Packing for A South Africa Photography Adventure

Important note: In case you guys missed the big announcement, I have just recently joined the Olympus Visionary program. Thanks to everyone who gave congratulatory notes and kind remarks. I am still overwhelmed by the incredibly positive response. I will continue to do my best as a photographer and blogger, rest assured!

I will be travelling with a group of Asia-Pacific based Olympus Visionary photographers to South Africa from 7th to 14th December 2018. This photography-centric trip is fully organized and sponsored by Olympus, and I am privileged to be invited along other bigger names in the industry to this trip. I was informed that this trip was an annual event to connect and engage with the Olympus Asia Pacific community.

I was also fore-warned that during the duration of travel, there will be locations with extremely limited internet coverage, hence there is a high possibility I will not be able to answer emails or reply messages via any social media platforms. Do bear with me and I shall get back to everyone as soon as I can.

The flight hand-carry luggage weight limit is a strict 7kg, and in this blog entry, I will show you what I pack into my camera bag which will be my carry-on bag to my flights.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II - 574g (with battery)
Olympus BLH-1 spare battery - 74g
4 x 64GB SD cards and a small memory card hard case (weight negligible)

M.Zuiko 300mm F4 IS PRO - 1270g (without tripod collar)
M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO -  760g (without tripod collar)
MC-14 1.4x tele-converter, compatible with the above two lenses - 170g
M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO - 534g
M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 - 136g
M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 - 116g

Caden K11 camera messenger bag - 1360g
Oh yes, I got a new camera bag to fit in a lot more items. I found myself bringing more gear with me to actual paid shoots these days, my older bags just cannot fit everything anymore. 

Lenovo Yoga C930 - 1380g

Olympus limited edition Moleskine small notepad - 90g
Writing pens - weight negligible
Microfibre cloth - weight negligible
Fiio M3 High Resolution Audio Player - 40g
JBL Earphones - weight negligible
Memory Card Reader (not pictured) - weight negligible


Here are some tips on travelling light, packing as much as possible and optimizing the luggage weight limit. It helps if you use smaller and lighter camera system.

I cannot imagine packing the equivalent 600mm, 70-200mm and 14-28mm lenses using full frame camera system into a bag with a 7kg limit! How do you guys manage? The lightest 600mm full frame lens is close to 4kg already.

Having a laptop that is ultra light and slim also helps in ensuring minimal load as well as easy packing without taking too much space of the bag.

Pack the laptop charger, camera battery charger, all cables and accessories separately and put them into the main check-in luggage.

Leave the tripod collars behind if you do not need them. If you must use tripod, you can store the collars in your check in luggage.

If you need to bring a tripod, opt for a lightweight version, but also sturdy enough for travel purposes. I am stowing away the tripod into my main check in luggage bag.

To save space so that you can fit more items in your hand-carry bag, leave all the hoods behind. The Olympus 40-150mm PRO lens hood is huge, taking it out will free up precious space for other smaller items, such as the tiny prime lenses.

Perhaps I can opt for a lighter bag, but this particular bag has extra thick padding and sturdy partitions to ensure proper separation and storage of all the items. The bag has to be strong enough to carry the camera, lenses and laptop.

I am good to go for my South Africa adventure! I shall see you guys again in about a week. My hands are getting unbearably itchy for some shutter clicking action!!

Special Update: I Have Joined The OLYMPUS VISIONARY

I am super happy to announce that I am now an Olympus Visionary! Olympus Malaysia has started their Olympus Visionary program and I was privileged to be invited to join. I would like to thank everyone who visited this blog and followed me over the years, I appreciate every single once of your presence! Moving forward, there will be some changes to my writing approach, and I have written an update statement at Ming Thein's site (click here), so please hop over to find out the story behind me joining the Olympus Visionary, as well as what changes from now on.

All I can say is, Shutter Therapy lives on!

Lenovo Yoga C930 - First Impressions

SURPRISE! I got myself a loaned review unit of a 2 in 1 tablet/laptop device from Lenovo Malaysia, the Lenovo Yoga C930. The timing could not be better, as I have an upcoming photography trip to South Africa, departing from KL in the following few days! I shall be packing in the Yoga C930 and use it during my travel to South Africa. More information about the South Africa trip in my coming blog entry. I have been to Cape Town before, you may check my previous blog entry here and here. 

