Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sony Mirrorless Lens Interchangeable Digital Camera (NEX5) Advertisement

After some rumours that the A700 replacement would probably be only made available during or after Photokina (circa September 2010) whilst the entry level video capable DSLR is suppose to be launched first, attention has been moved to Sony’s Mirrorless Camera.  The current expectation is that it will be called the NEX5.

Anyway, a promotional video / advertisement has already been made available on YouTube (see below) with the image of the actual camera very much blurred out.  One thing I noticed from the video is the DSLR clicking sound seems less crude but hey, that may be just a promotional video.

Now we have Sigma, Samsung and Sony have mirrorless interchangeable DSLR grade cameras ... and of course Olympus and Panasonic with the micro four thirds ^_^

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sony Launches the A700 Replacement, it’s official!!

What’s immediately noticeable is … a top LCD!  or what some people will call the secondary LCD.  Masashi Imamura says that Sony’s advantage is that Sony makes their own sensor, processors and lenses.  The new A700 replacement uses Sony’s new APS HD CMOS sensor which aptly means that the newly launched model will be able to shoot video!  A first for a Sony DSLR.  Without a doubt, the new DSLR will have good video capability it Sony’s camcorders quality is anything to go by.


Together with the launched, there’s the 500mm lens and the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm!

As well as the new DSLRs, Sony has shown mock-ups of their mirrorless digital cameras that uses APS-C sized sensors.


The mock-up lens looks like a 18-55mm, a pancake 16mm and the 18-200 mm.  Nice colours.

Will update as more news comes along …


More images from the PMA 2010 announcement.


The mock-up lenses probably with SSM for video shooting.


The 500G lens and the CZ 24mm lens.


The A7xx and a smaller sibling.  The smaller sibling will be able to shoot video as well.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Much awaited PMA2010 starts … A700 replacement to be announced?!? [Updated]

Well, technically it is tomorrow but news and announcements have already started weeks prior to the much awaited yearly event!  Olympus, Fujifilm and Nikon have all pre-announced their bridge cameras with superzoom, some up to 20x!  Sony has also started to make some minor announcements such as the 2 new Cybershots, the TX-5 and the H55.


Well, rumours have it that Sony will announce the Alpha 700 replacement as well as one other DSLR!  My guess is that it will be the A7xx and the A1xx, the latter is an entry level DSLR without a built-in motor.  We will find out soon … really soon!

Rumours have it that the replacement A700 will actually shoot video!  That’s a bit of a surprise but again … we’ll see … stay tuned!

[Updates] News, news, news …

  • Concept model of an ultra-compact interchangeable lens digital camera system that packs the quality of a DSLR camera in an extraordinarily small body, along with interchangeable lenses
  • Mid-range concept camera for advanced users (a successor to the α700) as well as concept mainstream models
  • Prototype of a Super Telephoto Lens (500mm F4 G) with class-leading optical performance
  • Prototype of a Distagon T 24mm F2 ZA SSM, new Carl Zeiss wide angle lens for superior shots of landscapes and sweeping vistas

NEX5/NEX7 and Alpha700 replacement is confirmed!

Photos: i-City@Shah Alam, Forest of Lights

Ah, on the evening that I went to i-City with my other half, it was after some heavy rain. I was also there after 9 pm in the evening and that’s quite late for photography opportunities as there are just too many people.  Due to the wet and kinda muddy patches on the ground, it is hard to setup a tripod for proper pictures and furthermore with the number of people moving around, it would be difficult to find a spot that’s not obstructed by people.

You are advised to arrive before dark and setup your tripod and camera settings prior to the crowd showing up (usually after their evening meal).  This would be before 7:15 in the evening.  For a good feel of the place and with the ability to take photographs with tripod mounted longer shutter speeds, visit this flickr photo site.

Unfortunately for me, I had to do my handheld and in the dark, had to use large apertures.  As such, the pictures here are generally close-ups using a 50mm f1.8 lens.

A close-up of the plastic material used for the leaves of the trees.

An almost impossible clear view (too many people around) of the peacock which is probably the most popular piece on display for snapshots.

A left-over white Christmas tree from their Christmas theme decorations.

