Posts Tagged: Equipment

The Arch by Night

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The lads wanted to hang out last night at the Arch, so after much contemplation I decided against bringing the 50mm f/1.4 and just stick on the Sigma 14mm f/3.5 and figured I just either shoot at ISO1600 or just do some really trick long exposures.

Fandi got ahold of it and started playing around with it, manual focusing and all. Let me tell ya, I was so proud at that moment, much akin to a mother duck teaching a duckling how to swim.

Anyway, I guess I’d better get used to this $700 mistake, and by the looks of it, it might come along with me on solitary long exposure night outings now. This thing is not at all bad at night time.

I like how it keeps the columns relatively straight, and not go fisheye on me.

Experience

Experience

While talking about camera stuff on our Jing Chew session, a family consisting of an elderly couple and someone that looks like their granddaughter took a table next to ours. The man had an elaborate tattoo which I couldn’t keep my eyes away of, and I was surprised that he made small talk to me, which I happily obliged to.

The woman told a story how the tattoo got there, which just piqued my interest some more. It’s rare to see an elderly man to have a nice tattoo such as that, it’s even rarer to see it on a Bruneian, which made me get up the courage to ask for a photo as I found the story quite remarkable. He agreed, but without a shot of his face.

85mm Cream Maker

Queueing for a shot Sigmonster? Bollywood Aim

Why I was so happy yesterday…

Chat transcript:

-my shipment out of hongkong is getting shipped out
-my contact lens solution that’s almost ran out arrived, and got two of those
-i found [edit: my] bluetooth mouse in my brother’s room, somehow i sensed it was there
-and finally my shipment that i thought was lost forever, was finally found, the seller on ebay finally got in contact with me and we sorted that out
-its getting shipped out today

Confused? Here’s the explanation.

-My Graduated ND Filter
-I wear Hard Contacts, so it needs a special solution
-I thought I’ve lost my $89 Logitech Bluetooth Mouse at work, but I found it at home in my brother’s room!
-I got two SB-24 Speedlights from an eBayer, but somehow eBay didn’t pick up the payment from paypal so she thought I had not paid. Tried getting in contact with her, but somehow my messages ends up in Yahoo Mails spam folder, and they’ve had a surgery for the past month. So in any case, she sent off the two Speedlights yesterday! Woohoo! More

Of Jing Chew and Go Karts…

Had a Jing Chew pow wow with Anakbrunei (w/ missus), Rezafaizal, Bandar360 and Nikonian, treat by Ber. Mainly, I was there to pick up my Maha Powerex batteries from Chee as he had some imported in for us photogs, and I have to say, the charger is awesome, but not as awesome as the batteries. Put some into my flash just in case I had the itch to shoot the wedding for my officemate later in the afternoon, and they performed great even out of the box.

Didn’t have a lot of time to shoot the Go Karts and Scooters racing, as they only had the time trials on the morning session, and had to go by 11am to Empire Cinema for our rendezvous point for the wedding in Tutong. Present there was RJ63, Airbiscuit, Jim747, Rezafaizal, Aku and aku… as in me.

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Product Shot: Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G

Filters, filters, filters.

To me, this is my least understood topic when talking about photography. Sure, I’ve put UV filters in front of my lenses whenever possible, but do I know what it really does? And what with the different brandings and versions, it gets complicated really fast.

There’s two divided camps when it comes to using UV filters. As it does nothing really to drastically change the images taken, (unless you’re using a really, really inferior UV filter), the debate comes down to lens protection. One side claiming it’s better to leave in on to protect the front element, and it’s easier to clean a relatively cheap filter than a lens; another side claiming it degrades image quality, and even if the filter breaks upon impact, it might scratch the lens anyway.

I fall in the former camp, because I do preach what they say as well. But do remember not to choose a filter that degrades the image quality so bad that there’s no point to have it on. Any coating is better than no coating as this will allow more light to pass through, and of course multi coating is better than single coating, denoted famously by Hoya’s HMC or SHMC lines. I have a UV(N) HMC on my 50mm f/1.4, and I have to say, I love the colors it lets through. On the other hand, I have a UV Guard Coated on my 77mm thread lenses, and sometimes the colors are disappointing once in a while. And if pixel peeped really, really close, the image quality is seriously degraded if you know where to look. Made me regret not to choose a 77mm filter carefully, as that was all I could find when my 80-200mm arrived. Will rectify that soon with a new filter purchase.

Here’s an example listing of UV filters, and as you go down the page, the price drops and the coatings become less and less, making for a lot less light to pass through, and generally worsening image quality. Generally, the more coating the better, and also be on the lookout for vignetting effect on your images when attaching a filter when going into your widest setting. This is why there are other options such as Thin filters, purposely engineered if you experience vignetting effect going wide.

Oh, remember, for night shooting, when shooting directly at lights, if you’re getting ghostings and flares, just take the UV filter off. It will reduce it immensely.

Another set of filters that help in digital photography are Circular Polarizers. Why? Linear polarizers will sometimes mess with your Through The Lens (TTL) metering system employed in dSLRs and give a wonky reading. And that is why Circular Polarizers are selling for top dollars, and this spurred me to write up this article to get a better understadning how it works. While other filters can be emulated in post processing, this filter type has the most unique charasteristic that can’t be emulated in post. Basically it removes the extra light that has been reflected off of surfaces, such as foliage, water surfaces and windows.

