Saturday, March 31, 2012

Approaching Strangers

One of the many questions I have been asked about my street photography is how I approach my subjects on the streets. The fear of getting cold response and worse, yelled at for shooting photographs of strangers often hold many new photographers on the street to explore the possibilities. The saying of "if your photograph is not good enough, you are not close enough" strongly applies to street photography as well. If you want good enough shots, you have got to move in close enough. You have got to get pass the fear of rejection, and brave yourself nearer to your subjects. 

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Lenses: 25mm F2.8 pancake or 50mm F2 macro

It is only 4 bucks

Thursday, March 29, 2012

An Evening Walk and a Fresh Look

I am sure you have noticed that I have just changed the layout of my humble blog here. The main reason for this change is to integrate some new released features from Blogger, which did not seem to work with my old template. I really want some of the newer functions, such as being able to reply to individual comments in a threaded view rather than creating a new comment each time, and integration of the "Google Plus 1" button. At the same time, I wanted to keep the main theme of this blog, the simplicity and clean overall look and feel. I also want the background to be white with black text for better readability. I know the header image is not exactly the most suitable one, but I have no time to create one at the moment. For now, that will have to suffice. Do let me know what you think of this new layout. 

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens


Monday, March 26, 2012

Nothing Stays Constant

When I am in the craze, I would go out to any street of my choice and blast the shutter away, coming home with hundreds of images. Not all of my images would be keepers, and hit rates of what I keep versus what I delete varies greatly in each shutter therapy sessions. I have been reminded by a few friends lately to slow down, take a deep look into my photographs, and really look at them without being affected by what I feel and think in that temporary frenzy shooting state of mind. The reason is plain simple: my perception of what is beautiful at this particular moment of time may change in the next month, or sooner, weeks, knowing that the ever-changing preference and style of shooting being inevitable, thus not all photographs produced and passed self quality control at one time will stand the test of time in photography growth.

Street photography is a vast genre of photography, encompassing so many sub-categories including people, landscape, urban decay, photo-journalism, and most of them have at least two or three sub-categories intertwined with each other to form a full street photograph. It is difficult, or should I say, needless to restrict the definition of what a street photograph should be. There are many available sources of literature to fully describe and define what street photography should be, but I, as a new-born photographer in the digital era would not care too much on how or what the older generation photographers told us on the "rights" and "wrongs" of photography. We live in a different era now, and we should create our own history, based on our time, instead of reliving and recreating what has been done countless times before. Therefore, I would like to see myself as a modern photographer, with very different outlook in my own street photography work, that may or may not necessarily satisfy the rules in the books of old.

After killing ALL my time for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 review works that spanned two weeks long (you guys have no idea how much sleep I have lost, worse for my friend Sanjit who did the video), now I finally have some time to sit down, and breathe. Hence I decided to look through my photographs that I have taken throughout the year 2011 (including some from early 2012) and compiled a small set of my favorites, being shown in this entry. Those photographs that I selected may not hold any particular reason of being good example of street photographs, instead, they were favored based on my own preferences and what I thought I liked very much, even after months, or a year since the photograph was taken. I shall also include some brief description on why I love those shots.

All images in this entry were taken in the year 2011 (a few in early 2012), with various Olympus cameras and lenses setup.


Street Projections
E-PL1 with kit lens
Jalan Masjid India
Some random abstract projection from the streets. I believe street shooting should not be constrained to human subjects only. There are many inanimate subjects that make great street subjects. Left image was a reflection from a puddle of water on the roadside.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bukit Bintang Streets

It has been a two week long craze, being busy both at my day job as well as the Olympus OM-D E-M5 review. The amount of emails I received was unexpectedly overwhelming, and I do need time to catch my breath before I reply all of them. If I have not got back to you, please do understand that I need to eat, sleep, earn a living, do my shutter therapy, watch movies, do my stalking on Facebook and all the ordinary things that people do. Ok, not so much on the stalking, but you get the idea.

It was on this glorious Sunday morning that Luke called me out for a street shooting session on his new-found favorite shooting ground, Bukit Bintang in KL. I must admit this is not a place I shoot often, and I should explore different places instead of just sticking to my usual hunting grounds. After a quick breakfast, a group of street crazy shooters (Wilson, Yeow, Mun Keat, Luke and myself) attacked the streets.

