Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quick Macro Mode Test on Olympus XZ-1

Note, this is not the Super Macro mode where it allows focussing distance as close as 1 cm from the lens.  This is the standard Macro mode.  Also, it is not as sharp as it can be due to a slight breeze and shots being taken hand-held, so please do not regard this as the capability of the camera.  I only meant to show what you can do on an ad-hoc basis with the camera hanging on your neck.

Bunga Raya I

The 100% crop of the area around the flower’s filament (the part that connects the anther to the main body of the flower.

100% Crop Bunga Raya I

A shot of the anther.  Note that there was a slight breeze and hence the clarity of the fine “brush” is lost. The original shot.

Bunga Raya II

100% crop of the area near the filament and the anther (focused on the “dead” anther).

100% Grop Bunga Raya II

The sharpness, in my humble opinion, is pretty good for a compact camera.

Amarin Heavenly Thai @ Mid-Valley Megamall

I had the pleasure of having a meal at Amarin Heavenly Thai courtesy of my wife recently.  It was a fixed menu and “”sponsored” by her recently approved credit card.

Our Fixed Menu

The ambiance of the place has changed considerably from the last time I was there and the restaurant has been heavily renovated.

Table Layout

Anyway, first item to arrive was our Chinese Tea Smile.  Can’t really comment on the tea itself, quite “boringly” normal but that’s expected 95% of the time anyway.

The Chinese Tea

Very quickly after that, we were served our starters, which were 6 very well deep fried spring rolls.  They were served with sweet Thai chilli sauce which was not too light nor too strong.  The spring rolls were close to “heavenly” I guess as it was lightly crisp, not oily and the content was warm to the palette.

Spring Rolls

It was quickly followed by the Green Chicken Curry which initially looked quite creamily harmless but proved to be rather spicy after just 2 mouthfuls. The portion was tiny but well proportioned with chicken and eggplant (brinjals).

Green Chicken Curry

Individual, i.e. 2 portions of, Pineapple Fried Rice were then served.  I must comment that these were probably the best pineapple fried rice that I have had.  It may not be the way it is suppose to be in reality but the sweetness of the pineapple fried rice wasn’t sugary sweet but fruit sweet.  I am not sure if the sweetness is from the pineapple, it may be from other sources.  It was not overwhelm with cashews nor prawns and mix was good.  One tiny complain I have with this dish was that the prawns were not what I would call very fresh.  They were ok, but I had expected better.

Pineapple Fried Rice

Our desserts were Tab Tim Krob, which were unfortunately not presented well nor was it made that well.  The other dishes were well presented but the desert somehow looked like a rush job.  We were served individual portions and it seemed that mine was twice as sweet and hence we suspect that the kitchen made a mistake with it.  Otherwise, it would have been good.

Water Chestnut

Overall, I wouldn’t mind returning to this restaurant as the food is generally good although on the pricey side.  As mentioned, our meal was sponsored, so here’s the bill Smile.

Our Bill

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with Dock

Recently, there were quite significant coverage on Apple vs Samsung in the European courts where Apple has managed to put an injunction to prevent Samsung from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and other Samsung smartphones as well.

Tab 10.1 and Docking Keyboard

The end result is that the courts cited tons of prior art before the iPad (or you can say that Apple actually copied the ideas from others and should not claim to be their own, or another way to look at it … Apple’s patents are worthless!). The Dutch court even went as far to say that with the minimalist design of the iPad, it makes it almost impossible for Apple to claim anything.  Everything was thrown out except for the part for the Gallery application violated the “feel” of scrolling between images whilst browsing.

Galaxy Tab 10.1 Box

That aside, I was lucky enough to be able to get hold of a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and even had an iPad next to it to determine for myself whether they are the same.  It is DEFINITELY not the same nor similar!  The iPad form factor is much better than the Galaxy Tab 10.1 probably due to the 4:3 ratio instead of the 16:9 ratio.  The Galaxy Tab also doesn’t have the “home” button on the front.  Anyway, I am not here to judge on this technically but it sure doesn’t look the same at all to me.

Tab 10.1 in Docking

That aside, a tablet is a tablet.  They are all rather similar but the Galaxy Tab 10.1, like the Apple iPad, is quite light and the trade off is the lack of extension ports such as USB or SD card slots.  But it is definitely more portable than other tablets that I have had the opportunity to try out.

