Tag Archives: camera

Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 Fish Eye for MFT

Samyang 7.5 00

When I first bought my DSLR one of the lenses I thought of buying was a fish-eye lens. At the time a fish-eye lens from Nikon was prohibitively expensive and I gave up the idea of buying one altogether. Lately I’ve been concentrating more on my Micro Four Thirds setup and that’s when I found this Samyang lens. I contacted AAB World to see if they carried this brand and they turned out to be the dealers for Samyang as well. They were quick to loan me a test lens and I’ve been playing around with it the last couple of weeks. This post will focus on the Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 and then I’ll add some photos taken with it over the week.

Samyang 7.5 01

Whats in the box:
The lens comes snugly packed in a plastic shell which keeps it from getting damaged during transit. There’s a leather (or leather-like) lens bag included in the box. There’s no separate lens hood since there’s a protective hood built on the barrel itself.

Samyang 7.5 02

The lens:

Its a fully manual lens, meaning there are no CPU contacts on the lens that communicate with your camera body and infact your camera will not even recognize that there’s a lens attached. On the Lumix you have to select the ‘Shoot w/o lens’ option in the menu before you start shooting.

It has an aperture ring marked from f/3.5 to f/22 and it turns easily with a solid click in each position. The focus ring is well damped and does not move from its position once you’ve set it to the desired distance. The lens can focus from .19 meters to infinity but I wish it had a marking for 1 meter as well. Overall the lens is very solid and feels like its worth twice its actual price.

The lens has a focal length of 7.5mm and in Full Frame or traditional 35mm format that would roughly translate to 15mm, which is really pretty wide. The lens is sold re-branded as Rokinon, Bower and Vivitar in some markets but essentially its all the same lens. They come in two colors; Black and Silver and in mounts for MFT, E Mount, Fuji Mount etc.

Its available at AAB Studio for KD 94.950 which is reasonable comparable to online prices and plus you get a local warranty too.

Shooting:
This is where everything you know about composition goes out the window. Due to the characteristic distortion on this lens the image will wildly vary depending on which axis you point your lens at. Using the conventional ‘Rule of Thirds’ concept may not always yield good results but that’s up to you to decide. I found that I preferred symmetry in some pictures while in others I didn’t. Using this lens is a lot of fun and a great learning experience. You can see the effect of tilting the camera in this short video that I took here;

Tips:
. This lens is ultra wide and has an angle of view of 180 degrees so make sure you’re not holding the lens barrel or your fingers will wind up in the frame. If you hold the camera too close to your body even your feet will be visible in the frame.

. If you’re shooting at higher apertures like f/11 or f/16 focus is not an issue and you can leave it at Infinity but if you’re shooting closer objects at f/3.5 then it would be wise to use the magnified focus window on your screen (if your camera has that function) so that your subject is in sharp focus.

. Since its a manual lens you’ll have to keep in mind a few parameters like the Aperture setting on your lens, the ISO and Shutter speed on your camera body. Luckily I was able to use the exposure meter on my GX1 and managed to properly expose the majority of the shots in the way that I wanted.

There’s almost no limit to what you can shoot if you’re creative with a fish-eye as you can see from this [link] and here are a sample of the photos I’ve taken with this amazing little lens.

Fisheye Bridge

Fifth RingTraffic

Banking Complex

Warp Speed

Salmiya Tunnel

Prestige Avenues

Avenues Dome

Samyang 7.5 03

Final Thoughts: 
This is a high quality lens that’s both affordable and easy to use. Its compact dimensions doesn’t take up much space in your bag and you’ll always have it handy. I loved the lens so much that I’m actually going to buy the lens used in this review. Contact AAB World to see if they have this lens in your camera mount specifications.

Setting up a Home Surveillance Camera – Dlink DCS 930L

My wife and I needed a way a monitor our babies while we’re at work and to keep an eye on our home when we’re out of the country so we looked for an easy and reasonably priced home surveillance solution. After some hunting on the internet I came across this model from Dlink that fit our requirements perfectly.

A few friends have asked us for more detail on how to set it up so I’ll try to make things as clear and simple as possible in this post.

