Monthly Archives: October 2009

We Want To Play With Faith No More!

This is real cute!


Check out their official site, which has a music player:


I am happy, not just because one of my favorite bands, Faith No More is back, but also because there is actually a band out there who sounds remotely like them! (Brandon Boyd of Incubus borrowed a few stylings from Mike Patton in the early days, but not anymore since Make Yourself.)

Webcomics I Enjoy!

Concerned: The Hλlf-Life And Death Of Gordon Frohman

I read this all in one seating. This is my favorite strip: #115

Questionable Content

This has an addictive storyline with very well fleshed out characters! Went back a few pages then decided to start from the first page!


Check out today’s Geocities tribute! The ultimate geek comic.

Cyanide And Happiness

I still follow this, though lately the consistency hasn’t been great. It had smarter jokes when it started.

The Perry Bible Fellowship

Fantastic artwork, and ever off the hook!

A consistent pattern I find, of webcomics, is that the first 5-10 strips usually do not represent what the rest of the strips look like (or narrate or feel like.)

True To The Hue

Take the Farnsworth Munsell Hue Test!

The first time I tried, I got 11 – the second time, I turned off all the lights, to get the perfect score above. 🙂

I would also like to thank my trusty IBM P202 CRT monitor. Will try again on an uncalibrated LCD in mixed flourescent/tungsten light, for the challenge! If anything, I could correlate whether the office lighting affects my ability to perceive color greatly.

Sony Alpha 550 Part 3!

Here’s more from the Sony Alpha 550! Thanks to Sony Malaysia, I was 710 meters above sea level in Langkawi Island. Some pictures can be clicked on for a larger view, and some pictures have EXIF data included.

Why so serious?

Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan at 210mm F4.

Lives up to the 14.2 megapixels, albeit with some purple fringing. Click image for a 100% crop.

The floating bridge!

Don’t miss a spot.

Live View for the overhead angle.

It was so windy and misty up there, you’d just want to lie there and relax.

And then we went on to Morac International Karting!

Since I shot mostly at F11 to get slower shutter speeds for panning, I could not tell if the Alpha 550 was indeed more accurate in focusing in AF-C mode.

Click image for a 100% crop. That’s what +3 sharpening does!

smashpOp ready for action. 75mm F4.

Spotted at the side. Live View and a tilting screen helps with the angles!

It is recommended you air your tattoos every 7 days to keep them looking fresh. So I say.

Down in the Underwater World Aquarium we pushed ISO3200.

Pinky and the…

Angelfish, ironically looking like prisoners.

This was at ISO1600.

Regretfully, I forgot that I could shoot at ISO6400 and ISO12800 – it was a habit carried over from using the A700 and A900.

More here:
Sony Alpha 550 Part 2!
Sony Alpha 550 Technical Hands-On!

Sony Alpha 550 Part 2!

I’m back, after getting some new Kingston 1GB DDR400 RAM! Finally I can get some picture-editing done comfortably. (I am blogging about this in case my RAM dies and I don’t remember if it’s still under warranty or not…)

Now for more shots from the Sony Alpha 550! Some pictures can be clicked on for a larger view, and some pictures have EXIF data included.

Top: Face Detect off; bottom: Face Detect on. Exposure and white balance are improved!


Ng Chong Seng of Sony Singapore explains the difference between Auto HDR (introduced with the Alpha 500/550) and Dynamic Range Optimizer.

Here’s another slide which states that the Alpha 500/A550 has 30% faster autofocus and 30% better accuracy than the Alpha 350!

Here’s what 7 FPS looks like, in 14 frames or 2 seconds.


The Carl Zeiss 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 DT is big on detail to feed the 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor with.

100% crop of a ISO1600 image.

Live View helped here.

DRO Level 5 does look a bit radioactive at times, but I love how radiant the greens become.

Another DRO Level 5 shot. Some careful adjustment of curves would help.

The 100 Plus can is only RM1.30! Welcome to Duty-Free Langkawi! Note the Skol Beer next to it is just 10 sen more!

Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan at 210mm F9 ISO1250 with the 2x Smart Teleconverter for an effective 630mm focal length.

