June 5, 2009 11:04 by Adrian

Hey everyone!

       Its already in mid June..  and in conjunction to giving the best to our clients.. Ardent just invested on a new baby.. the Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 ED N .. the best ultrawide lens from Nikon, launched along with the D3.. both was awarded the EISA 2008-2009 Best Camera and Lens for its superior image quality.. 

    

 

Hopefully in the next few weeks I can find some time to do some photo comparison tests..  To be really honest, this lens is HUGE! there is no filter but rather a dedicated lens hood to protect that buldging front element..  so far the pictures are simply awesome..  anyway below is just a test shot of what it can do.. will post more pictures later ya.. Cool

 
Original full sized file.. DSC_6624 2a.jpg (3.09 mb)
 
Anyway.. the above picture is taken 1/10s and f/8 at 14mm..  blurred the people in the photo and added a nifty red colored box which I've cropped out without any change in image size.. below..  
 
 
This is seriously crazy sharp.. everything on the picture especially the edges are all sharp and not soft.. you can zoom as much as you like and all you'll find are edges and lines ala krispy! yum.. more updates soon!
 
Cheers,
Adrian Y. 

January 30, 2009 10:43 by Adrian

Hey everyone!

        Whao, Chinese New Year this time around is no different from any other.. streets are quieter, skies are clearer and business slows down.. Hopefully by Monday things will crank back up to speed.. the usual forecast of jams with everyone returning back from their hometowns this coming weekend..

        We @ Ardent are also taking a break from the crazy workload a week before..  with all this free time, I guess its only right for me to write a bit on our experiences in this photography line..

And today we'll focus on memory storage SD and CF cards from a Photographer's point of view..

What I want from my memory card is quite essentially three things.. 

 
Data Integrity.. Meaning that the data doesn't get easily corrupted or lost.. now that's easy enough.. just don't get those immitation memory cards which is slower and more unstable than the original.. sure you save a few bucks but the increased risk of losing any pictures is like a death kneel to your photography career..  
 
Oops, sorry boss.. could you re-do your marriage ceremony? kinda lost all the pictures.Yell 
 
Even if you aren't doing a photography job, pictures that you took are slices of time and nothing will ever wind it back for you to take another shot at it.. (Even machine gunning the camera won't help you as the gazilion pictures of the same thing is still stored on the same card..)
 
Size .. This of course is dependant on the picture quality, picture type (jpeg/raw/nef) and type of camera (Megapixel dependant).. anything that allows me to shoot one complete event without worrying about running out of space..  but not big to the point that I've start using it to store movies and mp3s as well Tongue out
 
Want to know whether that photographer shoots Jpeg or RAW/NEF? easy! just look at their memory card size..  I think the largest SD card size at time of writing is at 32GB.. just barely sufficient for 250 RAW/NEF pictures of 12MB each to fit.. My memory card is only 4GB, sufficient to hold easily 600 JPEG Fine pictures.. The debate to shoot RAW/NEF vs JPEG won't be addressed in this entry.. later!
 
Speed ..  Transfer speed may not look like much but imagine transferring 4GB worth of pictures or if you are that super RAW/NEF shooter, 32GB (worse case scenario) the waiting time is enough to drive you up a wall.. a tree.. or whatever high that's worth driving up to.. 
 
I'll recommend those higher speed memory cards such as from SanDisk.. 

 

 
@ Ardent, we are currently using for SD cards, this lovely morsel.. the Ducati SD Plus and the Ultra 2 SD Plus.. I fell in love with this simply because I can literally walk around with my camera and just plug out the SD card and into any USB.. seriously, would you expect me to carry my card reader everywhere I go? 
 
The other good thing is that in USB mode, the transfer rates are up to USB 2.0 where as even with the high speed SD cards, it is ultimately Card Reader dependant..
 
A tip for CF card users
 
For those who's thinking of buying the Extreme IV 45mb/sec CF cards, in order to reach that speed (the main reason why you bought such a card in the first place) you'll need: -
 
  • A specialized Card Reader
  • That uses the large FireWire cable.. 

In saying so, laptops are OUT since all laptops uses those tiny firewire cables.. and how many desktops have those large firewire slots anyway? So forget about taking this damn expensive card reader to a cyber cafe and expect it to plug and play..
 
The best is to get the Extreme III 30Mb/sec (get the newer version which is 30Mb/sec where as the older one is at 20Mb/sec) along with the Extreme III USB reader.. which works with any USB 2.0 port.. 
 
End of CF Tip 
 
So there you have it.. the things to consider when purchasing memory cards for your photography career.. we @ Ardent are currently using all SanDisk memory card related products.. haven't actually seen those SD Plus on other brands tho I may be wrong.. 
 
That's the end of this entry.. catch all of you later..
 
Cheers,
Adrian Y. 
 

November 26, 2008 11:33 by Adrian

Hey!

December is soon approaching.. so far there are a few events and photoshoots to be completed which will keep us sufficiently busy during the holiday season.. Speaking of holiday seasons, I've been getting a lot of questions about this year's gift list.. As you see, the Malaysian currency has dropped from a peak around RM3.2 per USD1 to RM3.6 per USD1.. not much but sufficient to have an influx of grey / AP sets into Malaysia..

As a rough guide, the AP/Grey units are usually about 10-15% cheaper than the original Nikon units.. doesn't sound like much but when its 10% of 3k comes to RM300..  sufficient enough to have me write this article in the first place..

Let me start from the top for some of you new to the term Grey / AP units..

So what is Grey / AP units?

Basically any units that aren't imported by Nikon Malaysia (or the Nikon authorized importer of your country) .. by not going through Nikon Malaysia, some of these units could have bypassed taxes / import duties.. so if you bought it in a country in which the currency is stronger than Malaysia and brought it here.. you'll stand to gain quite a bit..  hence its lucrative for people to smuggle in units for sale.. 

So how do you know if its an Original Nikon from Nikon Malaysia?

Well, I can save you the trouble of emailing Nikon Malaysia directly and hassle that wonderful lady called Emily who has to entertain gazillion of similar emails of such nature. First of all, the Nikon Warranty will be of yellow in color with the words Nikon Malaysia Sdn Bhd clearly stamped..

Frankly, if there are people out there who can hack Microsoft Vista, I'm sure they can clone that warranty card.. simply because it doesn't have any hologram or any other easily identifiable security markings to prove to the average joe if its original or not.. Just take a look at a Microsoft Office box and you'll understand of such security markings..   

So what's a better indicator of an original Nikon product?

Its quite simple.. Firstly, buy it from one of the authorized distributor as listed on their website here. Secondly, the sale value. If Nikon Malaysia sells to the dealers RM X, other than they are trying to do a firesale (to clean up old stock) would you think they'll sell those units at a loss? especially when there are still market demand? There's a reason why these are called business and not called charity. 

Of course there should also have Grey / AP going for the original prices but that's slim since its in their intention to sell it immediately at low prices.. 

Is the Original Nikon worth the 10-15% extra that you pay for? 

Of course silly! firstly, Nikon Malaysia won't fix your unit at all even if you want to pay for it.. and they can easily check the SN of the camera with their database..  and I'm pretty sure that the shop you bought it from doesn't have even the slightest clue how to fix a camera.. let alone a dSLR. 

So if you save RM 300 or so, you'll risk throwing the entire camera away (100% loss) in an event of a failure as nobody will want to help you repair it.. I can't imagine a 3rd party repair job would be like..  So I'm sure saving RM 300 makes more sense.. 

And by the way, Nikon Malaysia provides free sensor cleaning tho they hinted they'll discontinue such services soon.. they do jot down the serial number of each unit sent in..  

Conclusion

Well read this article by Thom Hogan here. Judge for yourself if its worth saving RM 300 and risk the entire camera in the years that you'll be using it. This isn't like AP handphones, this is real serious cutting edge technology.. and besides, where would they get specialized parts from? such as mechanical or even the PLCs which are specialized units?

I hope that this helps clarify issues.

Cheers,

Adrian Y. 


September 10, 2008 09:14 by Adrian

Ah.. anyone in Malaysia right now who's trying to get hold of any Nikon dSLR or lenses are in for a bit of a pain.. and this pain is not new, its been around for a few weeks now. 

If one would have taken a tour at Nikon Malaysia's lovely warehouse.. it'll be really big, dusty and above all else.. EMPTY! maybe other than a few dustballs I guess.  

Its not that Nikon Malaysia didn't stock up, its that they never in their wildest dreams expect that Nikon dSLRs and its lenses  got legs that make even beep beep road runner envious..  That's the power of the genius that went into the D3 and its subsequent children D300, D700 and soon to hit the market with a whallop.. D90..

Just to let you all know, the big boys (D3, D300, D700) are all made in Japan while the D80 and below are made in Thailand.. This should also mean the D90 is made in Thailand.. maybe not the first few batches..

To keep the story short, the shipment of Nikon goodies are expected to arrive end of this month or latest early October.. I'm not sure if this timeline includes the time taken to clear customs..  

