Tag Archives | photos:x100

Louis Vuitton: The Art of Packing

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In the 1830s, a young frenchman walked 400 kilometres from his hometown to Paris. He became an apprentice layetier in Paris, packing luggage (trunks) for wealthy travelers. Eventually, he became famous for his craft and was asked to be the layetier for Empress Eugénie. Years later, he opened his own trunk workshop which over several decades, developed into one of the most iconic makers of fine luxury goods in the world. His name was Louis Vuitton.

Louis Vuitton’s trunks are produced at their historic workshop at Asnières, together with the top-end range, such as special orders. These hardsided trunks are made by hand by master craftsmen. While trunks are not commonly used as luggage today, they are sought by collectors for ornamental purposes or converted to opulent coffee tables.

A few months ago, Louis Vuitton unveiled The Art of Packing, an interactive experience filled with expert tips and how-to guides on packing luggage. It is also a travelling installation at select Louis Vuitton stores worldwide. Recently, it visited the Travel Room at Louis Vuitton Island Maison, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

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Wicked: The Broadway Musical – in Singapore

Finally, Wicked is here at Singapore.

For those who strangely have no idea what I’m talking about, this is a hit Broadway musical that I have never expected to watch in Singapore. I have no idea who first introduced Wicked to me, but over the years, I have collected almost all cast recordings, read the original novel by Gregory Maguire and “watched” some performances with video recordings.

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Starbot Cafe: Human Refueling Center

Starbot Cafe is the latest F&B outlet at Universal Studios Singapore. Located at the Sci-Fi City zone, the cafe sits in nicely in the middle of two major blockbuster attractions: Battlestar Galactica: Human vs Cylon and Transformers: The Ride. It does not appear to be solely themed to Transformers (although the crew here wear NEST uniforms), but instead designed to be part of this bustling futuristic zone. Which is why this place is also commonly referred as the Transformers Cafe!

Starbot Cafe - Overview

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Transformers: The Ride

UPDATE: Transformers: The Ride has officially opened!


Transformers: The Ride started its technical rehearsals today at Universal Studios Singapore. I am pleased to say that it is an amazing ride, and you can read all about it right here! Where else, huh? 🙂

This extended entry features a photo tour of the pre-show elements, a detailed description of the ride elements and some technical bits, followed by my review of the ride.

Update!
LATEST: Differences between Hollywood and Singapore versions (see below)
– Recent changes to the ride added (under Technical Info)
– Preshow videos added!
– New section on safety instructions
– More videos added
– New section on preshow
– More photos – panoramics added!
– Correction: Transformers character names fixed
– Ride Transcript and On-ride Audio Recording now available. Check below!

Differences between Hollywood and Singapore versions

This entry is written with information from the ride at Universal Studios Singapore. Here is a comparison with the ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.

– Entrance to ride building is completely different. Hollywood version has a giant billboard of Optimus and Megatron in an explosive duel, and guests enter the building from the front (or extra switchbacks from the side). In Singapore, the actual ride building is obscured and guests enter the queue via a gate at Sci-Fi City.

– Queue layout is entirely different but similar rooms exist. Such as the Allspark Containment Chamber (which is larger in Hollywood).

– Crew members are dressed as military personnel, with combat fatigues in Hollywood. In Singapore, they are dressed as NEST personnel, but appear more like support staff wearing office dress.

– Hollywood version uses the new Infitec 3D glasses (also used in the recently updated “The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man” at Universal’s Islands of Adventure). The Singapore version uses the – unfortunately older and cheaper – polarized 3D glasses.

– First scene in Hollywood has working bullet ricochet effect (the effect is out-of-sync and incomplete in Singapore).

– Finale scene in Hollywood has a burst of fog before the ride vehicle passes under Megatron.

– Unloading platform in Hollywood looks more “damaged”, with more areas, such as ceiling vents, being “ripped apart and destroyed” during the exciting parts of the ride.

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Universal Studios Singapore – Update 11/2011

UPDATE 2!
Transformers: The Ride is now open for technical rehearsal.
For the review/report and photos of the attraction, please go this entry.

UPDATE!
Transformers: The Ride
Previews for all Annual Passholders
On 25th and 26th November 2011
During Park hours (10am to 9pm)
No reservation is required.
All annual passholders will be able to visit both dates and enjoy unlimited access during park hours.

(For more info please click on Read More and scroll to the bottom)

TTR - The Poster!

This month’s update to the new stuff at Universal Studios Singapore include:
Christmas Decor at the Park
Transformers: The Ride Entrance
Transformers Supply Vault (Retail Store)

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Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium

Museum Entrance

Addendum

March 2012: This Museum is no longer known as Maritime Experiential Museum and Aquarium (MEMA), and has been rebranded as The Maritime Experiential Museum. The Aquarium aspect of this attraction appears to be removed from all marketing materials, possibly to strengthen the adjacent Marine Life Park.


