Monthly Archives: March 2009

Tamron/Sigma/Sony/Minolta 70-200mm F2.8 Shootout

A quick and dirty F2.8 full-frame telephoto zoom lens comparison for Alpha mount!

Click here for large version.

The big guns, left to right, arranged in order of MFD:
Minolta 80-200mm F2.8G HS APO, 1.8m MFD – Asyraf’s copy
Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM, 1.2m MFD – Nic’s copy
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG HSM Macro, 1.0m MFD – Sham’s copy
Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 Macro, 0.95m MFD – shop copy
Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8, 0.72m MFD – my copy

I didn’t bring my lens hood. 🙁

* MFD = Minimum Focus Distance

All tests done with a Sony Alpha 900 firmware Version 1.00. The A900 seems to make the Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM focus faster, subjectively, but at the same time it is hampered by the smaller AF sensor layout. Regardless, the AF assist sensors and the F2.8 dual-cross type center sensor should bring out the best in the worst conditions, namely an indoor flourescent-lit shopping mall!

We were time-limited; the shop was closing soon, and unfortunately we’d rarely ever get to see such a full combination of 70-200mm F2.8 lens ranges.

Settings – Standard Small JPG, DRO Off, ISO1600, F2.8 (or F1.8 on the Zeiss), AWB, Multi-segment metering, center spot AF, AF-C.

We did a comparison with a moving target, in this case a friend walking towards us. I attempted to keep the center spot AF point on the eye of the moving subject.

Tamron 70-200mm sample walk.

Lens Name; number of shots; good/bad shot ratio *

Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 Macro; 14 shots; 8:6
Timestamps: 8:54:40 8:54:40 8:54:40 8:54:40 8:54:40 8:54:42 8:54:42 8:54:42 8:54:42 8:54:44 8:54:44 8:54:44 8:54:44 8:54:44 8:54:46 8:54:46 8:54:46 8:54:46

Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG HSM Macro; 12 shots; 5:7
Timestamps: 8:55:26 8:55:28 8:55:28 8:55:28 8:55:28 8:55:30 8:55:30 8:55:30 8:55:30 8:55:30 8:55:32 8:55:32

Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM; 13 shots; 6:7
Timestamps: 8:56:52 8:56:54 8:56:54 8:56:54 8:56:54 8:56:54 8:56:54 8:56:56 8:56:56 8:56:56 8:56:56 8:56:58 8:56:58

Minolta 80-200mm F2.8G HS APO; 17 shots; 8:9
Timestamps: 9:00:14 9:00:14 9:00:14 9:00:14 9:00:16 9:00:16 9:00:16 9:00:16 9:00:16 9:00:18 9:00:18 9:00:18 9:00:18 9:00:18 9:00:20 9:00:20 9:00:20

Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8; 14 shots**; 9:5
Timestamps: 9:00:52 9:00:54 9:00:54 9:00:54 9:00:54 9:00:56 9:00:56 9:00:56 9:00:56 9:00:56 9:00:56 9:00:58 9:00:58 9:00:58

Number of shots were derived from comparing magnification; magnifications outside the norm were discarded.

Interesting that the timestamp of the file may not be truly representative of the time it was taken; I reckon the A900 writes to the card every 2 seconds, or that it can’t count in odd seconds. So there goes my plan to use the timestamps to show how fast it can focus!

* good shots meaning it was obvious that the lens managed to cope up and focus (some shots had motion blur so I accounted for that as you can still see the relative region of focus); bad shots meaning it was obvious that the lens didn’t manage to keep focus and you’d want to delete that shot.

** 14 shots on the Zeiss are not comparable because of the different start/stop points; I cannot measure this versus the other lenses because they don’t have the same magnification so I can’t measure the start/end points easily.

My Subjective Opinion

(Click for larger view.)
Tamron at 200mm F2.8 1/125s ISO400. This is not a picture of me!

I will assure you that the Sigma at 200mm F2.8 and this close range (on the A900) will not give you this amount of sharpness. The Tamron without a doubt is good at 200mm F2.8 in the 1-2 meters range (estimated) where the Sigma falters.

My previous findings on the Sigma here.

The Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 and Minolta 80-200mm F2.8G HS APO, both being screw-drive lenses, let the A900 fire away more frames at the beginning of the walk. It focused more confidently. There was an obvious audible difference between the 5 FPS of screw-drives and the slower, more hesitant pauses between HSM/SSM lenses. Everybody noticed this.

