Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rumours: Sony Alpha 730 & HVL-F64AM Again!

Well, the spanish site, has a posting which has claimed that the Sony A1R is a fake and that Sony has the A730 ready to rock and roll!.  The translated (using google translate) of the page;

A source coming from Sony itself has sent me the letter of specifications of what would be the replacement for the Sony A700, Sony A730. He told me that the leaking of the A1R is false, possibly out of this letter. Just to illustrate, say, the current out of these specifications A550 or A730 that would already be in production, but for some reason decided to get first A550. As we can see, the new A730 would come armed with almost the same specifications as the A550, as in the case of D90 vs D5000, the A730 would have the same 14.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor of the A550 APS-C format with 14.6MP effective, aluminum and magnesium, uses MemoryStickand Compact Flash cards, pentaprism with 100% coverage and 0.95xmagnification, Dual BIONZ processor, LCD 3 "swivel with 921.000pxresolution. USB 2.0, WiFi , HDMI, 7fps, 9 focus points, it would be the second sensor for LiveView, instead have the LiveView Check Manual Focus 100% coverage, in addition to the Intelligent Preview, ISO 100 to 12800, 1 / 8000 shutter speed, compatibility with the new HVL-F64AM and current, among other features, Unfortunately there is nothing to nothing about video recording. You can click on the image to enlarge and view all the specifications.

Update: I'm told my 64AM flash specifications or at least something about this new model is coming soon.

Whatever it is, either way, the flash seems like a real stuff.  Anyway, the image from


And an image of the top of the rumoured A730.


Please visit their website for more discussion, details of this rumour.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Conscience Camera Award 2009

Photographer with a conscience is what BASF Petronas Chemicals is looking out for.  Are you one of them?  The theme of the photography award is “Chemistry is our life” and the tag line is “When you shoot, do it with conscience” and the closing date for your entries is 30th September 2009.


One of the few where the submission must be done in an 8R print, to be submitted together with the film negative or a CD.  Digital photographs must be at least 1 Megabyte in size. (This I find a bit weird to specify it based on size).

The prizes are:-

  • RM5,000 (1st Prize)
  • RM2,500 (2nd Prize)
  • RM1,500 (3rd Prize)
  • RM500 (Consolation Prize x 7)
  • RM500 (Jury Special Prize)

For more details, please visit their competition website.

Sony Alpha Melaka Zoo Challenge (Cybershots and Alphas)

Sony Malaysia is organizing a competition/workshop that is to be held on the 11th October 2009 (Sunday).  Although it is called Alpha, Cybershot owners/users are also welcome to join in.  As long as it is branded Sony.  If you don’t own one now, it is a good time to get a Sony, current market offers a wide variety and for the budget conscious yet wanting a stylish yet reasonable digital camera, the Sony DSC-W180 can be acquired at less than RM700.


For Klang Valley residents, the Melaka Zoo is just off the Ayer Keroh exit into Melaka and is about 1 hour and 10 minutes from Sg Besi toll plaza, or about 1 hour 30 minutes from Mid Valley.  Please register early, and if numbers permit, Sony may be willing to organize a bus for us.

Oh ya, register at

Sony A230/A330 with “Social Butterfly Package”?

Ok, what is a “social butterfly package”?  The promotional offer made by Studio Zaloon, a well know Sony Alpha dealer based in Pudu Plaza, Kuala Lumpur, has recently announced a special package for the Sony A230 / A330 Family & Social Butterfly Package.  That’s a creative name, and some called it weird.  Firstly, I have no relation to Studio Zaloon and have never been there, in fact as a so-called photographer in Kuala Lumpur, it is quite surprising that I have never been to Pudu Plaza!  Next, their contact is as follows:-

Telephone: 603-21455186
Location: Pudu Plaza, Kuala Lumpur
Staff Name:Mr.Chin
Open Daily From 10a.m To 9p.m (now, that’s late!)

Family Package

Finally, to answer the question.  The Family and Social Butterfly package consists of the A230 / A300 kit (i.e. with the 18-55mm kit lens) with the following additional items:-

  • HVL-F20AM (the recently launched flash with Guide Number 20, as oppose the the built-in flash with a Guide Number 12.  In simple terms, the flash can reach about 70% further than the built-in flash).
  • SAL50F18 (The fast budget 50mm prime lens, also recently launched).
  • LCS-BDF (A nice Sony bag to carry all your new equipment).