Set sail on a journey back in time and discover Asia’s maritime history at Resorts World Sentosa’s latest attraction – the Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium (MEMA).

The Museum is at the waterfront section of RWS. It is within a gigantic, inverted ship hull – which some of my friends commented that it looks like some worm (?). From afar it does not exactly look intriguing, but the Museum seems to have quite a bit of promise, especially when it was designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates (the best people in Museum design!) AND… the actual Jewel of Muscat from Oman is there!

Thanks to RWS – I attended a preview this morning, and what else can I do? Do a trip report and share lots of photos!

Embark on a maritime adventure, by clicking here!

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Louis Vuitton Marina Bay – Island Maison

Island Maison Jetty Entrance

I’m back after spending an evening at the Louis Vuitton Island Maison at Marina Bay Sands. It was an exclusive preview and there are certainly less than a hundred guests within this gigantic store, leaving my family to tour the Maison rather peacefully with our very sweet and charming guide. In short, this store IS amazing. While I’ve been to the other stores in Singapore and the two Maison stores at Hong Kong, there is just something special about the Island Maison.

The store feels like a mix between a museum and a luxury cruise liner (especially with the Mezzanine level which does resemble a ship’s deck). They could’ve easily built more retail space, but instead there are only two levels at the Island section – the expansive and high ceiling within the Crystal Pavilion is embellished with the eye-catching, floating art called “Upper Strut” by Richard Deacon. The glass facets of the Crystal are filled with cascading white “sails” to block out the excess sunlight, but also gives momentary glimpses into the sea outside. With port holes, deck furniture and an abundance of teak panels, it almost feels like you are “traveling”. You just have to see it.

Before I start bombarding this post with photos, here is a “directory” of all the sections in the Island Maison:

Louis Vuitton Island Maison – Store Layout

Marina Bay Sands Shoppes – Basement Level 1
Store Entrance
Fine Jewellery
Timepieces
Exotic/Rare Leather Goods

Marina Bay Sands Shoppes – Basement Level 2
Store Entrance
Bookstore
Gallery/Tunnel to Crystal Pavilion

Crystal Pavilion North – Level 1
“Jetty”/Outdoor Store Entrance
Men’s Universe: Ready to Wear, Bags and Leather Goods, Accessories
Women’s Universe: Ready to Wear, Bags and Leather Goods, Accessories

Crystal Pavilion North – Mezzanine Level
Travel Room: Trunks, Luggage, Travel Accessories, Ready to Wear
Custom Order Collection


Some interesting info!

There are no “limited editions” or commemorative products for the store’s grand opening. Apparently, the company wants to stop associating products (or at least, special variants) with store launches.

Although the store is completely air-conditioned, those who are sensitive to heat should be aware that the Crystal Pavilion gets a little warm throughout the afternoon. It is a structure mostly made of glass and has generous amounts of sunlight sieving in, after all.

Also, the store can no longer sell items on display, so even if you see something you like on display, you might not be able to bring it home. This rule has been around for years but has been rarely enforced in Singapore, until now at Island Maison. This is to ensure that the customer receives “brand new” pieces.

Unlike the other stores in Singapore, where you can pick and try as much as you like and pay for the item you’ve been touching, the staff can only fetch (brand new) merchandise for customers only after payment. I’m not sure if this is the standard practice everywhere else in the world, but I have observed this at some stores overseas.

Apart from some convenience installations, there are lifts at the Island Maison (but not at the Marina Bay Sands Shoppes sections), an outdoor sitting area, a private lounge and yes, even guest washrooms. Throw in a café and I believe some guests will never want to leave.


Ready for the tour of the Island Maison? Click “Read Full Story!”

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The FinePix X100


While some camera manufacturers are flooding the market with competitively priced, simplified DSLRs and tiny compact cameras with many, sometimes gimmicky features, Fujifilm has boldly emerged in another direction – to build a high quality premium camera that not just have the good parts inside, but a stunning look to match. The FinePix X100 was first unveiled last year at Photokina and has attracted quite a large number of fans.


The Look
It is easy to tell why. The X100 looks delightfully vintage and minimalistic. The camera body is mostly covered with a black leather-textured material, with the top and bottom plates in a smooth grey finish. It resembles a classic rangefinder design, very much like Leica’s M system. The look is completed with a range of mechanical knobs, switches and rings.

