Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sony cybershot W180 & W190

Well, a few days ago I wrote about my suspicion that Sony will be launching a new replacement cybershot for the W120.  Well, it looks like it is pretty much confirmed as Europe has announced the W180/W190, which I believe is the replacement for the W120.


It is a much slimmer design and with the following specifications.

  • 10.1 MP (W180) / 12.1 MP (W190)
  • 2.7” LCD
  • ISO upto 3200
  • 3x Optical Zoom (~35mm – 105mm)


From the rear, it sports a very neat un-cluttered design.  It will be made available in July in Europe.  Prices are yet to be disclosed.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lou Wong Tauge Ayam Kuetiau @ Ipoh Town


This place prides itself as “The Most Famous In Town” for steam chicken, bean sprouts (taugeh) and hor fun (Ipoh Kueh Tiaw).  It is located in the middle of Ipoh Town somewhere and was difficult to find it you are from out of town.  The directions I had from the Ipoh train station was something like; go straight, turn right on the 3rd traffic, then turn right on the 2nd traffic lights, you will pass Kamdar, it is the 2nd turning on your left … boy … I was quite lost (by the way, those aren’t the actual instructions, as I don’t remember it anymore).


Anyway, we made it there for what we thought was an early dinner at 6:15 pm.  However, from the crowd that’s already there, this place probably doesn’t have peak and off-peak times, it’s quite crowded.  So, we ordered according to the “Specialised in Chicken, Bean Sprout and Kuetiau” plus a bowl of pork balls.




Food was great! But that maybe because we were very hungry.  I don’t really have any complains about the food, but I don’t really have anything special to say about it either, other than it has a tinge more sesame oil flavour to the chicken and bean sprouts which was quite aromatic.  Other than that, the bean sprout are not as fat as what I remember them to be.

One item that is worth mentioning is surprisingly not the food but the drinks.  The “kam kuat” is probably the best one I have had.


Why it is famous, I am not sure.  Maybe my taste buds over the years are not as sensitive anymore and I can’t really define why this place is different.  However, having said that, the food is actually good, just not special in anyway.

For those out of towners (like yours truly), make a note the GPS coordinates and put it into your satellite navigation, or GPS.  Worth a visit if you are in Ipoh.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First impressions: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8


Just bought a new budget compact digital camera, the Panasonic Lumix LZ8. Firstly the budget price, I got it for less than USD100 and with it came a Panasonic 2GB SD card and a Lumix pouch.

So what is it like out of the box? For one, I was in no rush to open it up and in between work, I decided to have a look inside. The box may be small, but it contain a pair of Panasonic AA batteries, a short strap, 2 CDs, a manual, a warranty card, an AV cable and a USB cable.


Oh, and of course the digital camera itself.


What is noticeable from the very beginning is the L of Leica who supplied the lens for the camera. The other differentiating factor in the look is the dial on the top of the camera.


Yes, it has A/S/M mode which is for Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual mode! For a budget camera, having these features (although probably electronic instead of real shutter) is something different. One question that was asked was, “where is the Auto mode?”. On this camera, it is the “iA” mode, which stands for Intelligent Auto (I wonder why Auto is not intelligent enough).

Along with the camera, I also got the Panasonic 2GB SD card.


The battery compartment.


The SD card slot.


Some specifications of the camera.

  • 5x Optical Zoom (about 31-156mm 35mm equivalent)
  • 8.1 Mega Pixels
  • Optical Image Stabilizer
  • Aperture, Shutter and Manual priority settings
  • 3 metering modes
  • various flash modes
  • macro mode
  • video capable

I guess those specifications are not that important and what’s important is the usability of it. Anyway, from first impressions, this camera ROCKS! (for it’s price range that is :P ). One minor issue is that the zoom ring around the shutter release is quite flimsy.

More review on the manual mode later.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sony Alpha A500 and A550

Following the earlier rumour of the Sony Alpha 500 DSLR, has spotted a leak on the canadian Sony Style website.


Excerpt from the site.

The Sony A500 and A550 model names appear in the product registration area from a prepopulated dropdown list.  Four separate product names appear:

  • DSLRA500
  • DSLRA500S
  • DSLRA550
  • DSLRA550S

It would appear that these models represent two body-only models and two kit models.

