Category Archives: Articles

Have Been Shopping

I have picked up a couple of photography (and otherwise) related toys over the last month or so.

The weather here in Toronto has really started to warm up early, so I went out and got myself a few bits and bobs from the Spring Bike Show at Exhibition Place to get me all motivated for a long season of cycling. So far I have entered the 75km Ride for Heart event on June 3rd (you can sponsor me here) and I am considering making a 100 mile (~160 km) ride my goal for the end of the season. I will see how my training goes before I fully commit to that one!

I also picked up a nice Pentax F 35-70mm f3.5-4.5 lens from the Pentax Forums Wanted section to replace the one I sold a long while back. I always enjoyed this lens due to its very small size, decent close focus ability, its unusual zooming (the barrel extends as you zoom OUT, meaning it is smallest at the 70mm setting) and sharpness. The copy I received is pretty much as new (better than my previous copy) so I look forward to getting out and about with it again.

Finally I came across a very well priced Pentax Q kit on craiglist locally. I watched it for a while and when the price dropped again I took action and followed through with a purchase. So far using the Pentax Q is a real joy. The fisheye is amazingly fun (especially for street photography) and no doubt you will be seeing a lot more photos from this combo posted soon.

Canon ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS – CHDK Alpha available

The devs have been hard at work the last couple of weeks and an alpha version of CHDK for the Canon ELPH 300 HS and Canon IXUS 220 HS is now available on the CHDK forums.

For the latest as of right now, go to this post in the porting thread.

At the moment there are 2 versions for different firmware versions of the camera. You can check which you will need by using this software, along with a jpg you have taken with the camera.

If you are able and willing to test out this alpha build, please post your feedback on the CHDK forums to assist those who are developing. Also keep checking for new builds!

Check out my previous post for details on CHDK and its benefits.

Update: The builds are coming quick, this one is now the latest. Always check the thread for newer builds

Tripod and a Photowalk

Tripod News

Just a quick post with some updates. I managed to get hold of a tripod yesterday, a great 20+ year old Manfrotto ART190. It is a bit beat up and scratched up but it works great, everything is smooth (much smoother than my old tripod!) and it seems very solid. It has a very old 3 way head on it at the moment, which I will replace with my Benro ball head as soon as I find myself a screwdriver of the appropriate size to undo the locking screws on the head baseplate. This was a great craigslist find, and only cost me a quick $40 and a detour 2 subway stations out of my way on the way home. A big thanks to the seller, by far the most organised craigslist seller I have encountered thus far.


In other news, I am planning on attending my first ever photo walk on Saturday. More so in an attempt to meet some new people in Toronto than to get any photos, but I am sure I will take some of those as well. I discovered a local Flickr user who appeared to have been attending a number of photowalks (based on their photostream) in 1 of the many Flickr Toronto groups. I sent him off a Flickr mail and received a reply back with links to a local Photowalk Flickr group and their website – The next event is on Saturday, and happens to be in my neighbourhood, so I will join in and say “G’day”!

Canon ELPH 300 HS (Ixus 220 HS)

Done Deal

As mentioned previously, I was looking for a new Point & Shoot camera and had thought the Canon Powershot ELPH 300 HS (also known as the IXUS 220 HS) fit my requirements. Yesterday afternoon I went down to Henry’s Camera store in downtown Toronto and purchased one. Mainly this will be my wife’s camera, but I intend to make use of it when I want to try shooting some more timelapse’s with CHDK or when carrying my SLR around proves to be a problem.

Why the ELPH 300?

The main reasons I chose this camera over others are:

  • 24mm equivalent lens (wider than most point and shoot cameras)
  • A new CMOS sensor for low light performance (this model was only released in March 2011 so its nice new sensor technology)
  • HD video; 1080p and 720p are available, as well as lower quality modes
  • Size, it is a very small camera
  • It is a Canon, which means it can run CHDK (eventually)

What Is CHDK?

CHDK stands for Canon Hack Development Kit, and it allows you to unlock many features on most Canon Point and Shoot cameras. It works by placing a custom version of the software which runs on your camera onto your memory card, which is then loaded by the camera on startup. The custom software allows you do all sorts of things you couldn’t otherwise do on the camera, such as save images in RAW format, full manual exposure controls, in camera HDR and my favourite which is running scripts. A great benefit of CHDK is that the software is loaded on startup from the memory card which means there is no need to modify the software which exists on the camera. Modifying on camera software (the camera’s firmware) can be a risky process which can result in a bricked (unusable) camera. With the method CHDK uses you can simply flick the write protect switch on your SD card or swap to another SD card and be back up and running with the standard software immediately!