One of my favourite shots, a hello from a purple “flower” to another …

Pine trees!

Another shot of some yellow “flowers”.

Hope you like it … you can view a few more at this site.

i-City @ Shah Alam LED light display

A few evenings ago, I decided to bring my other half for an evening to see some colourful light displays after reading the blog posting of I believe that i-City is a Selangor State Government’s initiative to create a more vibrant information and communications technology business environment within the capital city of Selangor, i.e. Shah Alam.  It is of course also a name play where i-City is ICT!  In order to do so, it has also worked with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) to classify it as an MSC-Status area, which means that companies with MSC Malaysia Status can locate itself in that area.

The area is located just off the Federal Highway in Shah Alam but nearer the Klang end. You will not miss the road signs that leads to the place. For the map location, go to i-City’s website.

A view of the place from afar (above).

It is actually located next to the offices that i-City is renting out and they even decorated the office block areas.

Will be posting up more images soon … stay tune …

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sony Launches the Cybershot DSC-H55

Along with the Cybershot TX-5, Sony also launched a compact superzoom, the DSC-H55. It offers a 10x optical zoom using Sony G lens (instead of Carl Zeiss) with 25mm wide-angle up to 250mm tele-photo.  Unlike the TX-5, it retains the CCD sensor and is capable of capturing images up to 14.1Megapixel.


All new Sony still camera launches seem to allow you to take panoramic shots in one sweeping motion  and the H55 is also capable of capturing HD movie recording (1280 x 720).

Sony Announced Water-Proof Cybershot TX-5

Just before the 2010 PMA, Sony launches the Cybershot TX-5. It is a certified waterproof compact point and shoot camera, that is not only waterproof but also freeze proof (as low as 14 Fahrenheit), shock proof (up to 5 feet) and dustproof.  Does it just sounds like an Olympus Mju?  Well, it’s the “thinnest” waterproof camera and I guess that differentiates it (along with the fact that it uses a Carl Zeiss lens).


The Cybershot TX-5 is also Sony’s first compact still camera to use the “Exmor R” CMOS sensor.  It will feature a 10.2 Megapixel camera and is capable to shoot up to 10 fps!

With this announcement so close to PMA, I wonder if Sony has something “significant” to announce in PMA itself!  An Alpha 750 perhaps?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tamron Malaysia Activities for 2010

Ok, so the US market has quarterly competitions and great prizes although bear in mind that the number of entries is probably very large as well.  What’s on offer here in Malaysia?  Well, thanks to the reasonably active Tamron distributor here in Malaysia, Futuromic Photo AV Sdn Bhd, there are 2 main competitions and monthly events (sometimes more than 2 in a month!).

tammy-activitiesClick on the image above for a larger sized image.  Prizes for the year end competition somehow seems to be more attractive than the Tamron US, Inc quarterly competition, in that they are giving away 3 prizes!


It is organized by 223 Go! and a recently past event (Thaipusam) can be found here.

Tamron’s (US only!) Contest Number 1 for 2010

Several weeks ago, Tamron USA, Inc announced their contest number one for 2010 (They will have one every quarter).  The theme of the contest is “Dusk to Dawn”, where the standard expectation is to shoot sunrise or sunset or night time (after all it’s anytime between dusk to dawn").


The Grand Prize Winner will have his/her choice of a (one only)

  • Tamron SP AF10-24 F/3.5-4.5 Di-II lens for Canon, Nikon, Pentax or Sony APS-C DSLR ($499 value),
  • Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 VC Di-II for Canon or Nikon APS-C DSLR ($649 value),
  • Tamron SP AF60mm F2 Di-II 1:1 Macro lens for Canon, Nikon or Sony APS-C DSLR ($569 value), OR
  • Tamron AF18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 VC Di-II lens for Canon or Nikon APS-C DSLR ($629 value).

I was trying to find out if there’s any way for me to win a Tamron AF18-250mm and came across this competition.  More details can be found at Tamron’s site.

