Monthly Archives: December 2013

Mount Kinabalu Climbing For The First Time – Part One

I went for mountain climb last October together with my fellow friends, Rade, Tokok, Rosli, Hatta and two lovely couple from Labuan. I’ve been working as tour guide for nearly 6 years in which i had explain and educate tourist to come again and climb mount Kinabalu. Its such irony to know that that was my first time climb our state (Sabah) most visited site which as enlisted as World Heritage Site by UNESCO November, 2000.

The decision to scale the mountain is generally not my idea, it comes accross after a good friend of mine, Rade asking me about the room availibility at Laban Rata (a resthouse which every climber should overnight before proceeding to the summit on the next morning, very early morning). Then things happens seems parallel when at the same time my brother announced climbing package with confirmed date. So we grab the package and thats how it began.

I’ve only managed to train physically just a few time in less than a month prior to the climbing date. I wouldn’t be able to have time for training if it wasn’t effort by Rade. For people that knows me well, i’m not physically fit, just imagine yourself carrying 25-30kg of additional weight all the time and that will be me.

We stayed at Rina Ria Lodge on our first night. This lodge locate about 500 metre from Kinabalu National Park. It provides several types of rooms, including dormitory. We were given quad room (4 person in a room). Free Wifi available at the cafe. If you forgotten to bring some of your climbing needs, you can get it here at their mini shops which happens to be their reception counter too.

Ria Ria Lodge Cafe

Rade & Rosli at Rina Ria Lodge

On the next day, we had our breakfast at the cafe. We went straight to Kinabalu National Park, meet the 2 loving couple before proceeding for mountain climb registration. At Sutera Sanctuary Lodges reception counter, after providing their booking reference number, you will be handed meals coupons and a form which need to be submitted at Sabah Park’s counter located on the next building.

American Set Breakfast at Ria Ria Lodge Cafe

At Sabah Park’s counter is where you will get your climbing permit. Just a quick tips here, the machine that print the climbing permit are not designed for long name, ask the officer if it allowed to put your name as short as possible prior before the permit printed.

Sutera Sanctuary Lodges Reception Building

At the same counter, located next to the permit counter is the mountain guide counter. For every climber that climb mount Kinabalu, it is mandatory to hire mountain guide to go along with you. One mountain guide for every 7 climber. The porter service, on the other hand is optional. The charges for porter depends on the weight of your stuff with minimum weight of 10kg.

We the proceed to KOKTAS counter to arrange our transport to Timpohon Gate, which is the starting point of the climb. There are 2 starting point you can choose from, Timpohon & Mesilau, which the later longer than the first about 2km. Before we went to the Timpohon Gate, we went to Balsam Restaurant to take our packed meal which consist of Sandwich, Apple and drinking water. Balsam Restaurant located just in front of Sutera Sanctuary Lodges reception building. Well, you can only see the roof if you sanding exactly at the reception building.

Bus to Timpohon Gate

It took about 10 minutes drive to reach Timpohon Gate. We were given safety briefing by our guide before we begin our journey scale the Majestic Mount Kinabalu on foot. The distance from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rate is 6km. There are rest hut along the trail almost every kilometre providing untreated water. I hiked every steps slowly as i need to store my energy on the second day climb, i must keep my self from any serious injury during the climb. Just about 1 hour of climbing, it was raining. The trail gets slippery with some trail looks like waterfall especially when reaching Villosa Hut & Paka Hut.

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Group Photo – Image Stolen from Rosli Facebook ūüôā

Safety Briefing By Our Mountain Guide

Ubah Shelter – Summit Trail

Along the summit trail, we have stopped on almost every resting hut just for 5-10 minute to at least drinks or just relax and keeping ourselves alive. Some of us even utilising this moment by posting an update through social media like facebook & instagram. We decide to have our packed meal at Layang-Layang Hut. Upon reaching at this point, we actually had gone almost 4km of the summit trail. Even the 2km to go seems to be much more nearer, but I’m really exhausted after this point. My leg began to sore, and every steps I took it seems to consume more and more energy, but I have no other choice than to finish what I just started, at least to make it to Laban Rata.