So What is the Point

Why would you want these extra features? These are my favourite features, a full list of features can be found on CHDK Wiki.

RAW Format

RAW mode allows you to get more data from the camera’s sensor into your image. JPEG is a lossy format, which means not all of the information the camera gets from its sensor ends up in your image file. Usually this doesn’t cause any problems, but if you want push the processing of an image to the extremes then RAW format will allow you to access extra information, usually in the form of more bits/pixel than the JPG format allows. RAW files are also larger than JPG files, so make sure you have plenty of memory available.


In camera HDR is another great benefit of using CHDK. It can be setup so a single shutter press will capture various exposures and automatically blend them all into 1 file, allowing greater dynamic range in your photograph. It is like taking 3 exposure bracketed shots on your SLR and processing them in Photomatix all with the press of the shutter button!

Manual Controls

CHDK’s extensive menu system allows you to change pretty much any setting in the camera, even those you would not normally have access to. For example, you are able to adjust the camera’s focus setting. This gives you the ability to focus manually, or even ask the camera to calculate the Hyper Focal distance for your current focal length and set the focus to that. There are so many settings you can adjust that I couldn’t possibly mention them all here.


The scripting feature of CHDK is definitely my favourite. The script feature allows you to load a small file onto your memory card which can automate various tasks on the camera. The main use I have for this is a timelapse script. A timelapse script, once started, will automatically take images at a predefined interval, giving you the images you need to generate a timelapse video. Another script I have looked at briefly is the motion capture script which takes a photo anytime something moves, it is reported to be fast enough to capture lightning! Again these 2 scripts are just some examples of the many scripts you can run on the camera. You can write your own or see what you can find on the internet.

CHDK on the ELPH300 HS (Ixus 220 HS)

The Canon ELPH 300 HS is a new model released in March 2011, this means at the point of writing this post an official CHDK release for the camera does not yet exist. The CHDK software needs to be rewritten to suit each camera model released, and because this is done by volunteers in their own time it can take a little while. To see the current state of CHDK on the new Canon ELPH 300 HS camera you can visit the ELPH 300 page on the CHDK Wiki. If the information on this page is not detailed enough you can have a look on the CHDK forums to see how the porting process is progressing. A quick search for “Elph 300″ should turn up any progress reports.

At this stage there has only been 1 attempt to port the software which was abandoned soon after it began. In time I expect to see the software successfully running on the ELPH 300. Be patient.

Update (21/06/2011): A member of the CHDK forum has picked up the porting process where the previous attempt left off, good luck!

Update (12/08/2011): Unfortunately there has been no action on the development forum for a while now, hopefully some more people are buying the camera and we will see some progress soon.

Update (26/11/2011): First build of CHDK for the ELPH 300 HS/Ixus 220 HS is now available for testing! See the thread here on the CHDK forum for details,

Where is the Review!

I will be posting a review on this camera when I have really tested it out, so keep an eye out here or subscribe to my feed to make sure you don’t miss out.



Subway, originally uploaded by jezza323.

Buy art

The final shot which I will blog from my Saturday morning walk in downtown. I was finished up, so I headed down to the subway to go home.

Packing Up

As I sat there removing the Tair-11a from my Pentax K200D body, and the tricky M42 adapter ring, I noticed this man reading quietly next to me. Looking down the platform I decided it would be worth getting a shot of the train pulling into the station.


I popped the Sigma 30mm lens on, dialed in a slowish, but not too slow exposure and waited for the train to arrive. Fortunately my subject remained seated and reading until the train came to a complete stop, so I was able to get the shot I was looking for. I actually fired off 4 quick shots (I often do this if shooting a slower shutter speed, as 1 of them is bound to be sharp enough). It is a kind of cliche shot but I enjoy it.


All editing was done in Lightroom. I cropped the image to a 16:9 ratio (I do enjoy 16:9), adjusted the levels a tiny bit, made it black and white, then increased the contrast quite heavily.

Blog Update

As you will have noticed, I am back and being active on both flickr, and here. As a part of that I plan on making a few changes to the layout and look of the blog over the coming weeks, so don’t be suprised if you notice things changing (or if you have noticed changes already). And please let me know if you see any problems, have any suggestions, or have any comments on the changes I’m making.

