29 December 2008

Some macros before the new year

With the year coming to an end, just wanted to post a couple of macro shots that I had taken recently. Would have shot more if not for the maddening little gusts of wind that makes focusing macro subjects an added challenge. I like the graphical nature of this silhouette where line predominates.

K20D Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro

On the opposite side of things, the delicate colors make these small flowers really stand out. Just like the color rendition from the Pentax macro.

K20D FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro

26 December 2008

New K20D Custom Grip

I had the rubber hand grip changed on my K20D recently and it definitely feels much better and more secure than the original one. With the stock rubber grip, grip pressure is more or less equal for the middle, ring and small fingers on the right hand.

In with the new...

I particularly like the finger cutouts for the middle and small finger on the new grip. The changes are subtle but I can already feel the difference, especially when holding the camera vertically. Again this is my personal experience, based on my average sized hands and making a direct comparison to the original.

The replaced rubber grip

The grip just takes a few minutes to change. It is possible to revert back to the original one but it requires the removal of the base plate. The infrared receiver is a little more recessed on the new grip but it works without any obstruction. Definitely adds a unique touch to an excellent camera.

Pentax Photo Outing Macros

We had our monthly Pentax photo outing just before Christmas. Being the last one for the year, it was to be a photo marathon that started in the morning at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and extending all the way to the evening at different locations around Singapore.

Unfortunately I could only join the group during the morning session of this photo blitz and managed to shoot some of these macro images. All images were shot with the Pentax K20D with a FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro either hand held or with my Mamiya carbon fiber monopod. It was a good time to catch up with my fellow Pentax shooters and to learn some of the different shooting tips and techniques used. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Here are some small creatures that I managed to shoot. All shots were taken with available light. For the photo of the little frog, Live View proved to be invaluable. I managed to stay clean and dry and more importantly, had I shot normally, I would have cast a shadow on the subject.

22 December 2008

Chow Kit B&W

I recently took a quick holiday trip to Kuala Lumpur with the family. Just a few minutes walk from the the hotel I stayed in there was a wet market where I took some of these shots with the K20D and the Sigma 17-70mm.

Dark alleyway

Busy, busy, busy...

14 December 2008

Storm Light

Took this image of an impending storm. A very simple shot but dramatic shot taken with the Sigma 17-70mm. This is a lens that I have found to be very versatile in focal range and the image quality is pretty good.

K20D Sigma 17-70mm

13 December 2008

Lost in her thoughts

A young lady looking intently on her mobile on the MRT train.

K20D FA 28mm

03 December 2008

Saturday morning shots

My weekends are usually quite busy but last week I had a chance to catch up with some friends over breakfast and briefly walked around a few blocks of the city on a Saturday morning taking some snaps. Managed to catch a few nice images with my infrared modded camera and the K20D with a few prime lenses.

K20D FA 135mm f/2.8

K20D FA 135mm f/2.8

Here I've used my IR camera and converted the image to a monochrome. I've used the DA 21mm as it is versatile as a location lens. Its small size attracts little attention and AF is fast that you can shoot quickly.

*ist DL2 DA 21mm f/3.2

*ist DL2 DA 21mm f/3.2

*ist DL2 DA 21mm f/3.2

28 November 2008

Cycle of life

A fading existence captured during a walk in the forest.

K20D Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro

27 November 2008

Garden Exploration

I had taken this shot of these small flowers some time ago at the Botanic Gardens but I didn't really have the time to sit down and decide how to best process the shot. Well today it became pretty clear to me and I only took a few minutes to achieve the look that I wanted, a light sepia tint background with the flowers standing out. All done in Photoshop with adjustment layers.

K20D with DA 21mm Limited

25 November 2008

Zip Bokeh

I was drawn by the lead in lines and the simplicity of the composition. A relatively simple shot taken with a standard lens with an extension tube.

K20D FA 50mm f/1.4 with extension tube

21 November 2008

A one lens solution: the Sigma 17-70mm

Recently I managed to snag a mint Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8~4.5 zoom from someone moving over to another system at a very reasonable price. I had used the Pentax DA 16-45mm f/4 for quite sometime and in terms of focal length the Sigma is a very close competitor. I've had very positive experiences with the DA 16-45mm but after spending some quality time with the Sigma, my preference is slowly but surely shifting towards the Sigma as being the more versatile lens.

For a start, while the Sigma loses 1mm in focal length on the wide end to the Pentax, (which is noticeable), it nonetheless more than makes up for this by extending all the way to 70mm, a focal length that's good for portraits and the occasional isolated candid.

In terms of maximum aperture, it's a toss up between the constant aperture Pentax versus the variable aperture design of the Sigma. Unless one is shooting with strobes a lot where having a constant aperture is preferred, in practice I've not really been hampered with the variable aperture, whether in normal or low light shooting. Exposure with the Sigma is spot on on my K20D but for the DA 16-45mm, there is a tendency towards a consistent 1/3 to 1/2 stop underexposure, at least on my previous copy.

Capital Tower at night

In terms of optical performance, I've known the DA 16-45mm as a lens capable of even performance from the center to the edges. The Sigma is noticeably sharper in the center but edge sharpness is still good. In terms of distortion, the two lenses are about similar. Size wise, the Pentax is longer and narrower while the Sigma is fatter but shorter. The Pentax uses 67mm filters while the Sigma uses 72mm. The Sigma is about 90 grams heavier at 455 grams. Both have petal lens hoods that seems to be the norm today.

