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I’m a bit of a photography enthusiast, and constantly keep a watch on the latest cameras that comes along. My first digital camera was bought back in 2002, a full 10 years ago. It had a 3.2 megapixel sensor and uses a pair of AA batteries that won’t last more than 50 shots.

Samsung Smart Camera WB150F

Over the years I’ve owned another 6 cameras (including SLR, mirror-less system, Prosumer, compact) and played with numerous others, but this Samsung Smart Camera WB150F that I have in my hands now is the one that packed the most surprises.

So here are a list of 10 reasons this camera is smart and packed with features:

Samsung Smart Camera - WiFi

1. Wi-Fi

This is the feature that is missing from most cameras out there, and one that is perhaps the most important non-photo taking feature that should be in every camera.

The Wi-Fi feature enables a lot of possibilities – you can now synchronize the camera with your computer wirelessly via the PC Auto Backup function, imagine not having to connect the camera via USB to the computer, ever.

You can also send the photo via email directly from the camera as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, neat huh?

Mobile Link - Samsung Smart Camera

2. MobileLink

Without using a Wi-Fi access point, the camera can also transfer photos directly to your smartphone with the aptly named MobileLink application (available on Android & iOS devices).

Start MobileLink on the camera and on your smartphone/tablet, choose the images you want, and click to transfer. This is useful for those who are on the g0, and especially neat when you are running out of SD card space as well.

Remote ViewFinder

3. Remote ViewFinder

Another cool feature that uses the Wi-Fi technology is the Remote ViewFinder. Install the same application on your Android/iOS device and viola, you can place the camera basically anywhere within 30-40 feet indoor or up to 60 feet outdoor and snap photos from the application.

With a tripod, you’ll never need to get anyone to snap group photos for you anymore. Also, imagine the pranks you can pull with this feature!

Social Sharing - Samsung WB150F

4, Social Sharing

How often do we share photos on Facebook, Picasa and the like? You can now do it in an instance with the Social Sharing function whenever the camera is connected to Wi-Fi.

Video sharing via Facebook and Youtube is supported as well.

18x Zoom, WB150F

5. 18x Optical Zoom

If you love long optical zooms, this is definitely a camera you should check out. Just look at the example above, wide angle vs 18x zoom.

There’s optical stabilization on the Schneider Kreuznach lens,  the zoom is equivalent to 24 mm – 432 mm in 35 mm format.

Live Panorama with Samsung Smart Camera

6. Live Panorama

The Live Panaroma function is among the easiest I’ve used, simply hold on the shutter button and pan the camera either on landscape or portrait format. It’s so easy you can even use it inside a car! Check out Carol’s Almeera and how we fit 6 people in “3” rows in there.

Samsung Smart Camera Photo Filter

7. Photo Filter

The WB150F comes with 14 different photo filters for plenty of fun effects. Fish eye, old film, soft focus, retro, miniature, zooming shots, and more.

You can also apply these filters after the photos are shot via the built in photo editor.

Split Shot with Samsung Smart Camera

8. Split Shot

Photo collage? The camera’s got that covered too. There are 4 types of split shots you can take, and photo filters can be applied in these shots as well. This is a neat little features especially when you want to share a few scenes (or dishes!) in a single photo on Facebook, for example.

Samsung Smart Camera - Artistic Brush

9. Artistic Brush

Then there’s artistic brushes. This feature is different from the photo filter. Not only a photo is snapped, a video is recorded that simulates the “painting” process as well. Pretty neat.

Av, Tv, and M modes with Samsung Smart Camera

10. Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Full Manual Control

Last but not least (cos there are actually even more features, check out the full specification here), for those who are a bit more hardcore, you can shoot with Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and even Full Manual.

So how much do you think this 14.2 Megapixel camera with 18x Zoom & 3.0″ LCD costs?

RM 649.00

So if you’re looking for a cool gadget that can do a whole lot and does not break your bank, the Samsung WB150F is definitely something you should check out.

