Saturday, 2 October 2010

Trip to Treasure Town

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Hong Kong's some oldest, not to mention poorest, neighbourhoods have an exotic and exciting quality to them.  There are plenty in those areas to inspire the creative minds of photographers and whatever visitors alike who can spend hours wandering and hunting for what-you-may-call-it kind of treasures, from flashy decorations, funky handicrafts to junkie rag-a-bone stuff.  The common sights are tenement buildings, or Tong Lau in the local language, and roadside kiosks selling whatnots.  If you are looking for a glimpse into the old Hong Kong where modern people still live and work probably the same way to this day, trip down to these treasure towns.

The shot today shows a scene which epitomises the way those roadside merchants run their business in an old neighbourhood.  Originally, the kiosk just occupied the tiny space underneath the board written with the four Chinese character,  Hop Cheung Mechanic.  The illegal extensions to it speak of the usual way these merchants work around the unreasonably shortage of room to do the selling.

Friday, 1 October 2010

How Hot is Too Hot

RIMG0002 (Medium)GX200 mounted with the DW-6

If you wonder how hot is too hot for a camera to verge on heat stroke, here are some tests adopted from a source which quoted from another unspecified source.  Reliability of the test results has not been ascertained.  But for fun, let's check them out:

The test shot a HD video clip with the camera for 10 minutes under an indoor temperature of 26 degree centigrade (same below).  All the tested cameras use CMOS censor.

1) The EP-L1 sensor reached 39 degree, with the default overheat threshold being at 40 degree.


2) The NX10 sensor reached 41.1 degree, with the default overheat threshold being at 43 degree.


3) The result of the NEX-5 is a bit interesting.  The sensor (first shot) reached 35.6 degree while the body (second shot) reached 44.1 degree.  The default overheat threshold is at 50 degree.  The result shows that (a) the camera-based anti-shake function generates more heat than otherwise; (b) Sony has done a good job in giving the sensor an effective heat dispersion solution, much better than the other two cameras having regards the higher heat generated by the NEX 5 sensor.

image image

So it is not foolhardy to assume that Sony has availed of the same solution in the SLT.  But the difficulty is that the all-time phase-detection plus the anti-shake operation just generate too much heat, which is not helped by the plastic camera body with poor heat dispersion.  The following shot shows that the sensor of the a55 reached 51.2 degree after shooting the video for 29 minutes under the indoor temperature of 26 degree.  The threshold is at 54 degree.

imageThe tester was shy of the a55 test result but added that the a55 sensor was measured at about 51 degree after shooting the video for over 8.5 minutes.

No wonder the camera bodies feel hot after extended use!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Going the Opposite Way

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The overheat issue of Sony's a55, and less severely in the case of a33, has caused a stir in the camera (less so in photography) forums across the Internet.  Sony's equivocal explanation on the real meaning of up to 29-minute videoing duration, unfortunately,  doesn't help much to quell the discontent among the complainants.

Sony also suggests in the announcement that to take a video clip with the SLT for an extended period, users should refrain from operating it under direct sunlight, turn off the image stabilisation when not in use and rely on the tripod instead of the anti-shake function.

It is beyond question that Sony doesn't have a good case to argue for the seemingly cover-up of the issue beforehand.  But ain't the complainants as photographers going the opposite way with the fuss?

Rail at Sony as you can.  But, mark you, a camera is a camera which is unlike a camcorder that takes videos as a camcorder does.  Otherwise, do we think that Sony is being silly in moving the E-mount system over to its new camcorder product?

There is no immediate solution to the overhead issue arising from the heat generated primarily from the anti-shake function during videoing with the a55.  A suggestion is to tune up the camera's, er, "heat-stroke" threshold through a firmware.  That can extend the videoing duration a bit by possibly shortening the durability of the camera.

But if you use the camera for primarily taking photos and occasionally for short documentary videos, and appreciate that an entry level camera is as good as what the money is paid for, the overhead issue will never make you fuss and fume.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Colours of the Night (Street Level)

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If there is one thing typical about Hong Kong at night, what would be beyond debate is "streets aglow in neon lights" and, alas, as technology has advanced, "LED lights".  The deep DOF gives small-sensor cameras an advantage in doing these night shots as the photographers can avoid higher ISO by opening the aperture at the widest end without blurring the background.

But of course, for the tiny mirroless cameras, the wide array of available lenses are simply tempting.  We can look into some of the choices in another post.  Besides that, as their IQ performance at higher ISO values is mellowing, the above deep-DOF advantage is narrower.  The photographer can just tweak the ISO value on a mirrorless, for example, to 800 to spare a wide aperture; hence the background in focus.

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The best place to shoot the street shining with neon lights in Hong Kong is not really the thoroughfare, namely, Nathan Road.  For sure, Nathan Road is a good choice.  But why not wander into the side streets like Shanghai Street, which runs parallel to Nathan Road two blocks away starting from Jordon to Mongkok in Kowloon?  Successful night shots reminiscent of the more exotic old Hong Kong is almost guaranteed.     

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These shots were taken with Samsung WB600.  It is not just a point and shoot.  As a matter of fact, it offers users control over the exposure combo, flash output, exposure compensation and more.  That we can leave to another post too.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Colours of the Night

R0010277 (Large)

R0010269 (Large)

A high-angle view to the CBD on the Hong Kong Island.  Taken with GX200 (plus the DW-6 and a star filter for the second shot).

Monday, 27 September 2010

Size-wise: A55 vs 7D

A Taiwan guy showed off his two acquisitions, and compared their sizes.

Full frontal frontal (Medium)


bum (Medium)


top (Medium)

Right and Left

right (Medium)

left (Medium)

Sensor Murderer

Don't point your lens towards the laser beams.  The sensor can be broken in a split of a second, in case you haven't watched these clips before (mark the light trail stays on the clip once the laser beam reaches the sensor):



This is even worse.  The sensor was totalled:

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Reading Maketh

SAM_1584 (Large) 
... a fully lying person.  This is Sunday.  Read a book.

P.S. I'm reading
Not Quite the Diplomat : Home Truths about World Affairs