Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Samo's new fisheye zoom lens

A diabolical plan...
One of my goals in 2011 was to score a Canon EF8-15mm F4.0L fisheye zoom lens.
Basically, I am done with bicycles. Especially folding bikes.
I did had a Dahon Flo X20 in mind. 
But after being fucked over by the people who sells them here, I told them to kiss my ass.
So, the next thing I had in mind, was to expand my L-series lenses.
The first thing that came in mind was the EF8-15mm fisheye zoom.
I love to distort things and the first attempt I made was with my Canon Powershot G-12's effect settings. It was fun!

Finally, after a long wait..
Mr CH Loh, an old friend of mine who is still employed by The New Straits Times reminded me about the price increase for Canon products.
The new pricing info, would be at least 7% more than the retail price.
I placed an order through him for the 8-15mm and waited for two months before I took delivery of the lens..

The 8-15mm Fisheye zoom is my fourth L-series lens
First impressions...
Out of the box, the EF8-15mm is one solid piece of engineering.
It came mounted with a special lens hood and cap.
You can't fit a filter on this lens, but there is a slot at the rear for a gel filter.
To maximise the fisheye lens, the focal setting for my EOS7D APS-C sensor camera body is 10mm. 
Vignetting occurs when you the zoom setting is on 'full'. 
But this can be solved by limiting the focal length to 10mm (On 1.6 crop factor, you get roughly about 16mm).
Even with a limit of 10mm in focal length, the images are impressive.
Although the lens opens up to F4.0, I must say that the image quality is awesome.


Lots of work to do.. 
Ahhhhh.. I am now motivated to go around and shoot some landscape shots.
Need to find out more about gel filters, especially neutral density filters for the fisheye lens.

Canon EOS 5DmkIII

An end to a long wait...
It takes a while for a single-digit Canon EOS Digital Single Lens Reflex camera to hit the streets.
These would stay on at least three to five years before a replacement succeeds the current model.
So much as been said about the Canon EOS 5DmkIII.
The excitement and built-up came about last year, but the Japan quake and tsunami that hit Sendai had put a halt to the production and development of Canon's new full-frame camera.
Now, a year after the tragedy, things are going full-swing.

Succeeding the 5DmkII
There are very high expectations on the camera that will replace the ageing EOS 5DmkII.
New stuff like the Digic-5 processor, now used on the Canon Powershot S100 and G1X are what we expect to see on the 5DmkIII.
Word had it that it would be a model down the EOS1DX with a larger autofocus area and a highly responsive frame burst.
If you have tried the EOS7D, the 5DmkIII would be a natural progression.
This new full-frame D-SLR from Canon is also said to be much more responsive than its predecessor.
That's good news if you shoot sports and action scenes that requires high-speed exposure.

A 'leaked' shot of the 5DmkIII on the internet
Worldwide announcement
March 2 has been set as the date of the EOS 5DmkIII's announcement.
We can expect to see plenty of 'teaser' shots of the camera, especially on and I do hope to catch a glimpse of the camera up close.

Pacific Reach

Bikes I would like to see in Malaysia...
Is there a folding bike that can equal a Dahon or better?
Well, depends on how you look at it.
But if you put the QC factor, cost and built quality, I'd say that my money is on the Pacific Cycles Reach folding bike.
This bike is actually a class above any bike that Dahon can throw at you.

Enter the Reach
To be honest, I've only seen one of such bikes here in Malaysia. 
Its owned by no other than the country's leading bikepacker TT Siang.
I am not carrying his ball, but merely stating the fact.
Siang rode this bike in Sekinchan and its pretty fast.
The Reach is a full-suspension bike with four configurations. 
There the Reach Racer, Trail bike, City and Super Light model.

The Pacific Reach in action at Sekinchan's paddy fields...
Quality, fit and finish
After seeing the Birdy folding bikes up close, I am convinced that the Reach series are well-built.
Its just that they don't have enough exposure here in Malaysia.
If the trend should continue into the following year, it will definitely an opportunity for the Reach to hit our shores as there's really nothing new on the horizon...


I do hope that KSH bikes would look into this as there is a vast potential of marketing it.
If they could sell a range of Birdys and the Carry me bikes, I am sure that there's a market for the Reach -- especially the Trail bike.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A little spruce-up

HTML codes
I know next to nothing about HTML programming.
When I set up the Malaysia Knife Forums a couple of years ago, I took a crash course on building a header for the Forums. 
This was to give it an identity of its own.
Later, Eric Wong, my buddy had helped out in designing a logo for the Malaysia Knife Forums.
When I did the Foldies Forum, it was bare.
I tweaked a bit with the HTML codes, which turned out to be a disaster.

Internet resources
I found a website that gave hands-on tutorial on HTML codes for forums.
This allowed me to experiment with different fonts and aligning the header by using the given codes. 
Well, basicall, it was 'cut and paste' thing and through tweaking here and there, I managed to get the words up.

Fonts and graphics
I had no issue building the font to its desired size.
But, the graphics has proven to be a challenge. A lot of pop art on the internet are copyrighted and I found the image of a bicycle for this purpose.
Although it was not a folding bike, its a start...

The header, still in its crude stage, but its as good as it gets...
A long way to go...
I am no artist and I think we have a long way to go in terms of getting things right. 
When the foldies forums was set up, we had a handful of people, mainly friends who had lend their support. 
I did asked around about doing the header, but no response. I guess people expect to get paid, well, that won't work - especially when Malaysian Foldies is a free forum.
Hopefully, there are talented people out there who can contribute to spruce up the looks of the forums. 
And since we've migrated from the Google Groups, things are looking really good! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Strider MSS

Tiger-striped knives
My first brush with Strider Knives was back in 2000.
I was at the New York Custom Knife Show (NYCKS) which was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan, NYC.
There was this table with some tiger-striped knives, mostly tanto-tipped blades, namely - the BT and BT-SS.
At that time, I had no tiger-striped finish and parachute cord-wrapped knives.

2001 Strider MF-S
I grew fond of small-sized utility knives.
One that caught my attention was the Strider MF-S which was offered as a pair with a Surefire M-2 Millennium Combat light.
The pair was sold at USD$400.
Even in the early days, a hollow-ground Strider MF-S would command a price of USD$200 a pop.
Today, if you can get hold of one, its a collector's item.
I picked up my MF-S double cord-wrapped knife from Matt Donohue of Matt D Tactical in 2003.
It was one of my earliest Strider knife.
A review I wrote on the MF-S 
Bigger and better
Years has passed and I have always been dreaming of a slightly longer version of the MF-S.
Parachute cord handles are not suitable especially when you deal with the hot and humid climate here in Malaysia.
The answer, is a G-10 thermoplastic scale.
Now, a few people had their MF-S customised with a G-10 slab and the people who did it were very good at doing so.
Last month, while browsing through's new items link, I saw the MSS. A longer version of the MF-S.
I wasted no time in contacting Dan Delavan, the store's owner who told me that he had a few of the knives in stock.
The moment I knew I had a fighting chance in scoring one, I made the call.
Dan was generous enough to ship the knife together with a Strider Rogue Warrior Tee-shirt to Malaysia.
This was my second Strider knife I bought from Plaza and its been a good working relationship.

Customs and permit
It took more than a week for the knife to arrive in Malaysia from the US.
The moment it hit our shores, I received a love letter from the PMK KLIA in Sepang.
It stated that I need to apply for a permit.
Having owned one, I went to the PMK and arranged to have it processed.
The Poslaju people earned RM18 from me for the paperwork while the Customs released the knife without no questions asked.
A letter from the Bukit Aman licensing department says it all.
I walked away with my new knife without flinching.

