Monthly Archives: April 2009

Upgrading Serially

My hard disk was screaming for more space, and I knew it was time to upgrade. I wanted to upgrade to a Serial ATA hard disk (Parallel ATA IDE hard disks are no longer cool) but my MSI K7N2-L Delta motherboard didn’t support it. So, this is how I upgraded, serially:

Sunday – went to get a 32GB CF card, SATA power cable and SATA controller PCI card. I wanted to get the Maxtor 1 Terabyte SATA hard disk but Digital Mall PJ didn’t have stock.

Why do I have a bias for Maxtor? It all started in my school days when Quantum and Seagate were popular choices. Seagate was a crasher among my friends so I bought a Quantum which still works to today.

I then bought one of those infamous Western Digital 80 GB PATA IDE hard disks with 8 MB cache – mine crashed a few years later, as well as 2 of my colleagues’ exact same model. Baaad Western Digital!

Then, Maxtor bought Quantum. Maxtor was pretty untainted so I last bought a Maxtor 300GB PATA IDE hard disk.

Ironically, Seagate bought Maxtor! So was I doomed or what? I don’t know if buying a Seagate would give me the reliability of a Maxtor or the crap of a Seagate.

So I Googled:
Seagate crash – about 733


Feeling angry, a Dave Mustaine kind of angry.

One of my major, major pet peeves is when people do not credit me for pictures that I have taken for free (and they have taken it for free, too.) If you take it for free, please credit me.

I have to watermark my pictures, not because I’m afraid of it being stolen, but because people just keep forgetting to say where they got it from, so I take the trouble to put the watermark in so they don’t have to do it.

Heck, even if you paid me for pictures, don’t go around saying somebody else took it. (Fortunately, that has not happened.)

Somebody removed my watermark before and posted it. Then in real life he goes “Albert bro, I love your pictures maaan. I love the expressions you catch!” I don’t hate him, but if my watermark is that bothersome, you could either:
1) remove the watermark and put it in the text that accompanies the picture
2) ask me for a watermark-less picture while telling me you’d credit me

It costs me money to take your pictures. It costs me time and deprives me of sleep to process them. It costs me hard disk space to keep them. (And I had to buy a new hard disk, total expenses over RM400.) If I didn’t take pictures of people I probably would not have to get a new hard disk.

See, I care enough about you all that I don’t delete pictures of you! 😀

People are surprised when I point out that I took this or that picture. They say, “I thought you were someone who wouldn’t mind?

Well, when I post pictures, people DO comment saying “hey I took THAT picture with your camera!” And I edit my post and apologize for forgetting to credit. I am not alone; people do care about getting properly credited!

Major credits to how Asyraf does it on his blog. On the sidebar it says “Photo credit to Stephanie Chong, for the profile photo“.

On a side note, I took my own profile picture on Facebook. Then I remembered that Jason took my blue-haired profile picture on Friendster so I logged in for the first time in years to add credits where credit was due.

Alda, if you’re reading this, it pisses me off each time I read an article about Estranged and it makes it sound like Lionel and you never had anything to do with the band. If it’s just a article about the current lineup I’m cool but if it’s one of those informational historic articles…

Speaking of history, I would raise my keris in anger if I was Hang Tuah/Hang Jebat and found out that I was removed from history books! Same goes for Yap Ah Loy.

Core Leagues

MMM chicken! Another colleague series, this time at Souled Out!

Yvonne our very pleasant secretary.

Lean on me!

Abang Best! Muzzamil was supposed to be a Youtube superstar but I don’t know how that worked out.

Joshua and Pei Feng, both successful inductees into the land of the tilting-screen Sony Alpha 300 dSLR.

smashpOp/Jason shows us how to camwhore. Do note the orientation of the flash head, it is very important!

Farewell Claire!

Cheers mate!

And then on to another farewell, this time to The Apartment at The Curve.

Life gave Emilie a lemon so she decided to fly on a jetplane.

KJ is lemon-eyed!

All pictures above used a full Color Temperature Orange (CTO) gel with a slower shutter speed to bring in plenty of ambient light, and a colder color temperature (about 2700 Kelvin if I remember correctly.)

