Monthly Archives: May 2009

Big Gs

White twins! The Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM on the Sony Alpha 700 with a VG-C70AM battery grip and HVL-F58AM flash attached… times two!

Not so twins – left, the Konica Minolta 17-35mm F2.8-4, right, the Konica Minolta 11-18mm F4.5-5.6 DT. Both are Tamron rebadges with Minolta’s secret sauce marinated in.

I used the KM 17-35mm at F2.8 and its closest focusing distance of 30cm, to get this!

You know what they say about big hands… (the Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 is dwarfed!)

The cheapest G, the Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM.


(This idea was taken from a shot that Siddiq took.)

I used the Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM for this, shot at 70mm F2.8.

The Sony 70-200mm excels at bokeh – this is a shot at 200mm F2.8, cropped a bit.

The KM 17-35mm at 35mm does a respectable close-up – here’s the Konica Minolta Dynax 7 Digital, a great body of its time. On it is a classic Minolta 20mm F2.8 Original!

Signither with his Kabuto!

Razlan shows us how to focus my Vivitar 24mm F2.0 DIY tilt-shift lens.


More than a year ago, May 19th 2008 to be exact, I went with Lex, Chong Wai Kong and AhMike for a photo outing to capture… architecture. I don’t remember the exact theme, though I think it had to do with light and shadow, and boy was there plenty of light and shadow!

Chong strikes a pose.

150mm F4 with the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan. Delicious bokeh! The green lateral chromatic aberration actually accentuates out-of-focus greens pleasantly.


70mm F16 on the Sony 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 DT kit lens. I like this film-ish color.

120mm F8 on the beercan. Wish I noticed I’d tilted it to the right slightly!

75mm F4 on the beercan.

Obviously, too wide to be the beercan.

So this was the Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX at 18mm. Not too wide due to the crop factor of my (then) Sony Alpha 700.

130mm F4 on the beercan. A smidgen of DRO applied.

On the way back from Wangsa Maju LRT.

It actually is “WIPE LEFT” and “RANDOM ON” in transition.

Glorious light and shadow!

Chong strikes a pose (again.)

Stitch, Stitch, Stitch!

(Image resized.)

I went back to the clinic today and got my stitches removed. The doctor also said I should leave it open. Ouch! So this is what anybody who sees me, will see. Just a visual preparation yo.

I might as well stick my hands out and do a Frankenstein walk.

Also, DJ Bunga (of Twilight Action Girl) called me to ask how I was doing. He also said I should’ve told them on the spot that I was hit, and they would have stopped the music and got the security to check everybody for sharp objects. Dang, I did not evade the hit, but I evaded common sense.

The stitch and scar would apparently take 3-4 months to clear. So supposing it takes on average 3.5 months which is 105 days, which is 2520 hours, which is 151200 minutes.

Wolverine, as seen in movies, takes on average 5 minutes to get a cut, maybe 4.75 minutes for him to be knocked down before his rapid healing kicks in, and 15 seconds of screen time for it to heal. So, dividing 151200 minutes by 5 minutes, we can gather that Wolverine’s rapid healing is 30

Freezing Rain, How To

Can you use the Sony 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 DT kit lens to freeze rain? Perhaps. I don’t have a kit lens, but the 50mm F1.4 will do for this experiment. I manually focused to 5 meters.

The following are about 39% crops off an A900 at 24 megapixels. That means I cropped an image 1540 pixels wide (making a 100% crop) and shrunk it to 600 pixels wide (thus becoming 39%).

At F3.5, Aperture Priority selects a shutter speed of 1/250s. Flash was not used.

Yes, this was at 50mm, where the kit lens would already say F5.6. However let’s presume you were shooting at 18mm wiiide.

So what if we used a brighter aperture of say F1.7? (not available on the kit lens.)

At F1.7, Aperture Priority selects a shutter speed of 1/1000s. Flash was not used.

As you can see, there is a big difference in the length of the raindrops, due to the shutter speeds used.

So what if we used flash?

