29 August 2008

Lotus Macros

Recently I took my son to a nearby park and managed to shoot these images of the lotus plant using the K20D mated to the DFA 100mm f/2.8 Macro.

The 100mm macro is one that I feel many should consider as a versatile walkaround lens. It serves well enough as a fast telephoto and the ability to get up close and photograph objects at up to life-size magnification is pretty useful. It's like having two different lenses rolled into one.

The DFA 100mm is a pretty light and compact lens but the nice feature it has over previous Pentax macro lenses is the Quick Shift that allows manual override once the camera's AF has locked focus. This is a good feature as the point of focus may not always be on any of the 11 AF focus points when composing, and there is also no need to switch completely to manual focus on the camera body.


A plant abstract that I took recently. Just love the lines moving out from the center. Added a brown tint to accentuate the graphic quality.

K20D DFA 100mm f/2.8

27 August 2008

Happy Kids

It's fun to shoot kids at play, especially happy kids at play. Having the DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 makes shooting kids easy. The little girl was having so much fun that she was oblivious to everyone around her. The fast maximum aperture and SDM makes focusing a breeze and the focal length isn't too long that perspective doesn't get too flat.

K20D DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

Like all DA* lenses, the build quality is pretty solid, with weather sealing a big advantage in inclement weather. The lens gives a nice colour rendition and sharpness is good even wide open. Bokeh from this lens is also pretty nice. Certain;y one of the stars in Pentax's lens lineup.

K20D DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

26 August 2008

Compact Shots

Have been playing around with the Optio E40 compact a little bit more. Shooting with a PnS digital once again is a completely new experience. And that is having to readjust with the speed of operation. It's so easy to get used to the almost instant focusing and shooting with a DSLR that in comparison, the Optio takes quite some time to focus and write to the SD card.

Mini Bitter Gourds

The camera's lens coverage at the wide end is about 37mm in 35mm film format but the depth of field from a small camera sensor is pretty wide. Noise can be an issue at times but if exposed correctly, it isn't such a big problem. Naturally cameras in this category perform better with higher illumination levels. With the small size of compact digital cameras nowadays, there is really no reason not to carry one everywhere, as these two pictures show.


Changi Meet-up

The Pentax user group on Clubsnap is slowly but surely growing. Evidence of this was our latest group outing to Changi Village. As the plan was to catch some sunrise shots, the meeting time was a very early 6.30am. Many of us were there to learn from night86mare who never fails to wow us with his landscapes.

Tripods galore... DA 21mm f/3.2 Limited

Unfortunately the weather was dull and dismal with the sun obscured by thick cloud. And it didn't take long for the storm clouds to prematurely end a very short photo taking session. Didn't really have the chance to use much of my gear, though I have to say it's a weight off the shoulders when carrying a Gitzo CF tripod around. Anyway here are some of the few shots that I took, all with the K20D.

DA 21mm f/3.2 Limited

DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

While the weather may have dampened the photo taking opportunities, like all good meet-ups the company was good and so was the breakfast offerings at the the food center. Pentax meet-ups are fun affairs and I'll definitely be on the look-out for the next one coming up.

DA 21mm f/3.2 Limited

DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

18 August 2008

Pentax Optio E40 Mini Review

The Pentax agent here recently had a sales promotion for their compact point-and-shoot cameras with a local electronics megastore Best Denki to tie in with Singapore's National Day celebrations.

An impulse buy at S$169...

Well yesterday was the last day for the promo and as I wandered by the Best Denki outlet in Plaza Singapura, a sales promoter asked me to look at the Pentax cameras on display. Not really wanting to buy anything, my resolve gave way when he offered to throw in a further S$30 discount from the promo price. Not wanting to spend too much, I settled upon the base model, the Pentax Optio E40.

94mm x 60mm x 24mm, 175g with batteries & SD card

This was the first time I've owned a Pentax PnS, not counting the Pentax Espio 115G compact film camera from years back. The camera is pretty compact and because I've got loads of rechargeable AA batteries from my previous K100D/K100D Super cameras, the choice to go with a camera using AA batteries was pretty easy.

2 AA sized batteries and a SD card is all you need

At first glace, this made in China camera has the usual features one can come to expect of a modern digital compact camera. 8.1 megapixels resolution, 3X optical zoom, Face-Recognition AF & AE, the usual different picture modes all wrapped in a silver plastic shell. The camera is dead easy enough to operate and I didn't have to read the camera manual to get started. Obviously with so many controls and features embedded within the menu, it makes sense to give the camera manual a thorough read.

Flash on

Load in 2 AA batteries and an SD card and the 175g camera is ready to shoot. Start-up is a leisurely 3 seconds or so, not a big deal in my book. The camera has a 6.2mm-18.6mm f/2.8~5.2 zoom lens (equivalent to 37.5-112.5mm in 35mm format), not including the 4X digital zoom capability. The lens shoots from 0.4m to infinity and 0.15m to 0.5m in macro mode. Shutter speed range is 1/2000 sec to about 4 seconds. Flash coverage is decent, though like all PnS cameras nowadays, care needs to be taken to control red-eye.

Available light

Image quality is good with quality typical of all compact PnS cameras, in other words, expect some noisy images at high ISO. The 2.4 inch TFT colour LCD is the only means to focus and view, the norm for PnS cameras today. Video and sound recording is also on hand should you need it.

