Posts filed under 'Photography'

Review / hands on with Canon’s 8-15mm f4L fisheye

So, I got to try out this exotic lens at the Canon workshop in Sri Lanka (Thanks to Roland Poon of Canon Singapore who brought it with him).

I only tested it on an APS-C camera - it is a full frame L lens so it would give much better results on a full frame camera.

When I first fixed the lens and tried it, I could only set it to 10mm - I thought it was stuck! Turns out the lens has a range limiter to limit it to 10mm (optional) on a full frame camera - apparently if you use it at 8mm on a full frame the image is smaller than the sensor area and ends up in a circle, so this can be used to prevent that:

Build quality - perfect, smooth, etc. It’s an L
Size: seems small’ish
Weight - quite light. But not too light, it has L quality build.

So, I guess there isn’t much to say about it - its pretty much perfect.
OK, worst review ever, I know.

A few notes:
- If you own an APS-C Camera, it may be cheaper to purchase an APS-C zoom such as canon’s 10-22 or sigma’s 10-20?
- 8 MM is pretty wide even on APS-C - I had a hard time keeping my feet out of the image. I’m told that the view is 180 degrees on a full frame.
- The lens hood should probably be removed for maximum wideness - especially on a full frame (can it be removed? not sure, didn’t try!)
- The front element bulges out - and is delicate - as with all fisheyes it should not be touched
- the cap is decent - almost an inch tall and fits over the lens hood neatly.
- Overall it felt pretty small in hand.

Here’s a sample image:
Test image with the Canon 8-15mm F4L lens

Note black corners on this photo - does that mean it is almost 180 degrees on APS-C even??

Also see dpreview’s article on the 8-15mm f4l:

Add comment August 6th, 2011

Spot the bird

There’s a bird hidden in this photo. See if you can find it (click to view full size)

Spot the bird

Speaking of birds, here are two more photos:


Koha 2

Thanks to Preveen of Autolanka who identified the bird as a Koha :)

Add comment April 3rd, 2009

Canon 50 mm 1.8 MKII


Sample photo taken with the 50mm 1.8 - at f4 I think..

The 50mm 1.8 is an excellent lens. Its small, light, and quite sharp. At around $80 (10k here via agent) it’s also quite a bargain.


  • Sharp,accurate color, focuses OK in low light (at least compared to the 18-55 IS)
  • Comparatively cheap - this may be the cheapest lens Canon makes.
  • Fast (1.8 max aperture) so good for freezing motion, especially in low light
  • Small/Light weight - means its easy to carry and does not add much size/weight to the camera
  • Useful length - 50mm (or 80mm approx equiv in a 1.6x camera) is a reasonably usesful focal length.


  • Autofocus is a bit slow and buzzy (somewhat louder)
  • OOF (out of focus areas)/bokeh is not that good - however in carefully controlled circumstances it can take decent photos.

Add comment February 14th, 2009

Getting started with dSLR photography

Disclaimer. I’m not a photographer. If you want real advice, drop a note to Dominic Sansoni or Sebastian Posingis. I did, and both of them replied with a list of useful suggestions. So thanks guys!

Anyway, this article should summarize most of what I’ve gathered over the past year. Prices are approximate.


Some time last year, I decided to take up a hobby. I wrote a list and narrowed it down to photography or smoking. Detailed analysis led to the following conclusions.

For: Fun, and you have a visual archive of some things you saw.
Against: very expensive and likely to kill you.

For: makes you look cool.
Against: expensive, kills you slowly. This too leaves a visual archive but it will consist of photos of your blacked lungs taken by med students.

Since I have allergies, I decided to go with photography

What Camera?

If you just need something small and pocketable, get a simple point and shoot digital camera. A basic P&S camera from Canon or Panasonic can be got for about $150. I recommend the Canon A series.


