Monday, 30 April 2012

Canon 50mm f/1.8 At Last!

My family and I have a lot of plans on things to do this summer leave as I will be in Malaysia for two months. I will want to cherish those memories in photos, sharp photos. So since I officially turned 20 years old according to the Gregorian calendar, I decided to give myself a piece of glass that marks the end of my teenage child years. It is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, costed me RM240 with a 52mm Kenko multi coated UV filter.

My Canon 600D with Canon 50mm f/1.8 mounted and Sigma 18-50 f/2.8-4.5 OS HSM beside it.
This small upgrade means a lot with my age. I may no longer be a teenager according to my age, but do I feel ready to accept the fact that I should move on to the young adult stage? I don't know. It doesn't seem right yet. I still need to learn more on to be tolerating, to be patient, to be wise in life. So no big leaps. Everything should move with the flow.

And this lens is exactly that. All noobs dream of pro equipment, but the problem is will they know how to use it? Will the investment worth the money? No. I prefer spending so little but make the best out of it.

So about the lens, it is a piece of large glass floating in a plastic mount. It is weak. I will have to treat them with special care compared to my tough Sigma. There are kids who asked, "where is the zoom?" nope it has no zoom, and that's what makes it so special and produces sharp images. Let's upload some images.
In a controlled environment without stray lights at the background the bokeh is nice. Plus with the nice sharp subject and a shallow depth of field I can isolate the person as the subject effectively. This is when this lens really delivers more than we expect it should.
I chose this photo taken without permission from the person hehe. My 50mm f/1.8 produces nice sharp images wide open and renders the background blurry. But the 5 bladed aperture design doesn't produce nice bokeh quality. But to me, come on, normal people wont even notice them although I do. I am abnormal.
the Canon 50mm f/1.8 bokeh wide open at f/1.8. Nice rounds!
If I stop down my Canon 50mm f/1.8 to f/4 the aperture blade shape begin to announce its presence. Simple gear limitations can be used in favour of us or work around it. That's who I plan to handle it.
More lenses? Slowly.
Teenagers maybe have the body and strength of an adult, but our judgement and wisdom is nowhere near close. Slowly. Take one step at a time. It is called growth, a path towards wisdom.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

70D Expectations

It's not like Canon released some sneak peeks on the camera watch society yet. This is just me. Canon did release the 60Da a few months ago so for a totally new model to be released is kinda hard. But what if the Canon engineers out there saw this and are reading this? I would be damn honored. People out there are screaming for a 7D update. But I am yelling for a 60D update. Not a DSLR that can only be used for the stars.

Dear Mr Canon Engineer,
Please start work on the next 70D. The Canon mid-range DSLRs are great. I have experience with the 40D and the 60D before and I liked both of them. Unfortunately the 60D lost some sting compared to its forefathers. If you are reading, this is my hopes for it. 

I would love the 70D to come back with the magnesium-alloy construction which is superbly tough. While some users might scream for compactness and lightweight, I think the current size is optimally compact. The magnesium-alloy body would weigh more than the 60D but the extra weight will be appreciated in video recording. Videos will look much smoother with much inertia to hold it down from camera shakes. If it is weatherproofed, I will even appreciate it even more.

About the megapixel craze, Sony and Canon making the 24 megapixel APS sensors, I would love the 70D to retain the pixel count but give much improvements with the high ISO performance. My 600D produces noisy images but after some cleaning is usable even at ISO H (12,800). I hope to see a new sensor that can be cleaner than Sony's 16.2 megapixel sensor at ISO 3200, especially if the new 5D Makr III's DIGIC 5+ processor is powering the 70D.

The 60D lost its fast burst rate to 5.3fps from 6.3fps on the 50D. Although I rarely use burst mode. It would be a peace of mind knowing my camera could perform when it needs to. I hope Canon would bring back the 6.3fps burst rate to the 70D.

Although some cameras now offer full HD 1080p 60fps recording, but I still think the 30fps and 24fps are still relevant. Some might complain there is no AF at all during video recording, but I still think it allows total control. I hope on the 70D the video mode is kept as it is now with the 60D, and please do keep the vari-angle LCD screen. It helps a hell lot only 600D and 60D users appreciate.

