Category Archives: Photography

Photography related stuff which usually includes new gear acquisitions, photo galleries and random tidbits that I come across.

Walking around Westminster at 135mm

Bought a manual focus Samyang 135mm f2 just before I left and was planning a little more street-esque photography (read: trying to be a hipster). Took it out for a full day and it was quite a challenge. Colours are a bit flat because it was overcast, and I’ve been lazy to process these too much.

I loved looking through a different perspective but it was really tight (ha!) and secondly it soon became very easy to get the same looking shots, especially of clock towers and tops of older buildings.

Westminster light posts (for the longest while I thought it Westminister)

Inside Someset Square, it says SKATE in the background as they’re setting up an ice rink here.

City skyline:

London eye, it’s rather huge and you can see it peaking in the background in so many places.

Picadilly Circus – had to look up why it’s called a circus, no not the one with clowns. Circus refers to a round space at a road junction.

A bit of symmetry:

At night there’s a bunch of super bright electronic screens/billboards that light up the entire circus. Also, these screens are mega sharp with a heap of detail!

You can see the building opposite just light up vividly

Smeg has some crazy looking kitchenware, look at the detail in the gas stove!

Westminster Abbey and The Palace of Westminster.

and the Big Ben, unfortunately the it’s under renovations for 2 years (and won’t even toll!).

St James Park was nice to walk around with a fair bit of wildlife.

Covent garden has a nice but small market, there were these cute wallets with dogs on them, but a fuck you to the lady at the stall. I was considerate enough to ask you for a photo first, as per your sign, and you asked me what I’m doing with it and that I better not copy the product; I’ve intentionally cut out the card with your store details.

Need to come back here as they’ve set up a Christmas tree and some lights.

Some street art in Brick Lane

Brick Lane has a lot of street art and found some randomly in a little alley. While I stumbled upon it just walking around, seems like it’s well known as there was a decent crowd of people.

Definitely another visit is needed and I’ll do some more research to see if there’s any other pockets of art.

There’s a lot of politically motivated ones, especially around Theresa May but I have no idea about British politics so they were largely ignored.

I’ll be honest, the one below actually made me think for a bit, especially in the context of housing back home, everyone wants to be closer to the city and it all seems to be in the pursuit of money and nicer homes, cafes, shops etc, but in the end it just lines the pockets of a few with a pretty great cost.

Seeing another plane from inside the plane

I saw a pretty amazing thing during my flight from Dubai to London, seeing another plane fly past! During sunset!

You may not find it intriguing as me, but the reason I was so amazed was not too long ago from 9gag there was a post about getting perspective of how fast planes actually fly. You know when you’re sitting in your seat it seems to be barely moving. A video of another plane flying in the opposite direction close-by really shows how fast you move.

That evening on the flight to London, I witnessed that for myself, but to top it off, it was sunset and the plane was leaving behind a condensation trail.

Another lens – Samyang 135mm f/2

Hoping this doesn’t really become a habit, but more gear! I’ve been eyeing one of these Samyang 135mm’s for a while, never got one when shooting Nikon because manual focus without any guides is pretty difficult.

One of the great selling points of Sony is easy access to focus peaking which allows lights up the viewfinder of the in-focus areas making manual focus a breeze. This meant no hesitations with buying a manual focus lens.

First impressions were, “this is a lot bigger than expected” (that’s what she said).

It’s a pretty hefty lens, and you’d assume so given the focal length and aperture but at the same time it’s a lens that retails for only about $700. Since I’m unlikely to be shooting portraits professionally for a while I couldn’t justify paying so much so it’s been months of hunting for a used one, less than $400 was the goal. They don’t pop up very often and a few came up in my price range without any bids but I had forgotten about them and missed the auction :(.

Using it does take some getting used to, the focus ring spins about 180 degrees to go from minimum to infinite focussing distances but it’s silky smooth and precise. There’s no electronic aperture control and also no contact with the body, you’ll have to see the focal length for in-body stabilisation.

The results? Damn, this thing is sharp and blur blur everywhere (out of focus blur that is). If you think a nifty fifty creates great blur, this thing just spits it out left right and centre. Here’s a shot 1.2m away at f/2, the background just melts away.

At a cost of about $300 for this lens? I’m absolutely thrilled, hoping it gets a lot of use!

No flash on the A7, so what?

During dinner at Oscillate Wildly, I noticed a distinct problem when shooting with the A7. Firstly the 35mm wasn’t fast enough in the dimly lit restaurant and also remembered there’s no flash (not that I’d use it in a restaurant). It did lead me to question what to do if I needed some extra light.

Instead of a flash, I decided on a small LED panel, in particular the Aputure Amaran M9. It’s small, dimensions roughly of a credit card and about a cm thick. Figured it’d be a bit more versatile being able to hold it off camera as well as for any videos we’d want to record at night. It’s also very affordable, $59!

