Monthly Archives: October 2008

A900 Too

EXIF included again, for my second round with the A900!

Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5 at 24mm F3.5. I love the light falloff that comes naturally from using non-telecentric lenses on the A900! It only appears sometimes and I don’t know how to replicate it.

Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5 at 105mm F4.5.

This is a 100% crop. I didn’t even know that there was a URL!

Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5 at 105mm F6.3 ISO200. 100% crop, with some Hue Saturation Lightness to reduce the chromatic aberration.

Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 at 135mm F1.8. 100% crop! Ahmike shot this.

Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 at 135mm F1.8. That’s the Zeiss color right there in the flamin’ red mountain.

Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 at 135mm F1.8. More of that fountain!

Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 at 135mm F1.8. Focusing accuracy is amazing with the A900 at all distances!

Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 at 135mm F1.8.

100% crop. Spot on! Some NR applied.

Minolta 50mm F1.4 at F1.4. Not sure if Ahmike or KJ took this picture. Slightly out-of-focus (operator error.) Szetoo and I and a frame.

IZ A900?

Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro at 24mm F2.8 minimum focus distance. Very typical Sigma bokeh.

Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 at 135mm F1.8.

Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 at 135mm F1.8, ISO2000. Noise can be greatly reduced by setting Contrast -3, Saturation -3, Sharpness +3, Lightness -2, Zone -1. It gives a subtle look which contrasty lenses can counter with saturated color.

A 100% crop of the previous picture. The other eye is in focus, not this one, but I show you this crop as it shows more shadow. Without resorting to RAW, this is how clean I could get it with High ISO NR set to Normal.

My first proper evening with the A900

And now, for my first proper shots from the Sony Alpha 900! All EXIF data is included.

Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan at 210mm F8. I always shoot plants with Daylight WB to give the green its color. DRO Level 3 helped, too.

Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX at 17mm F2.8. Note how shallow the depth of field is… even my watch is out-of-focus. I love the natural light fall-off at the edges, and I waited for the sunlight to hit my hands to pull extra attention to it.

Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX at 17mm F16. This is with DRO Level 3. Hmm wait what’s that on the second floor?

Right, it’s a person.

Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX at 17mm F2.8. This is with DRO Level 5. Did I mention that I love the light fall-off?

Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX at 17mm F2.8. This is with DRO Level 5.

Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan at 210mm F4. This is a 50% crop! Despite the A900 having only a 10.58 megapixel APS-C crop mode, it is actually advantageous when tracking – the AF assist sensors spread around do a much better job than the center double-cross AF sensor of the A700 (which packed 12.2 megapixels in APS-C) or the A350 (which packed 14.2 megapixels in APS-C). Also, the AF sensors of the A900 are only in the APS-C area, so you know if your subject is off the frame. Being able to see outside your APS-C area, when APS-C capture mode is selected, is very useful for fast-flying birds.

Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan at 210mm F4. This is a 100% crop.

Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan at 210mm F4. This is in APS-C capture mode.

Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan at 130mm F4. This is in APS-C capture mode, regrettably; if I had quickly switched back to full-frame capture mode, I could zoom in at 210mm and get a shallower depth of field. But I still like this picture, the car was glowing and begging me to take its picture! DRO Level 3 boosted the background.

On the LRT, I tweaked my Creative Style: Vivid to -3 Contrast, -3 Saturation, +3 Sharpness, -2 Brightness and -1 Zone. This gave a muted look to the pictures that will follow (but they also decrease noise dramatically.)

Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX at 35mm F4. My friend asked if I was afraid to whip out my camera – I said no, knowing the location and the conditions. In this case I wasn’t brandishing a battery grip (though I wish my Minolta 50mm F1.4 was on, for ultimate stealth.)

Oh, and what’s he going to do, get up? That would’ve made a more interesting picture…

Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX at 17mm F3.2, cropped. Later at Tarita Low Yat, a photographer (who has a food book coming up with pictures from his A350!) checks out the A900 + F58 + battery package. I gave him a few pointers but I had to go so I didn’t see the deal through. 🙁

Yes, that’s the kit lens on it. Told him how to bypass auto-APS-C mode, too!