Samsung Docking Keyboard

How does the docking station fare?  It has a very white white surface that looks really good.  The chiclet style keyboard is great and you can actually type pretty well on it. The tablet itself slots in very smoothly and it is angled at a comfortable typing angle (see below).

Docked Tab 10.1 Side Profile

(I know I didn’t really say much about the Galaxy Tab 10.1 … let’s hope I do a better job with the Asus EEE Pad Transformer soon Smile with tongue out)

Nissin Di466 4/3rd Mount with Olympus XZ-1

One of the accessory that I bought with the Olympus XZ-1 was an external flash.  Although the XZ-1 came with a built-in flash, it is rated at 8.6 Guide Number (GN) @ ISO100.  Although it serves its purpose reasonably well, from past experience with indoor photography, 8.6 meters (8.6 GN is approximately 8.6 metres range) is insufficient.

XZ-1 with Di466

I was initially a little unsure whether the Nissin Di466 will work well with the XZ-1 as there were little confirmation online and I could not really find any images with the Di466 attached to the XZ-1 (hence the picture above for the rest of you!).  The Di466 is rated at GN33 @ ISO100, which should be reasonably sufficient for indoor photography (especially for parties and with fast moving kids … well, the XZ-1 is technically still not that great for such an event as the Auto-Focus is not as fast as a full blown dSLR, but that’s another story altogether).

Di466 Front

Other than pure reach of the external flash, it must be noted that the ability to bounce the light is of extreme importance.  This is in order to avoid any harsh lighting, such as that in the picture above.  It was directly from the built-in flash of my Panasonic LZ8.

Di466 Rear

Like all external flashes, the Di466 also came with a built-in diffuser.  Of course it is just a basic diffuser and serves it’s purpose well.

XZ-1 Di466 Four Thirds

Although it is a smallish external flash, it uses 4 AA sized batteries (I use Maha Imedions).  Another plus point on having an external flash is that the battery for the XZ-1 will last longer.  If the built-in flash is used consecutively, from my estimates, you will probably get less than 200 shots on one battery charge (I may be wrong here, but it is just a rough estimate from my earlier test shots).

The Di466 can be triggered remotely and wirelessly!  Although I don’t think it is able to function with it’s TTL whilst in wireless mode, this capability comes in handy.  It is triggered using the built-in flash and works very well.

More on the XZ-1 later …

Monday, August 22, 2011

The A700 successor, the A77 is finally here!

There were many different rumoured versions of the replacement for the A700 over the last couple of months … wait … it’s actually years! I haven’t really posted much about it as there were very little clarity on them.  However, it seems that it is certain that the A77 will be the “successor” to the A700.  It is not exactly the successor as it is strictly speaking not a dSLR.

Sony A77

What’s new?  It utilizes Sony’s unique approach to their dSLR class cameras in using the SLT approach.  SLT stands for Single Lens Translucent which basically the replacement of the optical viewfinder and the moving mirror that defines dSLRs.


  • 24MP Exmor HD CMOS sensor (not sure how sharp the captured pictures will be!)
  • 19 points AF
  • ISO100-16000 (yes, 16,000)
  • Full HD with AVCHD (see top beside top LCD)
  • Full manual controls for video (cool)
  • 12 fps
  • Articulated 3in 'TruBlack' LCD with 912k dots
  • Super-fast 1/8000 shutter speed
  • 3 million dot OLED viewfinder (basically a built in EVF), compare this to the 1.14 million dot on the A55.
  • Built-in GPS (picture states that it is there)
  • Weather proof magnesium alloy body
  • SD card, CF and Memory Card slots (can it really fit all 3?)

Other things that are rumoured to be announced include;

  • A65 (also 24MP it seems!)
  • 16-50 f2.8 (kit lens for the A77 and I presume A65 also)
  • NEX-7 (you may find pictures online but also suppose to be 24MP!)
  • NEX-5 replacement and EVF for it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tong Pak Fu Dessert @ Taman Equine

I am not a Tong Sui fan in general but about a week ago, I stumbled upon this place as someone wanted to have a Tau Foo Far after dinner.  We had dinner in the shop next to this place, Street House (can’t remember the exact name) and as we were leaving, we saw this shop and coincidently, it serves Tau Foo Far.

Tong Pak Fu Desserts

Another week went by and once again, we decided to pay this place a visit.  I won’t really say that it is the best but what I can say is that they don’t over-sweetened everything and kill off the taste of the actual content!  It is how I actually like it but may not be to everyone’s palette.


I had the Red Bean with Ginko dessert, and I can confirm that it is sweetened nicely.  It is however, as diluted as what I had last week which was maybe how they make their Red Bean desserts.  So, to confirm this, we ordered another dessert, the Mango Sago (they call it Sagu) dessert.

Mango Sago

This is also slightly different from what we had expected, instead of using coconut milk, they used milk and served it cold with ice cubes in them.  It is also very light and without the “santan”, it feels healthy.  The amount of fresh mangoes in it is very generous.  If you like milky desserts, this is a good choice.

Tau Foo Far

Once again, we also had Tau Foo Far and we can confirm that the texture is consistent; soft and smooth.  Again, it gave that very light feel to the taste.  Also recommended if you are not into strong tasting desserts, but are the type that likes “mouth wash”.

Mango Smoothie

Other than “chinese” type desserts, they also serve items such as Mango Smoothie (pictured above).  When it came, it looks like a big lump of Mango pudding/jelly and the straw looked out of place.  However, it is actually the mixture of the fibrous mango with ice.  They were really generous with the Mangoes.  This is a really great “drink” for a warm evening or after a hot day.

Fried Rice

They also serve food such as Chicken Chop, Chee Cheong Fun and Fried Rice.  We ordered the fried rice and although it looked quite ordinary, we think they added glutinous rice which made it slightly special.  The sticky nature of the fried rice gave it an edge over other ordinary fried rice.  A recommended item.

Overall, there is nothing really outstanding about this place but it is a cosy, good value and the food has this home-cooked feel to it.  In other words, it doesn’t make you feel guilty in terms of health after eating out too often.  The food also doesn’t have very strong taste to them, that is typical of many restaurants.  Desserts aren’t made too sweet nor too thick.

A good place to hang-out after dinner (but it closes at 10 pm!) or just to have a simple dinner.

View Larger Map

32, Jalan Equine 9C, Taman Equine
Bandar Putra Permai
43300 Seri Kembangan, Selangor

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Olympus XZ-1 Review

Another new toy on hand!  From the day it was launched, I was awed by the fact that this compact camera has a F1.8 aperture and what more, on the tele-end, it is only at F2.5!  I had my doubts on the IQ of the camera but from initial reviews I read from various sources, there were nothing more than accolades for this camera.  Olympus was thought of as a “dying” brand except for those underwater fanatics and obviously Olympus also launched the underwater casing for this compact.

XZ-1 F1.8 FameMany months ago, I had already given this camera some thought, together with the Lumix LX-5, Canon S95 and the Sony HX9V.  I was already leaning towards the XZ-1 but when it was time to get a unit, the LX-5 saw a price reduction!  This created a slight delay in my purchasing but a decision had to be made.  Both cameras were so close in terms of usability and even specifications (but that’s not the main point here).

XZ-1 Front Top ViewI am not going to list down the specifications or comparison with other cameras in the same range but will basically highlight what you may be interested to know about that’s rarely mentioned in other reviews.  First up, the fastest shutter speed is 1/2000th of a second which is slower than the LX-5.  However, they do provide a BUILT-IN Neutral Density filter, which is about a 3 stop ND filter.  This is not a software feature but a physical ND filter that sits behind the lens.  I will try to post up pictures taken using the ND filter to show the number of stops equivalent later.

XZ-1 Lens Extended ViewThe picture above has a Keep Digital UV Filter on the front of the lens.  It uses a 34mm filter size, not the screw on type used on dSLR lenses, but a stuck on type.  This is usually used for Digital Video Cameras.

XZ-1 Rear Left ViewOther features (which are also available on the LX-5) that should be noted are the multi-exposure capability and the super MACRO mode that has a minimum focussing distance of 1cm.  It also has one of the highest ISO sensitivity settings at ISO6400 but at ISO1600 and above, it is really too noisy.

XZ-1 Battery and Memory Card ViewOn the negative side, there is no controls for White Balance using the Colour Temperature (Kelvin), it does not have an AEL button (well, doesn’t really bother me actually) and it comes with an in-camera charger via the USB port (this bothers me as I would like to charge my batteries externally).

XZ-1 1.8 - 2.5 ApertureWhat was my deciding factor against the LX-5?  I must firstly state that I think you can’t go wrong with either camera but I had to make a decision.  Whilst the LX-5 is a good 10% cheaper, has a 24mm equivalent wide angle lens and I love the control dials on the camera (same as the Micro 4/3 on the GF-series), the decision on the XZ-1 was made due to the slightly bigger aperture, the slightly longer (although not as wide as the LX-5) zoom range and surprisingly, the control ring is quite pleasant and easy to use.