Thank you. If the 70D is out with these specs that I expected, do expect me camping in front of your store like an Apple fag waiting for their purchase.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Spring 2012

Spring is short. Let's make the best out of it by gunning down any photo opportunity as much as we can. It was a Tuesday when we heard that there will be some rain in the weekends. Rain marks the end to these delicate flowers so we rushed to take photos there. I was just excited in the need to make new photos. Then Aiman called some other friends to join us.

Spring 2012 026

Spring 2012 181

Spring 2012 102

Spring 2012 111

Spring 2012 150

Spring 2012 252

Spring 2012 126

Lovely weather, lovely lighting and lovely sights. Just perfectly in time for masterpieces. I am writing this on the very weekend and true there was some rain and now the trees are sheading their flowers, replacing them with green leaves. Glad I made it in time. See ya

Gambar Bukan Realiti | Hidup Tak Seindah Gambar

Gambar bukan realiti. Hidup tak secantik gambar.
One more post in Bahasa Melayu.

Fotografi ni adalah satu skill untuk bercerita dengan gambar. Cara storytelling ni senang je:
1. Categorize - asingkan subjek dan background
2. Emphasize - bagi penekanan kat subjek, bagi dia menyerlah
3. Frame - fikir posisi subjek, rule of thirds pun boleh
4. Simplify - pastikan belakang bersih dari kekacauan yang boleh alih perhatian mata dari subjek.
5. Expose - baru mula fikir exposure nak terang atau nak gelap atau nak depth of field macam mana.

Dengan teknik ni orang akan tertumpu kat subjek sahaja. Orang selalu cakap "Wah bestnye, wah seronoknya." Orang hanya nampak apa yang kami nak tunjukkan je. Yang kekacauan lain mana orang tak nampak. Guna gambar shooting baru ni kami akan tunjuk contoh macam mana kami buat.

tengok gambar ni nampak macam jalan-jalan di taman yang tenang dan sunyi walaupun sebenarnya sangatlah ramai masa ni. kami gunakan subjek sendiri untuk sembunyikan orang lain. semua orang lain ada tersorok kat belakang.

Cara yang sama. Sembunyikan orang lain dengan ambil gambar dari posisi duduk dan mendongak ke atas, zoom in untuk style portrait. Abang hensem kita ni pun blogger jugak. Nak tengok blog dia klik sini.

Apa yang anda nampak hanya orang ramai jalan-jalan bawah kanopi bunga yang cantik. bandar nampak cantik dan bersih je.

tak ada sesiapa yang perasan pasal sampah dan bus stop sebab kami sorok dari frame. kalau amik gambar camni memang kantoi lah kan?

Maaflah kalau mimpi-mimpi indah anda dah hancur sekarang. Teknik gambar menentukan segala-galanya bukan? Lagi sekali kami nak cakap, gambar bukan realiti, hidup tak secantik gambar. Photographers semua gunakan teknik yang sama untuk penceritaan dalam gambar. Kalau cerita yang nak diceritakan tu tentang kecantikan, dia akan buat gambar cantik. Segalanya bergantung kepada cerita yang nak disampaikan. 

Lagi banyak gambar akan diupload lagi kat post akan datang. tunggu ye. Ciao. Jumpa lagi.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Dreams: Cheap and Cheerfuls [Canon 50mm f/1.8 & Rokinon 8mm f/3.5]

I would love to get an upgrade for my Canon 600D. After using it for a while I've found some faults that I find annoying but I still could dance around them. I thought about upgrading to a Sony Alpha A77 since I still have only one lens, its easier to jump ship to other mounts. But after seeing that Sony only makes SLT that has half stop loss of light. To compensate for it, we need to crank up the ISO. But the A77 24 megapixel sensor produces very noisy images, even at ISO 800. Although the body is superb and the lens is magnificent, the ISO performance and permanent mirror practically killed the A77.

