Monthly Archives: August 2009

98% for what, 70%?

Oh hello Sony Alpha 850! This is the very nicely priced, slightly down-specced version of the A900. A full-frame digital SLR for under USD2000!

What’s different from the A900?

The A900 has 5 FPS or 3 FPS burst drive modes. The A850 only has a 3 FPS burst drive mode. (Also note the ooo in the viewfinder and top LCD screen, different from the A900’s oooL or oooH.)

The A900 viewfinder has 0.74x magnification and 100% coverage.
The A850 viewfinder has 0.74x magnification and 98% coverage.

Is that 2% that much of a difference? No, honestly – if you put them side-by-side you would not be able to see the difference in viewfinder size!

A900 sensor = 35.9mm wide
35.9mm * 0.74x * 100% = 26.566mm

A850 sensor = 35.9mm wide
35.9mm * 0.74x * 98% = 26.03468mm

The difference is 0.53mm!

As for the number of pixels you gain outside the viewfinder on 98% coverage – the square root of 98% is 99%. So take the A850’s 6048 pixels wide – 1% is 60.5 pixels which makes 30.25 pixels off the left and right. Honestly, not much more.

However, there are those who can feel the difference who say it is more apparent on longer focal lengths.

With longer focal lengths I tended to shake while framing, nulling the accuracy of putting a subject exactly on the edge of the frame. So, to make the most of a 100% viewfinder you’d want to put the camera on a tripod.

Oh, and the RMT-DSLR1 infrared remote is not included with the A850.

It is speculated that the A900, having a movable 100% viewfinder mask, makes it more expensive (presumably, the factory checks alignment and moves the mask to cover the proper 100% area). The A850 might not have a moveable mask. That said, the A900 is said to have a superbly aligned 100% viewfinder, unlike some other brands which have a 100% viewfinder but the sensor/viewfinder is misaligned slightly.

Cosmetically, the A900 mode dial has embossed PASM lettering, while the A850’s is printed. Minor thing.

The A900 has a black finish with speckled highlights, while the A850 has a matte, fine-grained surface. This makes the A850 look fuller (despite being identical in size and weight). The A900 looks mostly black with highlights while the A850 looks gray (like the earliest pictures of the A700 prototype!)

I suspect that the A850, due to the different finish, might attract people subconsciously.

Here are shots of the A850’s new matte finish:

(Short break for the ladies.) Here’s the new LCS-TT10, a fashionable camera bag. You can see just how big it is, next to the A230 and the pair of red heels!

(Short break for the guys.) Here’s 3 A900 bodies with Sony 50mm F1.4 lenses. Thanks Signither for sending me the picture!

And now, for the Sony Alpha 550! This has a 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor.

Top view.

Rear view. Somewhat a mix between the A350 and A380 design, with thankfully the full A350 grip.

This is truly the successor to the A350 – it has a swivel screen with increased articulation (it can face 90 degrees downwards now) with a 3″ 640×480 screen. No more noisy-at-ISO1600 14.2 megapixel CCD sensor!

Viewfinder Magnification and Coverage:

Here’s a list of APS-C cameras and their viewfinder magnification and coverage:

KM5D/A100/A200/A230 – 0.83x magnification, 95% coverage
A300/A330/A350/A380 – 0.74x magnification, 95% coverage
A500/A550 – 0.8x magnification, 95% coverage (100% coverage in MF Check LV)
KM7D/A700 – 0.9x magnification, 95% coverage

(Note that you cannot compare these numbers directly to full-frame cameras because you need to multiply them by the frame size as well.)

The A500/A550 has a bigger viewfinder than the A300-A380’s tiny one, thankfully!

It does 4 FPS in Quick AF Live View, 5 FPS in Optical Viewfinder mode, and 7 FPS in Speed Priority mode (where AF and exposure are automatically locked.)

