Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 Review: Macro Shooting at Butterfly Park, KL

Side Note:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and developed to JPEG in Olympus Viewer 2.
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color set to OFF), 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)

Today I was contacted by Olympus Malaysia, the newly launched Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 was finally available for my testing and review purposes.

Only F3.5-6.3?

A lot of buzz has been surrounding this new lens since its announcement, particularly the negative reaction towards the slow aperture range of F3.5-6.3. That alone is sufficient reason for many people to look away from the lens, and I must admit I cannot blame the crowd, expectations of larger aperture lenses have been the craze as of late. I personally think that Olympus has always prioritized size/weight over performance ratio, thus keeping the size small enough and comfortable enough to be used on the current PEN micro 4/3 bodies, the F2.8 constant aperture that everyone wanted would have doubled the size and weight, making it impractical at this stage. I dare admit that I too, wish that the lens had been wider in aperture, but I am not the lens maker, and we were given this new lens as an option. Choices are good, and we should not turn down this lens so quickly, even before looking at the other good things that it brings.

Photography Should Not be Chained by Rules

It is my Birthday today, and interestingly it is a public holiday here in Malaysia, because Christmas fell on a Sunday, and the following Monday (which happened to be today) is the holiday replacement. Too bad Malaysia does not have public holiday for Boxing Day, or else, tomorrow will be another holiday too. Nonetheless, we make do the best that we can with what we have, and I surely have utilized this holiday fruitfully.

I started the day by clearing out a huge amount of back-logs on my pending previous paid photography assignment/jobs. I was quite happy with the pace and amount of photographs cleared within half the day, and when afternoon came, I got myself ready to storm the streets. It is strange, since it was my birthday, I felt like shooting alone. It has been quite a long time since I last shot on the streets alone, and I started to yearn for that solo street hunting session. Together with my faithful Olympus DSLR E-5 and the “still getting used to it” Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens, I attacked Jalan Masjid India and Chow Kit, both my favourite street hunting grounds. Gosh, I have not enjoyed myself this much for a long, long time !!

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

Special vehicle

Yet Another Birthday Dinner

It is coming to the year end already, and I shall refrain from my usual lengthily written blog ramblings. I shall just post photographs, and let them speak. I have just turned 27, and boy, what an adventurous year it has been for me. Lots of ups and downs, as usual, but development on the photography side of things have been very exciting and optimistic. Looking back now, there are more reasons to be thankful for, and celebrate the occasion. Dear friends, Chun Chow and Wendy brought me out for a nice dinner in Chilli’s, Mid Valley. Considering my birthday being so close to Christmas, it was more of a combined birthday and Christmas dinner. Since all of us are away from our hometown Kuching, having each other on this auspicious occasion is the closest thing to being with family that we can get in this giant city of Kuala Lumpur.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Sigma 30mm F1.4
Note: food descriptions taken off the official Chilli's website.

A combo of three favorite starters. Generous portions of our Chicken Crispers mouth watering Wings Over Buffalo and Southwestern Eggrolls with sauces for dipping.

Brief Encounter with Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 at DCIM 2011

I was so looking forward for this long weekend, that I can finally find more time for shutter therapy. Waking up early Saturday morning, I prepared myself for a street shooting session with a friend and fellow Olympus PEN user, Simon. As I stepped outside the door, the sky poured down like there was no tomorrow, and sadly, the shutter therapy session had to be cancelled. Nonetheless, not all was lost, because there was a significant event happening this weekend, the DCIM (Digital Camera, Imaging and Media) Show 2011 at Mid Valley Convention Center, Kuala Lumpur. After having a light breakfast, we flew to Mid Valley to geek out on cameras.

There were many things to look forward to in this particular DCIM show. Most of the newly released cameras were showcased and available for public molesting, I mean, try-outs. You can just grab the camera, plug in your own memory card, take all the photos that you want and bring home the memory card for your pixel peeping and chimping pleasures. This would be the best place to just drool over that camera you have been eyeing for and wanting to swipe your credit card for due to the valid and forgivable excuse of the holiday season. Come on, its Christmas, show some love yo !!

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

Pan Mee at OUG for breakfast

Quiet Surprise

It was near to Christmas, which means, my birthday is coming really soon. Gerald invited me out for a nice dinner after work today, and I decided to go along, since I have been craving for some good steak. Nothing beats a heavenly grilled slab of beef to perfection. I admit, I am a carnivore, and I love being one.

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

Gerald, the kind friend who has done a lot to make this dinner happen.

Smacked in the Middle of Bokeh Goodness

I know, I know, we should not shoot wide open all the time. Bokeh is indeed overrated, and overused in many shooting situations by most photographers (modern, digital photographers to be exact) everywhere. It has become a trend and redundant somehow. Everyone yearns for that creamier, smoother background blur. Instead of blurring the background to oblivion by using large aperture lenses, I personally do think that there are many other alternatives to isolate your subject and bring out the creativity in your photography work. Nonetheless, having obtained my first F1.4 lens, please allow me to indulge in the sin of bokeh just for a bit. I promise I will return to my usual self.

