Friday, 19 May 2017

Misty Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge and Lumix DMC-TZ70

Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge is the world's longest and highest pedestrian glass bridge located at Zhangjiajie National forest Park in northern Hunan, China, also referred as the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass bridge. Zhangjiajie Glass bridge was officially opened to visitors on August 20, 2016.

The Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge is 385 meters (1263 feet) long and 6 meters (20 feet) wide. The height of the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is 300 meters (984 feet) above the canyon floor. The Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass bridge is designed by renowned architect and poet, Professor Haim Dotan. His design concept of the bridge is an Invisible Bridge that blends in with nature and harmonise with Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass bridge in rain and fogs
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass bridge taken from the amphitheater in poor weather with rain and fog over the canyon. It lives up to the design concept of "Invisible Bridge" and the background blends in like a backdrop from a  Chinese painting.  --   Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 with  aperture set to f/3.5,  shutter speed 1/100 seconds,  lens at  4.3mm or 25mm (in 35mm film) ISO set at 80.

Visitors to the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge are only allow to carried wallets and mobile phone when going on the bridge supposedly for safety reasons? However the implementation depends on the security and ticketing staff on duty. As for bringing camera to the bridge your mileages varies depending on the security on duty; some cameras slip through and some are unlucky.

A telephoto view of the center of Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge.
A compressed  telephoto view of  the center of the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass bridge. The bridge is designed  with a capacity of  800 visitors at any one time. Rain drops on the camera lens had caused some blurriness in some part of this image  --  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 with  aperture set to f/5.5,  shutter speed 1/80 seconds,  lens at 28.7mm or 167mm (in 35mm film) ISO set at 120.

The Olympus Pen E-P5 was the unlucky one - it went only as far as the entrance. Fortunately my wife's friend got through with both her iPhone and a Panasonic Lumix TZ70 Travel Zoom camera. She let my wife used her Lumix TZ70 travel zoom camera while she herself was happy shooting with her iPhone.

Suspended frame work and pillars of the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge.
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is constructed of steel structure suspended from 4 pillars on both edges of the canyon.  Here two of the pillars can be seen at one end of the bridge under the rainy and misty weather. The pillar towers are covered with trees, plants and rocks to blend into the Canyon cliffs as per the bridge design concept.   --     Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 with  aperture set to f/3.4,  shutter speed 1/160 seconds,  lens at 4.7mm or  27mm (in 35mm film) ISO set at 80.

That was October and everybody was looking forward to see autumn leaves, yellow and orange canyon floor under the bridge. However the weather wasn't kind at all on Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge. Instead they were greeted with rain, wind, dampness and sudden gusts of wind and thick fog. This definitely is not the best condition for travel photography but you just need to make the best of the situation. The unfavorable elements also presented an opportunity for some unique travel photos that are worthier than the average cookie-cutter style travel images.

3 layer of tempered glass panels laid on the bottom of Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Grass Bridge
The glass floor of the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge consists of 3 layers of 16 mm-thick 3 x 4 meters tempered glass panel laminated with SGP film on the girder of the steel structure,  a total of 120 glass panels were used.100% ultra-Clear Glass are used in the construction of the bridge bottom to ensure the "invisible bridge" concept   --     Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 with  aperture set to f/4,  shutter speed 1/80 seconds,  lens at 4.3mm or 25mm (in 35mm film) ISO set at 80.    

Now a short story about this Lumix DMC-TZ70 travel zoom camera.  It happened over a year ago. My wife's friend asked us to shortlist a new camera for her to use mainly for travelling to replace her old Olympus Mju that had developed some problems. We shortlisted 3 cameras -  a Sony Cybershot HX90V super zoom, a Pansonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 and a Canon PowerShot SX700. After trying those cameras in the shop she decided on the Panosonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 travel zoom camera.

Suspension system, steel frame work and glass bottom of Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass bridge
The waving handrails at both sides are to add dynamism and movement to the design of the Zhangjiajie Grass Bridge and to signify and harmonise with the magnificence of the Zhangjiajie National Park.  From the time it was opened the bridge attracted tourists from local and abroad, rain or shine. However the bridge may be closed in very severe weather condition.   --       Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 with  aperture set to f/3.3,  shutter speed 1/250 seconds,  lens at 4.3mm or 25mm (in 35mm film) ISO set at 80.    