Given the low sample rate I have here, I hope somebody out there can take this further especially on the 200mm end – the shop confines didn’t allow for 200mm tracking. That said the test was very gruelling on the lenses as it is in poor flourescent lighting so I cannot imagine how it would fare at 200mm. I would imagine that all these lenses would do much better in a daylight drag race at 200mm!

Approaching the minimum focusing distance all lenses struggled mainly because of the A900’s small AF sensor layout.

The Minolta 80-200mm F2.8G HS APO’s MFD of 1.8 meters makes itself very apparent in the confines of a shop. Modern lenses do 1.2 meters at least which is great! The Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM is another excellent example, going 1.2 meters close too, a record for any lens that gets to 300mm! Of course, the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan has been focusing 1.1 meters close since 1985…

Of course, in the name of science, all tests should be done 3 times. But we didn’t want to agitate the very nice shopkeeper who let us test this lens. And this was gonna be quick and dirty, not precision. I think a much more precise method would be with the camera on a tripod trying to track a (weighted) racecar with a bright contrasty plastic cone (for a flag) on a track, heading towards the camera in a straight line before turning off.

70-135-200mm comparison

I focused on the S of the Sony A700. Unfortunately this was not a tripod-mounted test!

(Click for larger view.)
Left to right: 70mm, 135mm, 200mm all at F2.8
Top is Tamron, bottom is Sigma. It seems the Tamron has corrected for longitudinal chromatic aberration, or color ‘bokeh’. It looks odd to me though since I’m so used to LCA and regard it as a natural property of lenses.

(Click for larger view.)
Left to right: 70mm/80mm, 135mm, 200mm all at F2.8
Top is Sony, bottom is Minolta.

(Click for larger view.)
Zeiss at 135mm F1.8.

(Click for larger view.)
Left to right: 70mm, 135mm, 200mm all at F2.8
Top is Tamron, middle is Sigma, bottom is Sony.

(Click for larger view.)
Zeiss at 135mm F1.8.

The Sigma and Tamron have much more obvious spherical aberration. I thought the Tamron was alright at 135mm and a heck lot better than the Sigma at 200mm and close focus (1-2 meters.) The Sigma has very obvious softening!

Stuff I Did Not Compare

Color – I was in flourescent lighting. 🙁

Bokeh – the shop people kept moving about so the background changed quite a bit as you can see.

Magnetic Mouse!

My new mouse, the A4Tech NB-57D, is a battery-less mouse which gets power from magnetic induction generated by the magnetic fields of the mousepad!

I have always loved A4Tech for their very innovative ideas, like one of my beloved wireless mice from way before – to charge it, you’d just plug the USB charger into the head of the mouse (in effect, making it a wired mouse.) The thing that was different though, was that the plug was a standard classic Nokia charger plug! So, I could charge my Nokia when not charging my mouse… and, the mouse took rechargeable AAA batteries, so it was also a USB AAA battery charger!

Such genius, and yet they discontinued it (possibly Nokia sued?) so their later mice were all charged by docking, which is a very stupid place for a mouse to be in.

I had seen this magnetic-field powered mouse before years ago, but it had a label that said not to bring it within a certain distance of CRT monitors to prevent interference. I still use a 21″ IBM 6558 P202 for its superb color and gamma (I dislike the unnatural gamma of LCD monitors.)

And so, when my current mouse could not middle-click consistently, it was time to get a new one.

When I saw the box, it didn’t have any indication that it was incompatible with CRT monitors. Was this a new packaging where they assumed that CRTs went extinct? But then, the packaging said it was compatible with Windows XP and below. There was no sign of Windows Vista. So it could be old enough to exist before Windows Vista while having fixed the problems with CRT monitors.

Oh well, a gamble it was then.

So did it interfere? Yes it did, causing tiny black lines which disappeared after I removed the mousepad from the surface of the screen. So it wasn’t a problem at all.

And how about the mouse? It was smooooth! The mousepad had a very nice texture with a slightly slippery feel. I played a Tier of Quake 3 and it didn’t let me down at all.

(This is not a sponsored post – I am honestly marvelled by A4Tech’s innovations.)

Oh and how many of you can name the good use of a middle-click? Yes, you can click down on your scroll wheel!

I asked around, and the most popular response, was of course, to make an auto-scroller. (There was also a very sad person who did not know you could middle-click.)

