Friday, July 31, 2009

It's a flash for God's sake

It looks small to be consider as a flash. It has a GN of 20, a little bit better than the pop-up GN. It basically does what a pop-up suppose to do, not quite, and it has two extra features: it has a up-bounce function and tele-wide flash selection.

Yup, it's a WL commander for A900 only.

Nothing to talk about the back side of this flash. It has no buttons at the back side. To turn the flash on, simply turn the flash mount. Can't do it when it's not mounted on a camera, not to say cannot do, it's difficult to do lar.

How small is this flash ?

I can keep it in my pocket for sure. LOL.

So, is it a good flash? Well, if you don't own an A900, why you need another "pop-up" flash for yourself ? It can't do WL, it can't be the WL commander when mount on non-A900 camera, it don't even has a manual flash control. Somehow I do find the pop-up flash for A700 is much better than this HVL F20AM ! At least the pop-up can do ALL (but the bounce and tele part) with even a manual flash setting for A700's pop-up flash !

I was hopping this F20 would be a better WL commander with ratio control etc like what a F58 do in WL part for ALL models of Sony DSLR but look like Sony wish to keep the customer room of upgrading. You want to play WL ratio ? Upgrade to A700 or A900 with F58. :D

Just a small conclution about this pocket size flash:
1) Small and light.
2) GN 20.
3) No manual control. A700's pop-up even has 1/16 - 1/1 flash level control.
4) Only be a WL commander for A900.
5) Even you need it as a WL commander, it can't do WL ratio.

So, if you don't have an A900, don't waste your money on this.

If you have an A900, and wish to use this as your WL commander, I think I have a solution that way cheaper than this RM 599.00 (RRP) "pocket flash". (Well, it's ain't pocket wizard for sure.) LOL

No, I didn't test this flash, b'cause I don't want to. LOL

Yay to another piece of Sony useless stuff that only target to small group of user. Yay !

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Just a rant.....

Once we share a same passion. Then we decided to form a club. We were close to each other. We basically knew everyone.

The group expanded. We think it's best to organise the group. Hence some of us volunteer to oversee the group.

We all came from different short of life. We all have different in beliefs. We all have different background. But we all share the same passion.

Things will never be smooth for a long time. Some time, hiccups occur. Though slow, but hiccups can be solved in good manner.

Well, we are there to assist. We are there to share our knowledge, and we are there to make friends. But sadly, not all has the same passion as we do.


Well, it's just a rant.

When I see him smile, I'll forget about what had just happened.

Sleep well, my dear son. You have a long way to go ahead you. I shall be your side when you need me.

Sleep well, my dear son.

Friday, July 17, 2009

So near, yet so far.....

Strobist's Boot Camp II: Assignment #2 is all about food photography. It's my 2nd attempt in participating into strobist's Boot Camp assignment. And my second attempt inparticipating into an international photographic competition. The first assignment was some moons ago and it's all about long exposure couple with off camera flash thingy and my submission didn't go well back then.

Shooting food is a piece of cake. But to make it interesting and pop to grab the attention of the judge is not only a piece of cake: it's a whole big round of huge cake ! Food photography can be as boring as I can imagine it, and as artistic as I couldn't understand it. I try to be an artist, hence I choose the later concept.

We were only given a week time to complete and submit our photo through One week is not a long period of time, and being a working and family man like me, strickly speaking I have only less than half a week time to complete my work. No time to think much, I started to ask my wife to make a cake and I got this:

The lighting was a simple one flash with reflector set-up as explained my strobist's post here. I basically copied the whole set-up from strobist as shown in the pic below:

One flash bounced from an umbrella with a white surface card as fill on the face of the cake that's nearer to the camera. All right, not even close to what strobist did. LOL.

Anyway, later I found this shot is so cliché and I decided to do the second shot. That was 2 days before the dateline ends on Saturday, local time.

I want something simple. Later I found out that if I couldn't "enjoy" the tastiness of the food I'm going to shoot, I wouldn't get a great photo. Hence, I started to wonder in the kitchen. Later I found the sugar crackers laying quietly in a corner of the kitchen. Hey, I like that very much ! I could finish a whole lot of them while watching my favourite tv show ! So I decided to take a porn shot of the sugar cracker ! LOL

Black background is so boring. Hence, a short visit to Tesco near my house, I bought some seamless colour paper. I wanted the cracker to be floated in the middle of the air. Hence, a small wine glass can be a good supporter for the cracker. I set up my flash, snoot it and test shot:

Nah, I don't like the shadow, but I like the vignetting create by the snooted flash. First shot is out. Then I started to look around my room, and I saw my DIY ring flash adaptor. Hey, it's a food porn, shoot it like a porn lar ! LOL

So, I set up my ring flash adaptor, and do a test shot first before the actual food porn. LOL

I always like the output from ring flash. It gives a shadowless type of picture. Look nice, and I like, hence ring flash is my main light. So, I started shooting lar.

