Thursday, May 30, 2013

Goodbye Pentax

A hard decision, but also an easy one.

DSLRs are just a pain to carry. I have decided to move to a mirrorless system, the Fujifilm.

All future blogs will be found in my technography blog: The Malaysian Technographer.

Visit me there for interesting tips, reviews and previews of not just photography, but technologies I test in general. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lytro: The Future of Photography?

Ever found that you had to throw away  (ok lah, delete) a photo because you found it out of focus?

Ever wanted to taken a photo and said, "Wouldn't it be nice to see it from different focus points?" but you can't two identical shots coz your subject is not stationary?

Well then, your dream isn't too far away from reality.

Enter: Lytro.

The premise of this camera is simply to answer the two questions above by creating what they call "Living Pictures".

Very, very promising. The first version of this camera is akin to cameras 70 years ago, it's a box. Ok, it's a pretty looking rectangular box. It looks like a desktop speaker, if you ask me, and you will look weird trying to take a photo with it.
Camera or speaker?
Camera or errr???

Once you take a photo, you can upload it to Facebook or view it from their viewer (presumably, since it ain't a JPEG file). The interesting thing is that you can in real time pick any point in the picture and it will automatically focus to that point. The narrow depth of field is made available due to the built in lens with fixed aperture of f2. But the magic is how you can change the focus at any point in the photo. While this is really great, there is a long way to go before we can drop all our camera gears and go head on towards this camera.

1. There is no way to get the photo to increase depth of field, such as when you want to take a landscape
2. Lens itself is a 8x zoom lens (with no specified focus length on the website). There is no way of taking wider or more telephoto shots beyond that 8x zoom.
3. Sample photos displayed shows that the IQ is not great. You can only zoom a little and you definitely can't pixel peep. Not sure if it is even print worthy.

I won't repeat the science behind the product, but I've read some other articles which say that this camera will eliminate the need for interchangable lenses. I have a feeling that is not true. I believe that one day, this camera sensor can replace our DSLR sensors. Different lenses will still be required for different focal lengths and intrinsic values such as contrast and bokeh.

Currently priced from $499 a piece, it's not too expensive for a novel product.

Don't get me wrong, I think this is really, really exciting technology. I will never have to blame my camera AF or my eyes for not being able to focus properly! My wife would love it so much! Happy man I will be! But I guess it's just not for us who still want quality photos and "normal" looking cameras. :)

I think we are living in really exciting times here! Go take a look at Lytro here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to Detect Physical Flaws in a Used Camera Lens

This is an interesting link posted by Pentax Malaysia facebook page and I think it's a great article everyone should read if they buy pre-loved lenses. Yes, pre-loved. What a romantic way of saying second hand or used, or at least that is what you want to believed it was treated with the lens you are about to buy!

Click here to read full article: How to Detect Physical Flaws in a Used Camera Lens

It pretty much sums up all the things you have to look at. Here are some other tips I can think of:

  • bring a little torch light in case you don't have good light available when you meet up with the buyer
  • check for hazing in the lens. although this is quite apparent, the initial stages of hazing can be hard to detect
  • test autofocus accuracy. most cameras today has autofocus micro adjustments (Pentax k-7 and  k-5 has it. k-x requires a firmware "hack"), so this isn't such a major issue, but can be a little frustrating when you find out your lens isn't as sharp as all those reviews rave about. to do a quick test, just set your camera to center focus, single shot AF, shoot at longest focal length (for zooms) and at closest focusing distance to a picture with good contrast. after taking the photo, zoom in and check if the photo is sharp. Not the most proper way of checking, but if that's all you got, you'll have to make do. (P.S. don't use Live View to test AF, as the AF technology used is different)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Buying Photo Gear from

For the first online shopping experience review, I would like to start with is the only online store in Malaysia which is dedicated to Pentax equipment, apart from a small selection of generic photographic equipment. Based in Penang, and started in July 2011, I heard that it is started by some Pentax fans there, and it's really a "made for Pentaxians, for Pentaxians". Well, I come from KL and ain't too happy that they have all the nice events up there and I'm always missing it.

I've heard of only good things from people who bought their gear from there here in KL, and I thought I would also give them a try!