However, about nobody knew that middle-clicking on a link in Internet Explorer 7/8 or Firefox would open the link in a new tab. There you go you’ve learnt something new today!

Why was this a big deal? I was middle-clicking on links in emails using my previous mouse, not realizing it wasn’t working, and then deleting those emails…

Some Burst Of Pictures, Part 2!

More from Sunburst KL 2009, 21st March 2009!

Yep, Erykah Badu passed us by (but still played at SXSW back in the States, hmmm!)

At least Jon Davis was there. At the graffiti wall that is.

Human hamster ball!

This makes me want to go peacock again! This reminds me how attractive dyed hair can be.

Whatchu gonna do with all that Junk?

The F1 blow-up (red) and the Sun (yellow) and Sky (blue) stage. Oh and the National Science Center in the back, in blue-green.

Reporting live!

His mouth would never tire.

Octagonal umbrellas, cool!

I’ve always loved spill-in sunlight.

Omar, former Xfresh TV host!

When the stalls run out of rice, these people do the job of looking for it.

I like the silhoutte!

It’s not you, it’s Justin Timberlake.

Blind masseuse. RM10 for 10 minutes. I had to go in the evening for my shoulders and feet!

Sazzy Falak gets dunked!

Natalie of

Ean of senses the imminent…


Tony Eusoff thought you missed.

More here:
Some Burst Of Pictures!

Some Burst Of Pictures!

Here goes some random crowd shots from Sunburst 2009! (Yes, my camera was authorized but it was horribly inconvenient for the kids who took the bus all the way from Ipoh to come see KoRn only to be told they couldn’t bring in SLRs.)

Captain’s Log, 21st March 2009 Anno Domini, haha get it Captain’s Log, a line out of Star Trak.

My camera obviously has a bike fetish.

I see primarily 3 colors in this photo.

Here’s the obligatory Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA advertisement, although I am not paid to do this.

Checkout her shades yo!

A different kind of shade.

It looks so transformable, if I was 6 I would go up and transform it.

The VIP area offered little drinks, Pepsi, mineral water, alcohol and finger food. I was more excited about the typical concertgoer’s Ramly Burger meal. Only thing nice about this place was of course, proper toilets!

Gee, which stage to next?

On the big Sun stage, I spotted a Nikkor AF-S 200mm F2.0 VR on a Nikon D3! 300mm F2.8s don’t hold any special interest with me anymore, while this rare 200mm was notable. Interestingly, very few Nikon users have seen or touched the Nikkor AF-D 135mm F2.0 Defocus Control, which my colleague was interested in!

Out in the field was a classic – the Sony Cybershot DSC-F828 with a Carl Zeiss lens.

Of course, Jenifer is far more enthralled with my Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye!

Out in tents, the Livesounds and Loud & Clear stages are opposite each other.

Justin explains something to me while his colleague chimps a shot with my Zeiss.


Screen resting.

Kellster is the new Fun-Size.

…well I was not going to wait for the wind to blow harder to get a cooler shot.

Wazzaaa Azza!

I spy in your little eye…

I contemplated getting KFC instead.

Flash at 24mm, lens at 8mm. Obvious spotlighting effect will occur!

Mmm Sicilian/Malay mixed light-spinning twins!

The mighty sweaty Alfred captures me and drags me into the Stargate.

Thanks Hayley for taking this shot. I think. Well I thought it was you in that location behind the camera.

Korn, N.E.R.D Cornered?

According to

World-renowned hip-hop group N.E.R.D. cancelled a planned Sunday night concert in Jakarta after band members were allegedly threatened with jail by Malaysian authorities and feared a repeat situation in Indonesia.

According to a press statement released by Java Festival Production and Urbanite-Sinjitos on Sunday, Malaysian authorities had twice denied N.E.R.D. � an acronym for No One Ever Really Dies � permission to perform at the Sunburst Kuala Lumpur International Music Festival for fear the band would offend Malaysians.

The statement said N.E.R.D. was eventually allowed to enter Malaysia and was not prevented from performing at the festival.

�But when they finished their repertoires, all of their passports were confiscated. This is a very bad precedent

Who Watches The Watchmen?

I do.

…and I liked it!

It really is not a movie for everybody, and that’s a bad thing, not a bad thing for the movie, but a bad thing that people don’t get it.

