Sunday, March 28, 2010

Panasonic Lumix GF-1 Unbox

Woohooooo … got my hands on a GF-1 finally, the mirrorless micro four thirds camera!  I have been eye-ing this camera for sometime, mainly due to its size, portability and the hype around these DSLR class mirror-less digital cameras. Ok, I need to mention a few things here;

  1. I am using my Panasonic (yes! another one) Lumix LZ8’s video capabilities (so, please bear with me on the video quality especially the framing and darkness of the images) and converting the video to upload to YouTube,
  2. this is my first time uploading to YouTube so please bear with me with regards to the video …
  3. I have never done a proper un-boxing of any product and kinda messed up the audio.
  4. this is not a review, haven’t really tried the camera yet.

First impressions?  It is small, it is not that light, it looks and feels very well built, the lens is small but when attached, the smallness of the camera is kinda lost, interface is ok (well, I am a Lumix user after all, so doesn’t take much to get use to it) with the exception that in Manual mode, I am a little lost (time to read the manual) and … I love it! =)

Price … well, I got a really good price for it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

GWK Cultural Park, Bali, Indonesia

At the time of posting, the GWK Cultural Park is still being developed and upon completion, it will be spread across 240 hectares (I think this is 2.4M square meters).  It is a privately owned cultural park where private weddings, functions and events can be organized and with a noble complementary intention of ensuring that young Balinese are educated about preserving their cultural heritage.  It is located on the south of Bali island, close to Uluwatu Temple and Dreamland beach.

Mythical Garuda

For those who are curious, GWK stands for Garuda (the mythical bird), Wisnu (the Hindu god) and Kencana.


The whole area is very large and would probably take a couple of hours to walk around and another few hours to attend the many musical performances and dances.  Examples of which includes the Barong dance. Kecak dance, the Rindik music, and of course the traditional Bali greeting through the gamelan music.  You can attend these at the 800 seater amphitheatre.  Entrance fee is Rp50,000 for foreigners and if you are in a rush (like I was), it is definitely not worth while.  However, if you have the time to at least attend some of the cultural shows, it is a bargain as compared to other places where it will cost you more.  Check the daily event schedule before you go.

Cultural Dancer

More pictures can be found at my picasaweb album.

More information can be found at their website.

It is located on the south side of Bali, south of the University (Jimbaran College):-

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sony to launch more camera products before June 2010?


Sony-FIFA partnership agreement from 2007 to 2014 inclusive will see one of their biggest marketing trust during this 2010 FIFA World Cup! The FIFA World Cup having probably the 2nd highest following in the world (after the Olympics) will see Sony developing its global marketing activities as the official partner.  With the first match starting on 11 June 2010, I would expect Sony to do some intensive product launches beforehand.


Click on the image above for the full news release

From the DSLR class cameras, the Alphas and the rumoured NEX camera series, I would expect the following to be made available before the World Cup starts.  The A1000 or A1r or whatever new name full-frame camera with some fast lens have to make an appearance to enable the capturing of crisp and clear football shots by some professionals.

The A6xx or whatever they will call it, probably an upgraded A500/550 with video capability should also make an appearance for the amateur photographers and videographers. (This is the “other” camera beside the rumoured A700 replacement during PMA2010).

The DSLR class compact, aka the NEX cameras, for the spectators/novice photographers.  They will have to ensure that they have a superzoom for them as well. Sony UK has already sent out their teasers and it is almost certain that it will be launched in May.

Those are the cameras that I would expect Sony to launch for photographers together with possible a 400mm f2.8 or higher specification lens.


Note: The other partners being Adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Hyundai and Visa.  So I will also expect Hyundai (and Kia) to ensure that their latest products such as the Hyundai Sonata YF and the Kia Optima to be made available world-wide and be used as official cars.

Friday, March 12, 2010

DSLR Lens Fungus

Recently, I had a second opportunity to witness a fungus infected lens.  The first time I saw it was a guy who was trying to sell off his lens to a friend of mine and luckily for us, we inspected it properly.

This second opportunity was a telephoto lens that was part of an SLR kit (note SLR, so it has been around for sometime).  The lens was seldom used and in fact was left in a camera bag in an air-conditioned room for some time.  According to the owner, probably more than 2 years.

When we first looked at the camera, it showed some signs of fungus growth …


And upon closer inspection through looking at the sides of the glass, it was definitely infected with fungus.


It is quite difficult to show in pictures the effect of the fungus, but the following image probably will tell you the whole situation.  It was taken with the telephoto lens zoomed to it’s maximum and looking through the lens directly.


The above image sometimes still gives me some goose-bumps and in fact, the lens was so badly infected that you can actually see fungus on each glass element!  Luckily for the owner, it’s not one of those expensive lens.