If it is true, has removed that link.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eric Deli Paradise (Hotpot/Steamboat) @ Hartamas Mall

About a month ago, I walked pass this restaurant and the aroma from it attracted my attention, mainly due to the smell of boiling tong-kui (chinese herbs).  It looked like an up-market chinese restaurant except that it is “open” and doesn’t have walls  between the diners and the other mall visitors.  Having said that, they do have private rooms for booking if needed but the main dining area is “open”. I had a look at the menu and to sum it up, it’s steamboat (hot soup pot) with different varieties of soup based, from the typical “ching-tong” and tom-yam to chicken herbal soup!

So, on the eve of mother’s day … that’s where we went with 3 mothers!


The “Eric” is actually the Hong Kong actor, Eric Tsang.  The short fella with the squeaky voice.  You will be able to see his pictures around the restaurant.


Before we even started to have a look at the menu, the “appetizers” came.  Normally, we would tell them that we don’t want them but these looked interesting, so we pecked at it.  DO NOT send them back =) , they are quite good.  It is anchovies, peanuts and long beans mixed with some sweetish sauce.  Very good start.

As it was our first time there, we asked the waitress how to go about it and she explained and later told us that if we are not sure, we can just try the set for 2 – 3 people.  Our table had 5 adults and 3 kids!  However, we trusted the waitress and also ordered an extra portion of “teo chew” fish ball.  Her recommendation for the set for 2 – 3 people was spot on, and the 2 – 3 people were probably for 3 hungry fellas.


Along with out pot of tea, they served us some salmon sashimi on a plate of ice.  Nice …


We ordered the Herbal Chicken Soup based for our hot pot and it came in this octagonal metal pot on a convection stove.  The stock had garlic cloves, wolfberries, tong-gui, chicken, spring onions, cinnamon stick and probably others.  The aroma was what I had in mind and it just felt … healthy?  Note that since they used the convection stove, the metal bowl is not hot and is safe to touch (won’t burn yourself here!)


The ingredients came in 2 large plates, comprising of meat, tau-ki, prawns, meatballs, fishballs, fish fillet slices, vegetables and noodles.


We were too hungry and lazy, so we just chucked the whole lot in.  Normally, we should add the seafood and vegetables later as they cook faster.  In addition to the unique soup base, the sauces for the meal were also quite unique.  There were about 10 different “sauces” ranging from sesame sauce to just plain raw garlic.  The sauces are spread out at the entrance of the restaurant and it is self-service for this.


It didn’t take long for the food to be cooked.



This is a highly recommended restaurant in my opinion and I will definitely return to give other soup bases a try.  Our meal came up to about RM100 and I had quite a few bowls of the herbal soup.  It is located at the east side of the Hartamas Shopping Center, on the ground floor.

If you are not sure how to get there, I don’t mind being a guide for a meal =)

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Not a black Sony Alpha 330! Cool …

Pretty much following Panasonic’s marketing strategy of the GH-1 DSLR (errmmm … debatable about the term DSLR for the Panasonic), Sony is also trying to provide their entry level DSLRs with colours!


I think it looks great in this copper brownish colour.  I wonder if the LCD screen at the rear will also be colour coordinated as the lens.  However, I think it will look weird with a white coloured lens, but then this is not targeted at those photographers.

Penang Ferry experience: nostalgia

I can’t even remember when was the last time I took the ferry between Penang island and Butterworth on the mainland but it must have been more than 20 years ago.  Over the past 15 years, I have travelled to Penang island many countless times, probably more than 50 times but I have not taken the ferry since the Penang bridge was opened.

Penang Ferry Terminal

Recently, on a working trip to Penang, we were leaving the island before 4 pm and thought that this would be a good time to take the ferry before the traffic builds up.  We also hoped to be able to get some interesting pictures.  We were rewarded with minimal queuing, some memorable photos and a pleasant ferry ride.

