Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Sultan Johor vs Russian President feat ThatNikonGuy

In Facebook yesterday there is a buzz on about the Sultan or the king of Johor winning the auction for a rare plate number in Malaysia. Which is 'WWW1'. The price the king paid can be seen here in the photo everyone been sharing around.
the WWW plate number owners, topping the list is the king.
Half a million is a lot of money for a plate. Some are questioning his financial source, lambasting him whatsoever and some are just saying "ah what a waste" because for that money one can buy another luxury car. 
and this was what the prince replied...
The following are just my two cents.

A flashback immediately struck me on the photography gear that the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev owns. As a man who has the fate of millions of people in his hands and probably the fate of the world even (nuclear bombs he has access too), I am sure he won't be very constant in photography. But lets take a look at some of his gear.
That is a Leica S2 with Summarit S 70mm that costs RM107,000.
That is a Leica M9 and Noctilux 50mm costs RM65,000.
The same Russian president holding a Canon beast with L lens which costs a lot too.
To some that saw how he holds the Leica S2 one youtuber thought that Mr. Medvedev have no idea in photography and depends on his assistant to open the lens cover for him. The comment is the same to those who are lambasting the king for his expenses. Then I saw a video from one of my photography guru ThatNikonGuy:

For one, he is enjoying it. While some are debating on the source of the money, it is his money, we are not in the position to comment it. So lets go back to caring the money in our wallet. Once tax is paid don't you think that money is not ours anymore? I'm just thinking what if we paid RM1 for a candy bar to the grocery store, can we actually be the boss and tell the grocery store what to do afterwards? Of course the I would expect the government to spend the tax money wisely, but we are talking about the pay that the President gets. Are we in the position to give orders to him?

I don't know I'm just a kid so please enlighten me. Just stop the jealousy like how Matt Granger said it. What interests me is the number of Malays in the list. You can see how many Chinese businessman in it but just a small number of Malays. Don't you think this is an issue that we actually SHOULD care about? Just my opinion though. See ya! 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Snow in the Seoul

To those who are dreaming of white snow, soft and fresh after a blizzard kinda stuff, this is for you. Keep the essays short, this was shot around my modest apartment (although I moved out) using my Canon 600D. Nothing felt better than shooting photos while stepping on fresh white snow, while some are still falling onto your camera. Ultimate travel photography kinda feel I'd say.
January 2012 Snow in SeoulJanuary 2012 Snow in Seoul January 2012 Snow in Seoul January 2012 Snow in Seoul

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Lowepro Exchange Messenger Camera Bag - It's Mine!

EOS 70D rumored to be announced in September 2012! I am so happy... At last Canon does not dump us with aging cameras. In the end of 2011 and the first half of 2012 Canon was so quiet about their cameras. Out of nowhere the 5D Mark III was released and then a useless (to casual shooters) Canon 60Da which is for astronomy. With the upcoming 70D and 7D Mark II I am quite relieved that Canon at last makes a new camera. I was thinking of jumping to Sony but I am still unsure of the SLT technology. This rumor brings good hope to me. I expect myself being a permanent Canon user in the future. The following is the rumored specs of the 70D.
- Digic 5 (newer processor)
- 18mp (not sure if it is a new or the same ol sensor though)
- 100% viewfinder with grid lines like 7D
- 19 AF Points from 7D
- Continuous AF in LiveView & Video Recording

The current 7D is already a great camera. The 7D Mark II will be much better but nah I'd chase for best quality for buck. A 70D would suit me best in the year 2013 or 2014. See the news here.

SO in my baby steps towards a better travel photography lover (I define 'photographer' as someone who gets paid for his pictures) I just bought a new bag today! Lowepro Exchange Messenger camera bag... The website can be found here. It is 33,500won or about RM89.
Lowepro Exchange Messenger Camera Bag! I chose the grey one as it looks stealthier.   
Still ample room for my Canon 600D in the Lowepro Exchange Messenger.
Bags
this Lowepro Exchange Messenger Camera Bag has two front pockets with another one with zip fastener. perfect for documents when I wanna take it for travel. 
I would love to own a black coloured one as stains wont look so obvious on it. Especially when I am on board a flight and I need to place the bag under the seat in front which is on the floor. But no black ones available there. So grey it is. The bag is not really well padded for protection although there are some thin padding around it. That's why it is very lightweight and thin. For almost zero weight bag, which is less shoulder pains and less lugging my gear around, this bag is perfect, but I gotta watch for my gear too. I won't swing it around or smash it on the ground.

For a normal day it will carry my charger and an international adapter in the left compartment, my Canon 600D and a zoom mounted, and a 50mm lens in the right compartment. On an abnormal day it can swallow happily a Canon 5D with full frame zoom attached, a 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom and some space to spare for a 50mm lens or squeeze a flash in it.