In my case, I switched to dSLR’s from point and shoot because of the following:

  1. Flexibility to use different lenses, swap lenses between cameras. Why is this important? Because the photo mostly depends on the lens (and technique/skill obviously!) - the camera sensor only has to function OK. And so far nobody has managed to make a lens that covers normal, wide angle and telephoto without compromises - so being able to use different lenses makes better quality photos possible, than could be got with a single all-purpose lens.
  2. Good glass retains value: an L series lens purchased for $800 in 1999 probably costs the same today. A dSLR purchased for $5000 in 1999 is probably worth $170 today.
  3. Bigger sensor - a P&S sensor is much smaller than an APS-C or full frame. See those tiny cubes at the bottom of this image? now compare with the APS-C or full frame. And unlike megapixels, sensor size DOES make a huge difference in image quality, low light performance, etc.

Step 1: choosing the brand of dSLR.

You have a choice of Nikon or Canon. (Yes, there’s Olympus, Sony, etc.. but lenses are rare so I’d stick with Nikon/Canon).

Which to choose? I can’t say either is better but I personally chose Canon due to lens availability where I live. Also Canon tends to have on-lens autofocus so most canon lenses autofocus regardless of the body, whereas many Nikon lenses wont autofocus on low end Nikon dSLR’s.

Once you have decided the brand, it’s time to pick the body and lenses:

Step 2: Choose body

Where body refers to the camera body without lens. Get the cheapest body for that sensor size - dSLR’s are generally available as 1.6 crop, 1.3crop (rare) or full size.

Why do I say this? because, ultimately, what matters most is the sensor size. Forget about megapixels for now, just get the biggest sensor size for the lowest cost. At the moment, for 1.6 size, that would be the 1000d, and for full frame, that would be the 5d (for Canon). You can upgrade from the 1000d to the 50 D for $500 - $1000 more approx, but is it worth it for a few minor features like faster burst modes? Personally I’d spend more only to upgrade to the 5d with 2x the sensor area.

Note - if you buy a 1.6x sensor, you can use EF-S lenses - these are budget lenses designed to fit that smaller sensor size. These lenses won’t work properly on full frame cameras

Recommended cameras:
EOS1000d or d40/40x/60 for Nikon
If you can afford it, go for the 5D :). If you extremely rich and slightly crazy, the 5D mkII


Once you pick a body it’s time to choose lenses. This is where the fun begins. Which lenses are right for you? it depends on your requirements.

Lenses are usually categorized according to the focal length:

10mm, 12mm, 17mm, 22mm etc.. these lenses give you nice wide photos. For example, here is a wideangle photo taken at 18mm (35mm equivalent 27mm perhaps?) What do I mean by 27mm equiv? well if I has a full frame sensor I could have taken that photo with a 27mm lens

You can get a variable wide angle lens (something like the 18mm - 55mm kit lens that’s included with most cameras for $150 or so), or you can purchase individual lenses


Normal lenses are 50mm, 85mm etc. A 50mm 1.8 prime costs as little as $100, which is incredible value for money.

Telephoto / super telephoto:
85mm upwards.. these include prime (fixed) lenses such as the 100mm f2, and variable lenses (e.g. 70-300mm)

Recommended Lenses:


Wideangle - 18-55IS($160), usually included as kit with your camera
Normal - you can get a 50mm 1.8 ($100)
Telephoto 55-250IS ($220)

the IS lenses are image stabilized so they try to stabilize the image despite wobbles caused by your hands

Not so budget:

Wideangle - 17-40L this is a professional wide/zoom lens. (Costs around $600-$800)
Normal - 50mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4
Telephoto - 70-200 f4 l ($800) or upgrade to the IS version ($1200), als consider primes like the 85mm 1.8 ($450) etc.

Aside from this, you may need:

Filters (to filter UV, protect your lenses, and hoods, to prevent lens flare and make you look cool. Also a sealed case with silica gel for storage (Humidity creates fungus in cameras and lenses). Lastly, an insurance policy could be useful.

In retrospect, you may want to consider taking up smoking instead. After all, it is cheaper.