I am still at the experimental stage, of getting to know the Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens better. How to get to know the lens? Well, just know the wonderful bokeh that it produces !!

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

Sigma 30mm F1.4 on Olympus E-5

I have recently purchased a new lens, and for the first time in my history I got a lens which is not from Olympus, but a third party lens maker for the Four Thirds standard, Sigma. I bought myself (a used unit, at an irresistible bargain) Sigma 30mm F1.4, and today was the day I took the lens out, mounted on my Olympus DSLR E-5, for a spin at my favourite street hunting spot, Pudu.

Please bear in mind this entry is not intended to be a review of any sort. This Sigma 30mm is a rather old lens, and many information on what this lens can or cannot do, and how it performs have been openly and abundantly discussed everywhere on photography forums and many useful review sites. I shall not add on to the already vast available information. Instead of worrying about the lens’ capabilities, I just brought the lens out and shoot. Like, really shoot, for my usual shutter therapy session. Lenses are not made to shoot test charts or for you to awe at its technical perfection. Lenses are made to work with your camera body to produce wonderful photography work!!! Now stop chimping and lets go out have some shutter action and fun.

Meet Eric Kim

It was quite an unexpected encounter that I managed to meet up with one of today's highly regarded international street photographer, Eric Kim. Eric is from LA, and he just finished his workshop in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, stopping by Kuala Lumpur for a while before conducting his next workshop in Singapore. Thanks to Luke who was kind enough to call me in to meet up with this famous street photographer.

Me and Eric. A very sporting and cheerful photographer !!

Lonely Rock in the Night Sky

No matter how many times I shoot the moon, no matter how much the same they appear to be each and every time, I never get tired of doing so. I guess it is a way to marvel and capture the natural beauty that still remains natural, something not very common these days in the place I live in.

100% crop from original image.
Olympus E-5, ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 mk1, shot at 200mm, F5.6, ISO200, Handheld

And everytime I use the 50-200mm to shoot the moon, I cannot help to admire its incredibly detailed image output. It was especially true tonight as the sky was completely clear.

Am I the only one who look to the sky at night?

The Visual Interest

Some of the common questions I have been receiving lately, and not exclusively particular to me only, but those questions are also generally being shot everywhere, especially the online forums would be:

1) What are the best camera settings for this camera (eg E-5 or E-P3) that you always use?

2) How do you take a good photograph? What are your recommendations and advise?

To be honest, those two questions are extremely subjective, and there are no fixed answers !! If I were to sit down and started to type on what goes on in my mind and how to do what I am doing now, I probably need days to finish, and by that time, I can compile a book out of it. Many people are searching for easy ways out, and shortcuts. There are no shortcuts in photography, which I have stressed many, many times in my many blog entries.

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

Small bike

Bak Kut Teh

I was never exactly a fan of Bak Kut Teh, but I don't hate it either. However, no thanks to Jasonmumbles who had crazy cravings for this delicious claypot brewed pork simmered in a complex mixture of herbs and spices, I had fallen into the victim of tagging him along, and I have gotten my fair dosage of the sinful meals.

Any Bak Kut Teh Lovers out there? I know of some people who could die if they do not have their dosage once in a while.

A Day Out in Sekinchan

Weekend came, and it was an exciting one, because I was joining a group of friends to the far end of Selangor, a district called Sekinchan, which is famous mainly for two reasons: 1) the paddy field and 2) the fishing village. We started our journey from KL at early 7am in the morning, and attacked the paddy field before lunch. We had the fisherman’s village covered after lunch, and that wrapped our day full of shooting, catching up with friends, and lots of laughter. God knows how much I need such relaxation after consecutive weekends of wedding assignment one after another. I need to shoot just for myself, and myself only, and I felt like going far, far away from the city.

Sekinchan is a very peaceful place, and the folks there are very friendly. So far no one rejected us when we have their photographs taken, and they gave us the warmest welcome. This village area is completely void of tall buildings and it is nice to see the sky dominating the landscape wherever you turn to. The sky was extra dramatic earlier today, with clear blue with puffs of interesting cloud formation. The lighting grew harsher and harsher towards noon, and basically the landscape photos near then have become almost useless, due to the limited dynamic range on my 4/3’s system. Nonetheless, I captured what I could, and snapped away merrily without worrying too much about the image ouput and the technicalities of the camera. I was shooting for myself after all, and who cares if the photographs do not exactly come out “award winning”, right? I wanted to make sure I have fun, and plenty of fun I had with my friends.

the boy who greeted us at a coffee shop in Sekinchan. He followed me around so I snapped a photo of him.

Paddy field. Simply love it.

Of Emptied Glasses

It was only halfway through the week I felt like every single ounce of energy has been drained off my body. Gosh, I thought i could last longer. I guess, I am only human.

Image taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and 25mm F2.8 pancake lens.

A glass of Semillon sounds reaaaaaaaaallly gooood right now. Owh I should have kept a bottle or two handy.