Orchid Garden

When Anston called me up and asked me for a shooting session at the Orchid Garden, I hesitated in the first place, because I have made plans with another group of friends to go street shooting on the suggested Sunday morning. Nonetheless, it turned out that the street hunting plan got canceled and together with Anston, Fattien and the great Jasonmumbles, we attacked the Orchid Garden, KL with our various DSLR cameras (there were Canon, Nikon, and of course my Olympus). In case many of you wonder, yes, I usually do shoot with non-Olympus users, and they are really admirable photographers too.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 Macro or 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 mk1. External Flash FL-36R used in some images, as mentioned.

A moth or butterfly? This dude is really tiny.

Impromptu Street Shooting

Everyday, on my way back home from the construction site which I am currently stationed full time at, I would be passing by my favourite street hunting spot, Chow Kit, KL. The bus would stop by Chow Kit, and from there I took a train exchange directly to my place. This evening however, I got home slightly earlier than usual, and there was plenty of late sunlight. Armed with my everyday carry around camera Olympus PEN E-PL1, I decided to have a brief evening walk around the neighborhood before dinner. Little did I expect, there were some good photography opportunities already awaiting me at the corners !!

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and 14-42mm mk1.

A man and a bicycle.
PINHOLE Art Filter applied.

Looking Through Old Photographs

Sometimes I would take my time, slow down a little bit, and look back at some of the photographs I have taken during my early days with my first few cameras. I wanted to see how I have progressed, but at the same time, remind myself why I picked up the camera in the first place.

I picked up my first compact camera, a Kodak CX7300 in the year of 2004 during my 3rd year of university studies in Perth, simply with the purpose to record down memories. I wanted to keep some memories of that good plate of noodle I ate, that breathtaking sunrise or that great friend I want to remember. Soon after my first few experimentations with the basic compact camera (3MP, no zoom, no macro mode, no Autofocus, no nothing, seriously), I find myself wanting something more capable. Being en engineering student, I was craving for more controls, hence I moved on to Kodak CX7430 (4MP, 3x zoom, macro mode, some basic manual controls such as long exposure and ISO setting), and subsequently Kodak C875 (advanced point and shoot, 8MP, 5x zoom, and full PASM manual controls). Those were my early years in photography, before diving into the world of DSLR with Olympus. They all died on me due to my heavy usage and... ermm.. torture.

Cottesloe Beach
Photograph taken by Chun Chow.
That was a silhouette of me. This has remained one of my favourite photograph over the years, and Chun Chow was one of the important friends who inspired to pick up photography and ventured into the world of DSLR with Olympus.

Nama Beta Sultan Alauddin: A Dance Theater

This whole month of July 2011, Kuala Lumpur is filled with celebration of art, culture and history. Kuala Lumpur Festival 2011 has organized tonnes and tonnes of activities, events and free art performances for public participation or viewing. There was endless photography opportunities. Unfortunately, I was only free during the weekends.

Last Saturday night, right after a long, tiring, dreadful work at construction site (sometimes I feel like a cheap manual labor worker) I decided to cap off the long week by watching a dance theater at Panggung Bandaraya showcasing a dance theater performance by DBKL. The title of the theater was Nama Beta Sultan Alauddin (loosely translated as "my name is Sultan Alauddin). It has been quite a long while since I last caught a live performance or theatre show such as this, and indeed I was eagerly looking forward to it. Shutter therapy that involves a great entertainment performance, and I did not even have to move much, gluing my butt on the comfortable seat for a span of an hour and a half, it was a good way to relax, and rid my mind temporarily off all the dramas and traumas in my life recently.

All images were taken with Olympus E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 ED mk1

I Love Long Telephoto Zoom Lens !!

Every single lens is designed for intended specific purpose, some lenses may carry more than one purpose, but no one lens can do everything. Some lenses are preferred for certain photography shooting circumstances, some lenses are required to create the desired effect and outcome to match the photographer's vision. It is true that choices of lenses and subsequent preferences are highly dependent on the photographer's shooting style and needs. I particularly disagree with people having fixed guidelines, such as "this lens is a must have lens" or "to improve you must remove the zoom and shoot with prime". Whatever you choose to shoot with, you should know what you want and whether the choices of your gear is capable to deliver the end-results you look for. I think the main problem is many photographers (new-comers especially) do not really know what they want to accomplish in the first place, and hoping that whatever gear and equipment they have based on loose recommendations from peers can produce that miracle results. Miracles do happen, but unfortunately they do not happen frequent enough.