Minolta 50mm F1.4 at 50mm F1.4, ISO1600, WB set at 3200K M4. Gotta love how F1.4 throws everything else into defocus. That’s a wonderful camera by the way, the Canon Ixus 870 IS… 28mm wide and pretty darn good macro! Of course, the Panasonic LX-3 was all sold out…

Minolta 50mm F1.4 at 50mm F1.4, ISO1600, WB set at 3200K M4. This alone granted the setting memory slot #2!

This is what I’ve been looking for all this while – INSPIRATION! And the A900 renewed it. If the solid rubber grip, 100% bright viewfinder and pump-action shotgun mirror slap don’t inspire you to shoot some magical pictures, I don’t know what will.

Cause Played

And now, for the last shots from Youth ’08, on the 20th of January 2008! That’s Dennis Lau on violin.


Interesting costumes for the Trendsetting Fashion Extravaganza.

All shot with the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan…

…which gives decently, subtly defocused backgrounds.

Celine and her alteration of the Youth ’08 T-shirt.

Mr. DJ enjoying his mix.


I like her strutting attitude.

Hannah T brings on the Animax.

Hereforth are costumes that any otaku could quickly identify.

Cool bomber jacket!

Even cooler cape.

I can’t even identify which Sailor this is. Which is a good thing, I guess.

And of course, a Jedi!

…which everybody can identify… I’d think.

And here’s a Sith.

Computer game character.

Angel kiss.

Howdy Sailor!

Full Coverage

And now, for more shots from the Sony Alpha Convention 2008!

Ted through an A900 and my Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye! (I miss my M42 adapter already…)

This is what it can do to a logo.

There’s something fishy about KJ.

And then, there was the Minolta 16mm F2.6 diagonal fisheye, which finally looks like a fisheye when on the A900!

I stuck my hand in for this.

Free tea and coffee.

I like the built-in B12 filter of the Minolta 16mm F2.8 diagonal fisheye (which is also there on the Sony). It is used for film bodies, where daylight film is loaded but you are shooting in tungsten lighting. This would thus correct the color!

Likewise, the orange filter allows tungsten film to be used in daylight. Then there’s the red filter, great for increasing contrast in black-and-white shots.

Then, there was the Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC Macro, at 17mm F2.8 at minimum focusing distance.

Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC apertures:
17mm onwards F2.8
18mm onwards F3.2
28mm onwards F3.5
35mm onwards F4.0
60mm onwards F4.5

What I found amazing was the minimum focus distance of 20cm, which actually resulted in a working distance much, much closer than any other lens I’ve ever used!

The smaller LCS-SC5 and the bigger LCS-SC20 on display (which I’d never seen before.)

A special edition Sony 28mm F2.8 (the focus ring had come off!)

The unreleased but well-acclaimed Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm F2.8 ZA SSM (what a mouthful, and I’m never sure of the sequence). This lens is the Canon killer – most Canon wide-angle lenses are poor performers, while Zeiss does well in that department. Behind is the Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM, another possibly amazing optic. Normal tele zooms that reach 400mm are rather poor but this should be sharp wide open.

The unknown wooden “super tele-photo fixed” lens makes an appearance here! Looks like a possible Sony 600mm F4 G SSM indeed.

This is the “tele-photo fixed” lens. Some hope that this mock will be a Sony 200mm F4 G SSM Macro. We’ll see!

There are two captions – one is “large aperture, wide angle fixed” and the other “wide angle fixed”. The left one looks too identical to the 16-35mm so we’ll leave that out (and it has TWO rings, meaning the sign might be wrong.)

So that leaves this to be what some hope to be a 35mm F1.8 or a 24mm F1.4. I do hope it’s the 24mm though. 😀

Price cuts on the retail prices! This is the fourth and last slide showing the price cuts.

Now nobody can say that the Sony retail prices are more expensive in Malaysia (when in fact, they are close to Canon retail prices.)

Interestingly though, the Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM was RM8599 retail at one point.

Sony 50mm F2.8 Macro and my watch.

This is what happens when you get exposed to too many great lenses – you get poisoned. This, with the Tokina AT-X 400mm F5.6!

A display unit of the Sony 300mm F2.8G SSM. There’s a slight dent, which explains why there is no hood on this one.

The rare as heck Minolta 100mm F2.8 Soft Focus lens.

This is what it makes, softness from 0 to 3 that you can dial in.

Of course, nothing beats the Minolta/Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus lens. Whatever in focus is sharp as heck, while anything out of focus is reduced to creamy blobs. This is different from the Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8, which makes out-of-focus points become uniformly-lit circular discs.

Anyone who mistakes a Smooth Transition Focus for a Soft Focus should be beaten with one of those wooden mock lenses.

Closing time! A big roll case and cameras stacked like so. Ouch!

Single Reflex

I’ve been bitten by the pyramid scheme of the glorious 100% coverage 0.73x magnification viewfinder of the Sony Alpha 900.

It’s the brightest viewfinder I’ve seen among the “affordable” full-frame dSLRs available (even looking through a Canon 5D MkII, I felt like I was looking through a polarizer.) The A900’s viewfinder is so big, you feel like you could live inside it. But not just that – it’s also very bright! I guess I’ll skip the optional Type-M precision focus screen to have the joy of a viewfinder that doesn’t look like it’s there at all.

oooH, a top LCD panel to hush the whiners who never understood why the Minolta Dynax 7 had the LCD at the back and at such a font size.

Coincidentally, most settings always showed inside the viewfinder, which is what I loved about the A700. I can tweak Drive mode and it would show inside the viewfinder!

A beefier grip with a curve fits my hand perfectly.

I will whine about the missing Eye-Start Continuous AF (I used it to activate AF-C because I usually use Direct Manual Focus). This was half due to users not wanting the feature (or using it) and due to EU regulations that ban nickel (which some people are supposedly allergic to.) The grip sensor found on the A700 was made of nickel, and EU models shipped without the grip sensor!

Devoid of stickers except at the bottom. NOM!

Mirror slap is felt when the mirror goes back down. I like it, it’s like a pump-action shotgun!

So what was the first shot I took of it? My faithful Sony Alpha 700, that’s what. Okay perhaps a more glamorous shot should’ve been done.

It’s taking a break for a long-needed servicing and maintenance. So no pixel-peeping comparison shots!

Sony 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 DT versus Boon’s Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5.

Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5 at 24mm F3.5. Yes light fall-off I know, but it looks… nice!

Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5 at 105mm F4.5.

So what do 24.6 megapixels mean? It means that a 100% crop is that big!

Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX at 17mm F7.1.

100% crop! Madness. Try to spot what I was zooming in on, on the picture above!

Yes, it would seem rather noisy at ISO800. But make it a 66% crop and you get the same noise levels as the A700. I should’ve been able to get more sharpness at say F16 as diffraction doesn’t kick in so soon for bigger sensors. If my ol’ Sigma was up to it, that is.

The A900 definitely outresolves my eyes. However, much care must be taken to focusing due to the shallow depth of field caused by being closer to the subject when using a full-frame SLR.

Minolta 50mm F1.4 at F1.4. The A900 seems to pull much better glow and potential from this lens. I know I was inspired indeed! (Though not him, he was tired of waiting for his turn to touch it.)

So I had to sell some stuff which I don’t use much anyway (and will continue to offload.) Thanks to Anas, Ken, Jeffry, Yeong, Wong, Alexes, Malek, George and of course Alex (I owe you big time man!)

And now, we rewind to the Sony Alpha Convention 2008, a 3-day event at Meridien KL, KL Sentral. Wow I finally have Chinese squinty eyes in this one!

My lightsaber of daylight-to-tungsten gel.

There were various talks – this is a capture off Grant Corban’s excellent wedding photography talk.

Everybody took screenshots. 🙂

Some talks had the bad timing of being right after a hearty lunch.

Lunch, you say? Milk chocolate fondue, that was a first for me!

You could also be snapping babes with the Harleys parked in the hall.


Macdude‘s talk even had a hands-on with studio lighting!

While I never got possession of the radio trigger, I used my F58 flash to trigger KJ’s F42 flash wirelessly.