What do you need?
1. A stable internet connection with decent upload speed.
2. A router that supports (or has configurable settings) Port Forwarding
3. A network camera

How do you set it up?
1. First of all, follow the instructions for your specific brand of camera to set it up on your home network
2. From the router assign the camera a static IP address (like 192.168.1.99)
3. Check from a PC on your home network to see if you can access the homepage of your camera
4. Go to Port Forwarding settings on your router and create a rule to forward incoming connections to your cameras port (use a port like 8088) and save the rule
5. Now find out the IP given to your router by the ISP. Hit www.whatismyip.com to find out
6. Now you can test if you can access your camera from an external network. Enter [http://(your home IP address):8088] and you’ll see the homepage of your camera
Note: You most probably won’t have a static IP assigned to you by the ISP so if you restart your router you’ll have to recheck your IP address.
7. If you can buy a Dynamic DNS service you can set a permanent URL for your camera and access it just by entering it in your browser. That way you won’t have to check your IP every time the router is restarted.

Dlink DCS 930L

Whats in the box: DCS 930L Camera and stand, Power adapter, Installation CD, Instruction booklet, Network cable

Setup: Installation was very simple and you have the option of either hooking it up to your router for the initial setup or using the WPS feature (you router must also have this feature) Once you’ve set it up using the installation software you can unplug it from the router and then install the camera on the wall or on a shelf in the room that you want to monitor. The camera will connect automatically to your home WiFi network once you’ve moved it to its new position and connected the power.

My Dlink App: The application that comes with the camera allows you to control multiple cameras around your house and also setup motion detection or ask the camera to send you an email alert when there’s a sound or movement inside the field of view of the camera. Using the application you can register your camera on the Dlink cloud and then log into your camera when you’re away from home.

Mobile App: The Dlink application is available for iOS and Android and it too allows you to access multiple cameras from your mobile and also take screenshots from the video feed.

Performance: This is not some High Definition video recorder but for keeping an eye on your home this is more than adequate. We have a 3 MBPS DSL connection but uploads are usually around 500 Kbps so there’s a slight lag in the video feed but its still usable. The microphone is rather sensitive and we can clearly hear our children talking from the corridor or even the inner rooms. Since the mic is sensitive it also has a rather annoying hiss when the room is very quiet.

Where can you buy it from?: When I was planning on buying this camera back in June there was a one day offer from Sheeel for 19 KD, which I missed but later on found it on Mr. Babu for the same price. I got my order from Mr. Babu in less than a week.

Startrail Session VI – Photography Activity

AlSalmi Startrails 2013-03-15

My friend, the Geek is back with another Star Trail session in Salmi desert. I missed the last couple of outings due to work and family related schedule conflicts. This time around I’ve booked the day well in advance and made sure there will be no interference from the aforementioned parties.

Hopefully I’l get better shots than last time as I’ve understood what I was doing wrong and now am prepared to take some proper sets of trails. The photo posted here is by Q8 Geek.

For more info on the outing you can head over to [his site] and get in touch with him to register your name in the group. Also join the [Facebook event] if you’re interested in getting any updates for this event.

Kodak CX7300 Digital Camera Review

Kodak CX7300
I just got my first digital camera today, the Kodak CX7300. It wasn’t as expensive as the Sony Mavica I had in mind and since there was a promotion at G.K Vale this month I took the plunge and splurged about half my monthly salary on this purchase. The Kodak CX7300 is the latest in a series of entry level digital cameras that are aimed at the beginner/casual photographer market. After discount the camera was listed at Rs 8,300 including taxes and they didn’t give any freebies. I thought long and hard at the counter wondering if I’d have enough money at the end of the month to buy a pitcher of draught KF at the local pub if I went ahead with this deal.

Unfortunately for me it’d been less than 6 months since I joined the company and my credit card was stil under processing so paying cash upfront was the only option. Still, being a bachelor with a decent job in an MNC and taking home around RS 200,000 (sounds unbelievable now) per year so I had some cash to spare.

