Unexpected acquisition: Pentax Kx first look

Cameras

It was quite a nice day on Sunday, so Lisa and I decided to go to ‘Kings Park’ and take some photos. We had not been there in years and I really wanted to shoot some stitches. I will cover this in more detail when my films are developed, hopefully tomorrow afternoon. As I eluded to in the previous sentence, I shot some film as well as digital, so after we were done we went to our local ‘Fuji’ booth to drop the films off for developing. While there I noticed there was a special sign in front of the Pentax Kx’s. I had been thinking about picking one up since I recieved a nice Pentax 30-80mm auto zoom which I had just taken to Max to be serviced. These normally retail for about $700-799, however not this week. Upon closer inspection of the special sign they were on special for this week at $360 with 18-55m zoom lens! How could I pass this up? I had to buy it.

Upon first inspection I am very happy with the build, it feels very sturdy in my hand. I however noticed that the LCD screen was unprotected, so the first thing I did was put one of those sticky Iphone screen protectors over it to protect it from scratching. I turned it on and flicked through the menu, set it to store in Raw plus Jpeg and went about test shooting wanting to see how it performed out the box, before I went and made all my customary settings changes. Right off the bat I was impressed with how quick the auto focus was. Having been shooting both my Minolta 500si and 700si film cameras all day along with my Sony Nex digital, I was craving the viewfinder of my film cameras. That was the first thing I fell in love with about the Pentax Kx, it felt more like shooting a film SLR. The lenses seemed sharp and contrasty and the sensor seemed to render very nicely. The LCD on this however, is nothing in comparison to that of the Nex, no contest. The Nex wins hands down. This is not the point of the screen on the Kx however, it is intended solely as a review screen to see if you captured the shot ok. You can shoot in live-view however this is very slow, again nothing in comparison with the Nex, but again this is not the intended usage of the Kx. Having knocked out just an initial test shoot around the house, I have to say I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of the shots, this is a very good camera.

This is not intended as a full review just now, more just a first look at how it performs out the box. Here are a few of my first test shots:


Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/100, Ap. F7.1, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/60, Ap. F7.1, ISO 1600

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 23.1mm, Sh. Sp. 1/60, Ap. F5, ISO 1600

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 47.5mm, Sh. Sp. 1/800, Ap. F7.1, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/1000, Ap. F8, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/2000, Ap. F7.1, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 42.5mm, Sh. Sp. 1/1000, Ap. F7.1, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/80, Ap. F7.1, ISO 1600

Shot using the 35-80mm @ 80mm, Sh. Sp. 1/160, Ap. F8, ISO 800

Shot using the 35-80mm @ 80mm, Sh. Sp. 1/800, Ap. F8, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/30, Ap. F5.6, ISO 1600

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/200, Ap. F6.3, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 40mm, Sh. Sp. 1/125, Ap. F4.5, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/100, Ap. F5.6, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/2500, Ap. F7.1, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/200, Ap. F8, ISO 200

After this initial test shoot I am very happy with this camera and it will always be in my kit from now on. Stay posted for the full review in a few weeks when I have had a thorough test.

Here are the specs of the Pentax Kx:

