Sunday, December 26, 2010

Miscellaneous Ricoh GXR A12 28mm

When I first saw the 28mm unit, I wondered why they changed the lens cap design. It is actually an improvement but I still could not understand why this particular design until I had the one accessory for this unit. The LH1 lens hood looks cool attached and the rationale for the lens cap design becomes evident. Pretty ingenious and the bonus it can be used on the 50mm.
However it is not cheap to look cool, I got the hood for SGD 32 and not altogether sure if it makes a real difference to photos.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to everyone

Everyone have a Merry Christmas
Peace and Good Will to all.
Happiness and Health,
and Good Eats everyday. 

Peranakan Food

I simply love this snack/appetiser. Calling it a snack, doesn't do justice to the amount of work needed to prepare this. Perhaps that is why it is difficult to find a pretty decent version that is not going to empty your wallet as fast as you can eat it.

This latest offering I found is at the "Integrated Cafe" at the Le Peranakan Hotel, yes the one with the terribly addictive and sinful Lorong 29 Hokkien Prawn Mee. The owner looks and sounds like a Katong boy (we know who we are) and wields the wok as well as his iPad.

Kueh Pie Tee by Makan@Peranakan

They serve a portion of 4 for $3 in a plastic bowl. The bowl is definitely useful when assembling and frankly it's really not easy to carry this without toppling in a crowded food court.
I usually eat this in a single mouthful. Now before you start screaming, this is really the only way I know how to eat this delicate art work. Nibbling it I end up dripping all over my face, a really horrible sight.
I enjoyed this version, the shell is still crunchy, filling is not too salty topped off with the chili sauce that gives a hint of fire without overpowering the rest.
Definitely looking forward to savour their Nonya Mee Siam and Laksa, Nasi Ulam and Nasi Kunyit the next time.

Food Court offerings

The Kopitiam food court at Plaza Singapura has this very popular stall that sells Indonesian style barbecue chicken, come lunch time there is always a long queue. But I much prefer a newer stall, which I think gives a better Indonesian flavour.

They serve also the fried version, Ayam Penyet or literally flatten chicken. The barbecue version Ayam Bakar comes with fragrant spice coating, a piece of fried Tofu and Tempe and also a bowl of spicy sour vegetable soup, Sayur Assam.
Far more interesting than their competitor in terms of flavour.
However, one has to be patient when ordering, there can sometimes be only one person at the counter doing almost everything, and the barbecue chicken takes a little longer to prepare.
Please don't think this is anything to wow your palate though, it is still food court food!

Friday, December 24, 2010

More Ricoh GXR A12 28mm

Isn't it annoying when you have a new toy and you don't have the time to play? Thank goodness for the holiday.

I think the GXR system is beginning to take shape with the 2 APS-C camera units. While the S10 and P10 units are very well made machines, they have a certain limitation due to their sensor size. I have practically abandoned my P10 unit as I am just bad at trying to milk out decent images with it.

One difference between the 50mm and the 28mm is the missing macro function from the wide angle unit. The 28 can only focus on things not less than 20 cm from the front of the lens. A little strange as all previous Ricohs I have used, can basically kiss the subject and still focus. So how does it fare as a food porn tool? I think it is pretty decent as seen from the following images. Can't blame the tool every time, can I?

Incidentally, this is from Old Hong Kong Cafe. Pretty decent cooking, but not too economical if you go overboard with the ordering. One highlight in the Dim Sum array is the plain looking white bun, it has custard filling made with Salted Egg yolk. It has just a little oily ooze that is sweet and savoury, something I have not seen around much.
Next is with the A12 50mm, with macro. The very shallow depth of field makes it difficult to get sharp images, especially with my annoyingly unstable hands.

This is their Macau style Roast Pork, you get a very crunchy crackling with just enough saltiness and not too fatty. Presentation wise however, Tung Lok's version is miles ahead with very even colour and cut.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Ricoh GXR A12 28mm

Next to a interchangeable lens unit, this GXR camera unit was highly anticipated by a lot of Ricoh fans.
Yet in typical Ricoh style, the arrival in Singapore was understated, in fact totally unannounced. Perhaps that's not the case in Japan, but I had to monitor Clubsnap the local photography forum to find out the A12 28mm had finally landed.

So what is new, what is good?

It has the same Ricoh quality construction of the A12 50mm, compact and solid. One difference is the manual focusing ring, the 28mm has a looser feel, unlike the 50mm which has a definite resistance to turning. With the firmware version 1.29, manual focus seems actually redundant with the 28mm. For one, with the wider field of view you cannot really tell if it is in or out of focus (for me anyway). Another is, the autofocus is now far more precise and concise then fiddling with a "loose" ring so why bother?

Lots of detractors of the GXR system emphasized that you have to change sensors with each lens change and that it seems such a waste. Now that we have 2 working "serious" module available, it is time to re-examine this mindset. Bear in mind I am discussing only about the 2 camera units with APS-C sensors.

The GXR engineers and designers have created a well thought out system, so much so it is no different from changing a lens on a Canon or Nikon. You just have to be aware of the different angle of view and the focusing limits. There is no need to learn new button positions or functions. In fact, the first experience of using the 28mm unit was underwhelming, almost mundane like putting gloves in winter.

However looking the images taken so far, I do wonder if there were some quality control issue. The question is are the sensors in both APS-C units the same? The 28mm unit seems to show more noise even at the base iso of 200. It is not that my unit is faulty, the same issue has been noted online and I have tried a second unit with the same result. So could the problem be the optic-sensor pairing? Or simply a result of the wider field of view. Or are the detractors right after all? The noise issue is definitely noticeable, but easily remedied in Lightroom for those shooting in Raw, and it does not show up at all in JPEG pictures. 

Here is a little sample of this understated piece of precision machinery.

I love that you can see Venus (I think) at the middle top area.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ricoh GXR A12 28mm

Yes! Finally the GXR wide angle module.
Here are straight from the camera JPEGs although they were shot in raw. Just too lazy to fire up Lightroom for now.

I have uploaded the full resolution images into my web album if anyone is interested.

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's beginning to feel a lot like...

Yes, that time of the year. The most stressful time of the year for a lot of  people and yet perversely the time to sing about joy and peace. Confession time: I love Christmas songs. I can even tolerate the cheesiest versions that some shops put out. When the world seems determined to pin you down, those darn songs can lift you just a little to let you struggle on.
Here's to real peace and joy to those truly burdened throughout the world.

Coffee Club Xmas Cone. Chocolate coffee lovers dive in.
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