A Cycling Photographer’s Review of the Samsung NX300 Camera

As an official photographer for

My first digital camera, was a point-and-shoot which was small, beautiful, took decent pictures. As enticing as they were, I’ve never really turned to the Digital SLR cameras. Why? My logic was that if it’s too clunky, there’s a high chance I won’t be taking it out.

In recent years, with the advent of mirrorless cameras (I prefer the moniker EVILElectronic Viewfinder with Interchangeable Lens), this gap between portability and functionality has pretty much narrowed. Throw in these camera’s unique feature to use almost any available camera lens out there as long as you have the right adapter, and you’ll pretty much have killer system to tinker with.

Being one of the first to enter the marketplace, my first EVIL camera was the Sony NEX-5. Since cameras are only as good as the lenses you’ve got, I slowly built up a collection for any occasion. Since then I’ve upgraded to the NEX-7, which has a ton of features I’ve yet to fully master.

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to shoot the living daylights out of the Samsung NX300. Frankly speaking, I knew Samsung largely for their computer displays, smartphones and tablets, but to get a camera by Samsung took a bit of getting used to.

So how did it fair?
The first thing that struck me was how much was stuffed into a camera in this S$1,000 range. The Samsung NX300 has:

• 20.3-million-pixel, APS-C CMOS sensor (pretty high!)
• DRIMe IV image processing engine (processes images decently fast)
• Hybrid AF system
• Dual-band Wi-Fi (tons of connectivity options, especially to smartphones)
• 3-inch rear tiltable LCD touchscreen (borrowed from the Sony NEX)
• Supplied with full version of Adobe Lightroom (this I love!)

I consider myself an intermediate-level photographer & geek, where I know the basics (e.g. shooting at night without flash), but I won’t know every setting on a camera. As part of the Samsung Singapore NX300 campaign, I was told to showcase the NX300′s fast shutter capability through my cycling adventures.  I’ll run through the process by which I conduct my shoots, just to let you understand the ease of use and versatility of the Samsung NX300.

Thrills & Spills at Tampine Bike Park (181 of 188)-2

On a typical weekend, I’d plan with my cycling buddies on where we’d go. Sometimes it’d be off-road on a trail, sometimes urban exploration, but all the time there’d be some form of movement. This is where the impressive rate of 8.6fps in continuous shooting mode, and 1/6000th shutter speed really takes the cake. Below you see a low-res compilation of my buddy Jason Teo jumping a ramp at Tampines Bike Park, with each shot fairly bright and detailed.

Sunday spent in Adobe Lightroom, tweaking and dramatizing high-speed photography from the Samsung NX300 #samsungsgnx300

Here’s a full shot of Jason killing it…

Thrills & Spills at Tampine Bike Park (132 of 188)

My Typical Workflow with the Samsung NX300
Now I’d be taking a ton of shots each time, and along the way, I might want to instagram a few shots instead of waiting till I get home for post-production in Adobe Lightroom. The magic of smartphones nowadays are the amazing array of photo-editing suites available for our touchscreen devices. In particular, selecting Wifi mode on the Samsung NX300 lets me connect to my smartphone in numerous ways, from remote controlling the camera, to transferring selected or backing up all shots for easier viewing.

Once transferred, the raw pictures from the NX300 were typically sharp enough, so what I do is to “tweak reality” by evening out the high and lows (bright and dark) areas of the shots through a free yet powerful photo editor called SnapSeed (iOS / Android). Once satisfied, I then pass the image over to Instagram where I can apply the typical set of filters for dramatic effect. Should my buddies be keen to have some photos, I could then Whatsapp them straightaway as well.

Once I get back home, I’d typically do a once-over on the raw images. The Samsung NX300 gives a good baseline of photos for me to work with, often allowing me to accentuate the key aspects of a particular photo with little loss of detail. If the shots are worth the trouble, I’d spend an afternoon selecting and tuning the photos in Adobe Lightroom. Otherwise it’s a simple case of sorting through iPhoto to save time. All my photos then get shared on Facebook and Flickr, which serves as my online backup as well.

Now as the camera has a dedicated wifi mode, I can actually save all these steps by sending photos directly onto my social networks from the camera itself. If speed of publishing is key (e.g. working for a newsroom), the ability to send images directly, even through email, is god-sent. An on-screen keyboard makes this practical. I must say that Samsung NX300′s touchscreen is the most responsive I’ve even used on any camera, perhaps a page learned from their smartphone and tablet industry. 

Thrills & Spills, with @jasonitchi and @_weili_ #samsungsgnx300

Versatility
Little things make the Samsung NX300 that much easier to use:

First, the kit lens that came with my camera was an 18-55mm OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) lens which is great, though the f/3.5-5.6 was probably a cost-saving measure. As you might know, the lower the f-stop the more light is able to go through a lens, though the price goes up exponentially as well. To be fair, the camera performed well under most challenging circumstances, which mean that if you invested in a better lens, this camera will truly deliver.

Second, the fact that I could charge the camera with a simple micro-usb cable, is just an incredible lifesaver in itself. If you ever travel and leave your charger at home (it happens!), this is worth its weight in gold.

Third, the sheer amount of wifi connectivity options. To be frank, I’ve not explore every connectivity option offered, but any geek will love the immense capability this camera offers. Besides remote controlling and backing up to my iPhone, I did manage to have to camera backup to my desktop computer as well, saving the need to plug in all the time. Furthermore, if you happen to have an NFC-capable smartphone (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Note II), tapping it against the camera apparently allows you to transfer photos with even greater ease.

Peekaboo Pugsley!  #samsungsgnx300 #surlybikes #cycling #singapore #sgig

Bottomline
Definitely value for money. There’s a lot of bang for your buck in the NX300 camera, and you can dabble to no end. The kit lens is sufficient for most users, still gives me wonderful bokeh under right conditions, but you’d do well to know that you can give this camera an upgrade with a better lens.  

The Hunt For Our Lost Poems

Take Up Arms And Conquer The Vampires

Kevin: It’s been a while since I last blogged, but seeing how I can actually help out on a good cause, here’s something mysterious for you…

THE HUNT FOR OUR LOST POEMS
Stories, myths and legends await you at Singapore Arts Festival 2012, and right now, 23 Arts Fest Show Symbols are lost in the vastness of the Internet waiting for you to discover.
The symbols are hidden on various webpages, blogs and facebook pages, and where they are hidden just might give you more hints of what to expect of the programmes for Arts Fest this year.

HOW TO ENTER
Look out for symbols like the one on my page
Take down the website address on the symbol and enter all your finds in the submission page at the Singapore Arts Fest facebook page

The first five people to discover any 10 symbols will win.
But the best prize awaits the most hardworking person who manages to uncover all 23 symbols first, who will win a hamper with a whole lot of goodies!

There will be clues released on the Symbol Hunt page to help you find some of the more well-hidden symbols, so Like it to stay updated!

USEFUL LINKS
Symbol Hunt Facebook Page
Arts Fest Facebook Page
Arts Fest Web Page

theorycast.66 :: On 938Live’s Raw & Ready with Sarah Cheng

On 938Live's Raw & Ready with Sarah Cheng-De Winne
theorycast.66 :: On 938Live’s Raw & Ready with Sarah Cheng by brainopera

Thanks to digerati Preetam Rai, I was recently introduced to 938Live’s multi-talented radio presenter, Sarah Cheng-De Winne (aka @SarahCDW).

As part of her youth talkshow, Raw & Ready, she interviewed me as a blogger, social cyborg, cyberculturalist, and on my most recent role at The National Art Gallery, Singapore.

This interview was recorded in MediaCorp’s 938Live radio studio on 5th August 2011. You’re invited to take a listen!

FYI: This week on Raw & Ready, it’ll be Juicy & Delicious’ turn!

Download theorycast.66 :: On 938Live’s Raw & Ready with Sarah Cheng (.m4a / 7.8mb) from the Internet Archive, or listen to it on SoundCloud. Feel free to subscribe to theorycast on iTunes.

Productive Games: The Game Mechanics Presentation

View more presentations from Kevin Lim.

As promised at Singtel Accelerate, the game mechanics slides I presented today are now on Slideshare.net. It’s also downloadable as PDF :)

I met a lot of interesting folks there, from academics to developers, and the general sentiment I’m getting is: “At long last!”.

While game mechanics isn’t new or groundbreaking (think Jesse Schell or Seth Priebatsch), what I did offer was an easy way to understand this as a concept, as well as a simple framework for participants to start running their own addictive little systems.

As a sidenote, many were intrigued by the idea that museums could be about much more than they first realized!

TertiaryTech Conference 2010: Singapore student startups are pretty solid!

 

TertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMU

Last Saturday morning, I was invited by Wayne Soh of The Digital Movement to speak about game mechanics at their new conference series, TertiaryTech.

As you can tell, this conference was geared at students interested in breaking into the startup industry. I must say that from what I saw, I was very impressed. The ideas and design that went into the interactive applications pitched by student groups at this conference was pretty top notch. I’ve got a bunch of TertiaryTech photos and video interviews to share as seen below…

TertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUTertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMUEdu-geeks at TertiaryTech 2010: @spoonrabbit @mhisham @danieltsou @shenheng @melvinkee @audreytan #ttcGuess what! You can watch TertiaryTech Conference 2010 live right now at http://live.tech65.org (thx @danieltsou)Personally excited about Pigeonhole.sg. Student developed Conference Q&A system via smartphones! #TTC10

Here’s the game mechanics talk I presented meant to inspire and intrigue student developers into building “addictive” qualities into their apps (to sustain an active user base). From the feedback I’ve received, lots of folks were intrigued after hearing what I had to share, and I’m particularly glad how they have come to realize how Facebook derives free labor through the exploitation of such game mechanics (yes, pure psychological hooks!). Big thanks to Daniel Tsou of Tech65.org fame, for helping with the HD camera work shot using my NEX-5. I’m just going to re-use the wonderful abstracts from the TertiaryTech web site.

 

TertiaryTech 2010: How to add fun to traditional labor (Game Mechanics)

Traditional mass media has typically portrayed video games in a negative light for generating social undesirable or unproductive behavior. However, by harnessing the addictive elements of video games and embedding these game mechanics into traditional labor, can we make work fun?

These forces, or what we refer to as game dynamics or mechanics, are what influence us into subconsciously performing actions or completing certain tasks. As usage and engagement becomes the focus of many technology services today, there is a demand and need to infuse game mechanics in these products.

Kevin has been experimenting with the concept of productive games in the classroom environment, by using Amy Jo Kim’s game mechanics as a means of steering user motivations. He has also been invited to present his research papers and also to speak at numerous corporate and academic conferences. Be sure not to miss him by registering for the Tertiary Tech Conference today!

Additional video resources:
Seth Priebatsch: The Game Layer on top of the World
Jesse Schell: When Games Invade Real Life

 

TertiaryTech 2010: Pigeonhole – Beautiful Conference Q&A system

Title of Project: Pigeonhole Live
Team Lead: Hew Joon Yeng, Lyon Lim Yu Tian
Academic Institution: National University of Singapore

Pigeonhole Live is a simple conference tool for speakers to engage their audience in a live setting using their smartphones, laptops and even iPad! Pigeonhole Live allows the audience to ask and vote for their burning questions on their web device in real-time. Good news for the audience: No more waiting for the McNanny at the microphone during the precious 10-minute QnA sessions! By looking at the highest voted questions, the speakers can now address the audience crowd more accurately.

Now everyone gets to take part in the post-keynote QnA at the conferences, without running to the microphones. Yes, even if you are a little shy.

 

TertiaryTech 2010: Su Yuen demos learning through AR for Kids

Team Lead: Chin Su Yuen
Team Members: Chen Lingwei, Tan Reiwen Alex, Ee Wai Lay, Liu Peng
Institution: NUS School of Computing
Category: Games, Augmented Reality

Virtual Sandbox is an educational game for 4-6 year olds that aim to create a creative and interactive environment to learn English vocabulary. The goal of the game is to build your city and populate it with people. Children use physical cards that are similar to flash cards to place and construct buildings in their city and populate these buildings with characters of the right job/occupation.

For example, to populate a school, children must place a “Teacher” character in the school before they can see an animation of the teacher teaching students in the building.

By using physical cards as a form of interaction, we merge the benefits of tangible objects which children are accustomed to with the interactivity of the virtual environment – morphing the flash cards into a less mundane and more fun method for learning English vocabulary.