Now over a year later we are actually using a camera that we shortlisted for a friend. The photo on this blog post are all taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 and all shot in JPEG format; we should have tried out the RAW format as well. Surprisingly the JPEG file responded quite well to post processing with Darktable. Some details in the highlight and shadow area in some of these photos were recovered in Darktable. Tone curve was lightly adjusted in some photos to bring back contrast from otherwise very dull bad weather images.  

At one end of the Zhanjiajie Grand Canyon Glass bridge is an amphitheater.
A bridge to nowhere, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is not leading to anywhere but to an amphitheater on one end.  The architect of the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge Professor Haim Dotan dreamed of "music in the clouds, dance in the skies between heaven and earth" therefore he envisioned an amphitheater at the end of the bridge for the dream to come true.    --       Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 with  aperture set to f/3.3,  shutter speed 1/200 seconds,  lens at 4.3mm or 25mm (in 35mm film) ISO set at 80. 

We are pleased with the images from the Panasonic Lumix TZ70 travel zoom camera under the adverse weather condition. The Panasonic Lumix TZ70 with its sharp 30x (24-720 mm) zoom lens and the 1/2.3" image sensor captured reasonably good images. Adding to the camera small size and weight made the Panasonic Lumix TZ70 an ideal camera for travelling.

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass bridge in in rainy and misty weather view from amphitheater end of the bridge.
Another view of the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge from the amphitheater. The poor weather condition and low visibility had allowed the bridge to disappear and blend in with nature just as the bridge designer intended.    --        Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 with  aperture set to f/3.3,  shutter speed 1/160 seconds,  lens at 4.3mm or 25mm (in 35mm film) ISO set at 80.   

The Lumix DMC-TZ70 travel zoom camera is now superseded by the newer Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ80  which includes 4K videos. However The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 shoots better still photo compared to the newer DMC-TZ80 which shines at better videos with its new 18 megapixel sensor that shoots 4k videos and 4K photos.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Taking a look at budget mobile phone camera.

Last December we noticed a mid range budget mobile phone in an IT Hypermarket offered at a very attractive price.  At that time the built-in battery in my one year plus handphone was having a high internal resistance problem, the phone would suddenly shutdown without warning. Unfortunately for mobile phone with  built-in battery when it comes to battery replacement it has to be sent back to the repair center and takes at least two or more days just for that.

Normally, replacing a battery is an easy task that any one can undertake. However with built-in battery it has to be done by the mobile phone makers. That is their tactic to secure repeat sales for battery and revenue from service charges but cause much hassle and inconvenience to their customers.

Hamachi Sashimi taken with Neffos C5 cell phone
Hamachi Sashimi taken with the TP-Link Neffos C5 mobile Phone has natural colour rendition and reasonably good details but noise is visible.    Camera: Neffos C5 mobile phone.  shutter speed 1/20seconds, aperture at F/2.0,  ISO  286.
The phone on offer was the Neffos C5 from TP-link a company well known for networking gears but a new player in the already congested mobile phone market.  A new range of Neffos phone the "X" series was just launched so these 2016 "C" series model was now clearing. What attracted me was first the price and then, more importantly for me was its user replaceable battery.

The Neffos C5 does not have many apps or bloat wears built-in so it is a no-nonsense mobile phone.  Some may not like it because they think the phone is empty with little built-in apps. However this is what I like about the Neffos C5 unlike my current Sony Xperie E4g that comes with tons of Sony bloat wears that cannot be uninstalled and mainly useful for Sony fans. 

This is not a review of the Neffos C5 as there are already numerous  Neffos phone reviews on the internet. These first generation Neffos did not fair too well with many reviewers. I did read some of those negative reviews but since I don't use my cellphone like those reviewers I believe this phone works for me. Here I am checking out the Neffos C5 photography capability and what the built-in main camera is good for.

2016 Christmas decoration at Pavilion Mall Kuala Lumpur taken with Neffos C5 mobile phone.
2016 Christmas decoration at Pavilion Shopping Mall Kuala Lumpur taken with Neffos C5. At low ISO images are good enough out of this camera phone  for blogging and online purpose.      Camera: Neffos C5 mobile phone. shutter speed 1/50 seconds, aperture at F/2.0,  ISO 96.
The images from Neffos C5 is not superb but good enough as a mobile phone and does what it is supposed to do.  It captures reasonably good images when the shutter speed is above 1/25 of a seconds and ISO below 100. Noise is noticeable but details are crisp and sharp. Compared to my current Sony Xperia E4g the noise level is about the same maybe the Sony had a slight edge on the noise but the details on the Sony E4g are very poor probably due to excessive or poor denoise algorithms. When post processing we can always denoise if the images are noisy but there is no convincing way to add details.

If you manage to get images below ISO 80 with the Neffos C5 they are quite good - I said "if" because there is no manual mode or ISO setting for the built- in camera app. The Neffos camera app has limited camera settings : self timer, shutter sound, time stamp, capture mode, picture size and reset. Basically the Neffos C5 is a point-and-shoot camera phone.

There are also 7 shooting modes as follows: Normal, Intelligent, Scenery, Food, Beauty, HDR and Panorama. The HDR mode shoot three images and then combine and tone map them in the camera to provide resulted images with improved dynamic range. A good implementation of HDR by Neffos is that the images look natural without the over saturated and over processed "HDR look". The Panorama mode is not so impressive as it stitches a 180 degree panorama photo of around 2 megapixels. The beauty mode opens the photo editor immediately after the image is taken and you can "beautify" or edit the photo or your selfie before the image is saved.

Amazon Lily pond located on the roof top Secret garden of 1-U taken with Neffos C5 smart phone in HDR mode
Amazon Lily pond on the roof top Secret Garden of One Utama Mall,  taken in HDR mode with the Neffos C5 on a very harsh and hot sunny day.      Camera: Neffos C5 mobile phone. shutter speed 1/227 seconds, aperture at F/2.0,  ISO 68.

The photos taken with Neffos C5 have pleasing natural colour and the auto white balance is doing a good job.  However under exposed shadow areas are noisy and sometimes exhibit ugly green patches of noise.

The 3.5mm F/2.0 lens on the Neffos C5 is a wide angle lens with a focal length of roughly 25mm(in 35mm terms) with a fixed F/2.0 aperture. It has very good resistance to flare and purple fringing is well controlled. Purple fringing can be easily corrected by software but flare cannot be corrected by software yet. The lens on the Neffos C5 is not bad at all based on its good performance against flare and the crisp and sharp details on the images with good contrast. At this price range no one should be expecting a lens with corner-to-corner sharpness and I didn't look for that on my Neffos C5.

The Neffos C5 is capable of delivering good images that are better or comparable to many point-and-shoot cameras. However the image quality is nowhere near high-end compact camera like our Olympus XZ-1; even our 10 years old Canon Powershot  A570IS  has  better image quality. However bear in mind that these two cameras are 3 times or more expensive than Neffos C5 when we bought them and also they had very good review rating as cameras.

A cup of cappuccino from Black Canyon Coffee Restaurant the lighting at this corner was quite dim we moved the cup directly under the halogen lamp from the ceiling.        Camera: Neffos C5 mobile phone. shutter speed 1/20 seconds, aperture at F/2.0,  ISO 137.

Everyone uses their smart phone differently.  For me I use it mostly as a PDA or Personal Digital Assistant, an eBook reader, map and navigator, a remote controller and WiFi interface for my micro four-thirds cameras, also as a GPS photo tagger lastly as a portable WiFi hotspot when on the go. The Neffos C5 from TP-link ticked all my boxes and the above exercise proved that the built-in main camera is more than good enough to use as a visual sketchbook. It fulfills my expectation of a phone camera - inconspicuous yet always present and ready when you need it.

That is all for now, if we find anything interesting about the Neffos C5 video function or the front camera we will blog about it.   