At F4.5, 1/200s (well within the flash sync of the A900) and using pre-flash TTL. You can see two elements to a raindrop – the slow shutter (1/200s) giving the long raindrop, and the flash giving the short, brightly lit part of a raindrop.

I should’ve used rear sync flash for this.

Now what if we used a darker aperture?

At F9.0 and using pre-flash TTL. The raindrop streaks from the flashes are longer! Why?

At F9.0, which is 2 stops from F4.5, the flash power needs to increase by 2 stops. However, when you change from say 1/1 to 1/4 power, the flash is not changing the amount of power that comes out… it changes the duration of the flash. Let me say it again:

A flash always fires at full power, it’s just the duration of that full power blast that changes. Confusing? Yeah. That’s why I still call it flash power even though I know it’s not technically true.

So for a 1/1 blast, your flash is actually on for a longer time than if you use a 1/4 blast.

So, at a brighter aperture, your flash will use a smaller power say 1/32 and its duration will be shorter also. This will ultimately make it easier to freeze motion.

So can the kit lens freeze rain? Well, you’d have to hope for a lot more sunlight than this afternoon rain situation, if you want any ambient light at all (or else you’d get the long rain streaks in addition to the short flash streaks.)

More shots of frozen rain here.


Something I just got, the Octopus DM-6, from Studio Zaloon, lets me do this pointless exercise in removing TTL.

Or, the off-camera wired flash for the A900.

I am just waiting for the HVL-F20AM.

Now, for a way to make this into a proper bracket… (I’ve always been able to use this setup before the Octopus DM-6.)

The Octopus DM-6 in action, attached to my Sony HVL-F58AM.

Top left: Octopus DM-6 bottom, ISO hotshoe
Top right: Seagull SC-5 top, ISO hotshoe
Bottom left: Octopus DM-6 top, iISO hotshoe
Bottom right: Seagull SC-5 bottom, iISO hotshoe

Note that both the Octopus DM-6 and Seagull SC-5 have PC Sync ports; as such, you can use the Seagull SC-5 on an Alpha, to trigger other flashes via PC Sync, and you can use the Octopus DM-6 on an Alpha flash, to be triggered via PC Sync.

A rare find, only at Studio Zaloon, Pudu Plaza; who’d have seen this in person? The Sony FA-HS1AM hotshoe adapter. Same thing as the Seagull SC-5, but with a battery, and an internal voltage protection circuit, for old flashes that were over 6 volts and tended to fry unsuspecting camera hotshoes!

This gadget makes it safe.

Also found there, an iISO flash extender! AMAZING! The right side also comes with a tripod mount and ISO hotshoe foot so you can put it on your classic Type A umbrella clamps.

I found this trio of Stofen imitation caps at DigitalsMania, Pudu Plaza. The white one is slightly warming; the orange one does 3600K; the green one is 4500K M9 (a bit more green, and not terribly consistent.)

I’d say the orange one is more commonly used in ballrooms, though I prefer the look of 2500-3200K myself. 3600K I’d guess is a half CTO (Color Temperature Orange). The full CTO flash gels I have are rated 3200K.

More From The Crop

Random crops from the A900 + Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 combo, all shot at ISO1600 to freeze raindrops.

Unclear skies. (Earlier in the morning.)



Yes, focus was intentionally locked at a point in front of them so that the rain in front of them could be in focus!



Splash. (Extreeeme crop!)

Not a crop.

Braving the rain.

Alpha 3-0 Trio

Sony released three new entry-level Alpha digital SLR models yesterday – the Alpha 230, Alpha 330 and Alpha 380!

This is the Alpha 230. Note the infrared sensor for the remote control – apparently, you can now use the RMT-DSLR1 accessory to trigger the Alphas remotely! Also, note the recessed command dial, and longer pop-up flash (unlike the shortened flash on the A200/A300/A350.)

The lens on it, the Sony SAM 30mm F2.8 DT Macro, is another interesting lens – I can’t tell from the picture but it probably can focus to 13 cm close! (This is measured from the sensor plane; the actual working distance between the front of the lens and subject is supposed to be 2cm!)

