Tag Archives: Japan Ramen

Canon EOS 5DS R Review

The Canon EOS 5DS R was launched in February 2015, together with the Canon EOS 5DS. Both were pretty similar in technical specifications, with the EOS 5DS R having the optical low pass filter (LPF) cancellation feature inside them, a feature that makes it stand out from the rest of the other Canon EOS DSLR family.

I reviewed the Canon EOS 5DS camera previously in the month of November 2015. My overall experience was good, the EOS 5DS was an excellent camera with the capabilities of their 50.6 megapixels sensor along with their dual Digic 6 processors. Ever since I completed my EOS 5DS review, I wanted to review her sister camera that was launched together, the Canon EOS 5DS R. While there was a bit of time lag between these 2 reviews, I was thankful and grateful that I was able to obtain a review unit for my travel photography trip to Hokkaido in October 2016.

Before I proceed on further, let me recap on the techinical specifications of the Canon EOS 5DS R –

Dimensions: Approx. 152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm

Weight: Approx. 845g (body only)

Image sensor: 50.6 megapixel CMOS sensor

Imaging processor: Dual DIGIC 6

ISO speed: 100-6400 (expandable to 50 and 12 800)

Continuous shooting speed: 5 fps

Maximum video format: Full HD 30p

AF: 61-points Phase Difference AF with iTR AF

LCD: Wide 3.2-inch (1.04 million dots) 

Prior to this review, I did had a hands on experience with the Canon EOS 5DS R during a heritage outing with Canon Singapore and National Heritage Board in July 2015, visiting places of worship in Singapore. I requested to try out the EOS 5DS R for this outing and I got the chance! Check out the url links for the photographs that I took with the EOS 5DS R and my heritage tour article!

Therefore, in that short half day heritage tour, I had seen first hand for myself the capabilities of the EOS 5DS R. The photographs had great vivid colours, that would be ideal for landscape photography whereby this would stand out during spring and autumn seasons. In the later part of my article, I would be writing about my Hokkaido autumn travel photography and you would be able to view for yourself, not just the vivid colours, also the sharpness and details.

During my trip to Hokkaido in October 2016, I brought the Canon EOS 5DS R with two lenses, EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM and EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM. I have uploaded my Hokkaido autumn 2016 photographs into a collection on my Flickr account, do visit and take a look at the photographs that I took in Hokkaido!

Sharpness and details

When I was traveling in Hokkaido with the Canon EOS 5DS R, I was amazed by the quality of the photographs, the sharpness and details can be seen a lot more in the photographs that I shot with.

The big image sensor size and quality of the EOS 5DS R, requires high quality lenses to be paired with it, such as the Canon L family of lenses. During my trip to Hokkaido, I had the opportunity to test out one of the latest L lens, the EF 16-35mm f/4 L USM and an older EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM lens.

Using the EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens, I was able to achieve consistent, sharp and detailed photographs for my landscapes and walkabout travel photography. While for the slightly older L lens, there were times whereby I was able to capture excellent, sharp and detailed photographs, there were also a number of times whereby the photographs were not sharp and detailed, especially in the longer focal length of the lens.

This is not to state that the EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM lens is not a good lens, I have been faithfully using this lens for years (and still using it), another of my workhorse lens and I love it for its lightweight, capabilities and optics.

After I came back from Hokkaido, I met with a few photographer friends and had a chat with them on my observation. Having such a big image sensor size does have its own challenges, not all the lenses can bring out the best of the quality and capabilities of the EOS 5DS R. The Canon EF L lenses have the capabilities and abilities to bring the best out of the EOS 5DS R, and in my personal humble opinion, I would recommend that the latest L lenses would be more suitable and capable to do so.

Flexibility of dual card slots – SD + CF

The dual card slots is really ideal for photographers, for example, landscape photographers can choose to shoot both in RAW and JPEG format, separately into each designated storage card.

This would allow the photographer to have both types of files to work on, depending on their workflow or requirements. Some photographers may choose to work on the JPEG files and store the RAW files aside for future usage, as and when it is required.

