Friday, November 28, 2008

Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di Macro

I hardly shoot macro photos and I can't even remember when was the last time I used the Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di Macro lens for macro work, but only for close up product shots. There are several lifesize macro lenses for Canon EF mount in the market. One of the cheapest lenses is this from Tamron. I'm very satisfied with it not only because of the price (around RM1300) but the performance. Being designated as "Di" lens, it supports both fullframe and APS-C body. This is the added advantage compared to Canon's EF-S 60mm F/2.8 Macro USM which is designed solely for APS-C body.

Being offered at this price definitely has its own drawbacks such as extending barrel, slow and noisy AF and no FTM (Full Time Manual). The extending barrel is the most annoying part since the barrel will be fully extended by a few inches when I require a lifesize (1:1) magnification. This reduces the "working distance" and the lens will be relatively closer to the subject, as compared to Canon's EF100mm F/2.8 Macro USM which offers internal focusing. If you're not going to use this lens for other purpose such as sports shooting, you'll be fine with the slow and noisy AF. I only use manual focusing when I shoot macro. With newer generation bodies such as EOS50D and EOS5DMkII, extremely accurate focusing can be done via the LiveView LCD with high magnification viewing. Focusing with the small pathetic optical viewfinder is a history.

If you intend to own only one budget medium telephoto prime lens for macro and portrait work, then this is the lens. Else I would recommend you to get EF85mm F/1.8 USM specifically for portrait work due to larger aperture and faster AF.

Here's a shot of an Australian bank note.

EOS350D, 90mm, F/16, 2.5s, ISO100

100% Crop (click for fullsize)

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

EF200mm F/2.8L II USM

There's an advantage of being black: being stealthy. As you know most Canon's L series (super)telephoto lenses are in white colour, mainly to dissipate heat easily under hot sun. The downside is it gets way too much of attention in the public. EF200mm F/2.8L II USM is the longest telephoto prime lens in L series which comes in black colour. This lens was launched in April 1996, together with its younger brother: EF135mm F/2L USM. Optically and physically they share almost the same design. Here is the photo of both lens.

What I like about EF200mm F/2.8L II USM is its size and weight. Compared to EF135mm F/2L USM, it's about 2.4cm longer, and merely 15g heavier. Compared to EF70-200mm F/4L IS USM, it's 3.58cm shorter and merely 5g heavier. It consists of 9 elements in 7 groups, 8-blade diaphragm, minimum focusing distance of 1.5m yielding 0.16x magnification ratio (on fullframe body) and utilizing 72mm diameter filter. If you often mount the camera on tripod, I would recommend you to get the black Tripod Ring A II which is supported by this lens for better stability and balance. EF70-200mm F/4L IS USM also uses the same tripod ring but in white colour. The photo below shows the EF200mm F/2.8L II USM mounted on a EOS5D with a white retrofit tripod ring. The ET-83B II lens hood is supplied along with the lens.

At the price of around RM2900, this lens doesn't come with IS (Image Stabilizer) nor weather-sealed. As a rule of thumb, it's highly recommended to shoot at least 1/200s of shutter speed for a 200mm lens to avoid handshake blur. Conversely, I can easily get sharp image at 1/10s with the EF70-200mm F/4L IS USM, due to the presence of IS. From all of my test shots, I get excellent handheld shooting result at 1/200s.

The AF is fast yet accurate. On this sample copy, the AF result is dead on. The focusing ring is very smooth and built is solid. Being light and short means highly portable. I use Think Tank Urban Disguise 30 to carry it while it's attached to a EOS5D body.

If you think that this lens is slow, and wish that it has IS mechanism and don't mind to pay alot for a lens which is heavier and larger, then I would recommend you to go with the approximately RM19,000 EF200mm F/2L IS USM. Fulltime sports photographers might prefer this unit.

In terms of image quality, it gives me the same feeling as its sibling (EF135mm F/2L USM). It's sharp wide open from edge to edge on a fullframe body. I wouldn't hesitate to shoot wide open all the time if that's the result I desire. For pixel peepers, this is the lens for you! Colour and contrast are as usual on L series lens.

