Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Printing quality photos

Most of us, who have not been exposed to quality prints, just “go down the road” to the nearest photo processing shop and spend 40¢ on a 4R print.  We typically ask for locations that give the best price and being a highly competitive field, prices have come down to 35¢ and even at shopping malls, they are at 40¢.


For those who have invested in high megapixel digital cameras, including compact digital cameras, you may be wondering why bother with the high megapixels as your prints would come up looking similar anyway.

Even if you are not into high definition photography, wouldn’t it be great if your holiday photos are sharp?  What are the print resolution used in a typical photo processing shop?  When I ask, most of the shop assistants wouldn’t know and some even go on and talk about minimum megapixels is best for a 4R photo.  They seem to miss the point about sharp prints.  The answer is that they normally print between 200 - 300 dpi (dots per inch).

As such for a 4R picture, even a camera with 2 megapixels is generally good enough. But wait, that’s the wrong way to look at it!  If I have a 10 megapixel digital camera, can’t I request for a higher dpi 4R picture?

At the moment, I can only think of 2 solutions; (1) go to a commercial banner/poster printer who generally use printers that can do 720 dpi or higher or (2) get a home photoprinter such as the Canon Pixma range.  Either way, it will not cost you 40¢ but more.

If anyone else have any other options, please recommend.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

F1: Brawn GP surprises me!


For a team that nearly did not exist this F1 season, they sure got to a very good start by qualifying one and two!  Does Ross Brawn have something that others don’t?  After all the years with Ferrari, I am sure other members of Ferrari would learn a thing or two.  However, Ross did put a Mercedes Engine in a Honda Team with Ferrari experience, that maybe the secret.

Williams and Sauber had a good day too and so did previously lesser teams like Red Bull and Toyota.  So, where’s Ferrari and McLaren?

I guess you can visit www.f1.com for latest updates.

Reliance on a SatNav (GPS)

We normally call these little PDA sized devices GPS here in Malaysia and in different parts of the world, it is called differently.  Sometime in the forth quarter of last year, I had my first experience with a SatNav (Satellite Navigation) and borrowed a Garmin Nuvi 600.


This model is sold exclusively in Europe but I am quite sure that there are a few units in Malaysia as well.  I would say that once we got used to it, it was a very useful device and over-reliance on it suddenly sets in.  Overall, it was a great experience with the following mishaps during the 2 weeks of usage.

1. Whilst driving on the M25, trying to by-pass central London to get from Windsor to the Docklands, the SatNav’s battery went flat (and I did not bring the car charger!). That was quite an experience as I had our Swedish friends with us who were extremely worried but never-the-less helpful in not panicking.  Anyway, all went well when I got back into Wimbledon and pass Putney, the rest was quite plain sailing.

2. Somewhere between Oxford and Birmingham, the SatNav took us through a small country road (one of those B roads) and there was a roundabout that was not registered by the SatNav.  This was interesting experience as being highly reliant on it, I was suddenly at a lost on what to do!  Thinking back, it was such a silly situation as in any normal circumstances I did not need to think very much and just drive and take a 12 o’clock.

There are some other minor ones such as leading us towards the old entrance of a Theme Park instead of the new entrance but why I am writing about this is that to warn others not to be too reliant on this little helpful device.  This fella nearly lost his life!

Friday, March 27, 2009

DCIM 2009: Opening and Velocity Angels

main2 We were informed that there will be an official opening between 10:00 and 11:00 am for the DCIM 2009 tradeshow.  The “official opening” was not until 11:15 or so.


Anyway, for those who are not aware, DCIM stands for Digital Camera, Imaging and Media, which is organized by Velocity Media.  There were lots of publicity about it where the show will be exhibiting cameras and related accessories, a series of workshops, talks and of course the highlights “The Velocity Angel Search!”.


To me, it was an utter disappointment on the first day, other than the velocity angels photoshoots.  Why?  For a tradeshow that’s suppose to be predominantly about digital cameras, we have

Panasonic Lumix with a half-hearted effort and little hooray about their Lumix G1.  Although they did take the front of the exhibition hall, the booth just doesn’t seem to be a serious effort.


Nikon did a commendable job, knowing that most of the attention will be on the shooting of the Velocity Angels, they have their booth really strategic.  However, it is quite a disappointment for me that they did not even bother to bring the Nikon P90 for this event!