Do we have such activities here locally?  The answer is YES!  … next posting …

My Minolta 70-210 F3.5-4.5

Other than playing around with my SAL50F18, what do I normally use?  In general, I have come to this situation where if it is indoor candid portraits and food pictures, it will be the prime 50mm fast f1.8 lens.  If it is for events and also some walkabouts, it has to be my current favourite, the Minolta 70-210 F3.5-4.5.  This lens can be considered the child of the legendary beercan (Minolta 70-210 at constant F4).

Minolta 70-210 f3.5-4.5 (1)

Minolta 70-210 f3.5-4.5 (2)

Minolta 70-210 f3.5-4.5 (3)

One of my “portrait” shots with this lens.

Handsome Giraffe

Anyway, it will be this lens most of the time until I figure out how to get my hands on the SAL70200G lens … ahuk …

Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 for Alpha Mount (Sony)

There has always been this talk that there’s a lack of third party lenses for the Sony Alpha range of DSLRs.  I guess that is partly true as the number of options available for Nikon and Canon users far outstrip what’s available for Sony DLSRs (including Minolta lenses).


However, it must be noted that you do get the whole range that you require for Sony Alpha DSLRs anyway and for most hobbyist and even professionals, the range available is more than sufficient for their needs.

One other complain is that third party lenses are sometimes reluctant to produce Alpha mount versions as the demand is less.  May be true but from un-official numbers, it would be hard to ignore the number of Sony Alphas being sold lately.

Sigma announced in December 2009 that they are launching the Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM for Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Sony and Pentax mounts.  Well, after releasing the Nikon, Canon and of course Sigma versions, they have released the Sony and Pentax versions 2 months later.

What’s interesting?  This is in direct competition to the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 (quite reputable) lens.  It seems to be competitively priced, recommended retail pricing of around USD550.  Something to consider as an alternative to the Tammy?

Using Lumix LZ8 Manual Mode in Low Light Conditions

Generally, when we get a compact camera, especially an entry level model (read: cheap low-end camera), we just intend to take snapshots and will use the automatic mode.  That’s why it’s called a point and shoot, i.e. just point the camera towards the subject and press the shutter button.


However, in certain conditions, we would really want to have manual control over our pictures, especially for those of us who have DSLRs.  I usually carry my cheap Lumix LZ8 wherever I don’t have any intention to take any photographs, for those just in case moments.  This evening I was having dinner in Chili’s and decided to take some photos.  Out came the LZ8 in iA mode (intelligent Auto).  I pointed and shot … but everything is just so wrong with it!  It was dark (yes, it is a dark place but I expected the iA to work) and it had wrong white balance.  Ok, ok … I turned off the flash but then I would expect it to boost up the ISO automatically and use the largest aperture settings and maybe a slower shutter speed.  It did a reasonable job to select

  • ISO-400
  • f3.3, and
  • shutter speed of 1/8th

I guess it is intelligent enough to know that there is a person in the image and hence tries to have the fastest possible shutter speed.  But my subject is actually the food and with shadows and people moving around in the background, it just didn’t work for me …

Anyway, luckily for me, the LZ8 has a simple enough interface for me to do some manual settings, especially for the white balance.  Set it to

  • ISO-200 (ISO-400 just too grainy)
  • f4 (the maximum possible on this little fella is f3.3 but I find that f4 seems to work better)
  • Incandescent mode for the white balance
  • Spot metering (instead of wide)
  • Varying shutter speed according to exposure, but mainly around 1/3rd

Ok, that sounds weird .. and didn’t make much difference from the auto mode.  But, I am not sure why, it turned out much better.

One Third

1/3rd Shutter Speed (no post-processing)

One Sixth 1/6th Shutter Speed (no post-processing)


1/3rd Shutter Speed but Over-exposed! (no post-processing)

I guess it is still a useable little camera but you will need to use the manual mode in such a situation.  Of course, the sharpness of the pictures will be compromised as I believe the low light conditions will effect the Auto-Focus.

After dinner, I actually went to visit the Canon shop to have a look at the Powershot S90 … but they don’t have stock!  Hmmphhhh …

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More Sony Mirror-Less Camera Rumours … or is it?

There have been many rumours about Sony introducing a new mirror-less interchangeable lens digital camera with many leaning towards the use of micro four thirds (4/3) sensors, a new R-Mount and even a Ricoh type approach of having interchangeable sensor/lens combination!