 

Last weekend we did something that usually only tourists do, we went to the butterfly park in KL. The park is located within Lake Garden, a stone’s throw away from KL bird park and a mere 5-10 minutes from the city center.

Spanning some 80,000 square feet with over 5000 live butterflies and other insects, it is claimed to be the largest butterfly garden in the world (I believe the one in Penang is just slightly smaller)

grasshopper at KL butterfly farm
peekaboo! a grasshopper at KL butterfly farm

Haze and Horng were armed with 30mm Macro mounted on Sony NEX 3F & 5N respectively, while I had my trusted Olympus E-PL3 paired with the Digital Zuiko 35mm f/3.5 macro lens for this task.

We spent around 2 hours taking these photos, and these are some of the better pictures taken by yours truly. Hope you like them.

To my muslim friends, Selamat Hari Raya.

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While waiting for the commencement of a stand up comedy show at Velvet underground sometimes last year, a few of us started talking about cars, or more specifically, the cars we used to own. That’s when I found out that an ex colleague’s friend was the owner of 5 successive Volkswagen cars in his life.

Which begs the question why? Why would anyone gives up variety and keep buying the same car over and over again?

Well, I got closer to answering that question after having the newly launched Volkswagen Polo Sedan for over the weekends not long ago. This is my impression of the car.

Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Seri Wawasan bridge, Putrajaya
Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Seri Wawasan bridge, Putrajaya

The Volkswagen Polo Sedan is the most affordable offering from the German automotive giant, retailing at RM99,888. This makes it a direct competitor to some of the similarly sized Japanese and Korean imports in the country, and one of the more lower priced cars with a European badge.

Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Putra Mosque
Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Putra Mosque

The exterior:

To be honest, the styling of Polo Sedan doesn’t scream, nor will it beg too many second looks like some of the other Volkswagen offerings. That being said, the Polo Sedan does have a very classy frontal look, with one of the most attractive headlight assemblies. Its side profile has a pretty smooth flow punctuated by a set of very decent 7-spoke 15″ alluminum alloy wheels.

The car doesn’t look particularly long, but you won’t call it a mere elongated version of the normal Polo.

center console, steering, air conditioning vent
center console, steering, air conditioning vent

The interior:

Inside, the center console is simple yet elegant, with bits of chromed parts and leather steering giving it a heightened status. Radio/CD player, air conditioning (and even heater is functional), and vents are all pretty minimalistic in design and functional in operation.

The car also offers very good leg rooms for its class, and no one under 6 foot should ever need to worry about head room.

The cup holder is easily big enough to fit your favorite plus size bubble tea cups, and the Polo Sedan does come with a glove compartment that is big enough to smuggle a couple domestic cats.

meter cluster, 6 speed tiptronic transmission
meter cluster, 6 speed tiptronic transmission with sports mode

Engine & Performance:

The Polo Sedan comes with a 1.6 liter multi-point injection engine mated with a 6 speed automatic transmission. Tiptronic shifting is available, and there’s a sports mode for spirited driving as well.

While the 105 PS engine might not sound that impressive on paper, the car does feel quite nimble. Sound insulation is so good that we thought the car wasn’t started yet after turning the key, but when you step on the paddle in sports (or tiptronic) mode and let it hit over 5000 rpm, it does gives a good roar.

Volkswagen Polo Sedan, Putra Mosque
Volkswagen Polo Sedan, Putra Mosque

0-100 km/h can be achieved in 12.3 seconds, and the 183 km/h top speed should be more than enough for anyone in Malaysian highways. For a sedan, the car does perform pretty decent around the bend, and still provides good riding comfort over those pesky parking lot humps.

Fuel consumption is reported at 6.5 liter per 100 km. I collected the car with a full tank of gas, and returned it with 7/8 full on the indicator after two trips from PJ to Bangsar, a trip to from PJ to Sunway Pyramid, and another round trip from PJ to Putrajaya. The 55 liter fuel tank should last you well over 600 km or more.