Why “social butterfly”.  I guess it is a loose translation from colloquial Cantonese which means someone who goes from one social event to another, like a butterfly from one flower to another, but never stays long enough in each one.  This I  guess is where the fast prime 50mm lens and the Guide Number 20 flash comes handy, mainly indoors.  This may also be a good and simple setup for food photography, which is a major part of many social events.

Alphantics Convention 2009 - Postponed

For those who are unaware, Sony sponsors a 2 day event called the Alphanatics Convention.  It was earlier slated for the 23 – 24th October 2009 at the Hilton.  Most of us owners of Sony Alphas have been looking forward to this but unfortunately, it has been postponed indefinitely.


The online announcement from the ex-Product Manager of Sony Cybershot and Alpha, Mr George Wong.

I sincerely regret to inform you that the Alpha Convention (Or what we intended to call as the Alphanatics Convention 2009 this year) that was slated for the 23rd & 24th of October of this year has been officially postponed to a later date, hopefully towards the first half of next year.

ex-Product Manager as he has decided to start his own business in teaching photography.  I haven’t heard about where he will be located but I am sure we will find out soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rumours: Sony DSLR-A1r and HVL-F64AM

This rumour is definitely not substantiated in anyway but it’s just nice to note that if it is a rumour, there sure are people who is willing to spend time to mock up the data.  Anyway, it does however look like a reality for a professional digital camera with 34 MP, Wi-Fi, GPS, very high Kelvin for white balance (9900K), shutter speed upto 12000! and ISO25 onwards.


Although it is suppose to be a DSLR rumour, the other interesting portion is the new flagship flash is mentioned (in the square red box).  Sounds like a GREATER than USD5,000 DSLR.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Want to be Photographer of the Year 2009?

It is still not too late!  Not only will you have a chance to be called a worldwide “Photographer of the Year 2009”, you will also win GBP10,000 if yours is the winning photograph!


The closing date for the entries is the end of this month (30th September 2009) and more than 120,000 entries are expected for this year.  You don’t only stand a chance to win the main prize, but for each category, there will be a GBP500 for the best of the category.  The categories are:-

  • This is Britain: To me, colonial buildings serving afternoon tea, fish & chips, but somehow Marks and Spencer comes to mind!


  • World in Motion: Not sure why, but windmills come to mind.
  • Man-made: Anyone has pictures of the Hoover Dam?
  • Planet Earth: Mother nature, most likely Macro shots.
  • Destination Everywhere: Your best travel shots
  • Fashion: Catwalks?
  • Landscapes: From anywhere in the world, I am sure many of us have amazing pictures for this.


  • People & Portraits: Probably the most difficult category to enter unless you have those candid shots.
  • Black & White: Reminds me of the late Michael Jackson somehow.
  • Digital Vision: Playing with long exposures seems to be the way here.

Some terms and condition:-

  • Up to 5 entries per person
  • JPEG, 2MB limit

You can view some of the entries and get more information here.

There is also a related competition called the Young Photographer of the Year 2009 for those below 18.  More details can be found here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fancy a free Canon A480 camera?

Well, wait no more, apply for a new Citibank AirAsia co-branded credit card now!  Ok, I am usually not into these kind of marketing gimmick, so I will be on a look out for the fine prints.  Especially since it has an * on it.


From the single screen image of the advertisement, it looks really good.  Free annual fee, early notice, free flights .. err … with triple*!  Hmmphhhh …


Well, it is kinda small, so what it says is;

* Offer valid for new AirAsia-Citibank customers who apply online or via SMS before 30 Sept 2009 only. FREE Canon camera is limited to the first 200 approved principal cards only. All other cards approved will receive a FREE 2GB Citibank thumbdrive. Please note that gift delivery will take 6 - 8 weeks upon card approval. RM20 administration & delivery fee applies for Free Gifts.