The MSS in its sheath with the MF-S beside it..

Robustly-built: Strider's utility knives - the MSS and MF-S
A good impression
Having lugged some of Mick Strider's knives in the jungle, I don't have any doubts on the built quality of his knives.
They are built like a tank and can take the abuse.
The MSS is no different.
I love the length, its G-10 handles and the Eagle Industries sheath which allows you to rig it for a low ride on your belt.
Best of all, is the sharpness. It shaves and can maintain an edge.
Once dulled, its easy to bring back its edge with a proper knife sharpener.
To me, all my prayers were answered on the MSS.
Its longer than the MF-S, which makes it really formidable in the jungle.
The G-10 grips felt really good on the hand and best of all, the blade length is really suitable to carry out some really hard cutting chores in the jungle.

Seeing is believing
Its hard to judge this piece by looking at the photo alone.
You've got to handle it to dig what I have to say.
So, if you have the chance, give the MSS a try!

Congratulations Shawal!

King of the track
I received a phone-call from Johnny Ng of My Bicycle shop.
He was elated with Shawal Shafee's win on the Folding Bike category race at the SIC Kencana Bike Day.
Shawal beat at least 20 cyclists to clinch the title in the category which he is also defending.

Congratulations: Shawal (right) after the race

Fastest man on a foldie: Shawal Shafee
 Sponsored cyslist
I was told by Ng that Shawal is a sponsored cyclist.
He rode a Dahon Dash P18 during the race and had proven to be a formidable cyclist.
"He did very well and left many of the cyclists behind during the race," said Ng.

Fastest foldie on the track
With the win, there's no doubt that Shawal will continue with his streak in similar events. 
I will be writing a feature about him in BaikBike soon.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

An offer you can't refuse..

A pre-order offer..
Canon Marketing Malaysia is offering its first 75 customers a dib at purchasing the Canon Powershot G1X at RM2,299 a pop.

An offer you can't refuse.. Only for EOS World members
The catch
If you are entitled, you have to cough up 10% up front for the purchase.
Upon remittance, Canon will contact you with further details.
But, if you get cold feet, the payment is non-refundable.

Best man wins!
Well, give and take, the goods are arriving in three week's time. So, if you are one of those competitive losers, chances are, you've already placed your order. 
Best thing to do, is to wait for a while till the dust settles and move in for the kill.. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Back to basic

My off days are coming to an end.
I spent the first two days doing my chores, cooking and some laundry.
Then, I had this inspiration of giving Ah Pan, my old buddy a call.
Later in the day, he rang me up and ask if I am coming over to Karak, which is about an hour's drive away from Subang Jaya.
I said 'yes' and went looking for my fishing gear.

The old faithful

I found my obsolete Shakespeare travel fishing rod and my Shakespeare Dimension ultralight reel which I had purchased many, many years ago.
Till now, they are in perfect working condition.
I packed these up and loaded it into my car.
"You going fishing?," Michelle asked.
"Yeah...," I responded.
I haven't been fishing for at least two years. 
Been busy with cycling and photography and had forsaken the most basic hobby.

On the road again...
I found myself on the East Coast Highway.
Destination: Bentong, Pahang.
Arrangements were made to meet Ah Pan at Aik Huat coffee shop in Bentong.
Now, this place is a favourite gathering spot for cyclists, and its also our meeting point.
Before I proceed, I had to drop him off at his mechanic's workshop in the outskirts of Bentong.
"Mr Sam! How are you?," asked Ah Hou, the mechanic.
This successful young man who runs a workshop had just invested in a Polygon Helios 900, and is a regular cycling kaki of Farmer Wong and Ah Pan.
I made my way to Farmer Wong's place in mukim Sertik and was surprised to find so much change has taken place.
The government is building a concrete bridge linking his farm to the outside world.
Farmer Wong's wife, Maggie, has moved out and is living in town with her son Wong Fei.
At the farmhouse, I found out that Ah Pan had inherited Farmer Wong's Colnago road bike, which is worth about RM20,000.
His room is full of bicycles now. I guess the cycling craze had gripped Farmer Wong.

