Kampung Life

It was after work today (yes I had to work on Saturday) that I decided to bring the ever-ready PEN to stroll along the village streets, venturing into less hectic and not so tainted by modern city culture place. It was Kampung Baru, which is easily accessible from my usual street hunting ground, Chow Kit. Kampung Baru (loosely translated from Malay as "New Village") is smacked right in the middle of the Kuala Lumpur City Center, with Malaysia's landmark Twin Towers about less than a kilometer away. Strange as this may sound, the village still maintains its olden ways of life, as you can still find many wooden houses, village folks dressed in simple clothings going about their daily "kampung style" lives, and kids playing in the backyard, running wild like nobody's business. There has been a long list of issues and political struggle over this piece of land.

The reason why I chose this place for my brief photo-walk was the slow paced, laid-back and relaxing nature of the village lifestyle. You gotta admit the friendly smiles I encountered at every corner I turned to was a welcome after a long, exhausting day at work. The kids even greeted me, some thought i was from Japan or Korea. They tried to speak English to me in such comical manner (very fluent though, for their age) but I politely replied in Malay, their native tongue, and they grew even friendlier and got closer to me, allowing me to nail some close-up headshots.

All images were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and the M.Zuiko 14-42mm kit lens.

I admit I have been dreaming about D700 or 5Dmk2 lately, and a plethora of powerful fast primes such as 24mm F1.4 and 85mm F1.2 lenses, all breaking the limitations of my current system. Greed is a very dangerous thing, is it not? For my shutter therapy sessions, I rarely need anything that powerful or fast, and even the Olympus PEN E-PL1 with the kit lens sufficed most of my shooting requirements on the streets. Yes, I did wish I have better bokeh, or zoom further, or have a wider view at certain situations, but lets face it, they wont improve my photography skills much further. Nonetheless, I must admit that when I shoot for assignment or paid jobs, having usable ISO6400 images, coupled with F1.4 lenses would open a whole world of flexibility, and assurance for some very tough shooting situations. Not that I need them for 95% of my shooting needs, but you know, that insurance can come in handy when you need them to deliver.

After so much thoughts and going back and forth, I decided to just shoot with PEN for today. You know, get back to basics.

I shall be happy with what I have for now. Who knows what will happen in the future. The revolution is happening, and newer and more capable camera bodies and lenses are entering the market. Lets just wait and see for the time being.


  1. Robin,

    Sooner or later full frame price is going to be more affordable. I see no harm to use full frame camera along side your Olympus system.

    Don't really have to go all the way for 24L & 85L. Canon 28mm f1.8, 50mm f1.4 & 85mm f1.8 even on an used 5D mark 1 will be sufficient.

  2. Hey Zuenphotoz,
    LOL, thanks for the encouragements. A man can dream, right? It is just a craving of course. Nonetheless, as I have highlighted in my entry, it is not something that I need 95% of the time, in fact only in very difficult situations that I truly need the high ISO latitude and the faster prime lenses. My current setup is sufficient for most of my shooting needs.

  3. i would totally love a canon anything. i still may get a t3i, but i don't need one. i do however need more pixels at times, but only for landscape work when i need a large print from it. so far i have been getting by on 12mp - no one has ask for anything large, but i do feel one day i may not be able to cater to one of my buyers should he want some very large. i wish my e1 was at least 16mp, then there would be noooo problems. ;)

  4. Hello V,
    I hope Olympus is listening to this !! Yes, we do need large Megapixels, by today's standards it is not asking too much, I do admit, 12MP is not exactly sufficient anymore. It was more than enough 3 years ago, but not today, and certainly, not tomorrow !!

  5. Hey Robin,
    After your wonderful review of the EP3 (I left a comment after your conclusion), why aren't you using one? You convinced me to go out and buy one, lol!
    I really like the photos of the kids--they are adorable!
    Keep writing and creating!
    Be Lee

  6. hello Be Lee,
    In case you missed it out, I did mention that the review unit was a loaned unit. I do not have one. The loaned unit has been returned to Olympus Malaysia.

  7. When you can barely able to handle a car that can run at 200km/h, a Golf GTI is more than enough. But when you start to run the Golf GTI at 250km/h at its limiter ... it is no longer enough for you. You start looking at Porsche, M3, AMGs, GTRs, etc... Not that you need the speed 95% of the time, but it will come in handy when you need it.

    I guess you have reached a time when full frame is necessary. Not that you need it all the time, but having good dynamic range gets you very far in critical situation if you are shooting for money.

    Luckily for you, Canon is announcing something new on 3rd Nov. Possibly the new 5D mkIII or 6D (or some mirrorless camera like Nikon 1 series). Which could be a good time for you to start investing in Canon FF cameras.