Canon built a platform above their booth which gave a very good view of the whole tradeshow although the quality of the platform can be more re-assuring.


Epson and Canon were also showing their large format photo printers where Canon had very good samples of images printed onto the canvases.  I was informed that there is a printer in PWTC that can do this and will be paying them a visit in the future.


Other exhibit of interests are the camera bags such as LowePro and Kata, tripods by Manfrotto and also newer brands such as Victory, and some exhibit of lightboxes.  On one side of the tradeshow were computer related stuff which I thought was not really relevant and seems to be an add on when they could not get enough participants.



Overall, it was something that you can walk through and browse in about 30 to 60 minutes.  However, the angels shooting is something of a highlight and I would advise that you bring a step ladder with you to take the photos.


Last picture courtesy of kuanhoong.com.

Jalil Seafood Restaurant @ Bukit Jalil

Well, obviously it is in Bukit Jalil.  How to find it … that’s going to be tough to explain to people who are not familiar with the location, so below is the map.

View Larger Map

For those who are reasonably familiar with the place, it is between Green Avenue Condominium and IMU (International Medical University).  It’s located at the cream coloured new shoplots and is visible from the road.

I did not intend to write about it as it was just a convenient place to have dinner that evening, so the pictures may not do it much justice.


First off, as usual for me is the fried spinach.  Nothing to shout about, slightly undercooked but crispy.  Quite different from other places where it will be cooked until slightly mushy.  Personally, I prefer the mushy type.


Next up, egg with chinese sausage.  Again, nothing much to talk about, very standard dish but fried well without it being burnt.


We did not know what else to order, being first timers there and no one had recommended this place before, so we seeked the waitress’ recommendation for their house tau-foo.  It turned up in a steaming mini wok which looks like a mix of various things into a wok.  However, it does taste quite smooth (maybe all the corn starch) and aromatic but I can’t pin point anything special about it.


We also ordered from fish fillet with salad sauce but when it came, I was about to send it back as I thought they sent the wrong stuff.  It looks like ham-chee-pheng or salted fried dough.  From the picture above, doesn’t it look like it?

Overall, nothing we ordered was worth mentioning about BUT nothing to complain about either.  It is just an ordinary meal that I will be returning to.  Not sure why, but it’s just pleasant place to have a simple dinner.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Macy Sales

This was meant to be written/blogged about sometime ago but I never got round to it.  Macy’s, headquartered in Bangunan Minlon, near Desa Serdang, is having one of their best sales.  Their advertisement in the papers is also quite eye catching but unfortunately, I do not have a copy of it to scan here.


This is they stock clearance sale which they claim they are getting rid of in order to make room for new inventory.  Well, it’s marketing, whether they are actually doing so (probably not as they have lots of space in that building) or not, we don’t really know.


As the large banner puts it, it is until 5th April, so hurry up!.  We managed to get some good bargains for curtains, where they have a selection of ready made curtains at 60% discount!


Of course, we also needed the curtain hooks for the railings and they do stock everything you need.


We bought for 3 windows and 1 large sliding door and with the 60% discount, it totaled up to less than USD75 for basically the whole house!


Oppsss, the walls are not painted properly yet!  The above is for the gray curtains whilst the one below is a yellowish curtains.


So, hurry up!  Sale ending soon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Photography Certificate Courses – Din Arshad

I came across Din Arshad several months back from a fellow colleague.  I have never visited them but they do have some short courses and are working out a more serious syllabus for a complete course as well.


Din Arshad’s have a myriad of clients who engages his services for product, architectural and promotional shots.  He also provides courses for (taken from his website);

Beginner Level
   1. Introduction Of Photography
   2. Fundamental Camera Control
   3. Types Of Camera
   4. Safety
   5. Controlling Composition And Exposure
   6. Introduction To Digital Photography
   7. Career Development Opportunities
   8. Hands On Photo Demo

Intermediate Level
   1. Camera Lenses And Related Accessories
   2. Artificial Lighting Electronic Flash
   3. Intermediate Digital Photography
   4. Critiquing Photographs
   5. Professional Presentation Portfolios
   6. Hands On Photo Demo

Advance Level
   1. Commercial Photography
   2. Studio Lighting
   3. Photography And Advertising
   4. Potraiture
   5. Advance Digital Photogarphy
   6. Advance Digital Manipulation
   7. Taking Care Of Business
   8. Hands On Photo Demo

You can read a little more about his classes here.