Image Sensor
Sensor Type: CMOS
Sensor Manufacturer:
Total Megapixels: 12.9
Effective Megapixels: 12.4
Sensor Format: APS-C
Sensor Size (dia.): 1.11″
Focal Length Multiplier: 1.5
Color Filter Type: RGBG
Self-Cleaning: Yes
Sensor-shift Stabilized: Yes
Image Capture
Image Resolution: 4288 x 2848 (12.2 MP, 3:2),3936 x 2624 (10.3 MP, 3:2),3072 x 2048 (6.3 MP, 3:2),1728 x 1152 (2.0 MP, 3:2)
Image File Format: JPEG (EXIF 2.21), 12-bit RAW (.PEF, .DNG)
Video Capture
Movie Mode: Yes
Movie Resolution: 1280×720, 640×416
Movie Frame Rate: 24, 24
Movie Audio: Yes
Movie File Format: n/a
Optics
Lens Mount: PENTAX KAF2; KAF3/2, KAF, KA
Kit Lens: smc Pentax DA L 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL
Focal Length (35mm equivalent): 27 – 84 mm
Zoom Ratio: 3.00x
Aperture Range: f/3.5 – 22 (W), f/5.6 – 38 (T)
Normal Focus Range:
Macro Focus Range:
Optical Image Stablization: No
Digital Zoom: No
Digital Zoom Values: n/a
Filter Thread: 52mm
Auto Focus
Auto Focus: Yes
Auto Focus Type: SAFOX VIII TTL phase-detect 11 point (9 cross) AF: 11 pt auto, 5 pt auto, AF pt select, center/spot
Face Detection: Yes
Auto Focus Assist Light? Yes
Manual Focus: Yes
Optical Viewfinder
Optical Viewfinder: Yes
Optical Viewfinder Type: SLR type; fixed eye-level pentamirror, 96% coverage, 0.85x mag., -2.5 to +1.5 diopter
Display
LCD Viewfinder: Yes
LCD Size (inches): 2.7
LCD Resolution (pixels):
Articulating LCD: No
Max Playback Zoom: 16.0x
Exposure
ISO Settings: Auto (200-6400), 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800
Auto ISO Mode: Yes
White Balance Settings: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent (D, N, W, L), Flash, Custom
Shutter Speed Range: 30 – 1/6000
Bulb Mode: Yes
Exposure Compensation: +/- 2.0EV in 0.3EV steps
Metering Modes: 16-segment Multi, Center-weighted, Spot
Program AE: Yes
Aperture Priority: Yes
Shutter Priority: Yes
Full Manual Exposure: Yes
Creative Exposure Modes: Auto Picture (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night Scene Portrait, Picture (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night Scene Portrait, Standard Flash Off), Scene (Night Scene, Surf & Snow, Food, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight, Museum, Stage Lighting [JPG], Night Snap [JPG]), Sensitivity Priority
Self Timer: 2 or 12 seconds
Time Lapse:
Flash
Built-in Flash: Yes
Flash Modes: On, off, redeye, slow sync, slow sync w redeye, slow sync w trailing curtain, wireless
Flash Guide Number (ISO 100): 11 m / 37 ft.
Flash Range Description: Depends on lens
Max Flash Sync: 1/180
Flash Exp Compensation: -2 to +1 EV in 0.5EV steps
Ext Flash Connection: Hot Shoe
Image Storage
Usable Memory Types: SD / SDHC
Memory Included (MB):
File System: FAT32
DCF Compliant: Yes
Connectivity
Composite Video Out: Yes
NTSC/PAL Switchable: Yes
Video Usable as Viewfinder: No
HD Video Out: No
HD Video Connection:
Built-In Wi-fi: No
Computer/Printer: USB 2.0 High Speed
PictBridge Compliant: No
DPOF Compliant: Yes
Remote Control: Yes
Remote Control Type: Optional IR
Other Connection: AC adapter available
Power
Battery Form Factor: 4 x AA
Usable Battery Types: Lithium, Alkaline disposables; NiMH rechargeables
Batteries Included: 4 x AA Alkaline disposables
Battery Charger Included: No
CIPA Rating: 420
Software
Included Software: CD-ROM
OS Compatibility: Windows XP/Vista/7, MacOS-X 10.3+
Miscellaneous
Notes & Features: Sensor-shift shake reduction, 720p HD video capture, Live View with face detection. Available in black or white.

 

 

 

 

First impressions of New Era fish food by Matthew Wallace

Miscellaneous

This is a first look at a great new fish food range to hit the market in this country. Thanks to Matt or reviewing and sharing his thought with us. Matt is Mattrox a member on our forum Ozfishforsale.com.au

I have been trialing the New Era Rift Lake Green, Rift Lake Red, and Aegis for a couple of weeks now. The texture of the pellet is very interesting, it is soft, but not mushy. I have a very large venustus in with some mbuna, I have been feeding that tank rift lake green. The pellets are about 1mm in diameter and 3 to 4 mm long, the mbuna really do smash it. Due to the texture and plyability of the pellet I am able to squeeze a pinch into a larger pellet to drop in for the venustus. This has been very effective.

In the fish room:

In the hap and peacock tanks I have been using rift lake red. But a couple have labidochromis species, so I do feed some rift lake green in these tanks. I’m not too fussed if the haps and peacocks get the green. All the fish eat the food ravenously.

