New Malaysia

Flying back to a new Malaysia.

I was unfortunate that I couldn’t vote due to work, but I appreciate everyone who have voted in this election. For the first time in Malaysia’s 60 years history that the corrupted ruling government, Barisan Nasional (BN), has been defeated.

New Malaysia

Shot was taken during my flight to Kuala Lumpur. It was an overnight flight, but I could hardly sleep because I couldn’t wait to be back in Malaysia, a new Malaysia. I looked out the window when the plane was descending and saw the beautiful sunrise. I used the Samyang 12mm f/2 wide open, keeping ISO as low as possible handheld in a moving plane.

Later I discovered this new way of creating HDR without the computer. 2 JPEG exported from camera RAW engine at 4 stops apart. Photos were downloaded to phone using Fujifilm’s app and merged in Snapseed with double exposure tool. Rest of the adjustment with curve tool.

This method manage to keep the highlight intact, and pull tons of details from the shadow. The camera RAW engine seems to doing great at noise reduction, probably better than the latest Adobe Lightroom CC Classic.

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Live Streaming with X-T2

After testing a few times, the day finally arrive for me to use the X-T2 to live stream my brother’s wedding. I’m going to write about the gears first. Firstly is the camera – Fujifilm X-T2. I’ve blogged about how I ended up with this camera. So in addition to that, the video out works really well.

I’m able to get clean HDMI 1080p video feed from the Mini HDMI port continuously without even starts the recording on the camera. That’s mean I’m not restricted by the capacity of the SD card used, I can record on and on until my laptop’s HDD is full. I do have to disable the auto switch off function for power saving.

The body grip with its included power supply kept the camera powered throughout the shoot. There may be a slight power drain on the batteries but it was too little for me to notice it. All 3 batteries were practically almost full at the end of the 3 hours shoot when I disconnected the power.

Most of the shoot are done with the XF 10-24mm lens since the camera is set up pretty close up front stage. Arguably the 18-135mm or the 16-50mm will be a slightly better choice to zoom into the action without any lens change. I have to put in a static standby feed for lens change if I need a tighter crop of the frame with my UWA lens.

I bought the Razer Ripsaw for capturing the 1080p feed into my computer. It is the cheapest 1080p capture device I can find in Malaysia for the job. It works pretty well even though it’s primarily used by gamer to live-stream their console games. I didn’t compare the quality of the feed to the native files captured in the camera since my primary usage is for online streaming and that’s more of quality bottleneck. Since it can’t record 4k, I didn’t bother with that resolution.

The Razer Ripsaw is connected to my laptop’s USB 3.0 port. On the laptop, I used an open source software called OBS for online streaming. The initial set-up can be a bit intimidating but it wasn’t that hard. The actual usage during live-stream is pretty straight forward, I admit I did not tap into the full potential of the software. With OBS, I can choose to live-stream while record to hard-disk, just to make sure I still keep a copy of the video in case my live-stream failed. However the live-stream was a success, so I ended up not using the recordings.

As for encoder, I used the dGPU NVENC for online streaming and iGPU QSV for local recording. To be honest, I can’t really tell the difference in quality at a glance. I understand I’ll get better quality if I use software x264, but I don’t see the need to have that slight extra quality for this job.

I was lucky that the venue has extremely good free Wi-Fi, which save me the trouble of actually setting up the data connection myself with 3G hotspot. I was able to stream at 10mbps to YouTube without dropping frames. If the location doesn’t provide free Wi-Fi, I would have to be at the exact spot testing if I am able to get stable upload speed with my current telco, it is just so much variable compared to just using Wi-Fi and I was just really lucky.

I choose YouTube instead of Facebook due to the ease of editing the video after streaming it. I find it more private to use YouTube instead of Facebook whereby you get to share the link to specific people at any point of time by simply sending the link via Whatapps or email.

To do that with Facebook, I got to set the video as public and everyone on the friend list will be able to see it. I sounds good at first, until something embarrassing and everyone all over the world will get to watch it.

As I mention about editing in YouTube, due to the fact the camera never stops rolling throughout the wedding, it captured a lot of scene whereby nothing was happening and people were just waiting for things to happen. I can quickly use the timeline tool in YouTube to cut-out those time and save as a second video for those who wanted to re-watch.