To clean such a lens would cost quite a bit, in this case, almost 1/3 the price of the lens probably but the issue is that after it is cleaned, the optics probably wouldn’t be the same.  If you ever suspect your lens becoming effected with fungus, do get it cleaned immediately as when the fungus sets in, it will be beyond repair.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tamron Announces SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD for Nikon, Canon and Sony

Tamron, known as one of the most successful 3rd party lens manufacturer … and also for its infamous long … long naming convention for its lenses have just launched another acronym for their lenses!  It’s USD!  For those who wants a short de-acronym of this Tamron lens:

  • SP = Superior Performance
  • VC = Vibration Control (Nikon’s VR, Sigma’s OS, etc)
  • USD = Ultrasonic Silent Drive (Canon’s USM, Sony’s SSM, etc)


Tamron’s press release:

March 9, 2010, Saitama, Japan – President and CEO Morio Ono of optical equipment manufacturer Tamron Co., Ltd., announced another advance in their pursuit of high resolution images in the telephoto lens category with the development of a 70-300mm F/4-5.6 telephoto zoom lens featuring image stabilizer - VC (Vibration Compensation) and an ultrasonic auto-focus drive – USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive). The SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD high-resolution DSLR telephoto zoom lens has been produced for the Nikon mount, with the development of compatible mounts for Canon and Sony to follow.

While this new lens is designed for digital SLR cameras, it can be used with both full-frame sensor and AF 35mm cameras with a zoom range of 70-300mm; or with APS-C sensor cameras where the angle of view will change the zoom range equal to 109-465mm.

One thing to note is that the Sony mount (or Alpha mount) version will not include the VC as there isn’t a need.  This I assume will mean that it will be priced a tad cheaper?

Of course, the other interesting thing to note is that instead of saying Nikon and Canon versions will be announced followed later by Pentax and Sony, they now launch their new lens with Nikon followed by Canon and Sony mentioned in the same breath!  Hmmphhhh …

By the way, it’s Tamron’s 60th Anniversary this year … for full press release, go to Tamron’s website.

KTMB Photo Competition – Komuter Service

Trains, trains, trains … if you are into train spotting (a very rare hobby outside of England), this is the opportunity!  I am sure you are not but if you are a regular commuter on the KTM Komuter service, then here’s a chance to share your “Happy Moments With Us” (KTMB).


It is a monthly competition for about 6 months, where every month there will be 30 winners, 3 main prizes and 27 consolation prizes.

  • The theme of the photo contest is “HAPPY MOMENTS WITH US”. All photos must be taken either on KTM Komuter trains or at the stations. The condition is to show your happy moment while using the commuter service;
  • A photo caption that is not more that 10 words is required for each photo

One interesting thing is whether you will be “stopped” from taking pictures in and around KTM stations.  Well, one thing is for sure, train panning may not suit the theme …

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Songs of the Sea @ Sentosa, Singapore

On my recent trip to Singapore, we decided to not only visit Resorts World Sentosa but also to stay in Sentosa and enjoy some of the activities there.  It has been a very long time since we were there, in fact, so long ago that I don’t even remember when!

Get ready to fall under the spell of a new nightly extravaganza set in the sea. Songs of the Sea brings you a mesmerizing show with a live cast and dramatic effects pyrotechnics, water jets, brilliant lasers, special computer imaging, captivating music and stunning flame bursts. It's a one-of-a-kind entertainment that's not to be missed. Songs of the Sea is an outdoor, rain or shine event.

Tickets to the show cost around SGD10, but there have different types of combo tickets available as well.  The main character is Oscar, a fish.

One thing I don’t understand is that the Princess that they choose, sure doesn’t have the princess regal look at all.  Anyway, didn’t take any pictures of the princess, but there are some others.

Another friendly fish from the cast …

And some fireworks (that at one stage, I thought I burnt my camera’s sensor!).

If you ever visit and intend to take some shots, please bring along a fast lens, use manual focus and try to go early to get a seat in the middle of the stage!  About a 35mm lens (on a full-frame camera may be just enough).  I didn’t have the right stuff with me and didn’t go early (as I really didn’t know what to expect from the show).  Oh, and don’t forget the tripod :P

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Heeren House @ Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Malacca

Hotel Front

One of the main reasons why I was down in Malacca was to give this “boutique hotel” a look-over. It is a small hotel strategically, and I mean strategically, located in Heeren Street (duh!).  It is within walking distance to most of the attractions of Malacca. Heeren Street

It is a small hotel, with 8 or 9 rooms, priced at below RM100 per night.  For the first time of taking photographs, I actually went to seek permission to take some shots indoors.

Dining Area

The dining area feels like a modernized traditional kopi-tiam (coffee shop) and when you enter the front of the hotel, they have some well packaged curios for sale as well.


