Monthly Archives: May 2008

Pop-up Power

For those who thought the A200 pop-up flash was short and useless, think again – it gives enough clearance for a iISO to ISO hotshoe adapter, and a ISO mount flash! This means you can bounce upwards, while having forward fill flash, without any funky diffusers!

Sunburstin’ Goodness

Crowd shots from the Sunburst Music Festival, 15th March 2008, Bukit Kiara Equestarian Park.

At the gates. 2pm, the ticket said, but there was no sign of allowable entry until 3pm!

And so, the crowd waited.

I started a joke…

Reta don’t need to she’s naturally funny!

Finally, the crowd gets in.

Two lenses were used primarily – my Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan and the Tamron 200-400mm F5.6 (in case I couldn’t get within media shooting range of the stage.) This is the Tamron, hence that distant look.

Not easy to spot a super-tele-wielding dude when the tele is black. Shot with the Tamron.

Ooo, shinyyy.


Darn the belt!

Darn you look familiar!

Darn the rain!

Some people just naturally strike catwalk poses without even knowing.

Yeah, Sparta to you too.

Rain won’t stop me from getting to Parliament!

Is that guy on stage wearing diapers and only diapers?

Eleh perasan chick. I’ve seen her around, and she has always sensed my presence.

Yes, misdirected air kisses to you too.

She has reserved this railing; what am I to do?

Back in the Media Center, the air-conditioner is much welcome.

Hmmm, now she doesn’t notice.

Outside, girls screamed for Brandon Boyd!

Drifting Away

I don’t have a clue what cars they are, or what event this is, but I do know they should be good ol’ rear wheel drives and this is a drift event. I was just walking from my office to Bukit Jalil STAR LRT station, I swear!

Man, drift was my favorite Need For Speed: Carbon game mode, especially the ones that went downhill.

Dude are you recording this?
Yeah, I am!

Time to buy insurance. I mean, numbers.

I didn’t hit anybody yay!

Myterious face-less car.

A touch of modern.

Breakin’ barriers.

Hold on, freeze that!

Ooo, a Canon EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 with the telltale red ring, signifying it is an L lens. Riiight.

Anyway, all shots used the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan, in Aperture Priority, F4-F8, ISO200, to get the shutter speed around 1/30-1/60th of a second.

Assorted Geeking Out

Tamron 14mm F2.8, hand-mounted in front of my A700.

The toilet bowl diffuser I bought for fun, mainly because it came with four color gels. FOUR color gels! Of course, all four colors were quite useless for matching flash color to ambient light. The red and yellow gels didn’t match tungsten, and the green didn’t match flourescent. At least they make funky colors.

Also, knowing how I can bounce against walls better has reduced the necessity of this.

Macdude‘s baby carriage.

Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 at YL Camera, Pudu Plaza. Sharp as heck, but unfortunately not usable on full-frame no matter what focal length.

Sometime back, I tried the Canon 24mm F3.5 Tilt-shift. This was at F3.5. Yes, F3.5!

Scheimpflug! Also at F3.5.

Of course, my Vivitar 24mm F2.0 Tilt-shift is way brighter, and has more flexibility when it comes to tilting as it is not limited to one axis.

Sony 11-18mm F4.5-5.6 DT, taken for a run from the guy who likes to jump.

Big type.

I find it hard to make ultra-wides express the wideness of architecture, but I got lucky this time.

Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan at 70mm F4.

Minolta 28-70mm F2.8G at 70mm F2.8. Note that the beercan has a ‘drawn’ bokeh while the 28-70mm smears and softens.

Can’t say I like that kind of rendition, but it works great for portraits.

G whiz!

It’s chunky, and way bigger than the Konica Minolta 28-75mm F2.8, whose output I prefer. Its minimum focusing distance is 85cm, while the new Sony Carl Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 SSM does 34cm near (and 1:4 macro while at it!)

It’s also slow on the A700, and even slower on the A100! The CZ 24-70mm meanwhile is the fastest SSM I’ve ever tried, with instant response and focus. Of course, the CZ isn’t reknowned for bokeh but I’d take it any day over the portraitish 28-70mm.

Ironically, a Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 I tried had a similiar portraitish look, but softer and with a touch of minor CA. The Konica Minolta 28-75mm F2.8 was sharp as they come, though!

Then came the extreme geeks. I had met my matches. Ament’s BP-200 wired into the remote shutter release of his A100. Tape on hotshoe to tighten flash fit.

David’s very cool flash bracket.

No wait, it gets even cooler!

Kids do not try this at home unless you’re out of warranty.

I repeat, DO NOT!

These are the three screws that screw with focus.

Left to right: Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm F1.4, Minolta MC 28mm F2.5, Vivitar 24mm F2.0.

Left to right: Minolta MD 35mm F1.8, Minolta MC 28mm F2.5, Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm F2.4 (whoa, deeply poisoned by this 20cm close-focusing lens I am) and the Carl Zeiss Jena 135mm F3.5.

The Minolta 28-70mm F2.8G is a handsome chunky lens.

SAL70300, G!

A700 with Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM.

A700 with Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan.

What a long, long box.

Not so invisible when sniping. Chunky body, but it looks very industrial, like the Carl Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 SSM or the Sony Carl Zeiss 85mm F1.4. The single barrel is sexy.

Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM, in the hood.

Left: Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan; right: Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM. The Sony is shorter and stumpier. Solid build.

The Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan, at maximum extension, is shorter than the Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM at 300mm.

Ironically, the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan is an internal zoom, extending focus lens, while the Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM is a extending zoom, internal focus lens.

Full extension + hood. I sincerely hope Sony doesn’t go the Canon way; that is, design oversized lenses to attract men who seek to compensate. Minolta had always kept its lenses conservatively small, and lenses didn’t have to be big if they didn’t have to.

The hood does not have a sliding window to access polarizers. This may be a minus point for some people, but I don’t use a polarizer on a telephoto lens.

Sony 2x teleconverter versus my Kenko 2x teleconverter (not documented this purchase yet!)

Note the protruding front element on the Sony teleconverter, which prevents about all Sony lenses except the Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM, Sony 300mm F2.8G SSM and Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus from being mounted. Yes, the Sony teleconverter does not work with the Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM. 🙁

The rear side; note the amount of clearance! My guess is that Sony teleconverters are matched to the big Gs which is why they are so frontward.

Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM at 300mm F5.6. EXIF included. Bokeh is classic Minolta G type, OOF highlights always have a glow about them.

EXIF included. Sharpness? All there!

Testing LCA on the Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM. Very subdued, with modern color.

In comparison, this is from the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan – magenta/green LCA is very apparent. I prefer these classic Minolta colors.

100mm F4 with the beercan.

100mm F5 with the Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM.

Sample shot from the Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM with EXIF data.

So what does the SSM on this one feel like? A lot more responsive. It doesn’t take a fraction of a second to kick in, like I’ve experienced some times on the Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM or other brands’ equivalent 70-200mm F2.8s with internal motors. Not quite as instant as the Carl Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 SSM, but definitely as responsive as its screw driven brethren.

Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM apertures:
70mm onwards F4.5
90mm onwards F5.0
135mm onwards F5.6 (yes, disappointing)

Mountin’ Olympus

Taken from a very cool camera – the Olympus E-420! 2000 Kelvin.

On the other end is 12000 Kelvin.

Yep, the Olympus E-420 is out! Unfortunately, they didn’t have the Olympus Zuiko Digital 25mm F2.8 pancake lens I was so looking forward to, here. I love pancakes when can I have one?

Kelvin WB in Live View. You have to hold down the EV button while rolling the dial though. The Sony A300/A350 puts their WB on the left of the screen so you get a clear view of the scene, while the Nikon D300/D3 puts it at the bottom if I remember correctly. Either way, it’s great to be able to set Kelvin WB in Live View.

The Live View Imager AF mode is AWESOME!

I used the camera exclusively in Live View, because Imager AF was pretty alright for a contrast-detect AF system! This was a lot faster than the trodding, misfocusing tripod-mode Nikon D300, or the slightly faster Canon EOS 450D. It felt like an old, slow point-and-shoot… but this was still ages beyond the D300 or 450D.

The lens used was the Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6, a compact little wonder.

I didn’t even have time to check if the optical viewfinder showed all the settings inside, which Olympus has never failed to do, and I salute them for that.

Of course, the tilting-mirror system that is in the Sony A300/A350 gives phase-detect AF which is still the fastest AF in Live View, but this comes pretty close! I can only imagine if a 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 SWD was mounted on this…

Of course, there was a downside – the mirror had to go down before going up to release the shutter. ARGH! When I pressed the shutter in Live View, the screen darkened while freezing the image (which said 0:00:09.00). By the time the mirror went down and came up, the image recorded 0:00:10.07. 1.07 second shutter lag.

When I shot it, it said 0:00:34 ST 05. It recorded at 0:00:35.32. A variable shutter lag?

If not for this shutter lag in Live View, which was a bit too long, I’d already be dreaming about this camera all night. The E-420 with 25mm F2.8 pancake is something that would be appreciated very much by casual shooters who want a little pocketable buddy. Get a waist pouch and a FL-36R and you’re set for anything. And maybe a grappling hook, should foot zoom only get you so far.


And now, for the leftover shots from a March 9th 2008 Putrajaya outing with a bunch of Sony Alpha 700 cameras!

Part One here.

Nic gets full blast.

KJ conjures a shoe.

A clown should be able to pull some magic, like multiply it by 3.

…I don’t even know where the towel came from eh, KJ?

This is the remix.

Aligned using Adobe Photoshop and made into GIF animations using Adobe ImageReady.

How did we do it?

The bundled Sony A700 remote, and 5 A700s on tripods. There were problems with coverage though, as often the remote might not hit all 5 cameras at the right angle. Only my camera controlled 6 flashes wirelessly. Other cameras had to have their flashes off.

Manual focus was used, and ironically, we had a few A100 and A200 users, of which we borrowed their kit lenses for color and sharpness consistency. There was some variation however, as we forgot to account for differing UV filters and the flare that came with them.

(Thanks y’all!)

As for alignment, we used a yo-yo string (thanks Ewin!), though anything with variable length shouldn’t be used. Height was compared to a pillar nearby, with a F56 mounted, pointed straight up. To check levelness, the top of the F56 was compared to a fixed point of the pillar using a mobile phone, and the camera plus tripod was rotated to ensure evenness.


18mm F8 1/5s ISO400, 5500 Kelvin White Balance.

Thank you for your kit lenses:
Clive Ngu

Thank you for your A700 cameras:
Harry Choo

I have a more refined idea that can do a 360 degree rotation. Till the next time!

Spice Train

Two Indian guys got on the LRT at Bandar Tasik Selatan. They sat opposite me.

One smelt pleasantly of green tea, the other smelt deliciously of tumeric.

Such an addictive and curious blend, that didn’t fail to amaze each time I took a sniff.

It’s like they were weary travellers, each having hitched a ride on the back of a spice truck.