See ya!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Choosing A DSLR For You

I often get questions from others saying which DSLR is the best for them and all. Following the tips given from seniors and other photography friends. I will sort the choices I think is good for specific uses. NOTE: This recommendation is true for May 2012. I would highly recommend you to research about available options. These are just my thoughts

1. For the starter. 
Sony A37 (YET TO BE ANNOUNCED. expected 17th May 2012, predicted US$599 with kit lens)
Sorry what? SONY? Yes I said SONY. To be honest with you Nikon may make the best beast for sports photography ever and Canon makes the most legendary video capable DSLR ever. (click the link to see what I mean). But those things costs a hell lot.

DSLRs are made for people who demand control over their camera. Manual control for more freedom in expressing creativity. The problem with the entry levels that Nikon and Canon makes are extremely undermined. The Nikon I linked has too much megapixels until shooting RAW is a hassle, plus without a focusing motor in the body, you gotta spend for expensive lenses with built in motor. You'd feel it when buying your Nikon 50mm. Then the Canon without 1080p video and worse, it wont even autofocus during video (well I dont think users from this range would love manual focusing and everything manual things, sadly, I don't too)

Cut to the chase, although the Sony is not released yet, the facts are simple. It uses the same sensor on a previous camera which is proven a good one, and uses a body of another previous camera which is also good. There's nothing much new about it. But the combination into one camera makes this EVEN BETTER than the two cameras I said before it. For the spec sheet click this link here.

The A37 is called a DSLT, Digital Single Lens Translucent. You learnt about the mirror reflecting light to the pentaprism and then to the viewfinder of DSLRs in SPM Physics. Replace that with a translucent mirror. Thanks to the technology there is no mirror flip action, making it capable of taking pictures in high speed, in the rate of 7 pictures per second, with autofocus (AF). Nothing from competitors in the same price range offers that.
See a video of a similar technology captures 10 frames per second here.

With the mirror also comes full HD video WITH PHASE DETECTION AF. This AF is faster and more reliable than Nikon's. At least having an AF system when compared to the Canon. This makes recording videos a breeze. See how the autofocus works in video here.
In the video the person prefers full control over the focusing. But that's for a more cinematic style video. But for a video of a family outing, I'd love to relax than to strain my head having a videography session with them.

Sony is going to ship this camera with a special kit lens upgrade for an extra of US$ 200. It is a 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens that is considered to be a very slow lens but versatile with more zoom and a compact size. That is a worthy upgrade. The thing that makes this camera cheaper than the brothers is the video mode, it has no advanced controls and it loses the high frame rate that the brothers offer. Still, the video mode works gracefully fine. Inferior in video maybe, still with a compact body this won't bother photography lovers. This is the lens I was talking about.
I love the fact that the auto features actually work compared to other cameras in its range. You can start shooting with ease. But when you want to start to explore the manual settings, with this camera you can. Pretty much, a camera that takes DSLR quality photos without much headache is a good thing for a beginner. Because of that, I am brave enough to recommend it.

Alternatives and reasons on why I don't find it recommendable:
1. Canon 1100D - but its technology is old, doesn't feature full HD video and no AF in video.
2. Nikon D3200 - too much megapixels for RAW, noise issue, no focusing motor in body so lenses are expensive.
3. Sony NEX-C3 - lack of buttons for PASM modes, not many E-mount lens choice and the lenses are expensive.

2. For the upper level starter. DSLR VIDEO shooters also take note.
Sony A57. (US$799 or RM2,599 with the kit lens. FRESHLY announced April 2012)
It is about the same as the A37 I said above, but with a bigger, fatter body. The technology remains the same. But for more money you get a bigger camera with better ergonomics. It means that it is designed better for your hands to fit it. I had the opportunity to test it and trust me on this, IT IS VERY COMFORTABLE IN THE HANDS. The carefully curved ribs on the grip makes it better to hold. Even better than my 600D. I liked it. See the features video here.

For more money you get a better battery life, and slightly more in features. One that I want to highlight is the manual video exposure settings. We can meddle around with settings just like on manual mode in taking pictures, but this time it is for video. This makes it fun to play with. The highlight to me is there are smart digital zoom which my 600D has, but this A57 has more tricks and zooms better. 

Next is the manual exposure settings in video mode. With it I can easily make what people call the dizzy video effect shown here. Where everything looks blurry and lights becomes trails of light. Only Sony DSLTs allow these settings for the time being apart from expensive video cameras. Ah I forgot to mention the full HD 60fps video can make good slow motion videos when slowed down to 24fps. No other DSLR are capable of doing the same frame rate at 1080p. I recorded a video while testing the Sony A57, can be found here.

