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Archive for September, 2014

Riding Fast with The Ninja ZX-6R/636

16 Sep

ZXR07

Today’s ride was comprised mainly of Kawasaki owners, with a Kymco scooter and a couple of Yamaha R1s among the group. The Kawasaki bikes ranged from several Ninja ZX-10Rs, a few Z800s, 4 units of the 2014 Z1000, a 2014 Ninja 1000, a 2010 Z1000 and a lone Ninja ZX-6R aka 636 – the bike I am using for this ride.

The group ride itself was full of surprises. For starter, the weather looked cloudy, with some riders wondering whether it would rain. The rain didn’t come, as the day grew brighter despite the sun remained hidden behind the clouds throughout the entire day. Then the ride itself started half an hour later than originally planned as 1 of the riders got lost on his way to the RV point.

By the time he arrived, it was closed to 8.50am – we were supposed to leave at 8.30am sharp, and it was another 10 minutes before the group could began their ride as that rider had to fill-up his Z1000’s tank and bought some stuff for the journey. Thirdly, the planned routes for the day were changed from time to time as we got closer to the destination. Reason being there were unofficial confirmations of traffic police and JPJ operation on motorists flouting traffic laws among the major roads and included some segments of our intended routes.

While the 636 and its road tax/insurance are in order including my driving license which is still valid for more than 2 years, that wasn’t the case for some of the riders. And most of them were more concerned with the after market performance parts they had fitted to their bikes, some of which are not approved for street usage as they are track/race day accessories.

ZXR08

The group comprised of slow, medium and fast riders. The difference in speed among the riders isn’t exactly a factor as the faster ones will be waiting for the slower batch at the agreed stops. Furthermore, most of the fast riders are smokers, and the ease of them pulling away from the rest enabled them to have a stick or two at the agreed stops while waiting for the rest to arrive.

I have not ride extremely fast since Year 2002 onwards mainly because I was always carrying expensive photo equipment with me wherever I rode. And those photo equipment cost more than the value of the ageing bike I was riding. Now that I have scaled down my photo equipment to just an entry-level DSLR fitted with its kit zoom lens, which cost approximately the same as a genuine Arai World Champion replica helmet or an Akrapovic exhaust pipe slip-on, riding extremely fast again is no longer an issue.

Some of the riders in today’s ride were known to be fast, based on their bikes’ set-up and lots of after-market parts installed. And they do look fast in the sense they could pull away and disappear from one’s view within a few minutes. Well, all these were during previous rides with them as I was testing smaller capacity bikes such as the Kawasaki Z250 Street Fighter, the Ninja 250SL and Z250SL, to name a few.

But riding with the 636 now, and gotten back into my extremely fast mode, those fast riders do not seem to be that fast after all. In fact, I could keep up with them anytime, on my own free will. And the best part being the 636 was still set to Low power and its KTRC was set to Level 2. With such settings, the 636 wasn’t even in full throttle mode but already tailing very closely to all 1,000cc bikes!

ZXR09

Most of the time, the 636 and me could overtake those “fast” riders but I refrained from doing so as I reminded myself our group ride happens to be a fun ride, and today’s outing was dubbed as “Malaysia Day Ride”, not a race. The main reason I could keep up and even overtake those 1,000cc riders was that they ride fast on the straights, then brake hard for the chicanes and corners while I rode as fast as them on the straights but rarely brake when approaching the corners!

I nearly torpedoed those “fast” riders at least 10 times during today’s group ride as I was quite close behind them when they decided to brake for the corners and chicanes. Having came close far too often, I decided to leave a gap of at least 100m between them and myself when the ride was resumed after the lunch break.

Our ride back to Kuala Lumpur was via the same way we had started – RV point to Pekan Batu 14 Hlu Langat <=> Jln Tekali <=> Semenyih Loop <=> Titi Kong <=> Kuala Klawang <=> Jelebu <=> Titi Kong <=> Semenyih Loop <=> Pekan Batu 14 Hulu Langat <=> Home.

ZXR10

 
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Canon EOS 7D Mark II w/65 AF Points; up to ISO 16,000 & 10 fps

15 Sep

EOS 7DII_Front

Canon Inc. has finally announced the EOS 7D Mark II, the ultimate DSLR to capture action other cameras simply miss. Building on the class-leading performance of the iconic EOS 7D, and harnessing technologies found in the flagship, professional EOS-1D X, the revolutionary camera is made for speed, with extreme power and performance providing the freedom for enthusiast photographers to shoot a world of ever-changing action.

Completely rebuilt and redesigned, the EOS 7D Mark II delivers all the performance of its predecessor – and much more. Made for life’s fastest moments, the camera can capture an incredible 10 frames per second (fps) without a drop in resolution, and together with a new 65-point cross-type AF system1 and Dual DIGIC 6 processors, the EOS 7D Mark II sets a new benchmark for electrifying speed and power.

Designed to help you capture the perfect moment in outstanding quality, the camera boasts a new 20.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor with a native ISO 100-16,000 range, expandable to ISO 51,200. Together with an advanced high-resolution 150k pixel RGB+IR metering sensor and innovative flicker detection, the EOS 7D Mark II ensures beautifully exposed images. Completely adaptable to the way you shoot, the camera offers customisable body controls and a new viewfinder which provides approximately 100% coverage. With pro-level movie features, including live, uncompressed HDMI output and Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, the EOS 7D Mark II helps you discover new levels of expressive creativity.

The EOS 7D Mark II excels in high-speed situations, shooting bursts of an astonishing 10 full resolution images in a single second, thanks in part to a newly designed shutter and mirror drive mechanism, with an incredible 200,000-cycle shutter durability.

EOS 7DII_LCD

The outstanding responsiveness is matched by a blisteringly fast 65-point AF system, providing uncompromised sensitivity and stamina to lock on to subjects with pin-sharp precision. Boasting one of the most advanced AF systems in a camera of its class, each AF point is a cross-type[1], with the centre point offering dual cross-type focusing at f/2.8 and EV-3 low-light sensitivity, giving you unsurpassed accuracy in all light conditions and for all subjects. The EOS 7D Mark II lets you tailor the AF system, with a customisable menu similar to the EOS-1D X, providing free rein over sensitivity and subject tracking, while a new dedicated AF Mode Selection lever lets you instantly switch between AF area modes without taking your eye from the viewfinder.

EOS 7DII_Mount

Whether you’re shooting indoors or outdoors, under natural or artificial light, consistently accurate exposures are achieved with a new 150k pixel RGB+IR metering sensor – the first in an EOS to include infra-red and flickering light sensitivity. A new cutting-edge flicker detection feature ensures images are only shot when light levels are at their brightest level – intelligently analysing the light source and detecting flickering light the eye simply can’t see.  Additionally, EOS iTR AF and AI Servo AF III technologies, originally introduced in the EOS-1D X, work alongside the advanced metering sensor to deliver accurate subject tracking.

Cinematic movies in your hand

The EOS 7D Mark II builds on its predecessor’s movie reputation with a new suite of pro-standard recording features. Superior AF performance is executed by Canon’s unique Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, so you can shoot with smooth, accurate focus. In a first for EOS, both Movie Servo AF speed and tracking sensitivity can be customised, giving you complete control for pull-focus effects and transitions between subjects. The camera captures every split second of the action in Full HD quality, with a choice of frame rates from 24p to 60p for smooth movement and slow motion effects.

Footage captured on the EOS 7D Mark II seamlessly fits into existing professional video workflows, thanks to uncompressed (4:2:2) HDMI output to external recorders. Ensuring professional audio capture during every shoot, the EOS 7D Mark II features new dedicated microphone and headphone sockets for external devices, as well as silent control to prevent operational noise being captured if settings are changed.

The EOS 7D Mark II is engineered to shoot in the most demanding situations, with improved weather resistance and a tough magnesium alloy chassis – as well as built-in GPS and a digital compass to help you track your adventures. As part of the world renowned EOS System, the EOS 7D Mark II supports a number of accessories, including a new battery grip that enables longer, more stable shooting throughout the day.

EOS 7DII_Top

Pricing and availability

The EOS 7D Mark II will be available from November with an RRP of £1,599.99/€1,999.99.