Considerately, Sony did not lie about specifications – they could’ve claimed it does 7 FPS straight – other brands claim high FPS but only when AF and exposure are locked (and faster than a certain shutter speed!)

At least, we know it can do 5 FPS with continuous AF and auto exposure in between frames.

There is also the A500, but that’s the not-so-hot sister – it only has a 12 megapixel CMOS sensor and a 3″ 320×240 swivel screen, and lacks the 7 FPS Speed Priority mode.

It also has MF Check LV in addition to the Quick AF Live View introduced in the A300/A350 – it uses the main sensor for Live View, but in manual focus only. You can magnify it either 7x or 14x. It will even auto-gain (brighten up). However, it does not stop down the lens, and there is no DOF Preview button on the A550. It also drops the mirror first before flipping it up again to take the shot (redundant, like a lot of Live View implementations). If it just tripped the shutter without the mirror it could’ve removed vibration and made for a quieter shot.

It has Face Detection and Smile Shutter when in Live View – very very very cool! Face Detection makes sure it focuses on a face, and exposes the face properly (and probably tunes the white balance too!) Smile Shutter is too fun on my Sony Cybershot W190 and I am glad to see it on a dSLR – it will come in handy when you don’t want to set a 10 second timer to take group shots when the camera is set on a surface.

It has DRO (up to Level 5) like the A700/A850/A900! Great stuff for JPEGs.

There’s Auto HDR – it takes 2 successive frames. You can specify how many EV are these 2 frames apart, up to 3 EV. From samples I’ve seen it looks much better than DRO Level 5!

So, would I get an A850 or A550 as a backup camera? Definitely the A550 – the A900 does everything the A850 does, but the A900 doesn’t have Live View or 7 FPS. There’s no point in me getting an A700 either as it’s just a APS-C version of the A900. The A550 could be my B Cam (cinematography term for a camera that gets hooked to stunt rigs and gets hard-to-reach angles the heat of the action.)

Of course, I am in no rush – if the A700 replacement is a better B Cam, I might wait for that!

The A500, A550 and A850 are not using backlit sensor technology (Sony calls it Exmor R on their Cybershot and Handycam series). It is said that because the circuits that cover regular CMOS sensors are the same size whatever the size of the sensor, so while a tiny sensor might gain 30-40% in light-gathering capability by becoming backlit, a bigger APS-C or full-frame sensor gains maybe only 5%, thus not justifying the cost.

That said, the A550 samples on the Internet look surprisingly clean even at ISO3200. Go!

And some shots of the A550 (with a new type of screen protector, nice!)

And here’s more interesting reading:

A Sony 3CCD still video camera that uses Canon and Nikon lenses!


The field of filmless cameras is divided into two main camps: still-video and digital. A still-video camera is like a camcorder without a tape drive: it generates an analog video signal that you can display on a TV monitor, record with a video recorder, or capture with an AV Mac or a video-capture card in a standard Mac. The still-video cameras I tested include Sony’s MVC-7000 ($8000) and Canon’s RC-570 ($4688). Both cameras provide a composite-video-input jack. The Sony also accepts an optional S-video adapter, while the Canon RC-570 includes an S-Video-input port. (S-Video generally provides a sharper image.)

Still-video cameras have some inherent limitations. These cameras use CCDs designed to capture a full frame in two passes, grabbing first the even-numbered scan lines and then the odd-numbered ones. To accommodate this interlacing, a still-video camera’s CCD has smaller light-sensitive cells than the full-frame CCDs used by most digital cameras. To compensate, a still-video camera has to do more manipulation of the CCD’s data, making images more prone to undesirable artifacts: fuzzy fringes surrounding the objects in a high-contrast scene, or vibrant colors that bleed slightly into surrounding areas (see “Comparing Image Quality”).

A digital camera’s CCD and its support circuitry are designed from the ground up to deliver a digital result. Because the CCD doesn’t require the additional elements needed for interlacing, its light-sensitive cells can be larger and closer together.

But back in 1987 there was already an A-mount digital still video back:


27th December 2008: an open house from newlyweds Adlin and Ayu! But first, we meet his brother “I am not Adlin!” Faiz Rosli.

A combination of nice blue skies and cool winds made it a real nice day to have an open house.


Ayu and Adlin!

Warren Chan warms the tempat bersanding. How cool is that invite all your musician friends/colleagues to be your wedding singers!

Ching Ching (middle) never fails to crack me up!

Izzy thinking of a wedding song…

…and her very funky guitar strap.

This dude is named Aizat… (thanks Noel!)

…and this is the rest of his band.

And of course, Reza Salleh, with a fantastic acoustic cover of Stan Bush – The Touch (as requested by Adlin.)

Paolo Delfino tells you to call him.

Remember when you were a kid and the day’s proceedings didn’t make sense to you; instead the object in front of you tillitated your interest more? I remember those days all too well.

Ching and her Ahmad-lookin’ guitarist.

Diyana Shahrom, my pickup-er and KLue page mate. I shall blog about that someday.

And finally, I took a picture with Ayu in the same style that I did, probably the second time I met her!

This was dated, whoa, 17th November 2004.

How To Recover Blown-out Colors

Today, I’m going to walk you through a tutorial for Adobe Photoshop, to restore tones in blown-out colors! (I use Photoshop 7.0 so you should be able to do this too.)

Here is a picture of Rithan of Deja Voodoo Spells, amazing shredder heavy metal band. Notice that in the background, the red spotlight has blown out, turning everything a flat shade of red!

Open the above image in Photoshop.

What we will do, is use the color channels to restore tones in the blown-out area.

Press CTRL+1 to see the red channel. Then press CTRL+2 to see the green channel. Press CTRL+3 to see the blue channel. Repeat until you can see the difference between channels.

The red channel has a lot of blown-out white, while the green channel has some shades of gray. The blue channel is pretty dark. We’re not going to bother with the blue channel.

Finally, press CTRL+~ to return to the full RGB view.

Now, let’s duplicate the layer. On the keyboard we press CTRL+J.

Press CTRL+1 again to view the red channel. Press CTRL+A and then CTRL+C to copy the red channel to the clipboard.

Then, we add a layer mask. Click on where I’ve circled in green.

The Layers tab should look something like this…

Now, we hold down the ALT key while clicking on the layer mask (don’t click on the text). The picture should appear white if you have done this correctly. Press CTRL+V to paste the red channel into the layer mask.

Then, we click on the layer itself. Press CTRL+L to open the Levels window (or Image – Adjustments – Levels…)

Press CTRL+2 to adjust the green channel. Pull the middle slider to the left and watch the tones get restored in the blown-out parts! Pull the right-most slider to the left also as you like.

Ignore that Rithan’s face has turned a flat, blown-out yellow. We will fix that in the next step.

Click on the layer mask. (Do not hold down ALT while clicking.) Use the Brush tool to paint either black or white on the layer mask. If you’ve accidentally painted over some part you didn’t intend to, just hit X to invert your brush and paint over it again, to revert.

Now we’ve restored the tones in his face (and kept the red in his shirt).

You could change the new layer’s overlay mode to Luminosity for a different look.

Press CTRL+E to flatten the image, and add a bit of saturation (as you like) using the Sponge tool.

Here’s the finished image. Note that I used the layer mask to restore the original floor tones as the new floor was blown out.

This should work for all blown-out colors – just pick the appropriate channels.

Tahukah anda bintang tempatan anda?

Gambar-gambar ini diambil pada perasmian laman web pada 21hb November 2007. Oleh kerana saya tidak berapa fasih dengan bintang tempatan, saya telah meminta pertolongan dari kawan-kawan saya di forum Alphanatics untuk mengecam muka dan nama bintang-bintang tempatan berikut:

Diana Danielle (dicam oleh Nazar.)

Raja Farah (dicam oleh Nazar.)