All in all I’m very happy with this set-up. I wish I had a 4k video capture device since the camera is capable but such thing is simply too expensive for casual use. Since the bride likes the video feed too, I take that as a job well done.

 

Live Streaming with X-T2

Nay, not DLSR!

On my previous blog post, I said that I am going to buy a 5D Mark III. However after much consideration and failing to get a used body within my budget, I’ve decided to just get a new Fujifilm X-T2. I’ll write a review for the X-T2 soon, so this post is mostly about why I’ve done that.

First of I feel Canon as a camera company is just so arrogant, and I do not support such arrogance, which I am going to vote with my wallet. The recent 6D Mark II launch shows the extent they are going to cripple a camera so they can sell 5D, 1D and Cinema EOS at a much higher premium. I’m going to refer the camera as 6DII from now.

I can understand if they omitted 4K video and dual card slots for their cine line and pro-bodies, but a sensor with worse dynamic range than their very own APS-C 80D? Like seriously Canon? I really wanted to know who approved this sensor to go into a 2017 full-frame camera.

Even then, they should just included both 4K video recording and dual card slots because the 6DII is so physically huge and very expensive! Heck, if they have included these, I would have just bought the 6DII instead of XT2.

This led me into thinking again whether I should buy a used 5DIII with all the reason I’d previously wrote. Honestly the only thing I will miss out without buying a full-frame body is only bokeh. The 56mm f/1.2 give me more than enough for me to chew.

So coming back to the XT2 purchase. I’ve decided that the video from the 5DIII is not worth the it in 2017. Other than the 4K Magic Lantern hack, the default 1080p video from the camera seems terrible at best, compared to even the much more cheaper m43 cameras. Heck even the 1″ sensor from Sony RX100V can shoot sharper 1080p video as well as 4k video.

The XT2 can do sharp 4k, as well as HDMI out which I think I will be using for my brother’s wedding for streaming the feed online. By adding the Booster Grip, I can use the included power adapter to power the camera instead of relying on the little batteries. To do the same on 5DIII, I need to get a separate power adapter, an attachment for the correct battery size and the whole package doesn’t work very reliably, as some of the reviews has mentioned in Amazon.

Lastly I manage to find a very good X-T2 deal, but it doesn’t come with Malaysia Warranty. I’ve used the X100S and X-T1 and those two has never gave me much problems and I’m confident in the X-T2 will be as reliable to not needing any local warranty.

Nay, not DLSR!

Get Another DSLR?

I’ve been eying for the 5D Mark III for sometimes now, even before I bought my second hand X-T1. I couldn’t find a reason to buy it because of how rare I will be shooting with it since I’ve stopped shooting for events. Until now…

My younger brother is going to get married in November, the wedding will be held in KL. My mother who has difficulty walking couldn’t come to KL to attend his wedding, so I’m thinking to some how stream the event online, so she can watch from her bed.

Yes I can use a webcam which I already have, but I think the video feed from a camera will be much better. In addition, adding a tele lens will allow for close up at people’s expression. For a camera to do that, it has to have direct video output, preferably thru HDMI for best resolution. Looking at my camera collection: Canon 5D, 40D, 1000D, Fujifilm X-T1 and X100S. None of them has so called Clean HDMI Out.

The 1000D and 40D has PC tethering, and I could probably hack that with some software to stream what’s captured on the screen. I don’t think this is a good idea because the video feed wouldn’t be smooth and low resolution in today’s standard. The X-T1 got phone tethering, but there’s no way to stream the video out, at least not in a reliable way.

Since I already got a couple of Canon and Fujifilm lens, I decided not to look for a third brand of camera for this little project. The brand new Fujifilm X-T2 has got sharp 4k recording as well as clean HDMI out. It is priced at RM6400 brand new.

At around the same price, I could get a used Canon 5D Mark III. The 5D3 only shoots 1080p, very blur 1080p. Looking how its successor 5D Mark IV compared to the rest in low light video, seems like the 5D3 bigger sensor won’t be an advantage in noise department at high ISO. The 5D3’s Clean HDMI out doesn’t output sound from the camera’s mic too.  The 5D3 looks like a poor choice in every way as a video camera. It is also not a very good still too in 2017 with its poor dynamic range.