I have a soft spot for long telephoto zoom lenses. I think somewhere within everyone there is that yearning and lust for something bigger, longer, and more powerful. Pun intended, sorry. Male pride and ego came into the equation, and long lenses have somehow become the display of that ego, as much as many photographers choose to deny the fact. There is that certain prestige and status when you see the photographer whipped out that gigantic sized lens, and the ones with lesser and smaller lenses would automatically bow down and give way for the "large lens". Not exactly a good way to stereotype photographers in general, I admit. We should not encourage this kind of culture, sadly, it is happening everywhere.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 ED (non-SWD).

Gaze into the big, long, telephoto lens.
182mm, ISO400, F3.4, 1/320sec

Stage Dance with Zuiko 50-200mm

I have come across this free for public event organized in conjunction with KL Festival 2011. The event was a mixed stage dance performance, lobbying together traditional, contemporary and modern dances in one spot to promote awareness of the public towards the local art and culture. The event was called GERAK (loosely translated to English as "moves"), and it was held at the auditorium at DBKL. The first show started on 20th July, and it will be on every night at 8.30pm until 24th July this Sunday. Every night, there will be different mix of dance performances, hence encouraging returning audience. It was my first encounter with such large scale, yet free event, and what better chance to test out my newly acquired Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 ED telephoto lens?

I was told by a good friend that sometimes, in order to develop our artistic sense, we should not just fully concentrate on one particular art category. Art exists, and lives in almost everything around in our lives. Therefore, to improve our vision and sense of art, we should immerse ourselves with more activities, to open up our eyes and our minds to see what is out there, broaden our perspective. Sometimes, we do get certain people who claim that they are "artistic" but they are only stuck in one specific genre of art they fail to appreciate and see all other beautiful things around them. This was a good opportunity for me to relax, enjoy the performance and shows, yet at the same time, have some mid-week much needed shutter therapy. Oh and I did mention how itchy my hands were getting to try out that 50-200mm lens right?

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 ED Mk1 (non-SWD)

Traditional Malacca Dance

Shooting for Self-Pleasure

There are many reasons why people would pick up the camera and snap away, creating tonnes of images that bear different purposes and meanings to the photographers themselves, or their viewers and audience. Some would shoot professionally and earn their bowl of rice (or in non-Asian countries, bread and butter?), some would shoot to inflate their ever-expanding ego by growing a crowd of followers and worshipers, some would shoot just plainly to record daily memories to be kept forever.

Photography is a wide field, it encompasses so many genres, while it is mostly art, it is not always bound by rules and fixed guidelines. We are free to shoot whatever we want to shoot, we are free to express ourselves. We can shoot just to please ourselves. In this specific case, you do not have to think about clients, you do not have to think about what others think about yourself or your photography works, but simply, you just share your vision and ideas openly. It does not have to be artistic, it does not have to "professional" looking. You shoot because you have the urge and desire to shoot. You shoot for the purest fun of shooting.

This is shutter therapy at its truest form.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 Macro

Anston (red shirt), Chun Chow and Wendy in the background.

Zuiko 50-200mm Shooting Butterflies

Anston, a previous Olympus user has jumped to Nikon DSLR system, but not without leaving a few items behind. One of those precious items was Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 Mk1 (non-SWD), and I was the fortunate person to pick it up from him. He gave me an offer that I could not refuse, plus I have been secretly lusting for this lens for a long, long time !! Having acquired the 50-200 from Anston, together with another friend, Fattien we decided to attack the Butterfly Park, KL on this glorious Sunday morning.

Since it was my first encounter with a 50-200mm, I chose to give my 50mm macro a rest, though macro shooting is usually the main agenda in the butterfly park. I wanted to try out this new baby, and really get used to handling it. Hence, 95% of my shots in this session were taken with the 50-200mm, save a few with extreme magnification which required the use of the true macro lens, the 50mm F2 macro.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 Mk1, unless otherwise stated.