The mbuna tanks have been fed on rift lake green. Again all fish are really eager to eat the food. More so than ‘normal’.

I have fed the Aegis immune booster food today to all the above tanks. I will do it all this week, and return to the red/green next week.

The baby fish are still being fed NLS Grow and Fish Focus growth, with some of the larger juveniles getting a little bit of the red/green as appropriate.

My impressions are that this food is a quality product. If things continue to be positive it will be added to the range of foods I use in the fish room.  I had just returned from holiday, where for 2 weeks the fish were being looked after and fed every second day, and not much food either.  They were swapped over to the New Era about 1 week after my return and the resumption of ‘normal’ feeding and are still recovering their condition. All the fish are maintaining their stunning colours and they are almost back to peak condition. I also think that the amount of food to give to the fish seems to be less than you would think, I guess a better way of saying it is; it is easy to give the fish too much food, they fill up quickly. I still try to feed what they will clean up in 30 secs, then feed the same amount again, but it took a couple of feeds to work out what this amount of food was. It will be interesting to see how the food is priced when released on the market.

————————————————————————————————————-

The fish are looking great. Condition is back to normal for most fish (after my 2 weeks away on rations). They absolutely hammer the food like nothing I have ever seen at times. A real feeding frenzy. I’m still impressed with this food. I’m continuing to feed the Rift Lake Red/Green now after a full week on the Aegis. I’ll feed the Red/Green as appropriate until it runs out before going back to Aegis again.

————————————————————————————————————-

I took a couple of photos to show what the food looks like.

This is the Aegis immune boosting food.

The food can easily be squeezed and rolled into a bigger pellet for feeding to larger fish. This is the Aegis made into a bigger pellet. I only used a small fraction of the amount of food in the previous picture to make this ball of food.

This is the Rift Lake Green and Rift Lake Red side-by-side. The Rift Lake Green has a more flexible and rubbery texture, while the Red is more crumbly. Both can also be squeezed into larger balls of food if required.

Big thanks to Matt for sharing his thoughts on what looks like a great product.

Serial Killer Smile: The Elephant in the Room…

Miscellaneous

Ever since the breaking of ‘Silverchair’ with ‘Frog Stomp’ in 1995, we have had a steady succession of heavy alternative acts in this country that have achieved national and even international fame in their time. Especially in this last decade with bands such as ‘Karnivool’, ‘Cog’ & ‘The Butterfly Effect’ coming to the fore and playing a huge influence on a whole generation of young musicians idolising their records. This has I believe, made it hard for new bands of this genre to stand up and have a sound that is uniquely their own, as many fall trap to emulating their idols a little too closely. After a few listens to the disc that is sitting in front of me, I am happy to report this is not the case here.

Right from the moment the first groovy guitar riff of ‘The Baker’ crunches in, backed by the syncopated drums, you find yourself bopping your head almost unconsciously. You can tell you are in for something special here. I am immediately struck by the high quality of this recording, the string arrangement towards the end of ‘The Baker’ is amazing. Ben Bowden’s vocals sound clear and airy, floating on a cloud of melody above the groovy, chunky, math laden riffs being laid down by guitarist Richard Lant. Mark Degebrodt’s drumming is sublime, from big pounding beats with huge Danny Carey’esq rolls, to off beat patterns that carry you the whole way through the record with-out once becoming repetitive or ‘stock’ in anyway. ..but what would the drums be with-out big fat, rolling bass lines? Matt Snow’s contribution is excellent. Tight, fat and a great dirty tone to the bass when needed. No sweeping this giant bass sound under the mix, no his lines stand out crisp and clear always providing perfect complement and groove in their own right.

From the very first line ‘I could’a killed someone’ of ‘The Irrepressible’ you can tell this is the stand-out single of this Ep. Not that this song is unusually good compared to the rest of the disc, not so, each song could stand out on it’s own individually. And that is where the strength of this record lies. Not from one great stand out track, but 5 tracks of solid groove, melody and hooks. I dare you to try and not bop your head along to this record. I dare you. It is just simply not possible. There is just too much groove, great guitar tones, huge hooking choruses, interesting and pounding drum beats for you not to. This is a record these four musicians should be very proud of. The song writing is mature, every song is perfectly crafted, leaving you, by the time the 5 songs are finished, just wanting more.