File size

The 50.6 megapixel EOS 5DS R produces a huge file size for JPEG and even much bigger file size for RAW files. The huge file sizes on both JPEG and RAW would take up a lot of resources on your computer as well as your storage space.

For future owners of the EOS 5DS R or the EOS 5DS, a more powerful computer would really be ideal (highly recommended) and you would also need more disk storage space (external, internal or cloud)

EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM review

Canon has an excellent line up of constant aperture wide angle zoom lens such as the EF 17-40mm f/4 L and EF 16-35 f/2.8 L lenses. I personally own the EF 17-40mm f/4 L lens and I am not just a huge fan of this lens, this was also my workhorse lens. I can’t bear to let go of the EF 17-40mm f/4 L for another Canon wide angle lens. However, if I ever going to upgrade, I would choose the EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens, over the f/2.8 counterparts.

I reviewed the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens a number of times and I started to love this lens. This is an excellent lens, lightweight with image stabilisation (IS), you can also use it for recording videos. Optics is really excellent, coupled with a big image sensor such as the EOS 5DS R 50.6 megapixel CMOS sensor, you have an excellent camera and lens combination. This combination of EOS 5DS R and EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM is highly suitable for landscape photographers, event photographers and travel photographers.

Final thoughts on Canon EOS 5DS R

This would be an excellent camera for landscape photographers, who like/are comfortable with the 35mm format. Match it with Canon’s latest wide angle lenses or their latest L lenses and you have an ideal and powerful camera and lens combination. With the 50.6 megapixels sensor, photographers would be able to have high quality images with a lot more details and sharpness.

While I am still predominantly a sports/events photographer with my Canon EOS 1DX, I do have a portfolio on travel photography. Photographers do (always) face the dilemma of wanting a few camera bodies yet it takes up space and they can be a hefty investment cost. For my future travel photography assignments, whether it is commissioned or personal travel, I would look into renting the EOS 5DS R to fulfil the job.

The EOS 5DS R is not just confined to landscape/travel photographers, other photography fields can also consider them too, probably just as good for product shoot photography! Portraiture photography would be a lot more sharp and having more details, this might be very good or too sharp with too many details for your liking, depending on your job requirements!

This is a “monster” DSLR camera, it can be a very powerful camera and it is able to give medium format a run for its money (although it would not be a very fair comparison between 35mm and medium format). In order to bring out the best of the EOS 5DS R, pair it with the latest Canon L lenses such as the EF 11-24mm f/4 L USM, EF 16-35 f/2.8L III USM and EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM, EF 24-70mm f/4 L IS USM, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS II USM and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM.

I would like to thank Canon Singapore and Ogilvy Public Relations for the Canon EOS 5DS R review opportunity.


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Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 0

20th October 2016 – Day 0

My Hokkaido 2016 photography adventure began in the early morning of Thursday 20th October. I was taking Scoot TZ 216 to Sapporo (Hokkaido) New Chitose via Taipei, departure at 0615hrs. Scoot currently fly to Sapporo (Hokkaido) three times a week with their Dreamliner 787. This is an travel route worth considering for those who wish to fly to Hokkaido on a budget.

The Scoot flight schedule was as follows

TZ 216

0615hrs – 1045hrs Taipei (Taoyuan International Airport)

1155hrs – 1700hrs Sapporo, Hokkaido (New Chitose Airport)

During my flight from Singapore to Taipei, the flight encountered some gusty cross winds and a bit of heavy air traffic at Taoyuan, causing the plane to be slightly delayed in their arrival timing. The transit procedure wasn’t too difficult, just like any other transit procedure at international airports. After another round of hand carry baggage security check, I was back at the departure gate to board my next leg of flight from Taipei to Sapporo.

Overall, the flight from Singapore to Sapporo via Taipei was pretty smooth with the usual turbulence along the flight route. I did manage to capture the sunset at Hokkaido from my seat prior to the plane landing at New Chitose Airport.