Auto everything!

From the initial images that I've shot, I have little to complain about, perhaps because my expectations with such compact cameras are pretty low to begin with. Will use this camera a little more and post more images and observations later. So far I'm quite pleased with the performance and while there are many other cameras which offer more features and possibly better quality, but for much more money. Overall this camera is good value for money.

Macro mode! A close-up of my old Pentax Espio 115G film camera

13 August 2008


A look at some air vents from my walkabouts. Thought they made a nice pattern. One of my last shots from the kit telephoto zoom before I replaced it with the DA* 50-135mm. A very light compact lens that's great for travel.

K20D DA 50-200mm f/4~5.6

11 August 2008

Thoughts on the DFA 50mm macro

The Pentax DFA 50mm macro is a much lighter and more compact lens than the discontinued FA 50mm macro which I also use. While the FA version is better built in my opinion, from a practical standpoint, the DFA is the easier one to use, being much lighter in weight, a bigger manual focus ring and having the very useful Quick Shift feature that allows manual focus override after AF lock.

K20D DFA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

Some photographers cannot see the point of having AF for a macro lens, but I have found AF usable for magnifications up to 1:2 and for non-closeup shooting like the cat pictured here. The 50mm focal length lens has a useful field of view for a variety of subjects and AF allows quick fuss free focusing. Like the FA version, the DFA can hunt when trying to lock focus, but this is quite normal given the long focus throw of macro lenses. The DFA has a simple slide-on focus clamp when focusing manually.

K20D DFA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

Optically speaking the FA has I think a small edge in terms of sharpness and detail. Both lenses do display some colour fringing at high contrast subjects. Bokeh from both lenses are somewhat similar. The DFA has slightly snappier overall contrast but it also has a little more light falloff at maximum aperture.

The DFA has a floating element design that correct aberrations at closer focusing distances and has a deep plastic hood and given the lens barrel extension at 1:1 magnification, it needs it to protect the front element. Like the somewhat identical DFA 100mm that I also have, the lens performs well but all the Pentax macro lenses still lag behind the superlative and now out of production Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar 125mm f/2.5 SL.

09 August 2008

Pasir Ris Park

A few shots taken in and around Pasir Ris Park recently. The first image was of some solitary mangrove trees silhouetted against the partially obscured morning sun. Image was straight from the camera. I'm quite happy the K20D's dynamic range could handle the scene well.

K20D DFA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

The image straight from the camera was mainly single toned and moody as the rain clouds obscured the sun. Decided to give it a brown tint to convey the mood better.

K20D DFA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

I like this zig-zag pathway that cuts through the mangrove as it gives the feel of seclusion and solitude. Composition wise, it lends a natural lead-in line from the foreground to the background. A good place to observe the teeming animal life from the tiny mud skippers, to the little crabs and shellfish.

K20D DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

07 August 2008

Casting his net...

Took a early morning stroll near the beach and spotted this lonely fisherman casting his net to catch some small fish. Spent just a few minutes watching him and as I only had a macro lens attached, moved a little closer and captured him just as he released his weighted net.

Pentax K20D DFA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

Sleepy Dog

Recently my lens line-up has seen a couple of changes. I managed to get the DA* 50-135mm at a very attractive price from a friend. In its place I decided to sell the compact DA 50-200mm as there was quite a bit of focal length overlap. My first subject with the DA* quite naturally is... my dog. Here he's having a nap and a sun tan at the same time. All images K20D with the DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

06 August 2008

A Friendly Bus Driver

A quick snap of a bus driver with the smallest lens in Pentax's lineup, the 40mm pancake. It's a small and cute lens and even smaller than the M version that I used to have due to the absence of an aperture ring. I was walking across a field when I met this driver who was taking a small break after his morning round of sending kids to school. I like the overall shade of blue and his friendly smile.

K20D DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited

04 August 2008

People Passing By

I just love the shadowy silhouettes as they add dynamic interest to the image and give a nice separation of the foreground and background. The original image already had a pretty limited tonal range but I decided it would look better with a little brown tint reminiscent of the Agfa Viradon that I used to play around in the past.

K20D FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited

03 August 2008

A Few More From The Garden Festival

A continuation of flower images that I had taken at the Singapore Garden Festival. All shot with the K20D and the FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited.

The FA 77mm is best known as a portrait lens with it's fast maximum aperture, tele perspective and nice bokeh. Well it has proven to be a nice lens for flowers too. It would have been even better if it could focus a little closer than the current minimum of 0.7m but I guess I'm asking too much from an already excellent lens. Most certainly a lens that should be in every Pentax portrait shooter's bag.

02 August 2008

Rambutan Season

Got some rambutans from a family member and also from a friend the other day. Decided to take a shot of it before it got eaten. Yummy...

K20D Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro

For the benefit of those who don't know what a rambutan is, it's a delicious tropical fruit that is in season right about now. The fruit has a covering of soft hair and has a thick white flesh and a seed in the center somewhat similar to the lychee or longan. Comes in bunches and has a sweet juicy taste.

01 August 2008

Leaf Study

Liked the shape of the leaf with the naturally occurring holes.
Original image converted to B&W and added my own gold tone.

K20D FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited