Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 - Truly A Marvelous Lens!

Recently I added two items into my camera bag, one being the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III (which I have blogged here) and a lens that I have been wanting to get for a long time now, the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8. The reason it took me so long to finally get the Olympus 75mm prime was simply because it was not the lens that I use frequently, but when I do need the lens, and every time I use the lens I am always impressed by the images that this lens makes. It has been a while since I last purchased anything new, the last item being the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 Pro about a year ago. So here in this blog I am sharing my experience using the lens and some photographs from my past shoots. 

Here is a short list of reasons why I decided to go for the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8, though I know it is a lens that I won't use often. 

I am not saying that I am replacing the 40-150mm PRO, that is one great lens, perhaps one day I should revisit that lens in this blog and in my YouTube video, but you have got to admit that lens is not small, and surely adds some bulk and weight to the camera bag. If you have known me you know I am a minimalist and I would like to keep my footprint as small as possible, less is more. In most of my shoots, being the official photographer, I have access and I can get quite close to my subjects. 40-150mm is still handy for larger stage and that 150mm reach can be extremely useful at times. However, I also know that in most cases, the 75mm would have sufficed, and the amount of weight shaved off the bag is the main consideration here. 

If you want to have as much background blur as you can being a Micro Four Thirds user, the one lens on the top of the list is the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8. Being a telephoto prime lens renders very tight perspective, isolating subjects so much more effectively. Having F1.8 wide aperture in combination with the long focal length produces extremely shallow depth of field, perhaps the best for Micro Four Thirds system. Almost every time I show my photographs without telling others what camera system I use, many believe that the images were shot on a full frame. There were times some did not even believe me when I told them I used an Olympus OM-D camera. If you are doing wedding photography, outdoor portrait, events and any kind of photography that require a lot of background blurring, M.Zuiko 75mm is a must have lens!

The image quality of the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 is nothing short of breathtaking. The sharpness is incredible, it is one of the sharpest, if not the sharpest lens from Olympus lens line-up (I think the sharpest lens goes to the over-engineered Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm F4 PRO). The lens is not only sharp, technical flaws are very well managed, and I don't see much chromatic aberration or purple fringing. The images I shot with the 75mm lens (I did borrow from friends, sometimes from Olympus Malaysia for my shoots) never failed to impress my clients. I can go as far to say that if I seriously want to create the wow factor, M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 is a go to lens. 

Recently I have been shooting more and more stage related activities, and most of these events are in low light environment. When I was shooting with 40-150mm PRO, the widest aperture was a modest F2.8, I did from time to time wish I had something brighter to work with. Having the F1.8 on a long lens means I can lower down my ISO numbers, producing cleaner files and giving me more flexibility to work with shooting in low light. Furthermore, combined with all my other prime lenses, such as 45mm F1.8 and 25mm F1.2 PRO, I really have very little to worry about when it comes to less than favourable light and I can comfortably shoot at ISO6400 on my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Coupling F1.8 and ISO6400 opens up a lot of possibilities, even in the most challenging conditions. 

I am really happy that I have this lens now, though I know this is not the lens that I would use for my shutter therapy sessions, being too long for practical shooting on the streets. I know most people do not find it easy to compose with such a long focal length, especially if you are shooting in limited/tightc paces. However if you do find a good use for this lens, the images you get from this can be extremely rewarding. Do you have similar experience? Share your thoughts!

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I added an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Into My Arsenal, and Some New Street Images

I have decided to add a new camera to my gear list, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III. I have a few reasons for doing so, and I am exploring them in this blog entry (as well as a new video). I have also taken the E-M5 Mark III out for a quick spin in Chow Kit, KL, as I brought along a friend from Kuching, Kieron Long who wanted to explore KL streets a little more. The E-M5 Mark III is a perfect street photography machine in my books, and I will be using this camera a lot more in the future. 

Finally, the video in full glorious 4K. 