Despite sporting a nostalgic design, the hardware within the X100 is of course, up to date. The designers have utilized various tricks to create the illusion that the camera has various “manual” controls (such as the aperture ring and shutter speed knob) when it is mostly electronic – and it is not just the looks, the ring “click” like old lenses.

The Specifications

Fujifilm FinePix X100
• 12.3 megapixels APS-C CMOS sensor
• Fujinon 23mm f/2 (35mm equivalent) custom-designed lens
• 9-bladed aperture diaphragm
• 10 cm Macro
• Built-in 3 stop ND filter
• ISO 200 ~ 6400 (can be extended to ISO 100 and ISO 12800)
• Hybrid Viewfinder (Optical and LCD display)
• 2.8″ LCD display
• SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards supported
• Maximum image resolution: 4288 x 2848
• Video resolution: 1280×720 Progressive

The Hardware
Image quality is obviously one of the top considerations for the Fujifilm engineers. They did not go for an APS-C sensor with high megapixel count. Choosing a 12.3 megapixel sensor would yield less “noisy” photos and of course, clearer images. The Fujinon lens is custom-designed for this camera and is very sharp in all apertures in most situations – and the aperture has 9 curved blades – This makes out of focus areas appear very smooth and pleasing.

church fence

The most talked about feature about the X100 is actually the Hybrid Viewfinder. It is two viewfinders in one – optical and electronic. Allow the diagram below from Fujifilm.com explain it better:


X100’s Viewfinder modes, Fujifilm.com

Essentially, the X100 has an optical viewfinder (0.5x magnification) that also overlays useful information on top of the optical image – such as framelines, exposure information, distance scale, histogram and even an electronic level. However, the optical mode does not see exactly what is going through the camera lens due to differences in field of view. Hence, there are some slight variances in the final image due to parallax and sometimes the camera is unable to “focus” because the images from both the optical viewfinder and image sensor are too different – leading to frustration because the camera would need to be switched to electronic mode for images at closer distances to be taken properly*.

The electronic mode gives a 100% view of what the camera actually sees – including the right depth of field, but is not as bright (in low-light situations) as the optical mode. Of course, it is also not as sharp or as fast as optical mode, but I found it sufficiently speedy. In electronic mode, a screen would be raised in the viewfinder window to block external light coming from the front, allowing the LCD display to appear vivid and bright.

The X100 manual suggests not sticking with just one viewfinder mode but rather switch them depending on shooting conditions. The optical viewfinder is excellent for landscapes, street photography and most portraits. When shooting closer subjects, the electronic mode is the only way to go. The camera is designed to switch between both modes quickly with a dedicated switch – convenient positioned for the tip of the index finger. The camera also switches between modes quickly after each shot, utilizing the electronic display for image review (which can also be disabled entirely, should the user chooses).

*The optical viewfinder is able to focus up to distances as close as 80cm. Activating electronic mode would allow the X100 to focus to 40cm. The camera is able to go closer in macro or manual focus mode, bringing the minimum focus down to 10cm.

Time for the short story
My family got the X100 a month ago, by sheer chance and luck. For the past few months, I was talking to my Dad about how he should probably buy a camera to document his travels – he travels to many places for business and it’s quite a pity how we only get photos from his Blackberry! He used to be (or so he claims, haha) to be very into photography when he was my age. He didn’t like my NEX because it was cumbersome to use – I only mount old Carl Zeiss lenses on it and those lenses are manually operated. The X100 was a strong option.

A month ago, there was a worldwide shortage of X100 cameras due to the disaster in Japan causing the factory to be closed and also delayed shipments out of Japan. In Singapore, wait-lists were already very long (even before the earthquake happened) and some people were asking for refunds for their reservation deposits as it was unclear if the camera would be able to arrive within a reasonable time-frame.

My family was just having our usual dinner on an ordinary Friday evening and we decided to just walk past a camera shop to see if we could see a display set. Nope, there was nothing captivating on display apart from the X100 poster. We then decided to ask a salesperson, who quickly just said “Yes, we have it.” and out of nowhere, took out a new set for us. Jaw-drop moment! No reservations or anything.

Well, for the past few weeks, I was fortunate enough to have the camera for myself as Dad decided not to bring it along with him for his recent long trip to the US.

untitled, d.2904

Real-world usage
The X100 is a joy to use. The small size meant that the camera would be carried anywhere and everywhere. The body is ergonomically designed (despite its blocky appearance) to hold and has a good bit of heft to it – it is not too light nor heavy. Most importantly, the viewfinder just allows me to focus on nothing but the picture. The prime lens, fixed at 35mm (equivalent) is a perfect focal length to work with – and after working with prime lenses with my NEX for the past 6 months, it just feels natural for me to “zoom” by actually moving about. The lens is fantastic with great overall sharpness, little distortion and great control over chromatic aberration. However, it could produce quite a bit of flare in some situations. Depending on the photograph, it could either look distracting, or rather spectacular.