 

TertiaryTech 2010: MARGE – Mobile Augmented Reality Game Engine

Team Lead: Jian Gu, Henry Been-Lirn Duh
Institution: MiMe Lab, Interactive Digital Media Institute, National University of Singapore
Category: Augmented Reality

MARGE is a game engine for mobile augmented reality (AR) environment based on iPhone, Android and Symbian OS. It includes integrated support for optimal graphics performance, networking, resource management, sound and music. Mobile developer can learn how to develop high quality 3D interactive mobile AR game using our proposed developmental tool. Several highlight features of MARGE: MARGE supports OpenGL ES 2.0, 3D graphics library which runs on the embedded chipset on different phones; Networking support is an essential feature for a Mobile AR game. MARGE supports multiplayer interacting each other in mobile AR environment using TCP/IP or blue-tooth.

In Summary
These student developer groups were impressive to say the least. It truly shows the potential Singapore has in this burgeoning interactive software industry and I’m all for supporting our local startups. I’ve only managed to interview a few groups here, so do check out the many more who presented at TertiaryTech 2010.

Speaking on ‘Productive Games’ at TertiaryTech, 18th Sept @ SMU

How To Add Fun To Traditional Labour @ Tertiary Tech Conference 2010

Game mechanics is quite the rage across disciplines and industries. Since 2009, I’ve delivered variations of my talk at SOLsummit 2009 (Syracuse, NY), Barcamp Buffalo, ICA 2010 conference, WebSG meetup, IGDA Pecha Kucha Night III, and soon, SingTel Accelerate conference.

This Saturday at TertiaryTech I’ll be helping interested students understand the basic psychological hooks that make games addictive, and consequently how we could apply these rules to make traditional labor fun.

TertiaryTech tickets are $15 for students, but I have three tickets to give away for the first three passionate students who drop me their contact details in the comments. The organizers tell me that another way to score free tickets is to contribute to their IdeaBoard. They just want a good reason to give tickets away!

If you’re interested, I speak from 11.00am-11.30am at Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium, SMU School of Accountancy. Here’s the abstract below…

How To Add Fun To Traditional Labour

In our daily lives, we do our shopping at the usual stores, buy a meal at our favourite fast food chain or visit our usual watering holes. We are rewarded by being loyal customers and we know when and how to get things at a cheaper price. Turning our attention online to social networking services like Facebook and LinkedIn, you’ll see the number of friends you have implicitly considered as a scoreboard, while the profile completion progress meter would look like feedback in the leveling process, all of which are game mechanics that tease our psychological urges. Casual games hosted on these platforms like Farmville and Mafia Wars are making us go back and play them every 30 minutes or so.

These forces, or what we refer to as game dynamics or mechanics, are what influence us into subconsciously performing actions or completing certain tasks. As usage and engagement becomes the focus of many technology services today, there is a demand and need to infuse game mechanics in these products.

Find out from Kevin Lim, our local friendly social cyborg and tech blogger at Theory is the Reason, on how to harness the addictive elements of video games and embed these game mechanics into a traditional system or product to make it fun and to encourage prolonged and frequent use.

Kevin has been experimenting with the concept of productive games in the classroom environment, by using Amy Jo Kim’s game mechanics as a means of steering user motivations. He has also been invited to present his research papers and also to speak at numerous corporate and academic conferences. Be sure not to miss him by registering for the Tertiary Tech Conference today!

Additional video resources

Seth Priebatsch: The Game Layer on top of the World

Jesse Schell: When Games Invade Real Life

For details, head to http://tertiarytech.com

UPDATE: Tertiarytech Conference access for students now FREE! Professionals pay a token sum of $25. Do it for the kids ;)

Watch our National Day 45km bike ride in 10mins

@acroamatic's RunKeeper: East Coast Park to Changi Village

In case you don’t know, I recently got serious about cycling. Ever since Siva and the ZenDogs took me to Pengerang, Malaysia for my initiation ride, I’ve been hooked. Mind you they’re not some easy-peasy cyclists… they really put their feet to the metal, so I had trouble keeping up the first time round.

