Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Phottix Atlas Trigger

For a long time, PocketWizard has being known as the top best wireless trigger-maker in the photography scene, particularly with their ultra popular PocketWizard Plus II™ transceiver.

PocketWizard Plus II

Until recently, Hong Kong-based company Phottix, announced the brand new Atlas Professional Wireless Flash Trigger (CE 433 MHz version) which incidentally looks very similar in design with the Plus II. Remote shutter release is also possible but you will need to purchase an optional 10-pin shutter-release cable.

© Phottix

Phottix Atlas Features

  • Use as wireless flash, studio trigger or shutter release
  • Automatically switches to transmit or receive mode when attached to a camera or flash, and triggers flashes
  • A hot shoe port (for speedlights w/o PC-sync terminal ) and PC Sync port for attaching flashes and strobes
  • Sync Speed: Up to 1/250 sec. (On compatible cameras / flashes)
  • 4-channel
  • Shoot from 100+ meters away (or longer, depending on actual shoot condition)
  • Simultaneously trigger cameras, flashes, and studio strobes with a single remote
  • Equipped with a two-color status LED
  • Uses two AA Batteries or DC power port 
  • Accessories include locking PC-sync, 3.5mm, 1/4″ mini plug, batteries and lanyard


3.5mm connections

Metal hot-shoe (You can also put another brand of wireless flash trigger on the hotshoe to trigger a different set of remote flashes in sync with the Atlas remotes.

Utilizes two AA's batteries

1/4" screw mount

Phottix Atlas + Canon 5D mark II (front)

Phottix Atlas + Canon 5D mark II (back)

Ease of operation, works flawlessly combined with great design and superb performance at only 70% price of the PocketWizard Plus II's, it's really hard to beat this kind of benchmark.

Friday, September 16, 2011

DSLR Speaker?

Couldn't resist the temptation when I came across this on eBay and bought it straight away. This is basically a 1:1 Canon 7D + 24-105mm replica speaker model that can be paired up with any mobile phones (including iPhone/iPod!) or mp3 devices with the included standard 3.5mm jack plug.

Original packaging
SD/USB/mini USU/3.5mm jack/DC
Got a remote control too!

Runs on 4 x AAs

Cover cap for the body when lens is removed

Alternate view (left)

Alternate view (right)

Various standard playback/pause/rewind/forward buttons

Lens (speaker) detached
Frontal view

Along side by side with an Olympus E3 + 12-60mm
Sound quality wasn't that great but it sure looks a whole lot better and more unique than any other mp3 speakers!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Canon Lens Code

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM II © dzignous

Canon have an unique way of documenting their lens manufacturing dates. Looking at the back (mount) of the lenses is a six-digit code, which indicates where and when the specific lens was manufactured.
E.g. - "UY1112"

The first letter 'U' represents the factory that made the lens:

  1. U = Utsunomiya
  2. F = Fukushima
  3. O = Ōita

The second letter 'Y' represent the year of manufacture:

    •    A = 1986, 1960
    •    B = 1987, 1961
    •    C = 1988, 1962
    •    D = 1989, 1963
    •    E = 1990, 1964
    •    F = 1991, 1965
    •    G = 1992, 1966
    •    H = 1993, 1967
    •    I = 1994, 1968
    •    J = 1995, 1969
    •    K = 1996, 1970
    •    L = 1997, 1971
    •    M = 1998, 1972
    •    N = 1999, 1973
    •    O = 2000, 1974
    •    P = 2001, 1975
    •    Q = 2002, 1976
    •    R = 2003, 1977
    •    S = 2004, 1978
    •    T = 2005, 1979
    •    U = 2006, 1980
    •    V = 2007, 1981
    •    W = 2008, 1982
    •    X = 2009, 1983
    •    Y = 2010, 1984
    •    Z = 2011, 1985

The next two digits represent the month of the lens is manufactured. The last two digits are for internal Canon use. Thus the 16-35mm f2.8 L USM II (UX0903) shown was made in Utsunomiya, Japan factory in Sep 2009.

So the next time when you like to know how "old" is the 2nd hand Canon lenses that you are going to buy, take a look here for some general reference.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

[PS] Carbon Fiber DSLR

Since film time to recent digital age , all top camera/lens models are make of either magnesium alloy/titanium or polycarbonate for entry-level models.

