They say the best camera you have is the one you have with you at all times. And when you go around vacation hot spots and bring with you your bulky equipment, it could sometimes bog down an otherwise easy-going trip.
Luckily, smartphones have been beefing up their internals so photo and video documentation could somewhat be at par (if not better) than some digital recording devices. Take Asus’ update on the widely received ZenFone Zoom, the ZenFone 3 Zoom.
The ZenFone Zoom packs two (2) 12-megapixel cameras working simultaneously allowing you to catch any moment desired. The ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih exclaimed that the ZenFone 3 Zoom is a “photographic dream machine” during the unveiling at CES2017 (one of the larger consumer electronic shows globally).
Both cameras do different things as you’ll see in this spec sheet:
This mix and match of cameras, lenses and processor means that your photos can come out crisper and clearer on practically any setting you may so desire.
We took the Zoom during our past 2 trips in Malaysia and in El Nido and here are some stunning photos taken by the phone’s dual camera.
The ZenFone 3 Zoom can take complex lighting parameters and make sense with the various sensors that it has.
Even if the sun is shining so bright, it calibrates so that your photos do not come out over exposed.
Cat statue in Kuching, Sarawak, Malasia. Taken around 12noon
Colors come out vibrant without the need to add filters.
Taken at around 10:30am at Apulit Resort, El Nido, Palawan
Of course, the distinct advantage of the camera, as the name implies, is its 12x zoom. To make it effective, though, we suggest putting your phone on a stand or tripod.
The power of 12x Zoom!
Macro photography is pretty easy as well as the camera tends to shift lens instantaneous depending on what you need to shoot at that moment.
Shot at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
The front-facing camera produces decent selfies as well. With a 13-megapixel f/2.0 lens, capturing selfies and even groufies becomes really easy.
With Nicole Batac of 2.0 Magazine on our way to Apulit Resort, El Nido, Palawan for Epson Fusion 8
Pre-departure with the one and only Superstar Nora Aunor and a host of other Pinoy greats going to Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia.
Because of the 2 rear camera sensors, the ZenFone 3 Zoom is able to handle various night-time photography shots with better output than its predecessor. Whether you’re off to more formal evening affairs
Mr. Bernardo Bernardo holding the AIFFA 2017 trophy for their work with Imbisibol at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
or something a liiiitle bit rowdier, you don’t have to worry about not catching that shot.
AIFFA Festival Director Livan Tajang, Director Raymond Red and Cannes Best Actress Winner Ms. Jacklyn Jose at the JUNK, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
The ZenFone 3 Zoom can also record at 4K, which comes in particularly useful if you’re fond of creating nifty vacation vids.
While we’re not discounting a standalone camera’s worth, we just find it more convenient to bring a phone that packs a pretty solid camera as your main lens when traveling. The ease of convenience, the varied 3rd party apps that instantaneously enhances photos and videos quickly, and the on-the-spot sharing of creative content on social makes bringing a smartphone the more practical (if not ideal) choice. And with ZenFone 3 Zoom’s whopping 5000 mAH internal battery, you can take as much photos and videos as you want without worrying about your phone dying soon. In our travels, the phone lasted usually a day before we had to recharge it again. Not bad indeed.
If you’re in the market for a sensible smartphone that has amazing camera options, the ZenFone 3 Zoom might be the phone for you. It’s currently priced at Php 23, 990 and available nationwide through official distributors of ASUS goods.
For more technical reading on the ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom, head over to our sister site’s feature:
ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom Review: Second Time’s The Charm
Leave your bulky camera at home! The ZenFone Zoom is all you need for travel!
What makes a fine suit? Is it the pop in color, the trendiness of the cut, the Avant Garde materials? If you ask the people from Ermengildo Zegna, one of the stalwarts of Made-to-Measure suits in Italy and across the globe, they’ll say it’s the confluence of tradition, fine craftsmanship and superb quality materials. It’s the exact measurement, the precise cut and the choice combinations of fabric that brings the suit together. Perhaps it’s this obsession with perfection that charged them when they launched their Essenze fragrance line.
