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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Marina Bay Sands Room View Singapore - Sony a99 Carl Zeiss 16-35mm f2.8

If you ever get a chance to stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore, I highly recommend that you get a room facing the bay if possible.

I think the price per night is about 10% more expensive than rooms facing the other side, but it is well worth it in my opinion. Especially considering that the outward facing wall is essentially one large panoramic window.

If you are wondering what the little white things are in the middle of the water, well they are "wish balls" (now now don't get any ideas). At the time it was just after Christmas, during which for a small fee you can get one of these white beach balls, write your wishes on it, and then someone will tow it out and anchor it in the middle of the Bay.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sony a99 Dynamic Range is good but is it really like HDR?

When the a99 reviews first came out, a lot of people mentioned about the Sony's great dynamic range, with many saying that it has a HDR-like quality. Looking at several image samples I have to say that I agreed with the opinion. This got me very excited to test out the camera myself.

I enjoy doing HDR photography, and like the look and extra pop it brings to the photos. The thing I do not enjoy though is the extra work and storage it brings. Instead of taking just one RAW photo and processing it in Camera Raw, I have to take at least 3 photos, the post-processing then takes a lot longer and is more demanding on the computer, I then have to save the finished HDR photo as yet another file. If the Sony a99 dynamic range is really good enough then I can get all the benefits of doing HDR but with the ease of just taking a single photo.

Certainly there are some situations where the traditional HDR practices will still need to be used, like when the exposure range of +/-2 or 3 is required, for example the photos I took on New Year's Eve in Bangkok.

But often I just use the bracketing function to take handheld shots with exposure ranges of +/- 0.7 to get that extra "pop" in post-processing, for example the photos I took in Samui Island. This is where the a99 improved dynamic range can really come in handy.

So during my recent trip to Singapore I got the chance to put the a99 to the test.

Sony a99 HDR shot Singapore's Philatelic Museum

Sony a99 Regular shot Singapore's Philatelic Museum

Arriving at Singapore's Philatelic museum I found the perfect situation for the test. I wanted to get a shot of the front of the museum, but with the bright sky and Sun directly behind it this was the usual situation for me to do a bit of "multi-exposures".

The top picture is an HDR image made from three shots with exposures of +-0.7 EV and the bottom picture was processed from just a single shot.

I have got to say, I am really impressed. Certainly the regular shot does not have as much of an impact as the HDR image, but it still has that "pop" I am looking for, and it also looks a lot more realistic without any of the lines around edges of objects. From the result, I can definitely say that I will be doing a lot less HDR in the near future.