Thursday, December 30, 2010

Critics hands-on

SDIM1015, originally uploaded by Marcus++.

Dinner @ TGIF and a friend of mine (who have on numerous occasion criticized my choices on gears such as GXR and DP2) decides to
give the DP2 a hands on.
I set the dp2 to manual which got him irked =) and he took this shot after looking around the dinner table.

Not a bad shot i must say! :-))

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Today i went to office and met two of my colleagues on the hallway. One of them have resigned and will be moving to greener pastures in the coming 2011. So i took the opportunity to shoot some pictures of these two friends, today it seems that their clothes have pretty contrasting colors.





Night shots In Puchong

SDIM0991, originally uploaded by Marcus++.

This is IOI mall, Puchong's Icon and landmark. Puchong is a town in Selangor, Malaysia.
Puchong started to grow around 10 years ago when cheap houses are built to serve the growing population in KL/Selangor. Most of Puchong early houses are built on mining ground which have been landfilled.

Today, Puchong is one of the most vibrant town in Selangor.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Free model shooting

Well since i ain't no "pro" its not easy to go around asking if any ladies would want to have
an album of themselves being produced FOC. On one end i don't mind doing it free as long as
it has to be conducted outdoor since i am very keen on maximizing the DP2/Foveon capabilities.

Here is one volunteer i have, she only wore one set of clothes so there isn't much full size pictures that is suitable at this place (its actually an open carpark on top of a shopping mall). It would be best though to do this on a park or where ample trees and other natural objects could be leveraged on.






Sunday, December 26, 2010


SDIM0839, originally uploaded by Marcus++.

The foveon (as observed in my DP2) performs very well in outdoor where light is abundant. Although that is applicable to all cameras but
there is a unique and realistic quality that the Foveon produces in broad daylight that other cameras will find it pretty hard to trump.

Its like Superman exposed to the Sun vs Superman in normal light.
In indoor and lowlight, the Foveon is practically unusable without a tripod.

Perhaps all the expectation and physical performance of bayer sensors have dominated us so much so that we tend to enforce its characteristics and performance to something that is totally different in design.

However, whatever it is, Sigma is taking much too long to leverage on the Foveon advantage in low light (or is it really none?) by working with its unique characteristics.

It would be funny if one were to say that Sigma cameras are used for color in outdoors and b&W for indoors and night shots.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Fakes and realism in Adobe editing

In this edition, there is a section where the mum took an image of her daughter looking for acorns and where DCM tries to show how editing that picture helps to improve it.

I read a statement there that i totally disagree with, what happens is that the contributing author in DCM used the clone tool and "removed" a distracting branch. He goes on to say that "while this might sound like cheating, its no difference and easy to remove  the branch when the photo was taken" (paraphrased since i can't recall the exact words but this is the exact meaning).

The picture after editing shows the branch "vanish" as though as it was broken at that part. Using this logic, one can also adobe in say Brad Pitt and say the same thing like "well we could have invited Brad Pitt and the image would have him there anyway".

I find such statements contrary to what real photography should be about, taking a shot of what is real and presenting it to others with the intention of imparting emotion. But once you "fake it" the image no longer carry credibility nor deserved to be evaluated like one.

christmas @ hgc 2010

christmas @ hgc 2010

christmas @ hgc 2010, originally uploaded by Marcus++.

This is my cousin's 2nd child. I took the opportunity to try out taking a shot on her without tripod on the dp2 for indoor not-so-good lighting. You can see i have to do this elbow over shoulder technique to provide stabilization. The image you see of me is actually a mirror on the wall.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Black & White

Often working with B&W is a serious field of photography by itself. I have heard of individuals who sells off all their tools and focus just now B&W.
To these people B&W represent a visual form of photography that portrays the subject in the clearest manner possible.
While i don't agree on these lines since being an IT guy, technology improvement such as the existence of colors should be fully used and the world would be a dead boring place if its B&W, i do love the idea of certain photographs being B&W, particularly night shots where colors are faded and obscure.

The brotherhood


This is Khek Loong. A friend i met since i was 16 in AMC Ampang. He will be going back to
China to work under a HK company. Good future i would say and definitely a chance for his
family to further explore China and its beautiful landscape.
There is one comment his wife made what got me thinking, "In china you feel safer when you walk on the streets than in Malaysia". Has the local security here gone so bad that our own people going
to places with human rights issues like China feels even safer?

This image is taken on a dp2 with a gorilla pod that is clinging to my high back chair. Indoor light is considered low and the shooting speed reaches around 1//6 seconds.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

T-One workshop

I always wanted to take some photos of Ah Yan workshop but just didn't have right time and factor to do it until now. Today i had to fetch a colleague of mine to fix his car and since i am into photography lately, i took these 2 shots.


Ah Yan is quite well built and started off the business after learning the trade at a very early age. He is a believer in Jesus and tries hard to make a decent living thru his workshop and competitive pricing of fixes. His workshop is situated in Ampang, near the new industrial area and just 2 minutes drive from Pandan Indah.