In 2012, Zegna launched five high-end private-labeled fragrances under the Essenze line. The perfume celebrates the exquisite ingredients more than, maybe, the actual blend of the finished product. The underlying hero note across all the variants would be the one of the most used oils in fragrance making, the Calabria Bergamot.
The blend of the fragrance uses a higher quality (if not the highest quality) of the bitter citrus oil. To maintain this, Zegna decided to create, maintain and cultivate their own Bergamot farm. This makes a whole lot of sense, given where the brand started. In 1910, Ermenegildo Zegna was more known for its supplies of extremely high quality fabric for suit-making. In fact, the brand is one of the most biggest global producers of fine fabrics with renowned fashion brands acting as their main patrons (likes of Gucci, Yves Saint Lauren, Dunhill and Tom Ford).
By being the owner of the main ingredient in your collection, you can be assured that they will be using the finest Italian Bergamot available. That being said, Zegna’s Essenze is an exercise in appreciating luxury.
You see, Essenze, despite its price, is void from the usual pomp and grandeur that the usual fragrances this price range offers. In its stead, the Essenze line offers you the most exquisite versions of tradition and craftsmanship. It’s like tasting the best slice of Tuna Sashimi or enjoying a sip from an 18-year old Macallan. The note composition isn’t exactly innovative, but the sublime quality used to create the perfume is just perfect that it’s hard to find fault with the line. Even with average juice performance, the crisp, well-balanced fragrances makes up for any perceived flaws. Bottling is exceptional as well, with the juice luxuriously encapsulated within the squared bottles with magnetic caps.
They’ve expanded the variants ever since 2012 and have even offered friendlier flankers like the Acqua Di Bergamotto – that is almost identical to their signature scent Italian Bergamot except with a more pronounced aqua accord (and half the price).
Still, despite all this, Ermenegildo Zegna’s Essenze remains to be one of the most underrated fragrance line in the fragrance community. There’s hardly any hype or discussion among the various fragrance community.
Personally, I highly recommend this for serious perfume collectors. If you want a feel of the classic, it’s best to start with Italian Bergamot – the scent that truly launched the line (and highlights the hero note of the collection).
If you still want a citrusy-scent that packs a punch, go with Mediterranean Neroli, a 2016 release. This, my friends, is one of the best neroli-centric scents ever. Perfectly balanced, has good longevity and projection.
Florentine Iris is pure class. The story goes that it took them 6 years to plant, cultivate, harvest, dry aged and produce the Iris oil used in this fragrance. A scent that’s more suited for very expensive dinners, Florentine Iris is sublime in its beauty. Metallic-floral majestically mixes with soft musk to produce one of the best Iris scents I have ever had the pleasure of smelling.
Javanese Patchouli is an aromatic modern take on the classic herb. It’s astringent, clean but transforms into this creamy earthy tone because of the Tonka. I am pretty much addicted to this!
And speaking of earthy, let’s not discount the king of barbershop scents, Haitian Vetiver. This rooty, earthy yet clean Vetiver is one of the few that propelled my fragrance addiction as well.
Indonesian Oud is an interesting take on the classic oud (agarwood) – rose combo. While majority of the oud-rose fragrances convey a thick, warm scent, Zegna managed to translate the complex and heavy oils to the line’s DNA of sublime luxury. Indonesian Oud doesn’t scream its presence but stays reserve and looming, waiting for you to be captured in its majestic spell. This is one of the brightest and easiest ouds I have ever sampled. It’s a testament to how well-balanced the blend is that even if you’re averse to strong scents, Indonesian Oud by Zegna is something that’s easy to acclimate towards to.
