Friday, November 27, 2009

Short holiday

Will resume writing soon. So tired and a lot of things to be done. Cherios!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sony A550...touched!

This morning, I went to Sony Centre in Wisma Merdeka to personally molest the new Alpha A550. I, as well as most alpha users have been eagerly awaiting this camera as it promises better output through its new CMOS Exmor sensor, and some improvements over the rest of Sony's APS-C dslrs. So here's my take on it. A simple one though. ;P

Two-tone colour looks good.

In my hand, it felt really nice. It's not as big as my a700, so the grip fits nicely in my palm. Good. The plastics are the same like the A230 and a330 series. It's not as heavy as well. Like the A230 and A330, the ON/OFF button have been changed. It surrounds the shutter button, a bonus for photographers who would use in with one hand.

Thanks to Sony for not using the smaller FH50 batteries on the A230 and A330 in this model. The battery, meant for handycams is good to reduce weight, but there aren't a lot of photograhers who would bring both handycams and dslrs in the same time in their bag. But a lot would bring two dslr bodies, especially older Sony dslr using the FM500H so that both bodies can share the same batteries.

Enough with the exterior. I quickly mounted the Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 lens on the A550, switched it on and wallah! I was greeted with a new interface. Sony revamped it to make new users understand the functions of the camera easier. Without any hesitation, I set the ISO to 3200 and took a photo( FYI, all photos taken with the A550 is fresh. No PP except resizing). Oh, by the way, this camera is fast in terms of capturing images. I would say faster than my a700.

Looks good. It matched the ISO performance of V.4 A700 firmware. So I tried ISO 6400.

The new WX-1 Cybershot.

One new feature that is very appealing is the Auto HDR(High Dynamic Range). What the A550 does is take two photos, and combine them to produce a well-exposed photo. Just like the DRO function, just better and addictive.

Not a good example of HDR. Hehe.

Then there's the MF Check Live View button. It raises the mirror to expose the sensor, and you can focus manually using the Live View mode. A big advantage of the A550 than the rest of the Alpha dslrs is that takes 7 frames per second in Speed Mode. Good for panning shots. Apart from that, there's the 1.4/2.0X Smart Teleconverters. It increases the zooming capabilities of the lens attached. Few features that also worth noting is the Smile Shutter and Face Detection that usually found in Sony's Cybershot cameras. The tilting 3" LCD helps with high and low angle shots. Again it's fast and responsive.

With all the goodies, I did find a few slacks. The jog dial which is located in front of the shutter, placed quite low to my liking. I still prefer the one on the A700. And the placements of the buttons on top could be made better for easier operations. No movie mode like other makes? So far I still don't have the need for it.

Well, that concludes my take on the A550. I could not say much as I molested it for just around 15 minutes or so. You can read more from Uncle Google. If I'm still using my A200 now, I would seriously consider this because of the Auto HDR and the noise control it possesses. The main question now is, how much would it cost you? RM2699 body only. :D

An array of buttons.

Gorgeous 3" tilting LCD.

A good substitute for dumbells.

Lastly, I tried the WX-1 Cybershot as well. It uses the new back-lit Exmor-R sensor which increases low-light capabilities and the implementation of the G lens for better photos. Just one shot and I'm impressed. Not forgetting the Sweep Panorama. Super easy, super nice! Would like to get it as well if I have the extra money. For now, I can only 'molest'.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sharing is caring

For the past few years, I kept a lot of shirts and until recently my 'rented' cupboard could not cope up with it. This is due to the fact that I'm getting bigger, I got free shirts from buying something and from gifts. So I decided that I would donate some of it to my local church in Bau for the needy. I packed my unused and used shirts and ended with two bags full. However, few days before the school holiday starts, I changed my mind. Where did my shirts go to?

I gave it to my students. Why? Well, most of my students came from poor families. Besides, at times when school experienced water shortages, those students would have difficulties in washing their clothing and having clean clothes to wear. What did I gain then? Lots of smile (which I didn't remember to capture) and happiness when I saw at the joy in their faces. Enough to make my day before enjoying the holidays and my big day.

So, what did you share/give recently?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The cobra strikes again!

After almost a week in the Sony 'hospital', I got back my F58. Yeay! Miss the power and capabilities it posses compared to the F42. The foot was severely damaged that even superglue cannot fix it. It came back with a new, shining foot. Had it mounted on my cam, bounced it left and right several times to make sure everything works like before.