 
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Canon Inc Announces 3 New EOS Lenses

15 Sep

EF 400mm DO II

EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM – The Portable Super Telephoto Lens
Super telephoto lenses are essential whether on a safari or the side-lines to bring the image in tight on a subject, but they often are not the lightest lenses to carry around.  Canon’s new compact and lightweight EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM super telephoto lens will help lighten the load of professional and advanced amateur photographers. At only 4.6 lbs., it is roughly half the weight of the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens. The new EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens features newly developed gapless dual-layered diffractive optical (DO) elements that help improve optical performance while maintaining virtually the same size and weight as its predecessor. The DO element in the new lens is optimally positioned deeper within the optical formula than in the original EF 400mm DO lens to help reduce flare around backlit subjects. Other optical improvements include the use of a large-diameter ground and polished aspherical element and a UD glass element that work together with the DO elements for thorough correction of spherical, chromatic and other optical aberrations. Canon’s original SWC (Sub Wavelength Structure) lens coating is also used internally to help improve resistance to flare. Fluorine coating is applied to the front and rear lens elements to repel dust and make lens cleaning easy. A nine blade curved diaphragm is also incorporated to help produce smooth, natural-looking bokeh in areas outside the depth of field surrounding the main subject.

The new EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens features Canon’s Optical Image Stabilization with up to four shutter speed steps of correction**. In addition there are three IS modes ─ standard, panning and during exposure only ─ that help to provide superb results in a variety of shooting situations. For greater convenience, the Image Stabilizer does not have to be disabled when shooting with a tripod.  Four programmable buttons on the front of the lens allow photographers to customize lens and camera operation to fit their unique shooting style, or simply pause autofocus (AF) adjustment at any point to hold focus on a subject in a busy scene. Even in AF mode, full-time manual focus can be employed at any time. The lens also features a Power Focus mode for smooth focus “pulls” ideal for filmmaking. For those mobile shooters and documentarians truly “on-the-go”, the lens is also highly resistant to dust and water for durability and reliability when shooting in even the harshest conditions.

EF 24-105mm IS STM

EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM – Smooth Quiet Focus in a Versatile Lens
The new EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens is the first EF-series zoom lens for full-frame sensor cameras to include a lead screw-type stepping motor (STM) that provides virtually silent AF while shooting video. The 24-105mm is one of the most versatile focal range options in the EF lineup as it can be used as a wide-angle lens while out on the town as well as a portrait-length zoom when trying to get closer to your subjects.

The Optical Image Stabilizer provides up to four shutter speed steps of correction,**  while two aspheric lenses plus a UD lens combine to provide high-quality results for both still images and video. New to the EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens is a seven group zoom optical formula that enables a conveniently compact design while maintaining high-quality optical performance. The lens’ lightweight inner focusing system, high-speed CPU, and improved AF algorithm enables high-speed AF. In addition, the seven bladed circular aperture combined with the optimized lens placement and coatings delivers beautiful, soft bokeh, and exceptional color balance, while helping to minimize ghosting and flare. The new EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens provides a lighter and more affordable option with STM focus capabilities to Canon’s popular EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens.

EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM – The Slim, Compact Lens That Stacks Up to the Competition
The affordable EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens is the slimmest and lightest Canon EF-S lens ever produced. This compact, lightweight wide-angle “pancake” style lens features STM technology and was developed for photographers and videographers who are aiming to capture bright, clear images with beautiful softly blurred backgrounds at a fixed focal length. The EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens features an aspheric lens element and the optimized lens arrangement and coating helps to minimize ghosting and flare while delivering excellent image quality. The seven bladed aperture delivers beautiful, soft backgrounds, while the Electro-Magnetic Drive aperture mechanism uses a micro-stepping driver control for quieter operation, especially useful when shooting video.

EF-S 24mm Pancake

Pricing and Availability
The EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM and EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM are both scheduled to be available in November for estimated retail prices of US$6,899.00 and US$149.99 respectively. The EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM is scheduled to be available in December for an estimated retail price of US$599.99

 
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Riding to Seafood Brunch via the Ninja ZX-6R

13 Sep

ZX-RIDE01

Saturday morning ride with the BAGsters Group is quite rare as most of the rides were done on a Sunday, and during public holidays but this morning was 1 of those occasions.

The plan was to ride to the famed Chia Seafood Restaurant in Jalan Bagan Tengorak off Tanjung Karang town. As it has been quite warm and hot for the past 2 weeks, I thought of going back to wearing the Berik riding leather jacket and gloves for the trip, only to wake up to see a cloudy sky and very moisture atmosphere.

While there was no thunder in the distance, it was obvious that certain places particularly those near the RV point of the Bagsters for this trip would be raining. So the Berik jacket/gloves stay home and out came the rain-proof riding apparel instead. True enough, after 10 km of riding along the MRR2 towards Cheras area, there were light drops of rain hitting the helmet’s visor but they weren’t a factor to disrupt the ride.

It was after the Ampang/Hulu Selangor side of the MRR2 did the rain became a drizzle, with cars spraying a fine mist of vapour from their wheels’ backlash. the road was very wet indicating the rain was heavy much earlier at this segment. At one point, the car in front of me was splashing water towards others as it drove thru a puddle on the slow first lane but the splashes didn’t get to the Ninja 636 as I was riding at the 2nd lane.

ZX-RIDE02

ZX-RIDE03

The clean looking 636 was soon a bit messy no thanks to all those misty spray as well as mud from its own rear wheel backlash upon reaching the RV point, which was the Double Shell stations off MRR2 just before the exit to Gombak Toll/Karak highway. Most of the Bagsters have a light breakfast at the Shell w/7-11 outlet. I wasn’t that hungry so bought myself a can of Nescafe, a bottle of 100 Plus and 2 bottles of drinking water. The other 3 beverages were meant for consumption during the ride to Tg Karang if dehydration occurs should the sun comes out later.

Due to the early rainy weather, some of the Bagsters arrived late to the RV point so our ride started close to 9am. From the RV, we rode to Ulu Yam Baru/Lama towns via Jalan Sg Tua and Batu dam to the old Jalan Ipoh trunk road. The old winding roads were partially wet throughout so the Ninja 636 was set to Level 3 for its KTRC control. It remained in Level 3 until the group had reached the T-junction of Ulu Yam Lama and Jln Ipoh trunk road where it was reset to Level 2. The 636 was still set to its Low power mode since the ride started from the RV point.

ZX-RIDE05

There was no reason to set the 636 to its Full power mode as the Bagsters is a group that rides safe and most of all, enjoy a weekend trip via motorcycling, and none of them is out to see who could clear a corner faster than the next rider. Even riding at the 636’s Low power setting, the bike was still quick throughout the entire trip.

ZX-RIDE06

It took us close to 2 hours to reach the restaurant since we started off. It would have been under 1 hour of riding if we had chosen to ride via the numerous expressways that connects to Route 5 in Kuala Selangor town to reach Tg Karang but as bikers, we prefer to ride on those old winding roads and enjoy the various views that came with them. However, the old roads we rode on did not have many twisty corners; they were mostly long straights with some stretches quite bumpy and uneven surfaces. Whatever corners we came across were mainly L-shape types rather than S-curve or C-curve.

There was a moment for the leading bike, a KTM 1190 Adventure and the 636 as we both saw a rather large, uneven slope. It turned our bikes momentarily into “motocross” bikes as the machines flew into the air before landed with a soft thud! The KTM, being the front bike, saw the uneven surface on time and was able to brace itself for the sudden “up-in-the-air” leap. Meanwhile, the 636 went higher, clearing 150cm airborne and landed approximately 5m ahead from the uneven surface!

The 636 went sideway – first on the left and then the right before the rear tyre recovered its grip and made the bike upright again. I guess the KTRC system kicks in to control wheelspin when the tyres made contact with the tarmac upon landing. That was a great save on my part too as I had used both legs to prevent the 636 from skidding when it went sideway twice after landing. The rest of the group went speechless when they saw the 636 gone airborne at that moment.

ZX-RIDE04

On the way home after the seafood lunch, we took Route 5 that led us straight to Kuala Selangor town, and from there we took Route 54 which took us to LATAR highway. But before reaching the toll plaza of LATAR, we made a stopover at a popular Indian temple situated along Route 54 to snap a few photos. After that, we resumed our ride to LATAR for the ride home. From LATAR, it took us less than 50 minutes to reach the PLUS exit toll plazas in Jalan Duta and Subang Jaya but navigating the traffic after that stretch to go back to our respective homes took most of us another 30 to 45 minutes!

But I did not follow the group till those 2 toll plazas as I decided to exit LATAR from its Sg Buloh/Kundang/Rawang segment, from where I could ride pass Kampung Setia towards Sg Buloh town and eventually to MRR2 for the way home. Having passed by Kg Setia, I decided to stop at the area’s Blue Lake to snap a few photos of the Ninja 636. After the photo session, I resumed the ride towards Sg Buloh town and MRR2. By the time the 636 and me reached MRR2, the traffic was quite congested but it gave me the opportunity to gauge how well the 636 performs along the highway towards Kesas and Petaling Jaya.

The Ninja 636 aced its way thru the entire MRR2/Kesas/Sunway within 25 minutes.

ZX-RIDE07

 
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Nikon Corporation Announces D750 Full Frame DSLR

12 Sep

Nikon D750

Nikon Corporation today introduces the fast, versatile, and agile D750. Packed with professional imaging technology and streamlined for compactness, this camera gives photographers the freedom to realise their vision with outstanding flexibility.

Built to upsize your opportunities and downsize your load, the Nikon D750 delivers superb full-frame images regardless of shooting location or conditions. The newly designed FX-format sensor delivers exceptional image quality with cleaner results than ever before at high ISOs. Phenomenally sensitive AF performance, a burst rate of up to 6.5 fps, and Full HD movie recording at 1080/60p combined with the sturdy tilt-screen monitor to enable full freedom of expression. Built-in Wi-Fi makes it simple to share impressive FX-format photos in an instant. Nikon’s Picture Control 2.0 provides exceptional in-camera image processing and optimisation flexibility for still images and videos.

Nikon D750_Grip

The all-new 24.3-megapixel sensor offers wide dynamic range with clean performance across all sensitivities, delivering images with stunning sharpness and rich tonality. The ISO range of 100–12800 is extendable to 50–51200 (equivalent), and Nikon’s flagship EXPEED 4 image-processing engine ensures image rendering is superb for both stills and video. The flexibility you need to capture elusive or fast-moving subjects is assured thanks to the camera’s newly developed professional Multi-CAM 3500II FX 51-point AF system that is sensitive down to a remarkable -3 EV. Combined with the camera’s shooting speeds of up to 6.5 fps in both FX and DX formats, these capabilities ensure you’re free to lock onto your target and capture uncompromised full-resolution images with incredible precision. In addition, Nikon’s new Group Area AF mode offers fast acquisition and improved background isolation when shooting subjects that are comparatively small and close to a high-contrast or distracting background.

Equipped with a sturdy tilt-screen monitor and built-in Wi-Fi, the D750 offers photographers superior flexibility. The tilt-screen swings open and rotates up to 90º, or down to 75º, enabling you to shoot photos and movies from unique vantage points with ease. When shooting, this 8.0-cm (3.2-in.), 1229k-dot colour-tune monitor lets you push the colour balance and brightness in any direction to suit your personal workflow preference. The built-in Wi-Fi function means you can upload impressive full-frame photos via a compatible smartphone or tablet, or release the camera remotely via your smart device. Simply download the free Wireless Mobile Utility app to your smart device.

Nikon D750_LCD

Nikon’s D-Movie offers broadcast-quality video in multiple frame formats, recording Full HD (1080p) movies at 50p/60p frame rates with markedly reduced noise, moiré, and false colour. A dedicated movie menu streamlines shooting by letting you store all movie settings in one place. The power aperture can be controlled while recording, and the camera offers clean HDMI out, plus simultaneous capture of full-resolution footage in-camera and on an external recorder. You can configure the ISO settings you want to work with from ISO 100 all the way up to ISO 51200 (equivalent), or fix the maximum Auto ISO range from ISO 200 upwards when shooting in M mode. Nikon’s 3D noise reduction reduces random noise, distortion, and flicker when filming at high sensitivities. Zebra mode shows you on the camera monitor exactly where highlights are blown. Superior audio control improves sound recording and offers greater overall flexibility: a stereo microphone input and an audio out let you fine-tune audio levels in isolation both before and during recording; you can select the sound range (wide/voice); and wind noise can be reduced when recording with the built-in microphone.