Ah Pan and the bikes

Walking the dog and checking out the new fish pond
Plenty of catching up to do
Farmer Wong is a happy man.
His growing plot is the only Good Agricultural Practise (GAP) farm in Pahang.
Now, he is the prime example of hardwork.
I was also glad to see my article on his effort being pinned on his wall.
Wong told me that he had invested in freshwater fish aquaculture.
This is expected to generate about RM100K a year during harvest.
I am glad that things are working out for my friends..

A skill that will never go away.. 
I learned to fish at the age of 9.
And as far as I could remember, my first catch was a Tilapia (Tilapia mossambicus) landed on a handline at an abandoned housing project in Kampung Baru. 
I have fished in streams, lakes and the ocean. 
This outing is no different. 
I call it a refresher course..

My catch: A red Tilapia

The patience game

A decent lunch: Curry wild boar and a fried egg
Fishing is fun!
Ah Pan led me to a pond at the other side of the farm.
It was inhabited by an old farmer, who was paralyzed after a stroke some months back.
Today, he is in a great shape and to my surprise, the old dude speaks fluent English!
We spent a couple of hours fishing there, while the old farmer wanted some manure from Farmer Wong's place.
Ah Pan landed the most Tilapia which was released back to the pond.
I managed to land a few and before we knew it, the weather had ran foul.
We went back to the farm as I made my way back to Bentong to drop off Ah Pan at his mechanic's workshop.
Spent the evening in Bentong exploring some food stalls which I never knew existed and later head back out to the highway home.
To me, it was a weekend well-spent with friends. 
And Sunday, its back to the grind!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

All-weather compact cameras

Moisture destroys...
One of the best compact cameras I've ever used is the Canon Powershot G-12.
Its now in the workshop awaiting parts as moisture had seeped into the camera's circuit board.
Yes, I am guilty as charged for working the camera down.
Seems that sweat was the main cause as part of the steel plating in the camera had rusted.

Traditionally speaking.. 
All-weather cameras are a tough lot.
They can be dropped and dunked (well, to a certain threshold) and still snap away.

But, but, but, but... 
To make up for the ruggedness, the optical clarity and quality are sacrificed.
The image quality from such cameras are only so-so. Maybe with one exception, the Panasonic Lumix TS4.. Yeah, yeah, yeah.. I don't trust a company that makes refrigerators and washing machines to manufacture cameras.. 

Top 4 All-weather cameras

Panasonic Lumix TS4

The washing machine that captures images: Lumix TS4
With a street price of RM1.6k, the TS4 is top of the four contenders. 
Thanks to its Leica lens, this pocket camera is able to yield some sharp photos, even under low-light settings. Its GPS-enabled to allow Geo-tagging of your images. Best battery life I've come across so far.

Nikon AW-100

Hands-down, one of the best design in the lot
The Nikon guys got this one right. 
Compact, rugged, GPS-enabled and with a pricetag of RM1.1k (*discounted, add RM80 for a spare battery and a free 8GB SD card), it has the best purchase package. Available in four colours too! Image quality is just above average and if you sweat like a beast like me on your rides, you will appreciate this little bugger!

Olympus tough TG-810

Tough is the name, but image quality is not so game.. 
As far as I can remember, Olympus cameras have been manufacturing a lot of weatherproof pocket cameras.
The TG-810 is a fine example of the evolution. This camera can take a beating. But, image quality isn't the best around. Its also pricey and not as user-friendly as the others in its class..

Pentax WG-1

A featherweight camera, but not heavy weight in terms of image quality
I picked up a WG-1 for my buddy Bob.
The purpose was to get it for his King Scout trainee to record his progress.
This, thrown-in with a spare battery, was at a cost of RM1.6k. Very pricey despite its below-average image quality. My worry here is the humidity that is not friendly at all to its rubberized body. On a scale of 1 - 10, the WG-1 scores are meager 3. 