It’s got an inbuilt rechargeable battery and is decently bright given the small dimensions. The mount is a little bulky compared to the slim profile of the panel so I’m investigating options for a hot shoe mount that has a 1/4″ socket. I was hoping to use the GoPro arms to mount it as well, but that didn’t quite work out (plan was to use the tripod mounts end to end, but you can’t connect a 2nd tripod adapter).

A new Sony lens – 28mm f/2

Not surprising that it had barely been a month before getting my Sony A7 and 35mm f/2.8 that I’ve decided on another lens (and a half, sort of). Next purchase was the 28mm f/2 lens with the idea that it would be my walk-about lens.

So why the quick move away from the 35mm? Two reasons, one was my original hesitation of being a f/2.8 lens, I ended up finding in reality that I was pushing the boundaries of the cameras low light and stabiliser limits and not getting enough light in. Secondly the minimum focussing distance on the 35mm was a bit long, made taking photos of food at the table a little difficult at times.

In comes the 28mm, size-wise it’s just as compact and light as the 35mm so still makes a great combo to carry everywhere. The minimum focussing distance is 5cm less, which doesn’t sound much, but it’s the difference between having to lean back for a photo and not.

It’s goes a fair bit longer with the hood. The 28mm has a standard petal hood where the 35mm has an odd cap kind of hood, not a huge biggie for me.

Performance wise I’m pretty satisfied, focus is quick and the bokeh is quite nice. Sharpness I’ve got nothing to complain about but Ive accepted that as a sacrifice if I’m to stick with compact lenses.

The last reason I wanted the 28mm is because of some optional attachments, Sony make 2 wide angle converters. The first turns it into at 21mm ultra wide at f/2.8 and the second turns it into a 16mm fisheye at f/3.5. I bought the former. First impressions were that it’s a lot heftier than expected. It’s got 4 glass elements and feels really well built. Attaching it to the lens is snappy and secure and really feels like one unit.

The really nice thing Sony has done is being able to detect the presence of the attachment and updating the lens data as appropriate.

Photo quality is pretty okay with the attachment, I think it’s a worthy trade off for not having to physically unmount a lens and the flexibility between 21mm and 28mm. Really happy with this combo for travelling, it fits into my little Crumpler Pleasure Dome (m).

Next lens I’m trying to find is a long-ish fast lens. Have my eye on a Samyang 135mm f/2 but not really wanting to pay $600+ for one since there’s no electronic aperture control or contacts.

The Mavic Pro

I’ve got another drone, and it’s only been a few months since selling my last, why? Two reasons, the Mavic Pro is sick, it folds up and fits in a small messenger bag and secondly, I got it for a stupidly good price. As a matter of fact, I got the Fly More combo for the same price that I sold my Phantom 3 Pro for. Absolute bargain.

Contents of the Mavic Pro Fly More combo

I took it out for its maiden flight last weekend, initially I was a bit scared with some reports of the app not working with S7’s, but that seems isolated to the S7 edge. Unfolding it is simple, the 2 front arms open up and the back 2 unfold upside down, blades stay on and fold together.

 

I did find the sticks on the remote to have a bit more friction and felt that help with finer control. Flight-wise I couldn’t really feel any difference between the P3P and the Mavic, which impressed me even more given its form factor. Forward collision detection is pretty cool and certain does give peace of mind, the controller vibrates when you get close to something.

Lens is slightly narrower than the P3P and isn’t focused at infinite, something to get used to.

It’s arrived just in time for Hawaii and planning to take it out for another spin this weekend to get a hang for some of the smart flight modes and get some practice pulling some silky smooth shots.

A not so Vivid

Vivid seems to be getting duller and duller for me as the years go by. This year everything felt super spread and to me that meant a low reward to effort ratio, that is having to walk too much to see so little. Thought I would have been a little more enthusiastic as well being the first chance to stretch the legs on my new Sony A7 mk2 but that could only do so much

First up was a quick dinner at the Malaya in King St wharf, just picked a random place with Dimmi and AMEX’ $20 off deal. It was a busy place, great for groups but not ideal for a quiet dinner. Entrees were the samosas and chilli fried chicken wings.

The former were super light with good skin and full of flavour; not cheap though. The chilli fried chicken wings had heaps of sauce, too much in my opinion and a lot of batter which masked any taste of chicken.

Mains were the king prawn laksa and chicken sambol.

The laksa was delicious, a lot better than I expected; plenty of flavour, chilli and not too heavy on the coconut. A richer version of the Hunter Strett laksa (which is definitely my favourite). If it wasn’t for the price, this would be a sure favourite. The sambol was also really nice, again they don’t skimp out on flavours, it was bold and spicy; I was a bit worried that the flavours would be watered down due to location, but I was pleasantly surprised overall.