If you are into any kind of heavy music you will appreciate this record, but if you are into heavy music but not so into heavy vocals, you will absolutely love this record! If you haven’t already checked out ‘Serial Killer Smile’ you can do so on their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/sksband

The band will be releasing their record ‘The Elephant in The Room’ on the 17th of February at the The Rosemount Hotel. They will be supported by Further Earth, Copious & This Other Eden. This is shaping up to be an excellent launch, for an amazing disc, by a great Perth band that has a bright future. I hope you take the time to check out ‘Serial Killer Smile’ and purchase their debut Ep ‘The Elephant in The Room’, you will not be disappointed.

 

Inspirational Moments #2: Tammy Parr

Miscellaneous

Welcome to the second installment of our ‘Inspirational Moments’ section. I am showcasing the amazing photographic talents of the people who visit PROTAS. If you would like to contribute, have your photos shown here (you get a permanent link back to your photo page) just hit me up on: protas@metalforfishes.com

Up today is Tammie Parr, she has been helping out local bands in Perth with live photos for a while now and is just starting to try her hand at booking shows now too. Enjoy!

 

This photo was taken at ‘Murder in the Basement’ using my f1.8 50mm on my Canon 550d.
I like this photo cause of the way the light is on the subject and also think the lines give it a certain flow.

https://i0.wp.com/fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/s720x720/166916_184481858324587_100459726726801_274466_110827064_n.jpg?resize=645%2C430&ssl=1

Using the same lens and camera this was taken at ‘Mind Kandy’
I finally learnt that you dont need to take a full photo of the subject but rather what it is that they are doing and I love the way the light sets up this shot.

Same lens and camera.
I love this shot cause the girl is making her own fun by simple means of a colander and some water I caught her pure and genuine enjoyment. What fun on a hot summers day.

You can check out more of Tammie’s work here on her Photography page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Molotov-Photography/100459726726801

Joondalup Night Markets: A walk around with the Minolta 50mm f1.4

Digital, Photo walk abouts, Photography Discussion

I was busy writing an article for PROTAS last Friday night, when I got a phone call from Lisa saying she wanted me to meet her at the Joondalup Night Markets after she finished work. ‘Great’ I thought, we had not been since last year. It always has a great atmosphere and particularly this year it had some great lighting. So I packed up the Nex-5 and threw on my Minolta 50mm F1.4 lens. This is already my favorite low-light lens, but it is quickly becoming my favorite all round lens. Great colour rendition, even in dark situations, and it is pretty darn sharp to boot. Any way I will let you be the judge.

This is not an official review of this lens yet. Just a good low-light test for you all to see how this lens performs on the Nex-5. This lens gathers up the light so nicely I was actually able to stop it down between 2.8 & 5.6 all night, quite amazing actually!

As you can see this Minolta lens is a stellar performer! I will have a full review of it for you guys soon.

The Joondalup Night Markets run from December to March every Friday evening. I definitely suggest checking it out, there is a great atmosphere. I also suggest taking the camera, as you can see the place is just so vibrant and photo friendly.

 

A review of the Fluval FX5 by Glenn Oblivion

Miscellaneous

This is a fantastic review of the Fluval FX5 canister filter. This article was written by our Oz Fish For Sale member ‘oblivion’. I would like to thank him for his contribution.

Its been approx 5 weeks, so i figured its time to review the fluval fx-5 that im running on my 6ft display tank.
some of you may remember this thread.

The fx-5 arrives nicely packaged, comes with nice clear instructions and a setup dvd.

The hose is a one piece unit with a rubber sleeve on each end. you cut it to length and attach the rubber sleeves to the “aquastop valves”. the cut end is connected to your intake tube or the twin output nozzles.

I fitted the canister to one of the centre areas of my cabinet, its a cosy fit with little room left,  and cut the hose as required.
You only get 4m of hose, and i found there is no room for error on the hose.
my intake hose was cut to slightly under 2m length, this left a little extra on the output hose. there was no extra to be cut off, and they dont quite reach the very corners of the tank (approx 10cm short of the corner which is fine anyway)

Fluval says it can take a max of 5m of hose (in/out hose length combined) so it would have been nice if they gave us a 5m hose to begin with so you had just a little bit more freedom with the hose placement.
at ~$50+ for a replacement hose you dont want to screw up that first cut or you’ll pay dearly for it.

