Wednesday, April 30, 2008

100 more days to a big event...



Ain't it just getting more exciting!
The big event is on 8th of August 2008!

REPORT: April 2008

APRIL 2008
open: 55,121
close: 63,697
score: 8,576
average/day: 285.867

EATZ: Congee, 渔汤专卖 at People's Park Food Centre

渔汤专卖
32, People's Park Cooked Food Centre, # 01-1074
New Market Road
Operating Hours: 10a.m. -10p.m.
"渔汤专卖" does not have an English name, hence I shall refer to it as "Fish Soup Specialist". Fish Soup Specialist does not serve only sliced/fried fish soup, but they serve congee as well. Congee are very cheap but in order to make the congee value for the buck, hawkers tend to come up with varieties. Fish Soup Specialist happen to serve quite a variety. Apart from congee, they serve raw fish (鱼生) as well.

Century egg with cuttlefish porridge
S$4
Instead of the usual century egg with lean pork meat combination, with cuttfish is something new. Generous huge chunks of century egg and fried dough sticks (油条) alongside spring onion and fried shallots top the white congee. Stirring the congee reveals the cuttlefish within.

Mixed Pork Congee
S$4
The common pork meat congee except that there are small intestines.

Raw fish (鱼生)
S$4
This fish is definitely not ikan parang. The fish slices are served on a bed of sliced lettuce with ginger slices, spring onion, fried shallot, sliced chilli and lime, doused with a slimy thick sauce.

Verdict
The congee from both tastes similar suggesting that the ingredients were only briefly added just before serving. The congee is also rather watery and not as tasty as the one I had at "Tiong Bahru Porridge". At S$4, above the average S$3, the serving is worth its price. The raw fish is definitely not the ikan parang raw fish slices that I had at "Tiong Bahru Porridge". The fish is fresh with no fishy taste, because it does not have a taste at all. The only taste came from the sauce and ingredients. Nevertheless, the fish slices are thicker than most ikan parang fish slices.
My vote still goes to the nearby "Tiong Bahru Porridge" at Hong Lim Food Centre. There are other stalls serving good hawker foodfare at Yong Tau Foo, fried Hokkien prawn noodle or even "Shun Tuck Cheong Fun".

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

EATZ: Mutton Briyani, New Victory Restaurant

New Victory Restaurant
701 & 703, North Bridge Road
(Opp. Sultan Mosque)
Tel: 62986955 / 62983502
OFFICIAL SITE
When it comes to competitive Indian-Muslim food businesses, I am certain nothing comes closer to Singapore Zam Zam and New Victory Restaurant. Both restaurants are located side-by-side, vying for the many Muslims diners from the Sultan Mosque as well as tourists. I have tried Singapore Zam Zam before and this time I shall try the competitor's version of nasi briyani.

Nasi Briyani Mutton
S$4.50
An assortment of saffron and white grains and a huge slab of curry mutton served with a plate of dhal and cucumbers. Nothing beats completing the meal with a hot cup of teh halia (ginger milk tea).

Verdict
Similar to Singapore Zam Zam, New Victory Restaurant has two levels, ground floor is the kitchen, cashier as well as a smaller dining area, while the second floor is a large air-conditioned dining area. The mutton is soft, tender and tears easily from the big chunky bone. The meat is also very tasty with the taste of indian spices infused into the meat. The rice is not too fragrant but texture is right. When you see them touting for tourists and almost gonna end up in a quarrel, you expect the food to be good and fit for competition, sadly I would still prefer "Singapore's Best Briyani" Allauddin's Briyani. I would second for Ah Mei's Nasi Briyani. Nevertheless, it would be unfair to put these two stalls at North Bridge Road down, after all their specialty is supposed to be murtabak.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

LINK: CHROME Messenger Citizen bag is the new COOL!