Moving on to TGI Friday’s in One Utama (nice place, never been there before). Shukri ponders.

This time farewell to Angie but not Faraa in the back (who is always generous with the snacks, too bad I don’t sit in the same office with her anymore.)

The lamps at TGI Friday’s were nice – we could actually touch them and nudge them to cast light on photographed people! Like our own hanging studio lamps!

Shot at 17mm F5.6 on the full-frame Sony Alpha 900. Ultra-wide angles should give sufficient depth of field, yes?

Apparently not, says this 50% crop. Then again, focusing somewhere deeper into the crowd would’ve helped a bit. I used F5.6 to allow some ambient light in since the flash would not evenly light the scene otherwise (unless I bothered to place a wireless flash at the back…)

Let’s get drunk on iced lemon tea!

Ross Hadi, a light (and easy) voice.

Kok Way, who sat himself in between two lights, getting very nice light. Busy dude as all system engineers are.

Having spotted this, Rames sat in the exact same spot.

Colleague Collage

Here’s something you don’t see on my blog regularly – shots of my colleagues!

Farewell Pei Feng!

Farewell Danny! (The Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 has an unrealistically shallow depth of field for isolating the subject.)

Farewell Danie, Nurul (but not Rames on the right.)

And as always, we have our farewells at Bumbu Bali. That’s smashpOp in the background. He will be referred to as Jason throughout this post.

Rames loves the window light.

Ee Sze does too!

Thanks Jason for taking this Rembrandt lighting shot! Come to think of it if he shot more to my right there would be more of my right face.

He almost looks like he’s going to Rick Roll me.

Apa cerita bos?

Our creative director Noor, who can be heard blasting the Guitar Hero 3 soundtrack.

We also went to Caff for Jason’s birthday. Interesting outdoor fan!

Zoey the radiant!

Each time I peek over the cubicle (she sits opposite me) I am greeted by her fantastic multi-coated glasses which reflect a very pleasing green. Perhaps it is her choice of desktop wallpaper color that complements her skin tone, I don’t know.

Jason loves the chicken soup. We do, too!

First round on an all-you-can-eat – pepperoni pizza. Light enough for a second round, which I had!

Jenifur is on the phone via 3G.

Joot the expert cake cutter.

Lemon chicken at Mines Shopping Fair, best I’ve ever had!

All thanks to Mr. Shaz.

Take me to the bridge.
Okay, I did, now what?

Take me to the hair care expert! Shaz makes an appearance at the Bukit Bintang Monorail station!

Last Hari Raya, I went to the village full of house numbers that didn’t make any sense – it looked like you could just number your house any way you like!

Left to right: Me, William, Jason, Faraa the hostess.

Monochromatic Sonic Debris

Moonshine: A Homemade Music Show at Laundry Bar, 12th February 2009, this time in monochrome! Here is the excellent Shahrider and Nizam P. They played my favorite Sighyoung (back when Shahrider went by the name Sherry) and the very fun Babi song!

Nizam P. has all the percussion below his waist. He even sits on a kajon!

Sundae, a lighter, poppier band.

When was the last time you saw one of these?

Wow I have two drumsticks now!

Yet another band slut. Happens to the best bassists. But he might not be one by the very sole reason that he does not have the bass-player’s belly. N. Rama Lohan, if you’re reading this, feed him more beer!


She sings.

Gotta love them red Ibanez Artcores!

Azmyl Yunor, you know, started with his classic folk about sitting on the highway…

..playin’ his blues harp…

…and then he turned punk!

Yes, like totally jumpy and rock and roll and shouting punk choruses!

When did our favorite 3-chord folk rocker turn into this?

This isn’t the Azmyl we know, right?

I wonder how many in the audience were his students, having a new impression of their beloved Mr. Azmyl.

That said, he totally rocked out in a way that blew everybody’s mind. I’ll have what he’s having!

But of course, it had to come to an end.

Then it was the grunge boys of Stonebay.


I quite like how I handled the highlights and shadows in all the pictures. What do you think?