There are a lot of similarities between the E-M5 Mark III and my current workhorse, E-M1 Mark II They both share the exact same image sensor, image processing engine AF capabilities, 5-Axis Image Stabilization, a host of Olympus specific shooting features and shooting capabilities. The fact that the E-M5 Mark III is much smaller and lighter makes it a perfect new camera for a few reasons. 

I have been shooting my videos on either E-M1 or E-M1 Mark II all this time. The E-M5 Mark III, having the exact same video features as E-M1 Mark II and more - ability to do 120fps slow motion video makes it a compelling choice for my vlogging purposes. I did not foresee myself getting so crazy about making YouTube videos, now that I can see this actually heading somewhere, I thought having a dedicated camera for vlogging, which is truly compact so that I can minimize the gear that I carry I around is a great idea. 

Also, I have been shooting my videos in 1080p all this time, we all know Olympus 1080p FHD videos are not the best out there. Furthermore, I have been using cheap variable ND filters to get that 1/50 second "cinematic motion". 

Moving forward, I will shoot my videos mostly in 4K, it is 2020 after all, and Olympus cameras are capable of very decent 4K shooting, at least for basic videos like the one I am doing for my YouTube channel .I shall forgo the "cinematic motion" for now, seriously I don't have that much movement in my video, I am not shooting fast moving subjects, I am not making a short film. It is just a video showing me talking to you beautiful people, so I honestly prefer it to look sharp and detailed, instead of degraded soft output due to cheap filters. No I am not ready to spend hundreds of dollars for high grade ND filters. That is a discussion for another day. 

My main street photography shooting camera was the Olympus PEN E-P5 which I have used for years and the LCD screen died about a year ago. Hence I have been using my E-M1 Mark II for most of my shutter therapy sessions. The most important thing for me when it comes to street shooting is fast and reliable AF, and E-M5 Mark III has the exact same AF capability as the E-M1 Mark II, yet it is so much smaller and lighter, something truly potable for me to carry with me, walking on the streets for hours at a time continuously without feeling the strain on any body parts. Not that I am complaining the E-M1 Mark II is huge o heavy, but any size and weight that I can shave off yet maintaining similar image quality and performance, I'd gladly take it! And yes I have been shooting with the E-M5 Mark III for a few sessions on the street now! Here are some new shots. 

Image were all shot with Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens

Believe it or not, I am not the kind of photographer that carries a camera with me everywhere I go to. Allow me to explain - I compartmentalize my life, I will shoot when I have to, and dedicate specific sessions for shooting, and outside of those sessions, I rarely have a camera with me. I keep my life organized that way, but I make sure I have sufficient time for shutter therapy sessions, always. Moving forward, this is the year 2020, my resolution for this year is to bring the camera out with me more often even when I don't have any shoot planned out in mind. I truly want to just start to capture random things, anything that appeals to me, not just on the streets but in my overall life. Let's see where this is going, if I have something interesting captured I will surely share the images here! E-M5 Mark III being so small makes sense, I will just slap on a tiny prime lens and I am set. 

I have been shooting with the E-M1 Mark II, an incredibile workhorse that delivered fantastic results again and again and I always have a back up E-M1 (original 2013 version) in the bag at all times. I am not a two camera shooter, I shoot with one camera and I have no issues swapping lenses quickly and efficiently. I just never found operating two camera bodies working well for my shooting workflow. The E-M1 is aging now and it is about time it is replaced. I initially was pondering if I should get another E-M1 Mark II, which also is a reasonable choice. However, the E-M5 Mark III won me over due to the much smaller size, and the fact that it will remain in the bag as a back up unless I somehow miraculously managed to destroy my main camera E-M1 Mark II (which is always a possibility, hence having a back up is crucial). The E-M5 Mark III practically is a mini E-M1 Mark II, minus the beefy grip, large EVF, huge battery life and a few speed features in the camera. 

The E-M5 Mark III is already out in the market for more than a month now, and I am sure some of you already have the camera in hand. 

Do let me know your thoughts, I want to hear your experience using the E-M5 Mark III. 

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Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO - Still The Must Have Olympus PRO lens!

The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO is a highly revered standard wide zoom lens with constant aperture, and has become a staple for many professional working photographers. I personally own this lens and have used it for many years now, and I find it to be the perfect fit for E-M1 series cameras. Optically the lens is superbly made, producing sharp results from corner to corner even at wide open aperture F2.8 across all zoom focal range. The technical lens flaws are well managed (some may be aided by software compensation) and the lens is weather-sealed against dust, splash and freeze. I have shot countless photography jobs with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm PRO and have also used the lens for my own shutter therapy sessions. I have published my full review of the lens previously here (click). I thought it would be interesting to revisit this lens, and put up a video since I am getting some questions regarding the lens. 

Here are some sample images I have taken with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens over the years with various cameras!

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Happy New Year 2020 & Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro Lens Talk

Happy New Year 2020! I hope you have had a wonderful holiday season and an awesome start to the new decade. A few comments on this blog as well as from my YouTube channel have requested me to share my thoughts on the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 Macro lens, which I have used extensively over the years. I personally love to shoot insect macro photography just for fun. So I thought why not start the year with a video showing off some of my insect macro shots I have accumulated over the past years. I do believe the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens is the best macro lens for Micro Four Thirds system!

The Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro has an equivalent 2:1 magnification ratio, allowing super close up shots on the tiny creatures, and for most of the insects or bugs that I am shooting, that magnification was sufficient. I did not have to add on extension tubes or additional converters, though I can't say the same if you are aiming for just the insect's  eyes, or even tinier insects. The image quality has always been excellent, super sharp in fact, revealing incredible amount of details and contrast and when the images are in critically accurate focus I was always impressed with the results. 

Another advantage that I must mention having the M.Zuiko 60mm Macro lens is the longer working distance, about 19cm from the front of the lens to the subject. This is an important benefit because a lot of other macro lenses, including the Olympus 30mm F3.5 and Panasonic 45mm F2.8 lens require you to move much closer to the subject to gain sufficient magnification, which in turn will scare some of the more sensitive creatures away. Having further focusing distance, yet achieving high magnification is helpful especially in insect macro photography world. 

Using the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm Macro lens on Olympus OM-D cameras allow me more OM-D specific feature benefits, one in particular I must highlight is the 5-Axis Image Stabilization. 5-Axis IS  not only helps stabilize the shot but during shooting it makes a whole world of difference with the stabilized preview, either through LCD screen or EVF. Without stabilization, shooting extreme close up shots will have horribly shaky view, dealing with this for long hours will definitely cause discomfort and viewing difficulties. Shooting experience is important, if the experience while composing the shot is improved, I can enjoy the whole insect macro session much better. The 5-Axis IS helped produce a smoother, steadier preview each time I half-press the shutter button. I don't get nauseous or headaches anymore after an intense half-day insect macro outing anymore. 

If you have the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens, do share your experience using the lens!

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Is Dynamic Range of Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Good Enough?

This is my last blog entry of the year 2019, in 2 days we shall usher in 2020. I think it has been quite an interesting year for me, taking the bold move dive into YouTube, and still surviving thus far. For this last video of the year, I shall be exploring the dynamic range capability of my main workhorse Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. In the video, I brought the E-M1 Mark II out for a torture test at Batu Caves, where the lighting condition was unbearably harsh and I can think of no better place to fully test out dynamic range of any camera. I then demonstrated how I extracted as much shadow and highlight details as I can in post-processing using Capture One Pro. See the video below. 

To me personally, I have not encountered a situation where the E-M1 Mark II could not capture sufficient dynamic range, both for my commercial jobs as well as personal photography. As long as you don't severely overexpose or underexpose your shot, you could get away with very good recovery in post-processing. That ISO200 RAW file from E-M1 Mark II is a lot more capable than you think. Have a bit more faith in the camera, it has never let me down so far. 

I shall see you beautiful people in 2020. Have a good celebration, and may the coming year bring you more opportunities in life and much happiness! 

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