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Accidental Panorama with AutoStitch

Panorama photography used to be a complicating photo technique where the process consists of two parts. First the hardware portion where a camera is set up on a sturdy tripod with panoramic head and a series of carefully framed overlapping section of the scene is taken. The next step involves using a panorama stitching software to align and stitch all those overlapping images into a single panorama photograph. If film camera is used that also involves scanning and digitizing the images before they can be stitched with the stitching software.

Panorama photo of Longmen Grottoes or Dragon Gate Grottoes stitch from three images
This simple panorama of Longmen Grottoes of Luoyang, Henan, China was stitched with AutoStitch from 3 images taken a few seconds apart and not shot in sequence.   --     Camera; Olympus Pen E-P5, Lens; Olympus M.Zuiko Digtal ED14-42mm F/3.5-5.6 II all three images were shot at 14mm F5 ISO 200 and shutter speed from 1/640s and 1/1250s.

However with digital photography and high speed imaging chip things has all changed and anyone can easily take a panorama photo hand holding a camera or a mobile phone. Almost all mobile phones has a panorama photo mode and they even stitch the finish panorama photo on the device itself just as the photos is taken.

All mirrorless camera and travel zoom has panorama features as well but some work better than others. There are also specialist cameras like the LG 360 cam and the Ricoh Theta camera that take 360 degree panorama images but these are more of the fun camera type. If you are serious about panorama images there is no shortcut and what we said on the first paragraph is mostly true.

Features and performances of panorama software have also improved tremendously in recent years. Panorama software now can stitch the images and deliver the finished panorama in seconds or minutes depending on the complexity of the images and require minimal human input. One of this software is the AutoStitch software that we mentioned in some of our earlier blog posts.

Panorama photo of Longmen Grottoes or Dragon Gate Grottoes stitch from seven images
This panorama stitch was from 7 photographs not originally intended for panorama. AutoStitch64 had no problem stitching them into a panorama photo but the sitting Buddha in the center is slanting and its surrounding has wrong perspective as well.  --    Camera; Olympus Pen E-P5, Lens; Olympus M.Zuiko Digtal ED 14-42mm F/3.5-5.6 II. Six images are shot at 14mm the center image with the sitting Buddha is shot at 23mm. All images at F5 ISO 200 and shutter speed from 1/640s to 1/1250s.   
Recently we replaced the hard drive on our old desktop computer and installed 64bit Ubuntu on it. Previously we run AutoStitch with WINE on 32 bit Ubuntu with great result. This time we are trying out the AutoStitch 64 bit version. Initially we had some problem getting the AutoStitch 64 to run on Ubuntu with the latest WINE. Changing the WINE window version configuration setting  for AutoStitch 64 to Windows XP took care of that problem. AutoStitch 64 run so much better and faster than the 32 bit version and that is not all as we discover more about this software.

After getting the software to work I randomly picked some images from the picture folder and fed it to AutoStitch 64. Surprisingly without complaint AutoStitch 64 simply stitched together a panorama photograph. It was not a horizontal or vertical panorama image but a spread out larger scene with images added in all directions. Nevertheless it was quite a seamless stitching from AutoStitch 64.

Panorama photo of Longmen Grottoes or Dragon Gate Grottoes AutoStitch from five images
Another trial with 5 images panorama stitch of LongMen Grottoes a UNESCO Heritage site in Henan, China with AutoStitch. This time the stitching is much better then the previous one but there are some edges that need works  --    Camera; Olympus Pen E-P5, Lens; Olympus M.Zuiko Digtal ED14-42mm F/3.5-5.6 II all five images are shot at 14mm F5 ISO 200 and shutter speed from 1/640s to 1/1250s.

When my wife looked at the panorama images I just stitched she laughed and said "those are my images but they are not panorama set!" We were amazed -  can you believe it I accidentally stitched a panorama photograph from some random images using AutoStitch.

That gave my wife an ideas to look for images from her trip to Henan, China that were not initially taken as panorama set but she wished that she had.  She experimented with many combination of the images she had in her collection. Here we present a few of those resulting panorama stitches, the last two panorama images look like it was a planned panorama photographs after some editing.