I'm guessing that this shipment is from Japan as why would one ship items from Thailand? and the strangest thing is that on this boat that holds our babies also includes the D90.. that's right.. the D90 is apparently on the boat and its going to hit Malaysia's shores very soon.. 

Bad news is that everyone will have to wait for another 3 weeks or so.. and dont' be surprised that soon after arrival, the warehouse is again empty.. like hungry pihranas ya! 

If you can't wait, there's always an oversupply over at the Canon booth! (that's for all the crap I've endured from Canon fanatics prior to the D3's arrival Cool.. like a friend of mine once said.. Canon fanatics are all silent now because of Nikon's low noise technology!) 


September 9, 2008 07:16 by Adrian

Maybe its a coincidence that Canon's slogan 'Delighting you always' the word D-Lighting or Dynamic Lighting is used by Nikon. Canon's version of D-Lighting is called.. Highlight Tone Priority.. which only has one setting 'Enable' unlike Nikon which has 3 different modes of different strength to cater for everyone's fancy. 

Anyway this post isn't about Nikon vs Canon but rather the usefulness of such technology. Cameras such as D80 which DLighting first made its appearance even if its in a passive way as compared to the Active DLighting with the D3,D300,D700 and the newly announced D90.

What does DLighting do? 

DLighting is best seen in high contrast scenes, meaning you have really bright areas and not so bright areas. Like the picture shown below. The sky is bright and the trees in the foreground isn't as bright hence it looks like a silhouette. But wait a minute, that's not what my naked eye see is it?

 

Well those brains at Nikon knew that there are limitations in going digital as compared to those good and expensive film days hence they came out with DLighting. DLighting brings out those dark areas and tone down any of those bright areas (highlights). What you get is more what the eye see which is shown below. The picture is applied using DLighting mode Normal.

 Now doesn't that look way better? At least its an accurate representation of what the scene actually looks like.

Its extremely useful when you have to take the sky such as sunsets and landscapes. That's the power of DLighting right there.


September 4, 2008 03:03 by Adrian

It brings me back to the time in which I myself was like any newbie checking out which is the best dSLR is out there. Oh come on, I'm not that old! my memories aren't in black and white ya.. Tongue out

Truth be told there are two front runners, Canon and Nikon. I've focused my review here on these two.

My purchasing decision bores down to 3 things, functionality, practicality and expandability.

Lets talk about functionality: -

 

  • • The dSLR needs to take photos.. duh!
  • • Has a good acceptable ISO, preferably 1600
  • • Accurate metering and fast autofocus.

 

In this area, Nikon is famous for their accurate metering system while Canon has the higher AF count (at that time of course), decided that I can still take the picture with fewer AF points (more recomposure work) as long I have a reliable metering reading. The last thing that I need is to take countless snaps to determine whether to + or - the exposure from scene to scene. Although granted that I would have needed time to check whether Nikon's fame in accurate metering is at all true, I didn't have that luxury to test either Canon or Nikon for any extended period of time. Hence I went with general wisdom. Nikon.

The second category is practicality.

 

  • • The grip design must be ergonomic enough for me to hold it for periods aka comfortable and yet fits securely on my hand.
  • • Placement of controls and buttons must be at easy to reach places.

     

    This category I feel that most people take for granted. Good ergonomics can mean either sitting on a hard plastic chair or sitting on a comfy sofa. I've tried all the Canon grips from the 350d, 400d, 450d, 30d and 40d and from Nikon starting from D40x, D80, D200, D300, D700 and D3. I can say both camps that their grips has been consistent throughout which is a good thing. The bad thing is whether it is consistently good or consistently bad that is the problem.

    Nikon ergonomics has been superb. Just hold it and you'll feel that the grip is made to be held where as the Canon grips never quite felt comfy no matter how I tried to accommodate to it. Which is also another thing, why must I accommodate to it? shouldn't it be the other way around?

    The other issue is the buttons or more importantly the command dials. These dials will be the ones that gives you instant quick changes to the camera settings. When taking events, moments disappear in split seconds and I need something that allows me to be quick. Strangely, even Canon's higher models like the 30D / 40D doesn't come with two command dials like the Nikon. No, the big round selector isn't a command dial and it is strange to put my thumb in such an angle to move it in the first place.

    Nikon wins again both with having 2 command dials neatly and practically placed both in front and back. Couple that with amazing ergonomics, it wins again.

    Finally, expandability.

     

    • • Need to have a wide range of lenses and other equipments such as flashes etc.