IMPORTANT NOTES: The Lenovo Yoga C930 is on loan from Lenovo Malaysia, and will be returned after the use for review. I am not associated to Lenovo Malaysia and this blog article and my subsequent review articles pertaining to Lenovo products are done independently. I am not a tech or gadget writer, hence I will not be doing the usual laptop reviews found elsewhere online. I will be using the laptop as a practising photographer - for image post-processing and also blog article writing. 

This is a hands on preview blog entry, and I will have a follow up full review on how the Lenovo Yoga C930 performed as a photographer's tool after I come back from my travel to South Africa.

Lenovo Yoga C930

So what on earth happened and how I got myself involved with Lenovo Malaysia in the first place?

In case you do not know, I have been using a Lenovo Miix 510 (a Surface-like clone) for almost two years now. All my blog articles here as well as the ones I published on Ming Thein's site are written on the Lenovo Miix and it is currently my daily driver, as I work from location to location away from home. When I am at home, I have my much more powerful desktop PC for all my photo post-processing and gaming needs, so I do very basic and quick touch up on photos when I use the Lenovo Miix 510 on the go. It has been a faithful companion and has accompanied me to many of my travel. I am very happy with the performance of the Lenovo Miix 510 though I do not mention much about it in this blog.

I have always wanted an actual high performing laptop that is lightweight and compact enough to carry around everyday that I can actually perform heavy-duty post-processing on it too. I am not looking to replace my desktop, but being able to take my work with me everywhere I go to makes sense as I am a full time photographer now. I got the Lenovo Miix 510 when I was still working for Olympus Malaysia (almost 2 years ago) and since then my life has changed a lot. And then the thought of contacting Lenovo came to mind!

I reached out to a Lenovo contact (found the email on their official site) and to my surprise my email was answered! I was seeking for something extremely light and portable, yet powerful enough to handle photography heavy tasks. The Lenovo people suggested the Yoga C930, which features the latest 8th generation Core i7 processor and ultra slim design. I immediately said yes and I just collected this review unit this morning!

Though Lenovo Yoga C930 has full unibody metal chasis, it is still super light - 1.38kg only. And look at how slim it is!

It is either the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is huge, or that is a small laptop. 

I was provided the Iron Gray variant for review purposes. I think it matches all my other gadgets and items. 

After collecting my review unit of the Lenovo Yoga C930, I went to a nearby cafe to unbox and set it up immediately. I also planned to take some lifestyle and casual product shots of the Yoga C930 so that I can do a quick hands on preview blog article about it (as you are reading now). I initially wanted to just have 2 to 3 usable shots, but as usual, I was too enthusiastic when clicking the shutter button and got carried away. I think I enjoyed shooting a laptop because lets face it, I have been doing too many camera and lens reviews over the years, hence it was nice to review something else for once.

The first thought that came to mind - how incredibly slim the laptop was! I know technology has advanced so much and this was nothing unbelievable by today's standards, but I was still in awe at the sheer slimness of the Lenovo Yoga C930. Although this was technically a 14 inch (13.9 inch to be exact) screen laptop, it felt smaller due to the extra thin bezels (though not quite bezel-less). I was concerned about the size because I wanted a 13 inch or smaller laptop to better fit into my camera bag, but it turned out that the Yoga C930 fitted perfectly! The 1.38kg weight was also a plus point for Lenovo, as I have tight baggage restrictions.

I shall be sharing how I pack for my coming photography trip in the next coming blog entry. Yes that includes all the camera gear that I will bring along for the ride.

I need to comment on the build quality. The laptop body is constructed from aluminum and is reassuringly solid. I am worried about handling such a slim device, as I am a rough user and may accidentally bend the laptop body. Thankfully, the body is robustly built and can withstand good amount of daily use pressure and handling. Since this is a full metal body, there is the smooth feel to the touch and the Yoga C930 feels really premium.

All metal body laptop and all metal body camera

Having used Lenovo extensively, I have come to expect high quality built in keyboard. 

The Lenovo Yoga C930 comes in a few variations of specifications. My review unit has:
8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550u processor
8GB DDR4 RAM memory (running on dual channel)
512GB PCIe SSD Hard Disk
13.9 Inch Full HD IPS Touch Screen (there is also a 4K screen variant on the market)
2 x USB C ports (charging via USB C) and 1 x full sized USB 3.1 port
Up to 14.5 hours battery life (claimed by Lenovo)

For full specifications and feature highlights, go to the official product page here (click). 

In terms of specifications alone, I am expecting the Yoga C930 to be able to run everything I throw at it smoothly, and I will put it to torture during the coming photography trip. I shall come back with full report in my coming review blog entry. 

