Monthly Archives: March 2008

Under My Umbrella

For under RM60, you can have a cheap on-the-go reflector umbrella for your wireless flash photography!

What you need:

Wire Rope Clip 1/2″ pair – RM6.50
Silver-inside umbrella – RM10
Cheap tripod – RM40

Clamp the umbrella pole to the tripod’s arm. Click picture for bigger view.

The picture also shows what happens when you zoom to 85mm on the flash; it’s not that far off the center, honestly, so it is still very usable.

Note that the umbrella handle is higher to help with alignment.

Pictures using the umbrella will come later, heh. I’m exhausted yo.

Thanks ianho for building his own, which I took as inspiration, and macdude for ideas that contributed to this! (My umbrella handle is not detachable or removable unfortunately.)

Bent On Part 1

One very scorching, sunny 14th October 2007, a bunch of us went up to Bentong.

Note the shot would usually have a very underexposed building, but the Sony Alpha 700’s Dynamic Range Optimizer, set on DRO Manual Level 5, has maximum effect here. No Photoshopping other than resize and sharpen.

I don’t know what others see in this picture but I’ll put it up anyway.

17mm F2.8 2 seconds ISO6400 with a cheap infrared-pass filter. Oh, and black-and-white mode.

We headed to Chamang waterfalls, where I then whipped out my Super Aberrator – the misaligned, faulty Sigma 70-210mm F4-5.6! 210mm F6.3.

160mm F8. The chromatic aberration is so thick, it could be used for artistic effect.

200mm F6.3. Note the extremely soft corners!

The jungleman cometh!

135mm F11. KJ and the bokeh that appears to swirl behind him in concentric circles (much easier to see in real life, through the lens.)

210mm F11. Enough of the Super Aberrator already!

Now for some animation.

Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye, at F16, 1/1000s, ISO3200.

DRO was off for 5 FPS burst mode, as DRO would sometimes lag the 5 FPS. However, DRO Level 5 is awesome for extremely bright, contrasty situations, as it brings out the greens. Add that I was in Daylight White Balance for extra effect.

It started to drizzle, so we headed home.

Well, sorta, not before dropping by a restaurant in Gohtong Jaya and discovering that KJ was actually a farmboy. This was actually quite dim evening light. Again, DRO Level 5 brought out the greens to beyond what my favorite Fujifilm Superia could do. I love it!

The rain kept us in the restaurant for a few good hours.

Crash Bang

I was in a Metrobus a few nights before the elections. It was a typical Ampang jam. Motorbikes could be seen whizzing past with their BN flags hanging out.

One such flag hit the mirror and smashed it. The bus driver honked repeatedly in rage!

He then honked each time he stopped at a bus stop, to get passengers.

I could imagine his rage. If I was him, I would drive down to the ceramah, honk at everybody until he reached the front, and holler out;

Bendera BN pecah cermin ini! Siapa bayar? Siapa bayar?

I registered to be a voter sometime in October 2007. When they announced that one could check if one’s name was on the electoral roll online, I checked. Nope, I wasn’t there. Checked again. Nope, still nothing.

Despite this, I decided to try my luck on Election Day. I went to my old primary school, just across one junction from my grandmother’s house. Checked again.

Nope, I registered too late.

I walked around my old school to see what had changed. Many rooms had become storerooms and messes. The toilets were still in slipshod condition… and two toilets on the top floor had become junkyards. No wonder I was terrified of these back then.

The school seemed amazingly small now. I felt like a giant!

The voters, I saw, were mostly of the older generation. Where were the chicks? Do they not care about the future? (Or was it just Saturday-morning-after-a-Friday-night?)

At least, these voters shared my vote. I didn’t even know he was the new vice-president of MCA until he lost his seat!

Who knows what there is to be dissatisfied about? I don’t like the mosquitos, or the crime rate (drive to SS2, get a broken window). Still, it’s nice to know that the system worked.

Maybe, it was this campaign poster that backfired.

Yes, it does look like there is a red packet with money inside, being exchanged! Not under the table mind you, openly given over the table.

(It’s actually a passport being handed to the lady, at the immigration department.)

And only one choice is an ironic statement, because choice implies more than one choice. Maybe “best choice” would sound less pushy.

That said, welcome! Both the place I currently live in, and the place I was registered at, have new faces.

Sony Alpha 350 hands-on

Finally, the Sony Alpha 350 hits our shores!

This is the first Sony Alpha digital SLR with Live View, and Quick AF Live View, which focuses much faster without a lot of mirrors flapping or slow focusing like competitors. It works just like a digital camera would!

More on the difference here.

Note the Live View/OVF switch – it goes back and forth very, very fast, like it was entirely mechanical. This is unlike the Live View found on Canon and Nikon, which are hidden in dials or menus somewhere.

With my Minolta 70-210mm F4 “beercan” lens. The 2.7″ screen tilts up and then outwards.

Smart Teleconverter! It gets its own button to the right of the AEL button – it cycles between no crop, 1.4x crop and 2x crop. It does not matter if you’ve picked Small, Medium or Large – at 1.4x the camera always sets itself to Medium, and at 2x the camera always sets itself to Small.

This might confuse some people who choose Small, and then set Smart Teleconverter to 1.4x and find that the resolution is forced to Medium!

Also, oddly, you would think that you should get 100% coverage of the viewfinder when using the Smart Teleconverter instead of the usual 95%… but having framed with the Smart Teleconverter and then shot, the extra 5% comes in the picture.

It is also understandable why the Smart Teleconverter only goes up to 2x – the spherical matte surface of the A350 isn’t fine enough to show detail beyond that. However, after shooting, the image is a lot sharper and clearer than it is when looking at Live View with the Smart Teleconverter.

Logically, since the Live View sensor is looking at the viewfinder on your behalf, you do see the AF points on screen always. Also, when using the Smart Teleconverter, the AF points enlarge! Oddly, you can’t select focusing mode. I don’t know what mode it becomes though.

It can fold up quiiite high, though sadly, not sideways. Nevertheless this makes for a much sturdier screen.

Telephoto lenses held up with one hand will show that the Live View isn’t the fastest refreshing thing on the planet. You can actually see motion blur trails on the screen (which won’t appear in the picture.) However, put both hands on the camera and it looks alright again.

You could probably stick some notes in here, heh.

I forgot to check if Creative Styles, White Balance and Exposure Compensation show in Live View, though.

The Drive and ISO button feel easier to press than the Sony A200. I’m not sure because I didn’t have one to compare it with.

Speaking of Drive, the A350 does 2.5 frames per second (FPS), the A300 does 3 FPS, and the A700 does 3/5 FPS. However, in Live View, the FPS lowers considerably to about 1.5. Hey, at least it can do continuous AF!

Added 12:25pm: Another thing – I found the A350 viewfinder to be reasonably bright despite the lower magnification. Still very, very usable.

Also, the difference in 2.5 FPS and 3 FPS is minimal; you would not be able to tell the difference just by hearing it… unless you play the drums.

Habis Meredang

I’m back from Redang! A quick peek at what animated antics happened:

The real thing, not an artificial wave pool.

Sand throwing!

Beach volleyball!

(Of course, it would’ve been better if the girls were playing. I don’t know where they went!)

Shot with the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan or the Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye, on the Sony Alpha 700 at 5 frames per second.