And I was charged RM200 for the fix. The parts plus the labour charge.

Sony even sent back the broken piece.

No glue capable of helping this poor piece of plastic.

Now I can concentrate on making a version 2 softbox for the cobra using some corrugated sheets. The only thing that's not been fixed yet is the hotshoe on my cam. So far, the superglue did a good job. Hopefully it would last quite some time as I do need my cam these coming few months. Big day coming, cousin's big day coming, X'mas, New Year...

A good news indeed!

Few days ago I submitted some of my photos to John Shum of Sony Malaysia. He was looking for some contributions from alpha users and the photos selected will be print out and will be on display at Sony centres.

I did contribute a photo few months back but it was not selected. Some of the criteria for the selection are taken with Sony Alpha cameras and lenses. I was using a third party lenses so I think that's the reason why.

Anyway, tried my luck again and went searching for my old photos in the hdd before emailing it to John. He emailed me back asking me to send the original file to him. I do hope that it will be on display. It would a very big motivation to produce nice photos in the future.

Which photo that got selected?

One evening at Lok Kawi, Putatan, Sabah. A200 with SAL18-70 kitty.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Water droplets session 2

Did another water shoot last week as I wondered how would the splash be if the water came in contact with different materials. Besides, I was using shutter speed of 1/6400 whereas my camera is able to go 1/8000 of a second. It would freeze the water even better.

First, I used a spoon.

Then, while washing the spoon, I saw some interesting water splashes on my hand.

After a while, it rained heavily. An idea popped out about capturing more water splashes on my hand. I went outside, and because of the high shutter speed and aperture value of F10-13, I need to get the F42 closer to my hand. It was drenched in water, but performed without fail throughout the shoot. The cam was mounted on a tripod and set to 10-sec shutter release.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Softbox V.1

Oh yes! Finally, I completed my first ever softbox. The idea came when I stumbled upon some leftover boxes during my monthly spring cleaning. Today I won't be showing you the step by step procedures, just the end product. I will do that when I got back my F58 from Sony. The one I did was for my F42.

The incomplete softbox. Just want to try out how it will perform.

To complete it, outer part will be covered with black papers. Will look more professional that way. :D

Using makeshift A4 paper as diffuser. Will change to soft thin foam soon.

Back view.

So, what do you think?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Beauty dish V.1

Twing! Twing!

It was a nice evening today and I was busy enjoying my few cups of Stanley when suddenly my brain was filled with lots of ideas about lighting equipments. Previously I had ideas of making some softboxes, but the idea didn't materialize as I have not figured out how to make it solid but light enough for the flash head to support it. As the ideas came rushing in, I came across something called a beauty dish.

What's a beauty dish? I'll show you in a moment. It produces a nice mixture of soft and harsh light if done rightly. It has the shape of a dish plate, but I'm not sure how 'beauty' can be associated with it as mine isn't nice to look at. Maybe the output of the lighting from it can make someone more beautiful? Let us try it then!

What do you need to make your own beauty dish?
1. Some hard paper. I used 130gm paper.
2. Aluminium foil.
3. PVA glue(the white glue).
4. Paper tape.
5. Scissors, knife etc.
6. Drinks. It can be tiring and will take some time to finish.

Procedures :

Fold the paper into half. For this dish I used two sheets to make the dish bigger.

I used a plastic lid to make a semi circle on the paper.

Here's how it looked after I cut it by following the red marker.

From the middle, cut out a piece of semi circle as if you're cutting a cake.

Lay out the semi circle to reveal an incomplete 'moon'.

Pull the two sharp edges together and secure it using paper tape. You should produces a cone-like shape like the one above.

Cut a rectangular hole to fit you flash head at the tip of the cone.

Wrap the same paper around the flash head. Secure it using the paper tape and slid the open end of it into the hole.

Cut the edges of the paper and secure it onto the inner part of the cone.

Spread the PVA glue evenly onto the inner part of the cone, and stick the aluminium foil on it.

Cut a small piece of paper like the one above, and stick the rectangular part with aluminium foil. This will act as a reflector.

Stick the two small parts into the hole, and adjust the distance of the reflector from the hole.

After it dried up, time for some potrait testing. Took some of my housemate's photos for refference.

Flash was put on 1/4 power, approximately 40cm from their faces.

Wohhoo! Finally I can see some balance in the lighting. All I need to do now is to DIY a better one. Thanks Stanley for the tip. What will you inspire me for tomorrow ya?