Monthly Archives: November 2009

Back To The Future

And I’m back! Back into computer geekdom. I bought a new system (old system went to my brother). I am now able to play current games with decent framerates (not that I even played current games to begin with.) I am now able to export RAW files in 25 seconds or less (and load them in 4 seconds!)

AMD Phenom II X4 965 3.4 Ghz (always been an AMD fan; was always buying mid-range until realizing my bottleneck in processing RAW was just CPU speed)
Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P (for the 3 year warranty)
Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5770 PCI-E 1GB GDDR5
Kingston 2GB PC1333 DDR3 ValueRAM (always bought ValueRAM, and I can add more real cheap)
Kingston V Series SSDNow! 64GB Solid State Drive (the faster V+ series and brand new 40GB wasn’t out in Lowyat Plaza yet – I don’t understand why, given that it is an amazing bargain at RM450!)
Windows 7 Home Premium Retail Box (because it comes with 32-bit and 64-bit installation CDs)
LG 22x Super Multi DVD Rewriter

Going for an i7 would cost 1.5 times more for 1.5 times the power. However, I need to set a limit based on my budget instead of maxing out with a 4 CPU (16 core) 16GB RAM 4 SATA SSD RAID setup! This all just passed the RM3K mark by a little bit.

I retained the following:
1TB Western Digital 7200 RPM SATA Hard Disk Drive
A4Tech BatteryFree Mouse
A4Tech keyboard
IBM P202 20″ CRT monitor (you name me an LCD monitor which has accurate gamma and good out-of-box microtuning for under RM1000)

Windows 7 is really fun, and not just because I “loved” the Windows 7 launch party idea (hey, you get a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate for hosting a party, why not?)

But hey, really, I am trying to learn how to mouse my way around, being a keyboard speed freak. I usually make my Windows XP look like Windows 98, so I decided to get with the times and see what Windows 7 had to offer. So I am loving the Pin to taskbar function.

I have changed the screen resolution to 800×600 to take this screenshot – every program you load, gets its icon shown in the taskbar. If you load multiple instances, they get grouped under the same icon. However if you love that program enough you can right-click on it and Pin it there. So when you close it, its shortcut will stay there (like Quick Launch.)

So in order from left to right, you can see that Firefox, WinAmp, Notepad, Photoshop CS4 and IE8 are open. You can also see that these are the programs I would most likely have, open, most of the time, and the icons remind me what I need to do on the computer anyway! Major, major productivity boost.

A very cool thing about programs that are integrated with Windows 7 is, that its progress bars show on the icon – that green bar on the IE8 icon for example is showing me how far is my Firefox 3.6 Beta going. 😀 Seriously though, I love that feature on Explorer, being able to know how long file transfers take.

Of course, not everything was rosy – when I picked up my system they had installed the 32-bit version of Windows 7 even though my system was fully supporting 64-bit. So I spent time installing the 64-bit version and discovered that ultimately, it was still Windows, and some Google work was needed (like Expanding Files stuck on 0% for a few minutes… on a SATA SSD!)

I also had a flickering menu/items bug with the Microsoft Games which I still could not resolve with the latest ATI drivers. I also had some permission issues with FretsOnFire (a reinstall would obviously help, since it’s picky about files from my old hard disk.)

Also, pinning folders isn’t directly possible; I had to use this workaround:
Workaround to Pin My Computer, Documents, Recycle Bin or Any Folders to Windows 7 TaskBar (Pin to Windows Explorer Alternative)

I ran Quake 3 /timedemo 1 with four.dm_68 in Windows 7 32-bit and got 899.5 FPS! Then I tried it in Windows 7 64-bit and got a black screen. Had to blindly type /quit in the console. Then I downloaded ioQuake3 and got 274.4 FPS.

I’m taking a leisurely drive through Need For Speed: Shift and man is it difficult! Drift is annoying as heck the way the new gameplay is. It is however amazing to see people in crowds waving flags, and the tarmac and tires getting bumpmaps!

Meanwhile RawTherapee 2.4 RC2 is zipping through with all the maximum possible corrections I use at 25 seconds export (still not as amazing as the Sony W laptop supercomputer I’ve tried) but if I disabled NR and Shadow/Highlights (they just make tacky HDR anyway) it goes down to 15 seconds on 24 megapixel RAW files from the Sony Alpha 900.

I love this article and the way it was written:
This entry was posted in Geek, Pictures on by .

SAM Is New

Things I spotted at Sony Style KLCC today!

The bronze Sony Alpha 330! It looks every bit as good in real life, as it looks in the picture. Which is really, really good.

And then, there is the first ever Sony lens with a 67mm filter thread… (say what?)

The much awaited Sony 28-75mm F2.8 SAM! Note that there is a Lock switch to hold it at 28mm, and the focus ring is reverse from most Sony lenses. It is noticeably smaller than the Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8.