Giving you a third ‘aquastop’ valve so you can use it to pump water during PWC was a very nice touch though, as was the drain valve on the bottom of the canister.

Inside the canister, the three trays lock together nicely and has large thick foam pads for mechanical filtration.

I had a spare sheet of filter material (its like a sponge scourer pad) so i decided to also cut some round filter pads to sit on The top of the bio media in the 3 trays. not sure why, but i felt obliged anyway  :laughhard:
Iam not using carbon so I was able to 3/4 fill all 3 trays with a total of about 6L of matrix media.
it could have taken a bit more but i didnt see a need to pack it right out.

I filled the canister with tank water, and started it up. it is completely silent in the cabinet.
I like the broad intake strainer, and the fully adustable twin output nozzles are fantastic.
I have one shooting water down the back wall of the tank to flush detritus out of the rock work, and the other is churning the surface. sometimes the fish seem to love swimming in their flow, just for kicks.

——————
4 weeks later
——————
I had not done a water change or filter pad in 4wks. this is about 1-2wk longer than i would ever get out of the trickle tray on the top of the tank.

Water tests were fine but the water was getting yellow’ish tannins from the wood, and i decided it was about time for an inspection anyway.
last weekend was the first time opening the FX5 for maintenance since i fitted it, just before xmas.

Opening the canister:
usually you will get a dribble of water out the aquastop valves when you disconnect them from the canister but i have worked out a way around this.

While the filter is running turn off the intake valve. wait approx 2secs then turn off the outlet valve, then immediately turn off your canister.
now when you disconnect the hoses you will not get any more than a few drips out of it.

With approx 36 cichlids ranging from 5 – 20cm, and a few silver sharks and some BN’s, this filter had done hardly any work at all during that 5wks.

The pads had a slight brown tint (fish waste) starting to build in a few points, the extra pads i added had a very light load as did the matrix media. the foam pads were obviously doing an excellent job.

Being such a large canister volume  and only a light build up on the pads i was able to wash all the filter pads and give the matrix media a light rinse just in that one canister of water.
add a hose to the bottom drain valve on the canister, open it up and let all that soupy brown water flow out into a bucket.
when the canister was half empty i sat it on a very small coffee table to help gravity drain it out completely..

Refilling the canister was as easy as pointing the intake hose over the open canister and opening the tap. within a few seconds it was pre-filled and ready to be sealed and started up again.

————–
summary
————-
The build of the entire unit just says “quality” all over.
lots of awesome features – air purge system, good intake strainer + adjustable twin output nozzles, strong water flow, aqua stop valves for ease of use + a spare so your canister can pump water during WC routine, and the bottom drain valve is excellent.

The main negative would be that they skimp on that measly 1m of extra hose by only giving you 4m when it can take 5m.
cmon fluval, give us a 5m hose to begin with and make it perfect.

fx5 manual

 

I would like to thank Glenn again for his contribution.  😀

Missy Moos: truly the best burgers in town?

Miscellaneous

As I sit down here and eat my crappy whopper due to there being no food in the house. I reminisce to last Saturday when I had some truly great burgers. We had just finished our photographic store walk through of Aquotix and were keen to get a good feed. I had remembered a few of our friends from down that way had raved about this place called Missy Moos on Facebook. I was keen to try it, as I had tried Grilld, supposedly the ‘worlds best burgers’, but was thoroughly un-impressed. So off we went from Canning Vale to North Femantle to try these infamous burgers from Missy Moos.

(all shots in this article were taken on our Nex-5 using my Jupiter 8 50mm f2 manual lens)

As soon as we found the place I was impressed, it had good signage and was only one street back from the coast and right next to a pub. Talk about a great location. There is limited parking to the rear, albeit rather a tight squeeze, and they have designated seating areas both inside and out. Upon entering you are immediately struck by the popularity of this place. It is doing a roaring trade. Not only is it packed, there is a constant stream of people coming and going. This to my mind bodes rather well for what we were about to order, at least it is popular. Once you have perused the gargantuan chalk board menu covering most any filling combination you could think of, you then place your order at the counter behind which you can see the staff bustling about, yet taking great care to put together each and every burger. After ordering we decided to go sit outside at a table that had just freed up, since it was a packed house in-side.