Tiara Jacquelina (dicam oleh Nazar.)

Maya Karin (dicam oleh Templar.)

Irma Hasmie (dicam oleh Nazar.)

Fasha Sanda (dicam oleh Safriz.)

Farah Wahida (dicam oleh Nazar.)

Penyampai ERA Nana (juga dikenali sebagai AFUNDI NANA.)

Erra Fazira (dicam oleh Safriz.)

Sharifah Amani (macam saya, tidak berapa fasih dalam Bahasa Melayu!)

Yassin (dicam oleh Safriz) dan Penyampai ERA Reza.

Nora Danish.

Penyampai Sinar Linda Onn.

Misha Omar (dicam oleh Safriz.)

Dayang Nurfaezah (dicam oleh pixelbleed.)

Roslen dari pihak

Terima kasih kepada punkstereo kerana membetulkan Bahasa Melayu saya. 🙂

March On The Up!

18th March 2009 – Timeout KL’s On The Up, at No Black Tie.

First up – Bite Me Butterfly, punk rock turned acoustic duo for the night.

Featuring the cheeky Italian-Malay mix Najlaa on vocals.

I knew her when she was *this* tall!

Someday she’s gonna be famous I know it.

And here’s their guitarist Didi!

Up next: the funky Zalila Lee!

She is joined by Nisha Tham on keyboards.

A little bonus – she sang! She did the macho vocals for Babyface – I Care About You.

And then we had Tashya’s Ink!

Bass-playin’ man Nakim (thanks Udjinn for the note!)

This energetic singer in a small package is of course Tashya Basir, MyStarz LG winner! Her voice reminds me of Edmund Smith meets Adam Levine.

They covered Tiesto how cool is that?

Kewaktuan Malaysia

I was sitting with 2 non-Malaysians waiting for a gig to start.

Mac: Hmmm I hope the show starts on time.
Me: Well the thing says 9:30pm but it would probably start at 10pm. The crowd hasn’t arrived yet.
Mac: Ah. What’s up with Malaysian timing? How do you know what time something really starts?

(slight pause before a revelation came to me)

Me: The earlier the event, the longer the delay. For example, if a gig is supposed to start at 12 noon, it might only start at 3pm. However, a gig that’s supposed to start at 9:30pm will start at 10pm.

There are, of course, exceptions, notably in the performing arts, where they are punctual and deny you entry if you are late. My respect goes to those who can uphold such principles!

Gigs From The Hart

7th March 2009 – I was in Desa Sri Hartamas when I heard classic rock in a place I’d never heard it before.

This was The Blackboard, a pub.

Hey isn’t that Jimmy North? I only knew later who he was.

In case you’re wondering what’s with the grain, it’s shot at ISO16000 (no that is not a typo – ISO6400, with EV boosted 1.3 stops!)

Then, I headed over to the original spot of Lepaq, where it was their fundraiser event (they would close down if they could not pay the 3-months-due rent!)

And so, many who could carry a tune and play guitar, went up.

Zaim the bassman.

I loved that they brought the stage out into the middle and put spotlights on the performers.

Ike, bassist for Bite Me Butterfly (though Bite Me Butterfly wasn’t playing.)

I don’t know these people.

Drunken support crew.

Atraz gave a very touching speech about why he started the cafe, how he had to sell his car, and touched a bit on his customer’s habits (which wasn’t good for business). Admittedly I am like one of them too.

From Lepaq’s Myspace page:
Lepaq Cafe is not just a place, but a home to all. We don’t serve customers, but friends. Here, no matter who or what you are, we are all one and the same. Grow with us and we will grow with you, and let us together form a bond, a CULT, a brotherhood, a community. Lepaq Community.

On with the show!

Wani Ardy I see her hardly.

God bless my Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 for the glow.

Shisha man.


Shisha is undoubtedly more visual than cigarette smoke.

Then, Atraz took the mike and stunned me with some tough gruff vocals.