I know there are certain angles which makes the Cir PL filters more effective, but reading through Wikipedia doesn’t offer much help in illustrating this fact. This page explains it the best as I have found out, and makes me can’t wait to go shooting in bright sunlight to see the effects myself. Basically the maximum effect of removing reflection is when the reflection is incident at 30 degrees, and you are pointing 30 degrees from the opposite side of the incident. Another way is to have the sun perpendicular to where you are pointing the lens, to get the maximum effect.

Now we get to the “Hard to Swallow” part. As I said, the more coatings it has, the more expensive it becomes, so much so, for instance, a Pro 1 Digital HMC Circular Polarizer filter can reach upwards of USD200. That’s why sometimes people, including yours truly, will skimp on this vital thing until we know what’s the true purpose of these extra bits of glass. But if possible, get the best you can. You can skimp on other things, you shouldn’t really skimp on something that goes infront of that thousand dollars lens.

And now for the fun part, using filters to alter the colors and exposure in your photograph. While there’s times you just want a cool effect of the sky looking a different color with a Skylight 1B filter, there will be times when using a filter is important to get that shot otherwise impossible to get. Some might be familiar with using a Neutral Density filter to bump down the exposure of a scene while retaining a slower shutter speed than otherwise normal, or allowing the aperture to open up without overexposing the entire scene. Now imagine that effect for part of the frame.

Graduated ND filters are a godsend to landscape photographers the world over. A brief overview of the wonders of Grad ND filters are found here, allowing you to compress the dynamic range into something manageable for a dSLR. You might remember exposing for a shadow area in bright sunlight giving you overblown surroundings, while exposing for the sunlight might leave dark harsh shadows on your subjects. Imagine this for landscape photography, where the sky might be too bright while your foreground subjects are in the shadow. Rotating the ND side to the sky and the clear part for the foreground will make exposure for both to be correct.

Grad NDs come in 1, 2 or 3 stop variants and either in hard or soft gradation between the ND side and the clear side. Singh Ray has a complement of these for the Cokin P filter holders, so that may be on my wishlist for the time being. These are not cheap mind you, and for a specific purpose, you better be taking a lot of landscape pictures to be investing in the Cokin P system and a bevy of Singh Ray filters. B+W has a selection of these in normal, filter ring form, which to me, a 77mm 1 stop soft ND filter might be nice to invest in, as I’m not really gonna be doing landscape shots, that often, but it will be nice to have for the occasional hikes-up-a-hill-at-4-am-to-catch-the-sunrise.

There are a slew of other kinds of filters, such as diffusion filters or cross screen filters, but you will rarely come across these unless you’re specifically into that kinda thing. I believe UV and CirPL are the most important filter knowledge you need to have, and at least I can give you a bit of reading jump off point so you can learn more how to effectively use filters.

My items have arrived!

Bongo Elastic Ties
Dot Line Umbrella Swivel
Rosco 8×10 Color Correction Pk
Westcott 43″ Collapsible Soft Silver
Bogen Manfrotto Collapsible Light Stand 3373

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I got all of these from Mpex.com, following all the recommended items from Strobist.blogspot.com. Worth the stupid three day wait.

Fujifilm Finepix S5Pro DSLR

Do want.

In other news, my order arrived from QQestore today. Well yesterday actually, but the prick Michael forgot to update the fricking system and that in turn failed to SMS me about the items arrival. I almost blew it when the cute chick there kinda made me not want to. So all is well, bought the filters and the batteries and went back to the office immediately to test the stuff out.

Can you guess what I just bought?

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WIRELESS FLASH TRIGGERING YO! As ably illustrated by my friend here.

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Nikon D40x

The release of the consumer-friendly D40 four months ago is followed up by it’s replacement D40x a few days ago ahead of the PMA. The D3 announcement however, was nowhere to be heard leading up to the PMA event.

This D40 version however, has the 10 megapixel CCD sensor lifted from the D80 and also has the improved burst rate up from 2.5fps in the D40 to 3fps in the D40x. The base ISO is up (down rather) to 100 as well.

From the Flickr groups I frequent, most D40 owners are kinda miffed about this, understandably, but us D80 owners need not worry though. It’s still has much more features than the D40x. Unless, they decide to release a D80x, which will be met with much more cries of foul I’m sure.

But in any case, this is looking much better to become a second body which we just connect an AF-S or AF-I (lenses with motor drives) on it than the D70 line, D50 or even the plain vanilla D40x.

I’m still kinda hoping for the announcement of that D3 line though. 18.7 megapixels is overkill I’m sure, but at least we can one-up the announcement of the Canon 1D Mark III and it’s 10fps burst shot.

Read More:
http://www.dpreview.com/articles/nikond40x/

http://nikonimaging.com/global/news/2007/0306_01.htm

http://www.europe-nikon.com/product/en_GB/products/broad/1379/overview.html

Next up? 50mm f/1.4 and SB-800 Speedlight

Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor

Nikon SB-800 AF Speedlight