Archive | December 2009

F.U.N. celebrates December @ Esplanade

[written & complied by KopiOkaya]

This series of images was taken during our F.U.N. Bromancing Outing @ Esplanade – Celebrate December on 19th December 2009. The focus of this outing is Celebrate December at Esplanade. Its programs include inspirational, heart-warming performances and activities throughout the month.

The term ‘Bromancing’, a combination of the words: ‘brother’ and ‘romancing, was coined by fellow F.U.N. member Amberture. Its sole purpose is to foster everlasting brotherly (and sisterly too) bonds among F.U.N. members. To organize such outing, a member may suggest a venue to go, contact one another, meet-up and shoot. Unlike regular F.U.N. outings, Bromancing outing is without fixed date or time. As long as you have a few hours to spare and your camera handy, you may join us. It is absolutely free-and-easy.

Click image to enlarge.

26th December 2009

Performances from The Fritz Quartet, Bless and Freaky Z:

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

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[photo: Bluffname] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Bluffname] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Bluffname] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

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19th December 2009

Performances from SLIDE THAT! trombone ensemble and NUS Jazz Band:

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

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[photo: Bluffname] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Bluffname] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Bluffname] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

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[photo: Selim] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Selim] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Selim] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

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[photo: Sgsoonhoe] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Sgsoonhoe] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Sgsoonhoe] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

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[photo: Amberture] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Amberture] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Amberture] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

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Photo of the Month – December 2009

[written by KopiOkaya]

[photo: Sgsoonhoe] Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR

This image from Sgsoonhoe truly deserves to be the Photo of the Month for December 2009. No doubt it is a little soft and its white balance off, but these are not important. The image not only incorporates the festivity mood, but above all, it cleverly captures the significance and essence of family togetherness and motherly-love. This is a heart-warming image which reaches deep within our hearts and bring back memories of our own mothers and families during the holiday seasons. Furthermore, it is all about the right mood and excellent timing. Soon Hoe composed and clicked his FinePix F70EXR at the exact moment, which appropriately captured the mother and child, as well as the excited and enthusiastic father (seen from the reflection of the silver orb). This image is timeless and meaningful not only to that family, but to us – the viewers, too.

Suggestions on how to improve this image:

  • Zoom or move backwards a bit to include more of the baby’s feet
  • Remove the ‘high voltage’ label
  • Make the ambient light a tad bit warmer
  • Image can do with a bit of sharpening (but not too much)

Readers are encouraged to give your suggestions on how to improve the image (please be polite and comment constructively).

A new ‘fanship’ with Fujifilm Hyper-Utility software

[written & photographed by Bluffname]

Fujifilm Hyper-Utility HS-V3 software – for converting .RAF format raw files from FinePix cameras – does not seem to have a lot of fans. From what I know, Fujifilm has stopped selling it. At least Fujifilm Singapore has. And not many FinePix owners seem to own and use this software.

Almost against my will, I recently established a “fanship” with it as I discovered that it produces significantly better quality images than the software that I had been using for over a year, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0. My friend KopiOkaya had been telling me about this, but I never really listened. I was happy with Lightroom. Then one day he showed an example of the difference. Truly, a picture speaks a thousand words. I was wowed.

Reluctantly, I re-visited Hyper-Utility. I still don’t like the way it works. Who does, when it runs at snail speed? It reminds me of computers during the 1970s. I was at university then and whenever the class had a computer assignment, we would submit our work to the computer department and return the next day to collect our answers.

OK. Hyper-Utility is not that slow. But those who use it will know what I mean. You make an adjustment and wait maybe 10 or 20 seconds to see the results. If you don’t like it, you adjust again and wait again. No… wait… even before you make any adjustment, just to open a file, or worse still, a folder containing many files, might take a few minutes!

It’s not so bad when you adjust the sensitivity or exposure because the outcome is roughly predictable. With tone adjustments using the curve, where the results are less predictable, the process can be hair-pulling. It’s just so frustrating to spend 10, 20 or more minutes making simple adjustments that Lightroom achieves in seconds!

Argh! But I have “no choice”. Rather, this is my best choice if I want to get the best results. And so, to endear myself to this dinosaur-age software, I have given it a new name: Fuji Utility Conversion Kit. (Editor’s note: don’t you think of that four-letter word)

I remember when I first installed my Hyper-Utility, I had to upgrade my iMac memory from 1MB of RAM to the maximum 4MB of RAM. It did speed things up a little, but not enough.

At the time (end of 2007), the only other option I had was the ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) function on my Adobe Photoshop CS2. It could open the file. But the image turned out very dark and brightening it made it very noisy. And after conversion, the image size was only 3,043 pixels on the longer side, instead of the usual 4,256. It just didn’t work.

This is how an imaged looked when opened with ACR on Photoshop CS2:

From what I understand, Photoshop CS4 now handles .RAF raw files okay. But I have not upgraded, so I cannot comment on that. (Editor’s note: please scroll down the page and read the comments below)

Meanwhile, I plodded with Hyper-Utility for a few months. Then I bought Lightroom 2.0 and everything seemed great. Lightroom is just so intuitive and user-friendly. I loved it; I happily shelved my Hyper-Utility…

The same image, without adjustments, on Lightroom, currently version 2.5:

The image looks fine enough. Lightroom images are certainly acceptable and I recently won a major photo competition with four images, all converted using Lightroom. But when I re-visited Hyper-Utility, I realised that the results are quite different. Overall, Hyper-Utility images are more vibrant and “alive”. And the noise level is much lower.

Another difference is the colour cast. The Lightroom version is a lot more magenta, whereas Hyper-Utility gives a more yellow rendition. On real humans, the skin tone is much more accurate and pleasing with Hyper-Utility (at least for Asian skins, since Hyper-Utility is developed by an Asian company whereas Lightroom is by an American).

This is the same image, converted at “camera settings” using Hyper-Utility:

There is a reason, however, why I choose this mannequin instead of a real human for this article. Partly, it is because this is a difficult image. It was shot in a dimly-lit shop window (along Joo Chiat Road) at ISO 3,200, f4.5 at 1/6 second. (Hey, I must say my hands are quite steady to have captured this without noticeable camera shake!) This is a dull and noisy image that can do with some post processing.

The other reason is that I want to share the many steps – and mis-steps – that I went through with this image and how I finally figured out a work-flow that would minimise both my time and my angst.

I had previously processed it with Lightroom and I wanted to see how it would turn out with Hyper-Utility. In particular, I wanted to bring out the shine of her golden head dress. After countless adjustments – and frustrations – this was the best I could achieve:

I knew the image was too yellow, but I was already too tired. I had reached the stage where additional adjustments made the image worse. I gave up. Well, not totally… I decided to open the converted image in Lightroom and it took me just a few seconds to produce this:

Too magenta! But hmmmm… at least I was getting somewhere. Perhaps I could merge the two? I opened both images in Photoshop, copied one, pasted it on top of the other and adjusted the opacity. Not bad, I thought.

But at the back of my mind, I still felt that Hyper-Utility could do a better job. Having figured out, from Lightroom, how to make the image less yellow, I went back to Hyper-Utility and used a function that I had previously not touched – the “fine tuning” colour circle under White Balance. Finally, I got the image that I wanted. Almost…

I went back again to Lightroom and this time opened my Nik Software Viveza plug-in. (The Lightroom plug-in costs significantly less than the Photoshop version) Using Viveza, I placed a control point at the face to brighten it just slightly. I could also to fine tune the colour of the face, so that while the bride’s golden head dress is shiny yellow, the face is more like human / mannequin skin tone. This is closest to what I have visualised:

[photo: bluffname]

As you can see, I have had quite an adventurous journey with this image. In the process, I developed a work-flow that would give me the best of three image processing softwares (without even using Photoshop, except for saving images). This work-flow may be summed up as follows:

  1. Basic adjustments with Hyper-Utility
  2. Convert to .tiff file
  3. Fine tuning on Lightroom and Nik Software
  4. Save as a Photoshop .psd file. (Editor’s note: To those who don’t have Lightroom, the software allows the user to save in Photoshop .psd file)

It still takes a lot more time and effort than using just Lightroom. And its a hassle having to launch three or more different softwares just to process one image. My wishlist to Fujifilm, then, is a faster, more user-friendly version of Hyper-Utility. Is this too much to ask?

Hang time, bang time

[written by KopiOkaya]

You must be wondering what is this ‘Hang time, bang time’ about. It started yesterday when Salnts messaged me on my mobile phone about his father’s FinePix F200EXR. What happened was his father’s camera would hang shortly after it was turned on. It never went pass the ‘Fujifilm’ start-up screen. To restart the camera, he have to remove the battery, wait for a few minutes, reinsert the battery and turn it on. But then, it would get itself hanged again after a while. His father bought the camera from MS Color less than two months ago (in October I presume). Salnts dreaded over going back to Fujifilm Service Centre because the place is out of his way from his campus in Boon Lay (he attends NTU), and also due to the previous not-so-pleasant experience he had there. But I assured him it will be fine this time.

I contacted Mr. Christopher Goh, the Service Manager of Fujifilm Singapore immediately. From our short conversation, Mr. Goh highlighted a few interesting factors. He said before you go to Fujifilm Service Centre, bang their table and claim that brand XXX compacts are much better and more reliable than Fujifilm compacts, do a quick troubleshoot yourself. This may save you a long trip to Fujifilm Building at Upper Paya Lebar Road.

Apparently, these are some of the common causes of camera hang:

  • Third-party battery – some non-Fujifilm battery may cause your camera to seize. Always use original battery.
  • Memory card – some memory cards may also cause your camera to hang. Use memory cards from reputable flash memory makers such as Sandisk, Toshiba and Lexar (Micron Crucial) whenever possible. By the way, never use your computer to format the memory cards. This may cause your camera to hang as well.
  • Data transfer cable – Not all USB cables are made the same. Always use the cable supplied by Fujifilm. Use the wrong USB cable may cause your camera to freeze, or worse, it may damage your camera.

In Salnts’ father’s case, it was the memory card that was giving him problems. The SD card he had was an 8GB Kingston, and it was corrupted. After switching to another card, the camera works fine again. He is very happy after that.

Christmas time is here

[written & complied by KopiOkaya]

This series of images was taken during our ‘O Little Town of Orchard Road’ Christmas F.U.N. Outing on 12th December 2009.

The point-of-interest in this F.U.N. outing was to capture the festive mood, Christmas lighting, decorations, street-scenes and people merry-marking, etc. The main challenge was to replicate the heavily and widely photographed decorative scenes along Orchard Road and  give them the most pleasing, unusual and creative looks. With Fujifilm FinePix cameras and some creative juices flowing through our minds, F.U.N. members were able to grab some of the most picturesque and spectacular snapshots.

Click image to enlarge.

[photo: Sgsoonhoe] Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR

[photo: Sgsoonhoe] Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR

[photo: Sgsoonhoe] Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR

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[photo: Andikong] Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR + Spectral filter

[photo: Andikong] Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR + Star filter

[photo: Andikong] Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR

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A different twist of subject from Bluffname.

[photo: Bluffname] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Bluffname] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Bluffname] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

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Welcome Coolsigg, our newest F.U.N. member.

[photo: Coolsigg] Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR

[photo: Coolsigg] Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR

[photo: Coolsigg] Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR

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[photo: Amberture] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Amberture] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

[photo: Amberture] Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

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A BIG ‘thank you’ to all…

[written by KopiOkaya]

First of all, I will like to thank everyone for coming to our ‘O Little Town of Orchard Road’ Christmas F.U.N. outing. Compared to last year, this time was considered a success, even though some members were lost halfway.

Secondly, I wish to thank the following members (and non-members):

Jimmy and his partner (our guests) – I thank both of you for coming. Hopefully you have discovered the magic of Fujifilm FinePix cameras and consider purchasing one in the near future.

Coolsigg and partner – I am sorry that we lost your halfway through the shoot. This was my fault. I should have allocated the meet-up locations and time before the shoot, while we were still at Burger King. The crowd outside ION Orchard was insane. I hope you had a rewarding shoot on your own after that.

Andikong and Sofi – I cannot thank both of you more… Both of you are always so supportive and encouraging. You are the sole reason why people are interested to use FinePix compact camera. I confidently proclaim F.U.N. without both of you is not the same. Thanks for showing us how to use effect filters with our compact cameras. Before I forget, thank you so much for the light snacks. They definitely came at the right time and satisfied our stomachs (next round of kopi on me).

Selim – Bro… Thanks for staying with us throughout the outing. I could feel that you really enjoy the shoot. Remember to post some of your masterpieces soon.

Sgsoonhoe – Again, thanks for staying with us throughout the outing. You and Andikong had made new discoveries using our compact cameras with effect filters. Hope to see your ‘topeng standard’ masterpieces as well.

Amberture – Or should I call you Brother Newphew? You are the magnet of our group. A very ‘powderful’ magnet in fact. Bro, I cannot thank you more for guiding our guests and new members, introducing F.U.N. and get them to know us better. You are the BEST!!!

Jacob – I am sorry that your son is not feeling well. Hopefully he is feeling better now. It was so unfortunate that you had to leave us so early. You MUST definitely join us for the shoot during our next F.U.N. outing, okay?

And finally, Bluffname – Maestro, thanks for helping me recce the place 4 out of 5 times. Once again, thank you for suggesting Burger King @ ION Orchard as the meet-up place. You are truly a great maestro friend who is always there whenever and wherever I needed help.

We shall all have a ‘well-deserved’ break between now and our next F.U.N. outing; which will be a Chinese New Year outing at Chinatown next year. Do keep an eye on this blog for the announcement.

In the meantime, we will be organizing ad hoc BROmancing outing regularly. Please PM or sms either Bluffname or myself if you wish to join our next BROmancing outing.

My heartfelt appreciation to all F.U.N. members.

[photo: Andikong]

Again, a rumor… Fujifilm FinePix M1 EXR

[written by KopiOkaya]

Again, a rumor. Interestingly this time it is from a Japanese blog site.

source: http://blog.livedoor.jp/e_p1/