*** RM1 spent = up to 2 AA points; Redeem AirAsia flights, taxes, fees, merchandise and much more reward items.

RM20 for delivery for the Canon A480 is ok, great!  But RM20 delivery for a 2GB pendrive … hmphhhh …

Anyway, giving out the 10 MP, 3.3x Zoom Canon compact digital camera definitely caught my eye =)

Friday, September 11, 2009

“Art of Photography” - A Short Course @ NST

The NIE unit of The News Straits Times is organizing a short 2 day course titled “Art of Photography”.  It is not well publicized online somehow and I am not sure why it isn’t on the website.  The details of the course is:-

  • Date: 2 & 3 October 2009 (Saturday & Sunday)
  • Time: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Cost: RM300.00
  • Venue: NST Training Centre, Jalan Riong, Bangsar


The course will cover the following basic stuff:-

  • Lenses
  • Shutter Speed
  • Aperture
  • White Balance
  • Metering
  • Composition
  • Basic Photoshop Editing


Note that from the course content, it is targeted at DSLR owners. (The photos above were taken using the Panasonic Lumix LZ8 :P ).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Basic guide to shooting sports event

Quite recently, I had the opportunity to take some shots of young kids enjoying a game of futsal.   Futsal is basically like 5-a-side indoor football.  I took this opportunity to experiment a little more about shooting a sports event.

The basic settings that I began with was:-

  • Maximum aperture for fastest shutter speed (most experienced sports photographer would use a tele-lens with at least a F2.8 aperture). 
  • Continuous AF (AF-C)
  • Continuous shooting mode (press and let the camera go at the maximum frames per second (FPS))
  • Spot metering (not sure why I did this, any comments on whether I should use spot, center-weighted or multi-segment metering?)

Michael's Move 0

Most of my shots were at 90 or 100 mm @ F4.  It was an outdoor event and hence I was able to get a shutter speed of about 1/320 or better.  This was using my Sony A200 with the Minolta 70-210mm F3.5-4.5.

Other basic guidelines are:-

  • Shoot away even as you never know when is the right moment.  Also remember, we are in the era of Digital SLR, hence shoot away!
  • Get on your knees or even your belly for better angle.
  • Take some risk and move around the field.  The risk is of course, getting hit by the ball!

I was quite please with some of the results, not because of the sharpness of the images (now, that’s quite difficult when you have fast moving subjects), but the sequence of images that brings a story to it. Michael's Move 1 Michael's Move 2 Michael's Move 3 Michael's Move 4

Now, did that all happen in 1 second? … =P

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

“Lombard Street” … with Minolta 70-210 F3.5-4.5

Well, not really the famous Lombard Street in San Francisco but one near house and one that I sometimes climb up for a walk around the place.  Lombard Street is known to have 8 turns, this one has 10 turns! (depending on how you count it).


The above is the original photo unedited and it didn’t look that interesting.  So, with some comments from a helpful more experienced photographer, he suggested that I should try to post-process my image to bring out the colours of the main object of interest, which, of course, is the crooked steps up this steep hill.  Here’s my attempt using the limited tools that I have … Picasa 3.


Not sure if it brings out the subject matter better.  However, a quick edit with the “magnetic lasso” of photoshop, the following can be achieved.  Note that this is done very quickly by the same photographer that commented and he said that with a bit more patience and time, a better job can be done.


How else would you try to take this photograph?  Considering that it goes through a “jungle” and I can’t really chop off that tree in the middle?  Maybe take it from the left instead as the other trees are narrower?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What’s in store for Sony DSLRs next? A950, A1000, A150?

Well, we now have a barrage of new DSLRs announced by Sony, starting with the A230, A330, A380, A500, A550 and the A850!  That’s a lot of DSLRs to be announcing in just within a few months!  What more a Full-Frame DSLR for less than USD3,000 (the A850).  Sony also announced a few new lenses, about the same number of DSRLs they announced!  I have 2 problems with this, firstly, Sony is a little behind in their lens selection compared to the other big two and furthermore, there aren’t any new DSLRs with video capability!


Anyway, if rumours on the most influential Sony forum, dyxum, is true, then we can expect the following in 2010 (no more for this year it seems).

  • Early 2010
    • A950, 30+ Megapixel Full-Frame DSLR
    • Super telephoto lens, maybe around 600mm
  • Mid to Late 2010
    • A1000, a video capable high-end DSLR and a 28-300mm lens to go with it
    • A150, a super cheap DSLR

So, more DSLRs next year and hopefully more lenses as well.  The new entry level DSLR would be interesting to note, but it may be without an in-body motor, much like the Nikon D40.  This is a possibility as some of the new lenses by Sony has SAM, i.e. built-in motors.

Win a Canon Powershot G10 and more with SilkAir!

We have now well into the era of Low Cost Carrier or No Frills Flights.  But do we remember airlines such as Pelangi Air, Silk Air and a host of other local regional airlines?  Silk Air, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, is making a comeback in terms of marketing and have recently launched a Photo Competition!


Basically, there’s no theme involved other than it needs to be images from one of silk air’s 31 destination (first marketing message!).  I might as well do a bit more free marketing of them …


The catch?  They are charging for each entry.

  • USD5 for 1 entry (image)
  • USD10 for 3 entries (images)
  • USD15 for 6 entries (images)

For detailed information, visit their competition website.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Open Source Digital Camera

We have heard of Open Source Software (OSS) and many of us probably have heard of GNU Linux.  Some, very few of us, probably have heard of Open Source Hardware, of which the design of microprocessors are made available.  Now, we have just heard of Open Source Digital Camera!

frankencamera-1 (pictures taken from

A team at Stanford University has created “Frankencamera”, a digital camera that can be controlled by a programmer.  It features almost all of the standard stuff you can find on a DSLR, such as focus, flash, exposure and shutter speed.  This effort will surely encourage programmers who are interested in photography to try out their own “new” tricks on their cameras.


The Stanford team hopes to get a manufacturer to build a proper camera housing and make it available for around USD1,000.  It currently consists of a Nokia N95 (Nokia is one of the collaborators) phone camera module, Canon EOS lenses and Linux.

I for one would be looking forward to it and I strongly believe this would be a good way to learn about how it is done and maybe … maybe even contribute to it.

Sony 50mm F1.8 or Tamron SP AF60mm F2 Di II LD (IF) 1:1 Macro

Since that caterpillar incident and the frustration at not having a proper MACRO lens, I proceeded to do some surfing.  The most highly recommended MACRO lens (at an affordable price range) is the Tamron SP90 f/2.8.  However, I stumbled upon a relatively new lens by Tamron, the SP60 f/2.


I had initially wanted to get the new Sony 50mm f/1.8 which doesn’t have a 1:1 MACRO capability.  The focal length and maximum aperture of this lens come close with the advantage of the MACRO capability.

Would anyone out there have any first hand experience between the two lenses I mentioned?  The new Sony 50 mm f/1.8 and the Tamron 60 mm f/2?  Although the price difference between the 2 is huge, something like 3x more for the Tamron, it may save me from buying a 50mm prime and another MACRO lens.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Weekend of Camera Warehouse Sales

Looks like there are at least 2 warehouse/promotional sales this weekend by Fotokem as well as Foto Miami in Kuala Lumpur (well, Petaling Jaya). Of interest would be Foto Miami's "Buy Sony W230 and get a Sony S930 free". Not sure if I have the time to go later.

The sales is located at:

13, Jalan Tandang, 46050 Petaling Jaya
9:30 am to 7:00 pm

The other is Fotokem's which is being held in PWTC and claims to have up to 50% discounts. Fotokem's is at:

PWTC, Dewan B Tun Dr Ismail
10:00 am - 9:30 pm

Sony Ericsson EXPERIA X2 Launched?

I am still looking for a suitable communication device since my last posting on the SE EXPERIA X3! The X3 is suppose to be running on Google’s Android and the current model in the market is the X1.  So, what actually happened to the X2?


Well, earlier this month, Sony Ericsson made an official announcement on the EXPERIA X2.  Excerpt from the press release …

London, UK – September 2, 2009 – Today Sony Ericsson announces the XPERIA™ X2 a new Windows® phone that offers a best in class email and multimedia experience. In the modern world where 24/7 communication is key, users can instantly synchronise their mail and calendar and open and edit Microsoft® Office Mobile documents quickly and efficiently to stay connected with colleagues wherever they are.

Camera feature highlights …

• 8.1 megapixel camera
• Up to 16x digital zoom
• Auto focus
• Image stabilizer
• Video light
• Video recording

Note that, Sony Ericsson also announced another EXPERIA model called the PURENESS, which “brings together beautiful craftmanship”. (To be launched in November 2009).