CHROME
Messenger Citizen
The Latest Trendsetter Baggage Gear
Chrome Messenger
CHROME bags are rare in Singapore as of today, when most of the time, you can easily spot a Crumpler or Timbuk2. You can easily spot a CHROME bag by its black griffon on a red badge. CHROME bags cannot be commonly found in retail malls/shops. They are also more expensive (>S$200) than the common messenger bags. Nevertheless, for that price you are paying, you get the best quality material designed in the most ergonomic style. If you spot someone wearing a CHROME bag, you know that he knows his bags and ÜBER COOL!

Helped my bro NEXUS got his product shoot TFCD going with his new CHROME Messenger (Citizen) Bag.
"Its unique usage of the seat belt buckle and seat belt material as part of the strap makes it stand out from the typical messenger bags you'd see on the streets nowadays."
Check out his post here.


Top image photography by Laurens Pang
Bottom images photography by William Tan
All editing by Laurens Pang
All rights reserved to Laurens Pang & William Tan 2008

REVOLTECH: JUNE 2008 (LAZENGANN & MACROSS PLUS YF-19 & YF-21)

REVOLTECH
JUNE 2008 Release
LAZENGANN from "Tegen Toppa Gurren Lagann" as well as YF-19 & YF-21 Prototype Variable Fighters from "MACROSS PLUS".


REVOLTECH No.052 LAZENGANN
"天元突破グレンラガン," (Tegen Toppa Gurren Lagann)
JUNE 2008
"天元突破グレンラガン" (Tegen Toppa Gurren Lagann) is a futuristic sci-fi adventure animation by GAINAX, the same company that brought to us "Neon Genesis Evangelion". It is from the same series as REVOLTECH No. 050 GURREN LAGANN. The "LAZENGANN" can definitely give as many cool fighting poses due to its thin body frame and ingenious REVOLTECH joints! I definitely love the cool fierce appearance of the LAZENGANN!!!
Check out this cool video clip of "Tegen Toppa Gurren Lagann"

REVOLTECH No.053 YF-19/ISAMU-Type
MACROSS PLUS
JUNE 2008

The YF-19 is a prototype variable fighter piloted by Isamu Alva Dyson in the animated series "MACROSS PLUS".

REVOLTECH No.053
YF-21/GULD-Type
MACROSS PLUS
JUNE 2008
The YF-21 is another prototype variable fighter piloted by Guld Goa Bowman, in the animated series "MACROSS PLUS". With the release of YF-19 and YF-21 porotype variable fighters, we can definitely expected YF-11B from the same animated series. I do not really like the designs of the mechas from MACROSS PLUS except this YF-21. Yet, it does not justify to just have one of it!

Images source: KAIYODO

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Charles & Fern Wedding Solemnization

Charles & Fern Wedding Solemnization
13th of April, 2008
marks the day Charles and Fern hold each other's hands and declares theirselves man and wife.
I was very honored to be invited as a guest and photographer for their big day.
Though I am far from being a professional wedding photographer,
I try my best to put smiles and capture these memories for my friends.
Here are some samples to share with my friends and readers of my blog.

Photography & Editing by William Tan
©William Tan 2008

Review of Noise Control in Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FX36 and FUJIFILM FINEPIX F100fd