Plus the burst speed is much higher. This A57 can digest 12 photos per second. See it in action here. Note that nothing in this price range has this speed. The photos in 12fps (frames per second) is slightly cropped from 16MP to 8MP. For speed I'd say. But it has the capability to churn 16MP photos in the rate of 10fps. What I like about this over competitors is the superior video mode. In stills competitors would envy the ability of the A57 having in body stabilization. Even those super sharp prime lenses have optical stabilization thanks to the in body system. That is just precious. Because of that I give it a two thumbs up!

Alternatives and reasons on why I don't find it recommendable:
1. Canon 600D - Noisy shutter, full HD videos without AF, awkwardly expensive for its features.
2. Canon 550D - Better choice than 600D but still with no AF and annoyingly noisy shutter.
3. Nikon D5100 - No built in focusing motor so lenses are expensive.
4. Sony NEX-5N - lack of buttons for PASM modes, E-mount lenses are expensive.

3. Enthusiast Level. This is when the game changes.
Canon 60D. (Announced August 2010, US$899 or RM3,338 body only)

I gotta warn you, this might be a little 'advanced'. I can recommend an enthusiast oriented entry level camera which is Canon 60D. For those of you who are really into photography, learnt the basics and are looking forward of jumping in as an enthusiast, this is the best bang for buck. Superb image quality too, with the right glass in front of course, like the picture above^

The US$ 899 Canon 60D has 18MP APS-C sized sensor with reliable performance. The approx 22x15mm sensor gives pleasing shallow DOF at large apertures and produces digital noise free images until ISO 1600. At 3200 and 6400 it is still usable. It has better, more silent mirror flip mechanism than Rebel line, having shutter speeds until 1/8000s. The 60D has improved focusing system with 9 cross type AF points for quicker AF in difficult situations. It is slightly faster in live view than Rebels too. 5.3fps burst rate which is a bit slower than its own predecessor, impressive battery life at 1100 shots per charge and an LCD panel on the top for quicker access to exposure settings especially when mounted on top of a tripod.
 I am not impressed by Canon's decision of not making the body from magnesium alloy for strength handling heavy lenses on it and simply more rugged chassis.
Hear the shutter noise here.

In terms of video it shoots very high quality 48Mbps MP4 format full HD video with options of 1080p, 720p and VGA, all with manual exposure settings available. 60fps video is available at 720p and VGA, the 1080p max frame rate is 30fps. It does not autofocus at all in video mode, so you have maximum control over it. You gotta play with the focusing ring or just mess around with the exposure controls to set for maximum DOF if the light conditions allows you. The flipping screen is proven to very useful in video recording especially mounted on a dolly slider. One more thing! I HATE THE MODE WHEEL LOCK!


Only here I shouted my discontent about the DSLT. But still it serves it purpose and the loss is so little you wont even notice them. But I have some unhappy points with the 60D too right? Nothing is perfect. For the money this is the best enthusiast level DSLR out there. The 60Da came out a few months ago. But fear not. There are rumors spreading around that there will be an update coming for the old 7D and the 60D before 2013. We'll see what is going to happen.


Alternatives and reasons on why I don't find it recommendable:
1. Nikon D90 - good, but has no full HD video recording function.


4. Pro grade.
Sorry pros, you are much more experienced than I am so you know what is the best for you.

As for me, I will be using my Canon 600D for a while. I think I wanna wait and see the update going to look like. Perhaps that is going to be my next upgrade.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

College Rooftop Night Shoot

So it was one normal Wednesday. Me and a friend Aiman went up the rooftop of one of the buildings of my college. The view was majestic and it involved a lot of waiting for the sun to go down enough for a shutter speed long enough. When it was dark enough, it was beautiful.

ISO 100 | f/16 | 30s

The Highway beside Dongyang Mirae University with Guil Station in the background.
One more Dongyang Mirae University using a different exposure.
sungai dongyang
One more road to Dongyang Mirae University
HOW TO CAPTURE THESE PHOTOS?
Erm, mount your camera on a tripod. Use a small aperture like for landscapes, I'd use something ranging from f/8-f/16. To get really slow shutter speeds, I use lowest ISO I can which is ISO 100 and then I use an aperture of 30 seconds.

Just like thatnikonguy say, GET YOUR GEAR OUT and go shooting!

