Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sony releases Carl Zeiss 24mm F2, 35mm F1.8 and 85mm F2.8 SAM

Sony SAL85F28

85mm F2.8 SAM

Ah, more choices for A-Mount alpharians.  A “luxury” Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2 with SSM, a portrait 85mm F2.8 lens and a fast 35mm F1.8 for APS-C sized cameras.

Sony SAL35F18

DT 35mm F1.8 SAM

I will predict that the prices for the 85mm F2.8 will be circa USD399 whilst the 35mm F1.8 will be slightly higher than the 50mm F1.8 at around USD249.  This are just my estimates based on them needing to be competitive with the other brands.

Sony SAL24F20Z

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2 ZA SSM

Press release summary,

The Distagon T* 24mm F2 ZA SSM (SAL24F20Z) features the acclaimed Carl Zeiss Distagon design and rounds out the existing Planar (SAL85F14Z) and Sonnar (SAL135F18Z) models also developed in conjunction with Carl Zeiss. It is intended to appeal to experienced photographers looking for a large-aperture wide-angle lens of real distinction.

The DT 35mm F1.8 SAM (SAL35F18) adds the important 35mm focal length to the ‘Easy Choice’ series. ‘Easy Choice’ is intended to provide great value, compact and lightweight lenses that are attractive to entry-level and advanced photographers alike. Each lens in the series is selected for a specific purpose, for example portraiture or macro.

The 85mm F2.8 SAM (SAL85F28) is another ‘Easy Choice’ lens, this time offering the 85mm focal length considered the standard for portraiture because of the natural perspective it provides. True to type it is extremely compact and light, weighing just 175g.

The press release is here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some Pictures from Putrajaya Flora (Floria) Festival 2010

Didn’t really spent much time there, just wanted to test out the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 when I was out for lunch.  Since the flora festival is just nearby, decided to go over to have lunch at one of the stalls there.  Somehow, the main area seem to be dominated with coloured drinks, fried kuey teow and nasi campur.  Seriously, can’t they think of something else to sell?  Anyway, ended up at the place they reserve for the franchised eateries, e.g. KFC, Pizza Hut, Kopie Satu and Melawati Kebab!  I am not sure why but they put these fellas away from the beaten track and you really have to search for them.

Since I was short of time, I just basically did another in and dash out situation and can’t really comment on the flowers there.  Here are some shots taken … will start with the …


Of course, the attempt to take MACRO without a flash indoors won’t really work no matter what camera & lens combination you have!

Close-Up My wife’s favourite flower … taken indoors and direct flash from the camera body, too harsh!


And of course a shot of lots of them together.

Flowers galore

Anyway, didn’t spend much time there and really can’t comment on it.  However, a special mention for the FAMA franchise program for the KopieSatu franchise … the coffee rocks!  Unfortunately, I don’t qualify to be a franchisee …

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Panasonic LX5 Specifications

It is highly likely that the Panasonic LX3 replacement will be named the LX5 (as evident from their own website.  If you do a search on google using “ lx5”, you will actually get some links which I think by the time you access it, it will give you document not found.  Of course, you can still click on the “cache” copy and you will be shown the following page.

Panasonic LX5

As a summary, the LX5 features are:-

  • F2.0 Leica DC Summicron Lens (rumours indicates a 3.8x, F2.0 to F3.3)
  • 1/1.63" High Sensitivity 10 megapixel CCD with evolved sensor technology (rumours indicates ISO of 80 – 12800)
  • My color mode, Manual exposure even in movie mode.
  • HD Movie Recording - AVCHD Lite
  • Optional Optical Viewfinder available as part of the accessories list

Panasonic LX5 Accessories

I will assume that the launch date for the Panasonic LX5 is near, very near …

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Released

Ok, I just bought a Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC and here I am posting about the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS.  Sounds the same?  Well, no!  Sometime in May 2010, Sigma launched the upgraded model to include Optical Stabilizer (OS) or in Nikon speak, VR, or Canon speak, IS, or Tamron speak, VC and whatever else the others call it.


It has a different lens construction compared to the 18-50mm F2.8 to possibly cater for the slightly wider angle (17mm instead of 18mm), a larger filter size diameter of 77mm, about 25% heavier at 565g, not a “MACRO” lens with minimum focusing distance of 28cm instead of 20cm and of course with Optical Stabilizer which allows for up to 4 stops slower.  It is currently available for Sony, Nikon, Canon, Pentax and of course Sigma mount!  Recommended retail price is approximately USD900-1,000.

More information from Sigma’s website.

Un-boxing the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 lens delivered from DD Electronics

In my earlier posting, I wrote about my experience purchasing from a lens online from DD Electronics. The box delivered was rather large compared to the actual Sigma lens box.  I made a short video on the un-boxing of the lens I purchase from them to give an idea of how it was packed.  Hopefully, this helps those who are not sure what to expect in the delivery of a fragile item such as a DSLR lens.  Also, for those who intend to sell their used DSLR lenses, hopefully, this helps in showing how it should be packed.