Then when it comes to low end Nikon cameras they make cameras without in-body AF motor. This makes AF with cheap motorless lenses such as the retro looking Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D lens impossible. You gotta use lenses with built-in wave motor such as the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G. Mind you, the 1.8D version costs only around US$140 but the 1.8G costs a lot more at US$220. This is a headache. People buy low end cameras because they want to save money. Then they have to pay more for lenses with motor just for AF? This makes me wanna throw Nikon cameras like the table flip meme did.
my Canon 600D that just hit its 1000 photo counter today
These makes me stay with Canon. The good boy. The 600D still works quite well, offering nice usable images, even at ISO 12,800 after some post cleaning. Upgrading it now may be fine but that upgraded body will be outdated soon too. So lets just chill for now. Let's make do with what we have for now. Lets get some high quality glass!

Canon 50mm f/1.8
In the hunt for great lenses, someone told me about the cheapest prime lens available in the market. I knew its existence before this but somehow forgotten it. Then I started to dig in about the info of this lens. So here is the stuff, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8.

So it is small and light, at about 6cm wide and 4cm long, weighs 130 grams only. Let's talk about the features. It has no optical stabilizer to soften handshake in videos, it has no zoom at all, it is powered by a micro-motor instead of a ultrasonic silent drive so it focuses noisily. But when we put all the no's aside, we have a very small and light lens. We have an aperture of f/1.8 which is massive! It's capable of getting much more light in the dark. With the large aperture, we can get shallower depth of field. The result is more background blur. Lovely. It will cost around US$ 100, cheapest lens Canon ever made if I am not mistaken.

The thing that might haunt me is the specs of the lens itself. It has 5 aperture blades. In wide open, the bokeh is fine but when it is stopped down to f/2.8 we get a pentagon shaped bokeh instead of a nice round like the background photo of my blog. This is why more expensive lenses uses 7 to 8 aperture blades. My Sigma has 7 blades. Wide open it is fine. One more thing is, the 50mm is equivalent to 80mm on a cropped body which is slightly telephoto. It is a good low light lens but it is not so suitable for use indoors as I would have to physically walk backwards to include more people in the frame.

photo taken at f/1.8 1/40s ISO 800 with the Canon 50mm f/1.8
For that price the sharpness and the fast aperture is heaven. It is even faster and sharper compared to the 24-70mm f/2.8L. An L! Salutes~ Ah this lens is compatible with full frame cameras so it wont be a problem in case a 5D Mark II dropped from the sky to my lap (ouch! that gonna hurt in the morning). Should I get this piece of wonderful glass?

Rokinon/Samyang/Vivitar/Walimex/Bower/Pro-Optic 8mm f/3.5 fisheye
Please... The same thing sold as so many brands? Just say Samyang, the original name of this Korean made glass. This thing makes Stonehenge makes sense and the Giza pyramids look modern. It is plastic, it has an aperture ring, and a focusing ring on it. It is plain glass and plastic. No electronics nothing. Salutes!
Photo taken with the lens, with 180 degrees field of view... priceless...
I wonder how it will have a lot of arguments with the metering system on board my Canon. But it works on others quite well. It is also a pretty sharp lens if you stop down a little from f/3.5 to f/5.6 or more. No AF is forgivable because it makes the price go down much lower than competitors and on 8mm we have a lot of DOF to play around with. At only US$299 this is a real bargain. Although fish eye lenses are not the one you'd find on your camera most of the time, why spend much on expensive lenses? Like the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens which costs an arm and a leg kinda expensive.

Video taken using the lens:

As a hobbyist, I think I would not go into the world of professional photography (job, get paid stuff). Because my equipment is just for my own hobby and my personal satisfaction I hope to opt for lenses cheaper than the 600D body. This way my hobby in photography wont blow a hole in my pocket. Soon, someday maybe I will own these cheap and cheerful lenses for interesting shots of travel photography. Either in my hoometown Kuala Lumpur or my current resident Korea, I will be on the hunt for the ultimate picture.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Canon 600D Maximum ISO Setting | ISO H

Canon 600D at ISO H or ISO 12,800.
As many Canon 600D users know, the maximum ISO setting was ISO 6400 when it was in the factory reset. But as a not so cheap DSLR the 600D are capable of offering more. The maximum ISO it can go to is ISO 12,800. To 'activate' this hidden function is fairly easy. It can be set in the custom settings menu. Pretty simple stuff but you can see me do it by clicking in the link;
Canon 600D Max ISO & How to Reduce Noise In Low Light

As the sensor technology in the year 2011 allows APS-C sized sensors to produce clean photos until ISO 1600, the pictures taken with the ISO H is overwhelmingly noisy.