Thanks to Andy Dinesh who offered his bike recommendations. I finally settled on a 2nd-hand Birdy, specifically the Pearl White Monocoque Birdy Alivio 8-Speed, as listed in the StradaSingapore forums. It’s a German-engineered full suspension foldable bike, which is as exciting as it sounds! Here it is folded, and unfolded.

In the video above, you’ll see Kenneth Pinto and I taking on the length of East Coast Park Connector, from Fort Rd to Changi Village, and back. Total distance was 45km, and we did it at 2hrs 28min (mostly due to traffic and human congestion towards noon). I’ve fast forwarded it so you can see the entire ride in 10mins! It’s quite cute to watch!

ZenDogs vs. Pengerang, Malaysia – The 40km Cycling Trip

Pengerang Cycling Trip (40km)

Early Saturday morning, Siva and the Zendogs cyclists take on Pengerang, Malaysia, on a 40km cycling trip along the coastal kampong route. An hour boat ride from Changi Point to the Pengerang jetty, followed by two hours of cycling towards the seafood town of Sungai Rengit 20km away for lunch. After which we U-turned and headed back the same way.

Pengerang Cycling Trip (40km) | RunKeeper

Besides the rustic beach scenery, our trip ended up being quite hilarious, such as how one of our cyclists suffered three punctures on the same trip! He had to hail a taxi just to get back to the jetty. As for me, I used to cycle a lot when I was young, but it’s been years. The return leg took its toll on my thighs as the heat of the day built-up. Take goodness the rest of the cyclists were there to spray deep-heat (actually some Thai cooling muscle concoction) and pace me all the way back to make the boat.

This trip was an eye opener because I was in the company of experience cyclists. Among them were enthusiasts from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the National Parks (NParks) and NUS biodiversity folks like Siva, all sharing the common passion to explore the prospect of cycling as a mode of commute in Singapore. Unlike the European countries, is Singapore too dense for cycling to be a norm? How much leeway has to be given to bicycles when taking public transport, including sharing elevators in HDB flats? Are foldable bikes the game-changer? While you deliberate, watch scenes from our 40km bicycle ride in Pengerang.

See the rest of the photos here…

The Social Cyborg @ BlinkBL-NK: From perfect memory to networked consciousness

Social Cyborg @ BlinkBl-nk #5

Rushing over from work, I made my way down to Blu Jazz where BlinkBL-NK was at it’s fifth installment. Having been to earlier speaker sessions in the past two months, I liked the diversity in speakers and the easy-going atmosphere.

This time it was my turn to hit the stage, so I thought I’d don the Social Cyborg outfit one final time. Putting on that wearable sensory rig was strangely nostalgic. Continue reading ‘The Social Cyborg @ BlinkBL-NK: From perfect memory to networked consciousness’

In High Definition: Singapore’s Night Festival – New World 2010

Night Festival - New World 2010 (Singapore)

Friday evening after work, I grabbed a quick dinner then headed to the museum district to check out the Night Festival: New World 2010. Just me and my Sony NEX-5, absorbing the electrifying experiencing of the numerous unique performances downtown.

While there were several fringe art activities, I spent most of my time checking out the swinging taxi-girls (yes, they were yummy!), the World’s Slowest SMS Billboard at the Singapore Art Museum, as well as the epic Parabole 2.0 at the National Museum of Singapore.

Night Festival - New World 2010 (Singapore)
See the entire taxi-girls photo set…

What struck me was how forwardly participatory some of these acts were, from dancing with the taxi-girls and taxi-boys as a way to learn about our past and have fun, the ability to SMS a personal love-note @ SAM, to how the epic Paths of Time theatrical production took two separate stages with actors/actresses having to cross through the audience. This turns the audience into a subtle backdrop or even into fellow performers.

Night Festival - New World 2010 (Singapore)

There was simply too much to see in one night, and I’m glad I didn’t travel much because some of the shows, such as the Abusement Park @ SAM, had pretty long lines. I prefer not to get overwhelmed by picking favorites, but for some, the organizers could have perhaps provided a way for the public to create their own itinerary online (as my colleague Regina suggested).

Night Festival - New World 2010 (Singapore)
See the Night Festival 2010 photo set…

Read on to watch the high-definition videos of some of these amazing performances…

Continue reading ‘In High Definition: Singapore’s Night Festival – New World 2010′