One thing I will say is that due to the demand on their burgers be prepared to wait at least half an hour. This really was not that big a deal for us, as we were a long way from home and just enjoying the day. It also gave me a good chance to do some happy snapping around the place.

By the time I had finished having my fun playing around shooting, our burgers had arrived! Yes! They came well presented in a neat old time feel thick brown paper bag. No chance of losing your tucker here. Lisa had ordered the “Humpty Dumpty” which consisted of a premium WA lean beef pattie, tasty cheddar, free-range egg, grilled pineapple, beetroot, baby spinach, aioli and margaret river tomato relish (taken straight from the menu) and I had chosen a “tom, tom the pipers son” which was premium wa lean beef pattie, crispy bacon, tasty cheddar, tomato, baby spinach, bbq sauce and aioli and I added egg and caramlised onion. Both burgers were well presented, extremely fresh and tasty. Just great ingredients, assembled with care. Non of this gimmicky ‘lets just put herbs on everything ’cause that must make it better!’ approach. No just damn tasty burgers. Plain and simple. The chips were very good too, I say chips because they were big think chunky chips, none of those french fry things here. Great with the aioli chip dip!

All in all Missy Moos was a very pleasurable burger experience and is very kid friendly, supplying room for them to play and colour in, not to mention the fun plastic toys they give you instead of table numbers.. We will definitely give it a visit again next time we are down that way, and I cannot recommend trying it highly enough, whenever you are that way yourself. I envy the locals.

Missy Moos is located at:
400 south terrace – south fremantle 6162
Ph: (08) 9433 3322

Aquotix: Could this be classified as an aquarium superstore?

Miscellaneous

I must admit I was was a little excited as I awoke last Saturday morning. I had been given a unique opportunity. I had been allowed to do a photographic store walk through of Aquotix aquariums in Canning Vale. Now Aquotix is actually, in the scheme of things, a newer store to me, as I had never really traveled south to aquarium stores before about 4 or 5 years ago. But right from the very first time I visited Oliver and his crew down there I have always made time to go out of my way and visit his store. I ‘m sure once you reach the end of this photographic tour you will want to go out of your way to visit too, unless you’re lucky enough to live nearby.

(all shots in this walk through were taken on our Nex-5 using mt Tamron Aspherical 28-200mm manual focus lens)

Every time I walk in, I am always struck by the amount of other customers entering with me, it is a good thing to see our hobby is still bubbling along nicely. Also a good omen that the store you are about to enter is a quality shop that people frequent.

I am blown away by the amount of staff they have always ready on hand to help with what ever you need. In fact you know me, can never pass up an opportunity, so I took them down some of my Chocco’s and Ice Blues. Now you know where you can get some more quality Hoods Fishies. Sorry had to get the plug in there. Krystal and the rest of the staff were their usual helpful selves.

Anyway, on with the walk through. Being greeted as you enter on the right by the front counter always manned by Oli’s great staff and accompanied by a selection of bettas in a barracks and a gorgeous little planted tank. As you turn left you find all your beginner tanks and a massive assortment of tank ornaments.You instantly get the impression this store is gonna have what you need, whatever it is.

Then the very next thing that gets me every time is the tank buster tank. It is always immaculately kept, water crystal clean and these giant beauties are always willing to show off for a camera.

Once you manage to drag yourself away from staring at these beauties, you look up and realise you are in a sea of tanks and are immediately being tempted with wanting a newer, bigger one! I really mean it when I say it is like a sea of tanks, I do not think I have visited a store in Perth with more on hand ready to go. It is excellent to see such a well stocked store.

There is a fantastic planted tank hidden away in this tank section, I love that they break up every section with a beautiful display of some kind.

As we move on from the tank section we immediately come to all the accessories we could ever need, I mean everything, even massive blowers for running huge fish rooms way larger than mine!

 

Did some body say they wanted some lights?

Once you have finished being distracted by all the goodies in the accessories section, you turn around and have to be taken back by what is one of the best cold-water sections I personally have ever seen in any Aquarium store I have ever visited. It is impressive. There is a massive selection of koi and goldfish, in all sizes and types. Not to mention all the different ponds, and the massive rack of tanks down the right wall with a huge selection of cold-water favorites.

