Friday, August 29, 2014

Flickr photobooks on SALE...

I got an email from Flickr offering me their photobooks, its on sale now, just $10 for a 24 pages photobook! thats quite a deal. Buyers pay shipping. Promo code TRAV14. I was eager to order the photobook myself when i noticed that it only ships within the USA... BOOO!! But i have another way, i have a some sort of MYUS address that i could ship it to. I was making the photobook and prepare to check out when they only want credit cards from the US for payment. BOOOOO again! I was expecting to pay with paypal but alas, they just want US credit cards.... Triple BOOOOO! I really like the simple layout that flickr offers, just drag and drop pictures and order. Oh well....

Blurb's calling.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Aint no rumor now.. Fuji X30 announced!

I love all things Fuji but this X30, it's not revolutionary, i think its boring, i think it fell way behind the bigger sensor Sony RX100 iii. The guts of the Fuji X30 is the same as Fuji X20. I think its about time Fuji needs to come out with a bigger sensor than a 2/3. The X30 should have sport a 1inch sensor just like Sony's. I bet if it was a 1inch sensor, those who already owns these so much Fuji gears will want to buy the X30. For now, i think its wise to pass up the X30 and wait for a bigger sensor in X30S!

taken from

To someone who did not yet own a Fuji, who loves the retro design, didn't care less about sensor size or didn't even know what a sensor size got to do with a camera, then this X30 is definitely worth a grab. If i didn't have the X-M1, i might want the X30. I think my X-M1 is smaller than the X30 except the X-M1 has longer kit lens. I know i know some enthusiast didn't really care about the sensor size, grain, noise, clean and what not, a great picture is a great picture no matter what the sensor size is, no matter what the camera is. But for me, i love the headroom i can get when processing an image from a bigger sensor camera than those with smaller sensor. Sliding those sliders up and down in Lightroom and see what effect it has on the image somehow amuse me. LOL. But knowing there is a camera out there *wink*wink* Sony RX100 with a bigger sensor and is pocketable in the market and compares to Fuji X30, big, non-pocketable, smaller sensor, i mean, Fuji is not competing at all. Not even trying. Thats what makes it sad. I know to all those mainstreamers, a camera is just a camera, but to passionate and the enthusiast photographer, i think this is a sad move by Fuji, at least thats what i'm feeling. Its a camera that not everyone is gonna buy. Fuji should make a camera that everyone wants to buy. They should planted that in their heads. Everybody is asking for a bigger sensor but no, they decide to just update the X20. The features are great, the new filter "Classic Chrome" is great but i have VSCO to do that for me, the X30 is clearly targeting to those who did not process their pictures at all. Someone who just use or print or share their pictures OOC on the go. Well good luck with that, those customers Fuji is targeting, i think they appreciate their smartphones more. I might be wrong. BUT i'm just sad, its not a 1inch sensor, its not the end of the world but i just dont want to invest on something "less" when there is something(rx100iii) "more" in the market. Yes, there is a price difference, people would go for the cheap but for photography enthusiast, IQ is important. Forgive me if i dont make any sense, im just rambling away. Oh well, someone is gonna bash me talking about sensor size but its my money, and i dont want to spend money on a small sensor compact. Please Fuji bring the X30S now, X30 with a 1inch sensor! I'm not bashing Fuji, i still support Fujifilm. But X30 is not for me, now let's just wait for the X100T!

Well, well, well, aint no surprise!

taken from

Apparently i'm not the only one,
I've been looking for that word/phrase/sentence while i was writing this post and found it!
Yes, Fujirumors is right, its a deal breaker for not having a 1inch sensor. Uh Oh Fujifilm.
Come come update now, make Fuji X30S now!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

From London to Italy and Leicester ...... (Part 2 Milan)

18th July 2014

It's 12pm and i am in Bergamo, Milan. The weather is hot unlike Leicester's cool breeze, its about 30degrees celcius and i'm sweating. I just had the worst morning, i was holding my pee and my bladder felt like its gonna explode, i was queuing to board the airplane but as it was a really long queue, i'm at the front by the way, i didn't want to simply leave the queue and go to the restroom, so i'd stay and planned to use the restroom on the plane instead.  As i boarded the plane, i head straight to the restroom after putting my bags on my seat but the stewardess simply said "After take off" with her italian slang, her face was like "Dude, NO", being the optimistic guy i am, i sat and wait for take off and it feels like forever. Finally the plane took off and when the seat belt lights turned off which also felt like forever, i went for the restroom but it was still locked, so i asked the stewardess to unlocked it for me and she got the nerve to joke "5 euro please" with a straight face, you know.. the "NO" face  and then she giggled and open the door for me, if only she knew what i just went through! I'd kick her ass all the way to italy

As we approached Milan, i looked out the window and below me is the Alps of Switzerland. It was a breathtaking view, it looks cold but somehow Milan being next to it, is hot.

