How Smart Is Your Right Foot?

8 09 2008

Ni lari dari topik fotografi kejap ye…

Just try this. It is from an orthopedic surgeon………… This will
boggle your mind and you will keep trying over and over again to see
if you can outsmart your foot, but, you can’t. It’s preprogrammed in
your brain!

1. While sitting where you are at your desk in front of your computer,
lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number ‘6’ in the air with your right
Hand. Your foot will change direction.

I told you so!!! And there’s nothing you can do about it! You and I
both know how stupid it is, but before the day is done you are going to
try it, if you’ve not already done so.

Send it to your buddies to
frustrate them too.





Nikon’s updated macro

5 09 2008

Source : The Star

Get up close and personal with Nikon’s updated 60mm Macro lens.

AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8

AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8

NIKON has recently been on the upgrade path for their classic lenses.

For example, last year, the ­venerable 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor was updated with an ­internal focus design, silent AF-S motor, Nano Crystal Coat anti-reflective coating and Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) optical image stabilisation system.

However, with all these additions, the 105mm gained quite a bit of girth over its predecessor, making it even less of a lens you’d chuck into your bag “just in case.”

Well, as expected, Nikon has just updated the other famous Micro Nikkor in its line-up, the 60mm f/2.8, long considered the cheaper (and some say slightly sharper) baby brother of the 105mm.

Just like the 105mm, the 60mm gains all the advantages of Nikon’s new technology (AF-S, internal focusing, Nano Crystal Coat) except one — the 60mm does not have VR.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the 60mm retains nearly the same size and shape as its ­predecessor, i.e. it’s compact, not too heavy and definitely a lens which you can easily stow into your bag without thinking.

Why a macro?

Now if you’ve never used a macro lens before, this is probably a good juncture to talk about why you need one.

Of course, a macro lens is, as the name suggests, a lens for shooting close ups.

For a lens to be considered a macro, it has to be able to reach a magnification ratio of at least 1:1 which means that it will focus close enough to form a life-size image on the image sensor.

Forming a life-size image on the film or sensor plane actually means that when you print or view the image, it will of course be larger than life size.

There’s lots of fun to be had with macro work, as it opens up a whole new world of photography, where even the most mundane objects will take on a new (and often alien) aspect.

However, that’s not all a macro lens is good for — every macro lens on the market is also made so that it will also do double duty as a very sharp portrait lens, great for ­shooting head-and-shoulders portraits.

In old 35mm film format, the range between 80 -100mm is considered a good range for portraits because it produces the most flattering perspective for shooting head-and-shoulders portraits.

In the DSLR world, however, where the crop is 1.5x, the Micro Nikkor 60mm is now a perfect portrait lens as it has the equivalent of 90mm, which falls nicely in the sweet spot of portrait focal lengths.

Performance

Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at what’s new on the 60mm Micro Nikkor.

Since I own the previous version, this is a good opportunity to make a direct comparison between the old and new, and see whether picture quality and performance has gotten better or worse in the newly redesigned 60mm f/2.8.

The AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 features the same standard 62mm filter thread as its predecessor. Note the tiny front element.

SAME BUT DIFFERENT: The AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 features the same standard 62mm filter thread as its predecessor. Note the tiny front element.

The most obvious difference, of course, between the old and new 60mm is the change from ­screw-drive focusing to an all internal-focus Silent Wave motor (AF-S) design, which means that the lens no longer extends out at all as you focus closer.

On the old 60mm the lens ­actually lengthens about an inch or so as you get to the closest focusing distance.

However, the lens-to-subject distance at 1:1 magnification ratio has shortened a little bit compared to the older lens — now your subject is about 4.1cm from the front element at 1:1 where it used to be 6.5cm in the older lens.

This isn’t a good thing since you have to get pretty close to a bug and could potentially scare it off before you can get down to ­shooting.

On the upside, the move to AF-S and internal focusing means that the lens doesn’t make any audible noise so there won’t be any sudden movements on the lens to startle jumpy insects, so it’s a bit of give-and-take here.

The focus travel is a little bit shorter than on the older 60mm — it takes just a 90° turn to go from infinity to the closest focusing distance.

This short travel also has both good and bad points when it comes to autofocus.

While the advantage is that the camera can zip into focus fairly quickly, the main problem I found in use when compared to the older, longer focus travel 60mm is that it’s a little too easy for the camera to zip past the point of focus altogether and not be able to achieve focus at all.

On the older 60mm for example, the long focus travel distance ­­(nearly 180°) for the lens means that the camera is more likely to hit the correct focus simply because there’s a wider area in which the camera will have the subject in focus.

Strangely enough, the opposite is true in manual focus mode — Nikon has geared the manual focus ring such that it takes a whole 180° turn to go from infinity to closest ­focusing distance, which means you really have quite minute control in manual focus mode.

The focus ring also has a very good feel, with just the right amount of resistance to really feel like a manual focus lens of old.

So the conclusion is — when working on macro, you’re better off using manual focus mode.

If you opt for autofocus, however, I found the best way to avoid a lot of hunting is to let the camera ­automatically choose between all available autofocus points (in the D300 that’s 51 areas to choose from, while in the D200 you get up to nine points) so that there’s a higher chance of getting something in focus before you shoot.

1 magnification ratio.

LOOK INTO MY EYES: Macro lenses give you a fresh perspective on common objects - this is how close you can get with the 60mm macro at 1:1 magnification ratio.

After focus you can always move slightly closer or further away from your subject to fine tune where exactly you want to be in focus.

Build quality is top notch — although not built like a tank like its telephoto siblings, the AF-S 60mm Micro Nikkor has a very high quality feel with a good balance of size and weight, something which the overly thick 105mm AF-S VR does not achieve.

Oh yes, there is one other ­problem with AF-S — unlike the older screw-drive version, you cannot use an older mechanically coupled extension tube and use stop-down metering with the new 60mm AF-S.

Instead if you want to get closer you need to buy an extension tube which has the electronic contacts to work with the lens’ electronically controlled aperture.

Picture quality

Autofocus issues aside, the 60mm performed admirably — if anything it is a lot less prone to flare than its predecessor thanks to the Nano Crystal coat.

As far as picture quality in general (as in non-macro) is concerned, both the older 60mm and the new 60mm had very similar levels of sharpness even shooting wide open at f/2.8 or with the aperture stopped down to f/11.

Contrast and exposure accuracy was slightly better with the new 60mm Micro Nikkor, but the ­downside is that the new lens seems to exhibit a little bit of chromatic aberration at the edges of the frame compared with the old 60mm which had almost none.

In macro however, both the old and the new are excellent — other than the slightly closer ­focusing distance, both lenses produced excellent macro shots on an APS-sized camera like the D200.

I didn’t have the opportunity to try it out on a full-frame camera (since I don’t own one) so I could not gauge the performance of the lens in the image area outside of the DX frame.

Conclusion

Should you buy the AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8? Again, the answer is this — if you already own the previous version, then there’s really very little reason to upgrade unless you are enamoured with the Silent Wave motor and the internal focusing (which I am).

However, if you are using a Nikon D40/D40X/D60 or an old manual focus Micro Nikkor and are looking for a relatively affordable macro lens to go with your Nikon DSLR, then the 60mm AF-S is a good buy.

Want more working distance or image stabilisation? Then you’d have to pony up about RM1,000 more for the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED.

Pros: AF-S design means ­whisper-quiet operation; internal focusing so lens does not extend.

Cons: A hint of chromatic ­aberration on the edges of the frame.

AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED

Nikon Corp

Macro lens

Lens construction: 12 elements in 9 groups

Compatible with: DX and FX Nikon DSLRs

Filter thread: 62mm

Maximum f/stop: f/2.8

Minimum f/stop: f/32

Reproduction ratio: 1:1 (life size)

Dimensions: 73 x 89mm

Weight: 425g

Price: RM2,088

Website: http://www.nikon.com.my

Review unit courtesy of Nikon (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, (03) 7809-3688

Zoomer : Mmmm… I might need oneof this superb lense, especially when I’m required to shoot close-ups of my clients’ rings, hantaran, details on their faces, etc. But, since my budget is a bit tight lately, maybe I should hold the thought till… maybe end of the year?





Nikon Flashgun SB-900 – Bigger, better, easier

5 09 2008
Source : The Star
Nikon SB-900

Nikon SB-900

LARGELY lost in the excitement of the Nikon D700 announcement was the new top-of-the-line flashgun from Nikon, the SB-900 which replaces the SB-800 in Nikon’s professional flash lineup.