His vision for making a place where people could go up and perform anytime they like and smoke shisha and lie on pillows and carpets was a great one.

I have this shirt too!

Izuan Shah, on drums!

This guy does an excellent Eddie Vedder. His hair is even similiar!

So did Lepaq survive on its idealistic premise of a gig place without the formulaic structure of more established gig venues, or did they have to close down? That question shall be answered in another blog post!


5th March 2009 – Moonshine: A Homemade Music Show, at Laundry Bar! Here’s Otam the gruff-voiced bluesman.

Otam invites Reza to play guitar while he does a little scat. Ummmphhh! This cat got groove.

Mia Palencia, soulful songbird, on a guitar Az Samad should be jealous about!

She brings Reza up for a duet.

If this scene is familiar, it is because it is re-enacted in the Shameless Covers gig, for sure!

Then came the cheeky Esam

…who is usually from Stoned Revivals but was playing solo that day.

I like his twelve-string guitar!

And now, for some electric crunching riffs, with Car Crash Hearts!

Wafie has no problems with the drums.

Alda summons us to make some noise! This was the first time I’d see Alda in an emo band.

Unfortunately, this happened all too fast…

I have always had a thing for Gibson SG guitars.

Mahani looks like the proud video-recording mother.

Yes kids, rock out for momma on camera! More power stance!

Oh and there’s Moonshine tonight!

What: Moonshine: A Homemade Music Show: Tribute Edition
Where: Laundry Bar, The Curve
When: 9:30pm Thursday 13th August 2009
How Much: Free!
Who’s Playing: Hamsterdamnaged (covering the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Auburn (covering Silverchair), Mari Soul Faith Leaper (covering Foo Fighters), Pitbull Inc (covering Tenacious D)

This should be very, very interesting!

Kay, Arnie Will

20th June 2009 – I went down to Jaya33 for the PJ Challenge Bloggers ‘K’arnival!

Those were seriously huge balloons.

So what makes the difference between blogger meets and this ‘K’arnival? Why, rows of seats, of course!

Amanda Choe, one of the emcees, appears to be wearing a veil.

Left to right: Niki Cheong, Amanda, MissyCheerio.

Left to right: Amanda, Josh Lim the other emcee, Dato Dr. Wong Sai Hou.

Kenny Sia gets dot-matrix-ed.

smashpOp and Rames.

Kenny talks about… blogs!

He talked about what to talk about, and what not to talk about.

In the back, there was a competition to blog live from the ‘K’arnival.

smashpOp explains why he changes skins.

Rames talks about his side tutorial blog.

The famous smashpOp jump!

MissyCheerio talks about the friends she made blogging.

Ohello it’s me! *charges her a donut*

Hmmm what is with that glazed look?

Yay I made it to her massive friends collage! Strangely, I do not remember that picture being taken…

She then spoke of her experience with random guys adding her on MSN. The picture still has so much impact even censored I’ll just shrink it anyway.

Diversion time with Amanda who was also on stage giving a speech. Lookatherheels!

Niki Cheong in a more sombre news mood.

Amanda also doubles as slideshow operator.

Mr. Soh Hen Sem explains viral marketing via blogs.

Ewin takes part in a contest.

However, it was whiz kid Gloson who took home the laptop!

Come to papa!

And then, we went down to Subway for lunch/dinner.

Joshua Yap with the A900 and Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8. It calls you to click on the thumbnail!

Joshua won a laptop and Kaspersky Internet Security 2008! Sweet! (Clickable thumbnail.)

Kim Wei Wei – what is there not to Like about her Facebook status updates? 😀 (Again, clickable thumbnail.)

The shot everybody has been waiting for – the Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye group shot! (Clickable thumbnail.)

I quote Amanda in a Cookie Monster voice – “WARGH FISHEYEFISHEYEFISHEYE! FISHEYEFISHEYEFISHEYE!” as she hobbled into the frame.