Marina at Terminal

View as the ferry is leaving

Queuing Up - Stage 1

Us queuing (2nd car)

Do Not Forget Your Handbrakes

Make sure you have your handbrakes on

The Oldest Ferry

The yellow one is supposedly the oldest ferry in service

Ancom Sponsored Ferry

Sponsorship of ferries are most welcome

Celcom Sponsored Ferry

Nostaligic feeling

Butterworth Terminal

Arriving at the butterworth side

For those who haven’t been on the ferry, you should do so before they are decommissioned.  For tourists to Penang Island, do take the opportunity to experience the 15 – 20 minutes ride (dependent on which way the wind is blowing!) as these are probably some of the oldest ferries in the world.  Of course, going on the Penang bridge is also an experience by itself.

I will probably be taking it again in the near future and this time, maybe from butterworth to penang instead.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Sony compact cameras soon?

Over the last 2 months, I noticed that Sony has been discounting their W-series compact cameras quite actively.  The first hint was about a month back when I heard that the Sony W120 can be had for the same price as the Panasonic LS-80 whose retail price is almost half of the Sony.


Last week, I noticed that Harvey Norman also had this particular model on sale and a very attractive price.  This coupled with the fact that a Sony branded outlet had this large clearance sale for some of the W-series made me ponder about the new compact cameras. (Generally, Sony branded outlets only advertises the products at retail price, so this came as a surprise to me).

I am quite sure that these are signs of new compacts from Sony in order to boost up their revenue.  The latest ones on clearance sales include the W-120, W-170 and the T900.

Street photography

I have seen many interesting and very well taken pictures of narrow streets, old buildings and ordinary streets. I have tried to take some myself and they almost always looks very boring.

Customs Building

Like the above, using the rule of the thirds, I place the clock tower on the left. But with such a plain background, it is quite boring and with the distracting lamp post on the right of the picture, it is probably uninteresting.


Another picture taken from street level on some windows on the first floor of a house. With some cropping, straightening and colour tint, the picture below was produced.


Is it any better? How about the one below? The original picture.


And the edited picture.


Your comments on the above 2 examples are welcome, I still don’t think I have an eye for street photography but I have seen enough beautiful pictures of towns and cities that I think it is worth learning about it.

Thoughts on Sony SAL50F18, SAL30M28 & HVL-F20AM

Just a few thoughts on the new Sony prime lenses.  The new lenses comes with something called the SAM, which stands for the Smooth Autofocus Motor.


Although the Sony DSLR bodies are motorized, it is complemented by the built-in motor in the lens.  My guess is that this probably works similarly to how a Nikon AF-S lens will work on the Nikon D80/D90/D300/etc.

For the new Macro lens, the DT SAL30M28, it’s minimum focus distance (MFD) is just 2cm!  That’s really close!


The new external flash is small enough to fit into our shirt-pockets, weights about the same as a small mobile phone and for those who are somehow shy about have a large piece of thingamabob sticking from the top of their cameras, this flash can be “folded away” so that it is not obvious.  It can also probably be used on the Alpha 900 as the wireless flash trigger (as the Alpha 900 does not have a built in flash) and I would not be surprise if it can also complement Sony Cybershot cameras (if not present, then future models).

I look forward to owning the SAL50F18.

Initial review of Sony Alpha 380 on

A230 managed to do a short write-up on the Sony Alpha 380 with very good close up pictures that will basically explain or give you an idea about the new features of the DSLRs such as the new look interface which looks more like a PC GUI than a camera interface (the picture above is from a A230 but it sports the same interface), the cool opening for the Memory Stick / SD card and it also give you an impression that the build quality is close to Nikons.

The link for the short review.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sony entry level external flash HVL-F20AM

Right on the heels of Canon announcing the Speedlite 270EX, Sony announced their entry level external flash together with the A230, A330 and A380 DSLRs. The new flash is the HVL-F20AM and is priced very competitively at USD130. (Watch for street price of less than USD100).

The image is quite small and at the time of posting, Sony has not released high resolution images yet. However, from the picture, it looks like it has a flash head that can be rotated upwards to allow for bouncing of the flash. This is comparable to the entry level offerings by Canon or other 3rd party flash manufacturers.

The main drawback is that it only has a Guide Number of 20. This compares favourably to the built-in flash which has a Guide Number of 12 and is a direct flash but may not be significant enough for the investment, although highly affordable. The new entry level flash should be able to give lighting that's not too harsh on the subject through bouncing it off the ceiling. Being an owner of the HVL-F58AM, I don't think I will be getting one anytime soon but if you are looking at a beginners kits, the A230Y and this flash would be a good start.

