Top 3 features I like about Nikon D4s


The Nikon D4s is now shipping to early adopters and I had an opportunity to play with the new flagship camera!

Below are the top 3 new/improved features that I like!

#1 – ISO
The native ISO is now starting from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, and produce superb quality with close to none visible-noise issues.  The D4s also expand to a record breaking high ISO 409600 allowing one to shoot in virtually any condition with ease!

#2 – Group AF
This new group AF make use of five AF points to improve stability especially while tracking subject.  Nikon also tweaked the AF system to improve the lock-on accuracy and usability.


#3 –  Monitor color balance
You can now manually tweak the LCD to color match the other screens you’ll be using.  The adjustment is pretty much strait to the point, similar to WB fine tune option.  Bear in mind that this option only adjust what you’ll see on screen, but has no-effect to what ever you shot.


Going North for a break – Part 1

Wow, finally the hectic working weeks settled!  It’s time for me to take a break and recharge myself.  So, I’ve took a few day off, and together with my other half and another 2 friends of mine, we drove up North, and visited a few areas in Southern Thailand.

We begin our journey early at about 4am from Butterworth as we wanted to beat the crowd and traffics at the border.  We arrived at Kayu Hitam, Malaysia/Thailand border town and, thanks god!  We settled everything and step into Sadao, Thailand in about 10minutes time only.  Imagine if we are later a little while more, we might be caught in traffics and sometime ones might be stucked here for few hours.

We planned to spent our first and last day in Hatyai, and when we arrived there, it is still too early to check into our hotel, we decided to detour and visited Chedi Thaimongkhon, a big stainless steel monument built by devotees.

This is certainly a good place to do Timelapse, and I was told that the night view here is even better.   On the first night at Hatyai, we stayed in Hotel Hansa JB, a little off town but generally the hotel is very comfy for short stay.

We had some really nice ‘Siam-laksa’ in Hatyai, thanks to a Mr Ang’s Aunty, who stayed locally.  You can pick the sources to go with the rice noodle – ‘Laksa’, and along with it, you can have fresh vege, deep fried chickens and very sweet desserts!

*taken with my galaxy note 10.1*

Our day 2 is a bit more adventurous, we drove further North and visited Ko Yo, a small Island near Songkhla.  Our first stop is a temple, located right when you pass by the bridge connecting the mainland and the island.  I forgotten the name of the temple, but it has a very big reclining Buddha statues, don’t think you can missed it.  I took a few shots at the fishing village nearby here.

Along the way,  while we were scouting for some refreshing drinks, we discovered a nice restaurant right in front of a nice fish farms.

And we have the best steamed fish head of a gigantic 2.8Kg sea bass!

The tail portion of the sea bass was deep fried and also super crispy and tasty!  The whole meal consist of beverages, the fish, a tomyam seafood, a pad thai (Grass noodle salad) and a grilled giant squid cost us ~RM 180.  We thinks it is very cheap in term of the food quality & the portion.  The services however, is below par.

A panoramic view of the fisheries, taken with my tablet and edited with snapseed,

Our journey continued into Songkla, and we stayed at the Hotel Pavilion Songkhla, which is the generally lack of maintenance, and not worth to consider unless you have no other options.  The other hotel such as BP Samila Beach should be a better option.

We took a rest at the hotel, and later that night, we visited the road-side local food hawkers nearby for our dinner,  there’s plenty of good and cheap foods here that you should try!

Before we call it a day, we also visited the infamous Mermaid statues at Samila Beach, and I was really having a hard time photographing it nicely as we arrived there a little too late, the best time would be during Sunset golden hour, so you can get a nice background/skyline.

Continue in Part 2



Tips on Low Light Photography

Dusk is one of the most amazing moment for photography and to get a good picture at this moment is pretty easy if you know your basic.  First you’ll need a steady tripod, then make sure you are familiar with your camera &  system, the more you know the better your chance at getting beautiful photos as dawn fade away very fast, especially the best duration of ‘golden hour‘ is only about 10minutes at most;  You really do not want to be wasting your time finding a feature or setting of our camera.  So,  study your manual and understand your camera before you go out and shoot!

Generally, your will be shooting with a relatively long shutter speed to get the nice colors from the horizon.  In order to get the longer shutter speed we preferred,  we will be using low ISO together with a small aperture.  In this series of photos,  I used mainly Nikon 24-120VR, Nikon 18-35 and Nikon 50 f/1.4 on a Nikon D700.  Generally I used aperture smaller than f/5.6 to f/22 on some cases.   I’ve adjusted the ISO from 100 – 1600 depend on my subjects and the motion blur effects I wanted to archive.

Attached here with some of the photos I shot from a local theme park at Queensbay, Penang, there are edited with Adobe Lightroom 3.  Please feel free to comment or share them to your friends.

&. btw,  I am planning for an intensive class of Adobe Lightroom 3 for intermediate users,  do send me an email if you are interested.

&.&. btw,  if you are looking to turn your hobby into profession, please check this out.



How to get a sharp picture for Facebook

Have you ever got frustrated that your high quality picture turn low quality when you shared them on Facebook?  This is because Facebook is having a very bad compression system and low quality re-size method.

What happens here is when you post and uploaded non-treated photos to Facebook;  The system will automatically re-size and re-compress your photos to smaller file to save resources.  Sadly, there are no way we could bypass this at the moment, but there are some tricks on getting the best out of the system.

Like the most of you, I am very active in Facebook and sharing photos is now a part of my lifestyle.  I found out that by preparing the photos to be Facebook-friendly prior to posting,  I am getting much better picture quality in the album.  They generally appear sharper, and clearer compare to non-treated photos.

How do I do it?  Here’s my recipe for Facebook-friendly photos,
This tutorial is based on Adobe Photoshop CS5  and the steps are more or less the same with other editing software.

Step 1: If you need to make adjustments to your photos, just go through all the tweaks and settings.

Step 2: Once you have finalize your adjustment, go to ‘Image Size’ [Alt + Ctrl + I], and re-size your photos with the following settings.

*1 – Make sure the longest side of the photo is set to ‘720’, this is the longest supported size in Facebook currently.
*2 – Resample Image using ‘Bicubic (Best for smooth gradients)’ to get the best possible results.
*Notes: Resolution here served no purpose but I put it at 96dpi anyway, as most modern PC are now displayed at 96dpi.

Step 3: Once re-sized, you may view the photo at 100% by pressing [Ctrl + Alt + 0].  At the time being, you Photo may not look sharp enough as you lose details when re-sizing.  So, in this step, we are going to sharpen the photo by using a filter called ‘Unsharp Mask’.  You can call the filter out by going to ‘Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask’.  Adjust your setting with the following settings.

*Amount: 350% – 500%
*Radius: 0.2 pixels mostly and 0.3 pixels at most
*Threshold: 0 levels
*Notes: I usually start with 0.2 pixels in ‘Radius’ and 500%, if the photo appear over-sharpen (White lines around the subjects),   then I will slowly lower the value of ‘Amount’.  On some rare cases, I will use 350% & 0.3 pixels.

Step 4:  Alright, now you got a good Facebook-friendly photo and now you are ready to save it for posting later.  To get the optimum quality with smallest possible file size.  I recommend saving the file using the following setting from ‘Save-For-Web & Devices’ by pressing [Alt + Shift + Ctrl + S].

*1 – I used Jpeg with custom setting.  I turn on ‘Progressive’ option, but Facebook will make it into ‘Interleave’ anyway.  I set the Quality to ’95’ instead of the usual ’60-80′ ranges recommended by most,  as I noticed that at ’95’, after downgraded by Facebook, I am getting better photo compare to quality of ’80’.  I do not use ‘100’ as I don’t see any difference between ’95’ and ‘100’ with my bare eye.
*2 – Some of you might have shot the photos with Adobe RGB profile.  So, remember to turn on ‘Convert to sRGB’ for compatibility and since Facebook does not store and show exif data, so you can safely remove all Metadata here to conserve file size.  You can safely ignore this setting if you have no idea what it is.
*Notes: Once you are done with the setting, press ‘Save’ and export your file.

Step 5: Now you got a Facebook-friendly photos,  it’s time to post them.  Make sure to select ‘High resolution’ option when you are uploading using the new Uploader.

Once uploaded, you and your friend can enjoy your photos at better quality now!

Thanks for reading and if you think this tutorial is useful, please share it to your Profile, sharing is caring.  Stay tuned for more tutorials.

Updates (27th Oct 2012):

If you are sharing a lot of photos using Facebook, you may notice that facebook has done a lot of updates/changes since this tutorial, originally published on Feb 2011.

The sharpening tricks here still works basically, but the maximum size of the photos can now be as large as 1024px at the long side rather than 720px I mentioned earlier, I have yet to try anything larger yet, but at this moment, you can consider using 1024px with the same sharpening amount as above.

Do leave me a comment or two if you encounter anything interesting by using this tutorial on Facebook.