When I first got my trusted Canon Digital IXUS 40 compact camera, I had once researched on Panasonic LUMIX line of digital cameras. The LUMIX lineup of digital cameras are the pioneers to feature an optical image stabilizer (O.I.S.), and Panasonic call it the "MEGA O.I.S.". The "MEGA O.I.S." was the winning factor for the success of the LUMIX digital cameras in the earlier days. As technology catches on, other camera makes also adopted the optical image stabilizers such as Canon's Image Stabilization (IS) and Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR). See how "IS" pits against "VR". Apart from optical image stabilization, digital cameras start to adopt a so-called "Dual Image Stabilization" technology, which is but the conventional optical image stabilization (real mechanical gyroscopic stabilizers) used in combination with high ISO (increase shutter speed). As we all know that high ISO translates to higher noise levels in images. Hence, what matters the most is still the acceptability of these high ISO pictures. We all know that the quality of the lenses, sensors and the image processors are responsible for the image quality. I try not to be distracted by the fancy names of image processing engines such as Canon's DiGiC III, Panasonic's Venus Engine IV, Fujifilm's RP Processor Pro, Nikon's EXPEED etc. I also try not to put too much faith solely on the quality of these good optics such as Schneider-KREUZNACH (adopted by Samsung & Kodak), Fujinon (proprietary to Fujifilm), LEICA (adopted by LEICA & Panasonic), Carl Zeiss (adopted by Sony, Nokia and Hasselblad), Nikkor (adopted by Nikon) etc. Which ever fancy names they can be called, only the images can tell its quality for itself.

Recently, during my process of looking for a possible replacement of my Canon Digital IXUS 40, I was researching compact digital cameras with quality and features. I streamlined to (1) Fujifilm for they have been delivering excellent cameras with inevitably the best noise control attributed to their deadly combination of theirn proprietary Super CCD sensors with RP Processor, and (2) Panasonic for presently being the only compact digital cameras with the widest lens at 25mm (compared to 28mm in Fujifilm FINEPIX F100fd) as well as HD video recording in newer models (LUMIX DMC-FX35/FX36 in SG and DMC-FX500). Nevertheless, Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FX500 (FX520 in SG) have yet hit the local shores, hence I selected Panasonic DMC-FX36 to pit against Fujifilm FINEPIX F100fd.


Features at a quick glance

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FX36

  • f/2.8, 25mm Wide Angle LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT Lens
  • 4x optical zoom
  • Intelligent Auto mode with Intelligent Exposure
  • 1/2.33” 10.1 megapixels CCD
  • Venus Engine IV
  • MEGA O.I.S.
  • HD Motion image (1280x720P) and HD output (component)
  • Face detection

Fujifilm FINEPIX F100fd

  • f/3.3, 28mm Wide Angle Fujinon Lens
  • 5x optical zoom
  • Dynamic Range (up to 400%)
  • 1/1.6” 12 megapixels Super CCD
  • RP Processor III
  • Dual Image Stabilization
  • Face Detection (fd) 3.0


    In a LIVE situation test, I evaluated the performance of Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FX36 VS Fujifilm FINEPIX F100fd. I compared particularly the noise levels at various ISO standards, from the lowest ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (not highest since beyond this is not really useable).
    All test setups are done such that the aperture is at its widest (f/2.8 for FX36; f/3.3 for F100fd) and at widest angle (25mm for FX36; 28mm for F100fd), shot from the same standing position and 100% cropped segments are compared.


    TEST #1
    ISO 100 - ISO 400
    CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE FULL SIZE
  • TEST #2
    ISO 800 - ISO 1600

    CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE FULL SIZE


    Verdict
    In accordance to the many myths that Panasonic LUMX digital cameras produces noisy images, it is rather clear that Fujifilm FINEPIX F100fd out-performs Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FX36 in terms of noise control and sharpness. The images from FX36 are already showing noise at lowest ISO 100. and become significantly unacceptable at ISO 800. The acceptance range of use is only up to ISO 400, while F100fd continues to prove its worth at ISO 800. Note that this evaluation is purely subjective.
    For plenty of post-processing work, noise control becomes a more critical criteria. For basic shooting-resizing-uploading and regular 4R print-outs, it is hard to tell any difference between both models. Remember that we are talking about "NOISE CONTROL" and not about metering & exposure.
    Though FX36 and F100fd both lacks Aperture and Shutter priority (A/S) modes, LUMIX DMC-FX500 (FX520 in SG) is a promising candidate with A/S modes. Furthermore, the capability of HD recording is an attractive bonus. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the HD recording is 1280x720 and not full HD 1920x1080, and the HD recording is very memory consuming such that 2GB records only around 11 minutes of HD recording at 30fps. The quality is also not to be compared with HD camcorders or conventional SD camcorders.
    In terms of price, Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FX36 slightly more costly than the F100fd. (please correct me if I am not updated with the latest pricing).