Ah Yan mentioned that all his workers are foreigners, this is because its hard to hire any locals who are interested in this trade anymore. This means within the next 5 years, we shall see foreigners dominating this labor intensive job.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Collegues @ Work


This is Izzat. He is always the one who stays back after working hours. Often when you need someone to chat with at night and the jam is bad, you can count on someone like Izzat. His knowledge of what is cool and what is not is wide and he is generous to share his views.


JK is the guy you look for when you have a technical problem. He has a unique characteristic of remaining calm and in my 7 years of working with him, i have never once seen him "lose it".

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kanching Hutan Lipur

This areas is just slightly above Templar's park. One important note is that
when you do the "u" turn to turn into the road, do NOT turn into the small road on the left, its pretty dangerous to drive from the u turn to the left path because of the short distance.

Instead drive into the Shell Station a few hundred meters in front and behind the shell station there is a road that you can join back to that left path.

Just walk up the concrete path and you will reach this place. I took this shot using a small 20cm tripod positioned on a rock and set a slower shutter speed.

Kanching Falls @ Malaysia
Here is the entrance to the concrete path that will lead you to the picture above.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Mastering the Shakes

DP2 main issue is that there is no image stabilization. DP2 main strength is the Foveon seated in its heart.
The fun thing about DP2 is that you no longer have the urge to snap thousands of photos, a luxury that the GXR offers me, but that each shot in DP2 have to be done precisely and with some thoughts...and post processing.

I took this shot while leaning my hands on my knee in a seated position, a satisfactory result but a tripod would have given a much clearer shot.

Grandma's hand
Taking the photo of a different view and parts instead of the face and normal portrait results in totally different feel to the photo.

Read more about these techniques here : how-to-avoid-camera-shake

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sigma DP2 (Part II) - My gears ...

I got myself the DP2 after reading about the Foveon sensor image quality. I must admit i have a soft spot for underdogs company that tried to produce outstanding and innovative products. When i found a really good offer by a camera reseller in Pudu Plaza (KL, Malaysia), i reasoned that since the 28 mm A12 GXR won't be available here for sometime, i might as well use my budget and try out this camera.

Here is how it looks like when unboxed. It comes with the standard stuff on usb cables, batteries and the Sigma PhotoPro software.

I got mine with an extra batteries and a hood adapter for the price around USD 650. I didn't even use the cd provided since i know there must be many revisions since the packaged was shipped to this reseller. In fact when i checked the camera's firmware it is 1.00. Obviously Sigma camera presence in Malaysia is very very weak and i only found out about this DP2 a year later after it was launched...from the internet.

Brand new

Now to cut short the unboxing story, i upgraded the firmware to 1.05 which is the latest at this point and the camera initial impression was "The autofocus, and lcd screen is so outdated in performance".
After weeks of playing with it and religiously reading other owners blogs and reviews and tips i concluded the following rules on using DP2 :

1. It can actually perform VERY well in lowlight, you just needed a TRIPOD. So get yourself a gorilla pod or those minipod (yeap DP2 is so light that these small tripods can work). Alternative somekind of beanbag can work too. I also tried using techniques on holding cameras without shaking and worked pretty ok.
You can read more about those techniques here : 6 Techniques on holding camera

Updated 4th January 2011
Get a mecablitz 20 c-2 external flash. This flash is small and its support tilting and enables you to
angle the flash to the ceiling. With this flash you just select either 2.8 or the 5.6 markings on the flash and use the 2 same aperture on your system. You can get very good images, there is just no two way about
it, either use a tripod or use an external flash. You set to manual and set the shutter speed to say 1/60 at least and be amazed of how nice your shots looks like in low light.

2. You will need 2 batteries. It can only shoot up to 100 images before it runs dry and that pretty fast. Sometimes i shot just up to 40 images and it runs out if i spend too much time viewing it via the LCD.

3. For anything less that 1 meter in broad daylight, use ISO 50 . You will see how beautiful and clear portraits are in DP2, thanks to the Foveon sensor.

4. Street photography is very good if its outdoor and fill with sunlight. Set manual focus to slightly over 5 meter and set F to 5.6.

5. As mentioned by many users, shoot only in RAW and use the SPP software to process it. I use a class 10 card and have no problem shooting all the way doing street photography style.

6. Do not set ISO over 400. Its really not usable for color photos. For B&W photography however, you can set ISO up to 3200.

7. Its pretty easy to do HDR photography. Click on the OK button and the up arrow until it reaches 2.7 or 3.0 (the display on the upper left) and then just click once. It will take 3 photos on +- the exposure you set just now and you just need an HDR software to do it. I personally find HDR overrated especially those that leans towards the "fake" look. Whats the point of creating a photo that loses all its realism? A good HDR would be to make the photo clear and have good details in the EV combined, it should look real

Here is a PSEUDO HDR, done via just a single picture.