This is the Alpha 330, which can be identified by its cross-stitch rubber texture and silver top. Note that there is also a copper-topped version as shown here! Also note the new Sony SAM 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 DT (SAM stands for Smooth Autofocus Motor, to differentiate it from SSM which stands for Super Sonic Motor and allows full-time manual focus.)

An interesting thing about having a lens with less telephoto range, is that its minimum focus distance can get a lot closer:

The Sony SAM 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 DT focuses to 25cm close and gives 1:2.94x maximum magnification.
The Sony SAL 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 DT focuses to 38cm close and gives 1:4x maximum magnification.

This is the Alpha 380. It has a tilting screen to shoot tricky angles with Quick AF Live View (other brands have Live View but AF is horribly slow when in Live View!)

I like how they made the design very streamlined; the Drive and ISO buttons are gone, moved to the keypad; the AEL button is unfortunately gone (though very few understand it, and EV compensation works as well.) I suspect that the relatively “Slow Navi” of the A200/A300/A350 series has been replaced as the buttons have been reworked.

There are clear explanations on screen about what each mode does. Ah, built in help! And yes, you can choose background colors for the pink lover in you.

Interesting that there is a light meter on the right of the screen, to auto-adjust brightness in different conditions.

The frame rate for all three cameras are now 2.5 FPS and 2.0 FPS in Live View where applicable.

Three new lenses; from left to right:
1) Sony SAM 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 DT
2) Sony SAM 50mm F1.8 DT
3) Sony SAM 55-200mm F4-5.6 DT

What is very exciting about the SAM 50mm F1.8 DT, is that it can focus to 34cm close! This gives a decent 1:5x maximum magnification.

All other autofocus 50mm lenses that are brighter than F2.0, can only focus to 45cm close! This is a new record, which I am glad that Sony beat!

(There are, of course, manual focus Carl Zeiss/Pentacon 50mm F1.8 M42 lenses that go 33cm close, and the Olympus ZD 50mm F2.0 Macro which goes 20cm close, and the Sony 50mm F2.8 Macro which goes 20cm close.)

The 55-200mm seems unchanged with the previous SAL 55-200mm F4-5.6 DT, still focusing to 95cm close and giving a 1:3.45x maximum magnification.

Interestingly, the CF card slot has been removed, and in its place, a Memory Stick HG Duo slot and a SD/SDHC slot! There is also a USB Mini-B port, instead of the USB Micro-B port on all previous Alphas which was a lot rarer. There is also a HDMI port and a MS/SD switch.

I much appreciate the graphical DUH display (the new grip strap is pictured hooked onto the camera.)

Accessories! That’s a new bag in the top-left corner; the transforming, LCS-WR1AM wrapping cloth in the top-right corner, pouches for lens caps in the bottom-right corner, a magnifier loupe, the new NP-FH50 (shared with Handicams and the Sony Cybershot HX-1), a little pop-up screen protector good for viewing in sunlight, and of course the grip straps.

Yes, a funky wrapping cloth!

Oh, and of course this cute little thing, the Sony HVL-F20AM – a new tiny flash to complement the A900 which has no pop-up flash. In other words, a pop-up flash that can be removed, and can rotate upwards for bounce mode. Exactly what I wanted!

To add to that, when on the A900, it can be used as a wireless controller! That’s all Sony literature says – whether it will also work as a wireless controller on the KM5D/KM7D/A100/A200/A230/A300/A330/A350/A380/A700 is not known.

I am already looking forward to putting this on the A900 as a main bounce light, with my F58 and F42 making two hair lights.

I really don’t need that much power when using this flash in social events and clubs. (Though I am wary of clubs now boohoo.)

The flash turns on when you pull it up, and turns off when you push it down.

Unfortunately though, this uses 2 AAA batteries instead. Fortunately the batteries I got for my Sunpak PF20XD are still full of charge!

Finally, some lens pr0n. These are all the 21 Sony full-frame lenses, apparently; from left to right, top to bottom:
Sony 2x APO teleconverter, Sony 50mm F1.4, Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM, Sony 300mm F2.8G SSM
Sony 1.4x APO teleconverter, Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM, Sony 35mm F1.4G, Sony 24-105mmm F3.5-4.5, Sony 75-300mm F4.5-5.6
Sony 50mm F2.8 Macro, Sony 20mm F2.8, Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm F1.4 ZA, Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM
Sony 100mm F2.8 Macro, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA, Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 16-35mm F2.8 ZA SSM, Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM
Sony 500mm F8 Reflex, Sony 16mm F2.8 diagonal fisheye, Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus, Sony 28mm F2.8

And this is a whole family lineup. Interestingly, the Sony 24-105mm F3.5-4.5 is omitted from this lineup! So we don’t know if it’s discontinued or not. The Sony 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 DT only sits on the A700 instead of standing by itself. The original Sony 55-200mm F4-5.6 DT seems to be omitted as well, although the old Sony 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DT is still in the picture!

Now here’s the Japanese lineup – it comes with a ladies’ bag! Yes, Sony sells a bag to go with your camera!

(This also shows how big a Sony 300mm F2.8G SSM really is… honestly, ladies’ bags are huge.)

Pictures are all taken from Imaging Resource, Sony’s virtual press kit, DC Watch and DPReview.

Clubbed While Clubbing

Last Friday 15th May 2009, I went to TAG presents: Sounds Of The Universe: A Depeche Mode Black Celebration at Barsonic, Zouk KL. Who knew that I would get clubbed when clubbing?

I was in the middle of the dance floor, 16th May 2009 around 2 AM, when something or someone delivered a sharp blow to the right of my face, near my eye. I went, “wow what a blow!” and I turned to my right only to see a skinny-elbowed friend of mine. I thought she was overly excited about the song that just came on or something.

By reflex, I covered my head with my hand and it felt warm. I looked at my hand and there was warm blood all over it! I was bleeding profusely! So I ran to the toilet (scaring Clara on the way there) and looked in the mirror. Shit, the right side of my face was covered in blood.

The janitor there was very helpful to get tissue and apply pressure, and a random white guy brought me ice. Thanks random white guy! Thanks janitor dude!

The blood dripped down onto my shirt and inside it. Oh no there goes my nice shirt!

Many who came in went “whoa! What happened?

And then came in this other dude in the picture, who says he was facing a wall when something/someone hit him! He thinks very strongly that it is not an accident and says whoever did this will get it.

So after a while of applying pressure, the bleeding reduced from soaking the entire tissue, to just leaving ‘marks’ of red. I then headed the hell out of that place (with Petrina documenting this.)

I found my friend who I last saw in the general direction of the blow; she said that she was sure she didn’t elbow anybody. I don’t know why I thought it could’ve been her elbow (as later examination of the wound would show, it certainly could not be a sharp elbow.)

The friend she was dancing with, told me that he got hit in the groin, so he thinks somebody in the crowd was very violent.

The bouncers outside had no bandages either. I later saw the other guy who got hit, and he was explaining the situation to a bouncer. The bouncer asked if he was going back in, and he said yes. They positioned a security officer at his table to watch out and look over the crowd. I don’t know if anybody was ever caught.

A while later, a guy came running out of Zouk, jumping over the railing, somersaulting and landing on the cigarette counter with his legs crashing forward into it. He then ran to the valet parking area where security officers caught him, and a guy was pointing at him. The suspect was bleeding at the forehead. I asked another onlooker where this guy was from, and he said Zouk.

Meanwhile, at the cigarette counter, a cigarette promoter girl was sitting on a chair, crying. The other promoters were standing in a circle around her while a few guys were trying to comfort her. I think the suspect could’ve landed on her or something, but it happened too fast for me to see.

So that was freaky, 3 people bled that night!

Still holding a tissue to my wound, I walked to the convenience store near Public Bank near KLCC. Got myself 2 bandages (one for each) but the guy helped me bandage and he decided that one would be enough to cover both. Took a cab home, bathed and shampooed (I hate the cigarette smell on my hair) and called my favorite St. John’s alumni, Wai Fon. She asked if I got the bandage wet – if it was moist it could lead to infection. So I peeled it off.