Upon landing at New Chitose Airport, night time has arrived in Hokkaido. After clearing immigration, my friend, Kato san, who is also my Hokkaido Photo Guide for Days 4 to 7, picked me from the airport and gave me a lift to Otaru where I based myself for the next 4 nights

While driving along the highway from New Chitose Airport to Otaru, snow rain fell on the highway, winter season kind of arrived early for Hokkaido and my friend Kato san said, “The snow welcomes you back to Hokkaido!” This is really awesome but I am not prepared for early Hokkaido winter! The snow rain was pretty heavy at some stage and Kato san had to drive more slowly and carefully!

Upon reaching Otaru, we went for dinner together and I chose ramen for a cold chilly autumn night. My first Hokkaido meal, was simply amazing, authentic ramen in Japan! I had a good chat and catch up with Kato san, he also passed me some brochures and tourism information for the areas that I wanted to explore on my own during my first 3 days in Hokkaido.

My hotel was Dormy Inn Premium Otaru, right in front of JR Otaru station, very ideal location, they have onsen too! After checking in and settling down, I immediately head towards the onsen! I missed the onsen experience in Hokkaido, it was really amazing, soothing and relaxing, allowing me to have a good sleep on my first night in Hokkaido!

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 0


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Hokkaido Autumn 2016


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Central/Eastern Hokkaido Day 2 – Shari, Teshikaga, Tsurui, Akan

Waking up to a cold and chilly Hokkaido morning, looking through the windows from my hotel room, I can spot the rain clouds over the horizon and rain falling down over a part of the sea and coastal area. After a hearty breakfast, having a good mix of local and international cuisines. We checked out and were getting ready to start our Day 2 Photographer Invitation Program schedule. Just as we were loading the luggage and getting into the mini bus, it started snowing!

Yes, it was getting colder with the snowing and strong winds!! We all got pretty excited with the snow falling down on us; it’s lovely and magical!! While it was not my first time experiencing snow, I loved playing with the snow!! We started our Day 2 journey by making a quick pit stop at Utoro harbour. It was snowing and with sea winds blowing, it was cold!

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Mr. Tsuyoshi Kato was our Professional Japanese Photographer guide (he’s also our photo guide, translator and driver for our entire adventure) for our Day 2 schedule and he was very awesome, he knew when and where to stop for photographers to take photographs because he is a photographer himself!

Road to Heaven(天に続く道)

In this area, Shari, Hokkaido, there is a road named “Road to Heaven”. Why is this road so special? Road to Heaven is distinctively Hokkaido, it is the Route 334/244, Shari-cho, Shari Hokkaido, Japan / 17km straight route. The Road to Heaven is straight, with leading lines that ends at the sea. My photographer friend David, who visited Hokkaido before, shared with me about the Road to Heaven, how uniquely it is to Hokkaido and the best time to photograph Road to Heaven is during Autumn (the time that I visited) when the leaves had fallen down and the whole Road to Heaven is very distinct! While we were up there enjoying the top of Road to Heaven, we, the band of photographers had a fun time doing and taking jump shots!

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As we continued driving along the road to our next stop, Lake Kussharo, we were mesmerized by the snow conditions. Along the road, Mr. Kato-san found a nice spot and stopped his mini-bus, we came down, took photographs of the snow filled landscape on the fields and trees. Mr. Kato-san also built a snowman and we took turns to hold the cute snowman for a photo! I had a fun time playing with the snow!

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Lake Kussharo (屈斜路湖)

Driving on from Shari to Teshikaga, our next stop was at Lake Kussharo. The road trip was special and unique, on one side of the Hokkaido roads, it was filled with snowfall, while on the other side of the road, and it was autumn colours. The unique natural beauty of Hokkaido, two seasons, autumn and winter side by side.

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Lake Kussharo is the caldera lake in Akan National Park, upon reaching Lake Kussharo; we can feel the cold autumn/winter weather with strong winds blowing ast us. I wasn’t wearing gloves when taking photographs and it can really be tough on my hands! I recommend photographers to get gloves when visiting countries during winter season! The beautiful and cute swans at Lake Kussharo were pretty friendly and not afraid of human beings! We were pretty close to them and took some close up shots of the swans!