(Cut to an A900 with the Minolta 16mm F2.8 diagonal fisheye.) Oh, and then there was a talk by George, the Product Manager of the Sony Alpha brand in Malaysia, for those walk-ins (400 seats were for Alpha customers only.) What I felt was really cool was that he was, at that time, explaining something technical I care a lot about – White Balance, in Kelvins. Ironic that it all started when he asked me to turn off AWB…

…and let’s crop this 24.6 megapixel file.

Ted-is-my-friend and some girl who wants to be his friend. With Ted’s A900 + 50mm F1.4.

On the last day, prizes were given out – the A700 + Sony 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DT went to Azrin for a blog contest.

Then there was the participation contest – ask a good question during the talks, and get a sticker. This uncle got the most stickers! There was a certain look on his face when he saw the crowd of green eyes. I think it was fear. After all, he just won an A900.

KJ didn’t win anything but he’s still happy.

Gliding High On Sugar

Sugar glider madness!

5 FPS at F1.4 and blending is not fast enough.

That, and you never know the exact point when they will jump.

So maybe you test the waters…

…or you divert to other cutesy things.

Oh and fragrant cockroaches (not that I’ve smelt… and that’s not my hand.)


Just a bit more!

So then we had an idea. What if we used the strobe function of my HVL-F56AM?

17mm F7.1 ISO200 at 1/10th of a second. It was probably 10 times at 100 Hertz at 1/32th power.

This was the first lucky shot, and it was also the last – every other time we tried, we’d fire the shutter and capture the sugar glider already landed. Either that, or we fired too early. It wouldn’t reliably jump, either.

I’d loved to have used a longer shutter speed to allow more time to catch the sugar glider… but longer shutter speeds would burn out the background, which was full of ambient light. Thus the only place this can happen is in a dark, dark studio…

Plugged And Played

26th July 2008 – Xfresh X-gig at Plug And Play, somewhere outside Sunway Pyramid!

Finally, a chance to go fishing up close with my Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye!

Yep, real close with ’em drums.

And that was Secret Love Affair.


Frequency Cannon with some heavy duty prayin’ to the gods of rock.

Kua Chee in full form.

One of three drummer brothers I used to mistake for one another.



They got the crowd surfing, all right.

Gotta love their expressions! All out schoolboy punk rock.


I love you guys so much you the best!

And then it was OAG.

Radhi, up close, is like a Slinky with no sense of gravity. Or a pogo stick.

There he is, harnessing his secret energy portal…

And thus, he levitates!

Still floating. They played the classics. The crowd was close to breaking the barriers.

Then there are those acrobatic Super Mario jumps!

Day Three, Been

Youth ’08 Day 3, the 20th of January 2008.

Interview with Melody!

“Funny” dance competition.

Mascots have fun, too!

The winner was the one with the loudest cheering. Not sure how he got it. JFK covered him.

I submitted my photos to a contest. Didn’t win.

Sometimes you don’t know the truth until it is projected to you on a screen.

Diana who is cute and accidentally blue!

Hannah Tan who is H_T!

Sailor moons.

Nice shades.

Joel Neoh (left) and Dennis Lau (right).

This band won the battle of the bands. Yes that’s the same mascot-grinder!

You all is rock!


I got a free Alpha Shooting Vest at the Sony Alpha Convention 2008 held at Le Meridien Hotel, 10th-12th October 2008. But instead of pictures, here are two videos for those who are not assured that this is an amazingly practical bag!

How to wear the Alpha Shooting Vest quickly (and how to remove it quickly!)

If the video does not load, click here:

Another video – how much can you put in an Alpha Shooting Vest?

If the video does not load, click here:

The sequence of what I took out:
1. Small flash (Sony HVL-F42AM)
2. Fisheye lens (Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye)
3. Big flash (Sony HVL-F58AM)
4. Prime lens and teleconverter (Minolta 50mm F1.4 and 1.5x teleconverter)
5. Medium telephoto (Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan)
6. Extra SLR body (Minolta Dynax 7)
7. Super telephoto (Tamron 200-400mm F5.6)
8. SLR camera with standard lens (Sony Alpha 700 with Sony 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 DT)

Pictures of the vest itself will come later! 🙂