Lets get the tech specs out of the way first;
Sensor: 3 Million pixels.Wow this shit is awesome!
Internal Memory: 16 Megabytes. My buddy with the Mavica would need more than 10 3.5 inch FDs to match that capacity
Display: Live view and playback  on 1.6 inch LCD
Storage: SD and MMC cards supported, the guy at the counter said I can buy cards with capacity of up to 512 Megabytes
Video: Shoots 320×240 silent video in .mov format
Connectivity: Supports USB 2.0 data transfer

Whats in the box:
2 AA Kodak batteries
USB Cable
Wrist strap
Camera
Instruction manual
Software installation CD
Dock adapter

Shooting experience:
My previous camera was a 35mm fixed lens Yashica automatic film camera and compared to it this Kodak is amazing. I can take a shot and review it instantly on the LCD. I’ll never have to worry about some idiot room mate opening up the film compartment and exposing the reel or have to wait till the roll is over to process the film.

The camera response is pretty good too, it just take a couple of seconds for the camera to switch on and then you’re ready to go. I took it along with me on a couple of office trips and it was very popular with the guys since they could all share the pictures on their computers and email it to their friends back home.

Picture quality: The output images are in JPEG format and can be used for prints up to 11 inches. I print most of mine in 4×6 size so its more than adequate. Pictures taken in broad daylight are sharp and detailed but performance in low light conditions is really bad but the guy at the Kodak Color Science Lab (he even wore a white lab coat!) reduced the noise in the prints after working his magic. Here’s one I took when I visited Delhi in 2006;

Gateway to the Taj

Update:
The next month I bought a 128 Megabyte Multi-Media Memory Card (MMC) which upped the storage capacity of my camera to insane levels. I also decided to spend some money on an imported camera pouch. I found this brand called Caselogic which came from Singapore or Taiwan. It cost Rs 499 but is high quality stuff and protects my camera from rain and dust while I’m riding my bike on weekend trips.


This is probably what I would’ve posted in my blog back in 2004 if I had an internet connection in our bachelor accommodation in Bangalore. I dug up this camera from my closet during the Eid holidays, did some cleaning and popped in a new set of batteries and it still works like a charm after more than 8 years of service. Hope you enjoyed the review as much as I enjoyed remembering it and writing it down.

Mathai Ashraf giveaway

Photography Discount Voucher Giveaway

I won this voucher in a contest last month and would like to give it away to one lucky winner. The voucher is from Ashraf & Co. and entitles you to a 20% discount on photography products at their stores. This is valid till the end of September.

All you have to do is drop a comment below and I’ll let Random.org select the winner like I did with the previous calendar giveaway. Draw will be on July 8th and is for residents of Kuwait only.

Update:

The winner selected from the list generated by Random.org is ‘Handy’

DSCF0368

Panasonic Lumix GX1 – My New Companion

After a long time of indecisiveness I finally took the plunge and bought myself a Micro Four Thirds System camera, the Lumix GX1. To say that this is an impressive camera would be an understatement. The GX1 packs in quite a number of features in such a small package that you’ll love it from the get go.

Now this is not an extensive review on the features of the camera itself, for that you can check out the detailed report on DP Review [link].  My first option was the G1X from Canon but then went with the GX1 as I like the freedom of interchangeable lenses. Having a compact camera with SLR-like capabilities was my requirement and this fit the bill perfectly.

Check out the size comparison below  with my Nikon D60 and 18-55mm lens.

Here’s a list of what I liked about the camera;
1. Compact size, metal body and buttons
2. Interchangeable lens options
3. Great ISO performance (check out my Geely launch and Jade Garden posts, all photos were taken in really low light)
4. Fast Autofocus
5. Four customizable function buttons
6. Responsive touch screen and easy to use menu
7. Shoots RAW + JPEG

Here’s some more information about the Micro Four Thirds platform [link]

digital rev

I Heart Digitalrev – Online Shopping

Update: Thanks to Cajie for first checking out and testing the site and from the other’s experiences [here] you’ll find that the overall shopping experience has been good for all those who’ve ordered from Digitalrev

I received my Lumix GX1 yesterday that I’d ordered from Digitalrev and from my one experience I’ll say that this will be my first preference for future photography related purchases. My whole shopping experience was easy and hassle free and my package arrived in Kuwait in the safest possible way. Unlike ordering from Adorama or Amazon I didn’t need a separate forwarding address, Digitalrev will ship to your location for free!

 My order was sent out on May 30th and I received it in Kuwait on June 5th. There was only a 2 day delay in Kuwait customs. The best part was that I only paid 2 KD as clearance charges so on the whole this was a very profitable purchase.The package arrived wrapped in more than 6 feet of bubble wrap (I’m not kidding, I checked) and was packaged in such a way that it would be safe no matter what happened during shipping.

I opted for the Lumix GX1 bundle, for USD 742, which included the following;
    – Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 With G X Vario PZ 14-42mm
    – Transcend 8GB SD-HC Card (Class 10)
    – AFT HDMI cable HDMI/M to MINI HDMI/M 1.5M
    – Digitalrev DSLR Camera Gifts Package

And I paid 2KD for clearance so my total was just 210 KD. I’d highly recommend shopping in Digitalrev for photography equipment. One word of advice though, check prices on more than one site before you make a purchase since certain items like the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 is more expensive here than on other sites.

My Lumix GX1

Flip HD00

Flip MinoHD 8GB – Pocket Video camera

I was at Xcite last week with a colleague when I noticed that they had a sale on the 8GB Flip HD. I bought one for my dad since he was thinking about getting a small video camera for trips to India and this seemed perfect for his use. There are no menus and options to go thru, you just point and shoot.

I was playing around with it and its not a bad video camera. It shoots at 720p @60FPS and does not have optical zoom or optical image stabilization. The final output on a large screen TV is decent and its adequate for those homemade family videos. It also has an inbuilt software to transfer files to your PC and even do editing. Check out the test sample at the end of the post. I wanted to shoot outdoors but conditions were less than perfect this weekend.

Whats in the box?
It comes in a very small minimalist black box and contains the Flip unit, a lanyard, some documentation and a soft pouch which also works as a cleaning cloth.

Features:
. Built-in USB connector
. Flipshare software pre-installed on flash memory
. 8 GB internal memory, records @ 720p, 60FPS for 2 hours
. 2x digital zoom and digital image stabilization
. Built-in Lithium Ion battery

Update: Software
The software that comes with the Flip is easy to use and it has some basic video editing functions and the options to add opening credits, titles and end credits. There’s also a little Flip logo that you can attach to the end of each video. The Flipshare library also has some music tracks that you can use for your videos. If you have an Youtube account you can upload your videos directly from Flipshare. I tested it for my upload and it worked fine.

Overall this is great value for money and considering I paid less than 14 KD for each unit I have no complaints at all.

You can also buy the Flip from the Xcite website. [link]

Youtube [link]

Holga-D60

Holga lens for Nikon – HL-N

I recently bought this lens on sale and tried it out during to weekend to see how it worked on my D60. If you haven’t heard of Holga cameras before read this [link] and see some [samples shots] with this lens. Holga cameras are made from plastic and even the lens is plastic, which gives them a characteristic look and some amount of vignetting and light leaks. On my D60 I didn’t get so much vignetting since mine is an APS-C sensor but if you try it on a full frame body like a D800 or D4 you’ll get copious amounts of vignetting.

If you’re thinking of buying this lens for your digital camera here’s a couple of things you need to know;
1. The lens is a constant f/8 aperture so you need lots of light or bump up your ISO to 1600 and above (this also gives a nice grainy effect)
2. The focus meter on your camera probably won’t work if you have this lens attached so use the guide markings on the lens body to ‘guesstimate’ the focal length.
3. There are no CPU contacts on the lens so the only option is to use it in manual mode otherwise you’ll get an error message on the display.

This is a cheap lens that you can experiment with and based on environmental conditions and your camera settings you’ll get some decent photos that you can use for prints. Check out the gallery below.

You can buy the Holga lens from their website [link]

 

Youtube [link]