Laban Rata Restaurant

Laban Rata Restaurant

The rain continues until we reached Laban Rata Resthouse. It was 1620hrs now, I took about 7 hours to reach here. I can’t believe my self that i had finaly reach Laban Rata. My pants, socks and shoe were totaly wet, but that is not my main concern as I had another pair in my bag. The cafe will serving lunch at 1630hrs, its a buffet style, we decided to had our meals first before going to our room at Gunting Lagadan which is another 150m from Laban Rata. After the meal (the best lamb with black papper sauce I ever had), We spent about 3 hours at the cafe, endless hot coffee while enjoying beautiful sunset here. Everybody took photos with each other without even knowing who we are, and where we coming from, we have only one thing in common, that we had reached Laban Rata. It was the time of honouring ourselves as the inhabitants of Laban Rata of the day, who dare to go out from our comfort zone and seek for some adventure.

Me at Laban Rata

Hatta & Tokok

Sunset at Laban Rata

It was dawn and we need to use our headlamp to go to Gunting Lagadan. It took me nearly 20 minutes to reach there. It was cold and my legs start to sore. It was pleasure to know that there will be no more climbing for the day. Time to get good rest and rejuvenate. Like many of us, I didn’t take shower for the night as there were no hot shower. We stayed at quad dormitory bunk beds with sufficient power supply to charge our camera & phone. Well thats pretty long stories about my climbing experience, I will continue part two very soon.

Baby Portrait With Fujifilm X-Pro1

X-Pro1 With YungNuo RF603 Triggers & Nikon SB600

X-Pro1 With YungNuo RF603 Triggers & Nikon SB600

Image above taken with Fujifilm X-Pro1 with YungNuo RF603 triggering Nikon SB600. I didn’t plan to do any shooting that night, but I found a Lastolite Ezybox Hot Shoe¬†Plate¬†belong to a friend in my car boot. It was very light & had a hole just in case you want to use umbrella instead of soft box (someone please confirm me about this). So I decided to give it a try with my 24×24 soft box. My triggers flash sync is 1/125, set aperture to F2.8 and adjust my flash manual until it gets the effect I wanted. I was shooting myself at the beginning, and this baby boy just awaken from his sleep. It ended up me shooting him while my wife holding him to make him stay calm for a while.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Review (In My Own Words)

I know this is quite late to write the review on X-Pro1. But I had a lot of enquiries since i owned one. Rather than replying ¬†every time people asking about it, why not i put in my blog so it can benefit everybody. ¬†First of all, I just want you to know that I’m not really into gears. Before having the X-Pro1, I only owned Nikon D60 (new) & D90 (2nd hand) with 18-55mm kitlens & 35mm F1.8. Besides of that, i’m a fan of film camera too, so i had a TLR Yashica 635 and SLR Minolta SRT101 with 58mm Rokkor Lens.¬†

Mount Kinabalu | Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fujinon XF 14mm

Brief History

In January 2012, Fujifilm has launched X-Pro1 together with 3 prime lens (35mm F1.4, 18mm F2 & 60mm F2.4). This news however didn’t effect much other than hearing new model has been lunched by Fujifilm. The X100 model in that time was already 2 years in the market, i heard a lot of good feedback about it but never comes in my mind to own it. The were friends of mine having the X100 and they quite satisfied, the retro design added this model more interesting. My first hands-on X100 was during Saiful Nang Photography Seminar in Kota Kinabalu where we went to Kiulu for shooting, he handed me the X100 and i had about 2-3 minutes to handle it. Maybe it was that short time that X100 has failed to impressed me other than its retro look.¬†

Months after the launching of the X-Pro1, I’m quite surprised that this model has actually impressed by many professional photographer. I read about it in Zack Arias’s blog, Matt Brandon’s Digital Trekkers blog, and tonnes to positive reviews all over the internet. Zack Arias & Matt Brandon has mentioned that they has spent less time with DSLR since their first love with the X-Pro1. Besides of that, this X-virus has spreading all over Malaysia. Amri Ginang, Yaman Ibrahim, Muslianshah Masrie are the earliest person that “I know” has put their trust over this camera. With endless positive feedback and more professional photographer has own it, it is the good sign that this camera can be trusted. This has grown my own interest over the Fujifilm X-Pro1.

You can continue read more about this camera “in depth” in Digital Photography Review (Fujifilm X-Pro1). They did all the mathematics for you.