    Olympus is not the only that can give you good pictures with their legendary lens line up. Dont have to be so faithful to the point of jeopardising your professionalism.

  8. Hello Calex,
    Cant wait for the november announcement. true, I have options. But one thing for sure, I am not a professional yet !! hence I can play around with whatever I can afford and get at the moment.
    Things would be different for professional photographers of course.

  9. hello, brother in olympus! i am also looking for a fast prime, that will help boost low light performance and coz i like taking potrats, usually my kids. got any advice?

  10. like you i also in a slight dillema, whether to spend 2.8k on a panasonic f1.4 prime or a new system like a nikon just so i can get cheaper "fast" primes

  11. Nikon 1 line up is not cheap....

  12. richard,
    there are sigma 30mm F1.4, panasonic 25mm F1.4, sigma 24mm F1.8, sigma 50mm F1.4.

    At the moment, we do not know how capable is the Nikon 1 systen. Lets just wait for more credible reviews and reports from users.

  13. I think theres a lot to shot when we go back to the village. The greenery, the friendly smiles, and the kids... ots full of expression.

    The photos look amazing btw, but i noticed theres lack of greenery, which is something I enjoy looking at in a photo =)

  14. Hey Robin,
    I knew the P3 was on loan--what I meant was I was curious why u buy the Ep3. seems like it's a good update on the EP1.

  15. woops, left out the "didn't" buy the ep3..lol

  16. hello cyril,
    thanks for the compliments! I would think kuching can provide better photography
    opportunities for such themes. there were gteens
    all around but it was my vision to exclude them. hello unknown,
    as much as I love the ep3 there is no way for me
    to afford one. I got the epl1 at dirt cheap bargain
    in used market. perhaps one year from now I will
    find similar bargain on the ep3.

  17. Hi Robin,

    The photography that you display here really demonstrates that the photographer makes the image, not the camera. Modern thinking is always looking for the next big thing such as high ISO's etc. I posses a Nikon D70, a Nikon D7000 and a E-PL1. I chose the E-PL1 as a result of looking at your photo's taken with yours. The E-PL1 was an absolute bargain (£270) and has been my camera of choice recently. It is such a joy to use and takes photography back to simpler times.

    Keep up the good work, and please don't become another Internet Photographer obsessed with the latest pieces of technology!

  18. hello rob,
    thanks for such kind compliments!!
    I agree that the epl1 allows the photographer to go back to basics and see things in simpler and more toned down perspective. thanks for reminding that the camera is just the tool, but photographers are the ones to make photographs!
    for sure you will find more epl1 photos coming in the future here.

  19. Ah... your cat photo returns. :P

  20. nice shots...

    Where your cat shots aah?

    Me wifey is from KCH...Cant wait to go to KCH for some shooting sessions..

  21. Thanks Francis !!
    There is one in this series, didnt see it?
    Kuching is a fantastic place for photo-shooting !!

  22. Robin,

    An inspiring read. You have made me take a day off work and do some shutter therapy hahahaha oh and also some retail therapy. I just acquired the Oly 45mm f1.8 and already I am in love with it. It's only been halve an hour lol.

    Anyways, I am with you in regards to fast primes. I am a self confessed gadget freak of sorts. I must admit that I had my eye on the 5DII for a while. But a friend introduced me to Stevehuff photography and I am converted. Size is not everything as it seems. Especially for street work which incidentally is what I am inspired to do. So what did I do? Went out an bought an ep3.

    Funnily enough, it was through stevehuffphoto.com that I came across your blog. Lo and behold, I was surprised that you are in kl. I am in KL as well.

    Now here is an idea, I thought that it would be great fun to organize a workshop ini KL for all of us street photography nuts to meet and relief some finger itchiness so to speak. What do you think or has this been done already?

    Keep up the inspiring work.


  23. Hello Luke,
    Thank you so much for such kind compliments !!!
    It was a very wise move to grab that 45mm F1.8, and I am sure you will love it more when you come home with many fantastic photographs.
    I am all in about the idea of getting together and shoot on the streets, but a workshop would have been too formal, and I am not qualified to be the instructor/teacher. I encourage group activities so that we can all learn and share amongst each other, and grow together in photography.
    I would prefer small groups !!
    Do drop me an email at
    hamish7ian@gmail.com if you intend to make snything happen, I would be interested to participate and contribute in whatever way I can.

  24. Robin,

    today I've tried - with mixed results - the AF Nikkor 85mm 1:1.8 D on my Olympus E-520.

    Okay, you have to manually focus (therefore the mixed results), but this may be some kind of "gentle" upgrade path to a D700 or something, which *would* provide AF with that very same lens.

    See on my blog, and on my Flickr stream if you like.

    Your kampung photos are of course in a totally different league than mine...