And to round things off, there’s Peruvian Ambrette, a fragrance that utilizes natural plant-based musk, Orris seeds and soft leather to produce probably the most complex of the fragrance mixes of the line. It starts off medicinal but the dry down is sublime and brimming with luxury!
Essenze in essence, has little to do with opulence but has everything to do with squeezing the best out of the most basic of substances. It’s the perfect balance, the right cut, the finest fabrics, the Italian Suit that’s made just for you –it’s subjecting one’s craft to the highest possible standard allowing you to expose its, well, essence.
If you pass by Rustan’s Shagrila Plaza or Glorietta, and you want to go beyond the usual designer and/or overly overpriced “niche” fragrances, check this line out. Some of the scents make me want to play Kate Hudson’s Cinema Italiano in 2009’s film adaptation of the 1982 Tony Awards Winner, Nine. “Style is the new content…they wanna ride on a Vespa down the Via Veneto. They wanna live in an Italian movie.”
Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze retails for Php 11,500 for 125ml bottle. There are times when Rustan’s will go on a buy 1 take 1 deal. It’s rare but it happens.
While filming an episode of Helpless Gamer for our other geeky blog site, Ungeek.ph, I chanced upon this quirky contraption at Spectre Manila –a gentleman’s one-stop-shop lifestyle store of sort.
Cut, Shave, Suits, Bag, Shoes and Solid Perfumes at Spectre Manila
Tucked away in the quiet streets of Luna Mencias Street at Addition Hills (just right beside Shaw Blvd), Spectre is the place for you to go to if you a quick haircut and shave or be measured by distinguished tailors to have your exquisite suit custom-made for you. This is also where I first heard and learned about Fulton & Roark and the wonders of Solid Perfumery.
The simple utilitarian truth about perfume is that it’s hard to bring it with you always if you want to refresh your scent. You can keep them in your bag handy or transfer them to smaller decant and travel spritzers like Travalo but it’s not as comfortably handy and as elegant as you’d want it to be. For one, it’s weird to re-apply right smack at the middle of a night out. For more discreet application, solid perfume would be your best alternative.
Fulton & Roark understood this behavior and decided to create a solution that looks and feels, well, quite manly.
The Solid Cologne line from Fulton & Roark combines sleek utilitarian function with stylish application. There are two case variants from Fulton & Roark. The regular one comes in a brushed silver metal ware while the limited edition comes in glossy gunmetal. These solid containers are built to last—shatterproof and can be carried anywhere and anytime (gym bag, pocket, carry-on luggage, etc.).
While Spectre carries various scent variants, you only really need one container as the scents can be interchanged via refill cartridges that snap directly on the case via magnets.
To use, you simply just slide the lid open, like a switchblade, take a few swipes on the aromatic wax and dab it lightly on your pulse points. Repeat as often as you like. 😉
The collection also comes in various scent profiles ranging from green, aquatic, fresh to woody.
TYBEE and LTD. RESERVED NO. 03 is probably the most mass appealing from the group. That’s not saying they’re too generic to warrant interest, they’re not. TYBEE is a gorgeous aromatic with nuances of rosewood, cedar and white musk grounding the scent together while Ltd. Reserved No. 03 smells like expensive soap from some 5-star hotel resort somewhere halfway across the world. Green Citrus with slight touches of balmy labdanum and slightly smoky/ slightly green vetiver makes LTD. RESERVED NO. 3 a wonderful modern gentleman day scent.
HATTERAS and SHACKLEFORD are personal favorites. I’m on Fougère high ever since I got my hands on Amouage’s Bracken Man and HATTERAS is Fulton & Roark’s homage to the classic green scent. Astringent lavender, green oakmoss and earthy vetiver builds the foundation of Hatteras while silver frankincense gives it a smoky/ spicy kick.
SHACKLEFORD on the other hand is best for night time affairs. Deep, dark, amber, woody, SHACKLEFORD mixes exotic sandalwood, balmy amber, rich leather with nuanced sweetness coming from various dried fruits. It’s surprisingly complex!
