Monthly Archives: August 2008

Jazz Manifest

Rewind to the 25th of July 2008 – the Sunrise Mont Kiara Jazz Fest 2008!

With virtuoso drummer Lewis Prasagam

…and his keyboardist.

Oh, and of course, hot vocalist Diana Liu!

…not to say that Hunny Madu is not a sizzler herself. She got soul and a lot of funk, while keeping some hip hop sensibilities from her bygone days.

By now we have fast forwarded to the 2nd of August 2008.

The Basics: Adil burns up the saxophone and Hiro slaps on bass.

Hey you look like somebody’s sister!

Hiro playing some of the funkiest snaky basslines.

Gotta love big stage light!

Karen Nunis Blackstone.

An ever recurring bassist (even for Lewis.)

John Thomas

This Week In Geek


The Canon 1000D and 50D come to the table.

The 1000D is a Frankenstein between the 400D and 450D, featuring the better grip and ergonomics of the 450D, that slow Contrast-Detect AF in Live View, but without the spot metering that the 450D has.

Well, at least it’s cheaper and seems relatively new. It looks like Canon’s way of catching up to the Sony A200 and Olympus E-420, the 2 cheapest dSLRs yet.

The Canon EOS 50D is finally a worthy upgrade, without the half-baked implementations of new technologies that came in the 40D – the 40D had a low-resolution 3″ LCD; the 50D now has the same 640×480 3″ LCD that the Sony A700, Nikon D90, D300, D700 and D3 have. It also adds a HDMI port which we’d seen on the Sony A700, Nikon D90, D300, D700 and D3.

The 40D had Phase Detect AF in Live View, which meant a mirror blackout; the 50D has the slow Contrast-Detect AF in Live View that was introduced with the 450D. Oh, and Face Detect too!

The 40D was limited to ISO3200 when the Nikon D300 and Sony A700 were offering ISO6400 even in APS-C. The 50D stops at ISO12800… at 15 megapixels. Whether this is still good quality is yet to be seen.

The 50D adds AF Microadjust, which was already on the Nikon D300, D700 and D3…

The 40D did 6.5 FPS while the 50D only does 6.3 FPS. Let’s hope it’s not like the 40D, where the 6.5 FPS only happens at shutter speeds faster than 1/1000s!

Finally, the joystick on the 40D was previously useless; now the 50D has a Quick Control mode which lets you change settings on screen using the joystick… quite like the Sony A700’s Quick Navi system, or what Olympus has had for quite a while now! (I hope I can finally use the joystick to scroll through pictures instead of spastically rolling the thumb dial repeatedly…)

Well done catching up, Canon!

So why doesn’t Canon make video mode in their dSLRs? Probably because they already make HD camcorders!


Now the real groundbreaker is the Nikon D90, the long-awaited replacement to the D80… including the only thing worth mentioning, HD video recording mode.

Of course, this isn’t the full HD experience – it’s only 720p not 1080p; it’s only 24 frames per second, you can’t step up to 60 frames per second where all professional video is recorded.

Oh, and it’s manual focus only.

In theory, the CMOS sensor should be able to give 2848p!

You can shoot casual stuff with this but when the subject is moving away from the plane of focus, be prepared for a fair bit of skilled MF-C – “manual focus continuous“. I’ll tell you that this is not easy! You’ll need a tripod for sure, because turning the focus ring will certainly affect your stability. (And how the heck does VR know whether to activate because you’re still, or stop because you’re panning, since you might be doing both in a video?)

Even if it could auto-focus, it would do so very slowly, like Contrast-Detect AF does it. Camcorders and point-and-shoots use Contrast-Detect AF also, but those are much faster because the sensor size is 4x smaller. An APS-C sensor needs 4x more precision which is why it’s much slower to focus. The Olympus E-420 and E-520 are notably faster because they have a 2x crop sensor, 1.4x smaller than an APS-C sensor.

However, the plus point, which would entice amateur movie makers, is that it would have the shallow depth of field of APS-C! Your average camcorder has a crop factor of 6x (hence, 4x smaller than the 1.5x crop). So you can put a 30mm F1.4 lens on, crank up the ISO to 1600, and record a movie in dim conditions… as long as I can get shutter speeds of 1/48th of a second or faster.

Me, well, I’d rather use a HD camcorder that has a 10x zoom constant F1.6 lens. So it’s F1.6 all the way; you can use it wide (50mm in 35mm equivalent) in low light, and tele in the low light. Videographers who shoot wider would get a wide-angle or fisheye converter, with no light loss! F1.6 fisheye anyone?

Oh, and there are no Nikkor VR lenses that go brighter than F2 (the Nikkor 200mm F2.0 VR). The F1.8 and F1.4 lenses are not stabilized.

So supposing, for versatility, a Nikkor 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 VR is used; that will give VR and some zoom capability. With F3.5, you might not get to expose your frames at at least 1/48th of a second, and your video would get this unpleasant slowmo strobing effect. (30 FPS would be less forgiving, needing 1/60th of a second to avoid looking slowmo.)

Edited: Oops, I knew there was no Nikkor 17-55mm F2.8 VR but for some reason I typed so at 4:38 AM heh.

The video recording in 720p is limited to 5 minutes, but no real director makes a single shot last 5 minutes.

So what about the rest of the D90? 12 megapixel CMOS supporting ISO6400, sensor cleaning, 4.5 FPS, interactive information display, 640×480 3″ LCD, Face Detect in Contrast-Detect AF in Live View, in a D80-style body. Ironically, in some ways, I prefer the D90’s button layout over the D700’s and D3’s.

I wonder if you can still fire the shutter while recording video! How about a mike jack? Or are they expecting a serious videographer to have a boom mike and later have the audio synced to the video? The least Nikon could do is add another mike to make it stereo.

Who knows, when this becomes popular, you won’t see the crowd raising phones at a concert; instead you’d see a sea of dSLRs.

This feature will certainly be copied and enhanced by other brands (my bet is on Olympus and their Micro Four Thirds system to do it right, first) so I’m not exactly so excited that I’d want to go out and get a D90 now. Even if I liked taking video… as shooting at F1.4 even, I might not get the 1/48s exposure I want, in dim areas. A fisheye at F8 and sunny days would be fine though.

I’ve a feeling that Sony will add the Smart Teleconverter in the A300/A350 to video mode. So you can digitally zoom videos too!


They’ve made a new concept, called Micro Four Thirds, with a shorter flange distance, for more compact, bright and wide lenses.

Ever wondered how Panasonic could make a 10x zoom F2.8 lens on their FZ-20? If the lens can be assembled much closer to the body, you can do so much more. A smaller sensor also lets F2.0 zooms on the Four Thirds mount exist.

Micro Four Thirds also almost certainly promised video recording. I’ve a feeling that Olympus will once again come out with the technology first – they did, after all, make the first Live View dSLR with auto-focus, the Olympus E-330.

I sure hope that they can scale their 25mm F2.8 pancake into a 25mm F1.4 on Micro Four Thirds while retaining the pancake form. That, and a 14mm F1.4, would be perfect to put in my front pocket.


Well, we’ll see what Sony has to launch at Photokina.

Rock Never Gets Old

A certain 25th of July 2008, I stepped into a bar…

…all too familiar. Or not too familiar.

There was loud music rockin’. This band? Meh. I shouted Freebird! and they didn’t play it!

Yep, it was the reopened Jamasia.

Ah, such wonderful memories of sitting in front on the wooden floor. Note that the bar moved to where the sound console was last at, and the sound console moved into a corner of the stage, and yet it seemed much spacier, with room for a snooker table at the back!

The occasion? Khai‘s birthday!

This guy single-handedly brought me to places which I wouldn’t or hadn’t been to in ages. I had not been to The New Paul’s Place, after it got raided one New Year’s Eve for “black metal”… until Khai had his screening of Ciplak there.

Likewise, I hadn’t been to Jamasia for months until he sent us all invites on Facebook!

Ironically, the first ever gig I’d been to, Good Golly, It’s A Gig! at the original location of No Black Tie (where a backpacker’s lodge is now) was organized by FYI Entertainment, of which he is a part of.

Meanwhile, they painted the guitar on the wall anew! All the signatures and autographs were gone!

Yes, that’s what Peter Hassan Brown must’ve thought, too…

Fender Stratocasters don’t have 23 frets!

Beer bottle slidin’ with Rollin’ Sixers. (Yes, formerly known as Triple6Poser.)

Henry doing a Slash.

Eddy… OHMYGOD EDDY! Where are your trademark long locks?

When I first entered, I saw him, grabbed his shoulders and went NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Yes, everybody heard it… it’s like a part in a comedy where the character screams and the camera zooms out into outer space.

Davina makes the funniest faces. 😀

Khai getting the “it’s okay, you down this one, it’s the last one okay? I won’t make you down any more…” treatment.

I also took the opportunity to take pictures and say “This is going on Facebook! This is going on Facebook! I’m going to tag you!

Well, I always wanted to say that. Not that I have actually uploaded any photos on Facebook of other people.

Davina’s got ants in her pants and wait whoa whazzat a very cool T-shirt!

Finally, the Rollin’ Sixers demarcated the big cyan guitar on the wall.

Nineteen Seven

Moonshine: A Homemade Acoustic Show, at The Apartment KLCC, 19th July 2008! This is Eu Gene.

Playing, of course, for Paolo Delfino

…and the Short Attention Span Band.

Guess who Stephanie is drumming for!

Yep, the acoustic version of Mili’z.

There’s the multi-instrumentalist Melina on guitar.

And hmmm, if they swapped violinists with Paolo they’d have an all-female band.

Say what?

Then, came the excellent David Knight.

He had this haunting voice, with some percussive guitar chops…

…to be used in loops and delay pedals.

I always love it whenever somebody comes up to stage and makes a boombox beat, records it in a loop, and adds layers to it.

Such is his power over the audience.

He went electronica, too!

Such inspired I was – the only artistes I’ve seen doing this were AJ of Pop Shuvit and Jamie Woon.

And then, on open mike, was the returning Cassandra!

She had a few covers from her jazz lounge days.

With that sultry voice, she’d surely be called back to stage.

And ending the set was the very hardworking gig organizer Reza Salleh with a couple of fresh new tunes of the upbeat variety!

Through a glass bowl.

Netto From The Ghetto, Live From Section Five

Andrew Netto live at No Black Tie, 7th July 2008!

Full house with reservations.

This is the bar area of No Black Tie, separate from the performance area.

As you can see I’m experimenting with black-and-white, with a tendency to maintain midtones like medium format does. Blown highlights are the easiest thing to do, so I thought of doing something different for a change.

But first, we have the The Ramanados! These guys play straight up rock with a classic, soulful tinge.

…featuring Kishore on vocals, sometimes.

There was a kickass cover of Sweet Child O’ Mine and Sweet Home Alabama.

Herman Ramanado can be seen doing double duty on piano…

…and bass. Well, not both at the same time.

Ooo, Elaine ponders.

And then it was time for Malaysia’s youngest standup comedian!

Him impersonating a, well, you can tell from the picture.

One thing that continues to amaze me is that his jokes are off the hook…

…he can make a joke out of anything, just by flipping through the newspapers…

…or asking a member of the audience what they do for a living. That’s a major plus point – he could probably go unscripted, because he’s genuinely funny!

The crowd loves him.

Later, he is joined by the Ramanados for a little singalong, featuring a Travis-style Hit Me Baby One More Time with Andrew’s own lyrics.

I think, though, that there is a reason rappers don’t sing – not to say that he’s a rapper, heh heh.

Time for more acoustic goodness!

Billie Jean is not his lover, he sang.

…what you say?

Frantic beats. Strangely, percussive beats come easy to Indians.

For more pictures, in color, click on his No Black Tie July 2008 link.


KLue Urbanscapes, 28th June 2008!

Trash your ashes here.

Take him away!

