Monthly Archives: October 2007

Sing And Pore

I was in Singapore for the weekend, to catch Megadeth and Heaven And Hell. But that’s not what this blog entry is about!

I stayed off Clarke Quay, a 5 minute walk from the camera geek hub of Singapore – Funan IT Mall, Peninsula Plaza and Peninsula Shopping Centre. These three places also had guitars, while Funan had computer equipment… very much like Bintang Walk, the geek hub of Kuala Lumpur.

Look mommy, the first ever digital SLR – it was a Kodak!

Singapore was indeed heaven for people afflicted with Gear Acquisition Syndrome; all sorts of weird, rare lenses and cameras were available. Loads of old Sigma lenses, in all mounts – Nikon F, Contax/Yashica, Olympus OM (yes, manual focus), Minolta MD (yes, manual focus), Pentax K, and Minolta AF.

Loads of old Minolta 28-80mm F3.5-5.6 kit lenses (both in silver and black).

P&G Photographic Centre in The Adelphi had the Vivitar Series 1 Q-Dos for Minolta MD mount, for SGD320! This rare lens had a switch that would add a red and blue filter to make stereoscopic images! They also had loads of M42 lenses, ironically all 28mm F2.8 lenses.

I have never felt so much love for my Minolta X300.

Loads of old Minolta MD mount lenses. (Back has 50mm F1.4 and 135mm F2.8 lenses, a weird 35-70mm F3.5, 35mm F2.8, 28mm F3.5, and the original push-pull design of the Leica-collaborated Minolta 70-210mm F4 MD, which later became the beloved autofocusing Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan lens.

The Camera Workshop in Peninsula Shopping Centre had a new Konica Minolta 7 Digital for SGD1650! They also had the great Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5 for SGD405, the original companion to the Dynax 7 film SLR, also sold there!

Sweet mother of god, the Minolta Dynax 9 professional film body.

Guess what lens this is!

…a Pentacon 300mm F4, with M42 mount!

The Tamron 200-400mm F5.6 wasn’t hard to come by, either, at SGD820, in different mounts; Cathay Photo, Peninsula Plaza, stocked Teleplus 2x MC4 and MC7 teleconverters for all AF mounts. In Malaysia, we can only find the Canon and Nikon mount ones! These were a cheap SGD150. Cathay also had the Sony A700 (one of the few who had it) and the Portrait Grip for 449 SGD. Lensbabies in all generations and mounts were there, with the LB 2.0 going for SGD255.

Prime Camera Center had a mint Minolta Dynax 9, a professional film SLR, for SGD1800!

K13 in Peninsula Plaza had the unheard of brother to the well-loved Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan; the auto-focus Minolta 70-210mm F3.5-4.5, for SGD280!

They also stocked converters to Canon EOS mount, in the key of Yashica/Contax, Olympus OM, Nikon, Leitz and Carl Zeiss. Quite like what FourThirds is doing, too.

However, the one thing that made me wish I had a credit card right there was Alex Photo, Peninsula Plaza, which had a Canon FD 58mm F1.2 for SGD300 and a Minolta Rokkor 58mm F1.2 for SGD400!

Yes, that means that I could make myself a 58mm F1.2 Pete Ganzel edition by sticking a Minolta AF mount on it! Or, I could just use it on my Minolta X300 film SLR, which has a Minolta MD mount…

I headed down to Orchard Road, and got lucky in Lucky Plaza. Photo Graphic & Video Mania had the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 for A-mount for SGD735. APO Foto had the Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM for SGD3450! The Sigma 24mm F1.8 for A-mount was also interesting at SGD560, while they also stocked the (reboxed) Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F2.8-4 for SGD355.

Oh, and the Dynax 9 in a box. For SGD2300!

Back to Funan IT Mall, Alan Photo had the goodies, like the Canon 200mm F1.8L USM (that rare-earth one, replaced with a dimmer 200mm F2L IS), the big ol’ Nikkor primes (200mm F2, 300mm F2.8, 400mm F2.8, 500mm F4, 600mm F4).

Yes, that’s a white AF-S Nikkor 300mm F2.8D next to the AF-S Nikkor 200mm F2 VR, the only VR lens brighter than F2.8. All the other big Nikkors became redundant when Canon rolled out IS versions of all these big telephoto lenses.

(OF course, Konica Minolta/Sony never made their lenses redundant, by implementing in-body stabilization; and we get to pick stabilized 20mm F1.8 lenses, 24mm F1.4 lenses, 135mm F1.8 lenses, 500mm F8 reflex mirrors, 600mm F4 lenses, etc.)

