Saturday, December 14, 2013

X-Rite i1 Display Pro Calibration - iMac 27" Late 2012 Model (with 2GB graphics)

I just bought an X-Rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter. On my 27" iMac, the default suggested setting was CCFL, which turns out to be less accurate compared to setting to WhiteLED.

Take a look at the colour accuracy after calibration:

Fig 1. Using WhiteLED setting which gives DeltaE avg 0.74

Fig 2. Using CCFL setting, which gives DeltaE avg 4.9

So the calibrated profile in iProfiler also shows the calibrated temperature:

Contrast ratio of 500:1 was set, based on White Luminance of 100cd/m2 and Black Point of 0.20cd/m2. Apparently, target black point achieved was 0.17cd/m2, while white point achieved was 99cd/m2.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Retina iPad mini is now available!

(NOTE: Updated on November 14, 2013.)

Retina display version of the iPad mini is now available. Order online now and expect to wait 1-3 days for the Wifi 16 & 32GB models and 5-10 days for the rest of the models.

Prices start at S$548 for the wifi 16GB model. My recommendation would be the 128GB Wifi Cellular model at S$1148.

As for the iPad Air, current stock shows 5-7 days for deliveries.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Apple Review of the iPad Air

Having been through a few models in the product cycle of Apple's tablet line up, I am now penning down some thoughts of Apple's latest offering, the iPad Air. 

Before I carry on about the review, a little background on the iPads that I have been using since October 2010. The first iPad I started using was the original iPad 1 weighing 730grams, which in its initial release under iOS 3.x was great, but moving towards each upgrade resulted in an offering that was cumbersome and irritating. When the 3rd generation iPad came out in March 2012, I got myself a 64GB model when it was made available, with some weight lost, now it stood at 660grams. The quality of the screen was good for photographers, colors were good and the images were sharp. However, the weight was still often too heavy to use it comfortably with one hand. The release of the iPad mini weighing at 310grams offered a "light-as-a-pad-of-paper" tag line to users of the iPad, but it clearly was not the best screen in the market due to the poor resolution. Users had to imagine how it would be to downgrade from the sharpness of the retina display and questions of if they will ever get used to it. 

iPad Air surrounded in red, the colour of Christmas.

And that was the history and now fast forward to November 8, 2013, exactly one week after the sale of the iPad Air. After deliberating for some time, I decided to pick up at the last moment a 128GB black cellular 4G model. Basically I just walked into the shop and asked if they had stock for the 128GB cellular model, and they said "Yes" and hence I am now S$1288 poorer. I got home and set it up and it was loaded with the familiarity of my previous iPad mini. As I was loading apps from the MacBook Pro 15" early 2011 which is still using a slow-like-a-turtle spinning hard disk drive, my 20+ GB of content was filled only after about an hour.

A wonderful greeting awaits the user upon powering it on for the first time.

Easy setup if this is not your first iPad.

First of all, I really liked that it is now thinner compared to the iPad 3rd gen, but in terms of the borders surrounding the 9.7" screen, my initial opinion was that the borders really could have been narrower. The iPad Air takes the same shape and design of its little brother, the iPad mini. The weight at 478grams for the iPad Air now makes holding with one hand really comfortable. 

Handholding the iPad Air with one hand while reading on Adrian New's design on latest issue of F1 Racing magazine.

Tip: if you were wondering if the borders left you with no room to put your thumb or finger, did you know that the OS environment detects an unintentional touch around the borders when you place your thumb near the edges of the display? After setting down your thumb and not moving for a second, it registers that you are actually holding the iPad and not interacting with the device.

Photogene on iPad Air

One of the main tasks I do is photography on the iPad. Ever since the last Formula 1 Singapore GP, I have been finding a way to transmit images using the iPad, but the iPad mini was just too choppy and lacked ram. Photogene is an app that allows you to manage your images on your iPad and resize, watermark and keep IPTC metadata in the images intact. However the iPad mini wasn't really reliable in sending sets of 10MB images  and when you switched to another app, chances are Photogene would terminate and your progress was likely to be interrupted. On the iPad Air, Photogene works like a charm, the app is very responsive and things get done. You can multitask without worrying that the app would crash. 

For photo editing on the iPad, I use Snapseed to edit images. For images taken with the iPad's iSight camera, the iPad mini handles it well, but for images that have been imported from a DSLR, loading and processing each step in Snapseed was slow. However it is now significantly faster on the iPad Air, especially when processing processor intensive filters like "Drama".

Users who love to read on the iPad will now love this iPad Air. I read a selection of magazines from the Newstand app, including titles such as F1 Racing, Racecar Engineering, Photo Professional, etc. When I was using the iPad 3rd generation, I never liked the pages of the magazine loading in two or three steps per page. When flipping into the page, you would expect all the content to be there, however it loads in about 1 second. And when I downgraded to the iPad mini, the experience was worse, firstly the text was too small and you have to zoom in to read the text. Secondly, there were bugs like being unable to zoom out or unable to flip to the next page. The page also loaded at a slower rate. But now on the iPad Air, these issues have been fixed and turning the pages, the elements on the page now load at quite a fast rate that the initial slow 3-step loading doesn’t seem to be noticeable.

I love playing games on the iPad, and Real Racing 3 is something that I have been playing for quite sometime. On the iPad mini, Real Racing 3 crashes easily due to the lack of ram. This is especially so when you have apps left unclosed before starting Real Racing 3. On certain occasions, you are better off closing all apps, shutting down the device and rebooting again to help "flush" the ram. Frame rates in the game become choppy sometimes, and it's irritating that such a game was never designed to be downsized for graphics on the iPad mini. However, after playing a few races on the iPad Air, the performance of the new A7 64-bit chip proved a game changer for graphic intensive games. The A5 chip in the iPad mini lost by a mile!

Users of the iPad mini will notice instantly when moving on to this model that everything just works smoothly. iOS 7 was likely to have been designed to make full use of the A7 processor, multitasking between apps are now smoother than before. Even chatting on Facebook's app is now a lot smoother, especially when swapping between conversations. However, one of the areas that I felt Apple have neglected was the rear facing camera. Initial testing of the camera returned images that were similar to the iPad mini and iPad 3rd generation that I had used previously. You may view images that I have taken using the iPad Air here.

This iPad Air would cater to your needs if you firstly love playing graphic intensive games on the iPad, or love to read digital magazines. If you are a photographer or designer, I reckon that this will help you present images to your client in a good way. If you have never owned an iPad before, this would be a good starting point!

I hope you found my initial review of the iPad Air useful!

iPad Air Specs

A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor with 1GB of ram

9.4 inches (240 mm)
6.6 inches (169.5 mm)
0.29 inch (7.5 mm)
1.05 pounds (478 g)

Retina display:
9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
2048-by-1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi)
Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating

Built-in 32.4-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music

Up to 9 hours of surfing the web using cellular data network

Monday, October 28, 2013

MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch ready to ship within 24 hours (Singapore)

As of Monday, October 28th, 2013, the MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch ready to ship within 24 hours from the Singapore online store.

Meanwhile, the 15 inch variant still shows mid-November.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

OS X Mavericks Time Machine Changes

Some changes to the logo on the top menu bar when your time machine volume is backing up. It now doesn't spin, instead it shows 2 arrows now.

Another possible "bug" that appears is that a connected external hard drive used as a Time Machine volume doesn't appear in their usual blue-green, it appears as a USB drive now.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Apple October Event 2013 (iPad Air, OS X Mavericks, iWork, etc.)