For the Love of Olympus E-520

One particular weekend, I lent my beloved Olympus E-5 to a friend who needed it for shooting. I wanted to do my shutter therapy so badly, so I could either use the PEN E-PL1, or my old, trusty E-520 which is already more than three years old. Since E-PL1 is my everyday camera now and I do bring it to almost everywhere I go to, I decided to give it a rest on the weekends and opted for the E-520 instead. I fixed the Zuiko 50mm F2 macro on it, and attacked the streets of KL.

With all the Megapixel race, and the ridiculous demands of higher ISO noise performance and dynamic range, many have lost track of what photography truly is: taking photographs. The E-520 is an obsolete piece of equipment that has been outclassed by many generations of cameras released year after year. Those who believe that better equipments shoot better photographs and those who measure photo quality by high ISO performance, megapixels and all sorts of technical data would find themselves gravely disappointed with the Olympus E-520, which is only 10MP, usable ISO up to 400 (significant drop of image quality at ISO800).and limit of ISO at 1600 only. If you are a professional photographer looking for the best equipment to deliver the best results to your clients, then there is no argument, get the most advanced gear with the latest technologies and specifications. However, if you are like me, a photography-enthusiast who shoots casually and treats photography as shutter therapy sessions, the E-520 is more than sufficient to get the job done. At the end of the day, the most important part is me enjoying the whole process of my shutter therapy sessions.

All images were taken with Olympus E-520 and Zuiko 50mm F2 Macro

An Unexpected Friend

One fine evening, about a month ago, as I travelled home from work, I went through this back alley where I met this lovely cat. The cat was really shy, and would hide away from me as I approached his position. He seemed very scared, but as I crouched and stayed still for a while, he decided to come out from his hiding, and walked directly towards me. I put my hand on his head, gently patting him, and he then grazed the top and back of his head on my palm.

There and then, as simple as that, a friendship was made.

Ever since, every evening, the cat would wait for me eagerly to walk pass the alley. I would walk to the cat, and played with him for a while. The thing about back-alley is, you have lots of "cat-toys", such as strings, straws and plastic bags where you can get the cat to be really playful. Usually I do not stay long, just play with the cat for a few minutes, and then I would walked on. Days became weeks, and now it has been a month. The cat waited for me every single day without fail.

All photographs were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and MZ 14-42mm mk1 kit lens.

Why I Love Macro

When I first started to dive deeper in the world of photography, my choice of photography genre was macro. It was not so much of a long debate of which to decide or take on, as macro photography called out to me and I really felt myself wanting to give it a try, and I saw myself enjoy doing it thoroughly. There was the stage of experimental techniques and all sorts of DIY equipments as an alternative to the ever expensive real macro lenses to achieve enough magnification and do the job in macro shooting. I found insect photography to be the most astounding of all, and I have always loved doing macro photography ever since.

Olympus E-P3 Review: Final Words

Side Note:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in JPEG LSF (Large Super Fine).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = Low, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color), Gradation = Normal
4. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. Only exposure compensation (brightness/contrast) and cropping performed for better consistency and overall presentation. Apart from that, the images were as good as straight out of camera (color and sharpness)

This is the FINAL part of my blog review for Olympus E-P3. I have brought the E-P3 to the Zoo Negara for some light shooting , hence I will share about this shooting session along with some concluding remarks on the E-P3. The conclusions are written based on all my previous reviews, if you have not read them, please go to Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Before I go on, allow me to share my friend Koon Yik's compilation of photographs and sharing on his user experience with the Olympus E-P3, which can be found at the link here (click). I am sure many of you will find his sharing useful. I personally enjoy reading his E-Book. Do give it a read !!