Just launched: EOS Rebel T1i EF-S

Just launched today, the much rumoured Canon 500D, it’s officially called the Rebel T1i EF-S in North America.

T1i_586x225 A quick run-down on the specifications;

  • 15.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor (APS-C)
  • Full HD (1080p) Movie
  • Canon Digic 4 image processor
  • 3.4 fps
  • Liveview
  • Integrated sensor cleaner
  • 3” LCD
  • SD/SDHC memory (instead of CF?)

They launched it with the kit, which contains;


  • EOS Rebel T1i Body
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens
  • Wide Strap EW-100DBIII
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-200U
  • AV Cable AVC-DC400
  • Battery Pack LP-E5
  • Battery Charger LC-E5
  • EOS Digital Solution Disk and Instruction Manuals
  • "Great Photography is Easy" Booklet and "Do More with Macro" Booklet

Details can be obtained at their website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shashinki’s affiliate programme

You will find on this blog (at the time of posting anyway) that there is a shashinki banner on the right hand side, somewhere hidden at the bottom.  It’s kinda free advertisement for Shashinki.com as Dr Kho is a smart fella.


Anyway, why I say that it is a smart move but one that maybe won’t last very long.  Whether it last or not, it does not really matter as Shashinki would have received some publicity via the various sites.  Now, nothing comes free as Shashinki have invested quite some effort in starting this up as they provide some reports for their affiliates.

To me, there are 3 main things that makes this work well for Shashinki.  Firstly, they get free impressions, secondly they get free click through, and finally, if a visitor actually buys something from their site within 48 hours due to the click through, the payout is just 0.5%.  The 3rd part is significant as the payout will only happen when the amount reaches RM50 or more, which means a RM10,000 purchase.  Now, if someone is to purchase RM10,000 worth of products, they probably will think a few times and search around.  This means that it will be unlikely that it will happen within 48 hours.  Furthermore, most of us who purchase items online would probably clear our cookies for security reasons and hence Shashinki would not be able to track it.

Ok, instead of sounding like someone who complains a lot, I would like to state that it is not a complain (as it is my choice whether to put it up or not) but just dissecting the ingenuity of the idea behind it.  Personally, I will still put it, in support of Shashinki’s effort and as long as I have space on my site to spare, why not help someone.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Purchasing experience from Shashinki.com

shashinkilogo_500tm Shashinki, one of the few well known online retailer of cameras and photography related items (although they also sell software), has been quite popular with the Malaysian photography enthusiast. It is headed by Dr Kho, who is doing this as a personal interest and of course as a business.  Dr Kho himself founded photomalaysia.com which is a highly popular forum for photographers to share their knowledge and experiences.

I decided to give them a try as I needed to get some good batteries.  After browsing through his site, I realised that he is the distributor for Maha batteries and these are reputable batteries as they can be left charged up to 1 year and will still retain about 85% of their charge.  The reason these are popular is because they have high ampere batteries that’s suitable for digital cameras and flashes.  These equipment are generally AAIMEDION_homenot used daily and hence one tend to leave them on the shelves for weeks or months sometimes.  And the problem is when there’s a photo opportunity, the batteries will be flat!  Hence, batteries such as Sanyo Eneloop and Maha are popular.

I proceeded to sign up in shashinki.com (yet another password to remember!), which was quite a smooth process, I then log in to the site.  The purchasing is very much a typical site where you browse the product, add to your shopping cart, proceed to check out and you will be presented with a few options for payment.


The payment options are Maybank2U, cheque, Inter Bank transfers, Public Bank and Paypal.  There are however 2 drawbacks to their payment options, firstly Malaysian purchasers cannot use Paypal and secondly they don’t provide credit card purchases.  This usually mean that they don’t have volume business, which is quite unusual for a popular site.

I also encountered 2 other issues, if you choose to pay via Public Bank, you will be asked to bank into an unknown bank account.  I emailed them about it and they are actually going to change it and have opened an account “Shashinki Dot Com” which is good.  The other is that if you pay via Inter Bank, it will take about 2 days for them to verify payment and hence you product will be shipped on the 3rd day and arrive on the 4th day.  In other words, if you order on a Friday, you get your product on the next Wednesday.