XZ-1 On HandWhat else did I get with it?  A WHITE Nissin Di466 external flash to match the camera!  Will try to post my thoughts on;

  • ISO
  • Nissin External Flash
  • Built-in Neutral Density Filter
… when I have the time Smile

Monday, August 15, 2011

Old Man Restaurant, Kajang

This place came highly recommended by a colleague of mine and it seems that everyone who lives in Kajang or nearby knows about it.  It is suppose to a very reasonably priced place that serves good fresh food.  They have just moved to the current location not too long ago (a year ago?) from their previous location that’s just down the road.

Old Man Restaurant

We checked out their online site and it states that they are open 7 days a week and their operating hours in the evening is from 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm.  We have been told that they can get rather crowded and as such we decided to get there early.  It is not that difficult to find with the directions that they provided on their online site as well as on their facebook site.  We got there slightly after 5:30 pm and their blinds were still down (as above).  Yippee, we avoided the crowd and even parked our car right in front of the restaurant.  We went in and noticed that we were not the first, there were two other tables.


The staff were very attentive even though they were actually in the middle of having their early evening meal.  For a busy restaurant, they were very patient as we were rather fickle minded about what to order.  The first thing that we ordered was their house speciality and unique Tobiko Fried Rice.

Tobiko Fried Rice

To those who are wondering what’s that orange stuff on top of the fried rice, it’s Tobiko, which is the roe of the flying fish species.  They are generally very small, about half a millimetre in diameter and pops in your mouth when you bite them. The Tobiko themselves were rather expensive but the fried rice themselves were full of large prawns!  … oh, and fresh ones too!

Large Prawns

Next up was the Gui Lin Tofu.  This dish is surprisingly well made in that the sauce is not too starchy and the taste is just right, not too strong and the garnishing was not overwhelming and gave it the right crunch.

.Gui Lin Bean Curd

Whilst placing our order, I asked about whether they have any curry dish other than the Curry Fish Head.  They recommended the Curry Tilapia Fish which I asked them to place additional vegetables.  After we placed our orders, I started to wonder about how they will cook the Tilapia in a curry as Tilapia fish are generally either steamed or deep fried instead of cooked in a curry.  Well, the way they did it was to firstly deep fry the fish and then cook it in the curry which was extremely pleasing to the taste buds.

Curry Tilapia

The curry was great!  Of course, we needed extra rice to finish off the gravy!  Next was the boring potato leaves fried with garlic.  Ok, although it is boring, they actually did it very well.  We think it was because the vegetable was very fresh and the taste was slightly different in that the garlic was very lightly “cooked”, not even fried (we think).

Fried Potato Leaves

We also tried their crabmeat tofu.  They were very generous with the crab sauce which again was not as starchy as most other places and it actually had quite a lot of real crab meat!  A very good dish (except that when they use real crab meat, it also unfortunately had small crab shells Smile )

Crabmeat Tofu

We had the Claypot Eggplant as well.  It was sizzling when it arrived, the eggplant were definitely fresh and smelt really good.  It does however is a little too saltish for us, as they had abundance of what we believe Taucu beans in it.

Claypot Eggplant

For meat dishes, we tried the Thai Salad Chicken which we had no complains about but I am not able to describe it well here.  Definitely a good dish but unfortunately overshadowed by their other dishes.

Thai Salad Chicken

Another meat dish that we tried was their Nestum Pork Chop.  The meat slices were very thin and well coated with Nestum.  We believe the trick in their well deep fried Nestum Pork Chop is the thinnest of the meat so that it was just a quick dip and fry.  It is definitely a recommended dish if you love the taste of Nestum.

Nestum Pork

We would recommend all the dishes above, especially the Tobiko Fried Rice, the Curry Tilapia Fish, the Gui Lin Tofu and the Nestum Pork Chop.  There is however, only one rather disappointing dish, which was their Salad Prawns.  Although there is really nothing wrong with it but we felt that it would be much better if it had a crispier batter coating.  However, the coleslaw that came with it was excellent.

Salad Prawn

That all, we will be visiting them again soon.  Oh, the price is very reasonable as well. Note that we did not have all the above dishes in one sitting, it was over 2 meals.