200mm, F/2.8, 1/250s, ISO800

200mm, F/2.8, 1/320s, ISO200

200mm, F/2.8, 1/320s, ISO200

200mm, F/2.8, 1/200s, ISO800

Below is the 100% crop of the above image. Click for fullsize.

200mm, F/11, 1/30s, ISO400

Depends on individual's need, if you often shoot at 200mm and F/2.8 and yet not willing to spend extra money, not willing to carry bulkier and heavier lens, then this is the lens for you.

*Thanks to Canon Malaysia for loaning this lens.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Less Wisdom

I started to experience on and off gum infection a few weeks ago. That lead me to suspect that I had an impacted third molar (wisdom tooth) problem. Last week I went to the dentist when I couldn't stand the pain caused by the infection any longer. The X-Ray result showed that the lower left wisdom tooth is horizontally impacted, pushing against the tooth adjacent to it. The surgery couldn't be performed immediately due to the gum infection with pus.

The surgery was done about 4 hours ago. It took me about an hour to remove not only one, but two wisdom teeth. The problematic one is embedded deeply in the gum, requiring the tooth to be drilled, gum to be cut and plucking the remaining bits - sounds horrible isn't it? Thanks to the LA (Local Anesthesia), I don't feel a single pain at all, but my mouth is full of blood. Another wisdom tooth located at the upper left jaw took the dentist less than 5 mins to be plucked.

The reward from this surgery is 3 days of MC. Hopefully I get to make use of the free time to study and detail cars...LOL!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Experience at Perodua HQ

Two weeks ago, I was assigned a task to perform network assessment at Perodua's HQ in Rawang. One of the few tasks involve studying the current network design and performing site survey throughout the whole campus. During the past few visits, I've visited the casting department, QC department, assembly department, R&D department etc...What's more interesting to me is today's visit. I get to enter the highly restricted area: Paint Shop. It's a huge multi-storey building with conveyor transporting the car chassis going through several areas. It's pretty exciting to watch the robots painting the car, workers performing spot corrections, and cars going through the high temperature oven. Walking in the paint shop is pretty risky, one will easily get into trouble if he/she is not careful. Since the conveyor keeps moving, car chassis keep moving too. For those car chassis which just came out from the oven, it's literally "freshly baked from oven". I can feel the heat even the car is about 50cm away from me. As I walked past the QC area, I noticed a few workers were doing spot sanding and compounding on a few chassis, probably to remove dust nibs. And guess what, I saw tonnes of Meguiar's products in their storeroom of the paint shop. Products which I saw are SOLO system and M80 Speed Glaze. What a great day!

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

EF85mm F/1.8 USM

Reasonably priced at around RM1400, the EF85mm F/1.8 USM is suitable for head and shoulder portrait. Though it's not part of the L lens league, but the lens is able to deliver crisp sharp image even at its largest aperture. The only drawback is the purple fringing at F/1.8 and once stopped down to F/2.8, it's almost eliminated. Launched in July 1992, this lens is still able to support today's standard, especially for pixel-peepers. Also, having 8-blade diaphragm renders excellent and smooth bokeh to eliminate background distraction.

The build is solid, it has metal mount and the focusing ring is smooth. Weighing merely 425g, it offers great portability. Compared to its elder brother - EF85mm F/1.2L II USM, it's less than half of its weight, and almost 1/6th its price, but lacking the L quality and slower by more than a stop. If you're on budget, it's a no brainer to choose the F/1.8 version. However, being cheap doesn't mean it's poorer in every aspect, its AF is way faster than the F/1.2 version due to lighter focusing group elements. Overall, it's a value for money prime lens for Canon shooters, be it fullframe or APS-C body.

EOS5D, 85mm, F/2, 1/160s, ISO400

EOS5D, 85mm, F/1.8, 1/60s, ISO1600

EOS5D, 85mm, F/2, 1/60s, ISO1600