Affordable Sony 50mm F1.8 Lens

Finally, we don't have to bargain heavily for a 20+ year old Minolta 50mm F1.7! Sony, have launched their affordable 50mm f1.8 lens for us all ... except that it is not a full-frame lens. Anyway, if you can afford a full-frame camera, you the little extra for the Sony 50mm f1.4 wouldn't really be noticed. For the rest of us, rejoice!

Canon and Nikon have always had this affordable large aperture prime lens and it was a bane for many Sony DSLR users whose choices were either a 50mm f1.4 which will cost them 3 times more or a very old Minolta 50mm f1.7 that will cost them about the same or more than a new equivalent for the Canon or Nikon. 

The recommended retail price (RRP) is USD150, which means that on the street, it will probably be between 15-20% less, at around USD120. This is still slightly more than the Canon's and Nikon's offering for the same specifications, so will have to wait and see if it will be available at USD99/-.  I am almost sure that this lens will be the best selling lens that is not part of the kit lens.  I for one, will be getting one as soon as it is available at the right street price ...

For sample images, you can have a look at this flickr site.

Sony A230, A330 and A380 Launched

What an unusual day to launch a product, or is it usual? I am used to associate product launches on a weekday, especially on a Thursday, so that the press and also the public can read about it before their shopping weekends. On weekends, I guess it will attract the shopping crowd but wouldn't it be better to tell them by Friday?

Anyway, Sony launched the much rumoured A230, A330 and A380 which is nothing more than basically a redesigned exterior, lighter in weight, has HDMI output, some additional guide (or built-in manual) for beginners and a different set of kit lens. Following the well accepted kit lens provided by Canons and Nikons, Sony decided to also kit their new entry level DSLRs with an 18-55 mm lens.

Prices have been announced (L = Single Kitlens SAL-1855; Y = Twin Kitlens SAL-1855 & SAL-55200);

  • The α380L, α330L and α230L will cost about $850, $650 and $550, respectively.
  • The α380Y, α330Y and α230Y will cost about $1050, $850 and $750, respectively.
  • Press announcement by Sony.

    Friday, May 15, 2009

    Lan Kwai Fong Cafe @ The Curve, Mutiara Damansara

    I have walked pass this little restaurant/cafe so many times but it had never really attracted me to enter the premises.  Last week, I just decided that since it has “survived” this long, maybe I should give it a try, and so we did.

    The cafe is located on the Ground Floor of The Curve at Mutiara Damansara.  Upon walking it, it seems like it tries to be a localized char-chan-theng, which was weird as it wasn’t here nor there (if you know what I mean).  First off, the waitresses seem to be from “anywhere other than here”, they either spoke mandarin with an accent from motherland or they spoke bahasa with a twang from across the straits.  Anyway, it doesn’t matter, they do try and it works.


    Not sure why but mother ordered rice and chicken chop with mushroom sauce (which was pronounced mushroom soup and led to some misunderstanding when the order came).  I did not try it but it looked really BORING!

    I had the ying-yong (coffee and tea mix) which was actually quite nice without the bitter after taste.


    And their noodles with spicy meat (ala Szechuan style).  It was quite plain but the soup mixture (with the spicy minced meat) made up for the very plain noodles.


    Our party also ordered kon-low noodles with fried luncheon meat and egg … yes, yes … it is something that we can easily do at home.  The presentation of it wasn’t bad, taste was as expected except that the noodles were a little tough to our liking.


    Our curiousity got the better of us about this Vietnamese fried, rice and upon enquiry, they told us it is thim-shuen (sweet and sour).  So we gave it a try.  When it arrived, it looked like our typical fried rice and the taste was just mildly sweet and sour (if we were not informed earlier, we may have just thought it was a slightly sweeten yong-chow fried rice).


    Well, after ordering stuff that we probably could have done just as well ourselves with some effort, I decided to at least order some tim-sum to try them out.  They arrived much later and it is served with the sweet sauce and chili sauce (which was rather odd considering that this place tries to be more “foreign” but ended up more localized).  The siew-mai and the fishball were good … I guess that’s the best I can describe them to be.


    Overall, it depends on your mood for the day but definitely not a must try place.  Having said that, what’s a must-try in that area?

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