Thursday, July 22, 2010

Singapore Garden Festival 2010

The Garden Festival is back, unfortunately between work and a long annoying cold, I could not set aside much time to visit. So when there was a lull in my schedule, I grabbed my shiny new Ricoh GXR and made my way down to Suntec City.

It was getting crowded when I arrived late afternoon, view and shoot meant contenting with posers and people oblivious to other people around them. I joined the crowd. The Halls of Suntec expo halls rarely look so beautiful, the organisers transported a small jungle and filled up the walkways.
I was not the only one with the GXR that day, bumped into another Ricoh GXR user, this is the first time so far. Didn't stay to chat, as I was on the clock and hoping to clear my head of the day's earlier irritations.
The top level was dedicated to Garden Design Competition and other Landscape showoffs, absolutely gorgeous and calming. Did 2 rounds of the floor, maximising the use of the A12 and P10 units. Lighting was definitely a problem as to preserve the ambience of the displays, and I was doing hand held all the way.
Anyway it was a good chance to stress test the high ISO performance of both units. The A12 was short on image stabilisers as I am not the most steady of hands and the P10 was strained trying to capture at iso 1600. All in all not that many pictures capture and even far fewer decent, plus in my haste, there was only about half the battery charge left.

All in all it was still a relaxing afternoon, although I find nature being man handled into cramped designs a bit er unnatural sometimes.

Ricoh GXR A12

Ricoh GXR P10

Shopping at the garden

Hong Kong Cafe Fare

The Hong Kong Cafe or Cha Chaan Teng (you just can find about anything in Wikipedia) style of cooking was/is quite popular here. Eateries serving anything related to Hong Kong, sprouted like post precipitation fungi not too long ago. Left standing are the hardier and better financed groups, notably Hong Kong Cafe, Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe and Central Hong Kong Cafe.

My first experience was at THE Hong Kong Cafe at East Coast Road, which was a little sad, nothing wrong with the service or place. However, after a long day of work, eating a lonely dinner of Maggie Noodles served with a piece of luncheon meat and blanched frozen vegetable cocktail (The chopped carrots, peas and corn in a bag type) is a little depressing. My Pavlovian reaction to the mention of HK cafes is "Oh, The Maggie Noodle Place."

Things now are a little better of course, you can choose more than just Variations on Maggie Noodles.

Lunch at Xin Wang.

Ricoh GXR A12

Lunch at Paradise Inn

A quaint eating place, dressed up like a little Period drama set. Just a touch of tacky that is actually fun. Food is generally basic but well done.

Ricoh GXR A12

Professional Point and Shoot

Sometimes a DSLR is just cumbersome for a spur of the moment, so what do professionals use for times like that? Answer is here.
The common as weeds iPhone lies in the middle of the list, while the top is dominated by the Canon G series.

Good to know at least one professional photographer use a Ricoh as an alternative to their usual DSLR. A CX2 this time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Little thing relaxing

Does it really destress? Certainly good to smell nice trying. Now scram while I relax with this from Yankee Candle.

Still life

Ricoh GXR A12 1/35s f/2.5 iso 1600

Ricoh GXR A12 1/15s f/2.5 iso200

Ricoh GXR 1/1300s f/8.0 iso200

Monday, July 19, 2010

A little thing sweet

Tapioca bars from Kartini, Indonesian Restaurant at Parkway Parade. They are normally very light on sweetness, almost a little neutral. Sometimes a little dry, a touch of honey and kaya makes it just a little smoother. Actually they are like a blank culinary canvass on which you can paint whatever flavour you like.

Ricoh GXR A12 1/50s f/2.5 iso 400

Thursday, July 15, 2010

HCM Dinner

Kiam Bak Dinner Part 2

The last portion of the brined pork belly. It had really soaked up the salt and packs quite a savoury punch.

Ricoh GXR A12 1/40s f/2.5 iso 800

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ricoh Cameras and DPReview

The new Samsung EX1/TL500 was recently reviewed by DPReview, authored by Richard Butler. While the machine is intriguing, I was more disturbed by his opening comments.
"As DSLRs have become less expensive, the number of people keen to buy high-end, manually controllable compact cameras has fallen away - so long as camera size isn't an issue, the benefits of a larger sensor are hard to resist. However, because size is a concern for some people, the sector didn't die-off entirely and, in July 2008, Panasonic introduced the DMC-LX3, finally giving an alternative to Canon's well-respected G-series."
Mr Butler was the reviewer for the said Panny cam, which admittedly is a very good serious compact, so not surprisingly he remembers it well. It is however simply false to claim the LX3 was the first alternative to the Canon G series. My second foray into Digital Photography was the Canon G6, after a Fujifilm P&S, and I was impressed with its versatility and manual control.

The one thing I felt was lacking was a real wide angle without requiring bulky accessories. Then I became aware of the Ricoh company in the form of the R5. It was a compact travel zoom that started at an equivalent of 28 mm, something most famous manufacturers did not offer. Still there was something that was not satisfying, me being gadget addicted and all that.

Then came the Capilo GX100. It was not even on my radar, but that was the start of my obsession with Ricoh.

Back to Mr Butler's article. How can a staff reviewer (is he?) miss out the fact that the GX100 came out a year before the LX3, when it was reviewed by Simon Joinson.
"As mentioned above the GX100 is one of the only digital compact cameras to ever sport a 24mm equivalent wideangle zoom, and this brings huge practical as well as creative benefits for many kinds of photography."
This was posted in August 2007. Even now in 2010, the Samsung specifications are still the same, the basic 1/1.7" sensors with 24-72 mm zoom lens housed in a relatively compact body. The rest are good improvements and flourishes.

Mr Butler did not opined the LX3 as a "good alternative to Canon" or the most popular, but gave the impression that it was the only alternative then. He is either unaware or selectively amnesic, a bit unprofessional for what is a "premier" gadget review site. Where are the editors?

Ricoh cameras are relatively unknown outside of Japan, more familiar as supplier of fax machines and copiers. Strangely they don't seem to be very keen at promoting their products, camera wise, after all the production amounts to about 2000 units per month(?).  They had a lot of firsts in their machines, but sadly they are now someone else innovations. These includes wide angles in compacts, high ISOs, built in HDR, miniature view special effects. They also produce quite good optics especially at the macro range.

The people at Ricoh seem contented in a world of their own, which includes listening to their small group of customers. Fans of their camera also seem to live in a world of their own. Me included


Local food photo blog by one Brad Lau. He puts in a lot of hard work along with a good set of equipment and the results show. The aim, to make you feel hungry with photography, is admirably achieved. I am hungry.

HCM Dinner

Dinner of Brined Pork Belly and Purple Potatoes. Served with Crisp Okra and Carrots, topped with Sun Dried Tomatoes. A dollop of German Mustard on the side.
Translation : Kiam Bak and Kentang.

P10 1/50s f/3.7 iso 800

Really loving the GXR, even with the small sensor module.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Practice makes perfect

Still in the practice part, far from perfect. Working with Lightroom on old files.

Original file

Friday, July 09, 2010

Ricoh GXR

Trying out the A12 module with its APS-C size sensor.

f/2.8 1/125s iso 3200

A little more difficult to use with a narrower depth of field compared to the P10. Under low light condition, it doesn't lock where you want easily. With the current firmware upgrade version 1.17, there are a few tricks to make macro focusing less miss more hits.

My unit came with the original firmware, closeup focusing meant hunting from 7cm to 30cm. It takes quite some time while the camera tries to make up its mind, slow as it has to move the lens elements a fair distance, basically the lens extends to double its length. Just a whole lot to move.

The new update includes an option to limit the macro range. Pick 7-10 cm and the lens extends to the maximum, much less hunting even if it returns with a red warning. The other range is 10-30cm, much the same with less extension. Not quite happy with the results on screen? You can use the manual fly by wire focusing ring or just move the lens back and forth. The screen is large and clear enough for me, just don't expect it for professional use. The focusing ring also comes with 2 speed, use on its own you get fine slow focusing. Hold the macro button down, it kicks into second gear for a quick-er focus.
Autofocus  can be combined with manual focus by holding the shutter button at half press and turning the focus ring.

Options options and options. That is what is great about Ricoh, you make your tool YOUR tool.  Unfortunately it means a lot more work is needed to get results, for some its a long journey. Not for the impatient.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Ricoh GXR

New adventures with the P10 and a budget breaking software.

Developed from Raw with Lightroom 3. Barely scratching the surface of this powerful program.

Lunch for the first time in ION Orchard

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Shanghai Expo VI


Oh I need to go!
Credit to the organisers, the facilities are quite well maintained and the queues move pretty fast, both sexes.

Where are we?

Oasis of peace

Anything to get a shot

Who is more interesting category. Personally I don't get the posing, also it makes it difficult to appreciate the art display.

Shanghai Expo V

Our little group of travelers missed this famous lady in her native land so we just simply had to visit her this time.

Her long journey
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