Canon 600D ISO setting panel. I have ISO H!
To minimize noise it I used the S1 resolution in the menu or more formally known as 4.5 megapixels with 2592x1728. I also tweaked the noise reduction to strong. Please be advised the photos are downgraded to 1600x1200 as it is the max this page can take.

Canon 600D at ISO 12,800. Looks usable at this size.
Cropped image of the Canon 600D at ISO 12,800. very very noisy indeed.
That is colour noise. Photos at this high ISO might not look so good with this level of noise. But this can differentiate whether you get that shot or missing it forever. There are still many ways to rescue this photo. Some creative photographers turn their photos into black and white thus making the noise a complement to the picture. Or you can reduce the noise levels in post editing programs such as Photoshop. For the next photos I will be using the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 to reduce noise.

Canon 600D at ISO 12,800 after noise reduction in Lightroom. Looks nicer.
Cropped image of the Canon 600D at ISO 12,800. Less noisy but you lose sharpness and detail there.
That's all folks! Enjoy!

Salah Minat KPop Nie!! (Updated)

Today I am going out of the norm in two ways. One I am experimenting writing a blog post only using my android alone and I would use Bahasa Melayu as this is exclusively for the people that speak the language only.

Salah ke minat Kpop? Orang selalu kutuk-kutuk kpop dan peminat pun terasa. Ada kes sorang blogger ni post macam "artis korea tak hensem mata sepet" dan komen yang dia dapat sampai ugutan nak tikam. Kes serius. Sampai jadi kes polis tak silap. Wow kan? Baru ni pulak ada kes menyamar jadi orang korea kat facebook. Biasa lah kot bagi peminat kpop mungkin. Ada ke patut dia guna gambar yang aku tangkap, guna gambar ex-housemate aku kat dia punya profile facebook palsu atas nama KIM apa entah. Ada ke patut?

Ok blog ni blog fotografi dan jugak blog jalan-jalan jadi kita tak akan lari dari situ. Minat Kpop ni sama macam minat fotografi. Bagus minat ni. Dengan minat tu kita suka buat sesuatu. Minat kpop minat la menari. Kita asah bakat menari. Minat fotografi asah bakat guna kamera. Tambah skil kita.

Tapi masalahnya minat boleh makan diri. Minat kpop satu hari kita layan kpop tinggalkan aktiviti lain. Kita berhabis beli album lagu kpop. Minat fotografi pulak berhabis beli kamera dan lens hebat-hebat. Masalahnya bila kita fanatik. Apabila kita nak bunuh orang kalau cakap buruk pasal minat kita. Kita kena sabar la hadapi orang macam tu. Memang ada je orang yang mengutuk. Macam Bieber lah. Dia ok je tapi kena kutuk macam mana... Bagi mamat kamera pulak kalau kamera aku harga ribu tu dibuat main memang ada je rasa nak tikam.

Tapi kita kawal jugak. Sabar jelah. Itulah cabaran jadi 'enthusiast'. Dalam BM peminat setia (kalau ada perkataan yang lagi sesuai sila cadangkan). Mula dengan hormati minat orang dulu. Ada je orang yang minat dengan gajet Apple sampai tahap bertekak nak cakap hanya Apple buat gajet terbaik. Jangan lawan atau kutuk. Itu cara kita hormat minat dia. Mungkin bila dia dah penat menyakinkan kita pasal gajet kita bawak dia ke arah kpop pulak. Mana tau dia tertarik dengan lagu kpop bila terdengar.

Jangan... Aku ni peminat jugak lagu-lagu hit dari Big Bang macam Fantastic Baby dan jugak 2NE1 punya lagu Scream. YG bebeh... Aku pun kpop jugak jangan main-main... Jadi bila orang kutuk kpop kita sabar je. Ingat pesanan penaja:

One more thing, pasal menyamar di facebook tu, dulu ada mulut-mulut mengatakan aku yang buat profile-profile facebook palsu tu. Sedap mulut mengata. Kau tau nama aku kira kau tahu sampai isi seluar dalam aku ye? LEKK. Maaf kasar, aku pun dah guna perkataan "lekk' yang biasa digunakan tu. Lekk tu akan buat segala ayat di depan sama ada ejekan atau fitnah tu jadi elok mungkin?