IMG_7240
That is me shooting those photos you saw... Good thing my friend captured this picture.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Monster Beats Solo HD (White) - By Rayven

the box
It's a normal, slow day... And I have the urge to text message my elder sister who is in Australia. Usually I only text her when there's something funny going on in the house. As we were just chatting, she asked me if I still want Beats Solo HD (it was a dream I have for a whole year, that I even plan out to get jobs and save money to buy it in Malaysia, but my sis told me that she'll get it for me) and burst of joy I say YES yes yes yes YYYEEESSS! And she told me yeah she got it already, ask me to expect a package to arrive in a couple of days. I was dancing in joy, cabbage patching (Google it if you don't know what it means). I was grinning the whole day... And I have to wait a couple more days!

OMG! The night was slow as I was obviously still in hype after receiving the news. I keep tracking my package online and found out that it traveled half around the Earth before reaching my home door. It was first in Australia, then to The States and to South Korea. I was wondering "why the hell did the package travel to two countries and not directly to Malaysia?" Whatever. Just hope that the package comes to me safely and most importantly, authentic. The night went through so slow.... 4am! I still have more than 24 hours to wait for it... And somehow I fell asleep at god knows what time in the middle of the night... I was in dreamland...and then I hear something familiar. A ringing sound. Only once, then I realise... MY DOORBELL! Jumped out from my bed, with my rolled-out-of-bed hair and in my pyjamas (hoodie and sweatpants) I ran to my door, opening it and saw, OH SWEET LORD!!! IT'S THE DELIVERY GUY!!! And he goes all 'my god...' sseing me like that, whatever. And praise the lord he said MY name! I was like yes!!!! I AM THE ONE YOU SPEAK OF! Signed the freaking papers and got my package!!! Woohoo! 10am of the 19th of April 2012, jumping with joy with my package!!!! 


Then my phone rang, it was a text message from my sis, she asked "got it?". Caps Lock all the way replying her "OH YESS YES YES YES YES! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!". And she replied casually "Hehe, send me some pics of it k, arent they awesome? I might get one myself if a friend of mine is going to the states." Woohoo, I just throw my crappy phone on the couch and gently place my package on the coffee table in the living room. Slowly cutting through the tape of the box... And found the most beautiful box ever... beats by dr. dre... Oh, my heart... Slowly taking it out... My beautiful beautiful beautiful headphones... My hands tremble with joy... Maybe I shed a tear or two... My White Beats Solo HD... The first thing I did was take a few pictures of it and unboxing it, reading the manuals and stuff, yes, I read the manual. I always read the manual of anything I buy. Serious. The manual is pretty too actually, has a seemingly naked woman with Beats Pro as a cover. 


Monster Beats Solo HD White
So anyway, I remove the plastic cover of my headphones and plug it to my iPod, put it on and...wow... I was like "this is it... My eardrums are officially in bass booster haven." Ahhh... I was in deep pleasure... Eargasm. Hahahahaha. Beats Solo HD, light weight, metal hinges, stylish and umph up those bass, woohoo! It's new feature, Superior Strength Headband, which means no matter how much you bend that headband in any angle it wont break (still, wouldnt suggest doing that, I know I wouldnt). 

It also has the Control Talk feature where it is an in-line mic and volume control for super clear calls and noise cancelation, thus you can have a real clear conversation through the phone in noisy situations e.g. in traffic or disco (only compatible to certain devices though. Like any other headphones, using them for a long period of time, gives you a little uncomfort on the ears, but it's all worth it... It's ear cups are designed to minimise as much noise as possible, great for listening to most of the music. I do not recommend wearing Beats while you're outdoors, one thing, these are expensive, if someone just happens to grab it while you were walking, well, heartache.

Secondly, you won't even notice if the guy creeps up behind you and grab it coz the noise cancelation feature really cancels out a lot of noise. Like say, you're crossing a street and a car comes at you and honks, you wont hear it. So, it's not really an item to show off in public. I was even afraid to bring it out. I did once coz my friend requested for it. The headphones are foldable and it comes with a bag, great convenience, so I was holding to that bag like it holds the source of my entire life. Beats Solo HD are more of an on-ear headphones rather than over-ear. So means, you can't headbang hard to your favourite metal music coz it can simply slip off and hit the cold hard floor and risk breaking or worst...scratched... But in the website it mentioned it's scratch-proof, still I wouldnt suggest you to experiment with it. 

It also comes with an extra Moster Cable, a cleaning cloth to clean off those fingerprints off the shiny glossy headband. It comes in three colours, Charcoal Black (classic beats by dr. dre colour), White (the ones I'm having and it stands out from my black hair) and Red (limited edition). There's is also an Artiste edition, the artiste Justin Bieber (gawd, I hate him) called JustBeats which is in the colour Purple (his official colour i assume, yuck) for those die-hard Beliebers out there. One time, I saw this dude with JustBeats, me and a close friend of mine gave him that "Ewww, gross! Yuck~!" look. Still, perspective. You like it, be my guest. Go grab one.
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