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Posts from the ‘My gadgets’ Category

Stylish solutions

Right before my big trip back to the motherland, my husband surprised me with an exciting present – 40mm pancake lens for my new Canon EOS Kiss X7 camera. I have an incredible 18-55mm zoom lens that is everything I need minus the weight. It’s just plain heavy and with my bag full of toys and books that I packed in preparation to entertain my son in the airplane, having a compact, light camera was more than appreciative. Now, of course pancake lens and especially this particular one is only good for portraits but I had no problem working around it as long as it guaranteed that my handbag was always light. ^-^

Unfortunately, I had no good case to carry the camera. Wrapping it in a handkerchief did little to prevent it from constant explosions of rice crackers and water spills in my bag (yes, being a mom will guarantee you a filthy, stained bag full of old food and sand. I am not kidding..). So the three weeks in Russia with my adorable toddler did a little damage to the camera but after returning to Japan, I finally found the perfect and I mean really perfect solutions.

First of all, meet my new case for carrying the camera with pancake lens. It is really what I have been looking for all this time. Not only it is super stylish, it is extremely easy to use. I can keep it open in my bag for the times I use my camera on and off like during FNO and it still guarantees great protection as well as a super easy access to the camera.  It is roomy and compact at the same time. I found it by chance while browsing birthday presents for my girlfriends. I had no idea that Artisan&artist make camera accessories. I always associated the brand with makeup. During my brief modeling years, I remember that Artisan&artist pouches and organizers were the preferable choice of many professional makeup artists. I even remember being recommended one by my NHK stylist. I never ended up buying it though because as you can guess, makeup pouches are the number one birthday presents so I got a lot over the years but I did invest into this beautiful camera case. Worth every penny! ^-^

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Now, the other discovery of mine I am yet to buy (here comes my wishful thinking that perhaps one of my dear friends who don’t know what to give me on my upcoming birthday is reading this post and gets my not so modest hint…). ^-^ Anyway, the other case/wrap that I found is oh so great! It can accommodate camera with bigger lens as well as ANY portable gadget – kindle, ipad, game console – you name it. I think it will be absolutely perfect for my bigger lens or any lens for that matter.

アニマル柄がかわいい、おしゃれなカメラクロス

アニマル柄がかわいい、おしゃれなカメラクロス

アニマル柄がかわいい、おしゃれなカメラクロス

Artisan&artist is one of those Japanese brands that offers high quality, innovative products that not so many people outside of Japan know about so I am giving a shout out to the brand and hope they will use and abuse social media to promote their product. It is really great!

 

Christmas in Tokyo

As promised, I took my new Sony camera for a test shoot in the evening. I decided to go around Tokyo taking photos of Christmas illumination. These are my most favorite spots.

Christmas tree at Villa Fontaine hotel in Shiodome

Me and the girls at Austrian embassy Christmas bazaar

Roppongi Hills Christmas bazaar

They are selling delicious German food all through December so if you want to try some pretzels with beer or white cheese sauce pasta, head to the bazaar in front of Toho Cinema.

This is Christmas village decorations at Shiodome

Beautiful Caretta illumination. You can see how it looked two years ago here.

Shiodome from Yurikamome line

Odaiba skyline at sunset

Keyakizaka street illumination at Roppongi Hills. This one is right in front of entrance to the TV Asahi. When I was passing it, the familiar smell of the lobby hit me. I used to go there for three and a half years every Saturday evening for live broadcast of Sma-Station. That were super fun times because I got to hang out with my best friends and get paid for it. ^-^

Keyakizaka street, in front of new Michael Kors shop. A strong earthquake hit at the moment I was taking this picture. It felt like the train was passing underground only there is no train there so I was very puzzled at first. Then, a minute later I got all these Facebook messages with people screaming “Earthquake” and that’s how I realized what it was. When you are outside, you can’t really comprehend if it’s a strong one or not. Apparently it was the strongest and longest one since 3/11 earthquake last year. Luckily, the trains didn’t stop for too long. I was able to get home without any trouble.

Armani store at Keyakizaka street

Beautiful LED lights

I discovered this great “star” effect while playing with blur function on my Sony. If I make it really sharp and hold the camera still, it creates these beautiful stars out of light.

Self-portrait using retractable screen. Again, I look like a tourist here.. Need to get some tips on how to pose from my friend Laura..

Louis Vuitton store at Keyakizaka street

Illumination at Mori garden in front of TV Asahi

Tokyo tower from Roppongi Hills

66 Plaza Illumination at Roppongi Hills sponsored by Suntory whiskey. You can try various whiskey samples right next to it.

Midtown illumination

Christmas decorations at Midtown

Trees in front of Ritz Carlton hotel at Midtown

Starlight garden illumination at Midtown sponsored by Emirates airline

Christmas tree in front at Midtown

Sakura illumination at Meguro river sponsored by Mitsui residential. It is run on used cooking oil – very cool!

So I am extremely happy with my new camera. It takes amazing night pictures that are sharp and bright. I think I made the right choice although I still feel quite sentimental about parting with my old Lumix GF1…

Autumn in Tokyo

A couple of weeks ago, I went to one of my favorite parks in Tokyo – Mizumoto park. It is really big and amazingly beautiful in every season. Me and my husband had a picnic there and then took a long stroll in the forest along the pond. These are the last photos I took with my Lumix GF1 before selling it. I decided to try new Sony Nex-5R instead. ^-^

This little creature kept jumping on my husband. He either took liking in him or considered him to be hostile. I couldn’t find its exact name but I am thinking it is some kind of cricket? It made similar sounds. ^-^

From here are the pictures I took with my new Sony Nex-5R. I went to Shinjuku Gyoen park the other day to test it.

The display can turn 180 degrees so now I can see myself when taking pictures. My friend Laura is really good at such self-portraits. Me? I look like a tourist no matter what… I seriously can’t figure out my good angles even when I look at myself… ^-^

With Sony I can control the level of  blur on the background which is good because I sometimes want both myself and the background to look sharp. Here I tried to take a closeup of leaves and it blurred the background behind them beautifully. I am very happy about this particular function.

Ginkgo tree is considered to be the symbol of Tokyo. It is literally everywhere and the smell from it’s seeds is sometimes overwhelming but I so got used to associate it with autumn in Japan that I don’t really mind anymore.

The weather has been quite warm this autumn so the leaves are just turning yellow and red. Some of the trees are still as green as they were in summer. I just love the contrast.

It was the first time for me to visit Shinjuku Gyoen’s green house. I usually just go straight to my usual spot by the water to read book or have a picnic. I almost never explore the rest of the park. The other day I had a lot of spare time so I decided to finally check the green house.

Little tip for those who suddenly gets cold in the park – green house is an ideal refuge from freezing weather. It was so warm and moist and it smelled like orchids. A great place to warm up and enjoy exotic flowers.

Overall I think I am happy with my new camera. I obviously need  to practice taking more than mediocre pictures but the quick snaps are quite stunning as well. I am hoping to go take evening pictures today. This camera is advertised as the one being particularly good at it. Let’s see!

Ipad2 (because I had to…)

OK, after a big disappointment that was Ipad first generation, I told myself I wouldn’t buy Ipad2 simply because there just wasn’t enough positive changes.. But that small shift in weight did make a difference for me after all. It became bearable to carry it in the bag on a daily basis and with all the new HD games, magazines and workout applications it got exciting all over again. So I decided to give it another chance and bought WI-FI 16Gb in black.

I am also hooked up on Angry birds now. I have been ignoring that game for a long time but ever since my husband downloaded it on Ipad I can’t stop playing. It is very addictive… ^-^ Last night i played well into the small hours. Damn, you angry birds and pigs with mustaches!

LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm – my new lens!

Ever since I returned from my trip to Patagonia, I have been dreaming to buy a new zoom lens for my Lumix GF1. I went on an epic trip to the end of the world with 20mm pancake lens – what was I thinking? I missed the opportunity to take truly amazing pictures of wild animals because they were too damn far away from me..

Of course when researching various zoom lens, I realized that the one that I want 14mm-140mm costs over 700USD. Luckily, my husband – the smart guy that he is helped me get it for only 300USD. What we did is basically this: I bought GF2 camera lens kit – a new generation of my camera with 14mm – 140mm lens as a set for 1000USD, then we sold the body for 700USD at yahoo auction Japan and voila! I got my lens for 300USD – sometimes the ridiculous side of Japan works to my advantage. ^-^

So today, I took my new lens out for a walk in Meguro. It is a bit too dark too shoot indoors but outside it does magic. Here, I am posting a couple of pictures I took with 10x zoom like this tower mansion (…yes, that is typical Tokyo sky ^-^)

This picture was taken with 5x zoom – paparazzi style! ^-^

This is the traffic light above the highway – also 10x zoom. With plenty of light, the sharpness is amazing!

Delivery mopeds – 5x zoom

Early sakura in “Rinshi no mori” park in Meguro – 5x zoom.

Walking in the park – 10x zoom.

This one is my favorite – I didn’t have to kneel down or bend to take this picture.

And speaking of the wild animals – I got the shot of my first one! ..Only it seems to be someone’s pet – according to the Facebook statuses – not uncommon in the central Tokyo. ^-^

I guess the zoom on my lens is still kinda small to take a good picture of the moon but the ornament on a roof 5m high? No problem! ^-^

So, to sum up I am very excited about my new lens especially because it also takes good video with a super fast auto focus. I am all set for my Spring trip to Kyoto. ^-^

Love is in the air

A quick post on my brand new Macbook Air! I bought it a month ago but didn’t want to blog about it till I give it a try. So, here are my finds:

  • It’s small and slim enough to carry in any of my Marc by Marc Jacobs bags and although it’s still kinda heavy for every day carry-on, I had no troubles bringing it back home to Russia or to the small trips that I took before and after. ^-^
  • It’s fast – I keep it on at all times so whenever I open it, it starts working right away and I really mean it – RIGHT AWAY! If I switch it off and then on again, it will take about 10 seconds to load but hello it is still a big over-achievement in comparison to ANY window PC or other Macs.
  • Yes, I really don’t need a DVD-ROM. I was kinda freaking out about losing this option – as you know Macbook Air doesn’t come with one but as it turns out, I long ago stopped using it without even realizing it. I store all my data on virtual servers, watch or rent movies online, buy music online, buy software and books online. Ah..DVD what? Never heard… Is it something vintage?
  • What else? Ah, the trackpad. Now here it gets tricky. I don’t like it. It’s too sensitive in comparison to my previous Macbook.. I had a little accident a few weeks ago when it stopped working. The reason was a hand cream that got transferred onto the surface from my hands. Later on, I realized hand cream is not the only hazard – the trackpad stops working whenever my fingers are cold or too dry or too sweaty.. I have to clean it almost every other day for it to work smoothly.. I don’t really mind doing it at home but when I travel it gets a bit too complicated.. Does anyone else have similar troubles?
  • The speed of performance doesn’t go down with the decreased amount of storage space. My old Macbook was hardly working when my photos and videos folder exceeded the amount of 150GB. Macbook air can work with no free space available as fast as it would if it was empty. Therefore, all my media opens and loads in a second. A pretty big thing for such a small computer. That is actually the reason why I went to all the trouble of changing my computers at the busiest time of the year.
  • It has SD card slot! Yay! Ok, not a new thing – most of the nowadays computers come with one but I was using a 2 year old Macbook before and it didn’t have one so I am thrilled to finally throw away my SD card adapter. Bye!
  • It doesn’t get hot, plus the battery is quite good. My old Macbook was getting hot and loud when it was tired – a good heating device for cold winter evenings but a really horrible nightmare during summer. I couldn’t use it on my lap.. Now, the problem is solved! Thank you, Apple! ^-^

I am also very excited about a new iLife upgrade but I haven’t started using it yet. I am in the process of sorting all my photos and videos now the old fashioned way – in a folder because adding and deleting pictures directly in iPhoto can really mess with it’s head. But once I am done, I’m gonna transfer everything into iLife software and tag all the faces and extract all the footage of just me from all the videos I ever took – yeah, you can now do it automatically and yeah, how narcissistic of me, hehe.

 

Kindle – my number one toy!

A new addition to my gadgetry – Amazon kindle, the latest generation – a courtesy of sweet husband of mine who gave it to me on my birthday!

The E ink screen is unbelievable – it looks like a page in a book, no glare even when I read in the bright sun. It’s also so slim and so light I can hold it in one hand and read in a packed train or in gym without worrying how to free my other hand to turn pages! The size and weight are perfect – I can carry it in my bag every day – not like iPad that weights me down quite a bit. And the battery is a miracle – it lasts one month on a single charge!

