Monthly Archives: December 2011

Leica Vista!

And now, for something different! I lent my Sony SLT-A77 and Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM to a friend, who then lent me his Leica M6 TTL and Carl Zeiss Biogon T* 35mm F2.0 ZM.

All shots are at F2.0 unless otherwise specified. No color, contrast or brightness adjustments were done – I just did an Unsharp Mask with amount 90%, radius 0.3 pixels, threshold 3 levels, before resizing it.

The film used was Agfa Vista ASA 400 color negative film.

Shot in the same area. You can see how it works under flourescent light – somewhat cool.

Under tungsten light. Not overly warm and seems to give milder colors.

I am not going to credit the photographer who took this out-of-focus picture of me. Well at least you get to see the horrid brightline bokeh of the Zeiss Biogon 35mm F2.0…

Well, it certainly doesn’t get all reddy like Kodak films do…

I think I stopped down to F5.6 for this.

This was probably at F4.0.

Indoors, with weak light.

When I finished my first roll and was winding it, I thought I finished winding it and opened the bottom of the M6. Crap! The film was still out, and it was exposed to light, causing the light leak you see above!

And I took longer to take her picture. I find it funny that I have to stop people and ask to take their picture, because I can’t focus a walking person fast enough on the M6.

This frame was probably more inside, thus getting a weaker light leak.

Well, sometimes you get lucky with walking people… probably F4.0 or so.

I had to underexpose, setting the shutter speed to 1/30th of a second. Any slower and there’d be motion blur caused by the people moving.

This is a 100% crop. All the pictures were scanned into 2.4 megapixels so it’s not a terribly tight crop.

And of course, I had to stop by the Leica Global Store at Avenue K, to try the beautiful Leica Noctilux-M 50mm F0.95 ASPH! This shot was at F0.95. Unfortunately the store was small so I couldn’t really get good subjects with the restrictive minimum focus distance of 1 meter.

Also at F0.95.

More to come, this time from my favorite film – Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ASA400!

Effective Processing

So if I got myself a Schecter Omen Extreme-6 FR for my birthday, what did I get myself for Christmas?

A Digitech RP255 guitar multi-effect processor!

To be honest, I hankered for effects within the first day of playing with my new electric guitar. I used to have live sound effects on my SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 soundcard but that died, and Creative doesn’t put the sound effects in their newer EAX 5.0 cards anymore. I used to have so much fun with the SoundBlaster, as it had a pitch shifter, auto-wah, distortion, flanger, reverb, delay and the works!

With my current integrated soundcard, all I can do is boost the microphone signal to +20 decibels and rely on this digital overdrive.

The RP255 is the cheapest of the current series to have an expression pedal and a looper. The RP355, one step up, adds XLR jacks.

What really sold me on this, compared to say a Line 6, Boss, Rocktron, Zoom, was that it had a 20 second looper for that price, under RM700 (during the Bentley year-end sale.) The Zoom multi-effects pedals at that price had a 5 second looper, certainly not long enough! The Boss multi-effects pedals didn’t have a pitch shifter. Line 6 was out of my budget.

A pitch shifter is important to me because I have a Floyd Rose floating bridge and I don’t want to painstakingly retune my guitar each time I want to detune my guitar down an entire step. I can also drop it down an octave to become a bass, or pull it up like a whammy pedal would.

Of course, there is also that whammy sound… and the wah pedal, which I’ve missed! Out of the factory it is a bit too sensitive – so you absolutely must calibrate the expression pedal so it doesn’t toggle between volume and wah so easily. You could, of course, assign the pedal to do something else…

I also particularly like the user interface – I played around with all the settings, activating the looper and jamming with myself. I then read the manual, and I found I didn’t learn anything new, because I’d already figured everything out!

It has 120 preset tones – the first 60 can be overwritten. I can also download the X-Edit software and plug it via USB to download the preset tone into the RP255!

Unfortunately my Windows 7 installation is a bit broken so I need to reformat so I can get X-Edit to install properly – more on that once I get around to that! I’d then install Cubase LE 5, included with the RP255.

Since I have a 6.35″ to 3.5″ jack converter (and 3.5″ to 6.35″ as well) I can plug the RP255 straight into speakers, or into my Sony A77’s mike jack! I shall record a video of me using the looper and the pitch-shifted bass once I have an awesome riff to show.

So does it sound digital? I wouldn’t know, really, unless I heard it side-by-side with an analog signal. There is an analog tone, though.

In other news, I broke the low E string again – this time, it seemed to just loosen up at the bridge end. So I clipped it and reversed the string, putting it back in. I should’ve known when it started acting up, since it kept detuning rapidly within 1 minute of bending.

35mm Normally

I got myself the Samyang 35mm F1.4 ED AS UMC for Sony Alpha A-mount!

It is, of course, a full-frame lens, for its full glory on my Sony Alpha 900. It is manual focus though – which is why it costs a lot less than the Sony 35mm F1.4G. It’s got a bit of weight at 700 grams for the A-mount version, and a 77mm filter thread.

My Opteka 85mm F1.4 (rebadged from Samyang) is very, very easy to manual focus. This lens, being wider, is a bit harder – I’d say with the 85mm I could get exact focus 95% of the time, with 5% being slightly off (not noticeable when not zoomed in.)

With the 35mm my perfection rate is probably a 75% – but after a few days, I got used to it and got better, about 85%. That said I’ve had the 85mm for 2 years already…

Interestingly, this is the only lens I’ve bought for all of 2011.

I knew that Samyang made awesome lenses – cheap because they are manual focus, but contrasty and sharp wide open! (Though when compared to a Zeiss it would lose in micro-contrast – the details are just crispier on the Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm F1.4 ZA, for example.)