The upper gash is 2cm long and 2mm wide; the lower gash is also 2cm long and 2mm wide. Interestingly, there is also another mark behind it. I cannot figure out what could leave such a mark! I am however infinitely grateful that it didn’t get my eye and I can still see with both eyes! Likewise for the other guy who got hit. Still, bloody freaky that there are people out there doing this, whether intentionally or not! Please, dance responsibly! Take off any sharp accessories or bling that could bloody cut bloody wounds in people’s faces alright?

And if it is intentional… show yourself, chicken. If you want to teach me a lesson, let me know what it is first because I don’t even know what me or the other guy did!

Later I noticed that my right arm had a mark, possibly a follow-through from whatever it is that cut me. It didn’t feel like a sharp cutting motion, but more like an elbow or fist, oddly.

I had pretty much cleaned up all traces of blood except this spot under my watch. Also note the cigarette burn on my watch.

My shirt, argh! This is the right half. Doesn’t look like a lot here but now I know what amount of blood would come out for such a wound.

The next day, I went to the clinic when it opened. The doctor insisted I get 3 stitches. While I did get local anesthetia, it certainly was not reassuring that you could slightly feel him tugging at the skin. It was a rather long process, and I could hear him saying to his assistant, “potong ini. Bukan. Ini. Potong. Bukan. Bawah sini. Bukan.” I was lying on my left, and as he operated the blood trickled from the wound down past my eyes! His assistant had to swab it. Obviously, I closed my eyes and tried to be as calm as possible.

The lower gash had already dried so he could not do anything about it. So this is what I look like now; I think the yellow makes it look far more dramatic.

I am very thankful that all my life I’ve had a low accident and wound rate… I am usually in places which have a higher risk e.g. moshpits, front of stages (I got hit in the back of my head once by some drunken skinhead’s steel-toe boot as he was crowd surfing, no blood thank goodness, but it was a sign to get out.) I walk in seedy and dingy areas. So far I’ve been alright, and I find it funny that this should happen when I decided to come to Twilight Action Girl, in Barsonic, in Zouk for the very first time since they renovated. (I went for their “last” TAG night back in The Loft upstairs in Zouk, and was a regular back in 2004-2005. Ah, good old un-violent indie dance days.)

I also understand now why you always see medics and ambulances at big concerts. You guys are brave, keep it up! I’d hate to see people come to you, bleeding like mad.

P.S. to my skinny elbowed friend, I’m sorry I ever suspected it was your elbow!

P.P.S. Oh and when I got there at midnight, Panda Head Curry just finished their Depeche Mode acoustic tribute set, which I regret missing! They played like 2-3 Depeche Mode classics and never played anything from Depeche Mode after that. Kinda regret staying for that, then. I am a fan of Depeche Mode enough, to try to make an acoustic version of Martyr. Their stuff makes excellent emo, you know?


And now, for something far more abstract – Genesis!

And then it rained.

Sparks spawn and wander the skies.

Light of a ever moving, rapidly dying nature.


My First Engagement Ceremony, Part Three


I absolutely loved that everywhere I pointed had bright, strong colors!

I was tempted to ask them to gather around and take another picture, arranged in color! (I’ll make a mental note to do so.)

Funny aunty. At 24mm F5.0 on the Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) it had a very pleasant vignetting, enhanced by wide-angle and close focus.

I also brought my Minolta 70-210mm F4.0 beercan, and used it to shoot the hantaran at an orthogonal-like projection.

Liyana and cousin.

Ah finally, we can sit!

Bila muda lagi mesti gian bergambar!

More cousins! I should’ve removed the flash gel for this. I tried exporting 2 JPEGs from the RAW, one corrected for tungsten the other daylight and merging it, but it did not look as catchy as this tungsten-WB version.

Family, shot at 26mm. Note the distance was over 1.5 meters and nobody was near the edges of the photo, to prevent distortion.

Aunties. Well that is a nice baju where did you get it from?

The 24.6 megapixels of the Sony Alpha 900 resolve an amazing amount of detail – this is a 100% crop which shows you where she got it from!

Part Two here.
Part One here.