An easier bird to catch, with Auto HDR. I’ve adjusted the levels slightly – Auto HDR at 3 EV is much easier to tweak back into a believable image compared to DRO Level 5.

Shot with the Zeiss 16-80mm and 2x Smart Teleconverter for better reach and depth of field.

DRO Level 5, out of the window (adjusted levels to reduce the blue window tinge.)

I have to say, they’ve really done something to the JPEG engine – reds don’t blow out! Here it is at DRO Level 5.

Left: Auto HDR 3 EV; right: adjusted levels.

More up soon!

Sony Alpha 550 Technical Hands-On!

I had the pleasure of meeting the hotter sister of the Sony Alpha 5×0 series – the 14.2 megapixel, 3″ 640×480 swivel screen 7 FPS-toting Sony Alpha 550!

Left: Sony Alpha 550 with Sony 30mm F2.8 DT Macro SAM lens; right: Sony Alpha 230 with Sony 50mm F1.8 DT SAM lens. Note the radically different handgrip on the A230/A330/A380 is not shared with the A500/A550, which gets the fuller grip.

Guess what, the Sony VG-B50AM battery grip can fit on the Sony Alpha 200! However, there was a nub on the battery grip that prevented fully snug fitting. However, it would still work fully if I loaded 1 battery in Slot 1 and left Slot 2 empty.

Someone will definitely figure out how to disassemble the battery grip and remove the side pin and cut off the nub for sure. The VG-B50AM battery grip definitely felt better (to memory… didn’t have a VG-B30AM to compare with.) I could foresee people buying the VG-B50AM grip for their A200/A300/A350 bodies…

Left shows the A550 has a hole for a nub on the VG-B50AM (pictured is the VG-B30AM which does not have a protuding nub.)

Right shows the A550 doesn’t curve while the VG-B30AM does, so it does not fit perfectly.

And so, the A550 does not match the VG-B30AM exactly, but with one battery loaded, and at the right distance, it can operate.

Other features:
Top-left: The wired shutter release port makes a return (after disappearing from the A230/A330/A380.) Also the common mini-B USB port is used! I presume this will work like a fast card reader, like the A100/A700/A850/A900, because scrolling through pictures is a lot faster than with the A200-A380 bodies.
Top-right: The pop-up flash has some sturdy-looking metal inside.
Bottom-right: When viewing a picture and zooming in, the magnification multiplier no longer shows in the top-left corner (even if you press Disp repeatedly.) While it was a confusing number, I don’t think they should’ve removed it. Pressing AEL/Zoom In when viewing pictures automatically takes you to a 100% pixel-per-pixel view.
Bottom-left: The new 3″ 640×480 screen is superb – it can fold down 90 degrees, never possible with the A300/A350!

Also, there is a metal strap lug on the VG-B50AM battery grip’s left side which was not there on the VG-B30AM.

One feature that seems to be missing is ISO in viewfinder – when you press the ISO button, it usually shows in the viewfinder, but here it was blank. Very, very weird.

Other changes in behavior are the AF/MF switch on the body – if you switch to MF and mount a screw-drive lens, it will not reset the lens to infinity!

Oddly, however, when you put a SAM lens in AF mode while the body is in MF, you can still auto-focus by half-pressing the shutter! This does not happen on the A200 or A900.

One of the new features was MF Check LV (Manual Focus Check Live View) – meaning you can use the main sensor in Live View, to manually focus. The secondary Live View sensor and low-resolution 2.7″ 320×240 pixel screen wasn’t up to the task on the A300/A330/A350/A380!

Thanks Huei for taking this shot of me operating MF Check LV.

A major inconvenience is that the A550 does not switch the lens to manual focus, even if it is screw-driven, when in MF Check LV mode. Instead I have to press it and then flick the switch. With SSM lenses (not SAM lenses) this would not be a problem.

Here, I used my Vivitar 24mm F2.0 DIY tilt-shift, and zoomed in 14x on the top-left and then took a picture.

To activate MF Check LV, first press the MF Check LV button (duh) and then press the AEL/Zoom In button (instead of the Smart Teleconverter button). This might not make sense at first, but it does – you can zoom in and magnify either 7x or 14x, and optionally you can use the Smart Teleconverter up to 2x.