The bus ride to Milan central is 60min non stop as advertised by terravision, and i dont want to sleep through the journey, i want to see what italy looks like. This is my first time in Italy. Italy always looked beautiful in films, movies, pictures. I want to see the old houses, the old buildings, but the long stretch highway journey was disappointing as there was nothing to see, just factories and gas stations.

As we approached the city, i've come to see the mostly brown and beige coloured buildings that later on i've found out its a typical italian buildings, so far nothing special yet. It did remind me of Paris. I've checked in at hotel Gonzaga, which is nicely located near the train station, i have Venice, Florence and Rome to look forward to and train ride is the best mode of transport for my Italy trip. I'm staying for 2 nights here in Milan. I was given a map by the hotel concierge and recommendations of places to visit and shop. To my surprise everything is walkable, in walking distance, to the main point of interest, its all within the map. The concierge said "Milan is not big like Rome, all the shoppings and the main points of interest is here (points to the map), Buenos Aires street, 200m from the hotel and here, Piazza Del Duomo."

I made my way to the Buenos Aires street and my first impression was, a bit disappointed. It is interesting but this just looked like Oxford Street in London or Orchard Road of Singapore. I'm not a big shopping guy, i wanted to see the unique buildings, the old buildings, what is this? i said to myself. Walked myself till the end of the street, this is a shopping street indeed. Not really my cup of tea. Time is getting late, gotta head back to the hotel and i'll visit the Duomo tomorrow.

These italians love graffiti, everywhere i look there will be walls with grafitti on it and even on a van!.

Next morning, i hop on the closest metro to get to the Duomo. Ya, i said everything is in walking distance, but to be honest, the long stretch of the Buenos Aires street is enough for me to ditch walking, it is tiring or should i say it's an unnecessary walk. i'd rather have fresh legs on the Duomo than tired legs. On a map the Duomo does look closer but when you're on the street itself, pheww... no comment.

When i reached the Duomo, i cursed myself for taking the wrong Uscita (Exit). The exit that i took involving me climbing a long flight of stairs, and that exit was quiet. There was no one else. i'm sure i took the wrong exit, i believed the other exit has an escalator. No time for turning back as i've already climbed so much stairs. So much for fresh legs. It was like climbing a hill, your legs tenses up, blood pumping, sweat, all the fun stuff.

I finally see the light on my way out, and when i got out of the exit, i was greeted with Piazza Del Duomo. I have to say i was in awe. "Ahhh finally, this is my awe moment, this is italy!" i said. Standing in the middle of the Piazza Del Duomo was all i can say breathtaking. It is the main city square in Milan. Its beautiful. Now this is much better than yesterday. Its like standing in the middle of 3 football field, surrounded by old architectures, monuments, cathedral and history. I'm in the middle of history.

What surprise me was this place is not just museums and cathedrals, this place is a shopping mall too! All the fashion big brands, i think the first ever Prada boutique was opened here.

I've read all the "Top ten places to go in Milan" all over the internet, everyone mentioned the same thing, go to Piazza Del Duomo, go to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele ii, do this, do that, eat gelato, eat pizza... duhh!! but nobody ever mentioned about those dodgy taking advantage rip offs guys who offers you something or stuffs and then asked for a certain steep amount of money. Yeah, those guys. If you've been to Italy you know these guys i'm talking about. They offered you string bracelets or seeds for pigeons, at least i've encountered those two. I am usually a "NO" guy, that's a rule i always kept to myself when travelling, always say NO to strangers, whatever their offerings. Its ok to be rude when you're travelling (depends on situation really), my philosophy could be different than yours, i'm sorry but this country is also famous for pickpockets! I'm just being safe.

And so i was offered a bracelet made of colourful strings, usually i would say no, maybe i was under a spell, i said yes, besides this guy said its "free". I was hesitant at first but my heart somehow goes weak, maybe i was amazed by the Piazza and said OK, why not. So he fixed the string on my wrist said its for good luck and then start asking for money, 5euro to be exact, i mean what?! 5euro for a piece of string? and you said its free?. At first i didn't want to pay a single dime and then i realised that these guys worked as a team, or maybe the other guy just helping a brother out, (he also offers those bright coloured strings). He said "Pay him bro"........ "Shit, i'm not just handling one guy here, there's 2 or more" i thought to myself. I didn't want to make a scene or being mug, but i've seen this before and experienced this, so i decided to just give him 1euro and left him as quick as possible. I think that made him happy or at least satisfied. But my mood is ruined. So much for Piazza Del Duomo.

Then there's the other guy with the pigeons seeds, while i was standing in the middle of Piazza Del Duomo, i was amazed at how many of the pigeons can stay close to the humans, the pigeons were not afraid, this is amazing i said, this is something i'm not used to, from where i come from, pigeons flew like crazy when you're near, ......apparently there is this guy who's been feeding these birds. He offered me the seeds although quite forcibly, even when you said no, he just put the seeds onto my hands and let the pigeons eat it on my hands, that was nice. Okay, i'm just gonna give this guy 1euro and be done with it, i said to myself.
He dont really speak good english but i swear i heard him said "10euros"....... "What? 10euros for a bloody frikkin seeds?" Man, that is just a ripoff. So i left him with 1euro and move on quickly, i can faintly heard him said "What is this?" while he looks at the 1euro i gave him on his palm.

I still let the colourful bracelet on my wrist and it was indeed good luck, good for preventing the other guys to offer me more bracelet that is. They were offering bracelets but when they saw the bracelet on my wrist they simply move on to another tourist. Wow! talked about good luck.

Everywhere i go be it in the streets of Milan or the Piazza Del Duomo, i must come across the word, "SALDI" .... its everywhere.... SALDI SALDI SALDI....

Italy is famous for pizza and spaghetti but they are also famous for their coffee! Espresso, Machiato, capuccino, all sounded italy, they must have invented that drink and me being a coffee lover slash addict, have to try them all. I just had my first espresso, i'm not really a black coffee guy but
thats the best black coffee i ever had, usually i'd take milk but not this time, its so good.

Thats pretty much sums up Milan.

Ciao, the italian way of saying hi AND also goodbye.......

which reminds me of this movie...

but not as confusing as that lol

Sunday, August 10, 2014

From London to Italy and Leicester ...... (Part 3 Venice)

20th July 2014

So this is Venice, or as the italians called it Venezia, during my younger days i've been dreaming about this place, people say its boring, they say its only buildings on water and gondolas but so far i've enjoyed it. And here i am. Its kinda surreal. But i am in venice. I only used to see Venice from TVs, travel channels and pictures, now, here i am. First impressions compared to Milan is definitely different and interesting. This place is beautiful! I love old buildings and this checked in my check list. The moment you stepped out of the train station, you're greeted with water taxis. This is the main transportation of Venice, boats, gondolas and water taxis. The water taxis worked similar like the metro trains in Milan. But here its 7euro per trip. The Metro in Milan costs only 1.50euro. Bummer. Venice is certainly more expensive than other parts of Italy. A tourist traps they say.

I reached my destination at St.Angelo and meet the apartment owner, Alessandro. Very italian but speaks good english. I think he's making good money for renting his apartment here in venice. Roughly about 120euro per nite, good for 3 to 4 adulto. The room is spacey, it feels like home and i am already liking Venice. No view of the grand canal but i'm closed enough to the point of interest areas. Great deal.

My apartment, and that couch is a cool sofa bed

This is definitely a tourist place. I'm not sure if i'm seeing Italians or a tourist. Everyone looks like a tourist. And they said Milan is a shopping city but Venice is definitely a shopper's paradise too. I think Italy is a shopping paradise. Definitely a lot of shops here in Venice. All the big brands located nicely behind the no.1 top spots in Venice, the Piazza San Marco. For you inglessia, (that's english by the way) its St.Marks square. Me, parlo non italiano (I dont speak italian). I'm picking up little italian. Souvenirs, leather bags, handbags, there is H&M, (H&M is everywhere!!!), there are 2 hard rock cafe shops, a lot of cool tees. You can also buy the gondola's tee shirt as well which looks like the old cartoon prisoners stripes shirt.

