Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Friday, September 4, 2009


Thursday, August 27, 2009


tiny water-drop on the surface of a dvd disc. background color was obtained by varying the angle of light coming from a desk lamp. you can see the reflection of the lamp on the droplet. just a test shot to try out macro by reverse-coupling 2 lenses together.

past attempt at capturing the rainbow hues on a disc surface: a slice of rainbow

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


just noticed that i skipped the whole month of july without posting anything, and about to pull the same stunt with august as well. so... in the interest of not letting this blog die (does anyone even visit anymore?), let's dig up some old photos that i haven't posted before.

sorry, photographer's block :p - no inspirations lately. i hope none of my lenses started sprouting precious fungi yet...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009


personal favorite from this year's penang floral fest photos. currently using this as my screen wallpaper.

also, this is the first outing with the teleplus mc7 2x macro teleconverter + smcp-m 50mm f1.7 lens combo - after a few months of owning these. i'm guilty of under-utilising my lenses...

Monday, June 8, 2009


penang floral fest 2009
@penang botanical garden
may 31st - june 7th, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009


penang floral fest 2009
@penang botanical garden
may 31st - june 7th, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009


penang floral fest 2009
@penang botanical garden
may 31st - june 7th, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


penang floral fest 2009
@penang botanical garden
may 31st - june 7th, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

orange gerberas

penang floral fest 2009
@penang botanical garden
may 31st - june 7th, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009


penang floral fest 2009
@penang botanical garden
may 31st - june 7th, 2009

more pics to come...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

vivitar series 1 70-210mm

photo: side-by-side comparison, front. komine's on left, kiron's on right.

the vivitar series 1 line of lenses are considered as high-end third party lenses back when they were introduced to the market, and commands a premium price back then. the 70-210mm macro-focusing telephoto zoom lens is probably the most popular zoom lens in the series. vivitar did not manufacture their own lenses and instead hired other manufacturers to build all the lenses according to their specifications. over the life of the 70-210mm series 1 zoom lens, vivitar changed the manufacturers many times, and with each shift, a different variations of the lens design was introduced.

generally, the 3rd edition by komine is the most sought-after version of the series 1 70-210mm zoom in the used market, and on the whole fetches a higher price compared to the other versions. also, the komine's has a much shorter production runs compared to the kiron's, so the kirons' are generally available for sale regularly on evilbay while the komine's only pops up once in a while and usually goes for upwards of 50usd before postage. the 2nd edition by tokina is also not seen much, but whenever they came up for sale, they usually ends pretty low anyway. i wouldn't bother with any of the versions made by cosina (4th editions onwards), unless you're just looking to complete your collections of all the variants...

photo: vivitar series 1 70-210mm f2.8-4.0, 3rd edition by komine.

vivitar series 1 70-210mm f2.8-4.0, 3rd edition
focal length: 70-210mm
aperture range: 2.8 - 4.0 to 22
aperture blades: 8
min. focus distance: 0.8m (@100-210mm range only)
max. magnification: 1:2.5
construction: 14 elements in 10 groups
weight: 860g
filter size: 62mm
mount: nikon ai-s (also available in various other mounts)
serial #: 28511548
manufacturer: komine
purchase price: 17.78 usd (+ 36 usd shipping & handling)
other notes: with dedicated soft case

photo: vivitar series 1 70-210mm f3.5, 1st edition by kiron.

vivitar series 1 70-210mm f3.5, 1st edition
focal length: 70-210mm
aperture range: 3.5 (constant) to 22
aperture blades: 6
min. focus distance: ~2.0m (+ special macro setting)
max. magnification: 1:2.2
construction: 15 elements in 10 groups
weight: 879g
filter size: 67mm
mount: nikon f (also available in various other mounts)
serial #: 22430583
manufacturer: kiron (kino precision)
purchase price: n/a (refunded due to fungus present)

photo: side-by-side comparison, vertical. komine's on left, kiron's on right.

the komine version weights almost the same as the kiron version, but in actual use, the smaller size of the komine version makes a lot of difference in terms of ease of handling. The zoom barrel of the komine's also slides along much smoother compared to the kiron's - i was actually a little worried that i might damage the nikon-canon adapter from all the force needed when pulling the zoom ring forward on the kiron's. both version do not suffer from 'zoom creep' (the situation where the zoom/focusing barrel slides down under its own weight when pointing the lens upwards or downwards), which is a good thing.

  photo: barrel markings and close-focus/macro settings. komine's on left, kiron's on right.

