April 30, 2014

Olympus E-PM2 Review

A while ago (specifically, on the 6th of April 2014), I bought myself a Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus - the Olympus E-PM2. In red. From Digidirect. For AUS$299.

It was quite a bargain, I must say, seeing everywhere else is selling it for at least $399. So when I saw the bargain one day while window shopping, I knew I had to get it. Unfortunately for me, they only had the white and red colour in stock. The white was fine but I found it a little too boring and besides, I guess I'm willing to sacrifice holding a shiny firetruck red camera for the price. Besides, I already own a black and white camera, why not add red to the colour, no?

These are the photos I got of my new camera:

The box + polaroid refills I purchased
First opened: warranty, quick guide, etc.
Olympus all wrapped up nicely in its box
My shiny new RED Olympus E-PM2

Up top
Back -  touch screen!
Up top with 14 - 42mm lens

Bottom of camera
Comparison: Olympus CSC with Canon SLR
And these are the two sample pictures I took from the Olympus with no editing whatsoever:

Pinhole Effect
Macro of my mum's mint garden

I'm just an average photographer, still learning the ropes and tricks of using an SLR (despite having one since I was 17 years old) and now, compact system camera, but I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of these new generation cameras. An SLR will always have that... definition in photos that compact cameras could never have (as far as I've experienced) but the Olympus has come close ... and may even be on par.

I own a Canon EOS 500D as well (nicknamed Chunky Monkey) and it has been with me through thick and thin, capturing all the priceless moments I've had during my last year of high school and all the events thereafter, (including taking all my pictures on this site!) but his weight has really weighed me down making me hesitant when bringing him around. I know that people are all about using their phone cameras nowadays with their increased megapixels as technology advances at a rapid rate, but it will never have that SLR quality. Yet. So in comes the Olympus. It's great for every day photos without breaking my back or my bank. It has an amazing autofocus and shutter speed so everything can be captured in the moment.

I also love the fact that its lenses are interchangeable. I am currently looking in the market for a 9mm wide-angled fisheye lens that also acts as a body cap. It's around AUS$132 (from Digidirect again) and although it utilises manual focus, its compactness allows the Olympus to be slipped inside a pocket rather than carrying the lens around. Honestly, it's perfect.

I could probably ramble on about the camera a little bit more, but alas, assignments are calling and dead lines are near. My compact Pennybridge still hasn't arrived yet, so, till then!

April 29, 2014

Muji Album & Water-Based Markers Review

So I was out today in the city (after taking a break from writing a 2000 word essay on ultrasound principles and physics), and after posting away my Olive Personal Metropol to a lucky eBay-er, I found myself back in Melbourne Emporium's Muji store. Again...

My boyfriend's 21st birthday is coming up and I thought, what better way to celebrate his birthday (and our almost-3-year relationship) with an album outlining the moments we've spent together? I'm sure there are other gifts that I can shower him with like clothes and other superficial stuff, but that can come on other birthdays. Let's make his 21st special.

And Muji had just what I needed:

Muji 205 x 180mm album
Refillable by unscrewing those screws!
Self-adhesive albums!

I loved it mostly because of the self-adhesive pages.. and the fact that it was refillable. Scrapbook albums are no fun because it requires exact size pages for the allocated album size, whereas with this, I would be able to put in 6.5x6.5" pages from Kaisercraft and the self-adhesive pages would hold it easily. Not to mention the lack of glue I would need when putting embellishments in! There was an A4 size album as well, but I prefer the square layouts a little more...

So after I picked up the album for him, I picked up 3 water-based double sided marker for myself. Naturally.
Muji water-based markers
I tried it out in my sketching Muji book and I'm actually quite surprised with how well the paper handled it:

Trying out the markers in my Muji notebook
Back page: nothing!
I might head back there and purchase more colours of the Muji markers one day. After all, they only costed 95c each...

But to the real test! I tried drawing this church found on Flinders St, Melbourne using the black Muji felt-tip marker in my dotted Muji notebook and the colour is really nice and vibrant, buuuuut... there were some bleed-through the paper especially for edges of the drawing. And because I had to go over lines to make them darker for contrast, the lines started to have show-through as well. I did expect this though, however, because as it is, it's not drawing paper! It's just normal every day paper with probably an 80gsm weight. I'm not going to give the book up as yet though, because despite these little things, I think I might be able to make this book work in the long-haul...

Here are the pictures to show the show-through and bleed-through:

My rough doodle of Flinders St church using Muji marker
Back page: show through & bleed through at some points
The markers would generally be good for writing (especially the thinner side) and drawing on heavier weighted papers, I guess. But either way, it seems to be lasting quite well for me (for now), so I give the markers a thumbs-up!

Till my next adventure!

April 28, 2014

Filofax Personal Zipped Holborn Review

Guess what was delivered today! And yes, he was as marvelous as his brother when I first opened him up. It was quite a wait for this baby to be delivered though. ANZAC day was on Friday 25th of April in Australia so there were no deliveries on that day. But all is well now that I have my Personal zipped Holborn in my arms.

It had the same brand new leather smell that first welcomed me with my first Holborn when I first opened the box up. It felt smooth and supple, and had no ring problems too! And although the zipped version didn't contain as many secret compartments as his brother, I was still very much pleased with it. But here are the pictures to showcase my new Filofax:

Wrapped in foam for extra protection
The box
Unboxing zippy
Personal zipped Holborn in all its glory
Outside full length pocket

The zip

Full length pocket on the right
Front cover
No gaps in rings, yay!
Back cover
Back full length pocket with hidden zipped pocket

Personal zipped and personal Holborn

Height differences
Top view
Personal zipped Holborn filled!
Maybe it's just me, but I must say, there's something about the zipped version that just screams... security. Maybe it's the fact that it's zip-able making sure nothing falls out, but unlike the personal Holborn where the corners and edges were open for the world to see, the zipped version reminds me very much of a small bag where your life and secrets are kept safe and sound, away from prying eyes. Either way, I love it. I just have to see how it works in the long haul. I might customise the inserts after this seeing there are quite a few things I don't need to store in here to make it a little less bulky / heavy. 

And as for my other Holborn, it's time for it to take a break. It's stored back in its case on my bookshelf, waiting for the day I pull it back out for another adventure. I might consider selling it, but I think, with the minimal amount of Holborns going around nowadays, I might just keep.

Till then

April 25, 2014

Muji Notebook Review

I've spoken about Muji notebooks before but I didn't really test it out (much). In my quest for finding the right art/sketch book, I decided to start cheap to hone my drawing skills first. It's been a while since I sat down and drew (what with my new Filofax obsession and all), so I thought I should try out Muji's notebooks. They aren't exactly sketchbooks, but after testing out some pens (which will be pictured below), I think it's adequate enough.

See, I have a list of requirements for a 'perfect' sketchbook. Many have come close but the price puts me off drawing in it altogether. So in order to relinquish my fear of drawing in new pretty books, I'll start with disposable sketchbooks that are good enough to pass off as a 'quality' book while not breaking my bank.

So in comes Muji's notebooks. I purchased another Muji notebook recently (in addition to my stash I got a week ago) but instead of it being plain / ruled, this one's doted.... which is pretty damn perfect. I tested it out with a few different pens which I may use in the book and so far, it's going better than expected. No bleed through / feathering and with minimal show through (depending on the pen). But enough words, here are the pictures:

Muji Dotted Notebook (signified by the white spine)
Top view

Dotted notebook! (not sure if it can be seen...)
Pens tested
Back page: nothing!
The pens tested included:
1- Lamy Safari Fine Nib with Noodler's Bulletproof Ink
2- Pigma Micron 03
3- Muji's 0.4 pen
4- Faber Castell Pitt Brush
5- Pentel Brush Pen
6- Artline200 Fine 0.4
7- Parker IM Fountain Pen Medium Nib
8- Ballpoint pen

I reckon these were the most common pens out there that I've seen people use. I'm actually quite surprised with the outcome. I've seen more expensive notebooks having a higher show-through for the same pens than what Muji had (like the Parker). However, I've yet to test out multiple strokes of ink yet, which will be the greater test as I tend to use more than one stroke when drawing. But for now, I am quite happy to test this notebook out further for my art.

The paper is super smooth however, making it really good for pen, but... not so good for pencil as it'll be hard to give an image that tooth seen in cold pressed papers and other actual sketchbooks. But I'm hoping that won't affect me too much as I'll be doing my drawings in pen to stop me worrying about little mistakes and allowing me to be more confident with non-erasable mediums.

Other than that, I love how customisable this notebook is. The cover's blank and practically begging to be decorated. It's also hard and sturdy enough to write/draw on the go but knowing it's cardboard means it will have its limits (keep away from water!). And lastly, the spine isn't covered with cardboard, enabling it to lie flat easily (excellent!).

I'll hopefully post another review soon for my progress with this book,
Till then!