Puppet bigger than its master.

How to film a Back To The Future scene.

The Otherside Orchestra.

Paolo Delfino.

The marketplace.

Fisheye shoots fisheye.


Koko Kaina.

She looks so familiar! I didn’t know she was Malaysian. Like I met her through a friend before. And no I don’t say that as a pickup line ever.

And his percussion unit is a bottle of pepper.

Being cramped up to the side, shooting her interaction with her guitarist was more interesting, especially since she kept smiling at him!

Next band…

Saw the immense crowd for Koko Kaina leave, leaving a small group behind.


Tugu Drum Circle.

Seven Collar T-Shirt.

I lined up for a burger (and the line was long), and suddenly Daft Punk started playing over at Lap Sap at the open field, just as I reached the front

of the queue. Argh! How was I to dance with a burger?

Later, I finished the burger, and danced. Then I was thirsty and got myself a drink… and at that moment, Twilight Action Girl played Daft Punk.


Ooo, these guys look kinda familiar…

This is what happens when Jenga and glue mix.

Three out of four members of Twilight Action Girl. At first, Lap Sap sounded like TAG, but only when TAG came, I was able to tell the difference – Lap Sap

plays songs and blends them; TAG just plays an entire song without really trying to mix songs.

DJ Bunga crowd surfing!

Izal of One Buck Short rocking out with his bass… which unfortunately got stolen later that night.

These aren’t lasers – they’re real ropes.

These aren’t trance zombies.

Sony HVL-F58AM pre-production hands-on!

An embargo has been lifted, so I am honored to present to you shots of an unshootable object!

Yes, it’s the Sony HVL-F58AM, nicknamed the Cobra Head, for its amazing, revolutionary flash swivel system!

It comes with a new hotshoe foot that can carry the weight of it even when it’s turned sideways and back.

The pouch is extra big, with a bigger head for its bulky body. That means the flash head has to enter the pouch first. Note the straps which are crossed – you can hook it to your belt in landscape or portrait orientation! Very, very cool.

Note that the flash hiding in the pouch, in the picture, is a F56, not the F58.

I love transforming things and this is no exception – it folds neatly in half to fit into the pouch. When it folds, it makes a loud crocodile-like snap!

If the F58 is the Cobra Head, then its hotshoe foot is the Bat Clapper.

I only had a brief hands-on experience with a pre-production F58, without the manual. This is not representative of the final product.

So, can it be triggered by our pop-up flash?

Do you need to press a button to unlock the swivel mechanisms?
No, full freedom left and right, and forward and back.

Is it heavy?
Strangely, it feels lighter than the F56.

Is there a sync port and a port for an external battery pack?
Yes to both, exactly the same ones as on the F56.

Can the F58 trigger the F42 in Commander mode, while mounted on the body?
Yes, but I don’t know how to change the F42 from RMT1 to RMT2.

Can the F58 trigger the F56 in Commander mode, while mounted on the body?
I could not figure out how to, but this does not mean that it cannot. However, there might be a provision to this, as the F58 was not a production copy.

Is there a strobe mode?

Can the F42, F56 and F58 be triggered at the same time, using the pop-up flash?
Yes. If the final version of the F58 cannot trigger the F56 in Commander mode, then those who want to use a F56 and F58 at the same time, will have to trigger both wirelessly.

Moon June

Here are pictures from Moonshine: A Homemade Acoustic Show, 21st June 2008, at The Apartment, KLCC!

Yu-Ri and his acoustic rock.

Slowjaxx featuring Reza Salleh.

Random dark figure.

Zarul and the blues. I loved his Muddy Valley blues.

And yet another personal achievement – getting a bunch of people with 50mm prime lenses…

…in the Sony Alpha mount (except the guy in front here.) Five Alpha users in total. (One not pictured.) A rarity indeed.

Julian Mokhtar in a more chilled out state. Even his acoustic guitar fretboard is scalloped!

Zalila Lee drums for…

…soulful songbird Mia Palencia! Do not mess with her for she also does kickass vocal guitar solos.