Panorama view of Longmen Grottes or the Dragon gate Grottes at Louyang, Henan, China
This final panorama stitch of Longmen Grottoes or Dragon Gate Grottoes from Luoyang, Henan province China. This one was stitch from six individual photos not taken as panorama set. AutoStitch64 stitch them together beautifully and with some cropping and layer cloning we had a convincing Panorama image.  --    Camera; Olympus Pen E-P5, Lens; Olympus M.Zuiko Digtal ED14-42mm F/3.5-5.6 II all six images are shot at 14mm F5 ISO 200 and shutter speed from 1/640s to 1/1250s.

After many combination of different images this final set above taken from Longmen Grottoes at Luoyang, Henan China a UNESCO Heritage site delivered the final result for that set. It had the least distortion and looked like it was from a set of images shot for Panorama. It does have some double images on the right and some mismatch here and there. However problem like these are often found on panorama photograph stitch from images with hand-held camera. 

The picture below is from Lijingmen one of the four ancient gates of the walled city of Luoyang, China. This set consists of three photos, the first two are close enough for panorama stitch. However the third one where the gate is at the wrong end of the three images set. Nevertheless, AutoStitch has no problem stitching this set but the lower part of the images need a lot of cropping and the sky and roof on this photograph need some reconstructions and cloning.

Lijingmen one of the four ancient gates of Luoyang
This three images panorama stitch of LiJingMen the ancient gate of Luoyang in Henan, China. The three images was not originally taken as panorama but AutoStitch having no problem stitching them together, with some reconstruction of the Sky and the roof and cropping of the foreground and that is all it takes.  --  Camera; Olympus Pen E-P5, Lens; Olympus M.Zuiko Digtal ED14-42mm F/3.5-5.6 II all three images are shot at 14mm F5.6 ISO between 200 to 250 and shutter speed 1/80s to 1/125s.

We had very good experience with the older 32 bit AutoAtitch from years ago only now we try AutoStitch 64. This 64 bit version is way better than the 32 bit AutoStitch in terms of speed and performance. We also witness the superb pixels matching algorithm of AutoStitch 64. It even matches images that were not taken from the same spot and with lens of different focal length as well. Unavoidably stitching panorama images with condition like this results in more distortion than from the planned panorama set.

AutoStitch can be downloaded free from for personal use without restriction and royalties. However AutoStitch company do request for acknowledgement of usage. Please note that this free version of AutoStitch is a demo version which only stitch spherical projection panorama.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Ichiban Boshi Pavilion Mall KL reopening after renovation 2016

Our usual go to eating place at Pavilion Mall Kuala Lumpur is Ichiban Boshi; one of the many Japanese Restaurants located at Pavilion Mall Kuala Lumpur. We like it mostly for its handmade soba noodle and traditional Japanese dishes.

Ichiban Boshi was closed for renovation about two months ago but is now reopen for business. It was just coincidental that we walked in on the very first day of their reopening as one of their waitresses whom we know told us.

The front sitting area near the entrance of the newly renovated Ichiban Boshi Japanese restaurant
The front sitting area near the entrance of the newly renovated Ichiban Boshi Japanese restaurant at Pavilion Mall Kuala Lumpur. This photo was taken at 2.25pm when most of the lunch crowd had left.  --   Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1s, Lens: Panasonic's Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-f/5.6 ASPH, lens zoom at 18mm aperture set at F/4.2 shutter speed 1/60s and ISO at 800.   
After 2 months of renovation the whole place is totally remodeled a much welcome change with a cool and refreshing look. The decor is a mixture of old and modern Japanese style with more tables for diners. We like it better with the lighter theme and the dinning area is evenly lighted unlike previously where some areas were quite dim.

The open sitting area of the redesigned Ichiban Boshi Japanese restaurant
The open sitting area of the redesigned Ichiban Boshi Japanese restaurant with the sushi bar on the left and some Japanese style wooden panel in between the dinning area. If you wonder the emptiness of this restaurant in the picture that is because this photo was taken at 3:08pm    --     Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1s, Lens: Panasonic's Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-f/5.6 ASPH, lens zoom at 12mm or 24mm(35mm film) aperture set at F/3.5 shutter speed 1/60s and ISO at 1250.     
On this very first day the staff and waitresses seemed to be out of sync after their long breaks and the newly renovated surrounding. Having an overly zealous and jumpy new restaurant manager was not helping and in fact made the whole situation even more disorganized than it needed to.