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Love At First Sight

On a wedding assignment with 48th Studio last May or June, I have my first opportunity to actually hands-on the X-Pro1 belong to my friend, Fahad Nasir (48th Studio Founder). The X-Pro1 was coupled with Fujinon 35mm F1.4. The body is quite big from what i aspected. The weight is very light that i don’t even bother to carry it all the time. Large viewfinder with selectable OVF (Optical View Finder) and EVF (Electronic View Finder). During that time, the one that really impressed me is the ring aperture on the lens & its EVF. The EVF is actually viewing almost accurate exposure, when you adjust the EV dial, it will show the effect “live”. This feature is new to me. The camera has once again impressed me with its Auto White Balance (WB) and its capability on high ISO without loosing so much details. So that was my love at first sight with X-Pro1.

Just few months after our first met, I owned myself the X-Pro1 with 35mm F1.4. It was exactly the same camera that i tried during the wedding assignment. I have some amount of savings which i have planned to buy a full frame camera (D700 or 5DMII) when I was informed that X-Pro1 is open for sale.

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The Design

Simple & Elegant. I can’t really describe in words but enough to let you know that i love it. Black body, leather bodygrip, large view finder at the top corner, EV dial, i love all of these.

Portrait Of Pak Indan during Yaman Ibrahim Hyper Portrait Workshop | Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fujinon XF 35mm

Handling

When it comes about the handling, one thing i notice is it is easy to get blurred image. Maybe the camera is too light when 35mm XF lens attached to the body. I need about 1/125 shutter to get sharp images handheld. Of cause we still can get it sharp when the shutter is lower than that, the chance is 50%. But this issue is no longer a “problemo” once i get used to it. I can now shoot as low as 1/30 shutter speed and get sharp images.

Performance

Auto Focus (AF) is the main issue when dealing with X-Pro1. The focus is really slow, that you can’t get it right when focusing moving objects. If they do, it wasn’t that fast. This weakness is okay for me as my type of photography is more on daily use, portrait & travel, which fast focusing is not so crucial. Being operating manual film camera before, i found that i should be thankful that we don’t have to face that kind for manual focusing everyday. On recent firmware updates (Ver 3.01) has actually let to better AF performance and Fujifilm really hear the voices to make the “peak focusing” comes into reality. This has given me more confidence to do manual focus.

Image quality is awesome. Yes of cause we can shoot RAW. One good thing is we can select choices of film emulation, Astia is the one i liked the most. Video modes is available too but very minimal option. I been using AWB from the first day I owned it. ISO1600-ISO3200 is acceptable, higher is good for 4R prints with unnoticeable noise. I had tried one picture of my daughter with ISO 25000 in 4R prints. I tried Nikon SB600 speed light on X-Pro1, can’t TTL but works with manual mode. I tried with YungNuo RF603 trigger and it work fiercely.

By this moment, i had only 2 lenses. XF 35mm F1.4 & XF 14mm F2.8. I really love the aperture ring on the lens, like my Rokkor lens. They also produces very sharp images.

Firmware Updates

Been using D60 & D90 for years but never had any firmware updates. I felt much intimate with Fujifilm because they do care about Fuji users with Firmware updates. They (Fujilfilm) hear our voices out here. They still working on firmware updates even though the X100, X-Pro1 has already in the market for more than 2 years (almost 2 years for Fujifilm X-Pro1). ¬†While writing this post, i go to Fujifilm website of to see the firmware version (3.01), I’m surprised that on 28th November 2013, Fuji has announced another firmware update (Ver. 3.10), this firmware update will be released on 5th December 2013. This is truly amazing, i was about to point in my additional suggestion about minimum shutter speed while using aperture priority mode, we can now set it! Thanks a lot Fuji.

Gaya Street Sunday Market | Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fujinon XF 14mm

If I could change a thing on X-Pro1, What is it?

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Personally, I would like to change the front lever to its original function in film camera as timer. The switching between EVF & OVF can be programmed in LCD/Eye sensor button. The mechanical timer is good (do you remember the sound of the mechanical timer?, thats “retro” if you could understand me) , but not really reliable for long time run (my minolta has this kind of timer, it still working after about 30 years in the market). However, digital timer will do just fine too. But I’m sure people will love the long forgotten “mechanical timer”.

Of all the point i mentioned above, I can say that I am very satisfied over X-Pro1. Really obsessed & crazy about it.I been shooting exclusively with X-Pro1 for straight 3 months. I love it so much. It produced “Kick Ass” quality images.

*All images (X-Pro1 detailed body images) are taken from Digital Photography Review Website. I will replace with my own very soon. 

-Buy Less Gear, Get A Book-

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