Just like the Samyang/Opteka 85mm F1.4, the aperture ring jumps from F1.4 to F2.0 then clicks in half-stops until F16, where it jumps to F22. Its minimum focus distance is a very useful 30cm close (compared to the rather weak close focusing of the Samyang 85mm F1.4 and Samyang 8mm F3.5 diagonal fisheye…)

On the Sony Alpha 77 – with focus peaking and Live View with magnification, it is a lot easier to quickly manual focus.

On the Sony Alpha NEX-5 with the Sony LA-EA1 A-mount to E-mount lens adapter.

So here are my primes!
Left to right: Peleng 8mm F3.5 M42 circular fisheye, Vivitar 24mm F2.0 OM-mount, Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM, Samyang 35mm F1.4 ED AS UMC, Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original, Opteka 85mm F1.4, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA.

Clockwise from left: Samyang 35mm F1.4 ED AS UMC, Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM, Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA, Opteka 85mm F1.4, Vivitar 24mm F2.0 OM-mount, and the Peleng 8mm F3.5 M42 circular fisheye in the middle.

Be warned! The rear element sticks out when the lens is focused to infinity, so you may not want to put the lens on a table facing up…

Onto the pictures! 35mm F1.4 on full-frame. As a buddy of mine said, it looks kinda toy-camera-ish.

Click the image
for the full 24-megapixel image from the A900! Wide open, it provides decent detail, with a minor amount of chromatic aberration.

Click the image
for the full 24-megapixel image from the A900! As they say, F8 and be there!

Bokeh is generally good…

…though the out-of-focus highlights may sometimes exhibit concentric patterns like this. I have no idea why this happens.

There is a very slight tinge of brightline bokeh especially in the middle. Also notice that there is physical vignetting – not only do the out-of-focus highlights become cats-eyed in shape, they also get cropped.

There is a bit of barrel distortion.

This is my best effort to fix it without going into complex moustache distortion correction.

Anyway, F1.4! It will rule the night!

It picks up ambient color alright. Note the blue light on the trousers.

1/4th of a second, ISO1600, F1.4. There was a lunar eclipse that night, and the moon ended up looking red.

Jason through the NEX-5, LA-EA1 and of course Samyang 35mm F1.4. The angle of view is perfect for street photography and general multipurpose photography, whether on APS-C or full-frame.

35mm on full-frame is the same angle of view as your phone’s camera.

I took it to Rock The World 11! Here’s Maddame, a most awesome grunge band. I have to say though, that when he first got on stage and started shredding, I thought he looked like a Malaysian Marty Friedman, and even played like one! It wasn’t until he said his band represented the Malaysian grunge scene that I realized he was just playing some pretty riff-ful grunge!

A 100% crop of the above picture, taken with the 24-megapixel A77.

Ewin took this picture. Thanks Ewin!

Notice that the bokeh may sometimes be slightly wiry. That said it is generally good.


Into the night.


Depending on the light, you could turn it into day.

MSC Malaysia Cybercentre, in downtown KL – ironically, the most un-Malaysian part of KL.

Shot with the NEX-5. All I had to do was stand in their path to get a street shot like this!

Shot with the NEX-5 at F1.4. Thanks to Waifon for this picture!

All pictures were taken with the A900, with the Samyang 35mm F1.4 set at F1.4, unless otherwise stated (or if the lens is in the picture).

I bought the lens from Chia Hau – give him a holler if you’re interested! He deals with cameras and lenses.

Schect It Out!

Meet my early birthday present to myself!

This is the Schecter Omen Extreme-6 FR in See-Thru Black, part of the Diamond series (which means that it is not a custom Schecter guitar.)

(Pictures of myself with guitar, credits to Waifon.)

Bolt-on neck – though this is slightly angled which makes it nice to lean your head on when it is in a gig bag.

Obligatory 12th-fret shot.

So you might ask – why not an Ibanez with a humbucker-single-humbucker (2-1-2) setup? You get 5 positions in that switch.

I get a 3-way switch between 2 humbuckers…

…but multiply those options by 2 since the Tone knob can be pulled up to switch to single-coil mode.

Of course, this means I don’t get a single/humbucker mix like in positions #2 and #4, but I get a single coil sound at the neck, or bridge, or both.

Although I’ve always hankered for a Ibanez Gio SA in butterscotch, I was deeply saddened to find that it had only 22 frets.

Also, Ibanez’s necks tend to feel a bit cold and impersonal to me. Maybe it’s the finishing of the back. The Schecters generally come with thicker necks – not size 0s.

The FR in its name is for Floyd Rose – it has a licensed Floyd Rose Special floating bridge. I picked this for my love of Pantera!

Somehow, the idea of your strings being held by a metal block is a bit eerie.

Tuners. I reckon I could turn those pegs any way I like…

…since the double-locking nuts are already in place. Gotta dig the 1st fret inlay too!

Guitar strap.

Those of you with sharp eyes might notice that the low E string is missing! This was because I tried doing a divebomb, then pulling it up to see how far it would go… and I snapped the low E string! Who would’ve thought?

And so, I learnt how to tune a Floyd Rose and adjust the back spring tension. It wasn’t that hard, though tuning up takes forever! So the low E string you see in other pictures is actually an Ernie Ball 0.042 Slinky.

In retrospect, since the string broke at the bridge, I could actually feed it into the block again. Alas!

When I got it from the shop it was leaning slightly back – here I’ve reduced the spring tension so the bridge is floating parallel to the body. Though it does make for stiffer action.

I bought a set of Ernie Ball .008-.038 Extra Slinkys to replace the strings when they wear out (and D’addario XL’s in .009-.042 – like the ones that came with the guitar). I learnt my lesson when breaking a string on my first night – to stock up!

All pictures with the Sony DSLT-A77 with Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM.