Monthly Archives: April 2009

Another Geekout Session

It’s yet another geekout session with Albert, starting with a night in Titiwangsa Lake Garden.

Interestingly, the Eye On Malaysia has shifted to Malacca!

KJ sits on a power box.

I don’t know what he sees.

This Casio Exilim F1 sees at 60 FPS. No, not video – continuous bursts! Unbeatable for capturing sports action, really!

Size comparison, left to right: Minolta X300 with Seagull 50mm F1.8 lens, Olympus E-420 with Zuiko Digital 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 lens.

Though for me I’m not excited about the Four-Thirds system as much as the Micro Four-Thirds system; here’s the mirror-less Panasonic G1!

Then there’s the Olympus Micro Four-Thirds prototype with a possible 20mm F1.7. SWEET!

Sunpak Auto 16R Pro ring macro flash.

The Canon MP-E 65 5x-1x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D!

Top pictures are the lens at 1:1x magnification; bottom pictures are the lens at 5:1x magnification.

It’s not an easy lens to use – changing the magnification then requires you to change distance, too. It’s basically a 65mm F2.8 on a variable extension tube. Interestingly, the Minolta 3x-1x uses a 50mm F1.7 and has auto-focus…

And now rewind to the plastic Diana F+! Interesting that it has focus control.

Left to right: I’m guessing the icons really represent apertures from F8/F11/F16/F22; the film indicator switch tells you it’s 120 medium format; the internal parts are all plastic.

Here’s another medium format camera, the Pentacon six TL!

Fitted with a Carl Zeiss Biometar 80mm F2.8 lens, which is a normal lens on medium format, similiar to 50mm on full-frame 36x24mm.

Shot with the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan at 70mm F8.

I tried holding the Biometar in front of my A700 and focusing manually.

I then tried to tilt the lens upwards to give a shallower depth of field. Of course, the light leaking in from below would cause this loss of contrast and add flare…

This was a far more challenging shot at 80mm F2.8 – it was tilted downwards. Note what is in focus.

And now, for a gratituous set of pictures of lenses to show relative size comparisons!

Left to right: Minolta 85mm F1.4G, Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5 (D), Minolta 35mm F1.4G, Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm F2.8-3.8, F&N canned drink.

Left to right: Minolta Dynax 7 with Minolta 85mm F1.4G, Nikon D700 with Nikkor AF-D 85mm F1.8.

Left to right: Sony Alpha 200 with Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC, Sony Alpha 300 with Minolta 85mm F1.4G.

Left to right: Minolta 135mm F2.8, Minolta 28-85mm F3.5-4.5.

Left to right: Minolta 28-70mm F2.8G, Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm F2.8 SSM ZA.

Left to right: Sony 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 DT, Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 DT ZA. Honestly I expected the Zeiss to be a lot bigger.

Left to right: Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 DT ZA, Sony 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 DT.

Left to right: Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC Macro, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC Macro. Both focus to a crazy close 20cm but the 17-70mm has the advantage of focal length to achieve a magnification of 1:2.3x!

Left to right: Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye in M42 mount, Minolta 50mm F1.4 (in A-mount), Jupiter-9 85mm F2.0 in M42 mount.

Left to right: Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA, Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm F1.4 ZA, Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm F2.8 SSM ZA, Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm F2.4 in M42 mount, Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 DT ZA. It was a pity that we could not get the Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 16-35mm F2.8 SSM ZA to join this party!

Feedback Open Mike

One 10th January 2009 night ago at Cloth & Clef!

Stonebay, one of the headliners.

Choon How uses his Nintendo DS to provide background electronic music – cool idea!

Dude, you were raw and grungy. Definitely a powerful f-all set.


The crowd.

Anuar, rippin’ it out on lap steel guitar. We don’t ever get to see this around Malaysia much!

This was Az Samad’s nephew Afiq (thanks Uncle Az for the info!) He ripped out some groovy, killer thrash metal riffs. I had not heard anything so fresh in quite a while.

Then of course, it was Az Samad‘s turn to impress by turning every crevice of his guitar into a sound-making instrument, banging on the wood and tapping the surfaces.

There was no space to slap guitar body on the Soloette.

Davina came on to sing a song, or two.

She did a cover of Bachelor Girl – Buses And Trains.

And then there was a far more emotional song, Carole King – It’s Too Late. (Thanks Davina for the info!)

Uh, did I just croak like a Kermit?

She rebounds from slips quickly and cutely with a smile!

A video by William here.

Then Melina (and Stephanie not seen in this picture) are in yet another band…

Hamster DamnAged! A Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover band.

Featuring a sexy, dancy vocalist with all the shouts of shrieks of Karen O!

Here’s a video of them performing on Youtube.

A softer change of pace with Rusdi.


The stuffed toy bows.

Then came one of the most uh, memorable bands of the night – Jenny Rocket! In the sense that they forgot to tune up before going on stage (major boo-boo) and that the vocalist was kicking and punching his band members on stage.

I think he was trying to get them into the mood to dance about in an indie band manner instead of mostly standing.

The way they sounded, I felt like I was temporarily teleported into a jamming studio!

Fortunately Auburn saved our ears with some new songs in the language of Malay.

Still as progressive and rocking as ever!

Maya Lara was next – this was Jenny Rocket without the vocalist.

Firasah ended the night with a killer cover of Deep Purple – Burn.

They were only allocated time for one song as the gig was over, so the vocals were cut off from the sound system for the next song, Iron Maiden – Trooper. That did not stop the crowd from singing the entire song (and the catchy call-and-response riff!)

Yep, some members of heavy metal revival guys Revenge were in the crowd. Fun night that was!


7th January 2009, Andrew Netto Live at No Black Tie with opening/closing act, The Ramanados!

Greg’s brother Herman takes over vocal duties due to poor Greg losing his voice.

And then it was time for the youngest standup comedian in Malaysia, Andrew Netto!

Full house at No Black Tie, as usual…

Gotta love his African impression.

The place was so packed, even the stairways filled up! And ironically even his dad doesn’t get a seat. (Obviously, he moved over to the stairs…)

Over here sir.

Having taken a look at the month’s calendar for a few entertainment establishments, I feel it’s honestly a rarity to have stand-up comedy night.

And now for some drums!

Greg tries a few bars. Gotta love their cover of Red Hot Chili Peppers – Havana Affair (which was a cover of The Ramones – Havana Affair…)

Stevie can do it too!

My Kermit failed.

Outside No Black Tie, everything was in color!

Processed using my How to make low-contrast black-and-white from digital color photos tutorial.

PF20XD 135STF E30 G1 3518DX

Albert returns with a chock-ful of photogeeking!

Yes boys and girls, this is my flash triad – from left to right, the Sony HVL-F42AM, Sony HVL-F58AM and the newly bought Sunpak PF20XD!

And here’s a less flashy picture – from left to right, my Nikon SB-28 (dynamite edition), Sony HVL-F42AM, Sony HVL-F58AM and the Sunpak PF20XD in front.

The rear is very simple – A1/A2/A3 is auto exposure, and the sync mode can be set to skip the pre-flash. I’m not sure if it skips the wireless signal from an Alpha pop-up flash simply because I don’t have an Alpha pop-up flash on my A900 to test this with.

Which is why I got this flash in the first place – as a replacement for my missing pop-up flash. This one of course is more powerful, dishing out 20 meters at ISO100.

Here it is mounted on my Minolta X300 – yes, it’s the standard ISO hotshoe mount, with 2 pins just to trigger the flash. So it’s not a Canon-mount or Nikon-mount flash!

It has a built-in diffuser which can be pulled up, which supposedly covers a 24mm focal length on full-frame, but…

…it amazingly reaches to the sides on my Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye!

I will be bringing this little baby to the clubs where the F42 is simply too big. Bouncing light with the F58 and fisheye is not easy, either! So I might as well go for direct and blend in ambient light. It looks good enough anyway!

Also spotted at the same shop, dSLR in Subang Parade, was this mega-pack! The Olympus E-520 with the ZD 9-18mm F4.0-5.6, ZD 14-42mm F3.5-5.6, ZD 40-150mm F4.0-5.6, ZD 70-300mm F4.0-5.6! Only thing missing was the ZD 25mm F2.8.

And then I headed to Sony Style KLCC to find the Sony A700/A900 remote, the RMT-DSLR1!

The case of the manual-focus only Minolta/Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus (STF) lens

I’ve always wondered why the Minolta/Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus (STF) lens was manual focus only. So, I decided to test this theory by mounting it on my Minolta X300!

First I had to keep the aperture blades open, so I stuck some tape to hold the lever in place. As you can see, inside the lens, the edges are gradually darker due to the apodization filter inside.

Then, I positioned the lens and body together, with an eraser and CF card holder to keep the lens from rolling.

I looked through it, and it confirmed my theory – the upper half and lower half of the split prism would never match due to the gradual darkening coming from opposite ends!

This is due to the apodization filter which darkens the periphery of the lens (giving the beautiful bokeh that the STF possesses.) Obviously, the top half is looking through the right side of the lens while the bottom half is looking through the left side of the lens.

Phase-detect auto-focus works in a very similiar way to a split-prism on a manual-focus viewfinder – it looks at the subject from two opposite ends of the lens and drives the lens to focus so that the two images are aligned.