the kiron version focuses up to around 2m close in normal mode, but it has a separate macro mode that brings objects into focus much closer. to engage this macro mode, first pull the zoom ring to the 210mm position, then press the white button on the 'wings' flanking the barrel and twist the barrel until the yellow 'macro' line is aligned with the red dot. The lens should slide easily into the macro position when done correctly, so do not try to force it if it's not turning and check whether you're doing it correctly (zoom ring at 210mm position and press white button). in this macro mode, focusing is done by sliding the zoom ring inwards or outwards. maximum magnification is at 1:2.2 at the 70mm position. to revert back to normal mode, just reverse the whole procedure and twist the barrel to align the white 'normal' line to the red dot. a common mistake by many is to forget (or simply not knowing) to set the lens to normal mode, and then wonders why the lens will not focus to infinity. there's also another red line in-between the white and yellow line, which is the infrared index marking.

in contrast, the komine version do not employ any special macro mode. instead, it can focus all the way up to 0.8m close, although this is mechanically restricted to only within the 100-210mm range. maximum magnification is achieved at 210mm at 1:2.5, which is slightly less than the kiron's. however, the ease of not having to engage any special macro mode more than made up the slight decrease in max magnifications. also noteworthy is that the max magnification on komine's is achieved at the long end (210mm), while the kiron's at the short end (70mm) - so while the komine's provide longer working distance, the kiron's is probably easier to shoot hand-held and in tight settings. the komine's additionally has dof scales marked on its barrel.

photo: side-by-side comparison, perspective. komine's on left, kiron's on right.

a quick way to identify the various editions for prospective buyers: the first 3 editions all have rubber grips with the grid-textured pattern on the zoom ring, while the 4th editions onwards have smooth rubber ring with huge 'series 1' letterings engraved onto it. as for the first 3 editions, only the 1st edition (kiron's) has a 67mm filter size; the other two take 62mm filters. of course, if you know how the dfferent barrels look like, it's easy enough to identify from there as well - the 1st edition has the distinctive 'wings' not present on other versions. else, another easy way is to just check the serial numbers. all these 3 editions follow the old vivitar serial number codings, where serial numbers starting with '22's are kiron's a.k.a 1st edition, '37's are tokina's a.k.a 2nd edition, and '28's are komine's a.k.a 3rd edition. the unwanted ones' are '09's - cosina's.

personally, my favorite is the 3rd edition by komine, mainly because it's much easier to handle compared to the kiron's. the close-up feature, at 1:2.5 magnifications at 210mm is also very useful for close-up shots outdoors. however, despite all the hypes surrounding the 3rd edition, i don't think the image quality is all that great anyway - but that's probably due to me being used to the better qualities from prime lenses, which is not really fair to compare between them. also, the kiron's, despite the fungus infestations inside, produces sharper pictures in close-up modes compared to the komine's. i've no experience with the cheap modern autofocus telephoto zooms (e.g. the 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 from either sigma or tamron), so i can't compare whether the vivitars are any better or worse comparatively, but remember, the vivitars are much faster lenses with the larger maximum apertures.

>> mark robert's site

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photo: setup shot.

setup shot for future reference. minolta program 4000af right at 1/4 power, with wide panel attachment firing off a white reflector. canon 420ez front left at 1/4 power, snooted, with straw grid attached in front, and further diffused thru a thin piece of tissue. both flash triggered via yongnuo ctr-301. not a very good setup as evident from the results, but i currently do not have anything (light stand, tripod etc.) that can be used to hold the flash in proper desired positions (e.g. top/overhead etc.), so i can only put them on the table...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

morning ray

Saturday, April 25, 2009

rise and shine

Saturday, April 4, 2009

glass reflection in red and blue

setup: pentax af200sa direct from the rear, red and blue corrugated plastic boards as background.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

modding yongnuo ctr-301 flash trigger for 420ez speedlite

so i've finally received my new yongnuo ctr-301 wireless flash trigger set today. i've ordered a set of 1x transmitter and 2x receiver from a hong kong based supplier, which arrived in less than a week via registered airmail. total damage: 40usd. the package has actually been sitting at the local post office for a few more days because i was too lazy to drive all the way from my workplace to collect it, so i waited for the weekend instead.

so here's the bad news: the trigger appears to have problem working with my ancient 420ez speedlite. setting the shutter speed at 1/200s, which is the max sync speed of my cam, i get dark images - the flash appears to have a lag and only fires long after the shutter have closed. after a couple more tests with different shutter speeds, i can conclude that the trigger only managed to sync correctly at up to 1/30s max. 1/30s??! this is pretty much useless for handheld shots, and not what i bought it for. uh...

i dug out my pentax af200sa flash for a quick comparison, and indeed, the af200sa managed to consistently sync at 1/200s. so this is certainly an issue with the 420ez flash. compatibility issue? well, the product actually listed 420ez as being one of the compatible models, so...