The Lenovo Yoga C930 is also a tablet convertible, meaning the screen can be turned 360 degrees and become a tablet for entertainment focused activities, such as gaming or watching movie. Furthermore, there are a host of cool features which I have yet to test - Lenovo did something really smart by having a soundbar built directly into the hinge between the keyboard and screen. Another thing that Lenovo got right, they managed to securely tuck away the stylus pen at the back of the laptop, making it carrying around the pen such a convenience without worrying about losing it accidentally. 

I was secretly hoping to get the 4K screen variant of the Lenovo Yoga C930, but I guess the Full HD screen will have to suffice for now. To be fair the screen is bright and crisp, and I'd prefer to work with much larger 4K screen (22 inch or larger). Viewing my own images on the Yoga C930 so far, I have no issues with the color and contrast. There is however a very slight green cast, which is easily remedied by proper color calibration, which I have not done yet. 

Lenovo Yoga line of products is known to be able to bend to weird positions. 

Super smart decision by Lenovo to securely and discreetly tuck away the stylus pen at the back of the laptop! You will never lose the pen again and carrying it around is no fuss at all. 

When I powered on the Lenovo Yoga C930, it has only 15% power left, so I naturally drained the battery so I can estimate the time needed for a full charge. The charging was faster than anticipated, the laptop went from 5% to 100% within 1 hour and 15 minutes being plugged to a wall socket. If the device truly can last as much as 14 hours (I was expecting maybe 10-12 hours of normal use) then I will be impressed. I shall find this out very soon. 

Things that I intend to test - screen quality in multiple viewing scenarios, the use of keyboard for typing several full articles, to be published both here and Ming Thein's site, the performance of the laptop during post-processing with software such as Olympus Viewer 3 and Capture One Pro, and maybe a little bit of gaming. I am an active DotA 2 player. 

I understand that many photographers tend to lean toward Apple line of products. I was probably one of the few who stayed with non-Apple ecosystem. For those of you who use PC environment, do share with me what your requirements and must-have features you seek for in a laptop. Do you need 4K screen? How much RAM do you think is sufficient for heavy image editing work? What is the best screen size (13, 14 or even larger screens?) you are working with? What are the priorities, do you think portable and slim design are more important than sheer performance of the device? 

Do share your thoughts! Oh and this article was written on the Lenovo Yoga C930. 

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Recent Self-Portrait And December Updates

I can't believe it, December is already here and the year has gone by that quickly. However, there are a few huge events happening as the year is approaching the end. I will have a photography trip to somewhere far away from Malaysia coming very, very soon, and more details will be shared here as well. That means I will have plenty of fresh, out of the ordinary photos and different content to share with you beautiful people, both here on my own blog as well as more photography heavy articles on Ming Thein's site. On another hand, I am also involved in another project with Olympus Malaysia, which I am extremely excited to talk about and I was told that the official announcement will come within December itself. In an unrelated topic outside of photography, I also will be reviewing an interesting product this month. So many things happening, and I sure hope I can catch my own breath. A few more excitement before 2018 leaves us cannot hurt.

Until the coming updates, here is a recent portrait of me shot by a good friend, Robert Evangelista with his Olympus PEN-F and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO lens. I should be posting more images of myself, so people can actually recognize me when they see me in real life!

Image by Robert Evangelista

How is December looking for you guys? Do share your holiday plans. Anyone coming to Kuala Lumpur for Christmas?

Lunch After Fashion Photoshoot at Chocha Foodstore

Immediately after the outdoor fashion porttait photoshoot which I blogged about before this, my mates and I decided we needed some overpriced hipsterish food for lunch as our stomachs were grumbling loudly. Coincidentally one of our favourite spots was located within 15 minutes walk from our shooting location (near Central Market) and we made our way there before any of us passed out of hunger. It was Chocha Foodstore, restaurant that serves fusion food and they do have some really interesting items in their menu. I had a plate of olio aglio with roasted duck while my friends had the rice dishes. We did order salad on the side, and the must have, Cencaluk Fried Chicken, their signature dish and a must must must try!

Before we ate our food, we serve them to our cameras and lenses. Images shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens

Duck Confit Rice

My Olio Aglio with Roasted Duck

Cencaluk Fried Chicken

The things that make a happy Robin

After lunch we head over to another cafe for coffee (unfortunately Chocha Foodstore does not serve coffee and we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out, enjoying each other's company and some high fidelity audio. I could not think of a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon!