Fujifilm FinePix S4600 review

While looking for an entry level (read: cheap) camera to take better pictures than my phone, I came across a category of cameras call bridge cameras. They fill the niche between DSLR and regular point-and-shoot camera. They have a fixed but long zoom lenses, usually with super wide-angle focal length. These bridge cameras price range from just as cheap as a point-and-shoot camera to as expensive as a mid-range DSLR.

One model of bridge camera that caught my eyes was the Fujifilm FinePix S4600 that I found on Lazada. At only RM500, it is a really affordable camera with features that are comparable to DSLR camera. Without much thought, I placed my order on the S4600 and within days got my hand on my first bridge camera. The camera comes with a strap, lense cap and 4 pieces of AA batteries. Yes you heard that right, AA batteries instead of rechargeable li-on batteries normally found on most modern digital cameras. On one hand AA batteries are easy to find and rechargeable AA batteries comes with a variety of capacity and can last quite long. However, having 4 AA batteries in your camera does add some to its weight. Personally, I’d prefer the regular rechargeable li-ion batteries but this model doesn't have that.

Specification-wise, the S4600 features 16 megapixels and 28x zoom lens. Its range of aperture is from F3.1 to F20 and shutter speed from 1/4 to 1/2000 sec. The LCD monitor is 3" TFT and among the storage media supported are SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards, the usual stuff. After using the camera for a while, I learned to accept that F3.1 is not enough to achieve that pretty depth of field effect let alone bokeh. Well not so easily with every shot that is. You can get the depth of field effect if the distance of the object is right and the exposure and lighting is bright enough. But that almost always require a tripod and some rigorous and time-consuming setup .

What I like best about the S4600 is the 28x optical zoom. It comes really handy when shooting far away objects like animals or people. It also provides you the ability to get a rudimentary depth of field effect if the object is perfectly located between the camera and the horizon. The wide lens also comes pretty handy in capturing landscape pictures and macro photography works perfectly. The camera is also able adjust the shutter speed so I can take that dreamy waterfall effect.
photo with zoom in

24x zoom

waterfall effect

16x zoom

What I dislike about the S4600 which you will discovery pretty quickly is shooting in low lights. While the camera takes decent pictures in broad daylight, shooting at night or in low lights produces noticeably grainy pictures with lots of noise. I mean you would get better pictures in low lights with a decent smartphone. This is really a deal breaker really because I want to be able to take good pictures all day, no matter where I am. And I sure am not going to use the flash for my pictures.

noticeable grain and noise

low-light capture with very visible noise

Overall I am somewhat satisfied with my first bridge type camera. It has some pretty decent specs but the lens and cmos sensor are rather below par. Well you can’t expect top notch DSLR quality from a sub 500 ringgit camera. You get what you pay. For my next camera I’ll definitely be getting one with interchangeable lens and better aperture. I guess there should be a good bridge type camera out there but they would cost as much as a full-featured DSLR camera. If you wanna get a bridge camera, get a good one with fast lens and good sensor so that you could take good pictures in low light. Or you can get a good mirror-less camera right away which are lightweight, comes with interchangeable lens and doesn’t cost too much. Whatever it is. just don’t buy any of those cheap entry level bridge cameras (like the S4600). Is it any wonder that I sold the camera after 3 months.

wide shot

Apple Certified Service Professional

As part of my career development, my employer was kind enough to send me to an Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP) training at one of those Apple authorised training centres. Yes I do have some basic to intermediate experience with Apple products and environment but to go to a formal training and get certified is a real step forward for me. Plus this certification doesn’t come cheap, RM2670 for the whole package, something I don’t have lying around. If it wasn’t for my company I don’t know if I’ll ever get certified in anything.

