Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Morialta - again!

Went to Morialta falls again to do the 3 Waterfalls Grand Hike. This time only had a few very light showers, and the weather conditions were totally different.

The trek took us about 4.5 hrs, and that was with stopping here and there for photos. In terms of difficulty, the main trail was pretty easy going, the gradient was gentle for the most part.

Loads of rocky vistas!

If you are in the area, drop by!


Nikon 16-85 in da house!

Just got the lens in yesterday; can't wait to bring it out in the field. This is probably considered a prosumer lens model, but it feels so damned good. It's actually quite compact at 16mm; the pictures do not do it justice. It does telescope quite a bit when zoomed into 85mm. It's also quite hefty; about half a kilo. It just reeks of quality. Zoom ring is on the stiffer side, and well damped. Lens hood is also included.

I only did some back/front focusing tests; all came out pretty well. I need to do a field test to confirm. I can see this baby being on my camera 95% of the time. I also noticed that at low shutter speeds, the pictures actually do seem sharper. Could this be the VRII in action?

In other news, my Zeiss Ercona I also arrived at work today (WOOT!) - medium format 6x9s! can't wait. Since my new Nikkor doesn't have a protective filter installed, I may not bring it out too far from the nest, and just bring along the MF folder for this weekend's hike. Can't wait!


Monday, August 25, 2008

FF: Crisis Core

Finished running a quick straight through run of Crisis Core, somehow I can't get the same excitement compared to the original FF7. I'm probably just getting old.

Love the fight sequences. They remind me of Tales of Phantasia, hands on battle not menu pushing. It does add quite a bit of excitement and keeps you on your toes.
FMV: Advent Children Quality. I think those alone would be worth the purchase of the PSP and game.
Story: Pretty much tells the tale of what happens to Cloud and Zack, and the surprising history of the Buster Sword.
So many allusions to FF7. We get to see kid Yuffie, a hint of someone sleeping in a coffin in Shinra manor (LOL!) and meet someone who possibly built 7th Heaven.
Aerith! Woo!

Final Boss fights were not too long or annoying. Unlike some idiot casting supernova and making me really, really bored. Then again, the difficulty level (I was playing normal) was generally pretty good.
One character?! Well the focus is on Zack: SOLDIER 1st Class. Maybe he's that superhuman, who knows. I do miss having companions though.

Not so good:
The game progression felt very linear, it just brings you from mission to mission. Even most of the areas encountered are just straight paths. You get to do loads of side quests but you don't need to travel to do them; just access them from your menus.
Load time perhaps? Given that I've had a DS for a while, the load time does get annoying.

Now that I've done the game through once, I'm going to do it one more time following a FAQ to pick up all the items and summons. I barely had 5 summons, and those are rare. Speaking of which, there must be a Kamen Rider fan somewhere in the production. Because the Chocobo Summon is definitely a Rida Kick!


Friday, August 22, 2008

I think I'm getting old ;)

Previously, I'd play my new games non-stop (nearly) till I complete it. I remember playing FF7 for 19hrs straight, not stopping except for food and bio breaks. I only have two games right now, God Of War and of course, FF: Crisis Core. Somehow, I don't feel the *must play game urge*. Don't get me wrong, both are spectacular games, just that somehow I feel more draw to playing eve-online (offline - since i have no net access...) than either of them. In anycase, I think i should be nearing the end of FF:CC (I'm in Nibelheim, omg, it looks so much better than the original PS1) - can't wait to replay the whole thing with a full guide and do all the side quests.

My 16-85 is arrived in oz, currently in Sydney, so probably I'll get it on Monday or Tuesday. Once that checks out, I'm going to be selling off my D40x outfit. Sob sob. Will miss the little bugger.

Also acquired a 28mm/2.8 - for "low light" (F2.8? Yeah right) and walkaround use. 28*1.5=42mm should be nice. Still awaiting expectantly for my MF folder camera. Gosh I've been on a buying spree lately. Gah.


Saturday, August 16, 2008


Yes, I'm bloody outdated. But I heard just today that FF: Crisis Core is available on the PSP. And being a fan.... time to bite the bullet and buy yet another mini console ;)


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Adelaide Weekend Day Trips: Morialta Falls

Morialta Falls is a surprising change in landscape that is only a 20 minute bus ride from the city (check the schedules here: http://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/guides/bestplaces/AdHills.html) - it is host to a few waterfalls and amazing tree covered rock terrain.

The first waterfall is very accessible; there are two car parks, one inner carpark that is about 15-20 minutes from the first waterfall. It is best to visit in the wintertime (when it's rainy) to see the waterfalls. In summer, it's bone dry. Once you are bored of the first waterfall (believe me, it's nice up close, but you want to explore more of the park....), take one of the trails and travel a few hundred metres up......


At magic hour, you get some of the most amazing colors. You have to be there to experience it.

Remember that this is a trail, so bring along proper clothing, water and a small amount of food. You have to be out of the park to catch the 6pm bus, else you will have to wait till 7 for the next one (as we found out. Brr.... cold...)

Adelaide Weekend Day Trips: Hallett Cove

This is a start of a few blog posts about what to do in Adelaide on the weekend for a day tour. As some of you know, I can't drive to save my butt (except 10th scale r/c, where I may be able to put up a fight. Anyways...)

Hallett Cove is a very quiet conservation park located about 40minutes from the Adelaide Railway Station. Buy a Day pass, and jump aboard the Norlunga train (below the Casino)o. Alight at the Hallet Cove station (there is also a Hallet Cove Beach Station, you can do that too, but there are more signs at the earlier Hallett Cove Station). Trains seem to move at half hour intervals, but later in the day they start to move at 1hr intervals, so plan ahead! The train station has alot of time schedules so pick one up.

I spent at least 4 hours there slowly walking the various paths and taking in the sights. The highlights there would probably be the Sugarloaf:

Walking down to the beach (make sure u wear proper shoes - a good part of the beach is solid rock, not sand...) to check out the very interesting rock formations:

And enjoying the view in general. I've loads more, but I haven't yet decided on their final look. These are the few I've printed out that look reasonably good.

The terrain there is very easy going, but not suitable for wheelchair access.


Due to *cough* some unbelievers, I'm going to upload a series of test pics.

This is the church directly besides the Rising Sun Pictures office... thought the composition looked cool and fired of two shots. Processed using Bibble Pro, most of the contrast adjustment was done using Ansel Pro. I then altered Ansel's luminance slider to bring down the color saturation, hopefully giving a faux film look.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Using the D200 and leaving the D40x behind

So... I've been using the D200 on at least 4 day trips around Adelaide, and I think this is THE slr for me (until the replacement for the D300 comes out, then I get the D300 el-cheap! or someone invents the digital version of the Contax G. With a leaf shutter.).

I think the D200 generates noisier real life images compared to the D40x at ISO 400 or greater.

This has been a concern for quite a bit, but honestly, I am very certain this won't be an issue in prints, and even ISO 3200 pics (with horrible noise) shrunk down to web size after a good run of Noise Ninja is generally un-detectable. So. Noise is out of the equation, though I must still say. If you want to pixel peep, get a D40x or newer gen camera.

Apart from that, both cameras supposedly use very similar sensors, and I can't tell what camera did what honestly.

Where the D200 really shines is the pro-build. The auto focus is awesome, 11 focus points helps alot when composing a shot, 5fps drive is also somewhat awesome if less used. I think the thing that I love about the 200 is feel of all the knobs and controls on the body. I can change my ISO (well I'm actually using auto iso but still), WB or Quality settings by holding down one of the holy trinity buttons and then adjusting my thumb wheel. It saves alot of time. The 200 also comes with the motor drive, so. Primes here I come :) RGB histograms also help, plus it has the luminance graph that I rarely use now.

The weather sealing of the camera body also gives me alot of confidence shooting in inclement weather. Last week, I was at Morialta Falls where it was raining on and off. I'm pretty sure if I had the D40x, I would have stuffed the camera in the bag. With the D200, I had the confidence to just shoot in the rain. Sheltered of course, under my hat, not fully exposed in the elements - my 18-55 isn't exactly weather proofed ;) Got some lovely pics, just no time to put them online.

Only downside is the battery life, but oddly my new battery, after 3 cycles, is giving me nearly 400 shots (actually 387) shots with 51% free life. That was today, when I was doing a trail along Hallett Cove Nature Reserve. I only reviewed shots that I thought were important (and problematic) - else I am beginning to understand and trust the matrix meter.

In terms of lens wise, I think the 18-55 is a very good range and should serve anyone very well as a walkaround lens. I did mention in a previous post that I am acquiring the 16-85, which will give me a 24mm equv lens, which I am very certain will see lots of use as I've found myself wanting just a bit more at times today.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sigh. Front focusing Sigma 28mm :(

I've had this idea of shooting with a fast prime in low light for a while, and finally decided to get a Sigma 28mm/1.8 - versus Nikon's own 28/2.8 - why oh why can't Nikon release a fast F1.8 prime like Canon? Sometimes, I do wish I was using a Canon body in order to use their (seemingly) nicer lens line up.

In anycase, my Sigma 28mm 1.8 arrived today in Australia, barely 4 days after I placed the order to B&H Photo on Friday. SWEET!

Unfortunately... did some testing against a chart, and quite annoyed to see it front focus by a few mm. No much yes? But imagine if I were to take a closeup of a bug or flower, and the focus of say, was on the bugs eyes, but the actual picture showed the bugs' mandibles in focus, that is NOT what I want.

In real life tests, results were exactly as determined by the focusing chart - everything was front focusing. This was particularly bad shooting at distance objects at F1.8 as the subjects would be just out of focus :(

I am really sad, as stopped down, this was the sharpest lens I've ever used on my camera. I really wish I could keep a good version of this, but I'm not going to spend time sending this to Sigma for repairs and stuff.

Tischer also reports similar issues with this lens. Given that I know I'm going to be firing this baby off at F1.8 (if not, why buy a fast lens hey?) the front focus is really a bummer. I'm just going to be exchanging it for a 16-85VR, which is a perfect 24-1xx range. Should be a good stepup from my 18-55VR, which I'll sell with my D40x. Ah well.