So, back to Vivid. Bangaroo was a new addition this year and the night I went it was rather quiet. A walk with sting rays turned into immersion with projections and lastly aquanauts roaming the streets. Loved the detail in the suits and the cloud hovering about their heads.

The walk to Circular Quay (behind customs house) was a decent walk with my favourite being the colourful umbrella jellyfish (not sure if that’s what they were meant to be though). A couple of projections in the laneways, a canon stand taking photos of us and a sundial type clock (where you’re the dial) were pretty cool.

All shots were taken with Sony A7 mark II with either the Sony 35mm f/2.8 and a Zenitar 16mm fisheye adapted from a Nikon mount. One thing I didn’t realise with the fisheye before it was too late is that when adapted, the distance markings were out of whack, more so than when mounted on a Nikon camera. Most of the shots are out of focus with the focus going beyond what I was intending.

The rest of my Vivid trip was simply around the harbour with my favourite being an installation at the overseas passenger terminal which almost looks like heavy rain coming down. The opera house was quite pretty this year and I thought it was pretty cool that there was an interactive station where you could control what colour the bridge and surrounding buildings were; it did mean that sometimes the colour combinations were horrible.

All in all, quite happy with the A7m2, I wish the lens was a bit faster, f/2 would have been great, but the in body stabilisation does work well allowing me to go as slow as 1/10 with the 35mm without much trouble. I’m still getting used to the RAW files from the camera, but initial impressions is that that darks and shadows don’t hold as well as the Nikon files (that, or Lightroom doesn’t handle them as well).

That’s all from Vivid, photos aren’t exciting as previous years and I didn’t even bother with a tripod this time round.

Floofs at the park

Been spending time trying to consolidate and sort the photos I’ve taken over the years into a single catalog. Primary reason is so that it’s backed up to my server and then consequently to the cloud at backblaze. $5 USD for unlimited back up of the 1 computer, for home server, I’ve got over 9 terabytes backed up. The random collection today is from a year ago when we had dogs hanging out at bicentennial park.

First we had Congee the Corgi, his floppy ear is super cute!

Then Mo the Pom

Mo the pomeranian

Marlene’s Cookie

Amanda’s Ivory (only have a single shot)

Ivory

And Tofu the Spitz (also only have 1 photo of him)

It seems that I’ve lost some photos and there was another BBQ where there were more dog photos, but there’s more photos below:

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Making the switch from Nikon to Sony!

So getting rid of all my Nikon camera gear leads me without a camera (well I’ve got a Sony NEX 5R that always seems to be absent from my posession). The D4s is way too big for travel and when you mount on any sort of f/2.8 zoom (especially the Tamron 15-30), it becomes rather bothersome.

Despite using Nikon for about 10 years, it’s time for a change.

So in comes the A7 mk II, Sony full-frame interchangable lens camera with inbuilt body image stabilisation (yes it’s a mouthful). It was a tough choice with Fuji being highly appealing due to a nice selection of small and fast primes, but full frame’s something I’ve been used to for  a while now, so the choice was Sony, in part also for its video abilities. The A7 II was choice despite lacking 4K video recording, I figured the in-built stabilisation would make it for any shortfalls. Time will tell.

It’s getting paired up with a Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Sonnar T*. Definitely don’t think this lens is worth the $900 price tag, but at $400 for a used one, I think it’s decent value, given its compact size.

First impressions, it’s small, but by no means compact. A little smaller and more blocky than the smallest DSLRs. It’s pretty comfortable to hold with the deep hand grip and distinct hump for the thumb. The exposure compensation wheel is a bit stiff, not as tactile as the other wheels which move with ease.

Whole bunch of custom buttons which are nice, but there’s no markings for a default function, might take a while for them to become memorised. EVF is decent, bright enough and fast enough, doesn’t feel like there’s a lag in low-light (one of my worries with an EVF) but could be more crisp, depending on what’s in frame, the aliasing (jagged lines) are pretty noticeable and you’re hoping the autofocus has got your subject spot on.

Autofocus speed has been good, haven’t seen any major issues. I don’t anticipate to shoot any fast moving objects so not too concerned with continuous focus speed, manual focus on the 35mm is average, it feels much better than previous lenses I’ve used on the Nex 5R and the indicator for focus distance is a nice touch and helps with finding where you’re pointing, seems to track better to your ring movements. The hood is interesting too, it’s designed to sit on the lens permenantly and doesn’t really add much bulk.

Just for the lols, check out the size difference.

Both 35mm lenses (but granted one is f/2.8 and the other is f/1.4), the size difference is huge, not that it’s suprising or anything.

Will be taking it out for Vivid to see how it really goes.