So yesterday's Apple event focused on the launch of the new iPad line, which featured the iPad Air (or rather the 5th generation iPad) and no surprise, it looked like the iPad mini. Other features expected were the new 64-bit A7 chip, which during the presentation for Garage Band there were hints of a 64-bit chip, etc. One of the things that I felt caught out by surprise was the release of retina display in the 2nd generation of iPad mini. It should be quite a feat because the battery life was maintained as before.

Looking at the Apple online store, the iPad Air is available for pre-order on November 1st in Singapore, however it doesn't state which part of November the items will deliver. iPad mini with retina display is not yet available for pre-order, could this suggest a limited quantity supply of retina display screens from their suppliers for this holiday season?

Consumers would be spoilt for choice given that both iPad Air and iPad mini retina have exactly same specifications, and now it boils down to either going for 9.7" or a smaller 7.9". In terms of weight, the iPad mini retina has gained slightly (4 grams for wifi model, 10 grams for cellular model) while the iPad Air has now reduced in thickness by 43% and lost significant weight, weighing in at 469 grams for the wifi model.

More information on the current iPad models can be found here.

The other main highlight was the availability to download OS X Mavericks for free from the Mac App Store. Apple had been working on the latest release of OS X, and the features were already previewed at WWDC earlier in the year. During the first part of the keynote, we knew at some point they would definitely be talking about this, and it was really surprising that they made it FREE and available almost within the next few hours. Also, Mac users as old as those from 2007 could get Mavericks free, unlike some other operating systems that charged US$199 for an upgrade.

I got the downloads about 5 hours after the event when I woke up in the morning. As far as download times were concerned, the iMac 2012 managed to download it in 20 minutes, while the MacBook Pro took about an hour. Not sure why one took longer than the other, perhaps they were in separate builds and more MacBook Pro 2011 users were downloading theirs concurrently.

As for install times, the iMac 2012 (with fusion drive) took only 40 minutes to unpack, install and apply changes, while the MacBook Pro 2011 took me 1 hour and 20 minutes. Both systems were using the latest version of OS X Mountain Lion prior to that.

In terms of boot time from a powered off state, the iMac 2012 w fusion drive took 22 seconds (compared to 19 seconds when on OS X Mountain Lion) to get from the time you pressed the power button to the desktop appearing, and another 11 seconds for base applications like iTunes and Safari to be open. Compare this to the MacBook Pro 2011 15" that took 1 minute 25 seconds for the first phase, followed by 12 seconds for iTunes and Safari to load.

Apparently that key feature that looked impressive on me was the memory management. There is a new graph in the Activity Monitor that now shows the pressure on the memory. As I use mainly Bridge and Photoshop, these really take up lots of memory. However, the memory used throughout editing in Photoshop however around not more than 10GB out my available 16GB. I suppose if I had only 8GB, the compression of inactive memory would make more free memory available for Photoshop, and allow you to do your work seamlessly!

Hence, for users who are considering buying the newly updated MacBook Pro retina display for image editing, I think it's fair to say you can save S$280 on upgrading the memory from 8GB to 16GB as the memory management is pretty good.

To download OS X Mavericks, just launch the Mac App Store from your Mac, go to the updates tab and follow the instructions on screen to install Mavericks and you are good to go.

iWork and iLife was also updated for Mac OS and iOS 7, with many new features which I haven't really explored. One new feature was the ability to share the "current" latest version with your contact and he was able to edit the file and you would see the changes being made to it. A really cool feature, this would be really useful in the office environment and might help push more users towards using iWork in the office.

Well, that's all for now, let's see how Mavericks turn out to be, I am still in the midst of testing and seeing if it's really much improved as they have claimed to be.