This short video also shows what are the items that comes with the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO lens.  Basically, it comes with the lens, the lens hood, warranty card, user manual and a nice Sigma lens case.

As this is my second time trying to make a video, please excuse the poor quality audio.  Maybe I need the Sony NEX-VG10?

Opinion on the lens coming up soon …

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cyberjaya Digital Photography Contest 2010

In order to continuously promote Cyberjaya, Cyberview Sdn Bhd has organized a Digital Photography Contest for 2010 with total prizes valued at RM3,750 (unless my calculation is wrong).  The tagline for this competition is “Discover Cyberjaya” and the theme is “Cyberjaya: Images of Glory”. Photos can be submitted centred around the following topics of interest,

  • People and Residents: Shots that depict lifestyles of people around Cyberjaya, either students, workers or people living in Cyberjaya.
  • Architecture: Pictures that portray the numerous buildings and facilities around Cyberjaya including development in progress.
  • Nature: Greenery, and other beautiful sceneries.


I feel that this is a good opportunity for photography enthusiast as the prize money is small and hence will not attract the more serious or professional photographers.  Although the theme of “Images of Glory” seems inappropriate for the topics of interest, it is nevertheless an “entry level” competition (I guess).

Maybe I will test out of Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 MACRO on the “Nature” topic?  Application form can be downloaded here (stored on google docs!!!).

Sony Launches the NEX-VG10 Camcorder with APS-C size Sensors

Immediately following the “successful” launch of the NEX-3 and NEX-5 EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) cameras, Sony has launched the much anticipated NEX-VG10 Camcorder with Interchangeable lens!  This camcorder uses the same lenses as the NEX Alpha series, the E-Mount lenses.  Here is a video by Sony on their new “Handycam”.

In order to differentiate the NEX and the NEX-VG series, several main points are;

  • Manual controls during video recording for aperture, shutter, ISO and white balance.
  • 24Mbps AVCHD vs 17Mbps AVCHD on the NEX EVIL cameras
  • Captures 14.2 MP still images but not RAW (hence for stills, you still need a non-video centric camera).

With only 3 native E-mount lenses currently (I am sure many more will come), Sony has also ensured that existing Alpha A-Mount lenses can be used with an adapter.  However, I would think that many of the manual control features may not work with the A-Mount lenses.

From what I can see from the promotional video released, this is the camcorder to have! … If not for the USD1,999 asking price (but with the 18-200mm lens).  The bokeh is just soo soooooo soooooooooo sweet.  Having said that, I have seen similar from the Canon 5D Mk II.  Available in September 2010.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lens Purchasing Experience from DD Electronics Singapore

In summary, it was a very smooth and good experience.  If you like to know more, please read on. About a week ago, I decided to acquire an all-rounder lens that’s affordable for the Canon 400D body that I have with me.  Upon doing a quick review and browsing online, I stumbled upon the DD Electronics website.  I have been to this website in the past but I never did needed anything and I do have some reservations about online purchasing of fragile items.


The design of the website is functional, nothing fancy.  It was easy enough to find items but it can be better, especially the search criteria and filter.  It stocks mainly Canon and Nikon items but it also has Panasonic, Olympus and the major third party lenses such as Sigma and Tamron lenses.

So, I proceeded to create a new login ID, went in and worked out the cost of delivery for the lens.  It came up to be a reasonable price, after I made several other comparisons with other online retailers, I proceeded to place an order.  I gave the necessary details for the purchase (after reading the terms and conditions, especially the warranty of the item) and only finally clicked OK several hours later (I was sure about getting the lens, just wasn’t sure about getting it from an online retailer outside the country).  So, I hoped for the best … and expect the worse.

To my surprise, they were very efficient, they immediately sent me a confirmation email the next morning (I ordered it late evening) followed by an email informing me that they will charge a small amount to my credit card and asked me to verify that it is my credit card by replying to them the amount that was charged (the email wasn’t worded very well).  This is quite a common method for retailers to protect themselves from online credit card fraud.  This will only work if you have online access to check your credit card charges and if you don’t, you probably have to wait for your credit card statement!  (or call the credit card company).  The other drawback on this is that there will be a delay as most transactions take a day or two or more to register.  As it was the weekend anyway, it didn’t make any difference to me.

On Monday, I gave them the details and they immediately shipped out the item, a Sigma lens.  At each stage, an email will be sent to you on the status of your order, e.g. Item Shipped.  However, it would have been good if they had included the tracking ID.  The other minor complain I have is that once the courier company collects it from them, they will send you an email saying that the transaction and delivery is “completed”!.  I mean, I haven’t even received it yet! It would be good that once the courier company has confirmed delivery, only then they send out such an email.

So … it arrived on Tuesday!  Kudos to DHL! And the box is kinda large for a small lens.

DD Electronics Shipment

As you can see, the box is several times the size of the Canon 400D body!  And what did I get?  I got myself a brand new Sigma 18-50 f2.8 lens.  It does say Macro but then it is not a 1:1 Macro but 1:3 magnification.

Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO Box

More on the lens later …

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Android Application for CIMB Clicks …

Two things that caught my attention today.  The very first thing what that Android is definitely here!  I was checking my bank balances (to ensure that I have enough to last me till my next pay cheque) and the following screen caught my attention!


CIMB Clicks has got an Android mobile application … but what I don’t understand is the “Apple + Android = Check Balances”?

The second thing is that since the 2010 FIFA World Cup, any image of an octopus seems to also catch my attention.  Although CIMB Clicks red octopus has been prominently displayed at the top right hand corner, it somehow became more visible recently =)

Monday, July 12, 2010

FX Camera for Android

I recently bought a Motorola Milestone running Android 2.0 to replace my aging (4 years) Sony Ericsson K710i.  I decided on the Android phone as it had a keyboard and decided on Android for it’s “tight” integration to the tools I use, i.e. Google Mail, Google Talk and Google Calendar.  Of course, as per the iPhone, what differentiates these phones are the application markets available for them.  However, the applications I need are already there, i.e. GMail client, GTalk client and so on :-)

Green R2D2?

The Motorola Milestone comes with a 5 Megapixel Auto Focus camera that’s positioned very badly (in my opinion) as my finger keeps blocking it when I try to use it as a camera!  Anyhow, I was introduced to by kuanhoong dot com this niffy little application called FX Camera that can “take” Polaroids.  (“take” may not be the right words, but more post process).

FxCamera  It has a few post processing techniques available, the most interesting would probably be the Polaroid and maybe the fish-eye as well.

Penang Ferry

The Polaroid gave a very “yesteryears” feel to the pictures and if you are taking an object that has been around since your birth or even before, it does give it an old nostalgic feel to it … the Penang Ferry picture above was taken last month using the Motorola Milestone and FX Camera application.  Another one that I tried was to take a picture of the coffee cups at Old Town White Coffee and it does give it that “Old Town” feel … :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Electric Cars for Putrajaya / Cyberjaya!

I have been thinking about whether we will get the Nissan Leaf in Malaysia in the next few years and I guess the answer is yes … but of course, my guess would be that Proton will be the main partner this the following initiative, “Pilot project on electric cars in Putrajaya” (source:

It would be interesting to monitor how successful the pilot project will be and with the latest 25th anniversary celebrations by Proton, it gives us a very clear indication about which car Proton has in mind for the pilot test.

The Proton EMAS concept’s lights were actually turned on!  Is it ready to go on the road yet?  Time will tell …

Friday, July 09, 2010

Kuta Beach @ Bali, Indonesia

This posting has been long overdue and my apologies to those who wondered why my trip to Bali did not have any news on the famous Kuta Beach.  Well, here it is, although limited.  Kuta Beach as most of us know is kinda synonymous with Bali island.  Most pictures and images in our head of Bali island is of Kuta Beach and I dare say that Kuta Beach is probably more well known than Denpasar!

You can probably read about it from various sources, so I will just give my few cents worth of comments.  The first thing that struck me was that Kuta Beach is very near the main airport and is just a few minutes away.  Hence transportation arranged by the Hotel just seemed very expensive.  If you don’t have much luggage, you can probably literally walk from the airport to Kuta Beach (the southern end).

As I was staying on the southern tip of Kuta Beach, there were less people on the beach and the hotel seem to have an unofficial (or is it official) private beach.  The image of holidaying in the sun was there, especially if you wake up early enough in the morning to go to the beach.

Will update more on other parts of Kuta in another post.  Nearer Hard Rock Hotel and McDonalds, the beach is livelier where you will get locals as well as tourist mingling about with a beer in hand.  Evening soccer by the beach is common, in addition to surfing.

One of my favourite sunset shots on the main stretch of Kuta Beach.  (Note: It is crowded, I just happen to be lucky enough to get a shot where there were only very few people).

And of course the beach buggy …

More on Bali island in the next few weeks … (I hope).

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Putrajaya Flora Festival 2010 is back!

Having a busy week so will probably not be going to this years Putrajaya Flora Festival.  Was there last year and it was a little too hot for me.  You can get more information from

PUJ Flowers It will start on July 10th and will be open until July 18th.  The location is at the Waterfront of Precinct 2 in Putrajaya where the hot air balloon festivals were held earlier this year as well. The theme for this year is centred around “Tropical Splendour” where International designers will also participate.

Similarly to last year, there will be air-condition tents and as such if you are there to take photographs, please do remember to bring your largest flash gun.

Entrance is FREE so flower power!  I mean, those interested in flowers, this is a great opportunity for a weekend event and for photographers, maybe a good outing opportunity as well.