If you don't care about image quality, the all-weather cameras are there for you to record your day out at the beach, swimming pool, white water rafting and other activities where moisture can put your camera out of action.
The Panasonic, well, lived up to its washing-machine image, tops the list with its TS4, while Nikon is the number-two contender. I don't see any Canon compact camera that can come near all four cameras mentioned here. Perhaps, when I get my G1X, I might want to opt for a rain jacket so that sweat won't put it out of action!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Making friends through cycling

Ageing and the shrinking social circle...
Some guys can cope with middle-age while others look for ways to stay young.
The vain ones are still hanging out in clubs, hoping to score a one-night stand while living in denial.
Reality creeps in pretty fast.
At 40+, all the issues that shorten your life expectancy seeps in.
Heart problems, hypertension, diabetes, erectile dysfunction and the list keeps piling up.
One of the things that I really appreciate is that I keep making friends. 
Some are good, others are just there for you, a handful, well, they put you in place and remind you that the world isn't exactly what you see.

Cycling and meeting people
Michelle and I started to join peer groups. 
We needed to gain experience and as one of the gurus had stated it: "When its time to go, its time to go.."
We've met some really wonderful people and some really nasty ones too!
Nowadays, with work commitment piling up to my chin, joining social rides would be a real challenge. 
I've been put to work on days where such an event is held.
Being a leisure cyclist on a folding bike, I don't see myself on the starting line, so, competitive events are considered a no-no

New found friends: At Putrajaya with Mr KW Mui and son Samuel
The good, bad and ugly
I must say that 70% of the people I met are good, while 20% were ugly and the rest are just plain simple bad.
With folding bikes gaining popularity, the pioneer batch of cyclists whom I met a couple of years ago had moved one. Some had dropped out of the scene.
There are more new cyclists nowadays and I can see them popping up at events.
Most were too new to explore the great outdoors on their own.
Nowadays, I rather keep things simple and do my own trips with Michelle.
We agreed that there are people out there who are shameless enough to take advantage of the more experienced cyclists by making them do everything from planning trips, changing their inner tubes and even paying for their meals. 
Sad, but true...

Light at the end of the tunnel...
Well, I got to say that not all is lost.
Some folks are still sincere and the reason why they take up cycling is to have fun.
Gone on my list, are the ambitious ones who take credit for things they didn't do, people who take full advantage of cyclists to promote their goods and idiots who endanger the lives of cyclists who ride with them..
I've met some people who are stand-up guys. They do things without putting themselves in the limelight and never let ego get in the way. I wish there are more of them, but these guys are there to pull things together, which is a blessing! You can never ask for more...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wenger Ranger S55 Official World Scout Knife

A decent find..
Last year, I made a trip to Singapore.
While combing the shelves at a popular shopping mall in Orchard Road, I came across a Wenger S18 Official World Scout knife.
Its also one of the latest design by Wenger, the other official contractor for the Swiss Army, featuring an evo-grip design.
Unlike its predecessors, which are mainly plain looking, the World Scout knife is very appealing.
What made it even more endearing, was a gift box that comes with the knife.
And with a little discount thrown-in, I paid about $45 Singapore Dollars for the find.
Ironically, there is a smaller version which was more expensive.
I've been keeping the S18 ever since..

Little boy and big guy: The Ranger 55 and S18
Some recent development..
I found out that there is a dealer selling Wengers in Kuala Lumpur.
Its been a while since these knives are actually seen on the shelves.
To add to my collection, I was searching for the Ranger S55, a larger version of the official World Scout Knife which is also offered on the World Scout Movement's on-line store.
This knife retails for USD67 from a retailer on Ebay. Shipping it to Malaysia, is a different story...
So, after doing some homework, I traced the distributor of Wenger Swiss Army Knives to a phone number somewhere in the city centre.
I managed to get hold of the guy who is responsible for bringing in the knife and was told that the S55 was available..