Superior ergonomics, a lightweight weather-sealed monocoque structure, and an energy-saving design ensure that the D750 offers true full-frame freedom. The deep grip enables a secure hold on the camera no matter what size your hands are, and makes it easier to hold the camera comfortably for long periods of time without tiring. The Kevlar/carbon fiber–composite shutter unit is tested to 150,000 releases, and you can capture up to 1,230 still images and up to 55 minutes of movie footage2 on a single charge of the ultra-compact and lightweight Li-ion rechargeable EN-EL15 battery.

Nikon D750_Zoom

 
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SanDisk Premieres Extreme Pro 512GB SDXC UHS-I Card

11 Sep

SanDisk Corporation has today launched its 512GB SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I memory card, the world’s highest capacity SDTM card on the market. The new offering is designed to meet the demands of industry professionals who require the most advanced gear available for shooting 4K Ultra High Definition (3840x2160p) video, Full HD video (1920×1080) and high-speed burst mode photography.

Extreme_PRO_SDXC_512GB

“As an industry leader, SanDisk continues to push the boundaries of technology to provide customers with the innovative, reliable, high-performance solutions they have come to expect from us,” said Dinesh Bahal, vice president, product marketing, SanDisk. “4K Ultra HD is an example of a technology that is pushing us to develop new storage solutions capable of handling massive file sizes. The 512GB SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I card is a tremendous advancement that enables professionals to reliably store more content on a single card than ever before.

Built for the Pros 

Since SanDisk unveiled its first 512MB SD card in 2003, capacity demands have increased exponentially and the new 512GB SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I card represents a 1,000-fold capacity increase in just over a decade, yet maintains the same size footprint.

SanDisk’s most powerful and highest capacity SD UHS-I memory card yet, the 512GB card delivers write speeds up to 90 MB/s and UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) recording speed for high resolution, real-world color and stutter-free 4K Ultra HD video1. Transfer speeds up to 95 MB/s move data quickly for efficient post-production workflow.

The 512GB SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I card delivers both the speed and capacity needed to support 4K Ultra HD video capture, enabling users to shoot tremendous amounts of content without disrupting the moment.

The new offering comes with key features designed for pro-level action:

  • Built for and tested in harsh conditions—temperature proof, water proof, shock proof, and x-ray proof2
  • Lifetime limited warranty3
  • RescuePRO Deluxe data recovery software download offer4, for bringing accidentally deleted images back to life

SanDisk Extreme Team member Sebastian Devaud, renowned director and producer, relies on cutting edge technologies to continuously advance his productions. “I am always interested in new technologies to help improve how I work and the quality of my results,” said Devaud. “With higher capacities, I have greater flexibility to capitalize on the moment and let the camera roll without worrying about the performance of my equipment.”

“The new 512GB SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-I card offers incredible speed and capacity,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “Our Pocket Cinema Camera customers shoot in every type of circumstance and location, and get amazing wide dynamic range RAW images capturing the brightest highlights and darkest shadows at the same time. The additional capacity of the SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-I card will extend the creative freedom for our customers shooting in RAW and open up the ability to use wide dynamic range RAW files with even more productions.”

Pricing and Availability

The SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-I SDHC/SDXC memory cards are available worldwide in capacities of 512GB, 256GB and 128GB. The 512GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I card will be available for US$799.99 (MSRP).

 
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Ride up to Genting Permai & Goh Tong Jaya via Ninja ZX-6R

10 Sep

ZXR03

When 1 of my riding buddies sent me a Whatsapp message asking whether I was keen to join him for a group ride up to Goh Tong Jaya for dinner and later for a coffee at the Petron Starbucks in Genting Permai, I told him I needed to think about it first. The ride wasn’t an ordinary ride as the group had planned a surprise occasion to celebrate the moment for a couple who’s also part of the biking group.

While pondering over whether I should join the group ride, I was deciding on which bike to use for the ride. As I have 3 bikes with me at the moment, ranging from the ageing Honda NSR150RR to the Modenas Dinamik 120cc moped, I asked Terence (my riding buddy) whether it was OK that I use either one to join the group. He replied to say it was OK as not everyone in the group would ride very fast and disappearing from our view altogether.

There was a snag. The NSR was still at the workshop for its annual service, and the Modenas, though fast and agile in the city traffic, isn’t built for outright speed especially when riding together with the bigger bikes. While I managed to collect back the NSR in time to use it for the group ride, I discovered the battery’s performance, despite having been charged by the workshop, was still weak. As a result, its dual headlights couldn’t shine very bright nor light up the roads ahead during night time.

Oh yes, there’s still the 3rd bike on the parking basement – a Ninja ZX-6R aka the 636. With the NSR and the Modenas not being used for the ride up to Goh Tong Jaya, it was decided that the 636 would be the bike to be utilised for the purpose. The 636’s low fuel warning had already light up during the recent ride to Ducati Malaysia (Next Bike Sdn Bhd) from Bukit Jalil Stadium’s carpark in conjunction with the IMF-MoSI convoy. Up to the point I was starting up the 636, its Trip mileage had clocked 24km since the low fuel warning light came about.

ZXR04

While there’s plenty of petrol stations along the way to the rendezvous venue (RV), I am limiting the 636 to just 2 brands of fuel during the long term review I am having it – Caltex Techron 95 and Petron Blaze 95. The nearest Caltex is just 3km away but it is not along the way to the RV point while the next available Petron is approximately 29km away but just 5km from the RV point. The RV point happens to be another station – a BHP but I won’t be filling the 636 with that.

So it was decided I would fill-up the 636 at the Petron station, and thereafter ride towards the RV point. Despite the 29km ride to Petron, the bike still has 2 litres of fuel left as I could only filled the tank with 15 litres! After filling up the 636, I resumed the ride to the RV point and reached there at 8.59pm!

The group began its ride up as soon all participating bikers were confirmed to have arrive. However, despite assurances given by the leaders that no one would speed up and disappear from view, within 5 minutes of riding, some of the front runners already made their lightning getaway. I was tempted to open the throttle and follow the faster ones in the group too but decided against that.

However, that plan came to fruition as one of the bikers that overtook me was riding the GTR1400 and while he did overtake me on the straight of Karak highway just before the sweeping left-to-right corners, he had to slow down and messed up my line, which up to that point, I had a great time riding at my own pace without any traffic interrupting my path. The GTR1400 rider swoop in from the right side, then drifted into the middle lane to take the first left hander, which was the path I was riding.

ZXR05

As there were a few slow trucks on the slow lane, I couldn’t make my way to the left to avoid the slowing 1400 bike in front of me so my next option was to veer to the right after making sure there was no incoming traffic from behind on the 3rd lane. While it was possible to brake and slow the 636 down, my style of riding is to avoid any braking action unless it is absolutely necessary, and avoiding hitting the GTR1400 was something that can be done without the need for hard braking. I took the other option – avoid and overtake the GTE1400 on the fast 3rd lane and after having done that, I retained the same riding speed and proceed to take the right hander thereafter as quickly too.

It wasn’t long before I catch up with the front runners, whom I thought had already disappeared from sight. It seems they didn’t (or couldn’t). Anyway, it took us mere minutes to reach the Genting Highlands detour and waited for the slow riders we left behind to show up. Once they did, the group split up again, with the faster ones rode their way up to the Goh Tong Jaya township for dinner.

After dinner, we rode to the Petron Starbucks near Genting Permai, which was the venue the group had planned for the couple. It was a special night as the guy in the couple planned to propose to his lady that night. The idea was to stage an “argument and a minor scuffle” just across the street from Starbucks, which would prompted the lady to get up in a whizz and proceed to find out the reason for the scuffle.

While she was able to scold them and break-up the fight, her beau quickly brought out a bouquet of flowers and presented her with it while asking for her hand in marriage. She was taken aback by the shock and surprise announcement, and it took her a while to come to her composure. With tears in her eyes, she gladly accepted the marriage proposal, and all the riding buddies let off a loud applause and cheering all over. With it came the confetti to celebrate the occasion.

It took us another 30 minutes of discussing what took place before we called it a night and prepared to ride down from Genting Permai to go home. Everyone in the group agreed it was a good experience of being able to give support to the guy’s marriage proposal plan and had it accomplished successfully.

ZXR06

 
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Joining The MOS Fun Ride via The Ninja ZX-6R

07 Sep

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HAVING joined the fun ride convoy organised by the Ministry of Superbikes (MoS) which was held on Sunday morning of Sept 7, 2014, it quickly reminded me why I had shunned participating in bike convoys over the years: they are riding too slow.