It’s unfortunate that the SB-900 didn’t receive a lot of hype because this new flashgun has actually undergone some very significant changes since the SB-800 before it.

Out of the box

Since this is a top-of-the-line product, you get a lot for your money — aside from the flashgun itself, you get a filter holder, a flashgun stand and of course a selection of colour filters to balance the flash output with ambient lighting.

The pouch that comes with it is also pretty well thought-out — there’s a little zippered space at the bottom of the pouch to store all the little accessories that are bundled with the flash.

The SB-900 itself is a beast — it’s significantly larger than either the SB-600 and SB-800 — the head is easily nearly twice the size of the head of the SB-800!

On the back, the flash controls have also had a major and very welcome makeover — instead of a few fiddly buttons requiring multiple simultaneous presses to get to various features, you now get more buttons, a rotating power/remote switch and a thumbwheel for navigation.

The menus have also had a redesign — all this makes the SB-900 much easier to pick up and use without reading the manual.

Besides checking out what the large thermometer icon meant in the menus (it shows whether the bulb overheating protection feature is on or not) and the Custom Functions in the manual, I really could pick up and use the SB-900 immediately.

If I have to pinpoint one particular new tweak that I liked the most, I’d say the power switch would be it — instead of a push button, the power switch is now a tiny rotating switch which now combines the “Remote” and “Master” options.

These options used to require ploughing through menus to turn on in the SB-600 and SB-800 and their appearance on the power switch makes it way easier to quickly turn on wireless flash mode on the SB-900 — a mode I use a lot since I like to shoot macro.

The only drawback I have to mention about the power switch is that it could be a little larger — I found that the interlock that prevents you from accidentally switching to Remote or Master mode a little small and fiddly to press.

Oh yes, another tweak worth mentioning is that the flash can now rotate 180° clockwise and anti-clockwise — in both the SB-600 and SB-800 models, the flash could rotate 180° anti-clockwise but only 90° clockwise.

Sounds trivial? Well, anybody used to doing bounce flash will appreciate just how much freedom that extra 90° gives you with the SB-900.

In use

With all the changes on the SB-900, the flashgun is very much improved in terms of general ease-of-use — after five minutes using the flash, I could navigate and change the flash options like a pro, something which I could not do with either the SB-600 nor the SB-800.

Interface and button changes aside, the SB-900 has a host of other new features — for one thing, the SB-900 now recognises whether you’re using a DX or FX Nikon DSLR (i.e. APS-sized or full-frame sensors) and the motorised zoom feature of the flashgun will zoom accordingly.

On the SB-800 apparently, the flashgun will only zoom to the actual focal length of the lens which means the flashgun is actually covering more area (and wasting more power) than needed.

Talking about flash coverage, the SB-900 also introduces totally new flash area distribution modes and you can now choose between standard, centre-weighted (more emphasis on the centre with a gentle light falloff towards the edges of the frame) and even area distribution (for even, across the frame lighting).

This feature means that you can really customise the flashgun’s light just the way you want it although it’s probably going to be a while before users in general really pick up on this.

Another nice touch — the SB-900 can automatically recognise what colour compensation filter you have clipped on to the flash and automatically set the DSLR’s white balance to the correct setting.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, a colour filter is sometimes used on a flashgun so that the colour temperature of the flash matches that of ambient lighting — for example, an orange incandescent filter is used on the flash when you shoot indoors with a lot of incandescent lighting to prevent a situation where the subject lit by the flash is lit by white light while the background has a yellowish tone.

With the filter on and the camera white balance set to incandescent, you get perfectly neutral results, or alternatively with the white balance set on daylight, you’ll get a warmer-hued shot.

Again, this sounds trivial but in practical terms this is a very real problem for people who do use colour compensation filters.

There are a couple of gotchas however — if you’re using a film SLR or a Nikon D100 DSLR or older, you’re out of luck — the SB-900 only supports Nikon’s modern i-TTL (intelligent through-the-lens) flash metering and not the D-TTL modes nor most of the TTL flash metering modes found in film cameras. So if you’re still using one of these cameras you’d better stick to your old flashgun.

Recycling time has also been greatly improved — with the recommended NiMH AA-size batteries, Nikon claims recycling time as fast as about two seconds and in use I found that the SB-900 recycles noticeably faster than either the SB-800 or the SB-600. Yes, and the SB-900 also seems to have gained the MyMenu feature found modern Nikon DSLRs, which allows you to hide less-used menu items from view.

There are also twenty custom functions to choose from (22 if you count the “Info” and “Reset”) so you can customise the behaviour of the flash to your liking.

Conclusion

Even more so than any single product introduced by Nikon lately, the SB-900 is possibly the most revamped — the flash has so many tweaks and feature changes that it makes it a very big step up from the SB-800.

While all the changes make for a really versatile flashgun, the SB-900’s size has also increased quite significantly from the SB-800 so size and weight has become and issue.

That said, the SB-900 is a real joy to use and after this review, I’ll have to save up for one.

Pros: More power; faster recycling time; flashgun head has more positionable angles; better control layout and design.

Cons: Power switch a little small and fiddly to use; bigger and heavier than its predecessors.

SB-900

(Nikon)

TTL flashgun

Guide number: 34 (ISO100, metres)

Flash modes: TTL, Auto Aperture flash, Non-TTL auto flash, Distance-priority manual flash, Manual flash, Repeating flash.

Minimum recycling times: Alkaline-manganese: 4.0 sec, Ni-MH (2,600 mAh): 2.3 sec

Other features: AF assist illuminator, Advanced Wireless Lighting, modeling illuminator, repeating flash

Battery: 4x AA-size

Weight: 415g

Dimensions: 7.8 x14.6 x 11.9mm

Price: RM1,688

Review unit courtesy of Nikon (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, (03) 7809-3688

Zoomer : Since my SB-800 have started giving me headaches for the past couple of months, maybe I should consider changing mine to this more bigger, better & easier gun… And the price is quite reasonable too, considering the multi-benefits that you’ll get from it. Don’t you think so?





Happy 2nd Bithday Nisrina Azureen

1 09 2008

Azureen telah berusia genap 2 tahun pada 16 Ogos yang lalu. Saya dan isteri menempuhi hidup dalam tempoh 2 tahun ini dengan penuh keceriaan, kegembiraan, keterujaan yang sukar untuk dijelaskan dengan kata-kata. Melihat Azureen mengejar kedewasaan dalam tahap waktu yang kadangkala dirasakan teramat pantas, memang kepuasan yang dinikmati tatkala mengiringi setiap langkah kecilnya seolah tiada titik kepuasan. Namun senyumnya, keletahnya, bicaranya yang pelat tapi lancar, tawanya yang mengikik walau tak kelakar, segalanya adalah rindu yang tak pernah padam, yang tak pernah pudar biar sedetik dalam kotak ingatan. Semoga 2 tahun yang bermakna ini akan juga akan memberi seribu pengertian buat azureen, jika tidak sekarang pastinya di masa yang mendatang.

Nisrina Azureen

Nisrina Azureen

Selamat hari lahir sayang. Semoga kita akan terus bahagia begini sepanjang hayat dikandung badan. Terima kasih Tuhan kerana menganugerahkan Azureen pada kami.

Azureen’s Fotopages can ve viewed at http:/azureen06.fotopages.com





Interview – Olivier Föllmi

1 09 2008

Extract from an interview with Gaelle de La Brosse for the magazine Chemins d’etoiles No 7, May 2000, in collaboration with Danielle Föllmi.

Chemins d’étoiles – You discovered Asia at 17 during your first expedition to Afghanistan which triggered off your two passions of photography and the Himalayas. Is it your love for mountains and the desire to share them that attracts you to this type of expression?

Olivier Föllmi – Yes, certainly. In the beginning the passion for summits was a personal passion. I was thirsty to conquer. I wanted to become a high-mountain guide and Asia opened up the new dimension of the human scale to me. I was chasing after the challenge in Europe because mountains are, above all, a playground. In the Himalayas, I was evolving in a life-ground. And it was this life in the mountains that appealed to me.
Photography has become the way to better determine my emotions and especially to share them. When I return, photography allows me to express myself. I’ve always steered clear of language, as words are limited to a vocabulary. Photography, like all the arts, goes beyond that.

Photography by Olivier Follmi

Photography by Olivier Follmi

Chemins d’étoiles – Does photography change your relationship with time and space?