This pic doesn't feel right about it. There is something lacking over there. Although the ring flash did provide a nice spread out of the flash light over the cracker, it just look plain and pale. Again, since this is a food porn, I should shoot it like a porn ! I intro a kicker flash ! And this is my submission photo :

It's just a biscuit

And click here to see my set up pic. Simple, porn-like, and I hope it has the touch of a fashion feel. I produced my work 2 hours before the deadline, and manage to upload to 1 hour before the deadline. LOL. Pretty simple, right ? Anyway, just try my luck. :P

After browsing through the other submission from the all over the world, I have no faith in my work! LOL. Well, it's just the experience I wish to gain, and like usual, I enjoy the process of producing the photo and of course at the end of the shooting, I ate the cracker. LOL

Not until one day an email from dropped into my mail-box and it's from David the Strobist himself !!! He said:

I was like "WOW !" That's mean my submission is being in the Top 50 from out of 800++ submissions !!

That means a lot to me ! It's an international competition, and I made to the top-50 from 800++ submissions ! This is so far the highest achievement of my hobby I adopt two years ago, and I'm really honour to have come to this stage so far although I didn't make it into top-10 (the top-10 shown here in strobist). :P

I really like the top-10 selections from strobist himself, and his comments on the finalist carries lot of info into it. Those photos are superb ! And I'm really enjoying browsing through the top-10 photos from this assignment.

I was 1/50th to the winning price of Orbis ring flash and strobist DVD set. It's so near, and yet it is so far away.

I can't wait for the 3rd assignment. :D

Final note, I don't see any M'sian participate into this assignment. Probably I'm the only one, yes?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Boh - keh - ing !

I'm not a fan of bokeh thingy. I have no idea how to see and how to judge the quality of the area on the picture where the part is out of focus is creamy or not. But my recent play around with my friend's newest 50mm F1.8 lens got my attention in playing with the shape of the bokeh for different lens. This lens is one of the latest prime lens that is fast with big aperture. Wide open at F1.8, couple with "usable" ISO 800, it basically eliminates the worries of hand shaking and blur picture, but does not guarantee a sharp picture because of extreme shallow depth of field. But I'm not interested in DOF, but the shape of the bokeh from this lens.

Here is one pic I took during my only 1 night testing of this lens. Oh, about the set-up, I placed my Legoman on the edge of the window of my apartment, and there are some street lights on the housing estate not far from where I stay, a perfect place to test the bokeh shape, right ?

Hmm... the shape of this lens (50mm F1.8) does not look circular when at wide open. Is this what they call "cat eye bokeh" ?? I would expect to see a circular one because when the lens at its widest aperture, the shape of the aperture is near circular one. And why the shape of bokeh isn't circular one is beyond my understanding.

Then, I put on a lens that bears a blue label on it, and do the same shooting, and I got this :

Well, at its widest open at F2.8, the shape is near circular. Nice, right ? But if look carefully, one can easily see that the bokeh is kinda "hard". And this pic really look like a paranormal picture to me. "I capture orbs !" and hell lot of theory will come out just looking at my pic. LOL

Forget about the orbs !

Then something got me thinking: is that true that only big aperture lens can capture this kind of orb pictures ? No, is the answer. A kit lens which is having a aperture of F3.5 - F5.6 still can take orbs pic. No believe ? See example below :

Depend on lens, the one I am having now (not kit lens), the shape of the bokeh start to take the un-circular shape at F4.5.

If I remember correctly, the kit lens has the magnification of 1:4 similar to the lens I'm having now. Hence, at the most tele zoom of kit lens, and at aperture F5.6 (the widest of kitty), the kitty is capable to capture the orbs picture.

Even at F8.0 still can get orbs pic ! Please mind the blur pic, I was lazy to set up my tripod ! LOL

And further closing the aperture to F9, no orb can be capture in the pic. Probably the aperture is too small to capture the orb.

And then I was wondering, can a cameraphone capture the orb pics ? No harm giving it a try, right ? So, same set-up, setting my camera phone to macro mode, and shoot a picture :

Well, there are orbs in the picture ! LOL. Too bad my pns DSC H1 is not with me now. I bet I still could get the orb pictures from my H1.

Ok, enough of testing, and I wish to end my post with one of the picture I took few days back that I like very much.

The lego spaceman is still wondering, which planet has he landed ?

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Own Review on Sony Latest Lens : The 50mm F1.8 DT (Part II)

After not a very pleasant "first encounter" of this 50mm lens, and not long after this, I got a call from a friend who is a mother to be in next few months. She called :"I want a lens ar, that can shoot with back ground blur blur one so I can take my baby photos lar, like you. And not very expensive one. But hor, I heard ar, this Sony DSLR ar, the lenses are very expensive one wor~~ How ar?" In other words, she wants a portrait lens with big aperture one.

I told her:"You are lucky. Sony just launched a considerbly cheap portrait lens, and it meets all the requirement you want. I can help you to find one as this lens is currently like a hot cake now (at the time of this post been typed lar.)"