Okay. The whole idea is to enjoy a fun ride without speeding. Fine. I can live with that. I am not an advocate of insane speed either when riding a motorcycle on a public road. There’s a speed limit, by the way, which is set btwn 90km and 110km/h depending on the sections of the triple-lane highway that the convoy used to get from the rendezvous (RV) point, a Petron station off Jalan Ipoh in Taman Wahyu to the open air carpark at Bukit Jalil Stadium – the Middle Ring Road II (MRR2).

As expected, our cruising speed was slow… for a superbike (500cc and above). In fact, I knew the entire group was going to be slow to the extent I volunteered to be among the last few to ride off from our RV point. All the better for me to snap photos of a large group of big bikers for use in this blog post. So much for that idea.

Within 5 minutes or less of riding, I found myself in the middle pack, and a short while in the frontal 10%. I would have probably overtaken the leaders had the convoy didn’t reach the designated first stop (a BHP station) for the compulsory group photo and video filming session.

It wasn’t even a case of me riding above the speed limit of the MRR2 either. I was in cruising speed mode all along via the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R (aka 636), courtesy of Kawasaki Motors Malaysia (KMM), for which I am doing a long term review on this bike. And joining this convoy happened to be the 636’s first official ride to anywhere since I took delivery of it a week ago from KMM.

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To top it off, I was overtaking most of the bikers riding the 636 with just the right hand, with the left busy snapping pictures of the convoy (I had my way of doing that, thanks for wondering/asking). Given the ease I had made myself up to the front of the convoy from the back, I was left wondering whether riding my 2-stroke 150cc NSR150RR wouldn’t have been a bad idea after all instead of utilising the 636 in the first place.

For one, it would have kept me in the rear end of the convoy most of the time although I doubt that. I was doing btwn 90 and 107 km/h on the 636 while snapping photos of the participating riders, and the NSR150RR would have been able to keep pace with the rest of them. I think I only activated the brakes on the 636 less than 8 times while the convoy from the RV point till the Bukit Jalil carpark including twice while entering the BHP petrol station, and twice more upon leaving it. This would give readers an idea of the speed we were riding on.

All these may sound like I was bragging about my ability to ride better than the convoy itself but let me assured that’s not the case. One of the rules to participate in this convoy was “Any motorcycle from 150cc and above are eligible. No kapchai or moped, please.” Scooters of 200cc and above are eligible too. With this kind of ruling, one would have expected a cruising speed of 110 km/h (hey, modern day kapchais are capable of achieving 120 km/h too).

After the photo and video sessions at BHP, we proceed to our main destination. While waiting for traffic in the main road to clear to enable the convoy to rejoin the highway, one of the bikers flipped and dropped his bike while riding out of the station. That was unbelievable, to say the least. Luckily, there’s only minor scratches on the bike and the rider is unhurt nor bruised. I felt tempted to snap photos of the other riders assisting to put the bike upright again but decided against that.

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The ride to Bukit Jalil Stadium carpark via the remaining stretch of MRR2 sort of putting the 636 and me closer to the leaders. I closed the throttle and slowed down to 85 km/h to ensure I do not overtake any of them in the process. Eventually the convoy reached the destination and we had the second photo and video sessions.

After that, we proceed to our third and final destination – Ducati Malaysia aka Next Bike Sdn Bhd showroom in Section 51A in Petaling Jaya, which is also the HQ of the Naza Automall, where a briefing on all things Ducati await us. Plus refreshment and lunch courtesy of Ducati Malaysia. While on the way there, at the segment where the KL-Seremban Highway meets Route E10, I found myself temporarily leading the convoy as a slight traffic congestion prevented the convoy leaders from manoeuvring it while the 636 and me managed to navigate thru it with ease.

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The group had its final photo and video sessions outside of the Ducati showroom at Naza Automall. It was of those rare occasions where more than 100 superbikes of various brands other than Aprilia, Ducati and Harley-Davidson assembled in the compound of Naza Automall.

For the curious: the Ministry of Superbikes is an official Facebook Page entity, and despite its name, has nothing to do with any Government agency nor ministry. The convoy was organised on behalf of the organisers of the upcoming International Motorcycles Festival (IMF) 2014, which will be held at the open air carpark of the Bukit Jalil Stadium.

 
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