I liked The Spirit as well; it was understandable once you got past the part of Samuel L. Jackson with a toiletbowl and his little foot soldiers (geddit?) Or maybe I have a soft spot for such a badass. That’s kinda why I didn’t flip channels when Snakes On A Plane was on.

The plot was easy to follow as well – I didn’t feel lost. Dr. Manhattan’s and Rorschach’s mini-stories were fun to watch, too.

I enjoyed the period music (and that I recognized the artistes!) Earlier before watching the movie I heard a colleague playing Bob Dylan; I was surprised!

Me: Wow, you listen to Bob Dylan?
Rames: Yeah, this is from the Watchmen soundtrack!
(Later, Jimi Hendrix was playing.)
Me: Ooo, All Along The Watchtower! This was originally done by Bob Dylan. Lemme send it to you.

Little did I know that the Jimi Hendrix version was far more relevant to the movie – the song complete with electric guitar solo was the soundtrack to a kicking ass scene. (“two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl” could not be more appropriate!)

I also really enjoyed their little montage through time, showing JFK’s bloody assasination (and The Comedian as the assasin!) It was no holds barred. The movie did not sugar-coat, or protect anything from little children. It was realistic – the bad guys acted realistically and the superheroes were realistic in knowing what they needed to do.

But how can they show superheroes as bad people?

Well, that’s real life. Who do you know is really good and noble and is good all the time? Eventually they become disheartened with their approach and give up being 100% good. You can be a good cop and catch a murderer, then just say “don’t do that again, life is precious!” and forgive the murderer and let him loose again. Is that going to work?

Also, are you 100% good only because you are paid to be?

How about politicians? Some of them do genuinely good things, but have little things like sex scandals. Some know better how to silence their secrets.

Why are they having sex all the time? How are they going to save the world?

Well, if I saw the Silk Spectre II in tight leather all the time (and perhaps nipple studs, but that’s left for Ozymandias) and saw her kicking ass, I too would jump her.

That leads to one basic law of attraction – people you watch become sexy to you.

A rock star standing by himself/herself is not sexy. A rock star rocking out, shouting and shredding on guitar is sexy.

A photographer standing by himself/herself is not sexy. A photographer directing and looking skillful (and not looking retarded squinting) is sexy.

A thespian standing by himself/herself is not sexy (and maybe might look a little odd.) A thespian acting in a play is going to get a lot of attention!

A girl I saw once was the frontwoman of a band; she would’ve looked normal otherwise, but when I saw her light up the stage, I knew I wanted to know her name, number and cook for her momma. Given that the only mishaps I make are in the kitchen I guess her momma would cook for me instead.

(Yes, that’s KFC Mashed Potatoes fresh from the microwave.)

It is also scientifically known that working out increases your sex drive. So let those superheroes bonk!

Then there’s another question – was Adrian Veidt actually a bad guy, even though you left the cinema thinking he was a good guy? I thought he could be bad, since it seemed like such a coverline that he’d wield the remote in time to save his bullet-dodging ass.

I thought it was noble that Rorschach realized Veidt was right, but he would not admit it – instead he left his fate to Dr. Manhattan.

Janey Slater: Why are you leaving me? Is it because I’m getting old?
Dr. Manhattan: But it’s true.

I could strongly relate to Dr. Manhattan, in the way I view the world in an outer, external way, with lessened concern for the people and their little concerns.

Near the end of the movie, when Seymour is asked by the newspaper editor to write an interesting story, the cinema ushers opened the doors… and people started flowing out. Did they all want to pee? I thought to myself, man you guys just didn’t get it.

Before the movie, a bunch of people in front of me were speaking Chinese. I thought then, if this was anything like The Spirit, you guys are not going to get it!

Also overheard – “Is this a cartoon? I think it is.” A pity then that the posters look like Batman & Robin hence the false impression.

I like these reviews found online:

I was not familiar with watchmen prior to seeing the movie. I had no trouble following the plot, knowing when we were in a flashback, or when we were in the “present.” I can see why the vast majority of idiots out there who like their stories spoon fed to them couldn’t follow it or didn’t understand it.

The problem watchmen had was that it was made for geeks and intellectuals, but advertised as the next big blockbuster. Watchmen is not going to have the same mass appeal as Xmen or or Spiderman, because the story goes deeper than they do into morality, philosophy, and human nature. That being said, the people who walked out of watchmen are, sadly, probably the people who could learn the most from a movie like it.