All my online shopping reviews will cover six main category of experience:
  1. Purchase process: how easy is it to buy? How do I pay for it? (5 points)
  2. Price : how does it compare with other places? (10 points)
  3. Delivery : how fast before I got my item? (10 points)
  4. Risk Factor : how sure am I that I will get what I paid for? What happens if the item gets lost in transit? (15 points)
  5. Service : how fast and friendly are their responses? (5 points)
  6. Warranty : is there one and how do I replace my item if it is defective? (5 points)
Maximum total points: 50

Let's start with's review:

Purchase Process
Buying from is much like how it is buying from other online stores. Here's a summary:
  1. Pick what you want and Add to Cart
  2. Click Checkout
  3. If you have no account with, create one (will take 2 minutes)
  4. Select your delivery address
  5. Pay for it
These are the payment methods available (from their FAQ page):

  1. Cash/ Cheque/ TT payment our Bank Account
  2. Visa/Mastercard

After Cash/ Cheque/ TT payment to our bank account, you have to email to or fax to our below information
  1. The bank slip.
  2. Your Order Reference Number for this payment.
  3. Your name and contact info
  4. Date and time of bank in
  5. Cheque number if payment by cheque

I paid via Maybank2u, but found the process a tad tedious simply because it is not fully integrated to Maybank2u yet. I guess it's not cheap for a startup to do that, so instead I had to bank in the money to their account, send my transaction reference to their billing department and wait for them to confirm. The confirmation came in about 30 minutes.

I didn't try the credit card payment (I would assume it would require me to key in my card number, expiry date and three digit code).

They now have Paypal payment as well, but there is a charge of about 3% so I didn't find that attractive at all.

Let's face it, prices for new and original Pentax stuff is now double what it used to be 3 years ago. Gone are the days we can get a new DA40 for RM800. The prices on Pentax2u is as competitive as can be for new original items in Malaysia. And what more, you can always send an email to them for some negotiation. What online store do you know allows you to do that? :)

Here's a little something I also found strange with Pentax pricing in Malaysia. Some lenses are actually cheaper here than in the US. And some incomprehensibly expensive. Go figure.

Apart from Pentax things, the store also has a selection of photographic accessories, like filters, bags, lens cleaner, etc. I am a keen fan of buying stuff from eBay Chinese sellers (review will come soon), but I have to say that Pentax2u's pricing is really competitive on this front as well. More so than Shashinki.

Oh, you want to know what I bought as my first purchase? A lens cap. I'm cheap, but I believe that if you can serve me well with small things, then you earn the rights to serve me with bigger things. :) And the lens cap mind is just RM7 with FREE SHIPPING, and it's easily the best 3rd party lens cap I got (I've bought some eBay china made ones and they are not as nice to use as this! Seriously!).

I love this one. Free delivery. Can't beat that. Complete with tracking. The item I bought was cheap, so it wasn't express delivery services, but still it was a registered mail which was shipped on a Friday and got it on a Monday.

My address was handwritten, guess it's a special personal touch there? ;)

Risk Factor
In a world full of risks, how can we ensure that we are not conned of our hard earned money? That is why I rate Risk Factor with the highest point weight-age. This is where buying from will excel. It's practically no risk, even if you buy your DA*300 from them as their shipping is insured and you can be sure they are genuine sellers. Well, just make sure your billing address is correct la...

But of course, a physical shop will always be the least risky (since you can test your equipment on the spot and take it home), so I cannot give any online stores full marks for risk factor.

Another excellent point here. They give very friendly and quick response via email. In fact, they even gave me a little freebie even though all I bought was a RM7 lens cap! Now that's really thoughtful! :D

My item had no warranty (obviously), but most other items have local warranties and case by case basis may be more than 1 year or even with international coverage. Here's a snapshot of their warranty policy as of today (taken from their FAQ page):

Warranty Policy
All our products at are covered with either Original Manufacturer Warranty or our store’s warranty.
Original Manufacturer Warranty product means that the product is covered under original manufacturer warranty. Buyer will be provided with the official warranty card by the manufacturer/ official local distributor. In case of a warranty claim (repair/ replacement), buyer can choose to send the product directly to manufacturer or to Pentax To U Dot Com, at buyer discretion. For ease of claim, we encourage you to ship directly to the manufacturer/ official local distributor.
Our store’s warranty product is typically meant for items we imported from overseas. Unless otherwise mentioned in the product listing, you will enjoy 7 days warranty coverage upon item received by the buyer.
Kindly contact us at should there be a need to claim the warranty.