454 liters worth of boot space, with a full spare tyre
454 liters worth of boot space, with a full spare tyre

Perhaps most impressive of all is the 454 liters of boot space. Without even flipping down the rear seats (which you can to create even more room), one can easily fit 4 sets of diving equipment, or at least 3 full size golf bags in this car. The rear boot door can also be opened via the remote. (which has ON/OFF/BOOT buttons)

Overall, despite the price point and a less imposing performance figure, the Polo Sedan does carry the prestige of Volkswagen very well. The interior, design cues, and those little features in the car are well thought out and makes driving a pleasure.

Which brings us back to the guy who had 5 Volkswagen, it doesn’t seem unreasonable anymore.

The biggest appeal of diving to me is the calmness I get when underwater, listening to nothing but the breath that I take and the bubbles flowing out from the regulator, the sense of weightlessness and the ability to move about without restriction in 3 dimension. It is a form of freedom you never get on land.

The magnificent seascape and underwater creatures, well, they are just a huge bonus. While no picture can convey that sense of liberty, here are some underwater pictures I took from various dive sites at Similan Islands.

My gears were Olympus E-PL3 with the underwater housing coupled, Inon UWL 100 & Dome port, and a single Sea & Sea YS-01 external flash.

swim through, Deep Six
swim through, Deep Six

I logged 14 dives over 4 days of diving living aboard M/V Vilai Samut operated by Liquid Adventure. (previous year experience here). The boat departs from Khao Lak at night, so night one started before day one. The sites we went to were:

Day 1:

  • Stone Henge
  • Deep Six
  • West of Eden
  • West of Eden (night)
Day 2:
  • Elephant Rock
  • Koh Bon
  • Koh Bon
  • Ko Tachai (night)
Day 3:
  • Richelieu Rock
  • Richelieu Rock
  • Ko Tachai
  • Koh Bon (night)
Day 4:
  • Koh Bon Pinnacle
  • Bon Soon Wreck

tiny black reef fish atop table coral
tiny black reef fish atop table coral at West of Eden

We were lucky to have excellent visibility of at least 30-40 meters in more than 70% of the dives, and had at least 20 meters in the rest of the dives too. Comparing with Pulau Sembilan/Lumut’s 5-10 m visibility…

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pics, and say no to shark’s fins!

giant spiny lobster, night dive at West of Eden
giant spiny lobster, night dive at West of Eden

sea snake, Koh Bon
sea snake, Koh Bon

the reef at Koh Bon
the reef at Koh Bon

clown fish in anemone, night dive at Elephant Rock
clown fish in anemone, night dive at Elephant Rock

an unmoving cuttle fish, night dive at Elephant Rock
an unnerving cuttle fish, night dive at Elephant Rock

lion fish, night dive at Elephant Rock
lion fish, night dive at Elephant Rock

Dave convincing a lion fish to pose for him, Richelieu Rock
Dave convincing a lion fish to pose, Richelieu Rock

cleaner shrimps, Richelieu Rock
cleaner shrimps, Richelieu Rock

chevron barracudas, Richelieu Rock
chevron barracudas, Richelieu Rock

star fish on coral, night dive at Koh Bon
star fish on coral, night dive at Koh Bon

boxer shrimp, night dive at Koh Bon
boxer shrimp, night dive at Koh Bon

porcupine fish, Bon Soon wreck
porcupine fish, Bon Soon wreck

Bon Soon wreck
Bon Soon wreck

ghost pipe fish, Bon Soon wreck
ghost pipe fish, Bon Soon wreck

Olympus E-PL3

Just got back on another excellent live aboard diving trip at Similan Islands, as with last year, the experience was nothing short of awesome. The photos are now transferring onto the computer and waiting to be processed, in the mean time, here are a couple photos from the trip.

Similan Islands diving
dive buddy Dave in picture, at Koh Bon

Proper blog post on the trip, more photos, and perhaps a video is on the way soon as I get some time to work on them.

moray eel in full view, Similan Islands, Thailand
moray eel in full view, Koh Bon, Thailand

Back to the office tomorrow, been an awesome CNY holidays away from work, and the dive trip made it so much sweeter.

Hope your holiday was well spent too!

Olympus E-PL3