So, after my not so pleasant first encounter, why I still recommend her this lens ? Because this is the lens that suit her requirement. Simple as that, period.

Then I paid a visit to the Sonystyle shop in The Curve, Damansara. When I asked a staff there about this SAL50F1.8 DT lens, he looked at me like I speak alien language to him. Being a good service salesperson in the shop, he went into the counter and bring out an Alpha catalogue and politely asked me which lens I want. I told him, this lens is just launched 2 weeks ago, and you can't see it in the catalogue. He looked confused and not understand what I am talking about. Finally, he went and asked his supervisor about my lens, and the answer I got is :"We don't have stock, but we can order for your from KLCC, and it'll take some days lar." He replied with a super white teeth good enough to become the model for Darlie.

Well, this is the 3rd time I go to Sonystyle, The Curve and everytime I wish to get something they say no stock one. WTF.

I'm not sure about others, but If I were the salesperson, I would advise the buyer to pay a visit to KLCC to get what he/she wants, since travelling from Damansara to KLCC wouldn't take much time, right ?

Anyway, I refused to place an order, and went to KLCC instead.

Then, I got the lens, and hence I had a small little time with this lens for me to do some extra test shots as my very own review of SAL50F1.8 DT.

The box is pretty standard and small. Believe it or not, it's the last unit in KLCC when I got it for my friend!

In the box come with the lens, real and front lens cap, instruction manuals in many many languages and a warranty card. The lens design is nice to my own standard. There is an AF-MF button, and the focusing distance (in metre and feet) scale printed on the focusing ring. When focus, the lens does not elongate. It's a SAM lens. SAM is the short form for Smooth Autofocus Motor, which means that this lens has a motor inside to assist on focusing.

The mount is a plastic mount, which is a bit cheapy for me. Take note that the real glass is actually protrude out from the lens barrier. Hence, it can't be mounted on a teleconverter to get the extra focal length.

The front glass is actually built further deep into the lens. This explain why this lens does not need a lens hood. 49mm diameter lens mouth: we got problem finding a filter for this lens...... (too bad I just sold 2 of mine!)

And the lens is made in China! Well, there is a difficult task for me not to find anything around me that isn't made in China nowadays......

Since I have basically one night to do some simple test out of this lens, I did the wide open MFD sharpness test. With in-camera setting of sharpness set at 0, I took a shot of a stamp as shown here:

Straight out from camera, resize and watermarked. Not really on MFD at 0.34m as stated on the lens, but about 0.40m focusing distance to get this shot. It hunts a bit to get the focus lock, but with noisy SAM put on work, finding a suitable point to focus is not a problem for this lens.

Blow up of the stamp part. Well, sharpness wise, I think there is some rooms for improvement. Of course, this shot was done at F1.8.

Since this is a big aperture lens, so how's the bokeh part ? I'm not sure how to see if the bokeh is creamy or not, but I did these two shots just for fun: Meet Lego Spaceman : Yellowson !

Ok what... right ? Oh, these two shots are not crop shots. With about 1:4 magnification from this lens, shooting Yellowson in real life shouldn't be a problem. LOL.

Now come the flare part. I'm not sure if the way I test the lens flare is correct or not. What I did is placing a flash with a softbox just make like sun-light, and I point my lens towards the "sun".

So, first shot :

Hmm.... the flare control is quite impressive. There is a slightly ghosting on top of that pic, but not noticeable. This is very good already to my standard lar. Then I took another shot again with this time including the "sun" in the pic :

Ooooo.... pretty impressive I would say. The flare from the "sun" is basically not visible in the pic ! That why this lens doesn't come with a hood, because it doesn't need one.

Let's compare a lens that is so famous and everyone thinks it's a super good "God" lens that bears a blue label on it one and see how the flare control. Same focal length, shutter speed and aperture:

OMG !!!


What lens is that ? Hmm.. I shall remain silent. LOL. Well, good also what, at least there is artistic touch about it, no ? LOL

And finally, how heavy is this lens ? Very light :

So light that when mounted on my camera like nothing on it ! LOL

But it's still heavier than my spacemen collection. LOL.

So, here are my very own personal conclusion about this lens:
1) It's a prime for sure.
2) Price wise, I do feel it should be sold cheaper than the current RM 599.00 RRP. But it's still lot cheaper than SAL50F1.4.
3) Plastic built. Very cheap feel....
4) It's a F1.8 lens, so, it's a fast lens and a great portrait lens.
5) Focusing is fast, but SAM is damn noisy.
6) It's light weight ! A very great travel lens. (No law says 50mm can't be a travel lens.)
7) It's quite sharp. If in-camera sharpness +3, the result is very sharp !
8) I don't know if this is a good replacement for 50mm F1.7, but if I have a 50mm F1.7, do I need a plastic SAL50F1.8 DT lens?

And I end my review with a sample shot at KLCC when I got this lens from the store:

Well, as I said, this lens is a portrait lens, and it does what it does. :)

Did I mentioned that this isn't my lens ?

My first review here.