Mt. Iou(硫黄山)

Continuing on with our travel schedule, we departed from Lake Kussharo and drove towards our next stop Mt Iou. It is an active volcano, one of the mountains in Akan National Park. With the smell of sulphur in the air and on the rocks, we spent some time there taking photos at the sulphur rocks with steam coming out from the ground and rocks.

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Teshikaga-Ramen(弟子屈ラーメン)

I was told this was the best Ramen in Hokkaido (if not one of the best) and I was very eagerly looking forward to eating Ramen in Hokkaido. Nothing beats eating Ramen in Japan! Here are the details for Teshikaga-Ramen –

1-1-18 Mashu, Teshikaga-cho, Hokkaido, JAPAN

Tel: (+81)(0)15-482-5511

Opening Hours: 11:00-20:00 (Everyday)

I love Ramen and Teshikaga-Ramen was delicious and tasty! You have to try it if you have the chance!

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Lake Mashu (摩周湖)

After our tasty and delicious Ramen lunch at Teshikaga-Ramen, we continued with our schedule, traveling up to Lake Mashu. This is similar to Lake Kussharo, Lake Mashu is the caldera lake in Akan National Park and Lake Mashu has the reputation of the cleanest lake in the world. It was snowing at the top of Lake Mashu, snow was covering the tracks, lookout point and visitor centre. It was rather misty due to the weather; nevertheless, we were able to view the beautiful Lake Mashu from the top.

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Tsurui Village (Aza Nakasetsuri Minami, Tsurui-mura, Akan-gun, Hokkaido, JAPAN)

Arriving at Tsurui Village, we visited and stopped by a private park, where the owners reserved it for Japan’s national icon, the red-crown crane, known as the tancho zuru. The birds were given space to rest and feed at the park, away from the human beings. We were able to watch and observe the red-crown cranes from behind a wooden fence.

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I took out my EF 400mm f5.6 prime lens (Thanks to David for lending me for this trip!) and attached it to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II for bird photography action. It was a pretty good combination; lightweight and portable, ideal for bringing it for travel overseas.

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With my interest in avian photography, my experiences came in handy and I took a number of shots of the red-crown cranes in action. I was hoping for the cranes in flight, however, luck wasn’t on my side! However, I did manage to get a red-crown crane landing though!

We then drove to an open field near the river and was waiting patiently for the red-crown cranes to fly over here during the evening where they will be resting after feeding at other locations. We were not able to spot any of the red-crown cranes in flight and due to sunset and lighting conditions, we had to leave and drive to our next destination, Akankosou, our hotel for the second night.

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Akankosou (阿寒湖荘)

Our hotel for the second night of our travel itinerary, my maiden experience experiencing a traditional Japanese accommodation!

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This was also my maiden experience with Kaiseki, a traditional Japanese dinner! If you have the opportunity to experience Kaiseki in Japan, go for it!

Here are the details for Akankosou

〒085-0467 1-5-10 Akanko-Onsen, Akan-cho, Kushiro Hokkaido, JAPAN

Tel: (+81)(0)154-67-2231

The Japanese food dishes that we had during the Kaiseki, it was really awesome, beyond any more words to describe them. Our food photographs and priceless expressions after tasting the food would be the best testimonial to the amazing quality and standards of Japanese cuisine. We were in Food Heaven!

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Mt Hakuto(白湯山)

Before heading into onsen, we, this band of photographers decided to go out for a night Star Trail/Milky Way shoot (after official itinerary photography outing). Akankosou was kind enough to provide us with a guide and car to bring us out! With their local knowledge experience, the guide brought us to this location known as Mt. Hakuto; 5mins drive from Akankosou, at a height of 950m.

When we stepped out of the car and looked up into the Lake Akan night sky, we were immediately blown away by the amount of beautiful shining stars right above us. The stars brightened the dark Lake Akan skyline up and it was such a memorable experience for all of us! At times, we just wanted to lie down and do star gazing instead of photographing the Star Trails/Milky Way. We played with light painting and long night exposure photography too!

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Returning back to our hotel, Akankosou, we went to enjoy the onsen and relax for the night. Day 2 of our travel program had been very fun and it was one of the most memorable travel days out of the 4 days.


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