Who Kicks A Punch?

And now for more Sony Alpha 700 talk after 6 not-super-geeky entries!

Five frames per second, combined into one frame. There is no way a multiple exposure can create this scene, by the way; the bird is darker than the sky.

Then there’s the ultimate companion to the A700, the great Sony Carl Zeiss 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 DT lens. It recently got an review in a local magazine which gave it a medium rating.

First off, I’ve never quite felt that local photography magazines were that credible anyway.

Second, the review claims that the lens has average contrast and poor image quality.

I don’t know about their review unit, but I disagree with their comment. Fazri shot KJ and I with the Carl Zeiss on my Sony A700, set at Vivid mode, 50mm F4.5 1/160s ISO1600. If I went to Standard color I’d still get an equivalently, insanely, crispy image. It would not have the same Velvia-esque punch, but it would still have oodles of detail.

KJ, you aren’t the handsomest bastard around, but I cannot help but stare at this cropped and resized picture of you. Note that this is shot wide open. Note that in addition to the moustache stubble, you can also see the texture of the skin under the moustache! Also note the area between the nose and KJ’s right eye.

The area between KJ’s nose and his left eye is slightly out of focus, but still appears well-defined, due to how Carl Zeiss lenses are designed; areas near the focus point don’t blur out as quickly as any other lens with the same focal length and aperture.

Ah heck.

Click here for a 100% crop, unedited, with EXIF data for all to see.

There, you also get to see what ISO1600 on the A700 looks like. I can’t even imagine what it would look like if the ISO was set lower!

My Stain

So I was listening to Megadeth’s latest album, United Abominations, in preparation for their concert down in Singapore which I’m going to. YEAH!

Megadeth had always had my respect for keeping it real and keeping to thrash metal, unlike more successful counterparts Metallica. However, their latest album had a few songs that felt not quite epic.

The savior though is Sleepwalker, which stays true (or at least closest) to the classics. However, the song, just like every other song on the album, sounds as if they were trying to compress a 7 minute epic masterpiece into 4 minutes. How? By trimming off the trademark Megadeth intro! Blasphemy.

A classic Megadeth intro works like this:
– start with an interesting single-note riff
– add some metallic bass (soon, after you’re familiar with the riff)
– kick in the drums a few seconds later
– chug in the power chords
– modify the riff a bit… and then go into solo
– add a second guitar to the solo in harmony, which always makes it sound like a Japanese video game (which Dave Mustaine does soundtracks for, so this makes sense)
– jump back into rhythm

Each part is discrete. The order might change, but ultimately, you get to enjoy each level as it comes along.

Fortunately, some songs, like the title track, have a multi-part solo.

Even a song like Holy Wars… The Punishment Due (from the classic album Rust In Peace) had a 1:30 long intro, but it sounded much longer due to intricate composition and various segments. For some reason, Marty’s oriental/neo-classical solos tickle me. I bet you anyone familiar with the song would anticipate the solos and crunchy riffs so they could air-guitar along. Yngwie Malmsteen is too neo-classical for me; Marty with angry thrashin’ Dave is just nice.

Click here to check out the video on Youtube! (Please pardon the video quality of the past.)

Speaking of video games, check out Megadeth – Holy Wars – NES Style. Cute!

Five Magics, for example, had a kickass brooding intro, where the vocals only kick in at 2:06. Also note that they jump into a call-and-response, except instead of blues shredding it’s metal. Hangar 18 is restless and the solos come in at 1:24, again at 2:24… and goes on till 5:14 where the song ends. Some count the number of solos from Dave and Marty Friedman to be anywhere between 7 to 11 solos! Quite an interesting feat for a song with a cheesy video meant for MTV airplay.

The basslines are always metal. I mean, it sounds metallic.

I can’t wait till Friday!

Broken Images

They said the KTM Komuter train was going to be late. And then, I saw a steam carriage carrying an entire KTM train in the opposite direction on my side of the track! I knew I was screwed.

…though not as pissed off as this toilet was.

Ceiling cat is… missing.

Innovative parking solutions.

Pipe dream!

17 Wide And Bright-eyed

And now, for shots from the Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX full-frame Minolta/Sony A-mount lens, shot with the Minolta Dynax 7 film SLR on Fujifilm Superia ASA 400 film!