Lionel Ng

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Food & Instagram & Snapseed

I like taking pictures of the food I eat and when I do remember to document the food I eat, I use the social media app Instagram. Personally, there are tons of apps out there that can apply color filters today, however the color filters in Instagram are unique in its own way. Here is some of the pictures of food I have shot using Instagram:

Cha Shu Ramen at Bario shop at Ramen Champion

Devil's Chocolate at TCC

Golden melons from Korea at NTUC, S$5.80 for 2 melons

Prawn noodles - Tanglin Halt Food Centre

Chocolate hearts - A wedding door gift at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore (Victor & Bai Su's wedding)

Lastly, I was experimenting with a Lensbaby last night when there was some thunder and lightning activity going on, and I thought I would share this image which I took with my DSLR camera with a lensbaby sweet 35mm optic. It has been slightly enhanced using Snapseed, a photo editing app for mobile devices.

Lightning illuminates the night sky past midnight on October 22nd, 2013. Shot with a Lensbaby Sweet 35mm optic glass. Visit for more information on how Lensbaby lenses work.

So that's all for now! Remember to head down to my photography page ( for frequent updates!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The webpage has been updated

My photography portfolio webpage has been updated. Be sure to check out the optimized images on the site. I've also added some recent portraits, including the latest from TS Sim's workshop featuring Na Ri from Korea.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Maybank Photo Awards 2013

Some entries accepted into the gallery for Maybank Photo Awards 2013.

Search "Ng Hanxiang Lionel" and press vote.

Recently accepted submissions of Ariela and Jana, please Vote for my image!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Canon 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye on a Canon 1D Mark IV (APS-H 1.3x)

Recently I have been playing with the Canon 8-15mm f/4L fisheye, it's a great lens and the image quality at f/4 wide open produces pictures that are useable and of sufficient sharpness. Essentially, this lens is more catered towards full frame users, and you tend to use only either 8mm to produce the circular fisheye image (all black and just one circle) or at 15mm where you get a full diagonal and traditional fisheye.

So what does this look like on a APS-H camera?

 At 8mm on 1D Mark IV, you get a cropped-off circlular fisheye, which doesn't really look pleasing.

  At 12mm on 1D Mark IV, this is the perfect fisheye for a APS-H camera where you maximise the full diagonals.

At 15mm on 1D Mark IV, its more zoomed-in and totally not very pleasing.

Nevertheless, it still makes pretty decent pictures if you know where to point this lens at. Most APS-H users would find that they only end up using 12mm, which produces fisheye images like these:

Canon 1D Mark IV, 1/8th, f/4, ISO 3200, pure unedited JPG image.

Canon 1D Mark IV, 1/40th, f/4, ISO 1600, pure unedited JPG image.

On the overall, this is a fun lens to have, but if you are on a cropped camera, you might not be able to utilise the full potentials of this lens. A good-to-have but not necessary as there are other ways to create fisheye images, e.g. using post-processing methods or other third party fisheye lenses.

One downside is the lens cap (LENS CAP 8-15) is plastic, and I doubt you might be able to get a replacement if this is damaged. When I go around shooting with this lens, I usually keep the lens cap with EW-77 hood on until I am ready to shoot something as I do not want to end up knocking or leaving fingerprints on the front element.

Cheers hope this was useful for you!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Food Post (with Instagram)

Well they always said that the best camera you have is the one that's always with you. Like in your pocket.

The iPhone today has become the perfect pocket camera. With different kinds of photo apps in the Apple App Store, your creativity is largely boosted.

People love taking pictures of their food, and showing off on Instagram. Simple 1-click filters are easily slapped on to enhance the look of the images.

I present to you - The Food Post.

That's the Kampung Nasi Goreng from Shangri-La Putrajaya, a regular annual hangout every March.

The cappuccino from Shangri-La

Putu Apam from Ghim Moh market & hawker centre - A thin paper like snack with orange colored sugar. My colleague asked why is the sugar orange? I replied "Cos it's orange sugar!"

Red bean durian from Ghim Moh market & hawker centre

Curry chicken and bread from Ghim Moh market & hawker centre

Little balls biscuits - Can't remember where I bought this from!

Finally opened! Resisted for 1 day!

View my Instagram pictures by following me at @lioneldude here