If I were to sell all of my Canon lens and replace them with Fujifilm…

X-T2 – RM6400
XF 50-140mm – RM6400
XF 16mm – RM4400
minus – RM9500 selling old Canon lens
Total: RM7700

That comes out almost RM2k more than a used 5D Mark III, but of course it’ll give a big boost in image and video quality. If I regretted the purchase and decided to sell of the Fuji, I will lost around RM3-4k, but if I were to sell the used Mark III, I only lose around RM1k at most.

If not for still owning good Canon lens, I wouldn’t be considering the 5D3 at all. However I still have the awesome 70-200mm f/2.8 and 24mm f/1.4 which perform really well on full-frame camera, and I really miss getting nice bokeh after shooting mostly with Fujifilm for 3 years. I’m sure the X-T2 is faster than the X-T1 but the 5D Mark III’s focus will still have a slight edge in speed. Or I am a Canon fanboy… damnit.

And for streaming, the viewer will not be watching from a 50″ TV, they most probably watch it on their computer, phone or tablet and probably over Youtube or Facebook. Some may be streaming at 1080p but most will most probably stream at 720p or lower in Malaysia. So the video quality of the camera doesn’t actually matter, solely in this aspect.

So I’m most probably going to get the 5D3, plus a grip, plus extra batteries, plus a ACK-E6 adapter for powering the camera continuously without battery.

Get Another DSLR?

Pixel Peeping on Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

The last time I was testing tele lens was when I first got my 70-200, comparing it with my previous tele lens – EF-S 55-250. It has serve me really well paired with the 5D classic but the image quality of crop sensor has improved so much that I’ve picked up the X100S and now the X-T1 for my travel photo needs.

I was deciding between the cheaper Fujifilm XC 50-230, the XF 100-400 and XF 55-200. I am really reluctant to pick up the 55-200 due to its higher price and not-that-fast aperture at tele-end. The other 2 are even slower at tele end but the 50-230 is half the price while the 400 reaches twice as far.

Recently I bump into an ad at Mudah.my which someone is selling a used 50-230 at just RM1500. New one after getting Fujifilm cash back promo still sell for RM2000. With a bit of negotiation (I wasn’t pushing it, like seriously), he sold me at just RM1300. I paid for it and now I can test how does it compete with my other two tele-lens.

First thing first, the 70-200 on the 5D just cannot reach as far as the 40D with 55-230 and X-T1 with 55-200 combo. However, the 40D with its 10 megapixel manage to resolve as much details at the 230mm end as the X-T1 at 200mm. That’s mean I can reach as far on the Fuji combo even though I’m short of 50mm.

Screenshot (22)
40D+55-250 vs X-T1+55-200

At broad daylight, the cheaper Canon crop sensor combo may be able to match the more expensive Fujifilm combo, however when it comes to low light situation, Fujifilm will simply win hands down with its much better sensor.

I am not not that pleased to see some softness at the lower left corner from the Fuji’s image, it is a more expensive lens compared to Canon. The time of the photo being taken isn’t that ideal as there a lot of thermal in the hot afternoon which really distort fine details far away especially when a tele-lens is used. I will see how my day to day shoot turns out with the lens, I reckon it won’t disappoint me.

Screenshot (32)
40D+70-200L II vs X-T1+55-200

An honorary mention will be using a full frame pro-lens like the EF 70-200L f/2.8 II on the 40D will churn out very sharp image which look very pleasing even comparing with the X-T1’s extra 6 megapixel of data. The lens is simply pin sharp corner to corner especially so in low contrast area. That’s why I’m still keeping the lens and waiting for the next 5D MkIV.

With this, I can finally retire my 40D combo and the Fujifilm X-T1 with 10-24, 55-200 and X100S will cover all the range that I need during travel. 5D with 24L and 70-200L will still be my go-to combo for events.

Pixel Peeping on Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

Getting into Fujifilm System

I’ve been reluctant to join a new system after investing so much into Canon’s ecosystem. Two years ago I got myself a Fujifilm X100S mainly because reading lots of review regarding how great it is. The initial plan was using it an everyday camera and a second camera for the gap between my 24mm and 70-200mm lens.