Posted by: T | Mar 12, 2009 4:41:28 PM

I think to many people went into this movie thinking they were going to see the superfriends.

– Conrad, age 41 (USA)

Oh, and finally, a star for Zack Snyder for keeping mostly to one of the most celebrated graphic novels of all time. Not that I’ve read it, but you can compare Wikipedia’s synopsis for the movie and graphic novel to see that they are pretty much the same!

J&R March On!

The stars were aligned today, and so I bring to you believe it or not pictures from Rames and Jason‘s birthday celebration yesterday (14th March 2009!)

(“Jason and Rames” rolls off the tongue better but I arranged it that way to avoid killing 3 brain cells figuring out where to put the apostrophe.)

Eunice why you stress la? (The other pimple smack in the middle has been cloned out. Then again, a pimple in the middle is better than one on the side, it casts less shadows and is less noticeable.)

Cindy Cheok!

We met yonks ago at Ayu’s party and I broke the news to her that Ayu was married. Pardon the color, I caught somebody else’s flash…

Sometimes, I am more fascinated with my drink, too. It happens.

Sometimes, my camera is more fascinated with stripes than eyes.

See it happened again. I should’ve pressed down on the joystick to force it to focus on the center…

Oh yes, the theme was horizontal stripes!

Oh, and we were at Flying Chillies. Bigger version here (interestingly, Flickr doesn’t have the full-resolution option anymore… I uploaded a 16 megapixel file!

Rames shoots. Note the sinking people in the background! Bigger version here.

I look flattened. Bigger version here.

Well what is that I see in the background?

Cake blowin’ time!

Yes, they got more stripes!

Jenifur the diligent accountant collects money from us all!

Later we went to Delicious for drinks and I made the mistake of ordering a Frosty Guava and Sour Plum again.

I thought it was cute that they were all wearing white shoes. This is my attempt at a Szetoo.

Rock The World 8: Part 4

Somebody’s lurking in the distance…

Hard rockin’ REVENGE!

Beware his armpits of fury!

They were so grand they managed to get our classic Rock The World 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 and now 8 emcee, Mr. Haaa-rooon!

There were double guitar harmonies… (insert Rock Band Star Power)

…and there were gentle arpeggiated solos.

I have to say, they really took to the stage with a mix of everything that is true and is metal. No life till leather!

Facepaint for guitarists and bassists!

Every song gets a shrieking solo.

It was commonplace to be slightly deaf after.

Drum solo!

These guys were undoubtedly the band with the best showmanship that night.

Oh, but you know who everybody paid to see – Butterfingers!

Greg Henderson, producer, was also filling in for Loque.

Eh, you can shred ah!

They performed a most diplomatic set, doing a song from every album…

…and going back in time when grunge was in.

I could see that Greg could not be happier to have the honor of belting the intro of The Chemistry (Between Us).

Wondered what the Butterfingers looked like back at Rock The World 1?

Yeah, totally grunge and so young and scrawny!

Kadak’s got a pimpin’ outfit.

Emmett goes electric. “Hey where’d you get that old guitar from?

…and he tosses it straight up and it lands on its headstock!

Now that is a rock show!

I bet he knew it would survive.

This is the cue for everyone to put their hands up…

…so he can go to the crowd…

…and surf!

And that ends my Rock The World 8 series. Now back to regular programming!

More here:
Rock The World 8: Part 3
Rock The World 8: Part 2
Rock The Crowd 8

Rock The World 8: Part 3

Here’s more from Rock The World 8, back on the 20th of December 2008!


…they bring a dancy indie treat.

Who wants a guitar?

I know Hanafi of Estranged does – both his guitars got stolen!


Azwin Andy. I used the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 with a 2x teleconverter and APS-C mode on the A900 to get 420mm equivalent focal length.

Din and the artificial sun.

The Times bring britpop.

Koffin Kanser and their tribe of nu-metal!

You’d think Aru’s dreadlocks were heavy but here they are flying like a shampoo commercial.

These dreads defy gravity.

Izal of One Buck Short does a Lion-O.

These guys have been doing punk at least since Blue Planet, if I remember. Mooky was reading from a lyrics sheet then! Yes, I feel the need to assert my otai-ness from time to time.

But despite seeing the scene so long I haven’t crowd-surfed before.

(And yes, there is one band that is not included in this sequence – they’re so photogenic I’ll put them first in the last set!)

More here:
Rock The World 8: Part 2
Rock The Crowd 8