Other than that, service was good, emails were replied reasonably promptly, and product arrived as written.  Thumbs up to shashinki and just need to add the credit card option, it will do wonders.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cropping with Picasa

When we take pictures and view them through our view finder or live view, the picture taken may not necessary be the exact framing that we had in mind.  Furthermore, we may want to position certain parts of the image or crop out unwanted distractions in the image.


The photo above had the lighting distraction at the bottom and we just wanted to have the emphasis of the TWINCAM word and some engine components to reflect it. We use the crop icon to adjust our image appropriately.

picasa-croppedWe also tried to crop it where the main focus is on the 1/3 rule, which is at the bottom 1/3 of the picture.  Hope that this short and basic guide was useful to some.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Improving emphasis on your images with Picasa

Normally, we will have a part of the photos that we take that we want to emphasize on.  The simplest way to do this is to set the right contrast in the photos and then to sharpen the images so that it stands out.  The photo we have so far is rather “dull”.


The icon just below the straighten icon is the “Auto Contrast” icon.  You can simply use this to improve the contrast of if you need more control on how much emphasis or highlights, you can use the 2nd tab “Tuning”.  In this example, we just use the Auto Contrast.


As can be seen the software increased the contrast in the image and the tungsten lighting on the “TWINCAM” is not so dull.  To further improve the image, we sharpen it.

In the 3rd tab called “Effects”, the first icon (on the left) of the first row is the sharpen icon.  Simply use this to sharpen our image.

temp1-croppedThe image above is before sharpening and the one below is after applying the sharpening function.

temp2-cropped It is hard to see with the naked eye in this blog but you will notice some “cleanup” around the ‘M’.

Next … crop to frame the image better.

End of Sony Ericsson? Just Sony?

An interesting news came up recently with regards to Ericsson wanting to get out of the partnership with Sony on the mobile market.

I think Sony has much to gain from all this for the last few years.  If they had tried to enter the market on their own, they would probably be slightly better than Panasonic’s “success” with their mobile phone but they went in with Ericsson who had an established market share (my first mobile phone was an Ericsson).  This whole episode also shows that Sony knows how to manage a once troubled mobile handset company (Ericsson) and turn it into a successful business.  With it’s Cybershot and Walkman brand names, I think they did very well here.

Now, will it also happen to the DSLR market?  For one, I think it is not “consumer” electronics and hence they may face some issues.  They may do well with the Point and Shoot Digital Cameras, but I think the DSLR market is different.  What say you?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Can we dream of such a Sony DSLR deal?

sonycarddealWhy is it that the grass is always greener elsewhere?  For one, Sony is having a great deal in the US where when you apply for the Sony Visa Card, you get to buy a Alpha 200 DSLR with the kit lens for USD217/- (USD317 plus a USD100 card credit).

This can mean 2 things, either Sony is really in trouble and needs to boost sales or a replacement for the A200 is in the cards.  I think with all the rumours flying around before the PMA09 about new introductions of A200/300/350 replacement, it seems likely that the latter is the case.  Of course, Sony is also not doing as well and is also effected by the global economic crisis.

You can check out Sony Rewards site from time to time to see if the grass is actually greener elsewhere.

Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Festival – Friday Morning

On the way to work this morning, I decided to find out where the hot air balloons are suppose to be.  It was quite a difficult drive looking out for hot air balloons in order to find the location as they were not in flying.  It was easier in Penang, where we can look our for Komtar and drive towards it to get to town.  Anyway, I just followed signs to Presinct 2 near the government administrative offices and the first thing that caught my eye was a balloon.


Ok, so I thought to myself, “I hope it is not a miniature version as by now I should be able to see the balloons in the sky”.  Anyway, the good thing was that I saw a Nescafe balloon!  But, I was not able to take a picture of it as I was driving.  Isn’t it just great to start a day with Nescafe!

I decided to step out of the car and quickly take a few shots as there was an announcement over the loudspeakers that they are not flying today and please come back tomorrow (or was it come back this evening). 


I will drive pass that was on the way home to check out the skies in case they are flying this evening.  It is located at the Monument in Putrajaya Presinct 2.  The monument looks like the picture below.


Anyway, back to the highlights of the short 10 minute photography session.


blog5   blog6

 blog7  blog9   blog10



Ok, enough of the balloon pictures, it is a festival after all, so being Malaysians, we must have FOOD.



blog14Should be getting more pictures of the balloons over the weekend and hopefully, they will be flying.