Anyway me and another colleague of mine went for the three days Mavericks 101 course in Wangsa Maju. We covered pretty much everything there is to know about the operating system and Macs in general. Some of them I already know, others are new knowledge to me. The trainer was okay I guess. I just wanna complain about the food or lack of it. I can’t remember the last time I went to any training and not being served food of any kind, not even water. We had to pay for breakfast, lunch and tea ourselves. I mean these course doesn’t really come cheap you know, the least you could do is serve mineral water for goodness’ sake.

A month later we were to sit for the ACSP certification test. My colleague, Shah started studying the very next day after the course. I only begin studying the week before. Lucky for me my other colleagues and boss at work was very understanding and they spared me some work at school so I can study a bit which I did, all day until late at night. By the end of the week, my head is filled so much with Kexts and Frameworks it just might restart into verbose mode.

The exam was 2 hours with 80 questions and the passing mark is 75%. Shah took about 40 minutes to finish the test. Me being the careful one, took slightly over an hour. In the end I got 90% correct while Shah got 93%. Not bad considering her studied a month earlier plus he got a bunch of spot questions right from the Internet the day before (why you never share we me dude?). While I’d like a higher score to be frank I’m just relieved that I passed. The ACSP test cost USD250 (almost RM1,000) each and I hate to be paying to sit for the repeat paper myself. The only caveat though I will be bonded with the company for the next 1 year so I can’t go anywhere until then. Not that I have any immediate plans to leave. My philosophy at work is if my employer treats me good and fair I will have no reason to leave. So far they have been nothing but supportive and more than fair with the wages and rewards.

So now I’m a certified Apple professional. Send all your Apple and Macs problem this way people! (charges apply #LOL)

The Legend Cherating Resort

In conjunction with the school holidays we’ve decided to bring our kids for a stay at The Legend Cherating Resort in the east coast. We meant to go on boxing day but unfortunately our trip was postponed because we couldn’t get out of our hometown in time for the trip. Although the terms said we would be charged the full amount if we changed dates or cancelled, the hotel and Booking.com was sporting enough to move the stay date 2 weeks later without any extra charges

So today when the flood had all but subsided on the east coast, we finally made our way safely to the elusive resort east of Pahang near the Terengganu border. The trip took just over 3 hours from KL and using the East Coast highway (LPT) the journey was very smooth and easy.

First impressions: the hotel was very nice. We booked a double single bed and got a room overlooking the beach and the sea. There’s no bath tub in this one but the bathroom is still nice nevertheless. We get to use many of the resort’s facilities like sauna, gym and other recreations but on overnight stay is simply too short to try it all.

The kids love to stay at hotels very much so needless to say the enjoyed their time there. We went swimming in the pool twice and the next morning my wife and I went for a little jog along the beach. Complimentary breakfast was provided but only for two and children above 4 years had to pay individually. That’s about 16 ringgit each after discount.

Since hotel foods are super-expensive, we did the sensible thing and went for dinner at a local restaurant nearby. After reading several reviews on Foursquare and blogs we settled on Warung Awang Ikan Bakar (WAIB) located along the road to Kemaman. The seafood (calamari to be exact) was really good but other delicacies like tom yam etcetera was so so. Price wise, it’s about the same as in Kuala Lumpur if not more expensive. Being so far away at a beach side location some more you’d be hard pressed for bargain, value for money eateries really. WAIB is the best we could find (and recommend).

I had nothing much to complain. Yes the bathroom sink was leaking and we could have hoped for a less expensive breakfast (not gonna happen) but for RM255 including 16% tax we couldn’t be so demanding. The hotel room was clean and comfortable and the beach was beautiful. Beware of sand flies on the beach though. This minuscule invisible bug bit me all over my legs and I had to endure an insufferable itch for the next 5 days. Remember to protect yourself with some sort of ointment whenever you’re on the beach in Cherating or better cover every inch of your body with clothes. No wonder I saw nobody else swimming or playing on the beach that day. It’s either the bug or the big waves because of the monsoon season.

Overall I’d give the Legend Cherating Beach Resort 3.5 out of 5 stars. Kudos to them for allowing us to change dates for our stay.