Finds STF TC Protection

Amazing finds of the century at YL Camera, Pudu Plaza! Left is the rare Minolta 80-200mm F2.8G HS APO, right is the Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM, both amazingly fast-focusing lenses! (Bottom-right corner shows the Minolta’s blemished hood; the Sony doesn’t even come with a hood which might explain the price.)

Minolta 80-200mm F2.8G HS APO at 200mm F2.8.

Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM at 150mm F5.6.

I’d have to say it’s a fair tie in image quality. Other factors like practicality start to take precedence – the Minolta is nearly twice the weight of the Sony, and has a poor minimum focus distance of 1.8 meters. The Sony does 1.2 meters close no matter what. Of course, the Minolta can do F2.8 at all focal lengths.

And then I went to Sony Style KLCC to find out if the Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus was affected in image quality by the Sony 2x APO Teleconverter.

Top-left: Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA at 135mm F1.8 1/200s ISO320
Top-right: Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA through a Kenko 2x MC4 teleconverter at 280mm F3.5 1/125s ISO800 (minor swirliness at the bottom, not always obvious)
Bottom-left: Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus at 135mm F2.8 (transmission factor T4.5) 1/125s ISO800
Bottom-right: Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus through a Sony 2x APO Teleconverter at 280mm F5.6 (transmission factor T9.0) 1/80s ISO3200

Yes, the Sony counts 135mm with a 2x TC as 280mm instead of 270mm for some weird reason, but I’ll refer to it as 280mm anyway for the rest of this entry.

So, I could conclude that the Sony 2x APO Teleconverter does not degrade the bokeh of the STF lens.

Does it degrade sharpness? Not by much of a noticeable bit for me. 100% crop of the 280mm T9.0 1/80s ISO3200 shot.

However, it does bring out some chromatic aberration. 100% crop of the 280mm T9.0 1/80s ISO3200 shot.

I shot X-Fine Large JPG which isn’t the best way to bring out the image quality of the A900 but this was a quick snap, all other factors the same.

Left: Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus with a Sony 2x APO Teleconverter
Right: Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA with a Kenko 2x MC4 teleconverter

Height comparison to my Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original.

Physically though, the Sony 2x APO Teleconverter has its front element sticking out further nearer to the mount, while my Kenko 2x MC4 is quite deep inside.

The Sony is fussy – you just cannot physically mount most lenses in front of it because of the front element. On the plus side, it’s optically better because of this.

It fits all the non-black Sony lenses, with the exception being the STF. So that means the white Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM, Sony 300mm F2.8G SSM, Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM and Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus.

My Kenko, meanwhile, accepts any lens or teleconverter. So I could stack it!

So does that mean I can stack the teleconverters? Of course, though only in a certain order.

So here’s the result, 560mm F18 1/40s ISO1600.

Stacking order: Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus – Sony 2x APO Teleconverter – Kenko 2x MC4 teleconverter – Sony A900

Also at 560mm F18 1/40s ISO1600. The STF gives 1:4x magnification, and putting a 2x teleconverter doubles the magnification. Obviously then, putting two 2x teleconverters quadruples the magnification to give 1:1x life-size magnification!

Okay, so shooting macro with a full-frame isn’t all that great.

However, you might not want to use the STF with a 2x teleconverter, because:

– the STF is manual focus only, without a focus confirmation light (refer to my findings here why it just cannot detect focus)
– the light transmission ends up being T9.0 which is quite dark
– on an APS-C body, 280mm gives the equivalent of 420mm which is long and hard to use. Already the STF without teleconvters is hard to use on APS-C for portraits due to the length.

On a side note, how do you secure your camera from flying paintballs? Using a thick plastic bag!

Left: Put the hood in the corner. Right: Carve out a hole using a knife or a pen.

Finally, tape it to the hood! Here’s my Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 with my Minolta Dynax 7, all inside a Borders plastic bag! Not rain-proof completely as the back is still exposed, but it is covered enough for splashes and paintballs!

Taking Some Time Out

Timeout KL’s On The Up, 21st January 2009 at No Black Tie, with George Wong of TwoStoreyHeart!

Unsuspecting Omar in yet another unsuspecting moment. 135mm F1.8 ISO6400 1/25s.

Kevin of Broken Scar with a ex-presidential expression.

Gotta dig the hair!

I stared at the stairs and got Intan. 135mm F1.8 ISO6400 1/4s.

Wow, I can get a hairlight even on an unlit stairway. 135mm F1.8 ISO6400 1/5s.

Rohnie Tan loves the smell of a Sennheiser Evolution hehe.

Broken Scar is one of those few bands where I get to see Paul Chuah do some serious shredding. Well besides Qings And Kueens but I haven’t seen them around in ages!

Kevin does a South Park character.

Izzy Mohd the serious singer songwriter, who is really not all that serious in real life. I remember realizing that her vocals are very dominant in her songs, much more than most performers, and that is a good thing.

I often subconsciously tune out to lyrics and don’t realize what people are singing about. Oh yeah nice riffs and chord progressions, I’d say.

Red beam of death.

Secret Love Affair does funky, very funky indie!

Me Wan Pee Wan

Oh come on, cover me with your green blobs of coverage already!

Yes, it’s one of the rare nights that I can connect to Streamyx. The phone line dies completely whenever it rains so I’m glad it didn’t rain in the evening so here I am, online!


Epic fail, is what I think David Kilpatrick really meant to say about the Nikon D5000, when you put it on a tripod here.

Don’t get what he means?

So, I Photoshopped in my own tripod to see what it would look like:

That said, it’s half as exciting as the D90 (12.3 megapixel CMOS, 720p 24 FPS HD video, 11-point-AF, Kelvin WB) and half as handicapped as the D60 (requires AF-S/AF-I, few buttons, low-res screen, pentamirror, lowest viewfinder magnification of 0.78x, no Creative Lighting System support.)

Ye Optik

Random samplings from lenses from decades ago – the Super-Takumar 50mm F1.4 in M42 mount!

This is what it looks like on the A700. (All shots with the A700 unless otherwise specified, in case you’re wondering about depth of field and field of view considerations.)

Unitor 200mm F3.5 in M42 mount…

…and a random shot of someone sitting far away at a mamak.

My former Industar 61L/Z 50mm F2.8 in M42 mount got real nice and close!

I’m guessing this was at F11.

The Sigma 14mm F3.5 on the A900!

Goes crazily close, too! (As is the nature of wide-angles, needing only to extend a little to get good magnification.)

A 20mm lens, for example, only needs to extend 20mm from its default position at infinity, to focus at 1:1x magnification.

And here’s one from the Minolta 28mm F2.8 on the A900!

Mmm, lovely Minolta 24mm F2.8. I wish I grabbed it for the A900 then. Still, F2.8 is lacking for what I shoot.

The old classic Minolta Rokkor 50mm F3.5 1:2x Macro (which needs an adapter to achieve 1:1x.) Also seen on it is a Minolta MD to Minolta AF adapter (and my Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX in the background.)

A tiny Tokina 28mm F2.8 in Minolta MD mount.

Another classic, the Minolta Rokkor 50mm F1.4 in MD mount.

Tokina 20-35mm F3.5-4.5, an early ultra-wide angle zoom.

Left is the Vivitar Series 1 100-300mm F4.5-6.7, one heck of a light push-pull, while on the right is my venerable Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan.

Star power! How?

The cheesy star cross filter.

The Minolta 500mm F8 AF Reflex! Special mention to AF in the name because it’s the only reflex lens in the world that can auto-focus. Light and small for its focal length!

The subject of this picture is the orange out-of-focus highlight from the Minolta 85mm F1.4G – compare this to the somewhat bright-lined Nikkor AF-D 85mm F1.8 and this picture will make sense.

The chunky Tamron 28-105mm F2.8 on my Minolta Dynax 7, the way it was meant to be.

A fungused Minolta 28-85mm F3.5-4.5, one early zoom from the first generation of Minolta lenses (at 28mm F3.5 on the A900.)

This is the 85mm F4.5 end.

And finally, one from the pocket rocket, the Minolta 135mm F2.8.