Here is how a real HDR looks like


As you can see, there really isn't much saturation nor those CGI looking stuffs on it, just
better contrast combined due to the 3 diff exposures.

Now carrying the DP2 around is easy, I got myself a waist/slingbag to hold the hold, a tripod and an extra battery. All these fit into a relatively small pouch/sling bag that makes it my travel companion.

DP2, Tripod, Hood, +1 extra battery fits here

Although the GXR pouch is even smaller, the DP2 pouch is larger because i put in a mini tripod.

A mini tripod like this one is a MUST for DP2

In subsequent posting i will be sharing mostly on further discoveries, photos on the DP2 and GXRs.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My gears: the Ricoh GXR and the Sigma DP2

There are two parts to this introduction of my selected gears and the reasons behind each of them.
Its my hope that those who read it will acquire some honest sharing of information on these cameras and their usability in day to day life. I am not a professional photographer, just someone who wants the most quality of out life in photography and true to life shots.

Part I : Ricoh GXR, The interchangeable modules system

I purchased the Ricoh GXR around September 2010 and after the November 2010 firmware update the camera is excellent. You can read some popular reviews by famous online reviewers, here is one of them that i find accurate and reflects the same thoughts i have on it.

Ricoh GXR 50mm A12, P10

Why a GXR ?

First off, if you are looking for a compact that delivers DSLR results, at this point of writing i would say there is no better choice than the GXR or the X1. The APS-C sensor size in the GXR 50mm and 28mm trumps the 4/3 and other compacts any day.

With the GXR, you are not limited to whatever lens, it uses the concept of modules and each modules comes with its own sensor. Needless to say i have weighted the pros and cons to this and at the end of the day its the "practicality" and objective that won.

The objective to always keep in mind is : convenience, compact, dslr quality.  I want to shoot if possible "AUTO" all the time and i want DSLR quality.

So now, the GXR you just need 2 modules, the 50 mm and the 28 mm, unfortunately at this point of writing i only have the 50 mm A12 (APS-C) and the P10 (cmos small sensor) since Malaysia don't have stocks on the 28 mm yet.

I know the agony of carrying a DSLR while traveling with family and of which i will frequently need to carry my daughter during those heavy walking. During November i visited Taiwan for the flora expo and i got the GXR specifically for this reason and future trips.

Did it work out? You bet. It was perfect. I was carrying 2 module lens with the GXR is a small pouch, i would say its around 40% smaller than my standard DSLR which i already chosen the smallest possible to hold the prime and the kit lens. Swapping the modules was super fast and i could do it easily unlike changing lens on my nikon.

Here are some example shots, totally straight from the camera.

Night market Fuzhong@Taipei
Elite shopping mall @ taipei

A note on the shot above, the 50mm A12 does not comes with stabilizer and i have a big problem on using any cameras with no image stabilizers, that is because i have a natural "tremor" on my hands since birth, but surprisingly the results was very good.

There is one thing on the Ricoh that exceeds all other cameras i've tried and that includes the fuji compacts and canikons dslrs. The UI or user interface on the Ricoh is exceptional. I would go so far as to say that the UI is near perfect in practical use, the buttons and menus are all exactly where and how a person would use it in most situations.

You will need 2 batteries. The GXR don't last anywhere near a Nikon DLSRs in terms of batteries endurance and number of shots. I have my 2nd battery that has labels that its meant for the Fuji cameras and with 1800ma (the original is 1700 ma). That backup battery cost me around USD 30.


Most objections about the GXR centralize on the issue that changing the module is changing the sensor also and its like changing a camera and its expensive. Although the modules are expensive but most reviewers overlooked a significant point : The body is cheap to change!

What happen if you buy something like the 4/3 system, u get stuck with the body but u get to buy relatively cheaper lenses, but 2 years later some new supa-dupa-omaled screen comes out and then what, you buy the new body but turns out the body new sensor works better with some "Z" series of lenses (GF1 users wishing their body is more compact like the GF2?, ouch...thats another USD 700).

With the GXR, the body is much cheaper to change, its like USD 300 only and Ricoh gets to release a new body with cooler and better technology and yet all your modules will work as is!
A Kinect enabled camera? No problem get the new GXR body with Kinect and your modules works as is. A body with lcd projector, the list goes on. The situation and potential as you can see, is unlimited.
The quality of the 50mm and 28mm is so high that unless our eyes or world suddenly becomes more defined, 5 years down the road, those 2 modules will still produce what it produces today, great results.

As for the price of the modules being the downside, yes and no. What would you u pay for an upper dslr quality fix prime lines that performs better than entry level Dslrs, minus the size and maintenance required?

I don't work for Ricoh nor am i in anyway associated with Ricoh. (the kinect example is exaggerated but its exciting to think of it...)

In the next posting, i would write about the Sigma DP2, how to use it effectively and whats is the amazing thing about that camera.

I got the DP2 after i got the GXR. Someone ask, if the GXR is so complete, why did i get the DP2?
Kindly read the upcoming post.