The camera is so small that it doesn’t attract too much attention, it take photos without making any sound, and it take really good quality photos! Even though it cost a lot for a camera which lens can’t be swap out and not even zoom, I say it is money well spent. It has been my go-to camera for both work and play for the past two years. My neck definitely thank me a lot for not lugging my 5D and 24mm combo so often.

My 5D only see day-light during event and some oversea traveling. Heck, I decided to bring my older 40D instead of the 5D for my Europe trip to prevent my expensive full frame lens from getting stolen. Occasionally the 5D still see its uses. For events, the 24mm and 70-200mm are extremely useful while the UWA 17-40mm is mostly used for traveling.

I wasn’t really happy with the photos that comes out of the 5D and 17-40mm combo on my previous trip to New Zealand’s south island. The 17-40mm exhibit quite some corner blur even at f/11. The 5D’s 10 years old sensor is seriously old that the X100S APS-C sensor beats the heck out of it in terms of resolution, noise and especially shadow recovery from RAW files.

Being able to recover tons of shadow data from the X100S’s ISO 200 RAW file is nothing short of amazing. Suddenly the Lee gradient ND filter isn’t that useful anymore when I just underexpose the shot and pull the shadow out during PP. I wanted to upgrade from the 5D, but the Canon system isn’t what I expect it to be at the moment.

The 5D Mark II has a higher resolution sensor with amazing high ISO performance, the 5D Mark III improved the high ISO performance even further. However Canon has not make their sensor ISO-less, unlike what the Sony has done. Since I capture a lot of landscape, and not so much of portraits, the 5D Mark III doesn’t interest me that much and it is really expensive.

Then there’s the lens. The 17-40 is quite a terrible L lens, the 16-35 f/2.8 II isn’t that good for the price either. Nikon clearly has better UWA lens with the 12-24 and 16-35 VR compared with Canon’s flagship zoom. After that Canon did came out with its own version of 16-35 f/4 IS, which is probably the best UWA zoom Canon has right now, but to buy that and a new 5D Mark III will cost a bomb and still being disadvantaged by the 5DIII’s sensor.

My X100S really open my eyes of how good Fujifilm’s sensor are and the JPEG SOOC are really nice. At one point I was seriously considering buying an old X-Pro1 and 14mm to fill the wide-angle gap that my X100S is lacking. I changed my mind and get a wide angle adapter lens for the X100S instead. I figure the 14mm (or 21mm equiv.) isn’t as wide as the 17-40 that I have, and buying another camera just for wide-angle just sound dumb to me. I’m so used to just bringing the small and light X100S.

Then Fujifilm released the 10-24mm and it has got a lots of positive reviews. That really got me thinking whether I should try it out. The high price of the X-T1 put me off. I don’t like the design of the X-E2 and its similar AF system as the X100S (read: slow). Fujifilm once again tried to lure me by releasing the X-T10. And just recently they had this cash-back promotion that I finally lost to the temptation.

I got the 10-24mm for RM3300, with the RM550 cash back, the lens only cost RM2750. And then at Mudah.my I found someone selling a used X-T1 and 56mm combo for RM5300. Apparently it’s the same guy that sold me the X100S’s wide angle adapter. He’s quite happy to see me showing up at his shop again, and told me the story of the combo.

A chap need cash to get married, so he borrowed some money from him while leaving the camera at his shop. After a while the shopkeeper tried to contact him on whether or not he has the cash to pay back or should he sell the camera. There was no reply from the chap for quite a while so the shopkeeper decided to just sell them off.

He actually sold the combo to me for just RM5000. Yeah it doesn’t come with box and body cap, but I still get the included flash, charger, strap and lens cap. On top of that, he gave me a used Zeiss UV filter and a Hoya HD Protector filter after I mentioned I need a new filter for my 10-24mm. Those two filter probably cost like RM500 in the market. So there you go, I got a pretty good deal and I will be an idiot for not buying it. If I were to buy a used 5DIII + 16-35 IS + 85 f1.8, it’ll probably cost me almost double the price.

I’ll come up with a comparison soon.

Getting into Fujifilm System