Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Taste Of Spice

Was told about this place, a Malaysian restaurant along Gouger street. Gouger street is known in Adelaide for its string of restaurants of all flavors.

I attended a jazz gig at the Dom Polski Centre, where the Black Note Jazz club has events on Fridays. A good acquaintance noticed that I was from Singapore, and recommended me this place. Check it out if you miss home style food!

Marmalade Cirus @ The Gov!

This was about 2 weeks ago at The Governor Hindmarsh Hotel - Marmalade Circus LIVE! My first ever live jazz gig, it's amazing. I'm trying to get as much time to spend at such events.

"Photography" wise, the camera put out a very respectable performance, thanks to the pretty good lighting at the hotel. I only wish I had a lens with more reach, something like a 70-200/2.8 will be awesome, in order to crop closer and have a better shutter speed. Alots of my shots were in good shape, handshake wise, but the low shutter speed of the slow lens meant any movements by the musicians made them a blur.

Slowly updating stuff.... first up. Shots from the zoo with my new Nikon 55-200 VR

This is my second outing with the D200 - the last one was last week to Barossa Valley... in the rain. Got some nice memories, but am currently still struggling to understand how the exposure metering works on the D200, the controls, and how to process the pics in Bibble Pro.

Spent a good chunk of the morning shooting at random, understanding the matrix meter. It seems that when the contrast is within the capture range, the exposure is 100% spot on. But when dealing with high contrast scenes, I will need to take more time to ensure a good exposure. The following pics were taken with the matrix meter with no exposure compensation, and it's a relatively good fun shoot.

This is also my first time having the 55-200VR on my camera for an extended amount of time. Most of the pics only had cropping to fit it into a square due to the close range of the animals, but I would have wished for a 300mm or longer lens to really frame it close (see the wild dog shot) Still, I was having a really hard time dealing with camera shake, VR or not. While it works wonders for static objects, shooting moving objects at F5.6 in low light has me bumping the iso up to 800, sometimes even 1600 just to get a high enough shutter speed so that motion blur would be more acceptable.

In terms of lens quality, I am really surprised by this kit lens. It picks out details very well, and corner to corner is very sharp.

Also figured out how to use the AF-C (Continuous AF) mode - it's kinda not my kind of mode as it doesn't have a focus confirmation beep, so I do tend to be antsy using it. But even with the el-cheapo lens, the D200 and it tracked many of the animals, especially like the pacing Leopards and Lions, very, very well. I can't wait to take this guy one day to a rally course. (Of course by then I'm hoping to loan a nice 70-200 F2.8 VR :P )

D200 rocks. I can't imagine how the guys with a D300 are enjoying it!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ehehehehe newer toy! Nikon D200

I think everyone is selling their cameras just because the D300, D3 and D700 are out/on the way here. Do I lust for one of them? Hell yes. Can I afford them? Hell no. I'd rather spend the cash (which is non-existent) on them on a tour. Do I need one? Hell no. Especially not the D3 - since I'm a wimp at carrying heavy stuff.

But the net result is - lots of people are selling their D200s away (my old dream camera - no longer a dream camera sadly. Because I got one :P ) - which, right now is a superb buyer's market for DX lenses and older bodies!

So here's my latest toy, taken with my D40x:

Woo! D200! Observe the exposure. Next:

My D40x + 10-20mm taken by the D200. Both cameras are set to EV0, Aperture Priority. The D200 meters the scene darker. Which, in my opinion feels better - if darker overall - the black blacks stay black. and the lcd is less blown out. Scientific yah? Well one of the key reasons I wanted the D200 was the supposedly better meter. This test is obviously not conclusive of anything - hopefully this weekend will be clear skies, so I can go out and shoot shoot shoot :)

Now the D40x was about a year in the market. But the D200 was out in 2005. The thing that made me hesitant about getting a D200 was high ISO noise. Let's see the 3200iso (HI-1 Boost) from the D40x:

And now the D200's boosted 3200 mode:

Very similar, but the D40x has the edge. I think. But that edge is minuscule. Next, using Bibble 4.10 and Noise Ninja set to 10:

Finally, the D200 with Noise Ninja also at 10:

The noise reduction with Noise Ninja probably went overboard - I just switched on NN, and exported the image, thinking back I shoulda tweaked abit.

In any case, in my newbie eyes, the D200, oldie but goodie, is still able to keep up with the D40x which supposedly has better noise reduction algorithms. The net result of this is that, I am not in the least bit afraid to push to ISO 3200, so long as I can get the shot. The 4 crops above are 100% crops straight out of Bibble, so you can see it's not too bad.

I've only got the camera for a few hours, only browsed through the first few pages of the manual. Man, this camera is so danged complex. Much more dials and levers and what not. Which allows one to change settings very much faster than my 40x - with it's push a button, twirl the command dial style. That said, the D40x is no way bad. It is what it is, a superb entry level DSLR.

AF speed using the 18-55VR kit lens is amazingly faster and more accurate. Note that I haven't yet fussed with the AF settings, so I'm not sure entirely what's up. Now the 5FPS shooting speed is SCARY. I was passed the camera with it set to C-HI mode, and it gave me quite a shock when pushing down the shutter snapped off a few shots. The shutter button is also an entirely different affair. It is softer to engage, and I'm sure this allows one to engage the shutter with less camera shake.

While I'm gushing all over this baby (did I mention it was my dream camera?) - no real photography has been done with it. So I may be cursing and swearing once I come back this weekend. Which reminds me, my new LCD arrived. Woot! Can't wait to process stuff in Bibble Pro.

PS: Anyone who hasn't tried Bibble has to try it. It doesn't have the halo artifacts you get with Lightroom or Capture NX when you push the fill light too far. I recently evaluated a whole chunk of raw processors (LR, NX, LightZone, Bibble, DxO) and decided to go with Bibble. Best quality I could push from all the processors, and the price is well. Awesome :)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

New toy: Sigma 10-20mm X)

I've been using mostly 28-70 zooms on my film SLR, and 40-50mms on my RFs. Rarely do I even use the 70+mm range, though I'm always wanting.

Yesterday, a little gem popped up on ebay - Sigma's 10-20mm - which, on my D40x gives me like 17mm lens (!!!!) something I've never ever used before. Sure, I'd lust for a nice 12mm to be on my imaginary R8 - but that's not likely to happen in the next 15 years. I lucked out and got a really nice copy.

I was pixel peeping a bit with shots on the 10mm at F4 and F8, they seemed very sharp throughout. I can't wait to get this baby on a field test =)


Hancock, Kung Fu Panda

I was expecting quite a bit from Hancock - Will Smith's latest film - and for a good while, it lived up to the trailer. Till halfway through the film, it's like they suddenly changed the director and scriptwriter to a bunch of baboon hammering on macs. What were they thinking?! The story just went downhill - bad. Granted, the fx was awesome, but only when it's not willy-nilly thrown in. Gah.

Kung Fu Panda, otoh. AWESOME. It's awesomeness overexposes sooo many other films, even probably the entire shrek line. (Shrek seriously should have been done with the first flick.) Story wise, no complaints. CG and fx wise. No either. It's a great flick! Watch it!