Honestly, I prefer good ol' fashion shops which I can just dump my stuff and say "Fix it!" without the hassle of posting it back (and having to pay postal fees). So I don't think I can ever give any online shops full ratings for Warranty. Really not's problem, just my preference.

All in all, I think my experience with them is really positive. Except for the little inconvenience in paying, everything else is smooth.

Purchase Process: 3 out of 5
Price: 7 out of 10
Delivery: 10 out of 10
Risk Factor: 13 out of 15
Service: 5 out of 5
Warranty: 4 out of 5

Total: 42 out of 50

Highly recommended for all Malaysian Pentax users!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Buying Gears Online in Malaysia

I have been buying camera gears online since day one. In fact, I have actually never bought anything from a physical store in Malaysia before. All my stuff came from online. Pretty amazing actually. Buying online can be risky, but I'll try to share my experience with each store I have bought before and what are the pros and cons to everyone.

Here are the list of online places which I normally go for my hunt:



I've purchase stuff from at least 7 of the listed online sites above.

I'm a banana, so I can't read chinese. But I also know that there are some chinese sites which are great for buying Pentax and camera equipments. Someone said is a good place to buy some used lenses, but all I see is lingeries for sale. hmmm... Anyway, I hope my readers (i.e. you) can also share with me some good sites and I would be more than happy to add it to my list here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Geavity

I've been trying out an interesting social tool called Geavity which helps me create an inventory of My Gear along with my wish list and my ex-gear. Currently my owned gear is still more than my ex, so it looks like I'm still not a lens buying addict. :P Anyway, Geavity is found as an app in facebook (Geavity). The service itself can sometimes be sluggish, but interesting for you to compare (and envy, or make someone else envy) your friend's stuff.

Here's a screenshot my gear in Geavity:

Pretty neat right?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pentax k-x vs Samsung GX-1S (Pentax *ist DS2)

I know this post is a bit late (ok, like 2 years late). Pentax has moved on to a k-5, k-r and surely a new camera in a couple of months ahead. But hey, there are still lots of people out there with a *ist who may want to upgrade to a k-x since the Pentax k-x is dirt cheap now (less than RM1000/USD300 as of time of writing)!

I'm gonna make this short and simple. Just pros compared to the other camera

Pentax *ist DS2
  • Body is smaller than k-x (which is already small for a DSLR!)
  • CCD sensor (debatable whether CCD or CMOS is better)
  • Bigger brighter viewfinder (so much more comfortable than a k-x!)
  • Second monochrome LCD panel
  • Kit lens which comes with it has Quick Shift and metal mount
  • Optimal for IR camera modification (these 6MP sensors are known to be more sensitive to IR light)
  • Support for both TTL and P-TTL flash (TTL flash are cheaper to find)

Pentax k-x
  • Double the sensor resolution (12MP vs 6MP)
  • CMOS sensor (debatable whether CCD or CMOS is better)
  • Live view
  • High ISO (3200 vs 12800). *ist starts having lots of noise at ISO800, while k-x at ISO6400
  • Sensor shake reduction
  • Wireless flash support (with Pentax P-TTL flash only)
  • Bigger LCD screen
  • Faster Autofocus
  • Shutter speed (1/6000 vs 1/4000)
  • Burst (4.7 fps vs 2.8 fps)
  • Video recording
  • Comes in white and other crazy colors

Both cameras take AA batteries which is also debatable whether it is truly a pro or a con. But I'm happy with it.

Ok, there you have it, a quick comparison between the two cameras! Ultimately, although the *ist DS2 is a great camera when it came out in 2006, the Pentax k-x has key features which I needed. But if you are a student who want to start of with a simple DSLR and you can find an *ist DS2 kit for say RM300 to RM500 (USD100 to USD160), then by all means, GRAB it. It's still a great camera for beginners on a budget! Think about it, most cameras (even simple point and shoot) costs around that. But any DSLR because of it's sensor size will beat a P&S camera any day. And a bigger viewfinder means easier manual focusing with all those bargain manual lenses out there.