    Panasonic and Fujifilm are definitely leading the way with their class of feature-rich compact digital camera lineup. It will only take time before each other annouces another "ultimate" digital camera to counter competition. If we can all expect an F200fd in the making....

    DISCLAIMER
    Please respect the copyrights of the photographs and content in this post. Please support my work by linking back to this post via this address:
    http://mybearbrick.blogspot.com/2008/04/review-of-noise-control-in-panasonic.html

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    Friday, April 25, 2008

    Review of Noise Control in FUJIFILM FINEPIX F50fd and F100fd

    I had earlier blogged and bragged about the FUJIFILM FINEPIX F100fd as the "Ultimate" compact camera. However, before I make up the decision to go for my kill, I will always do a lot of research and tests. This time, I was deciding between a FINEPIX F50fd and the FINEPIX F100fd.
    Decision making is based on Functionality, Performance justify against Price.

    Generally, the comparison in specifications are as shown:

    FINEPIX F50fd VS FINEPIX F100fd

    Sensor: 12 megapixels Super CCD HR VII 12 megapixels Super CCD HR VIII with RP Processor III
    Lens: 35mm normal 28mm wide angle
    Zoom: 3x optical zoom
    5x optical zoom
    Monitor: 2.5-inch 230,000-pixel LCD 2.7-inch 232,000-pixel LCD
    Face Detection: fd 2.0 Technology fd 3.0 Technology feat. Auto-Red Eye Removal
    Image Stabilization: CCD-Shift with ISO 6400 CCD-Shift with ISO 12800
    Highlight: Aperture & Shutter Priority
    Dynamic Range 100%, 300% & 400% (limited to minimum ISO400)
    Street Price (SGD$): S$399
    S$499


    In a LIVE situation test, I evaluated the performance of FINEPIX F50fd VS FINEPIX F100fd. I compared particularly the noise levels at various ISO standards, from the lowest ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (not highest since beyond this is not really useable).
    All test setups are done such that the aperture is at its widest (f/2.8 for F50fd ; f/3.3 for F100fd) and at widest angle(35mm for F50fd ; 28mm for F100fd), shot from the same standing position and 100% cropped segments are compared. Except for TEST #3, where the FINEPIX F50fd image is resized to 75% since in the FINEPIX F100fd wider angle makes the same subject smaller on the sensor, hence the larger subject in FINEPIX F50fd picture is resized to 75% to match that in FINEPIX F100fd. ISO 800 was chosen since that is the highest usable ISO setting where the noise is acceptable (subjective to individual).

    TEST #1
    ISO 100 - ISO 400

    CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE FULL SIZE

    TEST #2
    ISO 800 - ISO 3200
    CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE FULL SIZE

    TEST #3
    ISO 800 F100fd @ 100% VS F50fd @ 75%
    CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE FULL SIZE


    Verdict

    The price of FUJIFILM FINEPIX F50fd has come down from street price of S$499 (Dec 2007) to S$399 (Apr 2008), since the release of FINEPIX F100fd at S$499 (Apr 2008). Presently, the best price for a switcher's second hand FINEPIX F50fd can go down to a lowest S$320 for a few months old warranted set, while the best street price of the FINEPIX F100fd is at S$480. Does the functionality and performance justify its price?
    The noise levels at various ISO settings from ISO 100 - 3200 has been compared and my personal opinion is that the FINEPIX F100fd has cleaner images compared to FINEPIX F50fd, attributed to the newer Super CCD VIII sensor in the FINEPIX F100fd.
    From the EXIF information, FINEPIX F100fd evaluates and captures the same scene using a 1/3 slower shutter speed attributed to its slower maximum aperture of f/3.3 at widest angle.
    The advantage of the FINEPIX F100fd is the 28mm widest angle which allows more of the scene to be recorded at a narrow space compared to the FINEPIX F50fd at 35mm.
    Since the FINEPIX F100fd captures at a wider angle, the same subject will appear smaller in the image compared to FINEPIX F50fd. Since resizing larger images down, the noise level can be reduced. I have resized the ISO 800 image from FINEPIX F50fd down by 75% to match that from the FINEPIX F100fd. The result shows that the noise levels at ISO 800 are on par, though with a closer scutiny, FINEPIX F100fd is still better. ISO 800 was chosen because in my opinion, when lighting is low, ISO 800 produces acceptable quality when they are resized down. Any settings above ISO 800 produces way too much noise and are rather un-usable unless they are resized smaller by 50% or more.
    Technically, the FINEPIX F100fd fares better by having a wider angle at 28mm and a longer zoom range of 5x optical zoom. The FINEPIX F100fd boasts its Dynamic Range (up to 400%), though this was not evaluated, the limitation of having to set the ISO 400 must be considered but luckily the FINEPIX F100fd produces clean images at ISO 400. However, the FINEPIX F100fd lacks Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, which are adored by high-lever photographers who would like more control over their shots. Though both cameras tend to choose the widest aperture (f/3.3 for F100fd and f/2.8 for F50fd) no matter in macro or landscape scene modes, FINEPIX F50fd having the aperture priority allows users to narrow down the aperture to f/8 in order to capture more depth and details. Though FINEPIX F100fd has minimum aperture of f/11, but users cannot decide when they want to use this aperture, which makes it rather pointless.
    So does it justify paying around S$100 more to get the FUJIFILM FINEPIX F100fd? Definitely a tough choice considering the advantages of wider angle, more zoom and cleaner images at the cost of a slower aperture and lacking aperture/shutter-priority modes.
    What is your choice?


    DISCLAIMER
    Please respect the copyrights of the photographs and content in this post. Please support my work by linking back to this post via this address: http://mybearbrick.blogspot.com/2008/04/review-of-noise-control-in-fujifilm.html


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    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    EATZ: Tiong Bahru Porridge

    Tiong Bahru Porridge
    531A Upper Cross Street
    Hong Lim Complex Food Centre #02-29
    Opening Hours: 9a.m. - 9p.m. (Closed on alternate Tuesdays)
    Yet another good food at the famous Hong Lim Food Centre, Tiong Bahru Porridge serves a variety of tasty porridge that is worth the little wait while Amy Tay prepares it with heart. Apart from the porridges, Tiong Bahru Porridge also serves Ikan parang raw fish (鱼生).

    Century Egg Porridge with Shredded Chicken
    S$3
    Piping hot porridge prepared on the spot and serve with chunks of century egg, shredded chicken and topped with generous serving of fried rice vermicelli and spring onion, atypical Cantonese-style. Other than shredded chicken, diners can choose to have sliced pork strips instead.

    Ikan Parang Raw Fish (鱼生)
    S$3
    Pinkish strips of ikan parang sashimi sitting on a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with spring onions. Sliced red chilli and lime are provided for diners to add to taste.

    Verdict
    The porridge served at Tiong Bahru Porridge is thick and full-bodied, unlike others that tend to be watered-down. Tiong Bahru Porridge serves the real stuff. The porridge is very tasty on its own, despite not having the taste of century egg infused into it. The reason is because I believe it is only economical for them to prepare their porridge from the same porridge stock, which also explains the time needed to prepare your type of porridge freshly on the spot. The ikan parang raw fish is very fresh and goes well on its own and perfectly with the lettuce and lime juice. The combination of sweet and tangy taste leaves you craving for more! A S$3 (small) portion is not enough!
    Another must-try stall at Hong Lim Complex!
    I am only left with Hiong Kee Dumplings to try and I have tried all the famous hawker food at Hong Lim Food Centre.

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