The sensor used is able to produce cleaner images compared to my NEX as it has a lower megapixel count and seems to be using a very weak anti-aliasing filter – allowing more details to be captured in images. It has pretty good dynamic range too.


Live updating

Other features which I thought were great were: Built-in ND filter (for shooting wide-open outdoors in the sun), circular aperture (nice out of focus areas, always!), super silent shutter (huge difference from the NEX) and also the quick autofocus speed in most situations. While most users on the internet tend to praise Fujifilm’s signature colours that is inherent from X100’s out-of-camera JPEGs, I prefer developing my photos manually in Lightroom.

It is not a miracle machine however – the camera did take me a while to get used to and the first images from the camera seemed very underwhelming.. until I realized that I have not really “used it in the right way”. It could be anytime from days to weeks to become fluent with the X100’s true capabilities (and problems). So yes, there is a learning curve for this camera and it is a very critical phase that has split the userbase into 2 groups: People who love the camera to death and might actually want to die with it and.. People who find that this camera is just too different and utterly incongruous to how they think cameras should work. I think that the X100’s prime lens is probably one reason why these people could not appreciate the camera. And also that mystical photographer-camera synergy – if it’s not meant to be, it just isn’t.

The camera is not without flaws. The way Manual Focus is implemented in the X100 is absolutely hopeless and it utilizes a light-sensor to track the amount and speed of turns on the focusing ring. However, as it uses light, it becomes very indecisive and sluggish in dim conditions – situations where manual focus will be very useful. Instead, the lens focus mechanism would make a lot of “chutt-ing” noises as it struggles to figure out what is happening to the focus ring. Focusing could also become an irritating issue when it comes to video recording – there is no way to lock focus during recording; the lens would persistently try to focus.

As I have said before, the X100 does resemble Leica’s digital M cameras and unfortunately even the slow processing speed was also replicated. I kid, but not on the speed! Perhaps I am too used to the blazing speeds offered by the NEX even with a normal SD card. The camera buffer seems to have problems pushing out images fast enough to the card, causing the camera to lock up until the transfer has been completed. This is a lot more drastic in burst-mode – the X100 could take 7-8 images in quick succession and become unusable for a few minutes. Perhaps a faster (or the fastest) memory card could ease this issue.

However, there are some very serious shortfalls could potentially ruin the experience for some users. I don’t know if the camera was rushed or Fujifilm is abusing a bunch of overworked programmers – there are numerous glitches and strange quirks littered everywhere in the camera’s firmware. DPreview has documented a long (but not exhaustive) list of bugs and issues with the current firmware. For me, I have just learnt to work around those issues, but they do get in the way from time to time.

Ancient Egypt

But..
I have talked to a several friends who own professional cameras and most of them told me the problem they have with the X100 is the price. Yes, at S$1699, it is rather steep (some retailers offer lower prices, do ask for discounts) but it is interesting how the price is quickly compared with other DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. They did not deny that they still desire it, though. No matter what combination, it is not possible to get a camera with a good APS-C sized sensor, high quality 35mm (equiv) f/2 lens, a decent viewfinder and keep it within a compact body – good looks will just be bonus points. It is only with highly customized parts – and that’s what Fujifilm did. Therefore, I feel that the initial high investment will be quickly paid back with lots of fantastic pictures and without the hassle of experimenting with lenses and cameras.

I would think that the X100 should only be compared with the Leica X1, although both cameras have their own differences anyway. Both cameras belong in a niche market: Large sensor, fixed focal length, beautiful design, premium materials, “luxury” marketing strategy.

Still, depending on the photographer, the X100 is not a replacement for a full DSLR system. You cannot do high-speed shooting. You cannot zoom. You are stuck without interchangeable lenses. But what if you have no need for these things? Would this be the perfect camera? What do you think?

Perhaps it’s just me but – I want to be able to bring a good camera everywhere – like I’ve already said in the NEX entry. It should be able to fit in all my bags so I could bring it to school, overseas or any place interesting. It is just me, but I don’t understand the point of having a large camera to lug around in its special bag. If I am a professional photographer, then yes.

So I guess, it depends. Okay, I admit it’s rather pointless for me to comment anymore because I have access to the camera now (hahaha). Still, I must state that I have never felt so excited to take photographs and actually enjoy the process of doing so. I still love my NEX though and I am waiting for the E-mount 24mm f/1.7 lens to be released!

wind and water

vertigo

flower

Sunny

Lights, Camera, Action!

cumulus

More photos can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikolux/

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