The waiting game.. 
So, I told the guy, who is a very nice person and also passionate about his product, about the official World Scout Knife.
"I have it somewhere.."
His assurance was its availability and a decent price. 
I waited and finally, an email came.
Its ready for pick-up and we set a place to meet for the deal.
After inspecting the Ranger S55, which is in pristine condition, I cut the deal with the seller. 
And my collection is complete!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

First impressions: Olympus OM-D

Is it worth it? 
I attended a product launch today at a fancy restaurant in Damansara.
Well, my main intention was to hand back the Olympus EP-3 loan camera which I had used for a couple of weeks.
Other than that, it was to touch-base with my contact who represented Olympus Malaysia in Public Relations.
The guy was pushing for me to purchase the new Olympus OM-D.
I sat through an hour of presentation of the entire Olympus product for 2012 and the place was really crowded.
Since the geek from our tech page was in attendance, I was just scouring in the background. 

Olympus camera's OM-D complements its micro four-third system
Changing the game...
I kinda lost interest in all the jibba jabba given by the Olympus product manager on their new OM-D camera.
Big words like: "Changing the game" was used repeatedly throughout the session.
As far as I am concerned, there are many choices when it comes to an interchangeable lens system to cover the serious amateur market.
For the OM-D, Olympus is pushing its five-axis image stabilizer and electronic viewfinder.
And all the marketing and sales jargon was thrown-in by the Olympus dude to draw the crowd.
I kinda dig the weather-sealing, but with a pricetag of RM4K for the camera body with the 12-50mm F3.5 - 6.3 kit lens, I think this camera is way overpriced.
Kit lenses, even with a motorised zoom and weather-sealed protection, does not impress me.
At the end of the day, its a coke bottle lens.
And for my kind of work, even though the camera is rugged and compact, the sheer looks of it could be just too 'intrusive'

It would take a lot to sway my views on purchasing this camera.
No, I don't need a micro four-third, not when I still have my reliable G-system from Canon. 
The factor that would sink the OM-D is the price. Too expensive, too much for so little. So, better luck with the next OM camera..

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The OM returns..

It's back!
After making an exit in the early 90s, the Olympus OM system is back.
Re-incarnated as a micro four-third system, the new OM boasts of weather-sealing while it maintains its compact size.

A noteworthy camera..
I remember the OM system when I was a kid.
A camera shop at the Koperasi Supermarket in Jalan Raja Bot, Kuala Lumpur used to sell a full-range of the OM system.
As a matter of fact, the OM-1 was a favourite camera among students in the 70s and 80s.
The most sought-after OM was the OM-4ti, which was complemented with a full-range of Zuiko lenses.
Sadly, when film was outdated, so did the entire OM system.

The Olympus OM-D
A new beginning..
There's a lot of excitement about this new camera and it will be launched in Malaysia on Feb 09 (tomorrow).
This new SLR-styled camera will be competing directly with the micro four-thirds from Panasonic.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sayonara G-12...

Good to the last pixel.. 
I have had no regrets getting the Powershot G12. 
It was a replacement for my ageing G10 'enthusiast' camera and had proven to be a reliable asset. 
As far as Ringgit and Sen is concerned, the G12 was worth every bit of blood, sweat and tears I've put in.
It was my primary camera used for work as well as leisure.

Of late, I noticed that all the function buttons on its back panel could not be activated.
Even the zoom feature was disabled.
I sent this to the Canon service centre and received an SMS from them the very day it was sent in for service.
Relieved and elated, I was hoping to use this camera for at least another six months before retiring it.
But to my utter disappointment, the problems were still apparent even though the technicians at Canon had cleaned up the camera.
A watermark on the panel had indicated that moisture had seeped-in.
This is true as sweat from my body had trickled down into the camera each time I bring the G12 out for my ride.

To prove his point, the technician even showed me the rusted panel which can be seen only when the camera is disassembled. 

Well-used, the G12
Right now, I am seriously looking at the Powershot G1X.
This is not scheduled to be released here in Malaysia until late March or early April.
It has an estimated pricetag of RM2.4K (from USD$799 on most on-line retail outlets) and I am sure that it will serve very well as the G12's replacement..

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pooch portraiture: Queenie

My favourite pup
Queenie has bee with us for six years.
I never get bored taking snapshots of my female Siberian Husky and she's pretty capable of some natural poses with a range of expressions.


Most of the shots were taken in natural light. Shutter speed at 1/60 and aperture F2.5. I set the picture mode on Monochrome and adjusted the contrast a bit to bring out the rich grey tones. Portrait shots work very well with a vertical framing and this never fails. All you need, is patience to capture a range of expression on your subject.

First impressions: Olympus EP-3

A good impression..
I managed to meet up with the public relations people for Olympus Camera Malaysia and talked them into loaning one of their micro four-third system for my food walkabout.
To test it out, I brought the Olympus Pen EP-3 for a spin.
It was my second century ride to Bagan Lalang and I tested this camera which was equipped with a 14-42mm lens.
Now, unlike Panasonic and Samsung, the Olympus micro four-third system is well-backed.
You don't have to worry about lenses and accessories.
Compared to the Pana-retard's Lumix series cameras, the Pen series cameras are never short of surprises. Which is impressive.

My loan camera: the Olympus EP-3

Image quality
On a scale of 1-10, the picture quality on an Olympus Pen would rate at 5.5.
The lens that came with my loan camera is an entry-level piece.
In short, its a coke-bottle lens.
I don't have high expectations on the 14-42mm lens, which makes a really cool 'walkabout' lens on the compact EP-3. 
Truth to be told, there are high-quality lenses made by third-party manufacturers that you can use to snap better images with the EP-3.
But the 14-42mm lens is a good start.
With a price tag of RM3.19K, the EP-3 is not for the beginner. 
It complements your D-SLR system on sets that don't require all the extra bells and whistles.
Most of the shots taken on the EP-3 was point-and-shoot. So, I don't really expect a lot.
Its a departure from using an 'enthusiast' compact camera like the Canon Powershot G12 which I've gotten so used to.

One tough mutha!
All good things said and done, I am pretty impressed with the overall built quality of the EP-3. Even though its made entire in China.
The QC on the body was really good.
I am not used to the controls and could not find an exposure lock and many of the self-timed shots were underexposed.
The pop-up flash on this camera is also too weak to fill-in for simple snapshot images.
Compared to the G12, the EP3 is flawed with its built-in flash.
Other than that, I don't have much to complain about the overall image quality as 70% of the captured shots were decent.
With the zoom lens, you can actually shoot with dept-of-field.
There are eight shooting mode including movie, I only used three at the most.
The preset shooting mode was some funky art filter. I had to re-set the camera to its factory settings to get the most out of it.
And when it comes to testing this baby, I took it out for two trips.
First was to Bagan Lalang and the second outing was to Tanjung Piai. 
The battery life on the EP-3 exceeded my expectations and I must say that it pretty much held up to the continous shooting and review on the LCD screen. It took some effort to wear down the battery.

Sample shots

The EP-3 is a fun and pretty nippy camera to play with.
It has a range of lens you can acquire to enhance your range of photographic angles. From landscape to portraiture, the possibilities are endless.
My only beef with this camera is the touch-screen snapshots, which is unnecessary (it clicks when it comes to contact with your body).
Otherwise, the Olympus Pen EP-3 is a worthwhile system to consider if you want something small and un-intrusive for your work.
As for shooting food photos for my Food Trail column, the Pen cameras are a good choice.