Many creative pictures were created and even some people discussing about Sony using the Leica mounts!  Many different body types and names were mentioned, including Sony Alpha 10 (above) with an ergonomically challenged design (to me anyway) to a more standard looking camera such as the Panasonic GH-1 (below).


As there were too many rumours out there, it is difficult to take a calculated guess but most agree that Sony is very likely to launch a mirror-less interchangeable lens camera (as per Olympus PEN and Panasonic GF-1).  Of all the rumours, I believe that the specifications below would be most likely (at the time of posting – as more news comes out, this may change).

  • APS-C CMOS (not Micro Four Thirds)
  • New mount (with an adapter for A-Mounts)
  • Large LCD, 3” will be likely
  • 11 Point AF
  • Uses the Memory Stick / SDHC combination
  • ISO200 – 12800 (aka A550)
  • Video Recording (they have to do this somewhere)
  • Built-In Flash (aka Panasonic GF-1)
  • An initial offering of a 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Kit Lens with the option of a fast prime lens (16mm or 24mm) f2.8.  Ability to use current A-Mount using an adapter.

It is likely to be priced slightly higher or around the Panasonic GF-1 pricing but with a larger sensor and the likeliness of using the same engine as the A550, it may be an interesting option.

Reunion Dinner … Part II

At the time to posting, we actually had Part III of our reunion dinner but I won’t be putting up the photos here.  We had Part III at Pantai Seafood and since it had been blogged about umpteen times, I will leave it at that.

Back to Part II.  Part I wasn’t really that satisfying and probably an experiment that didn’t go too well (in my opinion anyway) although the most important part, which was “in abundance”.  As such, we proceeded with Part II with exactly the same suspects for dinner.  This time, it’s mainly home cooked food.


The main attraction of the evening is … as usual the lobak and the ju-hu-char!

Grandma's Lobak


Not forgetting the lobak sauces …

Lobak Sauces

And the fresh lettuce and sambal belacan for the ju-hu-char.

Sambal Belacan

Fresh Lettuce

And the traditional Pompret that always appears each Chinese New Year.  It is a kinda must have …


For a mix between Penang Nyonya and Malacca Nyonya, we imported some food as well.  The steamed version of otak-otak and home made achar.


Otak-Otak Inside


And we also bought some roast pork from Jusco.

Roast Pork Dinner number four tonight … where to now …

Monday, February 15, 2010

Our Reunion Dinner … Part 1

This is part 1 of the reunion dinner as we actually had a part 2 the next day too!  Anyway, to be different for this year, we decided to eat out for the first time.  It seems to be a normal trend where small families with increasingly smaller kitchens book a restaurant to have their reunion dinner.  We decided to give it a try for this year …

Entrance with Menu

Evening Lights

The table setting was very RED, but quite beautifully simple.  It gives an elegant feel to the rather resort like environment.

Dinner Table

Pretty Candle


The meal was a 7 course meal and it is quite plain although in abundance! Firstly, we started with the “now traditional” Yee Sang.

Yee Sang - 1

Then the soup, which was a non-spicy sze chuan version …

Szechuan Soup - 2

Then the longevity noodles with chicken and seafood, which was quite yummy actually.

Noodles with Seafood - 3

Then came the vegetables with three types of mixed mushrooms.

Vegetables with 3 Types of Mushrooms - 4

Following that the prawns which was quickly peeled and finished by … our dear uncle and yours truly …

Prawns - 5

An interesting dish that we were served after that was chicken in sesame sauce.  When it first came, I thought it was to-fu with minced meat on it!  It also tasted quite interesting as the taste of the tau-chu (bean paste) definitely overwhelm the sesame sauce.

Sesame Sauce Chicken - 6

We were all so stuffed that when the deserts came, we just had a sip of it.  Again, it was an unusual concoction which was a mixed of almond tasting soupy dish with some sweet corn in it …

Desert - 7

Well, these pictures are dedicated to my sister in law and family who can’t be with us for this dinner … and also our next home cooked reunion dinner (to be posted later … tired now).


Hope everyone had a good reunion meal …