Amazing Opera Discovery in Beijing

New 28-300 Lens

I could not stand it!  I’ve been on the road for closing on 80 days, going around the world in an easterly direction, and an awesome lens came out mid-trip!  The nerve of Nikon!  Shouldn’t they check with me first?

So, while here on the shaky south island of New Zealand, I had to swing by a camera store in Christchurch to pick up the new 28-300 Nikon lens.  It’s expensive here… probably an extra $700 over the 28-300 cost in the US…  That kinda sucks eh?  Does anyone know why its so expensive?  Are there tariffs and taxes?  Why do governments do this?  (I come from the Milton Friedman schools, as some of you know…)

Daily Photo – The Peony Pavilion at The Imperial Granary

Look at this place! (and it’s worth a 100% zoom to original on SmugMug too)

I was invited to go see a very special event here in Beijing. There is an old area that has the ancient Imperial Granaries that date back hundreds and hundreds of years. One of these has been converted to an intimate opera house. They bring in some of the best opera actors from all over China to perform here.

If you haven’t seen a Chinese opera, you are in store for something totally original!

This particular performance was called The Peony Pavillion, which was written during the Ming dynasty and is a love story about all kinds of crazy mythical stuff that I don’t want to spoil for you. But it’s really a must-see if you are into unique forms of entertainment. And you do feel a bit like a time-traveller, watching a scene from hundreds of years ago.

Even more interesting, there is a trendy and delicious restaurant next door. Everyone eats together and has a wonderful leisurely meal before meandering over next door to enjoy the opera. It’s a great experience!

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  • casusan

    Oh wow – awesome details Trey – this reminds me of something I’ve seen before – can’t put my finger on it – like a primitive- but here with a twist. I love the opera after working at one here for awhle – most end sadly though! This is beautiful!

  • Stephen

    Welcome to New Zealand, where there is an importer at every corner that will rip you off 😉 It’s not government with this gear but the importers themselves…..

  • Chase

    Trey, I would lean towards market forces due to probably low supply within New Zealand itself and it being a island nation.

    New Zealand doesn’t like protectionism so you can rule out tariffs..

  • phi-D

    Hi Trey, It’s so expensive here in NZ because the GST is 15% and that’s killing us as fotographer 🙁

  • Zak

    The real bind here in NZ is that sure prices at local retailers are high but you can always order on the web right? Wrong apparently, as many US stores refuse to ship here or if they do its enormous pricing (often >$50).

  • very nice picture indeed;
    i made me interested in chinese opera which for an european like me is quite amazing;
    regarding retail price: i have the same problem here in Romania: all US prices are here converted in Euro; same amount but in euro 🙁
    very unpleasant situation … 🙂

  • Gail in Montana

    Trey, do you need instant gratification??? You could always have someone in the U.S. purchase what you want and ship it to you, right??? Hopefully, you will live long enough to get it, lol. Are you still rocking and rolling there in New Zealand. Hope not!
    Now for the photo, 😉 very nice, bet that was interesting to watch. Looks like a very intimate setting. Take care and have a great weekend!! 🙂

  • Simon Morris

    Great news Trey, you’ve arrived in the ‘Garden City’… loads of photo opportunities for you, Hagley Park, etc. Whilst you’re in the area I can highly recommend visiting Banks Peninsula and especially the French themed township of Akaroa… beautiful location and your kids will love fishing off the main pier. I take it you flew down from Auckland to Christchurch… as a general direction, do you plan on going clockwise or anti-clockwise around the South Island?

    Have a fabulous tour, it’s gorgeous from all angles… Marlborough Sounds, West Coast, Glaciers, Queenstown, Fiordland, Milford & Doubtful Sound, Catlins… to name a few.

    You’re spoilt for choice from here onwards… enjoy!

  • Eden Brackstone

    I know that feeling… Importing items you can save a great deal on the total cost, but you pay the price with shipping delays, haha. If only manufactures could lock their worldwide prices in the same way Apple do, would make everyones life so much easier. Oh well, catch you on Wednesday Trey 🙂

  • Interesting that the lens costs more in New Zealand. You’d think shipping from Japan would be cheaper there than in Austin. How does this factor in your immigration decision?

  • I love Chinese live opera shows. I grew up watching them for free in my local neighborhood during the Chinese festivities.

  • Damien

    Lovely Colours here Trey. Captured the warmth very well. Whats your thoughts on the 28-300? I’m going to B&H the first week of Dec to buy some new toys. One being a new tripod as my luggage was taken from a train so I’m tripod less. Looking at a carbon fiber tripod with a RRS head. Anybody recommend a good Gitzo to hold a D3s?

  • What a neat little theatre – very intimate indeed.

    That’s cool about the new lens – When I ordered my last lens a few months back I had the same feeling I had the Christmas I got ‘Mortal Kombat’ for my Sega Megadrive – i don’t think us blokes ever truly grow up.

  • Will Zhao

    Ok…I live in Australia, not far from where you live.

    Things are also expensive here, so whenever I need new photographic equipment I either go and fetch them whenever I go back to China, or just order from and pay some taxes (still ends up cheaper).

    But look on the bright side, it’s cheaper here than Europe 😀

  • Will Zhao

    Eden – Last time I checked, Apple Macbook Pro 17″ costs 4000 in Australia, and 2999 in US (few months back).

    And the exchange rate back then was around 1:0.95?

  • Hi Trey,
    Try and humble yourself its not the school or weather Nikon has to check with you first,you sound like the rest of the world. Rather come down to earth, we enjoy your work and it opens a new world for many who want to learn. By being humble many more will look up to you don’t put yourself on pedestals they can break and you will fall.Keep up the good work by helping others.

  • Wayne

    haha Tery, welcome to NZ but don’t expect you can get anything cheaper than the US. We are a small economy I guess the retailers have to charge more to break even.

  • Thanks everyone!

    Louis – you are kidding yes? Maybe not…. jeesh… hehe. Well.. what can I say? Maybe hang out here a little more and you might be able to detect when I am joking and when I am not…

    Will – yes B&H is a great option for international.

    Damien – try the RRS tripod – I just got one and I love it!

    Simon – I don’t have much of a plan… going to Queenstown for a week and then figuring it out from there!

  • Simon Morris

    Trey, Queenstown is a great place… some would say it’s the adventure capital of New Zealand!

    You’re in for a fabulous time with stunning scenery to match… look forward to seeing some photos, enjoy!

    Oh, on the Bach front… I’m with you there, I’d never heard of the name prior to moving here last year.

  • I am very much looking forward to more photographs of China emanating from your skilled hands/eyes/brain.

    As for NZ, I visited NZ including Queenstown very recently. Queenstown is a very cool town, and NZ in general is of course stunning. Actually, having grown up in Tasmania (Australia) I didn’t really feel like I had travelled anywhere, except that the mountains are higher…

    With reference to your last comment above, I bought a used Gitzo recently, which you have recommended. Now you’re suggesting the RRS? Gaaaaaah. 😀

    As for prices, well, that’s what life is like when purchasing electronic goods in western nations other than the US 😛 – local prices here in Hobart (Australia) are upwards of 30% higher than I can get from B&H. Obviously I take the latter option these days, even though I don’t get a local warranty. I’m far more likely to damage my equipment than have it fail on me anyway.

    One more heads up which is probably irrelevant to you since I’m sure you never ever damage your equipment: repairing Nikon gear in Australia (and I’m guessing possibly NZ too) quite frankly is a mess. Nikon Australia actually sends some products (e.g. the 14-24 f/2.8G and the 24-70 f/2.8G) to Hong Kong to be repaired as they don’t have all the stock/facilities/whatever in Sydney (!).

  • I picked the 28-300 up for my recent trip to France, using it as my walk-around lens. I was very, very impressed with it (super sharp), and it was the perfect companion to my 14-24 2.8. Between that lens, the 14-24mm, and my Sigma 50 1.4, I never found myself wanting, and I never regretted leaving the heavier glass at home!

  • Keep heading south and they stop calling them baches and start calling them cribs.

    There is less of a mark-up on bodies, that means that purchasing them online [at list] and shipping them over and paying GST at the border on them is almost not worth it – unless you’re getting a good deal on one, in which case it probably is worth doing.

    Lenses on the other hand, especially ones over NZ$1000, are almost always significantly cheaper to buy online. For instance, Adorama has the 28-300VR for US$1000, which is about NZ$1600 once you’ve taken into account exchange rates and tax at the border. Compared to the $2200-$2300 list price in NZ. It’s obvious to see that glass is a rip-off in NZ.

    Still, other things about NZ are nice, and we have the internet and couriers.

  • I am looking forward to a 28-300 review, and how it compares to the 18-200, apart from the obvious FX/DX difference.

  • Definitely seems like a very nice, intimate space to see a performance.

    I’m not sure why camera equipment is so expensive there – there seems to be little rhyme or reason behind the price of photo equipment around the world. It was the same price in Korea as in the US, and was cheaper in Switzerland than in Germany (though both were more expensive than the USA).

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