Floating barriers

Where the Sigma edges the Pentax is in build quality. The lens is solid and has a sensible design whereby the lens barrel extends at the 70mm setting. On the Pentax, the lens barrel extends fully at the 16mm setting, making use of the on-camera flash pretty useless at the wide setting. The Pentax has the useful Quickshift where one can manually adjust focus after the camera has locked autofocus. Focus is fast for both lenses. Something I've noticed with the DA 16-45mm is whether the build can hold up long term. I've seen the zoom and focus rings on some seasoned copies to be very loose with wobbly lens barrels. With the Sigma, the primary bugbear is lens creep when the lens is pointed down. There is however a zoom lock to prevent this.

Close-ups of Pentax 50mm lenses taken with the Sigma

One useful feature is the close focusing capability of the Sigma. While the Pentax goes down to 0.28m, the Sigma can focus as close as 0.2m, which in practical terms, means the ability to shoot up close with results that are almost as good as a dedicated macro lens. Overall, the Sigma makes a compelling case if you're looking for a single lens solution for walkabout or travel.

17 November 2008

Marina Barrage Pentax Shootout

We had our latest Pentax user meet-up on 15 November at the Marina Barrage. By way of introduction, the Marina Barrage is a new dam spanning the Marina Channel, forming Singapore's first reservoir in the city. Flowing into the channel is water from the Singapore and Kallang rivers. The dam serves to control flooding, provide an additional source of water supply and offer a new waterfront experience in the area.

Sigma 17-70mm

Sigma 17-70mm

We had a healthy turnout of Pentax users and even though the area was new, there was a lot to shoot, from city skyline to water features to people enjoying themselves. The weather was largely overcast, which meant our pictures were devoid of nice blue skies. The lighting was flat, soft and diffused outdoors but we all made the best of it.

DA 21mm Limited

DA 21mm Limited

DA 21mm Limited

Posted here are just a few pictures that I took at the place with the K20D using various lenses.

FA 50mm

Tamron 70-300mm

10 November 2008

Walkabout with the FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro

Not too long ago, I had in my possession the DFA 50mm f/2.8 Macro as well as the DFA 100mm f/2.8 Macro lenses. Well these two are fine lenses, I didn't particularly like the build quality. So recently through a mutual swap with a couple of my Pentax friends, I replaced the two lenses for the FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro and FA 135mm f/2.8 telephoto lenses.


Fern leaf unfolding

I really like the look and build quality of FA lenses and it complements well with the other FA lenses that I already own. The FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro is a much bigger and heavier lens compared to the newer DFA version. It gives excellent sharpness and colour and offers lifesize magnification without the need for additional extension tubes. The FA macros lack the Quick Shift manual focus override but there however a focus limiter to limit the focusing range for this lens.

Small mushrooms

I really like the images from this lens. Here's a couple of shots taken at the Singapore Botanic Gardens with the K20D. It is a lens I would recommend to all Pentax macro shooters.

Vanda Miss Joachim (Singapore's national flower)

07 November 2008

Little India Pentax Outing - Monochrome

Just a few more shots from the recent Little India Pentax user outing. I decided early on that the people and location shots should be in monochrome. All shots taken with the K20D using the same lenses as in the previous post.

Dunlop Street

DA 21mm f/3.2 Limited

Provision shop

FA 28-200mm f/3.5~5.6


Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro

Old biker

FA 28-200mm f/3.5~5.6

General worker

DA 21mm f/3.2 Limited

Weight on my shoulder

FA 28-200mm f/3.5~5.6

01 November 2008

Little India Pentax Outing

Last month, we had our October Pentax user outing to shoot the area known as Little India, a predominantly Indian area that has many shophouses and merchants. We had a good turnout and as usual friendly banter as we slowly made our way among the shops, shooting the people and the many objects of interest.

Tomatoes 90 cents

FA 28-200mm f/3.5~5.6

Fruit shop

Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro

String of bananas

Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro

Unfortunately this post comes up only now as it has been a little hectic on the work and domestic front, so I've neglected post processing and writing on this blog. I had to run off a little early but still managed to take a couple of interesting images. Definitely a place that has a lot of captivating images waiting to be shot.


Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro

Carrots and radishes

FA 28-200mm f/3.5~5.6

Radishes and bitter gourds

FA 28-200mm f/3.5~5.6

Anyway about the outing, I've always liked shooting Little India simply because there is much to shoot. As it was going to be a street shoot, I packed my K20D with three lenses, the lowly FA 28-200mm superzoom, the DA 21mm Limited pancake and the Sigma 90mm Macro.


Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro

Hibiscus in a pot

DA 21mm f/3.2 Limited

The FA 28-200 is essentially a rebadged Tamron. I picked it up at a used computer shop awhile back. Optical quality is decent but it makes up for it with a wide range of focal lengths. I needed a compact wideangle in the DA 21mm and used a macro to pick out and isolate interesting subjects.

Folded leaves

Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro


FA 28-200mm f/3.5~5.6