I shot almost entirely in Aperture Priority, as I believe it’s the most practical mode. No point shooting Manual Exposure if you’re just going to set the lightmeter to 0. This was at F14.

Instead of the much-heard of Sigma yellow (where Sigma lenses have a yellow cast) I got a magenta tint instead.

Also, there is very little light falloff! The lens on the Sony A700 has loads at 17mm F2.8; this is because the lens was made for film and was not optimized to send light towards the edges at right angles to hit the CMOS on its head.

Upping the green levels help; this is 17mm F2.8 at the minimum focusing distance of 50cm.

Bokeh is nice, but sometimes shows some brightline. Definitely not creamy either. Shot at F2.8.

Shot at F2.8, surprisingly sharp. Compared to the Sony 11-18mm F4.5-5.6 DT, which has a 16.5mm equivalent field of view, it is technically 0.5mm less wide. However, it is 1.33 stops brighter, so its depth of field is smaller. However, the Sony 11-18mm goes as close as 25cm, which makes up for it.

This was shot at F6.3.

Flare was well-controlled at F11, and a bit of Photoshop made my office building pop.

F2.8, focused on the elianto sign, and yet it was in focus all over.

Another macro shot at 17mm F2.8.

Go green! Go Fujifilm Superia go! Also 17mm F2.8.

He looks like he’s hauling a stash.

While at it, here’s something from the Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye instead. Shot at F8 in Sunway Pyramid.

And now, back to the Sigma, with the Dynax 7’s Smooth Transition Focus mode, which does a multiple exposure of 7 frames with different apertures.

This was at 17mm F4.5 1/8th of a second. A funky side effect of the 7 frames is this stroboscopic effect!

Return Of The Sunrise

Sunrise Jazz Fest 2007! I’m not sure what it’s called nowadays, though DiGi is one of their sponsors.

26th August 2007 featured the Aseana Percussion Unit. (Yes, I will rewind for Ariff Akhir, Arthur Kam and Sheila Majid later.)

Amanda and I are most proud to have started a conga line (though I didn’t take any pictures of it.)

Prema, one of the many vocalists.

Bring the beat down!

Fast forward to the 1st of September 2007, with Asiabeat.

Here’s a first – psychedelia at a jazz fest.

And there I was, trying to make sense of all the colors, when I felt a presence.

The Interesting Specimen!

She stalked Amanda from way afar with my Tamron 200-400mm F5.6 at 400mm! 1/6th of a second was still steady. The only problem was waiting for a clearance when people were not walking past.

We were at Chakri Palace; Amanda was in front of Starbucks.

Okay, my lens wasn’t that long…

Meet a most kickass fusion jazz band from Indonesia…


400mm F5.6 1/80s ISO800. No problem, with my Sony A100’s Super SteadyShot.

I added the Kenko 2x teleconverter and got a manual-focusing 800mm F11. This was shot at 1/15s, ISO1600, from way back, around Chakri Palace or so.

Given big performances, the stage would be bigger thus requiring longer lenses to get here. Fortunately bigger stages also mean stronger lights.

This dude was awesome. He channelled the incredible Les Claypool!

They also did a cover of Flight Of The Bumblebee, among other technically excellent stuff.

Adil, Malaysia’s best saxophonist (according to Saharadja) came on stage for some saxing.

The singer/guitarist/horn player (I’m not sure which instrument don’t stab me with your conductor stick) serenaded some hot chick.

Yes, with an expression like that, who could help but fall in love? (Okay, he had a great powerful voice almost akin to Freddie Mercury’s so yeah.)

And so, when he tells people to shake their hands in the air…

…they do it.

(With the assistance of green bottles, perhaps.)

Mall? Rats!

The new Gardens in Midvalley. Not so interesting facade just yet.

Does it draw you in?

Most certainly, yes.

Modern and comfy with big plush sofas on the ground floor. I hope they don’t remove it in favor of stalls.

Altimet interviewing some chick.

Good ol’ Sunway Pyramid had an extension. But first, I’ve never seen this kind of flare with my Peleng fisheye!

Pyramid always had a good theme; this is one of the new atriums. The new path lies over where Parkson used to be, with Parkson at the end, and TGV Cinemas moved up one floor.

The other new atrium connects back to the skating rink. Amazing!

Between the blue and orange atriums is a nice Egyptian-styled pathway. I always thought Pyramid was one of the pioneering concept malls.

And of course, the great big Pavilion.

