Tuesday, February 22, 2011

KL Bird Park with Olympus E-5

It was a glorious Sunday morning, the infamous Jasonmumbles and I decided to attack the KL Bird Park. Jason has his trusty gigantic Bazooka Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM UKM MMU lens, while I was armed with my humble, old and worn-out budget tiny Zuiko 40-150mm F3.5-4.5. We arrived ridiculously early in the morning, just after the park was opened to the public to avoid the massive crowd. The weather was fair and we had our early morning shutter therapy.

Gotta love the 50mm F2 !! Check out the bokeh.

The sharpness of 50mm f2, shot with noise filter off, was simply breathtaking.

The highlight region was very well preserved in this shot.

The peacock's head was slightly off focus, but I like the composition and overall outcome of this image.


I have been to the Bird Park for a couple of times now, hence I have become quite familiar with the whole layout. This was however my first time there with the Olympus E-5, and it was expected that I would make a whole world of difference when it comes to image output. I used the 40-150mm F3.5-4.5 most of the time, but at situations where I could get within an arm’s length to the birds, I opted to utilize the 50mm F2 macro lens instead. The difference in sharpness and amount of details captured were startling. I needed the extra bokeh of F2 to further blur the background as well as the cage/grills.

It was not exactly that easy photographing the birds, since most of the interesting ones stayed safe inside their cages. Having traces of the cage in the photograph was something I tried very hard to avoid, because birds are symbol of freedom. It was a cloudy day, hence inside the cage it was rather dark. There were cases I needed to push up the ISO setting, which was not very favorable due to the loss of sharpness and details. I did what I could, but there was only so much I could do with a budget tele-zoom lens. I started to lust for longer and more capable zooms such as the 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 SWD or even the budget, but beautiful 70-300mm F4-5.6.

I cannot help but admire the passion of photographers who pursue birding. I can understand the need for higher end equipments (long, fast primes such as 300mm or 600mm), and this is one area where budget equipments simply cannot make the cut. Sharp, capable, and reliable lenses are important to deliver competent results. You may have admirable artistic vision and all the skills of a great photographer, but without the sufficiently capable equipments, you won’t be able to nail that perfect bird image down. Yes, this is when the gear heads win.

Humping, humping, humping.

You looking at me, red head?

An image of each other.

Much love for birds, NOT !!

My backs on you.

This little bird has the curious look on his face.

No, the Bird Park was merely child’s play, and nowhere near in comparison to real birding photography. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable, and I did make more shutter clicking than originally anticipated.

Here are the thoughts on the photography outcome in this session:

1) Lack of Action
This was pointed out by Jason, and I must agree. I could have been more daring in obtaining more dramatic shots such as the bird that just took off, or frozen in their mid-flight, or even some awe-worthy panning shots of a bird flying. However, come to think of it, don’t you agree that those common shots of birds have become rather cliché in some ways? Besides, we need to be extremely patient to wait for an opportunity to present itself, and obviously we did not intend to stay in the Bird Park for the entire morning. Yes, lame excuses aside, the set of photographs could have been better with some actions involved.

2) Limited variety
For a reputable world’s largest walk in Aviary Park, there sure were not that many birds to photograph. Most of the really cool looking birds were behind cages, which was not desirable at all.

Wolverine in feathers.

Banana sweetness.


I can walk on water


3) Lifelessness
Somehow, the birds in the images seem dull, and uninteresting. This could most likely be due to living their lives in closed cages, all the time. There was sense of unease and discomfort, or maybe I am just overanalyzing things here. Nonetheless, even after making the best composition, capturing a sharp image with carefully planned background, the subject failed to stand out. The birds looked very lifeless,

4) Imperfections
Living a caged life has presented many imperfections in appearance of the birds. The peacocks have many broken feather/tails, birds with balding patterns on their body, broken claws and beaks, swollen eye, and yeah, those did not look attractive at all.

White body against white background.

Mouth wide open.

Would you sing me a song?

Resting on green pastures, ok maybe not so green.

How did the E-5 fare in this situation?

I appreciate the better handling of high ISO shooting. The amount of details captured, especially by the 50mm F2 lens was breathtaking. The 40-150mm lens did rather well too, despite the fact that it was only a kit lens, but at 150mm full zoom, the images did not come out as sharp as I have hoped for. Perhaps, it is time to start saving up for that upgrade to a better zoom lens.

It felt great utilizing the lately underutilized 40-150mm F3.5-4.5 tele lens. I miss this lens, it was favourite and most frequently used lens not too long ago.

Have anyone been to the Bird Park lately? Do tell me your thoughts.


  1. first and only one ahahah

  2. not sharp? I think the 40-150 preserves detail and sharpness quite admirably =)

  3. What UKM and MMU? Don't insult our holy grail. :P

    Just look at the sharpness, one can literally count the number of fur/feather on the birds.

    You have more varieties than I do, mind are pretty straight forward where as you went around it to grab the shot and very up close too.

    Nice stuffs.

    All hail shutter god!

  4. Hey brandon,
    at 150mm the image did not come out as detailed as I have expected haha

    Hey jason,
    I am not qualified to be called one haha. Close ups? You are talking to a guy who does macro remember?

  5. Robin, blog walk and read thru. You are a very good blogger and photographer I must say! Just followed you on twitter, wish to see your updates!:)

    Cheers! Xx


  6. Hi Carina,
    Thanks for the compliments !!

  7. Carina just followed you on Twitter but you are not using! Tsk tsk! What are you waiting for, Robin Wong?

  8. Hey jason,
    perhaps I'm waiting for the world to fall? LOL

  9. This is awesome!
    I liked the sharpness and clarity in the first photograph itself. Superb!


  10. Hello Ram,
    Thanks !! The lens 50mm macro F2 is indeed very sharp.

  11. Ya, robin. You're being not active! Tsk tsk! Haha