PS: please note any errors in this post, as comments, and I will update it. Thanks!

Add comment January 10th, 2009

Sharpness (90-300mm)

I took some photos with my Canon 90-300 zoom lens today. This photo is a good example of what this lens can do. Sharpness is set at zero, aperture f9, ISO unknown probably 200. Click to view original size. As you can see, at 100% it’s pretty decent!

Continue Reading Add comment January 1st, 2009

The worst lens on earth

Smart people collect sensible prime lenses. The not so brainy get zoom lenses. Crazy people go for super-zoom’s

The budget super zoom is the worst of all. Cheaply constructed, with poor optics, it tries to be many different things, and fails usually.

Continue Reading Add comment December 17th, 2008

Does anyone have Canon DSLR lenses for sale?

AJ wants to know why I’m photographing the marmalade jar, she says there’s no way I can make it beautiful. Actually, its chilli paste.. also I think the bokeh makes it look quaint.

Huh, here’s an odd thing. Seem’s like the local shops have run out of Canon lenses. Either that or they don’t like me or something. I just want a few Canon lenses.. like a 70/75-300*.. and a 50mm and an 85 mm.. Tried the agents (metropolitan) who quoted astronomical figures (only 120% markup)

I spoke to Panama’s where I got a guy who didn’t speak much english, who informed that they don’t have much of anything. The story of our nation.

* I really want a 200mm f2.0, but robbing banks isn’t all its cut out to be, so for now I’ll settle for a cheap consumer superzoom

Add comment November 25th, 2008

Ahh, schooldays

I can’t remember school being this much fun for me…
(Click for zoom)

(Photo from

3 comments August 9th, 2007

Pic of the day: Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-scott South Pole Station

Credit: Photo is by Chris Danals, National Science Foundation

About the photo (text from the Wikipedia link)
A full moon and 25 second exposure allowed sufficient light into this photo taken at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station during the long Antarctic night. The new station can be seen at far left, power plant in the center and the old mechanic’s garage in the lower right. Red lights are used outside during the winter darkness as their spectrum does not pollute the sky, allowing scientists to conduct astrophysical studies without artificial light interference. There is a background of green light. This is the Aurora Australis, which dances thorugh the sky virtually all the time during the long Antarctic night (winter).The photo’s surreal appearance makes the station look like a futuristic Mars Station.

You can read more about the Amundsen-Scott station or download a high res version from Wikipedia,

Add comment August 5th, 2007

Barefoot HDR Photos 2

The problem with conventional camera’s (digital or analog) is that they can only capture one level of exposure, and are not as sensitive to variance in lighting, compared to the human eye.

This means that when one is photographing outdoor scenes for example, it’s impossible to get the right level of exposure for both bright and dark areas of the photo.

Consider the following photographs: All three show the same scene, at different levels of exposure (the shutter was open for different amounts of time):

(Click each image to view a larger version)

Fastest shutter speed
In this image, the building (top right) is correctly exposed, but the rest of the photo is quite dark.

Medium shutter speed
Medium speed
Here, the foreground is reasonably exposed but the building in the background is overexposed.

Slowest shutter speed
Slowest shutter

At this setting, the darkest areas of the photo are clear but all brightly lit areas are overexposed.

So, what if you could combine the best of the photos?

Well, you’d get something like this:

HDR Elephant

This photo is (somewhat) close to what you would see with your eyes. Well, except for the extremely oversaturated colors!

Add a little bit of (insane) tone mapping, and you get this:
Insane tone mapping

And that is a very simplified overview of the concept of HDRI (High dynamic range imaging).

Here are a few more photos from Barefoot. Some have been processed using HDR technology as well as tone mapping:

(click each photo to view a larger version)

Tone mapping gone wild!!


People 1

People 2


Alternate version of above photo, with some extreme tone mapping.


Another version of above photo: can you spot the difference? Believe it or not this HDR is made using a single image with different gamma settings!!

PS: Thanks Naz!

Add comment April 18th, 2007

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