Air flown kodai fish sashimi from Ichiban Boshi Japanese resturaunt
The newly renovated Ichiban Boshi restaurant is nice but we miss the air flown specialty like this sumptuous Japanese kodai fish.  You can choose to have it grilled or done sashimi style. Ichiban Boshi used to bring in air flown fish from Japan every Friday. This photo was taken on one of our visit on Oct 3, 2014.     --      Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5, Lens: Panasonic LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm F/1.4 lens  aperture set at F/4 shutter speed 1/40s and ISO at 1600.

The menu had many new dishes added in however we do miss some of our favorite dishes that were on the old menu. We missed the air flown fish and sashimi they used to flown in from Japan every Friday.  In the past they updated their menu quite often, so hopefully they continue to do so and put the air flown fish and sashimi back on the menu.

Gripy grilled kodai fish bone from Ichiban Boshi Japanese resturaunt
This photograph is also from Oct 3, 2014 the same day as the previous one. This deep fried kodai bone is from the same fish we had  sashimi and the remaining of the fish and bone was deep fried gently and served as a second delicious crispy dish.      --     Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5, Lens: Panasonic LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm F/1.4 lens  aperture set at F/4 shutter speed 1/50s and ISO at 1600.

The Hamachi sashimi or Yellow Tail sashimi was neatly presented in set of 5 or 7 pieces. We ordered the 5 pieces set - we really liked the well textured yet smooth buttery flavor of Hamachi sashimi. Our Hamachi Sashimi for today was extremely fresh and nice as this was their very first day of re-opening.

Hamachi sashimi or yellowtail sashimi from Ichiban Boshi Japanese restaurant
The Hamachi sashimi comes in set of 5 or 7. Here we had the 5 pieces set. On this very first day of their reopening our hamachi sashimi was just right well texture and buttery smooth.     --     Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1s, Lens: Panasonic's Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-f/5.6 ASPH, lens zoom to 32mm or 64mm(35mm film) aperture set at F/5.6 shutter speed 1/30s and ISO at 1600.      
One of the menu items that was missing last year and found its way back this time is my favourite Japanese styled potato salad and of course we ordered one too.

Japanese styled potato salad from Ichiban Boshi Japanese restaurant
The delicious Japanese styled potato salad is one of our favourite and is now back on the new menu. This one was very well prepared - looked like their chefs had everything figured out on their first day of reopening.    --      Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1s, Lens: Panasonic's Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-f/5.6 ASPH, lens zoom to 16mm or 32mm(35mm film) aperture set at F/5 shutter speed 1/40s and ISO at 1600.

While I had the potato salad my wife was enjoying herself with a cup of unagi chawanmushi.  She loved unagi as well as chawanmushi and now she had the best of both in one chawan.

Unagi chawanmushi from Ichiban Boshi Japanese restaurant
Unagi chawanmushi another new item on the menu.  The chawanmushi was silky  smooth and the unagi was succulent and meaty      --     Camera: Olympus Pen E-P5, Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8,  aperture set at F/5 shutter speed 1/30s and ISO at 1600.

As usual we have a delectable lunch. The new menu was not bad we also had soba noodle and an udon set. The new menu emphasised more on udon noodles but if you prefer soba you can request for soba and they may oblige to replace the udon with soba.

In preparing the photos for this blog it surprised me that the little Panasonic Lumix DMC-Gm1s ISO 1600 image's noise level is fairly low compared to the Lumix DMC-G5. However Darktable's photo editing software's Noise Profile plugins with the preset for DMC-G5 reduced the noise on the DMC-G5 images to on par with Gm1s with just a single click.

The Lumix DMC-GM1s is not supported on the Darkatble yet although DMC-GM1 model without the suffix 's' is supported. The images from DMC-GM1s were raw converted on the Silkypix software that came with the Panasonic camera.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Back on our feet

After weeks of salvaging and porting this blog from our old wordpress platform we are now back. This kind of give us renewed energy to revive this blog that we have neglected for far too long. During the period that we were away from the blog our love for photography remain intact. However a number of things have diverted our interest and attention from blogging.