Unfortunately, it seems that the main sensor does not use SteadyShot in MF Check LV. Or maybe I was giving it too much of a challenge at 14x magnification!

It was of course, much easier to use with wider focal lengths.

Another very cool feature – Face Detection. It finds the face and highlights it with a box. Here Smile Shutter is also on.

I love Smile Shutter – it’s a fantastic party tool, and you can use it to take group pictures without using a remote control!

If you have a recent Sony Cybershot, you may already be familiar with the Smile bar on the left. Just tell the person to smile bigger and bigger until the bar reaches the arrow (on the left of the screen) and the camera will automatically take a picture.

You can set for Slight Smile to trigger it easily. However, Smile Shutter is disabled when using an unchipped lens – what a pity, as I would love to put my Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye (M42 mount) on the A550, and leave it on the table facing up (or down) while capturing any smiles around the table automatically!

Face Detection sets the (nearest) AF point to the detected face, and adjusts exposure and white balance accordingly. Top: Face Detection off; bottom: Face Detection on. Notice that while Face Detection did adjust exposure for the face, it did so conservatively in this case (2/3rds of a stop brighter.)

There is the fantastic Dynamic Range Optimizer (Advanced and up to Level 5) that comes with the A700, A850 and A900 – you can dial it up to DRO Level 5 like in this picture!

However, it does have its weaknesses, as it tends to lower contrast.

There is the new Auto HDR (up to 3 EV) mode. It takes two shots successively, aligns them in-camera, and blends them like you would with a real HDR program! The color is a lot better than anything you could ever get out of DRO Level 5 which shows its weaknesses in certain conditions.

The Pentax K-7 version I have to say is slightly smarter – it flips the mirror up and just triggers the shutter repeatedly. On the A550, the mirror goes up and down twice, causing unnecessary vibration. However, the K-7 doesn’t automatically align the images, while the A550 does!

It might simply not be possible for the A550’s mirror to stay up while the shutter opens and closes – that is the most mechanical part of a dSLR.

Here’s one from Auto HDR at 300mm. Just don’t use Auto HDR for everything. (Try loading this in Photoshop and pulling the Levels – you’ll find it quite easy to make this look natural again.)

And, of course, because 2 exposures are made, one after the other, you should only use Auto HDR on subjects that are not moving!

What else is there, software-wise?
Top-left: Creative Styles do not include the Brightness or Zone Matching settings.
Top-right: High ISO NR has no Off setting (some might say it is a bad thing but I think they were trying to be honest that the CMOS does that on-chip anyway.)
Bottom-right: the lowest sensitivity is ISO200 instead of ISO100 as ISO200 is the base ISO for this 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, and they didn’t resort to overexposing and bringing down the curves like how the A700/A850/A900 achieve ISO100 on a ISO200 base sensor.
Bottom-left: Auto HDR is disabled when shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG.

Wireless TTL flash is supported without ratio control, but it cannot use the Sony HVL-F58AM nor the Sony HVL-F20AM as a commander while attached to the A550. This was kinda expected of bodies lower than the A700, unfortunately.

Anyway, the pixel-peepers must’ve been waiting for this part – high ISO 100% crops!





It seems that they have aimed for Nikon-style noise reduction – more chroma NR than luminance NR.

Personally, I would not hesitate to use ISO3200 and ISO6400 on the A550! This is amazing progress from Sony. One can only wonder what future models will bring!

Next up: pictures from the A550 on the field!

I’ll Be Back

…on Sunday the 11th of October 2009. My computer already misses me – it went into a blue screen of death and upon restarting, I found my Kingston 1GB DDR400 wouldn’t work in any of the slots, my motherboard beeping away. So now I have one third the memory, and hopefully this is only temporary!


Fam-Lay welcomes the crowd for what is to be…

N*E*R*D! Pharrell Williams, one half of superstar producer group The Neptunes (Chad Hugo could not make it.) This was down at the Sunburst Music Festival, 21st March 2009.