Piazza San Marco

Shopping in Venice

I spent a lot in Venice compared to in Milan, somehow this beautiful place made me feel like spending. You know how a place can give you a feeling of spending/getting something, "I want to get something from here so i can remember/treasure this place" sort of feeling. Souvenirs, key chains, tees, and i should have buy a fridge magnet even though in my experience it always got broken played by my 2 highly active kids.

I had dinner in one of the restaurants near the Rialto bridge, although a bit expensive but this place is really romantic, at night, everything just glows with bright amber lights by the canal. i'm thinking this is a great place to bring your significant other. A Honeymoon. Dinner by the grand canal. Kissing on the Rialto bridge. Venice is indeed special.

Rialto Bridge

Gondola by the Grand Canal

i find my mind is at peace here. Its relaxing. Peaceful. A good retirement home.

One thing to note, all the towers in Venice are leaning, not just the famous leaning tower of pisa. "What is up with that?" Most of the towers. What are the italians thinking? Probably back in the days, when they worked their way up the tower, it looked straight from down below, not until they almost finished the tower they then realize it was leaning but its too late to turn back or redo, they just leave it as it is.
And the world thought it was genius! Its either the architect is a genius or the world is a fool!
I'm joking, of course i'm joking...... but am i??

Piazza San Marco

Thursday, August 7, 2014

From London to Italy and Leicester ...... (Part 4 Burano and Murano)

21st July 2014

Burano, i guess someone a long time ago decided to play with colourful paint or they just discovered paint itself and painted their houses with different striking colors next to each other. To be honest i did not know and did not look up burano's history. Anyway, Burano has a lot of colorful houses and that's just it. Its beautiful in a way but i guess its a once in a life time experience. Unlike Venice, i'd love to come back to Venice anytime. With Burano, maybe just once. Dont get me wrong, its worth the experience. I'm happy that i visited Burano. I took a lot of pictures. Might be the same scene for a couple of shots. Which means its really that beautiful.

The boat took a lifetime to reach Burano. It's a 30 min ride but the slow speed make it felt like ages. At first i thought Burano is part of Venice, so i decided to just stand and let those empty seats being taken. "Well, its only gonna take 10-15mins just like those metros in milan", i thought. I was wrong. Actually Burano is another island next to Venice. I should have taken the seat. Anyway, Burano is a small island. One whole day should be enough for sight seeing, its a place to relax. A retirement home i guess.

On the way back to Venice from Burano there is another island in between named Murano, i made a stop here before heading back to Venice to explore Murano. It is another small island, much closer to Venice which is famous for making glasses into beautiful shapes. Be it pendant, vase, rings, animals, orchestra dudes, flowers, lots of shapes. If you're into these kind of thing, then its worth a visit. Its also cheaper compare to prices around the world. Made in italy, this is as original as it gets. The origin. Great as souvenirs. "I just came back from italy and look what i brought, a glass made in italy!" Me grin, the rest gasp! With their hands on their mouths.

There is this one island i passed by, in between Venice and Murano, long walls and no boats seems to stop there. It looks like Alcatraz island from the movie The Rock. Or this is the cemetery island that i read about in a book called something like "things to do in Venice".

A funny thing, actually i took a trip to Burano twice, because i took the wrong boat. The information display said its going back to Venice at 18.17. 18.17 the boat came, i hop in with full confidence but the boat is going in the direction of Burano. Oh Em Gee, i'm heading back to Burano.i feel like a fool. Its gonna be a slow long ride, now where's that seat. 19.17, i'm finally back in Venice.

I am in my hotel scrolling through all the TV channels looking for an english speaking channel. Nop. Everything's in italian. I'm watching Homer Simpson speaking fluent italian. The best thing with these dub audio is that they try to imitate the voice of the character themselves. Well not all works. Bruce Willis did not sound like Bruce Willis but close haha. I wish there was an option to put on an english subtitle, at least i could enjoy the movie. Thank god there's internet.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

From London to Italy and Leicester ....... (Part 0 Fuji X100S)

I had a trip to London and Italy last month and there are a few blog post that i wrote while i was there, i didn't update the blog on the fly, instead i jot down what i would write on my blog on my tablet, old school style, like a diary kind of style. I wanted to include the photos i took with my X100S on the blog. While the Fuji is smaller and lighter than big SLR, i still find it a drag to carry around, it still gives me sore shoulder. During the trip i wish i could leave my X100s in the hotel but thinking of all the photos opportunities, i just had to bring it. But that is just me. I'm too nitpicky. I love to travel really really light. I dont want to carry anything. I dont want to carry a shoulder bag which i did the whole duration of the trip. and it sores my shoulder. did i say that already? But the images of the Fuji is astonishing. Sharp and superb tonal range although there is one time when it misfocus i would love to smash it to the ground. It misfocus when the moment mattered. Nice........ that was really really frustrating. With the WCL fitted, makes it more heavier. and bulkier. I should have gone with the fixed 23mm, less bulk but i need the wide angle coverage. Bahhh!!

