced to vinyl records by his grandparents.

Zachary Chan, 21, who works at a music store, said it is becoming increasingly fashionable for young Hong Kongers to turn to records over digital.

“The value of a vinyl record is stronger in a subjective sense — holding a record in your hands, rather than seeing the digital album on iTunes. There is a difference,” Zachary Chan said.

The resurgence of film cameras and vinyl is part of a growing determination to experience simple pleasures in the face of a quick-fix digital lifestyle.

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