       

      In this category, Nikon and Canon are neck to neck with years of heritage of lenses in its stable. Nikon may argue that the EOS system uses a different mount which limits it to lens made since 1980's unlike the Nikon F mount, which is compatible to any Nikon made lens that dates back since 1959. Frankly I don't quite care since with newer technology in making lenses, their special coatings and gizmos literally guarantees that I won't be looking that far back for lenses. People who argues that older lenses are better (When there have new lenses with those ED glasses and Nano Crystal coating) are just being too nostalgic.

      I still say Nikon wins in this category. Not because of its F mount but rather the affordability of the lens itself. Canon's L range is simply crazy. 50mm f/1.2L lens will set you back RM8k, 85mm f/1.2L will further rape it by another RM3k. I'll write more about why I don't see that big a deal in f/1.2 and the price paid for it.

      Compare that with the 105mm f/2.8 Macro Nikkor which comes in at RM3k. Or better yet the best wide angle lens the famous 14-24mm f/2.8 Nikkor costs around RM5k. Now compare that with a 14mm f/2.8 II USM Canon that is selling for more than RM6k. Oh by the way, this Nikon's wide angle zoom is sharper than Canon's best prime within the same focal length. And its CHEAPER! 

      In the long run, it'll save me a lot of $.

      Conclusion,

      Do I even need to do one? Its no more a surprise that I end up using Nikon instead of Canon. With the D3/D300/D700/D90 line up, my choice to invest into the Nikon system is well paid of. Oh yeah did I mention that Nikon Malaysia provides free sensor cleaning at their main office at PJ State?

      Nikon the official camera for Ardent Expressions.

      Anyway, do check out Preston Mack who shoots for Disney, GM, Pillsbury, ESPN, Forbes, Business Weekly and etc. Do read his reasons for dumping Canon for Nikon. Read the article here .


      March 29, 2008 11:06 by Adrian
      Whippie.. finally manage to sell of one of my kidneys to get this babeh.. Its the first Macro up to 1:1 reproduction ration with VR! further more its a full frame lens.. costing about RM2900.. hhmm.. I think I may have undervalued my kidney.. but heck who cares.. god is so kind to grace me with a spare.. :P (quote taken from 300 the movie).. 
       
      This lens is perfect for Macro work as well as portraits.. I'll explain why in another post.. right now I just want to showcase this babeh to you.. my babeh..  
       
      Its a heavy lens coming in to about 790g without any attachments .. has the ability to focus as close as 31.4cm.. a 9 rounded bladed diaphram for amazing rounded bokeh..  
       
      Did I mention it has VR? the first of its kind.. macro and VR.. tho truth of the matter is, VR does little during Macro but for portraits? sweeeeet!
       
      Another reason why this is such a perfect lens.. its 105mm.. during macro work, the last thing you want to do is to be that close to a bug..  lets take the AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D lens.. its minimum focusing distance is 22cm for the same 1:1 production ratio as the 105mm at 31.4.. try taking a bee at 22cm.. I'll put my money on the 105mm.. you'll be lucky that any insects other than slow moving kinds will stay still when you are thaaaat close to it.. do keep in mind that 22cm & 31.4cm is when used in full frame bodies ya!
       
      The same can be said about portrait work..  its best not to be too close to the subjects during portraits as it makes them uncomfortable at that distance.. Ok fine.. 105mm on digital bodies (DX) with the 1.5x crop factor makes things just a bit further.. so unless your studio is your bedroom, you are ok.. if not.. then its time to move out of your parents house! Tongue out
       
      Its not only an amazing lens.. its practical! 
       
      Don't believe me? well it won 
       
       
      TIPA Award For Best Professional Lens

       

       

       
       
       
       
      CJ7.. this toy is about 1.5 inch tall.. small little fella..
       
       
      A lovely margaritta being made.. amazing color and shallowness of Depth Of Field (DOF) with this lens.. Because of close ups.. at f/2.8 the DOF can be as small as a few milimeters.. the picture above should have the margarita flow in focus.. Need to increase the apperture on this bad boy..
       
       
      A closer non cropped view of the drink.. amazing..
       
       
      Things look different close up.. 
       
       
      Toothpicks..  
       
       
       
       
      My favourite vodka.. Grey Goose.. beats Absolut anytime..  used the bottle to further enhance the background lighting that makes it glow..
       
       
      Yum... 
       
      Forget about the 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 and what nots.. get this lens.. 
       
      If I could shoot events with this single lens.. heck I would! unfortunately there are limitations due to its fixed 105mm focal length.. such as in doing close ups, it hunts a bit especially when you set to single area focus.. but this depends on where you put the focus point to be..
       
      Because being up close ups.. how can you measure a black patch to be in focus? that's the problem not about this lens but macro photography in general..  
       
      Will post more about macro in upcoming posts! stay tune..