First is the maintenance of the wordpress site with this blog being constantly bombarded with persistent undesirable visitors from eastern Europe. I got turned off looking at the web stats and visitor logs and slowly got tired of logging in every time to block them or ban them but they kept coming back with different IP.  Installing security plugins from Wordpress is only a false security you only realized these plugins are not working in a painful way that is after you got hacked. Sometime last year the site was hacked by script injection and hijacked to spam other website. I hope our blogs' new home at blogger will provide the type of security that is expected from Google which has a good record of it and lets hope it stays that way

The other disturbing element to this blog is our user experience with Olympus Micro-Four Thirds camera. Our past experience with Olympus film camera over the last 30+ years with the OM and the Mju series of cameras was totally positive. Unfortunately that is not the case with the Olympus Digital Pen series of cameras. There are many users I know who had little to no problem with their Micro Four Thirds camera so I can only assume that maybe my luck with Olympus had run dry after being a loyal Olympus user for too long.

My E-P1 had numerous problems from the spot metering circles disappearing from the screen after a firmware update, the camera main control wheel dial worked like a Russian roulette; a game of chance in setting the camera control. The IS (Image Stabilization) symbol kept showing red warning alert on the display, the LCD screen's peripheral went dark and the battery became bloated up and stuck to the battery bay and hard to remove from the camera. All these happened just over a year of using it. My wife's E-PL2 didn't fair any better. The kit lens kept showing a lens locked notification on the camera screen - this lens just died after warranty expired; the hand grip rubber covering dropped off but luckily we found it and managed to glue it back. The main control wheel dial also malfunction like my E-P1 but in a much lesser degree.

Reindeer decoration at Pavilion Mall KL taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 and Kit lens
Reindeer decoration at Mall taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 and the 14-42mm Kit lens --  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5, Lens: Panasonic's LUMIX G VARIO F/3.5-5.6 14 - 42mm ASPH aperture set at F/5.6 shutter speed 1/60s and ISO at 1600.

Checking with online forums and blogs found other Oly users also suffering from some sort of problems as well.  Some had the same problems like us but non can beat mine in numbers and diversities. Luckily with Micro Four Thirds System we can keep our lenses and still have an alternative camera  manufacturer to fall back on. I decided to check out the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 camera and looking back I am glad I did. The DMC-G5 turns out to be a no nonsense back to basic camera. It does not have all the bell and whistle of its peers. It feels rather plasticky to touch and hold but it is surprisingly reliable and a dependable workhorse - a user experience that echos with other DMC-G5 users. The switch makes me a believer of the Panasonic Lumix system camera and lenses.

For my wife her E-PL2 still works OK other than the unlucky kit lens but not an issue as we got other lenses, including a Lumix kit lens too.

However I notice some of her macro photos have some kind of camera shake or 'shutter shock' problem. Possibly the Olympus 5 axis Image Stabilisation can take care of the camera shake and the 0 second shutter delay may cure the shutter shock problem. We decided to try Olympus one more time for the 5 axis stabilisation and after weeks of checking on forums and photographer blogs the answer is the Pen E-P5. This Pen E-P5 looks like the Olympus camera that has the least complaint. The common issue I notice is the shutter shock problem which was solved after Olympus issued a 0 second anti-shock setting in firmware update.

Q-Dee kinders taken with Olympus Pen E-P5
Q-Dees preschoolers eagerly waiting for their show to start photo taken with Pen E-P5 with M.Zuiko 60mm Macro lens - Camera: Olympus Pen E-P5, Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60 mm f/2.8 MSC Macro Lens, setting at F/3.2 1/80s and ISO 1600.
Elaine upgraded to a E-P5 kit with a 17mm F/1.8 lens and a new 14-42 kit zoom that came free in the promotional package. The E-P5 solved the blurry macro photo problem and she got a new kit lens as well.

We are very pleased with these two cameras and have some catching up to do as we have photos from these two cameras waiting to showcase on this blog. Let's hope all will be smooth sailing from now on and happy blogging.