I have to admit, I was already very excited to see this band on the original Sunburst 2009 setlist. I’ve been digging their funk-rock-meets-hip-hop-meets-crunk tunes since Fly Or Die (and the voracious Lapdance.)

Shae Haley, one third of N*E*R*D (short for No One Ever Really Dies).

Shae finds Malaysia a bit hot!

Time For Some Action!

They played a good mix of songs from all three albums, starting with the crunky stuff (Anti-Matter was the first song.)

N*E*R*D called some dudes up on stage to boogie down with them. This was obviously to the crunkier stuff (Killjoy, Rockstar, new song Thrasher, Popcorn, new song Soldier, and Spaz if I remember correctly…)

Well hold up! yeah you.

Pharrell interrupted the show to scold a photographer who was pushing people (I’ve been elbowed by such inconsiderate photographers before.)

Now I apologize for bringing attention to you, and, and maybe if I embarrass you I didn’t mean to do that but I’m just saying like, there’s one of you, and there’s like 30 people and you’re pushing them off like they can’t have a good time. These people paid to have a good time! You must not know what an N*E*R*D show is about. It’s about the people!

Transcribed from

And then they cut to Don’t Worry About It.

Everybody wants to flash Pharrell.

N*E*R*D called the girls up on stage too, for the sexier songs (Everybody Nose, She Wants To Move, Lapdance, Sooner Or Later, and a cover of Take Me Out if I remember correctly).

This is all before their new stage buddy Rhea, though.

Then, it was time for another 4-letter major international act – KoRn!

If you spot the Adidas you know they gotta play A.D.I.D.A.S. (which does not stand for Adi Dassler, the founder…)

Here’s Fieldy with his signature Ibanez K-5!

Yes, the left-and-right two-beat headbang is part of KoRn’s music. Meet Ray Luzier!

Munky laying some chunky rhythm.

And, of course, the man in a kilt, Jon Davis!

No H.R. Giger microphone stand, unfortunately, but enough growl to teleport you back to the 90’s when KoRn hit the airwaves. They played the classics, mostly – in fact, I was surprised I recognized so many of them!

I don’t remember what they played, but roughly – Blind, Shoots And Ladders, Clown, Coming Undone, Falling Away From Me, Got The Life, Helmet In The Bush, Freak On A Leash, A.D.I.D.A.S., Here To Stay, Right Now… I think.

Aye, if I got my kilt on I might as well bring out me bagpipes!

In between songs, he would go to the back to his oxygen pipe – quite a necessity for vocalists with demanding vocals.

And that’s all from the Sunburst Music Festival 2009!

More here:
Korn, N.E.R.D Cornered?
Some Burst Of Pictures, Part 4!
Some Burst Of Pictures, Part 3!
Some Burst Of Pictures, Part 2!
Some Burst Of Pictures!

Back From The K

Time travelling. Guess what year this was taken!

With the benefit of Fujifilm Superia ASA400, this was in 2009, through a Vivitar 75-205mm F3.5-4.5 in K-mount which I sold a while back. Most likely shot at 75mm F8.

The lens does pretty well at 205mm F4.5 (or was it F5.6?) This is a 100% crop from a 1908×1269 pixel scan, though…

Flare, mainstay of older optics.

Should be shot around F8. The light leak is from when I tried to check if the film was properly loaded by opening the back (and I forgot that I could just look at the winder!)

75mm at F5.6. And that’s all from the Cosina CT1EX K-mount body!


One 24th of April 2009, I was in Desa Sri Hartamas when I bumped into Ziel performing at Lepaq Cafe!

(And so that answers the mystery in my previous blog entry about this wonderful place – yes, Lepaq Cafe survived!)

Ziel is what I would describe to be some kind of modern angry metal.

Darn purple lights!

Random dude on stage – that is the theme of Lepaq. Get up and play if you want to!

I see this dude all the time, but I have no idea who he is, either.

However, if you’re still looking for Lepaq down a street in Desa Sri Hartamas, it’s not there anymore – it has moved to Kelana Mall. I still haven’t gotten round to visiting it! That, and the MCPA, are two gig venues I have never been to.

Hit their Myspace to see when their latest gigs are!