Minimum focus distances:
Sony Vario-Sonnar T* Carl Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 SSM ZA = 34cm
Tamron/Minolta 28-75mm F2.8 = 33cm
Sony 28-75mm F2.8 SAM = 38cm

We all know that the Sony is a rebadged Tamron – it’s obvious from the reverse focus ring and filter size. However, why is the MFD changed from 33cm to 38cm?

The Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 in Canon EF mount comes with a micro-motor since all Canon EOS cameras do not have in-body motors. The Nikon F mount version also has that micro-motor. Both Tamrons can still do 33cm with a micro-motor! So why can’t Sony?

Obviously, because a Sony 28-75mm F2.8 that does 33cm MFD compared to a Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 that does 34cm MFD looks better on paper!

I have to say this, I absolutely hate SAM for lenses that are meant to be matched on higher-end bodies (A850/A900) which have the AF/MF toggle and DMF functionality, because SAM makes any on-body MF control impossible. It’s not so bad to have SAM on a kit lens but not on a lens that is targeted to full-frame users.

And yet, it is hard to write off this lens – optically, it is superb, even wide open! I didn’t bring my A900 + Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) to compare, but what I shot looks very impressive, with good corners at F2.8. Focusing isn’t very fast though, and it feels a bit slow to draw at macro distances sometimes. I guess it’s best to have a Zeiss 24-70mm owner to compare as the Zeiss 24-70mm has faster SSM (compared to other lenses in its 24-70mm range.)

Its weight is superb – it’s light enough and yet it balances very well on the A850! If the 24-70mm ever felt too heavy, this will feel miraculously matched.

Pixel peeping will come another day!

– good balance on the A850/A900
– good optical quality wide open even on the corners
– cameras with a F2.8 sensor (A700/A850/A900) will gain more accuracy

– SAM motor implementation makes the very useful AF/MF and DMF functions on the A700/A850/A900 useless
– focus ring turns in the reverse direction of all Sony lenses (like the Sony 18-200mm and 18-250mm)
– 38cm MFD is a downgrade from the Konica Minolta/Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 which focused to 33cm close

Personally, if I could find a good copy of the Konica Minolta/Tamron 28-75mm F2.8, I would pick that over this Sony, only for the AF/MF and DMF functionality.

And finally, some leftover lens pr0n:


Spot the following:

– a young David Caruso
– Freddie Mercury
– a skinny Arnold Schwarzenegger
– Richard Simmons
– a white Stevie Wonder (complete with shades and head-bob.)

Failing which, you could just be amused by how the 80’s looked.

Windows Windows Windows Windows Windows Windows Windows

Man, I wish I knew about this so I could throw my own Windows 7 Launch Party!

I watched it to the end and could not contain my excitement!

However, since comments are disabled, there are comments in this other video about how fun and fantastic it would have been if I managed to get the Windows 7 Launch Party Pack:

Best comment ever over there is:

A scene-nerd, a granny, a menopausal soccer mom and a non-threatening black man.

In America, they strive to be politically correct and having the token black guy. What about the other token people?
– geek with glasses
– gay
– soccer mom
– elderly person
– black
– Asian
– South American
– blond Caucasian

Combining tokenism, they could have:
– a black gay geek with glasses
– a blond Caucasian soccer mom
– a South American elderly person
– an Asian

Now a black geek is cooler, as it is the Mac ads have white geeks. Microsoft needs to fight back black. Black people are always cooler so having the gay token attribute doesn’t detract from them much or bear a negative stereotype.

I also wish I had a Laser Potrait when I was a kid, so I could be as cool as the kids on Saved By The Bell:
We Have Lasers!!!!!!!!!!

Slim Pack Of Red

And now, for pictures from my Sony Cybershot DSC-W190! It packs a 35-105mm equivalent zoom lens (surprisingly, 35mm can be quite wide even when you’re used to having much wider focal lengths…)

It reminds me of slide film, with a specific latitude that you must adhere to. Then again, I don’t mind the high black point, as it was the light and shadow I was trying to convey.

For the pixel peepers – the maximum ISO is 3200, and you can only expect so much from a regular front-lit CCD sensor. (This is not a back-lit CMOS!)

Of course, when you need it, it gives the mood…

Enough arsing around. Having Live View all the time helps with tricky angles (where having a SLR would make it very obvious that you were trying to take a picture!)

Live View (which is what all point-and-shoots offer) gets you nice overhead angles.

Big chunky cameras are for girls!

The other thing I loved about using a point-and-shoot, is that there is no mirror, and the mechanical shutter is very quiet, so you could take street shots in a shopping mall without people noticing (even though my camera was metallic red!)

Had I used a SLR the owner would’ve known I was trying to take pictures of his shop.

I love Smile Shutter. It gets the goofiest smiles out of everybody (since the W190 isn’t extremely sensitive to smiles, you need to smile harder and bigger.)

Smile Shutter not used for this one (incidentally, Face Detection struggles with back-lit faces, so it would not have been possible unless I bring the camera real close to the face.)

Given good light, the colors are awesome!

Taking pictures while waiting for the train is a nice way to pass time.


Down on the catwalk, 27th April 2008, at 1 Utama…

…with the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan on my A700.

Male models – that is when you hear all the male camera-owners take less pictures.

I really don’t get what’s so great about catwalk photography for most male camera-owners. “Oh it’s so difficult!”

Pfft, the models pause at the front of the catwalk and turn around for all to see. The lighting is consistent. People who say it is difficult should get out more and shoot more genres.

Obviously, the guys are there for the female models, and for a chance for the typically bespectacled engineer/IT support person to use his expensive telephoto lens (which practically can’t be used at home.) You see all these uncles as well, overjoyed that their big lenses finally get some use!

I went with some friends once to shoot. We’d all huddle up in the photographer booth, which was elevated. We’d shoot a half-hour session, and not leave the booth during the intermission, in fear that we’d lose our space.

Yeah I get excited, I like pretty faces. I like how she looks so much like Kristin Kreuk!

However, by 3 to 4 half-hour rounds, I got bored of seeing the same faces! You see the same faces at every catwalk/fashion show. (Everybody loves Andrew’s Models.)

So what can I say? Obviously, the straight guys are not into shooting catwalks for the fashion. I know they don’t care and neither did I for the clothes.

However, I will comment on this outfit – I don’t like it when girls dress up in shape-less gunny sacks.

And now, fast-forward to 7th August 2008, at Twenty-One, for a showcase of Kariza Designs! At least these models were different because they were all friends of the founder/founder’s brother’s girlfriend.

Twenty-One was tight, and no telephoto would’ve been comfortable.

Not that I even brought a telephoto that night – I only had the Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm F2.4 on the A700. Manual focus was a challenge, and there were many spoiled shots!

Sorry Shannon there’s an elbow!

Ooo, I have feet now.

Yes, it was real packed!

I’m not sure what was up with my lens that night, but it seemed to have some focus curvature.

I found the concept to be amazingly cool – a colorful batik wrap that can be transformed into many different outfits! Instructional DVD included with every unique design.

Group shot! Argh, again the focus curvature.

Catch a flash.

Pick A Strawberry

Remember that scene in the movie “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs“, where it is snowing ice-cream? Kids are eating chocolate and vanilla ice-cream, and one lone kid shouts “my favorite!” and crashes in the strawberry ice-cream.

It was Ice-Cream Day at the office, and we had a choice of 3 flavors – chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. I see a resemblance! (I picked vanilla.) This is what was left after a few hours:

Street Inspiration

Guys, this is not street shooting yo! Get up and get the shot. (I waited in this spot to have some chicks walk behind them, unnoticed, but they didn’t come…)

The Minolta 50mm F1.4 at F2.0 makes for a great walkaround.

This is a crop.

All this, on the way to Federal Hotel for “My Job, My Passion…” Photography Talk by Encik Zainal Abdul Halim, a Malaysian photographer for Reuters.

Inside, we gathered insights into his world of photojournalism, and his ideas of composition. He works with only a 17-35mm and 70-200mm!

I loved his composition, in particular how he tends to frame subjects squarely, or diagonally across the frame. The Rule Of Thirds is abundant here, and he likes putting the event title in the background (if there is a background.) He’s a background-centric photographer (I am, too!)

And then, we went out to the poolside…

…to shoot what?

Models! Yes how random.

The commonfolk are happy.

Caryne, revisited (I have some pictures previously that I have not posted.)

Thanks to Jie Qiang for letting me take his Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG for a spin!

Yet another blistering wide 12mm shot on the A900.

Coupled with the HVL-F20AM flash at the 50mm setting, it makes for a spot-lit effect!

Then, I popped on the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 for some good ol’ F1.8 action.

At F3.2, bokeh becomes neater.

At F5. Taking a cue from En. Zainal’s shot (albeit not stopping down fast enough to get a nice star-shaped flare.)

And so, we went to the street, inspired to wait for the pictures that we intended to create.

1, 2, and 3.

I then headed to Lot 10, where I bumped into Ginny Yap!

It was Amber Chia’s Ford Model Search!

Yes, Malaysia’s favorite supermodel Amber Chia! See me tiptoeing because she is tall as heck.

Ringo, I am terror like that. No questions nor qualms.

And so, tall girls from all over sat down waiting.

I tend to invoke that kinda response.

Ooo, that one too.

Later that night, I was at Titiwangsa LRT and I guess I had a little calling to do some photojournalism! (The midtones were pulled on this one, hence the posterization.)

Ah, a properly exposed one. While I could’ve shot with my wide-angle or 50mm I decided to go with 135mm on this one, to be a fair bit away in case it was going to explode! En. Zainal warned of an experience where he photographed a bomb detonation, but a shrapnel flew 1km and injured the soldier next to him in the leg.

The firemen came! Interestingly, I have a few photos of them not in fire-retardant suits yet. They put them on as they get off their trucks!

After the initial extinguishing, they hose it down to kill little flames.

The owner (I presume) looking over the charred remains of his car.

I don’t know if this can be saved – the rest of the car was alright though.

Finally, a fireman jots the details.