As a last picture, here’s a simple sepia version of the dining area.


For more sights within walking distance of this hotel, you can visit my small photo album.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Malacca Hand-Made Clogs and Sandals: Gee’s Originals

During my short half day trip to Malacca, I went for a walk along Jonker Street in the middle of the day (yes! it was scorching hot!). Again, it was a quick dash around the area as we were rushed for time for an appointment in Kuala Lumpur later in the day.  One of the common product that most visitors will shop for are the traditional hand-made shoes and the most sought after would be the beaded shoes.

Handmade Hard Clogs

Anyway, the other interesting and cheaper alternative would be to get hand-made and painted clogs; and if you are looking for something more comfortable, a colourful softer sandals are also available.

Handmade Soft Clogs

By chance we found this little store called Gee’s Originals, that’s run by a couple (who are not from Malacca but were Art Graduates). It is along one of the little streets that connects Heeren Street and Jonker Street and it is quite hidden.

Gee's Shopfront

The only tell-tale sign other than the shop sign-board on top are those clogs hanging just outside the door.

Outdoor Advertisement

The proprietor not only hand-made these for sale but he also has some very candid postcards of his family for sale!  It may sound a little odd for anyone to buy those postcards but I nearly did as it is well drawn and kinda cute.


Ya, I should have cropped and enlarged the picture above but I think you have to go there yourself to understand what I mean but cute postcards.  Mr Gee is an extremely friendly person … so we DID buy some sandals from him =)  The smiley face on the wall and his T-shirt somehow reminds me of Forest Gump!

Mr Gee

It’s a small cottage business a little off the beaten track, but I think if you are in the vicinity, go pay him a visit.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Photobook Malaysia Offers 40% Discount for March 2010

Ever thought of putting your best photographs into a photobook format?  Or even your initial photographs with your DLSR so that some time in the future, you can look back and wondered you have progressed?  Wait no more! is having a promotion for this month (and so are many photography related business especially since there will be very few Chinese weddings this year of the Tiger!)


They are offering 40% discounts on any of your photobook orders, (shipping charges separately as they can’t give discounts on that!).  I have only personally seen one life example of their output and I was very impressed.  Of course, it is slightly pricier than other such as (which I use).  But with the 40% discount, maybe it is worth a try.  You need to type in the code MAR40 for the discount eligibility.


To get you started, a softcover books starts from RM128.00 and with 40% discount, that’s not too much to ask I guess.  And what more, they do accept credit cards and Paypal!  (If anyone tries them out, please do leave a comment here on how you find the output and customer service).

Google acquires Picnik: Online Image Editor

Google has been championing every web based but one of the most successful tool is Picasa, which is a downloaded application tool.  So, in order to do everything online, they acquired a small 20-person company Bitnik, Inc that developed Picnik.


What is Picnik? It is an easy to use and powerful set of flash based photo editing tools for editing, sharing and even printing images using any Internet browser (which is how Google Chrome OS would like it to be) hence you can edit photos wherever and whenever you like.  It is also integrated with a wide variety of websites like Yahoo! Flickr, Google’s Picasa Web Albums and Photobucket.  It even has a Google Chrome extension for pulling online images into its editor that is capable of the basic editing tools such as cropping, rotating, resizing, red-eye removal and other standard special effects such as sharpening.


It even has “Curves” which is used to highlight different colours and shadows.  From initial usage, it is FAST! for a web based solution.  You can find out more about them at

Monday, March 01, 2010

Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore

Well, as the main attraction of Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) is currently undeniably the Casino, I did not want to lug around my DSLR as I am sure they will not allow such equipment into the Casino.  So, I brought the trusty old Canon IXUS 75 with me.

RWS Main Attraction

RWS is still in the midst of being built but they did managed to have their opening just before the Lunar New Year.  It currently has 4 main hotels; Hotel Michael, Hard Rock Hotel, Hotel Festive and Crockfords Tower.

Hotel Michael

Exterior of Hotel Michael

Hotel Festive II

Hotel Festive’s Lobby Area

Crockfords Tower

Crockfords Tower Lift Lobby

The hotel basically surround a large area that seems to be filled with ATM machines on every corner :-P.  It has a very grand feel to it although the weather did not help in promoting anyone being outdoors.

Central Plaza

Water Everywhere!


Of course! Directions to the Casino

The Hotels are connected via branded shops (in the event that you managed to pull yourself out of the Casino whilst having a positive P&L, you are highly encouraged to spend some of it back for your love ones :-P )

RWS Shopping

And if you really need to arrive or leave in style … there’s always their “Taxi” service.

RWS Taxi

I guess their main attraction in the near future isn’t only the Casino but also Universal Studios!  I will be back … someday …

More information about Resorts World Sentosa can be found at their website.