I armed myself with my trusty Olympus DSLR E-5 with lovely Zuiko lenses, 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50mm F2 macro. I did not exactly have anything specific thought out in my mind for this session, and I intended to walk casually and shot at whatever subjects that attracted my attention. Sometimes I think too much careful planning and anticipation killed the interest and excitement of the whole process. On the streets, one of the main contributing fun factors would be the unpredictability of what you will chance upon. Not knowing what you will be shooting next is what drives your curiosity and the hunger to explore more and more at every corner and turn of the streets. Life is similar in this context, you cannot have everything laid out perfectly in front of you, many times, it is the spontaneous moments that get you going.

Stranger

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5: Video Review & Behind the Scenes

Finally, we have come to the end of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 review episodes spanning about two weeks. This time, we shall divert the attention to a dear friend of mine, Sanjit from FULLCIRCLEPIX who has been with me throughout all my shooting session for the review of E-M5.

I first encountered Sanjit in the year 2008, during one of the first few Olympus User Gathering held by Olympus Malaysia. I remembered vividly attending the first talk that was conducted by Sanjit on Wildlife Photography at Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival, and admiring his photography work as well as his passion to shoot and share his knowledge with the audience. He is one photographer that I have come to respect and look highly onto over the years, and being an Olympus E-System user, there was a lot I can relate to. It came as a surprise and pleasure when I was given the opportunity to work alongside someone as great as Sanjit for the recent Olympus OM-D E-M5 review.

BEHIND THE SCENES OF OM-D REVIEW


Video by FULLCIRCLEPIX


As you all know it, I am not a videographer, and I have almost zero skills and knowledge when it comes to video shooting. Sanjit on the other hand is very experienced in video shooting, and has very good sense of art direction. Therefore, it was only natural that I concentrate fully on the photography side of the Olympus E-M5 review, while Sanjit would tackle the video capabilities. His ultimate challenge was to shoot everything hand-held, without any aids such as dolly, tripod or steadycams. It was also his task to explore how feasible E-M5 is as a video shooting camera.

Sanjit has been a great partner to work with, I enjoyed every single moment and adventures with him. I admire his dedication, passion and willingness to work till ungodly hours just to finish up all the videos I have been showing in my blog reviews so far. Believe me the amount of effort and energy sacrificed for the videos was beyond my imagination, yet I never heard a word of complain from Sanjit, and he kept everything on schedule with no delay. My only wish is that we have had more time, so that everything was not so rushed and hectic. Nonetheless, I believe Sanjit did a splendid job in illustrating how well the Olympus E-M5 handles video recording, and I cannot have asked for any better. 

I shall place the spotlight to Sanjit. Head over to his blog where he has written his part of E-M5 review for video shooting, and his write-up on behind the scenes of our review work:

Go to:

Please kindly direct your questions and comments to Sanjit's blog !! I will surely not be able to answer any questions related to video.

To Sanjit, it was an honor and privillege to shoot alongside you. Cheers mate !!

Special thanks to Olympus Malaysia for loaning us the OM-D. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5: Pudu Walk

Olympus Malaysia takes local pre-orders now (9 to 31 March 2012). There are promotions with FREE gifts too, choice of MMF-3 adapter or 32Gb Sandisk EXTREME card. Do check out their official promotional page here (Click).

Important Notes:
1. This blog is written from a user-experience perspective.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG Large SF (super fine) via Olympus Viewer 2 version 1.3 (provided by Olympus Malaysia).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.


In my past review entries I have been receiving quite a number of feedback and suggestions from you beautiful readers. One popular request was for me to use the bundled kit lens M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 together with the E-M5. I have done one dedicated shooting session with the 12-50mm lens alone.

I understand that I rarely used the 12-50mm lens in my past reviews of the E-M5. My justification for not using the 12-50mm lens is simple, it is not the sharpest lens among the current Olympus Micro 4/3 lenses line-up. I used the best prime lenses, 12mm F2 and 45mm F1.8 in most of my photographs previously, to vanquish any shadow of doubt that the images could have been better if better lenses were used. If I have used 12-50mm, the imperfections of the lens would have skewed the overall impression of what the E-M5 is truly capable of delivering. We know well that prime lenses will always be sharper than zoom lenses (optimization of optics for single focal length, and simple optical elements design). I was reviewing the Olympus OM-D E-M5, hence I wanted to push the camera and see how far it can go, it is only fitting to use the best lenses Olympus offers.

Sanjit, a dear friend who has worked so hard on the video shooting with E-M5 is almost done with his part of "behind the scenes" sharing and video capabilities review of the E-M5. At the mean time, he has released yet another fantastic video, summarizing my previous parts of reviews. Do give the video a look here:


Video by FULLCIRCLEPIX
Beautiful Music by SILENT SCENERY
You can buy Silent Scenery's music from www.silentscenery.com



About the M.Zuiko 12-50mm lens

I have also done an extensive user experienced based review for the M.Zuiko 12-50mm lens a few months ago. I have covered the primary strengths and features of the lens, such as the close up/macro capabilities, the 12mm wide angle and also the use as a general standard all rounder zoom lens. I shall not repeat myself in this entry, but before I go on with my shooting session with the E-M5 and 12-50mm on the streets, the following is a list of summary on my impressions on the 12-50mm lens:

You will like the lens if:
1) You want a general all-rounder lens that can do a lot more than an ordinary kit lens
2) You do not intend to buy a macro lens, but want much better magnification for close up works
3) You need something wider than the standard 14mm (28mm equivalent focal length)
4) Technical perfection is not a priority, and you do not require absolute sharpness in your image
5) You need a weather sealed lens to go along with the E-M5, and shoot in harsh conditions
6) You do a lot of video recording works, where the power zoom will ensure smooth and silent zoom operations.

You will NOT like the lens if:
1) You love bokeh. This lens will not give you much useful bokeh at all.
2) You are crazy about technical perfection (Chromatic Abberation, distortion control, etc)
3) You need a very sharp lens and critical about the amount of details resolved (I am guilty of this)
4) You won't shoot in rain or dusty conditions, and you treat your camera like a porcelain vase.
5) You always shoot indoors, or low light conditions, and you need to freeze movements in such circumstances


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5: KL Bird Park

Olympus Malaysia takes local pre-orders now (9 to 31 March 2012). There are promotions with FREE gifts too, choice of MMF-3 adapter or 32Gb Sandisk EXTREME card. Do check out their official promotional page here (Click).

Important Notes:
1. This blog is written from a user-experience perspective.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG Large SF (super fine) via Olympus Viewer 2 version 1.3 (provided by Olympus Malaysia).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

Thanks to all the overwhelming response from you beautiful readers, Olympus Malaysia approached me again, loaned me the OM-D E-M5 (initial production unit) for another weekend and asked me to “extend” my blog reviews. I was delighted of course and have no objections shooting with the E-M5 again (who would complain, right?) but I do not intend to “continue” my review write-ups, mainly because I have said everything I intended to say in my four part reviews. I believe if I keep on rambling here, my blog entries might be dreadful and redundant in many ways.

Therefore, lets NOT call this a review.

I decided to just shoot, present the photographs from the shooting session, and then cover on the aspects of the E-M5 which I did not manage to cover in my previous brief encounter with it.

If you guys have not seen this video yet (it has been uploaded about 2 weeks ago), Eric Kim was kind enough to feature me in his Youtube hands-on review with the E-M5. Eric had a workshop in Kuala Lumpur 2 weeks ago, on the same weekend which I spent fully on shooting with the E-M5 and review works. I managed to catch Eric up after his workshop, at the Leica Cocktail Party.


Special thanks to wonderful Eric for having me with him. It was indeed an honor.

The location of shooting was Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary (what a mouthful of description as advertised officially), which was situated in Lake Gardens (Taman Tasik Perdana), not too far from the National Monument (Tugu Negara).

In this shooting session, I shall be discussing about the following items on the E-M5:
1) Handling with larger lens, eg M.Zuiko 75-300mm F4.8-6.7
2) Effectiveness of the 5-Axis IS on the long tele-photo end of the lens
3) Using the Continuous AutoFocus with 3D tracking on good lighting condition


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review: Street Shooting and Final Words

Olympus Malaysia has unveiled their official pricing for the OM-D E-M5 and they are starting to take local pre-order (9 to 31 March 2012). There are promotions with FREE gifts too, choice of MMF-3 adapter or 32Gb Sandisk EXTREME card. Do check out their official promotional page here (Click).

Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG Large SF (super fine) via Olympus Viewer 2 version 1.3 (provided by Olympus Malaysia).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal, Picture Mode: Monotone
4. No post-processing applied (except picture mode set to "monotone") to the images. All images were as good as straight out of camera with minimal cropping for better presentation.
5. Lenses used for this entry: M.Zuiko 12mm F2 and 45mm F1.8

This entry is the final part of my Olympus OM-D E-M5 review episodes, please read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 if you have not done so.

In this Part 4, I shall be summarizing the important highlights of my findings while shooting with Olympus E-M5 in the previous parts of my review. I shall also be discussing about a few negative points of the camera which I thought could have been improved. Basically you will find the summary of pros and cons of the Olympus E-M5, based on my brief encounter and shooting experience with it over the weekend.

In addition, I believe Olympus E-M5 is a very capable street photography machine. Street photography has been picking up pace all around the world lately. In my final shooting session with the Olympus E-M5, I have brought the camera to my usual shutter therapy session, doing street shooting at my favorite grounds in Jalan Masjid India and Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur. Therefore, I shall talk about how well the Olympus E-M5 performs as a street photography camera, and how I find it suitable for my shooting style and preferences.


Awesome music by SILENT SCENERY
Track title: Tale of a Wooden Door

This video highlights me in action shooting the streets. This was my first time seeing myself doing my shutter therapy. Quite interesting to see myself from a third person's perspective. Thanks again Sanjit for the wonderful video.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Focus Peaking and Some Other Stuff

My goodness, little did I know that such an innocent and humble blog review of mine has stirred up quite a chaotic storm over some online photography communities and forums. It was indeed scary to trace and find the reactions by many, and for whatever small things I can do here, I shall do my best to calm the weather.


Oh no, Robin is going to review the Fuji X-Pro 1 !! Oh no, Robin is being paid by Fuji to write blog reviews on the awesome Fuji X-Pro 1 Oh no, Robin is going to be a Fuji fanboy. Robin is also going to say that we no longer need any in body Image Stabilization, or extremely fast autofocus, or cool yet powerful features like wireless TTL flash. Maybe, maybe, Fuji will be paying Robin handsomely and give him a Fuji X-Pro 1 with the trinity lenses, and top that up with nice leather casing too. Oh no, Robin is going to throw all of his Olympus gear away !! Oh no, the world is coming to an end.

Seriously, enough baseless assumptions and misleading speculations?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review: Butterfly Park, KL

Update (11 March 2012): For the first time in history my blog is experiencing problems loading the photographs, as reported by some readers from the US. I usually host my images on Google's Picasa Web Online, which I would not expect to have issues handling massive bandwidth. Nonetheless, I have re-hosted the images on Imageshack. Hope that solves the problem for the time being. If you have difficulties loading the images do let me know. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Update (9 March 2012): Olympus Malaysia has unveiled their official pricing for the OM-D E-M5 and they are starting to take local pre-order (9 to 31 March 2012). There are promotions with FREE gifts too, choice of MMF-3 adapter or 32Gb Sandisk EXTREME card. Do check out their official promotional page here (Click).


Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG Large SF (super fine) via Olympus Viewer 2 version 1.3 (provided by Olympus Malaysia).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

This entry is the Part 3 installment of my Olympus OM-D E-M5 review series, if you have not read the previous entries; please go to Part 1 (here) and Part 2 (here). In the previous entries, I have discussed about Dynamic Range, Resolution/Sharpness and also High ISO shooting of the E-M5.

In this Part 3, I have brought the Olympus E-M5 to the Butterfly Park, KL and did some serious macro shooting there. You can see me in action with the following video:


Check out me shooting macro in Butterfly Park with Olympus OM-D E-M5. Also the video was fully recorded by another E-M5 unit by Sanjit, hand-held at all times. For the video recording, the 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens was used. Thanks Sanjit, you rock !!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review: Bukit Bintang Night Shooting

Update (9 March 2012): Olympus Malaysia has unveiled their official pricing for the OM-D E-M5 and they are starting to take local pre-order  (9 to 31 March 2012). There are promotions with FREE gifts too, choice of MMF-3 adapter or 32Gb Sandisk EXTREME card. Do check out their official promotional page here (Click).

Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG Large SF (super fine) via Olympus Viewer 2 version 1.3 (provided by Olympus Malaysia).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

This entry is Part 2 of my blog review for Olympus OM-D E-M5. If you have not done so, kindly read Part 1 here (click).

In this review entry, I shall jump straight into the question that everyone has been asking and asking all along, how is the high ISO performance of the new 16MP sensor? How does the E-M5 fare in low light shooting conditions? Previous Olympus cameras have been known to be lagging behind other camera manufacturers in terms of high ISO noise handling and shooting in dimly lit situations. To many modern photographers, one of the most important judging criteria to select a camera would be the high ISO performance (though I do not agree with this trend).

Before we dive in further, please have a look at the following updated video (same video as Part 1, but re-uploaded from fresh) and we solved the "jumping" issue encountered earlier. It was not due to the camera at all, but the post-production technical difficulties. We apologize for causing false impression on the jumping/shaking view in the video in the previous entry, as you can see in the video below the issue has been fixed. The later half part of the video also shows me shooting in action for this Part 2 review.


Video done by FULLCIRCLEPIX
Music from a fast rising and upcoming local star: SILENT SCENERY 
(do check out their music page, they are simply awesome!!)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review: Batu Caves, KL

Update (9 March 2012): "Jumping" issue of the video has been fixed. It was due to the post-production technical fault, not the camera.
Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG Large SF (super fine) via Olympus Viewer 2 version 1.3 (provided by Olympus Malaysia).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

It has been a long and painful wait for everyone, since the worldwide announcement of Olympus OM-D E-M5 almost a month ago. Finally I have had my hands on the initial production unit of the E-M5, fresh from Olympus Malaysia for my testing and review purposes. I received the review unit on Friday night, and immediately I went off shooting merrily, and basically burned off my entire weekend just to capture loads and loads of images to be shown in my review entries here. I have so many images to show and so much to share with you beautiful people out there, so lets get on with it in this Part 1 of Olympus OM-D E-M5 review.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Olympus E-M5 OM-D Review Teaser

I have been very silent in this blog lately, and that means I have been rather busy.

Yes, it is the Olympus OM-D E-M5 !! It is here, in my hands, I have just got it from Olympus Malaysia over the weekend, and I have shot tonnes and tonnes of images with it. I am in the midst of compiling the images and writing my blog reviews. They will be up VERY VERY SOON. I promise I am working as HARD as I can to push out the entries soonest possible.

Do check out the teaser clip Part 02 (while waiting for the main review entries)


Soundtrack by Azman Warren.

However, this time, we are doing the reviews slightly differently. There is an additional component, a rather extensive part being done to test out the video capabilities of the E-M5, which is not done by me. As usual, I am focusing mainly on photography side of things. This time, I was not alone.

For more information, please check out Part 01 of the teaser clip at www.fullcirclepix.com.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Eric Kim in KL !!

It was an extremely busy and long day, but at the end of the day was the highlight of it all, because Eric Kim, the superbly famous international photographer has just arrived in Kuala Lumpur. I had the chance to meet him and had a drink with him.

Meet ERIC KIM



It was too bad I could not come to meet him and my friends earlier, mainly because I was caught up with an important discussion about a future photography project that I was involved in. Should I have come even just an hour earlier, I could have had the chance to have a photo-walk, street shooting with Eric Kim himself, and I believe there is much to be learned, and be inspired by just walking alongside him.

Nonetheless, being just there, listening to Eric sharing his shooting experience in so many different places in the world, and just to have that little glimpse into what he is doing and how he sees photography and the world, those little moments were priceless.

Eric is here in KL to conduct his street photography workshop which is happening over this very weekend. We need to instill more street photography culture into Malaysia !! There are so many wonderful streets in KL, we should really explore and shoot it.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Personal Touch

I finally had a little bit of time to breathe, hence I am sitting in front of my computer and started to dig some older photographs and run through them. I went through the series of paid assignment or photography jobs which I took up last year, mostly Actual Day Wedding and some event coverage. Of all the series, one stood out amongst the rest: actual day wedding of Darren and Janet in June 2011. The main difference between this particular wedding assignment from the rest is: the bride is my cousin, who is very close to me and my family.