Nikon D3X

Canon 5D Mark II

Olympus E3

Sony A900

However, in terms of looks and durability, carbon fiber might seem to be a good choice too. Some enthusiastic (including me... hee...) had already used carbon fiber vinyl decals to gaffer their prized collection and the final result looks really good.

3M Carbon Fiber Vinyl

© dzignous

If only there is a real carbon-fiber DSLR/lens and I believe it will look damn fantastic! Agree?

© dzignous

© dzignous

[Vid] Photo stolen. Pay me!

Something all photographers that can relate to...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Photoshop or not?

Some might think that an image which had undergo photoshop (PS) treatment is not a "real" photograph. And there's even a small portion which will say that film is the only true and "non-processed" image. However they forgot that from developing of negative to print out, certain degree of touch-up (lightness/contrast/saturation) had already being applied during the process. B/W developing involving dodging and burning which are also part of "processing". Same goes for digital jpeg images.

Photoshop-ing is more essential for digital images as CCD/CMOS sensor does not have the same dynamic range as silver halide prints yet (newer full-frame DSLR have better DR).

One best solution will be to shoot RAW as that will ensure all information to be intact and can be further tweak to own liking. What matters most is to present one very own interpretation of their final piece be it whether the image had undergone PS treatment or not.

Digital processing is also part of photography fun and I totally dig it!

Hong Kong © dzignous

Hong Kong © dzignous

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Players in DSLR market

Major players in the market now consist of Canon, Nikon, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Olympus, Pentax and maybe Leica (niche market).

However, Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Samsung have the biggest advantage among all as they have the CCD/CMOS sensor-making technology.

© Canon

Canon -
With more than 70 years of experiences, Canon held the biggest pie with their ultra-successful EOS cameras and tons of superior EF/EFS lenses. They were once the ONLY brand with the highest megapixel full-frame DSLR system (1Ds -11mp, 1Ds Mark 2 -16mp, 1Ds Mark 3 -21mp) after Contax and Kodak dropped from the market, but was de-throned by Sony in 2008 after they introduced A900 (24.6mp) and subsequently the Nikon D3X (24.5mp).

© Sony

Sony - 
Supplier of sensors for many brands (including Nikon!), Sony is fast catching up after the merging with the failing Konica/Minolta camera division along their anti-shake (the FIRST in-camera anti-shake system in a DSLR) technology. From the very first APS-C A100 to full-frame A900/A850, the recent NEX/SLT cameras also helps Sony grabbing more shares than ever.

© Nikon

Nikon -
The world's no. 2 player had one of the longest history and famed for its legacy F-mount (you can even use a 1950s lens for your D7000!). Although they were late in entering the full-frame market with the legendary D3 in 2008, lots were re-written in history.
  • First ever camera to hit ISO 12800
  • Noise-less ISO 6400 images
  • The only full-frame camera to be able to use both FX and DX lenses
  • First 3 inch VGA LCD with 307,000 pixels (922,000 dots)
  • Camera grip and body style designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and lots more

© Panasonic

Panasonic -
Panasonic enters the market with their Lumix 4/3 system,  DMC-L1 and follow up with newer micro 4/3 cameras such as G, GH and GF series. 

© Olympus

Olympus - 
Designed from ground up, Olympus and Kodak pioneered the open-format Four Thirds system and the very first E1 was introduced in Nov 2003. Their initial marketing concept was to have smaller sensor size so as to make possible smaller, lighter camera bodies and lenses. However small sensors suffered from various problems like lower dynamic range, noise, limited shallow DOF etc.

The size and weight of their flagship camera bodies (E1, E3, E5) were not having obvious advantages over other brands. Thus in 2008, Olympus and Panasonic finally introduced the Micro Four Thirds system (MFT), reliving their very first aim of creating a small, light system with the benefits of having interchangeable lens and easy controls for point-and-shoot users to upgrade from their compact cams.

Following the success with the EP/EPL/G/GH/GF series, both manufacturers began to chunk out newer MFT models and lenses. Four-third system looks set to RIP soon.

© Sony

Nevertheless, Sony NEX, Samsung NX series (mirror-less cams), both using APS-C sensors (bigger than MFT) and the rumored Canon/Nikon similar concept cameras look set to be a tough competitors to the MFT as the bigger sensors still have the obvious advantages. 

Not long in the future, we should be able to see more similar small mirror-less cameras in the market and probably one that comes with a full-frame sensor.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Design of Nikon D3

Some interesting facts about Nikon DSLR body design:
The 12mp D3 sparks a new era as it marks the very first full-frame DSLR in Nikon's history.

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiar, (Italian automobile designer) who is also responsible for the F3, F4, F5, F6 and D2H/D2X. 

© Nikon

The above image (which was also featured in Nikon D3 product brochure) shows various prototypes that influenced the final D3 design. 

© Nikon

Upon a closer look, "D2H" was the initial designation for this new body design. This probably shows that Nikon had already planned for a full-frame body since 2003!

Another side note, the "red swoosh" below the mode dial and red vertical line on grip (previous models) was Giorgetto's "signature" on Nikon cameras. According to him, the rational behind the "red swoosh"  is just for aesthetic purposes.

© Nikon
© Nikon

 Below is a brief interview of Giorgetto Giugiar on the development of Nikon D3 design:


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Photography is getting easier

© dzignous

Photography is getting easier. 
No more worries about:
  • Camera shake: There's IS/VR even for pathetic short focal length
  • Low-light situation: With astronomical ISO values up to 51200
    (able to shoot at 1/125 in pitch-dark places)
  • Price: DSLR pricing on-par with compact cams
    (less than S$800 for body+lens)
  • Storage space: Memory cards with up to 64gb space
    (and cheap too with 133x 8gb CF/SD card that cost only S$30)
  • Capturing action: Scary up to 10fps fast frames capture
    (even up to 30fps in bridge cameras)
  • Poster size print-out: APS-C DSLR hitting 20mp, Full-frame reaching 30mp
    (CMOS having low-noise and lower power consumption than CCD)
  • Still and videos: Full HD video function in almost every cameras
    (1920 x 1080 @30/24/fps)
  • Accessories: Tons of on-line/shops selling everything you need
    (From eyecup, straps, batteries and even vertical grip)

So what's hard about photography?
  • Knowing and applying the basic: ISO? Aperture? Shutter speed?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Street Candids Shoots

Singapore © dzignous
Candid or street-shooting is one of the most fun and satisfying genre of photography. You can use any focal length that you wish, from telephoto to wide angle or even with just a standard prime lens (50mm). However smaller cameras like the Olympus/Panasonic Micro 4/3 or Sony NEX cams, will be less obtrusive than a DSLR with big lenses. Whatever your equipment are, you have to react immediately to seize any spontaneous moments.

Other than trial and error and some luck, you can try some of the following tips for better results:

1) Go Public
More people means more photo opportunities and you are also less likely to stand out in busy places.

2) Seize the Moment
Always have your camera ready in your hands, finger on the shutter button.

3) Blend in 
Avoid drawing attention to yourself and do what everyone else is doing. Draw camera to your eye at the last moment.

4) Shoot Low
Apart from getting unusual pic angles, many people won't notice that you are shooting them when you shoot from hip. Using a wide-angle lens and stopping down the aperture (> f/5.6) helps to get most of your subjects in the frame. Cams with articulated LCD proven to be very effective too (e.g. Olympus E3/E5, Nikon D5100, Canon 600D/60D).

5) Keep it Simple
Don't fumble with different settings or changing lenses to avoid missing any shots. Shoot in 'P' or 'A' mode and let the camera do the work, venture into manual mode when you are absolutely familiar with metering.

Guang Zhou © dzignous

Shanghai © dzignous

Shanghai © dzignous

Bangkok © dzignous

Shanghai © dzignous

Moments is what matters.

Nevertheless, respect anyone who doesn't wish to have their photographs taken.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Basic Food Photography

© dzignous

Have you ever flipped through some magazine and saw mouth-watering food pics that you wished that you can do the same?

Possible, with some preparation of simple tools, food styling and esp. with the advantage of getting instant results from your digital cameras...

Basically you will need a light tent of min. size 40cm x 40cm or strobes with umbrella, tongs and gloves for handling food.

  1. Theme - Select a suitable theme for your food to emphasize the mood of the shot
  2. Extras - Food shots won't necessarily work alone, bring some accessories like napkin, cups etc.
  3. Simplified - The more complicated your set, the more things can go wrong.
  4. Mix light - Use a combination of natural light + 2nd flash light to get optimal pleasing results.
  5. White balance - Shoot RAW and adjust accordingly to the theme of the job requires.
  6. Avoid Fakes -  Try to shoot food straight out from kitchen for the fresh and real feel (90% cooked).
    After everything ends, you get to eat the food too!

© dzignous