Of course by now you will surely be thinking, ‘but where are all the warm water fish?’ well if we head back to the middle of the store you will have noticed there was a bright yellow sign pointing to the tropical fish section, and what an impressive tropical room it is too. Everything is immaculately kept, each tank is clearly labeled, everything is well priced and best of all i have never, ever seen a dead fish in a tank in this store. You will find everything from tropheus, to discus, to dragonbloods, to rare tetras and all the plants you could want for that special display tank.

While I could not photograph all the stock, there was just too much, these rare tetras were stand out for me.

Sadly this is the end of our photographic walk through of this superstore. All in all I must say this is truly one Aquarium store you must take time out of your way to visit. You will not be disappointed.

You will find Aquotix at:
4/176 Bannister Road Canning Vale WA 6155
Phone: (08) 9455 1411

 

 

Microsoft ICE: Stitching your photo’s just got a hell of a lot easier!

Photography Discussion, Software

I spied a fantastic sunset the last week, so I packed up my cameras and headed out in search of a good vantage point to capture it. I came across this spectacular spot in Mindarie. I was originally out testing my Minolta 500si and 700si, but since I found such a perfect vantage point it occurred to me to try some panoramas, as I had not done many of these in the past. So I set my Nex to panorama mode and gave it a whirl. Now any who have tried in camera panorama will know what a pain this can be, you have to move not too fast and not too slow or your camera will get angry at you and out of every 5 you manage to complete only one will actually be stitched properly. I think I took about 8 and this is the only one that worked, nice though it is. (click on image for a larger version, sadly my photo storage has re-sized them to small) Shot on my Nex-5 using my Minolta W.Rokkor-SG 28mm 3.5 manual lens

https://i2.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7028/6814655967_a6d05a36c0_b.jpg?resize=631%2C131

After all that struggle I remembered I had seen other photographers talking about ‘stitching’ their photos together in Photoshop. I took a seven snap series right across the horizon, with the hope of trying this ‘stitching’ method later at home. Once home I loaded up my 7 images and went about trying to line them up, now that wasn’t too hard, however getting the lighting right was a whole other kettle of fish. So I looked around for tips on the net and came across a few guys that did a lot of stitches and they suggested using a stitching software to aid with these problems. I tried looking for some of the ones they suggested, however they were paid software that were quite expensive and since this was just a fun project not really worth it for this application. I continued searching when I came across this product offered by Microsoft called Image Composite Editor or ICE for short. The official description is:

Microsoft Image Composite Editor is an advanced panoramic image stitcher. Given a set of overlapping photographs of a scene shot from a single camera location, the application creates a high-resolution panorama that seamlessly combines the original images. The stitched panorama can be shared with friends and viewed in 3D by uploading it to the Photosynth web site. Or the panorama can be saved in a wide variety of image formats, from common formats like JPEG and TIFF to the multiresolution tiled format used by Silverlight’s Deep Zoom and by the HD View and HD View SL panorama viewers.

https://i2.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7031/6814796673_5136d493c5_b.jpg?resize=621%2C471
(This is how the software looks with after a stitch has just been processed. Though this is one that did not work properly due to my framing being wrong.)

This sounded like just the trick, so I quickly downloaded it, eager to give it a try. I was unsure exactly how it would work, so I loaded my 7 photos I had taken and set it to auto stitch, off it went calculating. It did not take too long and I have to say did an amazing job for being fed freehand shot images. Here is the stitch: (click on image for a larger version, sadly my photo storage has re-sized them to small) Shot on my Nex-5 using my Minolta W.Rokkor-SG 28mm 3.5 manual lens

https://i1.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7165/6814660485_eb7f0a0a5a_b.jpg?resize=636%2C87

I love how this captures from coast right around to coast, with an amazing ray of sunset protruding through the clouds and if you look close there is a luxury cruiser and a sail boat in there too. Of course this had now totally captured my imagination, I had to go out and try shooting more stitches. Lisa and I decided to head into Joondalup to grab coffee and search for some more scenes to try shooting to stitch later. The first thing we came across was this old mural on this wall that was fantastic. For this I wanted to try shooting a grid as opposed to just a line of photos, I shot 4 across the top and 4 across this bottom, in the hope of creating this really wide angle feeling shot. Again this image processed perfectly in auto mode and gave me the exact desired effect. Here is the stitch: (click on image for a larger version, sadly my photo storage has re-sized them to small) Shot on my Nex-5 using my Jupiter 8 50mm f2 manual lens

https://i1.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7019/6814773647_d003b4313f_b.jpg?resize=629%2C229