test subject: canon 420ez speedlite and pentax af200sa flash mounted on the receivers, with the transmitter on canon eos 450d. at 1/30s, both flashes are firing correctly.

upping the speed to 1/40s, it now appears from the resulting image that only the af200sa is firing. note the small red dot in the picture, which is an l.e.d glow and indicates that the receiver on the 420ez is actually receiving the transmitter signal as well. i can also confirm visually that the 420ez did indeed fire, but slightly later than the af200sa - which explains why the 420ez flash did not show up in the image. uh... this is not good.

a quick googling managed to turn up some pretty useful info on this issue. apparently i'm not the only one discovering that this trigger model can only manage 1/30s max with the 420ez speedlite. some users reported that the flash can succesfully sync at 1/200s by using freshly charged batteries, and only starts showing problem after a hundred plus shots, when the batteries voltage gets lower. well, no luck for me here - my set of freshly charged maha imedion 2100mAh batteries still fails to make the camera sync faster than 1/30s.

another observation is that if i discharge the flash successively using the test button until the ready lamp on the flash turns to green instead of red (indicating that the flash is still charging and have not reached full capacity), i can succesfully get 1/200s sync speed, but after the ready lamp turns red again, the same sync issue crops up again. interesting...

fortunately, there's another suggested workaround for this, which involves a small modification to the receiver unit. so, let's get on with it.

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there are 4 screws that need to be removed to open up the receiver casing. the wires connecting to the hotshoe are socketed and can be disconnected. the 'faceplate' is held in place using double-tapes and need to be pried off if you want to separate the 2 parts of the casing (not really necessary for this mod), else do not bother.

here, i'm making a temporary wiring by wrapping one end of a short wire to the negative battery terminal, and the other end is fixed to the hotshoe ground plate by attaching the wire to one of the small screws holding the hotshoe in place. this makes the mod reversible easily if needed, but for reliability it is better to solder down the wires. i'm just too lazy to dig out my old solder gun, plus i don't know if it even works anymore after many years unused.

and... that's it. just a minor mod. tuck the wire aside nicely, close up the casing and replace all the screws and it's now ready for testing again. what does the wire do anyway? well, it appears from various user reports that the trigger is mainly having issue with flashes that have very low trigger voltages, and the wire mod is bypassing a rectifier onboard which has an inherent diode voltage drop.

test firing at 1/200s: success! yay... ^_^.
(ignore the fact that the af200sa flash is not firing instead. idiot me forgot to switch on the receiver on that flash)

disclaimer: try at your own risk. i don't really know if there'll be any damages in the long term. this mod should also work with 430ez/540ez speedlites as well.

the trigger is specified to work up to 1/250s, while my eos 450d can only sync at 1/200s max. how about attempting to work at shutter speeds higher than the rated max? first, at 1/500s - not good, the shutter only managed to open 1/4th before the flash finished firing.

next, at 1/320s. this time we're getting close to 2/3rd of the sensor exposed.

now at 1/250s. only a small black band is visible at the bottom of the image, which can be removed with a little cropping. so i'd say that 1/250s speed is pretty much usable if you don't mind doing a little post-processing to crop away the bottom of the image.

a note for those looking for cheap old flashes to use for strobist work: the af200sa flash is not useful for this purpose, as there's no manual power control available, plus the head position is fixed. i got it as part of a package for my pentax me super (that's another story), so it really cost me next to nothing. although, considering that it's using a thyristor to automatically sense the flash output and cut off the flash once sufficient lights are available, i'm thinking of modding it by adding a potentiometer in place of the thyristor to provide manual adjustable power control - that is, if i can drag my lazy ass off to get it done.

and, speaking of more mods - the 420ez speedlite has an annoying power-saving feature whereby the flash will go into standby mode after 5 minutes if the flash is not fired or no buttons are pressed, and you'll need to wake it up again by pressing the 'ready' button. and this oh-so-useful feature, which is not useful at all for off-camera works, has no way to be disabled at all. i'm thinking of adding a simple mod to periodically simulate a button press on the 'light' button to prevent the flash from going into standby, since the 'light' buton is the only button that doesn't change any of the flash settings. of course, i can always use the test button on the transmitter to fire off the flash at short intervals, but that still requires manual intervention and frankly is a waste of battery power.

also, yongnuo has apparently released an updated version, ctr-301p, which adds a mono sync port in place of the test button on the receiver. right after i purchased mine, ish... although i don't own any flash with sync port capability, it's still a nice-to-have feature just in case...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

cherry tomatoes

i remember that when i was small, the default/standard way to draw an apple for me will be to draw it with 2 specular highlight spots at the side - one large long-ish spot and another small one. the tomato at the far right of the photo above illustrates this well ^_^.

Sunday, March 15, 2009