While I won’t ditch my mainstay fragrances, it’s handy to keep these solid perfumes in your grooming arsenal. And while they may not be projection monsters, or have insane longevity, the beauty of solid fragrances, particularly Fulton & Roark’s is that you can apply them anytime, anywhere and look amazing doing so!
Fulton & Roark’s Solid Cologne are available at Spectre Manila for Php 2000-2600 with refills of only Php 350 pesos each. That’s not a bad investment there! Check out Spectre Manila for more info or drop by and check their wares (and get your hair done as well).
In 1882, Houbigant changed the face of men’s perfume forever with the introduction of a new fragrance category: Fougère (read: Fooj-air). The uniquely green composition harnesses notes of lavender, oakmoss and coumarin – a unique derivative at the time from the creamy tonka bean. It’s the coumarin that lends the grassy, almost new-mowed lawn scent that contributes to the Fougère’s freshness.
Fougère also literally means fern.
Over the years many other labels started crafting their own versions with more notes added, subtracted or substituted, but almost always all retain the essence of Houbigant’s fougère originale, Fougère Royale – green, woodsy, ‘soapy’ and luxurious. (Examples of modern-day Fougeres are Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche, Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein, Polo by Ralph Lauren, Brut by Fabergé)
The scent that changed the face of mens perfumery forever.
Fast-forward 134 years later and Oman-based luxury fragrance-maker Amouage releases their direct homage to the classic fougère fragrance. The homage is so direct they named the fragrance Bracken – the quintessential genus of fern.
This isn’t the first time that Amouage outs a fougère (Ciel Man, Reflection Man and, to some extent, Memoir Man are considered as fougère) but this is the first time that the whole fragrance encapsulates fougère in its basic and rawest essence.
A burst of green, earthy goodness, Amouage Bracken Man is ridiculously good! A far departure from the house’s usual incense and oud-heavy creations, Bracken embraces the raw intensity of nature, conjuring imagery of a crackling dry leaves amidst the cold morning dew in a secluded enchanted forest.
Green, dry, yet oddly damp. Bracken Man brings to mind these lush imagery for you to enjoy.
Upon initial spray, Bracken announces itself with an intense presence as the dry, astringent mix of lavender (lavandin here) and patchouli create this light floral, dry, green accord. The cypress would later join the fray, adding a layer of dry wood and keeping the scent structured as the almost nose-searing initial impression dials down.
The inclusion of clove and geranium lends to its spicy nuance while cedar and sandalwood touches up on the slight woody (or in this case, woodsy) character.
Cinnamon, nutmeg and the citruses that roll with Bracken rounds everything off in creamy, warm delight and keeps the scent from becoming truly soapy – a sharp contrast to another Amouage fougère, Ciel Man.
Bracken Man, majestically displayed at the Art of Scent Resorts World Manila
Overall, Bracken Man is one of the oddly fresh fragrances that would come out of the brazenly incense-heavy house of Amouage. The fragrance is particularly amazing for Philippine weather as a bit of sun and heat helps improve the already amazing projection one can get from Bracken Man.
On skin, Bracken Man sticks to you for a good 7-8 hours with a strong scent cloud lasting 2-3 hours on initial application. And while Bracken Man is best suited really for day wear, it can easily transition to a casual evening fragrance.
As always, Amouage’s packaging is impeccable! As part of the Midnight Flower collection, Bracken Man follows the boxing and bottling convention of its more summery saccharide perky brother, Sunshine Man. Instead of a swimming pool-like box motif, Bracken celebrates the famed fern by wrapping the wooden box in quirky Paisley patterns.
(L) Bracken Man, (R) Sunshine Man
As always, the bottle cap is adorned with 22-k gold markings and affixed with a single verdant Swarovski Crystal. The sprayer is coated in gold and wears a magnetic stopper with the word Bracken engraved on it.