If you’ve tried a darker lens on a split-prism viewfinder, you might find that one of the two halves will be darker than the other – this just means that your eye is not centered in the viewfinder, so you need to move slightly to your left or right until the brightness matches. However, you would never see a gradient darkening with a non-STF lens!

This is what an out-of-focus picture looks like through a split-prism viewfinder. You need to focus the lens by turning it until the top and bottom halves of the split-prism align.

This will be easiest to focus on vertical lines and almost impossible with horizontal lines!

I then tried to see if the gradient darkening happened with a normal lens by moving the camera left and right of the viewfinder – it didn’t. Instead, one half got uniformly darker than the other.

Of course, on an phase-detect auto-focus system, the ‘eye’ never actually moves left and right, and it’s always aligned on the center.

So how does a regular phase-detect auto-focus system work?

Each AF sensor has two lines of sensors – one line of CCDs that sees the upper half, one line of CCDs that sees the lower half. It can see how ‘far’ each line is from each other, and know immediately where to focus the lens.

So, the lens is driven to the focus point, and then the camera looks at the two halves again and makes micro adjustments.

Cross-type sensors

Cross-type sensors are just a pair of line sensors at 90 degrees from each other, so it is sensitive to both horizontal and vertical detail.

So why doesn’t the STF work with auto-focus?

As you saw earlier, the top and bottom halves have a gradual darkening coming from opposite ends. So, even if the object was in focus, the CCDs will never say it’s a match!

A way that might’ve worked is that the camera knows that the STF is being used, and compensates for the gradual darkening when comparing what the two CCDs see.

My guess is that the gradual darkening differs with focus range and aperture setting, so it might’ve been too complicated for Minolta to program into the bodies when they first released the STF.

So what’s the big deal about the STF anyway?

Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 STF at T4.5. Note how the out-of-focus highlights are circles with gradually darker edges.

Minolta 50mm F1.4 at F1.4 (cropped to give the same angle of view.) Note how the out-of-focus highlights have ugly, distracting borders (especially at the bottom of the picture.) These borders are called bright-line bokeh.

Here is another example also from the 50mm F1.4. The lights on top really should be out of focus and thus not distracting, but they pop out of the background!

Of course, the 50mm F1.4 and Minolta 50mm F1.7 are very poor examples – a lot of old Minolta zooms and primes have much better rendition of out-of-focus highlights.

And in other news…

And now, on to the Olympus E-30! I found out why it’s said to be the poor man’s E-3.

They still had the clunky way of adjusting Kelvin WB in Live View (an immensely useful feature) but it was slightly easier to hold down the EV button while rolling the rear dial now.

How about the DCIM Show that happened recently at Midvalley Megamall?

Disappointing. No, not the Panasonic G1 – the lack of anything really fresh, new or upcoming. The Panasonic GH-1, with honestly the best implementation of video in a digital interchangeable lens system, was not there.

The GH-1 has an external gun mike, a Wind Cut function, fast AF tracking while recording videos (like a proper camcorder) and a lot of other things that make the Canon 500D’s video mode even more of a joke.

Oh, and Canon didn’t have the Canon EOS 500D there, either!

Fortunately, Nikon brought some cool stuff, like the Nikkor 24mm F3.5 tilt-shift!

Then there was the magnificent Nikkor AF-S 200mm F2.0 VR…

…and the diminutive Nikkor AF-S 35mm F1.8 DX.

I then spotted a Minolta 80-200mm F2.8G, in black! This is not the HS version which is white.

People then spotted my Fujifilm Digital Q1 infrared-modded interchangeable-lens camera!

This is what a fish sees when they see a photographer.

The Panasonic FZ-28 has a Kelvin WB setting! SWEET!

(The Canon 500D and Nikon D60 both do not have Kelvin WB settings, sucks to be them…)

Step up for the model shoot challenge!

Playing Guitar Hero is choosing the devil!

Yes, that’s what Harian Metro says on the front cover. Full article here (thanks Silencers for the find!)

There is also a bit with a psychologist from UITM here. He does not mention anything about choosing the devil before playing.

I don’t know about devils, but this guy here could be a pirate. He’s playing Guitar Hero using a gamepad, instead of the original Guitar Hero controller guitar that comes with the game!

Or he could be a cheapskate, buying only the game, which is possible, but is no fun.

Tou simply can’t choose the devil. Unless you confuse King Diamond or Lars �mla�t for the devil. Lars is just a black metal dude, that’s all!

Ironically, the game lets you choose the God Of Rock but not a devil.

You also battle the devil in Guitar Hero 3 with Steve Ouimette – The Devil Went Down To Georgia (which is a devillishly hard song.) Funny thing is, Charlie Daniels, who wrote the song, says the devil very often wins in his blog. Which is quite… true, since it’s one of the two hardest songs in the game!

Speaking of which, here’s the original.