E-P3 is for Advanced Users

After shooting for a few days with the Olympus E-P3, it is apparent that the camera is targeted towards advanced users that know what they want and what they are doing with the camera. There are inclusions of I.Auto mode and a series of Art Filters to toy around with, but to be able to bring the camera to its fullest potential the user needs to be fairly familiar with general camera technicalities. Being a full metal body provided the camera with additional weight that is important to counter-balance heavier and larger lenses for better gripping and handling, hence the camera is not as feather weight and tiny as many casual shooters would hope for. In addition to that, the dual dials on the camera emphasized firmly on how the E-P3 is designed for more advanced controls: when shooting in Manual mode, you can use one dial to control the shutter speed while adjusting the aperture value on the other one. Furthermore, I was very happy Olympus still maintained their traditional super control panel from the E-System DSLR, where you can basically access, review and control almost all the settings on a single page layout. I find this to be very simple, straightforward and convenient, negating the need to dive deep into submenus of submenus. Indeed, E-P3 is not for those who are fresh to photography, it is designed for photographers who want a powerful, efficient and reliable second camera system for backups or other purposes (such as street shooting).

14-42mm Mk2R, 1/160sec, F/5.6, ISO400

Olympus E-P3 Review: Kuala Lumpur Night Scenes

Side Note:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in JPEG LSF (Large Super Fine).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = Standard, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color), Gradation = Normal
4. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. Only exposure compensation (brightness/contrast) and cropping performed for better consistency and overall presentation. Apart from that, the images were as good as straight out of camera (color and sharpness)

This is my third part of my E-P3 review write-up. In case you missed out the first two parts, please read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. In this entry, I shall be primarily discussing about the performance of high ISO shooting of the E-P3. I decided to bring the E-P3 to several places that even advanced DSLR would struggle to capture decent quality images, and I pushed the E-P3 to its limits. The E-P3 has ISO sensitivity ranging from 200 to 12800. This is the first ever camera from Olympus to feature ISO as high as 12800 (previous ceiling was 6400 on E-5 and E-PL2). Also, the base ISO is at 200, not 100. We know that previous 12MP sensor (E-5, E-30, and all the PENs) has base ISO sensitivity of 200 and there is an expansion that extends to ISO100. It is interesting to note that Olympus is getting rid of the ISO100 altogether. Perhaps it is a subtle way of Olympus to hint to us that they are getting serious about high ISO performance of their cameras.

ISO 2500
Zuiko 50mm F2 lens (on MMF-1 adapter)
1/100s, F/2, ISO2500

Olympus E-P3 Review: KL Street Art Festival

Side Note:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in JPEG LSF (Large Super Fine).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = Low, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option   maintain warm color), Gradation = Normal
4. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. Only exposure compensation (brightness/contrast) and cropping performed for better consistency and overall presentation. Apart from that, the images were as good as straight out of camera (color and sharpness)

This entry is the second part of my Olympus PEN E-P3 user experience review. If you have not done so, please read the Part 1 of the E-P3 review here.

In this review entry, I shall be discussing about Olympus’ claim of “world’s fastest autofocus” of all digital cameras in the E-P3. When I was first being told about this claim, I actually chuckled and said “really?”

When the E-P1, the first Olympus PEN was launched, one of the drawbacks which held the camera down from being otherwise a stellar new mirrorless camera system was the use of Contrast-Detect Autofocus system (CDAF). CDAF until recently, has been marginally and noticeably slower in comparison to the superior phase-detect autofocus (PDAF) that is used in all DSLR cameras. I personally have used the E-PL1 and many times in my recent blog entries I have voiced up my concerns on how slow and at occasions, unreliable the autofocus can be. Nevertheless, Olympus has hinted that it was just the beginning of the CDAF system, and as the technology advances, the performance of CDAF will surpass the PDAF one day. The time is now. In the latest E-P3, Olympus confidently and boldly claimed to have the World’s Fastest AutoFocus.

As I was walking along the streets on one lazy Saturday late afternoon, I was passing by the Merdeka Square and I stumbled upon an open event, Kuala Lumpur Street Art Festival. It was a celebration of Malaysian tradition and culture, where music, dance and other local performances were brought in together at one central stage to be enjoyed by the public. There were many colourful and dramatic stage performances with rapid motions and fast actions, posing great challenge for any camera to keep up and properly catch the stage moments. Therefore, the opportunity to try out the autofocus performance of the E-P3 could not have been any better. Thankfully I was armed with both the M..Zuiko 40-150mm F4-5.6 and 75-300mm F4.8-6.7 telephoto lenses loaned from Olympus Malaysia.

1/250s, F/4.6, ISO800