Newer and newer cameras are coming into the market, and this season is getting more and more exciting, especially for gear lovers. The lust for higher and higher megapixel count, superior clean high ISO performance, more powerful and faster lenses have been the popular "wishlist" for things to come in the newer products. Surely, technology is progressing at a rate faster than ever before, and greater things are coming up, replacing the older generation cameras. Most people would just dump their older camera and equipments into the used market, and quickly grab that latest released camera that promises better image quality and camera performance.
I asked myself this question: Am I happy with what I currently have? To be honest, I am very satisfied with what Olympus camera system has offered, both from the E-System DSLR line and Micro 4/3 PEN series. Both my Olympus DSLRs, E-5 and the older E-520 served me well, and still are functioning at their full capability. I have used both E-5 and E-520 for countless shutter therapy sessions as well as paid assignment (I do need some side income to fund for lenses and other accessories!). On the other hand, my PEN E-PL1 has been with me to many places almost everyday, and does its job well as the camera that I can whip out at any time to capture the spontaneous photo opportunity. I am very happy with the image quality that all the Olympus cameras are delivering, and I treasure most the versatility and sharpness of Zuiko lenses, which have been nothing but reliable and performing well in many shooting situations.
All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-520 and Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens
Love the natural catchlight.
Public lounging area
Not the best direction against the light, eyes were black.
Are there any complains? Of course, we all wish we have something better than what we already have, I am after all, just a human being. I do lust for better high ISO performance (Oh heaven knows what we can do with clean ISO3200, or even usable ISO6400 on full frame sensor), and I also occasionally dream about fast lenses which Olympus never had, such as a 85mm F1.2, or 24mm F1.4, delivering sharp images with unparalleled bokeh quality. The "what I want more and more" items will never end, and the appetite is insatiable.
Lets say I am given a super powerful camera (the latest Nikon D4 would be awesome). Will my photography suddenly jump to another level? I doubt so. Obviously, my photographs will have lesser noise, much higher dynamic range, I can have higher shooting frames per second, more sophisticated autofocusing system (continuous focusing would be great) and perhaps, the camera has a brain on its own that I can shut down mine and just use my numb finger to click and click and click and still produce noise free, correctly exposed, accurately focused images. Are those great photographs? Are good photographs defined by technical aspects, such as noise, distortion, chromatic abberation, resolution/sharpness, colour accuracy, exposure correctness, etc etc?
As much as I yearn for a more powerful camera system, I cannot help but answer that previous question, by saying that a good photograph is a lot more than just all the technical perfection that we all are so desperate to achieve. Of course, if you are working professionally, and you need to deliver the files to your clients, by all means, go ahead and get the latest most capable camera and sell your images. However, for most average users who are just hobbyists, such as myself, I find the neverending lust for better equipments not being too healthy for my photography development. My photography skills wont improve much. I can probably do what I do with my current set of cameras, when it comes to finding the right subject, approaching the subject, composing it and executing my camera controls and settings to accomplish my photography vision. Those things cannot be changed by just upgrading your camera system.
Cook with a smile
Pedestrian walkway is also for sitting down.
Life is never fair
At the market
A couple shopping in a market
Love their large eyes !!
Working at the back of a shop
Peeling shallot skins.
Hard work and relaxation on the same table.
Therefore, for today's shutter therapy session, I have decided to leave the Olympus E-5 and PEN E-PL1 home, and used my old, trusty beloved E-520 on the streets instead. The E-520 has been bruised and battered, it is showing signs of age, but it still performs flawlessly, as it should. Olympus makes really durable and tough cameras, no dispute on that. I mounted the Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens on the E-520, and merrily snapped away. Was the image output less superior than E-5 and E-PL1? Yes, the sharpness was not really there (less fine details), the noise started to creep in at ISO400 onwards, the dynamic range was so unbearably limited, and the autofocus was marginally slower than E-5. Did any of those issues bother me? Not exactly, and you know why? Because on the street, superior image quality is not the main concern here, what we needed to concentrate on more was to hunt down the photo opportunities, grab the scene as quickly as possible, and approach the subjects.
Would I have enjoyed myself better if I were using E-PL1 or E-5? Maybe, but I have had a great time using the E-520, and oh I love how small and light it is, yet having substantial hand grip for good handling. The original file output had great tone and colours, and I just love Olympus colours, especially when it comes to natural skin tone and rendering of natural outdoor colours. They feel very true to life and are very pleasing to look at. I did not find anything much to complain about using the E-520, which is coming close to 4 years old now since 2008. It has never failed me, and it has fulfilled its duty faithfully. So what if I am not using the latest, most capable and powerful camera? So what if I am not using a huge ass long zoom lens? I don't think it will make that much of a difference, seriously.
As long as I can nail down the shot that I had in mind, and manage to present the shots in a way I have intended them to be, I have successfully created meaningful photographs. E-520 did splendidly well, and I am glad I am still keeping it until today. Photography is not about chasing the most capable equipments, photography is about shooting, and making photographs happen. I have known some very good friends who still shoot with film, and make wonderful images. Talking about going back to basics, we should all start from the roots and remind ourselves why we picked up the camera in the first place.
I have complained about AutoFocusing issues with the Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens when I used it on my E-5 previously (click). One of my readers, Bill (click) has kindly pointed out to me that the Sigma 30mm F1.4 is optimized to be used on older Olympus AF system, especially for the first generation DSLR, E-1. If the Sigma 30mm F1.4 is used on newer bodies with different (updated) AF system, it wont perform optimally. Having used the Sigma 30mm F1.4 on my older E-520, I can now understand and agree that, it is true, the Sigma 30mm lens is indeed working much better on older Olympus DSLR bodies. I find no issues at all on the E-520, though sometimes it hunts when autofocusing, but it will almost certainly, everytime, lock focus rather accurately. My hit rate of accurate AF was very high today, significantly higher than when I used the Sigma 30mm on E-5. I suspected that the 3-point Autofocus system on the E-520 body is not too far different than the original first generation E-1's autofocus system. I can safely say that I am more confident in using the Sigma 30mm on my E-520, than the E-5. The focusing of the lens is not exactly blindingly fast, I still do miss some shots due to the lens not focusing fast enough, but careful planning, anticipating of shot and practical pre-focusing techniques can help save lives, if done efficiently.
I still love cats.
Harsh light but I like the contrast
Axe the meat and bones
Friends in market
Quick gas supply (not a very successful panning attempt)
By the roadside
Kids being kids
After shooting, we had lunch at a local Chinese restaurant at Masjid Jamek.
5 course meal. *burp
For today's shutter therapy session, it was organized for a dear friend from Melbourne, Ananda Sim, who came home to KL for the Chinese New Year holidays. We had a last minute call for a group shooting session, and 10 members of PEN Lovers (click here to find out more) who turned out. I have promised to bring Ananda to my favourite street hunting grounds such as Jalan Masjid India and Chow Kit, which I have not had a chance to fulfill since about a year ago, his previous stop in KL. The group of PEN Lovers went to Jalan Masjid Insia and Chow Kit this morning, and I sure hope everyone had a great time shooting. People were friendly on the streets, and there were plenty of good photo opportunities. Ananda, I hope you love the streets !! Now you have seen where I make most of my shots on this blog happen.
Chinese New Year 2012 is coming really soon. There is so much to do, yet so little time left. I shall gear up, and do all I can to welcome the year of the Dragon.
For the Kuching guys, I will be flying home on 18th January 2012, and stay in Kuching until 28th January 2012. Hope to catch some of you beautiful people in my lovely hometown !! Can't wait to fly home. Oh glorious Kolo Mee and Laksa, here I come.