Di facebook aku ada 105 subscribers yang sentiasa tengok je apa yang aku tulis. Subscribers yang bukan friends tapi ikuti perkembangan status public atau album public macam "Snapshot of the Day" dan banyak lagi. Kalau salah satu daripada diorang nak buat facebook palsu, boleh je. Nak akses gambar, akses mutual friends aku dan add facebook segala makhluk di Seoul ni demi kpop pun boleh juga.

Kepada anda di luar sana. Jangan menyamar. Profile picture pun letak lah gambar elok-elok. Tak perlulah nanti bila orang masuk facebook, orang terima friend request dari Taeyang atau dari Naruto. Minat kpop ni tak salah, teruskan. Tapi jangan palsukan identiti di facebook. Aku bagi akses dengan bagi public updates dan gambar public untuk korang. Jangan nak salah guna untuk jadi bahan menyamar jadi orang korea.

Nak keluar amik gambar malam tadi pun aku tak ada mood sebab ni. Sekarang profile yang guna gambar dari facebook aku tu dah padam lepas kena report ramai-ramai. Profile kpop fag dari filipina yang mulut-mulut katakan kepunyaan aku tu masih lagi ada, macam dah ditinggalkan. Mungkin dah hilang minat kat kpop? Teruskan je cakap macam-macam. Kira masuk buku hutang lah.

Back to English mode. Thanks for your time and see ya around...

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Summer in San Diego California | Part1 : Getting There

Old memories, old photos always brings back fond memories. While sorting out the clutter of photos in my computer hard disk I thought why not I immortalize the memories in a post in my travel and photography blog. Although my first experience setting foot on American soil was in the year of 2005, our time there was short. We can't really feel the American way of life. When dad broke out the news that we are going to USA again I was euphorically happy~ This is IT!

It was the first day of August 2008 when I woke up in the morning, hours before the sun even shines it rays above the horizon, well rested and fresh from a nice long nights sleep. I would need it, as I will be spending my next night sitting on a chair 35,000 feet among the clouds. In the dark of dawn we locked the house and gathered our luggage at the lawn as we waited for the transport to the airport. We were lucky to have a neighbour who is such a hardworking taxi driver, who never said no to our requests to ferry us to the airport in odd hours. I can hear the engines of the red Proton Saga fired up in the cold air and then the taxi pulled over in front of our lawn, still covered in fresh dew. We loaded the boot with our luggage and headed to Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

9 AM in the airfields of KLIA, a little bit of selca wont hurt
Then in about 9am we started boarding our Cathay Pacific flight, a B747-400 which will fly us safely above the Pacific Ocean towards San Diego via Hong Kong and Los Angeles. Anyways, I was lucky enough to get a window seat, yay! By 10am we are above the clouds flying towards Hong Kong International Airport, the home base of the large Cathay Pacific fleet of B747s as its four Rolls-Royce jet engines propels us at 0.85 Mach or 912 km/h at the cruising altitude of 36,000 feet.

After stopping for a while in Hong Kong for a sip of fuel, the B747 continues its long haul journey across the South China Sea, flying over Japan onto open waters of the North Pacific. This flight duration is 19 hours, and we will run out of daylight in the middle of the flight. The stars appeared so close to us and more stars are visible. While we were above Sapporo, Japan nightfall gave a majestic view above the clouds as we flew into darkness. At 26,000 feet landmass looked like islands on a map, cities looked like clusters of stars on the ground. But night was not that long, the sun and I meet up again a few hours later as we re-enter the daylight area in the other side of the earth's curvature, arriving in the evening in local time of Los Angeles.

We meet again, sun! This is not sunrise, we are flying INTO the sunset
WELL, thats the fun part, the bad part is the seats are small and wont recline much so I cant get much sleep on board except for some short naps in intervals. Plus, sharing a just few toilets with hundreds of people, you know how the condition of the toilet becomes after 18 hours~ After hours of agony, seriously, "Are we there yet?"

Nope. In Los Angeles we must change flights to another domestic flight to San Diego. Thankfully it only took an hour. And HERE WE ARE~

to be continued~
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