But the coolest thing of all is a built in WI-FI 3G which allows me not only to buy books anywhere anytime under 60 seconds but to also browse the internet for free. I can check my email or look up something in google. All I’m paying for is the price of a book, the rest is free! I’m already on my second book and I can’t stop reading. I downloaded two books that I decided not to buy a while ago because the font in the paperback was so small. With my life in front of PC screen I really have to take care of my eyes. Guess what? Kindle allows me to change the size of the font to the very very big so I could get those two books and read it in a format that was good for me, how cool is that?

Kindle is also a big space saver. In my tiny Japanese apartment, every cm is precious so buying a new book always called for a big decision on where to put it! My bookshelves were packed, the only other option would have been the floor.. The day I got kindle I got rid of all paperbacks! Now, my bookshelf is very fancy – only language, travel and art books are left and a lot of extra space to fill in. ^-^

UPDATE ON KINDLE AWESOMENESS :

It turns out I can highlight my favorite parts in the book and store them as quotes! How awesome is that? The other day, I was complaining to my husband that they only thing I cannot do with kindle is to take a pen and highlight the good stuff, but apparently not only can I do that, I can also easily access them as lists!!!! J’adore!!!!

iPad mania

My friend is the founder of the Appbank company – developer of iPod apps. On the day of iPad’s official release in the US he promised to get me one using his development connections. However, close to iPad’s official release in Japan, it became impossible to get it via his private channels due to the extreme shortage of stock. Nevertheless, he stayed true to his promise and decided to get it the hard way. He gathered up his team and went camping in front of the apple store in Ginza. He stayed there on the street, in the line from 3PM yesterday till 10 AM today waiting for the doors to open. He and another couple of hundreds fanatics spread their blankets all the way down to Yurakucho and played games on macs all night long!

In the morning, apple staff was distributing water and food to keep them alive and ready for a countdown. Then, the press came and I saw my friend in the 8 AM news staying in the line with his entourage.

On the day of release you can get only two boxes per person, that’s why he needed as much people as he could get! Some went to Omotesando softbank, some to Apple store in Shibuya. By 11 AM they brought back to the office more than a dozen of iPads including the one for me!!!

I have completed my collection! Now I have the whole package of apple products (minus mac air but who needs it when I have iPad). I’ve already downloaded some very cool apps and books and movies including the series finale of Lost and latest episode of South park. I also tried ibooks of course – it’s awesome!!! Can’t wait to upload all my magazines on it.

Something new

Yes! At last, my psychotic outrage against Windows PCs during our corporate camping brought fruitful results and I made our CEO give a go to buying three iMACs for designers including me!! I got 27″ display with 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 and ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics with 512MB. The screen colors are gorgeous and I see every single pixel – nothing is blurred or obscured. It took me some time to setup network and resolve an OS X 9.02 bug that didn’t allow me to move data to the network location. There is still some problems with Japanese Microsoft bitmap system fonts displaying funny on Mac but I have discovered a work-around so hopefully it’ll be fine. And in two weeks I am getting…yes, that’s right! ADOBE CS5!!!!!!!! Life is good! ^-^

My new toys

I have forgotten all about “My gadgets” category recently. I change my PCs, cameras and phones so often, I don’t have time to blog about them.. But these two beauties are gonna stay, I love them.

This is my very first single lens camera – Lumix DMC-GF1. It’s an entry level and some say not even a single lens camera but rather something they call “micro four-thirds” but nonetheless it is so very different from what I used to have and it takes absolutely gorgeous pictures. I bought pancake lens set, exactly like on the picture but in black. It’s compact and the lens are very bright, giving me an opportunity to take night scenes in astonishing detail. Despite the missing language support it has intuitive interface that I could use right away without reading manual. Thanks to various presets, I need to do only very little. I am thinking of buying zoom lens as well, definitely before my brother’s wedding in July. ^-^

The second camera is a compact Sony DSC-TX5 released only last week. It’s very light and I can carry it in my pocket or bag on a daily basis. The main feature is waterproof and dust resistance. I can use this camera 3 meters underwater and when shooting something in rain or snow. My poor Lumix suffered a lot in the Laguna de los tres in Argentina. The weather kept changing every couple of minutes for burning sun to freezing rain and then snow. I took only a few pictures there before Lumix got absolutely soaked with water and I had to put it away. With Sony I can take pictures while skiing and swimming. In fact, pictures from Hokkaido were taken by Sony. It also doesn’t have any language support which is quite weird because the same model is being released worldwide. Why not implement the support into a camera and sell the same one around the globe like Canon?