The fear of “don’t know”

17091311149_fbf49ebe1f_k

People who act like they know everything and wanted to comment on everything… we will bump into this kind of people once in awhile, don’t we? Or perhaps we are one of them?

Looking back, I was once behaving like this as well in the older days. Fear of being left out, fear of missing out in the conversation, fear of being alienated, so I will talk and act like I knew about it when I wasn’t. There were times when I got by, there were times when I screwed up of course.

In the end, I reflected and thought: What for I need to feel the fear? If I don’t know about it, just ask, and then I will be able to learn more about it. The conversation will still continue. For things that I don’t know, I’ll try not to comment too much on it. 

The same goes to every other thing… be it work related, photography related or life related matters. The moment you acknowledged you “don’t know”, you emptied yourself to absorb more. Hence, there’s nothing to fear anymore. Just open up your heart and mind, and fill it up with knowledge you would have lost when you act like you knew.

A break from Analogue Photography

As 2018 approaching to an end (yes, it’s ending really soon!), as usual I’m taking a look at my stuff and trying to make some changes and tweaks in hope to improve myself, improve my life, reduce clutter, streamlining stuffs, getting closer to minimalistic and so on. 

This time around, my drybox gets a makeover. I sold off all my film related stuffs, from all the film cameras to scanner, all gone. Many people asked me why. Had I lost my interest in film and analogue photography? Is film dead? Is analogue not something worth to shoot anymore?

Well, not really. There’s a point of time in my life where I’ll need to make the decision, whether to stay or leave. Just happened that after some serious consideration, I decided that now is the time. I still love film, I still enjoy shooting with analogue camera. However, looking ahead, after completion of my study, I’m actually planning on something else, which will probably keep me busy again most of the time. I may end up having little time to shoot, let alone shooting with film.

Will I ever return to analogue photography? I don’t have an answer for now, but I think it’s pretty likely. As of now I still have a soft spot in my heart for films and film cameras. Hopefully after this break, someday… I will be back. I’m glad that I had captured some great photos with my film cameras, and I will cherish them for the days to come. Till then.

Isolating myself from the world

It’s been awhile where I felt everything around me seems to be noise. Noise of people talking loud, noise of people playing music and video on their phone in the public, noise from buses and trains I ride daily, noise from everywhere, anywhere…

“I had enough!”

That’s exactly my thought, and perhaps is time to look for ways to relief myself from all the noise. Wireless noise cancelling headphone seems to be the only choice to me as they offer great active noise cancellation, passive isolation with over-ear ear cup design, and long lasting battery life that can last me throughout the day.

Few months ago I had been searching high and low for a pair that fits my needs. Beats Studio Wireless 3 seems to be a no brainer choice due to its W1 chip that paired easily with any Apple devices that I owned. I know a lot of people complaint about its sound quality, but I’m actually okay with it. But the comfort and build quality seems really subpar.

Bose offers Quiet Comfort 35 II which is the most comfortable headphone I had ever tested, but it’s sound quality is just… not great, or should I say doesn’t suit my taste. Sony WH-1000XM2 is the closest rival to the Bose, although sound quality and noise cancellation does perform better than the Bose, but it’s not comfortable to wear, especially for people who wear spectacles like me. Other wireless earbud that offers noise cancellation simply has very short battery life for me to even begin to consider them. In the end, I stopped my search and declared that I shall live with the noise pollution… and then came the Sony WH-1000XM3.

Sony WH-1000XM3 was released awhile ago and soon demo unit came in the store. I quickly pay a visit to the nearest shop and gave it a test run. I was generally impressed with the improvement and hence pre-ordered one. Since then, I had been using it almost daily here in the hot and humid tropical country of Singapore, and here’s my humble impression on using this headphone together with my other gears such as iPhone, iPad Pro and iMac.

Disclaimer:

  • I am not audiophile. My daily driver prior to this was Apple’s AirPod.
  • I have not use headphone in long term before as I had never been able to find one that fits me.
  • I spend half of my time working in the office, while another half of my time visiting site and meeting customers.
  • I commute on daily basis via bus and train, walking on the streets and occasionally travelling overseas on plane.

With that aside, let’s dive into my experience of using it. Connectivity is key for wireless headphone, but this headphone only rocks Bluetooth 4.2. Despite that, the connection has been fairly stable and I had not experience much interference and zero drop off. Of course it would be good if Sony includes Bluetooth 5.0 here, oh well. One issue with the headphone is the lack of multi devices support, basically you will need to manually disconnect from one device before you can connect to another one. Hot swapping is not available, hence I am using this headphone on my iPhone only at the moment. A big step down from my AirPod but I think I can live with it for now.

Another important aspect for wireless headphone is battery life, and I can assure you that you need not to worry about it for this headphone. Solid battery life as advertised, perhaps the best in its class. Quick charge via USB C port is also available if you need emergency top up.

The overall build quality of the headphone is very solid and nice. It does look like it will last me for awhile, but the smooth plastic surface on the ear cup can attract quite some fingerprints from my sweaty palm, and I can foresee minor scratches will develop as time goes by. I would much prefer the older design with rough leather-like texture on the ear cup. Another concern is the faux leather headband, not sure how well will it hold up against abrasion in long run. Overall, there isn’t much of plasticky and “screeching” sound when you move it around, which gives an overall more premium and satisfying feel to it.

Currently there isn’t any waterproof feature on this headphone, it would be good to at least have splash proof design as often I will commute in the rain, it’s good to have a peace of mind that my headphone will survive some drizzle. The overall weight of the headphone is okay, of course if Sony can shave another few grams off would be even better.

The fit and comfort is miles ahead of the previous generation. I managed to get a pretty good fit and it doesn’t clamp on my face, ears and spectacles too much until discomfort arise, although I do need to make sure it is put on at the exact sweet spot to avoid adjustment later on. However, in the humid climate of Singapore, I still sweat around the ear-cup area when I’m not using it in air-conditioned environment. I believe Bose has better overall comfort, but this headphone is very closely match indeed. The inner ear cup does heat up a little after long period of use, but it’s not causing discomfort to me. The touch control also work as advertised, and I do not have much problem with it at all.

This headphone is certainly not as portable as the AirPod, but it does allow me to rest it over my neck at times, where AirPod will require me to put them back into the case to avoid dropping them. Being a headphone, it has the bulk that I need to get used to. For instance, I need to be more aware of my surroundings before turning my head around to avoid bumping into something. Also, compared to AirPod, this headphone does not have the feature of auto pause music when you are not wearing it, which I kinda miss.

In terms of audio quality, my first impression was: “Gosh… I finally managed to hear all the notes and rhythm from my song collections!”. Out of the box the audio quality was okay, but after tweaking the equalizer a little, you will get pretty much an amazing sounding headphone for most genres of music. However, that’s not the case for video. There’s latency when watching video, voice will came across a tiny fraction of second delayed from your video. Argh… this is where the AirPod really shine with it’s W1 chip. This headphone support LDAC codec, which is Sony’s high quality music file transfer protocol via bluetooth. But as Apple user, this is meaningless as we can only transmit AAC codec via bluetooth.

And last but not least, the noise cancellation performed superbly. I managed to listen clearly to my music at volume of around 15-20% as opposed to 50-60% when I’m using my AirPod. Thanks to the noise cancellation, most of the noise pollution has been blocked off from my ears. Impressive, or perhaps magical. But just to be clear, it doesn’t completely silent the world around you like you would have imagined, it’s more like suppressing them in order for you to listen to your music. So once noise cancellation is on and music playing… you will hardly hear noise from the outside world. There are a lot of customizations that you can do on the noise cancellation, but I just leave it at maximum cancellation most of the time.

All in all, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is a great pair of wireless noise cancelling headphone that really worth the price. Hopefully I can get used to or work around some of the quirks of this headphone and make full use of it. But honestly, deep in my heart I’m still waiting for technology advancement on noise cancelling earbud. If the day of long battery life, true wireless noise cancelling earbud arrive, I will probably go with that instead of a headphone. Till then.

Time management?

I can still recall when we wanted to do a group project, some of the members said they were not free because they need to complete other tasks first. And then you will see all sort of other reasons given when we were planning for a meeting. This happened all the time, and perhaps on you and me as well. We always complaint that we are busy, we do not have time to do this and that, but when you take a step back and see, where have you spent all your time on?

I used to play a lot of games on my phone when I’m commuting. In the end, I ended up having “no time” to read news or to do other things at night after work, no time to exercise, no time to read, no time to social with friends and so on. In the end, I decided to stop playing games on my phone all together, and suddenly I realized that I have spare time now to read books and news while I’m commuting.

I’m not saying you should stop playing mobile games just like me. My point is, everyone has the same 24 hours a day in our life, it’s up to us to decide what to do with it and stop making excuse for not doing it. For me, I chosen to drop mobile game because I realized that it brings no value to me other than entertainment, and I can easily get entertained while reading too. Furthermore, reading books will add more values to me by giving me different perspectives, learning new things and so on.

Back to the case of group project, so why others can manage their time better and make the commitment to spare time for the group work while some can’t do it? I wonder. But when things like this happened, it breaks the harmony and rhythm, which I found very disturbing. You need to be responsible for your action, especially those that will affect others.

I’m not a guru in time management, and I’m still working very hard and learning everyday. Hopefully one day I will stop saying “I’m too busy for this or that”.

Goodbye Zeiss Ikon ZM

Untitled
The last film camera that leaves my hand. That should say a lot about this camera I guess? I can still recall the time when I was deciding what film camera to get, probably over 2 years ago. To go the SLR route or rangefinder route? If rangefinder route, to go with the Hexar, a Leica, a Voigtlander or a Zeiss? In the end, I had chosen to go with the Zeiss for all its excellent attributes, and I had never regret for doing so.

I sold off my Fujifilm GW690 III and Hasselbld Xpan earlier on, and was contemplating whether I should keep this camera with me as my only film camera moving forward should I choose to continue to shoot film. The camera feels good, much better than a Leica in my opinion. No nonsense, practical and just a pure joy to use. It had never let me down, not even once. Hence, I’m reluctant to cut away this emotional tie that I have with this camera.

I pulled out my last roll of film from my drawer, loaded up this camera and went for a shoot the other day. I enjoyed the feeling of using this camera, I really do. As the frames tickling down, I kept pondering in my head about “What’s next? What will our future be? What will my future be?” I was trying to think logically and rationally, without being influenced by my emotional connection with it.

As the last frame was shot, film rewinded, I made up my mind to put a pause to my journey on film photography once again. I want to take a break out of it, and I think now is the time to move on to something else. I might come back again in the future, just like how I did in the past. But for now, is time to take a break. I sold off my Zeiss Ikon. I hope the new owner will take good care of it. Till then.