Excellent, now I wanted to try some more complex, larger stitches and this of course is where I came unstuck. Not far away from this mural, there is another one on a wall down an alleyway. This one is really long and due to the alley it is in you cannot get far enough back to get the shot, so I wanted to try and get a perspective stitch. I took 31 photos of this to try to stitch.
https://i2.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7147/6814827883_b9ab2ca7da_b.jpg?resize=643%2C489

This would have worked fine however as you can see I stupidly followed the way the mural tapered off, so when I crop down the edges to get the final image, I had lost a lot of the closer section of mural. Here is the stitch: (click on image for a larger version, sadly my photo storage has re-sized them to small) Shot on my Nex-5 using my Jupiter 8 50mm f2 manual lens

https://i0.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7016/6814867815_96583ef528_b.jpg?resize=648%2C226

As the sun was now going down we could see a fantastic sunset, so we raced to the coast so I could try and get a nice large stitch of this fantastic view. I took 33 photos in the hope of stitching this together. Yet again I did not visualize my grid properly, so I believe after reviewing I realised I stupidly took about 10 pics on the top row, 8 on the next, 6 on the next and 9 on the bottom. The software now really struggled to combine these in auto mode, it would just give me the horizontal panorama, about 7 images across. This was not what I wanted, I realise it was my own short comings when taking the shots, however I was sure I could overcome it. So I switched the software to manual mode where I could set the columns and rows and overlaps of images etc. and I got very close to achieving something, though it looks a little alien world’ish. Here is the stitch: (click on image for a larger version, sadly my photo storage has re-sized them to small) Shot on my Nex-5 using my Jupiter 8 50mm f2 manual lens

https://i1.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7149/6814942299_8a3e35ed72_b.jpg?resize=642%2C173

I have tried many attempts but I just cannot salvage this set yet, which is unfortunate. However this is not a short coming of the software, more a short coming of me not visualising my ‘grid’ properly before shooting the images for the stitch. All in all I am very happy with this Microsoft ICE software, not only is it free, it is very powerful, stitches well and matches your lighting for you. I recommend everyone give it a try,as even when you don’t get them to work, you can create these unique looking worlds.

This was about the best I could get it in the end. Here is the stitch: (click on image for a larger version, sadly my photo storage has re-sized them to small) Shot on my Nex-5 using my Jupiter 8 50mm f2 manual lens

https://i2.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7017/6816106873_4ab6cbf2b9_b.jpg?resize=644%2C153

For anyone wanting to learn more about stitching, there is a fantastic tutorial on Manual Lens Forum here:
http://forum.mflenses.com/a-beginners-guide-to-panorama-stitching-t19182,highlight,%2Bstitching.html

You can grab the Microsoft ICE software here:
32 bit version: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/downloads/730cd6bb-6450-4e66-8101-a94e71cb0779/
64 bit version: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/downloads/69699e5a-5c91-4b01-898c-ef012cbb07f7/default.aspx

 

 

Inspirational Moments #1 – Alvin Ganny

Miscellaneous

This is the first installment of our ‘Inspirational Moments’ section. I plan to showcase the amazing photographic talents of the people who visit PROTAS. If you would like to contribute, have your photos shown here (you get a permanent link back to your photo page) just hit me up on: protas@metalforfishes.com

First up is Alvin Ganny, he has been helping out local bands in Perth with photos for a while now and really does great work. Enjoy!

 

Hey Josh,

Here are some more shots, of ‘Morphica’ these are from ‘The Den’.

I shot these at ‘The Den’ located at ‘The Civic Hotel’ in December 2011. We know the den is dark with those crazy lighting, but that’s when my flash came in handy!! haha

I used my Canon 5Dmk1 body with Canon 16-35mm F2.8L with canon speedlite 430EXII for all these shots

I like these photos with the B/W effect, it really shows the simplicity of the photo.

Haha i’ve got nothing more to say man, mental blank!! too tired to think :p lol

Cheers,
Alvin

You can check out more of Alvin Ganny’s work on his page:
http://artsinmotionphotography.smugmug.com