Always moving

Now A Canadian (Life Update)

As you might have noticed, my recent shots are all from Toronto, Canada and its surrounds. The reason for this is that I have made the move across the globe, from sunny Brisbane to not as sunny Toronto.

A Big Move

My wife and I decided to make the move in late 2010, and after much organizing, paperwork and hard work we were finally able to move in mid April 2011. Of course we had to get rid of most of our possessions, rationalize what we had and bring as little as possible with us. This meant that I had to get rid of, or leave behind, quite a lot of photography gear. I have updated my list of gear, and hopefully I will be able to acquire some new gear soon!

Replenishing Stocks

In particular I am missing my tripod. I have my eye on 1 at Vistek but I need to save up a little first, hopefully a tripod review is just around the corner. I am also looking to replace my point & shoot camera. At the moment the one which catches my eye is the Canon ELPH 300 HS (IXUS 220 HS). The reasons this one strikes me are it features a proper wide angle lens (24mm equivalent), the lens is quite fast at f2.7 (at the wide end) and being a Canon it will be able to run CHDK software. The camera is quite a new release, so currently CHDK is not available for this model (it is still being ported), but I believe it will be in the near future. Another bonus is the full HD (1080p) video recording the camera offers, and its relatively cheap price. Again, you can look forward to a review of this model as soon as I get my hands on it.


If anyone has any tips for living in Toronto, places I should visit (and photograph) then please let me know.

Holga D Concept

I have just read about this great concept on Pentax Ways blog, and I just have to share my thoughts. The original article can be read here.

This would be a great platform for enthusiasts, and photography students alike. Of course to be viable it would need to be cheap, like very cheap. Think of the uses for it, a simple, plain digital camera you can take anywhere, is easy to get parts for, and just works!

I would definitely be interested in something like this, so lets support it with comments and help to make it happen!

Tair-11a Lens Review

Its about time I went and wrote a proper review for this lens, it is 1 of my favourite lenses to get out and use. I have been a bit slack in the getting out and using it department of late though.

Brenizer Ball
Sculpture shot using the Brenizer Method

The Specs

So the lens, the Tair-11a lens is a 135mm f2.8 – f22.0 aperture prime lens, available in M42 mount (this is the mount you will want if you would like to use it on a DSLR – you can get an M42 adapter for all the major DSLRs). The lens uses the older preset style of aperture control (which is completely manual of course) which is located at the front of the lens, instead of the rear of the lens like a more modern lens. The lens is manual focus, and the focus on my copy is VERY smooth, a real pleasure to use, however different copies will vary with amount of use. Things wear out over time people! It has a small built in sliding hood, but a longer screw in hood would probably help prevent flare and increase contrast a little. The minimum focus distance is a fairly long 1.2m, so you wont be doing any macro work, but as a portrait lens, it works beautifully. There are some more detailed specs on the Zenit website, including this great cut away image of the lens.

The Feel

It is a big heavy lens, feels good in the hand, but you will want to chuck a battery grip on your DSLR if you have one. With the battery grip on the body the lens/body combo is much more balanced, without the battery grip the whole lot wants to tip forwards out of your hand a little, and holding it can become a chore after a while. The metal body has some nice solid grooves machined into it, which make it very easy to hold and focus with.

Queen St Mall Brisbane
Shot showing the colours from the Tair-11a lens

In Use

At 135mm focal length this lens is a 200mm equivalent FOV on a 1.5x crop body (such as my Pentax) so its not something you will want to be using if you are right up close to the action. The lens is ultra sharp, even the pixel peepers will be happy with this one (provided you nail the focus of course ;-) ). The colours are that lovely old single coated type, kind of similar to an old colour film shot (I’m a fan as you can tell). The single coating does however mean it is very prone to lens flare, so always be careful shooting towards a light source and use a hood (as I mentioned a little earlier) if possible. The real winner for this lens, is the bokeh. The Tair-11a boasts 20 aperture blades, giving a nearly perfectly round aperture at all openings, you can get some really great out of focus blur in your shots, and when you are shooting 135mm at f2.8, the DOF can get quite narrow, so there will be plenty of out of focus stuff to see. You can see the rest of my Tair-11a shots here on the blog.

Bird on Stairs
Bird and Stair