Tiong Bahru / Nikon Z6 / Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S / SB900 / DXO Products

Previously I have done some testing with my new Nikon Z6. Today, I have tried out pairing the new camera with my old SB900 flash unit. I am also trying out the DXO products as a substitute of Capture NX-2 with Color Efex Pro plug-in. Click here to see the photo album.

  • SB900 works with Nikon Z6 though it is not fully integrated with the camera. Settings need to be done on the flash unit (such as exposure and mode).
  • Flash lock works well. Picking the right flash exposure is very important or else, the picture may be over-exposed as a flash filler.
  • In as much as I wish to, when shooting portraits, I can’t get rid of the flash unit.
  • DXO PhotoLab 2 with Nik Collection 2 is a very good product. It does almost everything as my old Capture NX-2 with Color Efex Pro. I can’t apply Nikon picture control in DXO, which is annoying. I don’t seem to be able to add descriptions to my raw photos – which is also annoying. Lastly, a TIFF file is created so that the filter can be applied. It makes photo export slightly more tedious (as there is a need to pick a set of NEF and TIFF mixed photos) and I can’t re-edit a TIFF file (i.e. have to reapply the filters all over again should I need to). Having said that, I am pretty much at home with DXO products.
A picture of my wife taken in our condo.

Test Drive My Nikon Z6 with 35mm Z Lens at Marina Bay – First Impression

For years, I have been taking photographs using my Nikon D700. These days, mirrorless full-frame cameras seem to be the trend. Unable to resist my curiosity – and mainly drawn towards the lightweight build – I have bought a Nikon Z6 with little or no expectation. Here are my quick observations.

Click here to view the full album. There is no Photoshop. Just cropping and fine-tuning via Capture NX-D software. That is to say, what you see is what you can get straight from the camera.

Marina Bay Sands at Sunset
  1. I am impressed by the photo quality. Superb ISO range. Starting to fall in love with the 35mm f/1.8 Z mount lens. The camera body is made in Japan. But the lens is made in China.
  2. Lightweight. I can even take pictures with one hand!
  3. Lesser physical buttons compared to D700. Hence, need to get used to the in-camera menu and touchscreen LCD.
  4. I use the electronic viewfinder and immediately feel at home. My wife prefers LCD (that can be pulled out for food shots!).
  5. Able to wirelessly transfer the photos into my wired computer. No cable is required.
  6. Z6 photos cannot be exported through Capture NX-2, which is a shame. Because I have the Color Efex Pro plug-in.
  7. Capture NX-D is a nightmare to use.
  8. Lightroom is an option (gosh, I hate Adobe’s hard sell for monthly or yearly subscription … and no, I don’t need your cloud). But I still prefer Capture NX-D.
  9. Battery life is pretty poor, which is expected. There is a heavy reliance on the LCD so as to navigate the various menu options.
  10. So far, no regret. I have also purchased the FTZ mount. I shall test out the Z6 with my legacy F mount lenses.
Merlion at night.

Spent My Holiday in Sentosa Island

I took leave on a Friday and the following Monday was a public holiday. Naturally, with a four days long break, people would think that I have taken the opportunity to visit overseas. When I replied that I planned to visit Sentosa Island on Friday on my own, they thought I was joking.

I wasn’t.

The merlion looks a bit old.

Most of the time my wife and I take leave together. We would likely end up chilling in our new home. Since my wife had to work on Friday and the weather was nice – not too sunny and no rain – I have decided to take public transport and visit Sentosa Island.

I always end up having a meal and a drink in this bar next to the beach.

Two train stations from my home and I have reached Harbourfront. Directly above the train exit and on the third floor of Vivocity is the monorail station to the island.

I thought of doing Bungee. Maybe next time when my stomach is not so full.

The difference between driving to the island and taking public transport is that when we drive, we tend to visit the area not too far away from where we park (and there ain’t that many parking facilities in the island). Since I was taking a monorail train, I had the opportunity to explore the island.

Those are the stairs I did not take. Instead, I took a lift to the rooftop.
Up at the rooftop is a view around the island.
A lovely bridge that is quite similar to one of those in Mount Faber Park.
The island is full of cannons!
I am not sure if you could call this wildlife. But this one is not shy around people. We were really close to each other!
I wonder if this one is real.

There is an exhibition at the Siloso Breach. A history of Singapore back in the WWII era. The exhibition is well above my expectation. A strong recommendation for those who visit Singapore. The indoor exhibition ‘Surrender Chamber’ is amazing.

In the outdoor, these are engine wreckage from the Japanese warplanes.
There is a tunnel to the gun post.
Yet another cannon.

Leaving Siloso area was a nice walk by the beach followed by a short hike to the Sentosa Imbiah trail.

The cable cars that shuttle people between Harbourfront and Sentosa Island.
There are mozzies in the trail. It is good to bring insect repellants.
Nice artwork.
Did you see a … dragon?

I could have taken a monorail train from Imbiah Station back to Vivocity. Instead, I walked towards the Resort World and took the monorail from Waterfront Station. That concludes my visit.

Those must be hotel rooms.
And I was looking for a bar to quench my thirst.
A bird flew by as I took this picture.
From a distance, there is the Merlion.
Happy Hour at Hardrock Cafe!
What a contrast to other parts of the island, this area was full of visitors.
I had fun. Looking forward to bringing my wife back to Sentosa in the near future!

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmons – A Brief Book Review

As a sci-fi fan, I love anything to do with time travel. There are not many authors that tackle the topic of time travel. And for those who do, not many tackle it well. The paradox of time travel makes it a difficult topic. It is so easy to screw it up badly as readers are smart to spot any loopholes. Amy Harmons’s What the Wind Knows is a joyful read despite areas that I wish could have been better.

The location is Ireland. The story may well serve as a historical novel. A modern Irish woman who lives in America returned to Ireland upon the death of her grandfather found herself time traveled back in time when she becomes the mother of her grandfather. There are lots of tight references in the present date and in the old date that makes the plot believable.

Has history been altered? Perhaps just a little bit. I wish the main character could have made more impact and to have more of that heroic moments as someone who is gifted to have seen the future. That perhaps is my own feedback on the story, which otherwise is a very good time travel novel.

Murakami’s Killing Commendatore – A Brief Book Review

I am a huge fan of Haruki Murakami . When I spotted his latest book in our local book store BooksActually – actually it was my wife who first spotted it – I bought it in a heartbeat. I don’t collect books these days as my wife prefers a ‘minimalist’ home. But when it comes to Murakami, my wife knows that it is a sacred space of mine that needs to be left alone. For as long as Murakami keeps on writing, I shall keep on buying. At times, I collect both the English translated version as well as the Chinese translated version.

If you are new to Murakami, I would imagine how daunting it may be to pick a book to start. His classic books tend to have that rawness that can have more impact in terms of plot twists and emotion but the journey could be more irregular. That is to say, some parts could drag on and the plot could become pretty bizarre. His recent books tend to be more refined, more believable, and with a more predictable pace. Killing Commendatore belongs to the latter category.

It is a story of a male artist whose marriage is falling apart and he paints portraits to pay the bills but it is not necessarily something he is passionate about doing. Killing Commendatore is a journey of this artist rediscovering his passion and in the midst of it, rediscovers himself. Through this journey, this artist encounters different characters – real and surreal – including one that spawns from a painting. There are different threads of stories running in parallel interacting with one and other – which is typical of Murakami’s writing style.

Killing Commendatore is a fascinating read. I would recommend this book to readers who are new to Murakami as well as to those who are familiar with him.