Wide as wide gets, wider than Berjaya Times Square and with much better occupancy rates!

A lot of photographs would show the intense spotlights that light up most of Pavilion, even the outside where there was a car showroom.

Security officers make sure nobody’s going around snapping pictures. I was never stopped.

The center is a giant runway, with fashion-centric tenants. Also notable was that when I saw the crowd, only two words came to mind – fashionable men. No, not homosexual men (although they might have been) – fashionable men. Fashionable men, all walking in pairs, no, not one or three or four, exactly two.

Catwalk! Rawr.

Chimps! *throws bananas at them*

For the non-standing crowd, there’s always a big flight of stairs to make like a cinema.

From this picture, can you tell which item she is modelling?

And of course, the insanely crowded J.Co Donuts. I didn’t go ga-ga over it back when I first had it in Bandung, Indonesia, but the Glazzy Donut that came free with a box of 6 changed my mind. In fact, that was better than the more flavorful donuts!

Severely Timelagged Post

And now, for shots from almost 2 months ago, from the Stone Temple Pilots Tribute Gig, 17th August 2007, Jamasia!

Any band with a saxophone is sure to astound!

It was Kabus, who played Down and Vasoline.

Vig taught me an important pointer – count with the drummer and shoot at 4, when the drummer is most likely to hit the cymbals and look cool doing it.

Flannel stripe shirts were the order of the day.

Velvia look! Photoshop’s Channel Mixer; in the Red Channel set Red +150, Green -25, Blue -25; Green set Green +150 (you get the idea…) On a side note, most shots were set to a White Balance of 2500 Kelvin, Green +9.

A side snide note to Canon fans (hello there!); the 350D and 400D doesn’t allow you to set Kelvin White Balance, and the 30D only goes down to 2800K, not low enough for the intense reds and oranges of gig lighting. Fortunately the 40D goes down to 2500K, finally.

Stonebay, grunge purveyors of the underground scene, would obviously make an appearance here. Wicked Garden, Plush (which was the first riff I played on my sister’s guitar), and the evergreen Interstate Love Song.

Brainhead did Creep and Big Empty.

Jangan tak solo!

Naked Breed however takes a more relaxed stance.

The ever photogenic Ashley Ang makes her rocking appearance!

The Sony A700 Launch!

And so, on the 2nd of October 2007, I went to the Sony Alpha 700 launch in Renaissance Hotel Kuala Lumpur. One of my works also made it to a 20×30″ print! My portrait was taken by Azrul K. Abdullah. This picture however was taken by KJ.

I love it when people go, “How’d he do that?

The shot was from the Incubus Tribute gig at Jamasia.

One of the many displays; I did not get a good look at them…

…until it was pointed out that there was the unreleased Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM lens! Note the focus hold button, distance window and focus limiter (with, oddly, a Manual Focus option.)

This is meant to be the faster, high-quality optics version of the Sony 75-300mm F4.5-5.6. The G designation specifies a Minolta/Sony lens of high grade, quite like the L lenses of Canon.

Shot from one of the Sony PhotoTVs. My Sony A100 was too contrasty to capture the tonality that the TV showed!

Regretfully, I did not pixel peep at the HDMI-ready TV. I should’ve! It would supposedly allow you to view a photo like a large print up close.

And then it was revealed what was powering the TVs; a single A700! George the Sony Alpha product manager then used his (supplied) Sony A700 remote control to go through the menus. It was on slideshow mode all this while!

Hair Male

This is a very delayed meme from Cheesie.

Post up 8 pictures of your different hairstyles (the crazier the better).

Up to most of 2004 – short and easy hair.

June 2005 – I thought twirling my hair and backcombing it would give me fake dreadlocks.

September 2005 – past the mouth, where long hair finally pays off because it no longer annoys your face when the wind blows.

March 2006 – guitar capos for hair bands!

June 2006 – the octopus.

September 2006 – the Phil Anselmo shampoo model.

October 2006 – the thing.

November 2006 – the royal peacock is reborn!

July 2007 – the headbanger.

And finally, the bonus – October 2007, the hair that reaches until the navel. I tried to make my abs not visible to avoid this looking like some Men-looking-for-men site.

It has been over three years, since October 11th 2004, that I have not had a pair of scissors cut my hair. (Exceptions being razors to equalize my sideburns and beard.)

Those of you who counted will notice 10 pictures. This is the sacrifice I had to make to grant all of you a pardon from being tagged in the meme!