As a whole, Bracken Man gives the classic fougère the royal treatment it deserves. It’s a very well put-together fragrance with the simplicity of a traditional fougère mixed with a complexity that only Amouage can bring. In an age where everything that’s old is new again, Amouage stepped up to the plate and delivered a godsend.
A new standard of fougère is among us; its name is Bracken Man.
Amouage Bracken Man is available in Art of Scent (Shangri-La Plaza, Resorts World Manila, City of Dreams) for Php 13,500.00 or roughly $270USD, a good $120USD less from its official retail price on the Amouage website.
Ahh…February, ze love month! Month of hearts and flowers and everything that’s dainty and quaint. This is also the month where Amouage, the prolific global perfume house based in Oman, decided to launch their latest floral scent in the Philippines: the lovely Lilac Love.
If you’re new to the house and you want to get to know a little bit more about them, you can check my review of Amouage’s Interlude and Journey Man here.
Last Friday, Feb 3, I was privilege to be invited to the VIP selling at the Art of Scent Resorts World Manila where the multi-brand store was transformed to Amouage’s own floral garden of sorts where Lilac Love sits center-stage.
The light purple offering from Amouage is the first from its Secret Garden collection. Sweet, slightly sensual and super comforting, Lilac Love is pure bliss to the olfactory senses. But before we go into that, the packaging of Lilac Love is something to take note of as well!
As always, the presentation of Amouage is exceptional! A bit of a departure from the older releases where the wooden box is lifted from the top, Lilac Love follows the same box-type from Sunshine Collection. The bottle rests on a soft foam-like crevice for added structure and bottle safety.
The cap still resembles the Grand Mosque and at the tip of this white gold-plated magnetic little dome sits an amethyst-colored Swarovski crystal. Simple. Elegant. Magnificent.
For the scent itself, Lilac Love breaks from Amouage’s usual offering – perfumes steeped in exotic oriental nuances with the enigmatic oud, smoky incense and luscious-balsamic myrrh. Lilac Love is light yet deliciously creamy!
Top notes harnesses intense floral accord with Lilac Accord, Heliotrope, Gardenia and Peony before it drops to its creamy gourmand heart. It’s interesting to note that because it is impossible to extract the scent of Lilac, Amouage had to recreate the scent artificially by masterfully combining various proprietary notes to form that nice violet flower.
Heart note is where things get preeetty interesting. The gourmand is played out with Tonka and Cacao mostly while the Orris (from the root of the Iris Plant) helps keep the two in check. The heart note leads beautifully to a nice powdery-sweet finish with Sandalwood, Vanilla and Patchouli (to add just a tiny bit of earthiness to the whole concoction).
The imagery for Lilac Love feels like you’re having a dainty morning snack with sweet cakes and pastries amidst a beautiful spring floral garden. The floral and gourmand mix also makes this scent very relaxing. If you want to go the super gourmand route, the scent (especially towards the dry down) makes you feel, as silly as it sounds, like you’re sinking in a giant marshmallow bed.
Amouage is known to create powerful and complex scents and Lilac Love is no exception. Even without thick notes of incense, oud, amber, opoponax, and musk, Lilac Love performs pretty beast-like at least for the first couple of hours. Longevity-wise I easily get more than 7 hours on this. On paper, the scent lingers for about a week before it starts to dissipate. Yes folks, 1 week.
Overall Lilac Love is a dream. While marketed towards women, guys shouldn’t be put off to try this baby out. It’s complex enough to “be” an Amouage but light enough to be inviting. I think it’s a great introductory bottle joining the ranks of Reflection, Sunshine, Dia Man and Jubilation XXV as great fragrances to get your nose started on a perfume house you can definitely fall in love with!
Lilac Love is available in all Art of Scent boutiques and costs Php 16,640 for a 100ml EDP bottle (Lilac Love retails for $440 or roughly Php 22,000 on their official website).