These are my opinions on the Fuji x100s as a travel camera but i'm too overly critical on certain things:-

- Most of the time i use aperture F8 - F14 on a bright sunny day to get the most depth of field, sharp picture front to back. No bokeh needed. and its easier for others/strangers who doesnt know to prefocus to take pictures of yourself/me so that it did not back focus/misfocus.
- Silent mode is best. Unobtrusive street/candid photography. Just let the X100s hanging on the neck and press the shutter button with the thumb while walking/moving.
- Pressing and holding Q button will activate the monitor sunlight mode, a must in bright sunny days so that you could see the LCD properly. Too bad no effect on EVF. I find the EVF to be dim in bright sunny days. but i also did not adjust the EVF brightness in the menu. To me, i find that adjusting brightness and monitor sunlight mode did not give the same brightness. its better with sunlight mode on than increasing the brightness to plus 5.
- I did not use much EVF. i mostly use the LCD for composition.
- I used high speed burst mode for candid photography.
- low light auto focus fail miserably. (smallest focus box) . That was frustrating. i keep getting the RED BOX of DEATH.
- No zoom can sometimes be limited. There are times i wish i could zoom. But i'm fine on 19mm all the time.
- I mostly shoots in JPGs. There are times when i shoot in RAW+Jpg. But 90% i stayed in JPG. I'm too lazy to get into Q menu and change to raw.
- I find the X100S gives me sore shoulder but that could be due to the sling bag that i carried too. But this is definitely better than DSLR.
- I wish i could fit the x100s in my pocket so i dont have to bring a sling bag with me.
- 5% misfocus in bright sunny day. which is annoying. Bright sunny day. Cmon.

I'm sure there are more but i forgot a few.

To summarise, i think i'm better off with a point and shoot smaller camera for travelling/personal/leisure (*i'm looking at you Sony rx100iii*). but thats just me. If it is a paid job, then of course i just need my Fujis!

For my style of photography, which are just snapshots, i better go with point and shoot for travel. i did not take time to think of composition and other photography skills. I think during my travel, time is of the essence, or time is gold, if that is the right quote, i mean there are so many places to go, to explore, i dont have time to take my time with my photography, i need to keep moving, its worst if you're in a group. Everyone else were moving and you're left behind because you were taking photos. and then you have to play catching up. Do that over and over in a day. no fun. so i just compose and take a shot and then move. But i'm too spoiled of Fuji's image quality. I'm looking at the thousand of photos i took during the trip, and the Fuji's IQ is superb! Super, super, super. I'm worried that if i finally indeed buy the Sony RX100iii, i might get disappointed with a 1inch sensor quality. But lets get real, when do i really going to print large? like really large? maybe a family portrait but the other snapshots? i dont think so. Since i like to zoom in, pixel peeping my photos, "occasionally", i might get disappointed with Sony's IQ as i have with my EM10's IQ just because i was spoiled with Fuji's great IQ. I wish Fuji can come up with a pocketable camera and still keeping with the retro design. But rumors has it that Fuji X30 is still gonna be a 2/3 sensor, why not 1inch? I dont care for XE2 EVF on it, i want a big sensor in a small camera and a decent EVF will be fine.

After the trip, i got sick of bringing my Fuji X100s anywhere but the image quality does made me think twice. To bring or not to bring?

I have a trip to Singapore coming, again, i might try and get the Sony RX100iii after all. Gadgets are like toys. Big boys toys.

UPDATE: When i first wrote this blog post, i just got back from the trip, and at that moment, i don't feel and i don't want to bring my x100s anywhere with me, but after looking at the thousand of images that i captured during the trip, i think its worth the sore shoulder. i just love the image quality, its astonishing! superb! The details in the JPG is so good. It puts a smile on my face.