Olivier Föllmi – I feel that in photography time only means something if we want to show a precise moment. I’m not a report, news or documentary photographer. I don’t travel with the eye of an ethnologist either. I don’t want to show how people live. I try to reflect the intensity of a moment shared. And that intensity starts when the notion of time disappears. The more intense the moment the more time seems less important. My photos are therefore timeless. When you’re up on a mountain, at one with nature, the perception of space is modified by the immensity of nature and the feeling of how fragile man is. I like this relationship. And what I find so touching in the Himalayas is this acceptance that there is something bigger, something that can’t be completely dominated.

I wanted to show this dimension through photography, through shadows and light. The contrasts allowed me to symbolically express this idea of smallness, remoteness and fragility. I have learnt to love this light and compose with it. Now I always target a trilogy. To photograph a view, I position myself on the mountainside, depending on the desired angle. But that’s not enough. All the time there is no light, the landscape will stay beautiful, but it won’t be extraordinary.
Suddenly, a ray of light appears, and the moment becomes divine because of this meeting. The meeting of a landscape, previously inert, of a light, which in itself did not exist before to light up the picture, and of a glance that came about at the right moment. It’s a question of a fraction of a second. The waiting phase is similar to meditation. You are completely immersed in the spectacle offering itself to you, to the point of being this beauty, to becoming the instant where it is set up. The moment the shutter clicks is the climax of this instant. And when it is fixed, there is nothing left. The light disappears; the moment of elation is past.
It’s a little like love: emotion mounts, explodes, then falls.
You take up your pack and descend, with a clear heart and a great feeling of inner peace. I love those moments. That’s why I’m a photographer.

Photography by Olivier Follmi

Photography by Olivier Follmi

Chemins d’étoiles – But mountains are not only a natural setting for you. You said once on returning from an expedition that you had understood just how much you loved “the mountain of men”. And it’s this harmony of man with nature that you transmit so well in your photographic work. You are just as adept in showing off the infinity of plains and the majesty of summits as showing the intimacy of a family squeezed into a tent huddled around a candle. In this sense doesn’t your work wander away from documentary and set out to draw a “human geography”?

Olivier Föllmi – A Tibetan maxim says: “What would light be without the people who perceive it?” It’s true to say that from being the man who wanted to conquer, I have become a man of the encounter. I love to be in close contact with the people from the Himalayas, even if it is on simple terms.

We talk about the health of the horses, the grass that is growing well this year, the snow that fell last winter, the height of the torrents. But there is great depth behind this simplicity to express oneself, in the music of the words, and the intensity seen in the eyes of the person speaking. That is what I try to bring out in my pictures. It’s exactly like the landscape’s sudden illumination. A complicity sets in, a comprehension that goes far beyond simple verbal communication. And photography is once more a catalyst. It makes it possible to capture the spark of the person. I’ve had tears in my eyes when taking photos. Simply because of the intensity passing between the person and myself as I look at them through the camera’s lens.

Photography by Olivier Follmi

Photography by Olivier Follmi

Chemins d’étoiles – You cite another maxim in your book L’Horizon des dieux: “You have two eyes to see others, but you need a mirror to recognise yourself” Is photography this mirror for you?

Olivier Föllmi – Everyone needs another person in order to know himself. We try to see ourselves through the eyes of others. Everything in this sense is mirror.

But photography goes further than just looking. It’s a way of getting near the other person and perceiving what is hidden within. For example, one day, I met a woman who was spinning wool in a sad and abandoned corner. I was touched by her. The more I took the time to photograph her, the more she existed, to the point, where in the end, she looked radiant.
Photography is not a mirror. It is a catalyst of beauty. A means of making someone else smile rather than looking at yourself. At that precise moment, you are no longer yourself and they are no longer themselves. You are transcended by the moment when the spirit is in communication with the soul of the world. And when the person opposite you invests himself in the photo, when you are taken by the magic of this portrait, the instant of communion is so far away from time that it becomes divine.
Photography is a catalyst of energy, a prism, a diamond. The mirror is but one reflection, whereas photography propels us further ahead. It invites us to feel beautiful in the hearts of others. It’s proper to the art: to achieve a state of grace, to express what is not perceptible to the spirit in daily life. This is the meaning of the Zanskar greeting, when we join hands and bow. This gesture made when someone approaches, means: “I revere the god that is in you”.

Olivier Follmi works can be viewed at http://www.follmi.com