Inanimate Objects

My nine days long holiday in my beloved hometown, Kuching has come to an end, and I cannot believe how fast time travels. Nonetheless, I have made good use of my time, spending a great deal of quality time with dearest mum and of course, catching up with many friends. Somehow, I felt I did not have enough time, and the final few days in Kuching were extremely hectic that I wished I had more time, at least a couple of more days. We all know too well that good things don’t last forever, and yes, the holiday has come to an end.

I purposely flew back to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, so I have my Sunday free to breathe. Feeling like stretching whatever little time I had left before returning to work, I decided to have a rather spontaneous shutter therapy session. Luke joined me in the morning and we attacked Petaling Street. I brought along the old, but still alive Olympus E-520 and just one lens, the Sigma 30mm F1.4. I was not planning to do anything extra adventurous for this session, all I had in mind was to let myself drift along the streets, allowing my eyes to feast on the beauties around me and capture them as they come to attract my attention. Did I have anything specific in mind? Not really. Sometimes, randomness can produce unexpectedly amazing surprises.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-520 and Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens.

General camera settings:
Aperture Priority with Exposure Compensation adjusted necessarily, F1.4 (mostly), ISO 100, JPEG converted to Monotone in post-processing.

Me and Luke, attacking Petaling Street.

Shutter Therapy on Kuching Streets

I have returned to Kuala Lumpur just a few hours ago, and you may have noticed that this blog has not been updated for almost a week. I was running on a dying ancient laptop, hence I decided to postpone my blog updates until I am back to my usual workstation PC in KL.

Originally, before the Chinese New Year celebration hit, I intended to go for a shutter therapy session around Kuching old city area, and I have even invited several friends out for that session. However, a last minute photo-assignment came in and it clashed with the planned street shooting outing. I had to cancel the street photography outing with my friends, but it was also my first time shooting an engagement ceremony of any kind. One door closes, another opens, and I really should not be complaining. I shall be updating this blog with photographs from that engagement ceremony some time soon.

Then when the Chinese New Year celebration came, I was overwhelmed with visiting and dinners, mainly with close relatives and friends. I guess that was all Chinese New Year is about, getting together and spend time with each other; since this is the time everyone returned to their home town once a year from far away land. As busy as I have been with all the usual celebration routine, I could not help but get the shutter itch tingling all round me throughout the week. I decided that no matter what happened, I must satisfy this itch for shutter therapy at least once before I return to Kuala Lumpur for work. Besides, Kuching always has a special place in my heart, and I want to photograph it the way I see it, because this is my home, and I love my home.

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

Sarawak Kolo Mee, the perfect breakfast.

1 Million Hits, Hurrah !!

Gong Xi Fa Cai and Happy Dragon Year to all my readers who celebrate. May this Dragon Year bring you and your family overflowing prosperity, great health, and abundant joy. 

Simply ROBIN blog has officially received 1 million page views as recorded by Blogger Stats since May 2009 (though my blog has been in existence since 2005). At the same time, this blog has 12,236 comments (20-30% of me commenting as replies) from visitors.

Yes, you heard that right, it has finally surpassed one million page visits as of 23rd January 2012 at 9.51pm (Malaysian time). Coincidentally, this is the first day of Chinese New Year (Lunar Calendar).What a splendid way to start the year of Dragon !!

The dramatic increase in traffic volume to my blog occurred at the time I was reviewing the Olympus E-5 (October 2010), and it stayed at its peak during the subsequent review seasons, the following E-P3 and 45mm lens. I know that 1 million may not exactly be anything awe-worthy in comparison to many other well established photo-bloggers out there, but it is a significant milestone to this blog, and to myself.

I used to be known as the blogger who blogs because he wants to blog, and not for fame or traffic. I did not even care about the traffic tracker sites until I have come to my photography gear review episodes where I needed to trace the links to my blog and spy on what others were discussing about my review write-ups, especially those folks in photography forums. Some people can be really nasty, and I needed to clarify myself here from time to time. From there onward, I kept track of my blog progress from time to time and I realized the volume is increasing rather consistently over time. I initially predicted that I would have surpassed the first millionth mark by end of 2011 but now it was just slightly a month overdue.

Photo taken by an awesome photographer and friend: Allen Ang

I may have lacked discipline and diligence when it comes to a lot of areas in real life, but interestingly I have found the consistency in updating this blog, several times a week, for the past 6 years. It is amazing that somewhat this blogging has become a second nature to me, and a routine that I religiously follow. I was not entirely sure what kept me going all this time, but if you have known me in person, you would know that I have a lot of things to say. Usually I say too much, yet I did not have the time and opportunity to say everything I wanted to say, hence most of those unspoken thoughts ended up being vomited into this blog. I was surprised people kept coming back to listen to me ramble on and on !!

I don't see myself stopping anytime soon, and I shall continue to update this place consistently. I have so many photographs to share, so many things to say, and I am starting to connect to many of you beautiful people out there through this blog. This long past 6 years on this simplyROBIN blog have been a beautiful and enjoyable ride for me.

Thanks a million to all you beautiful readers out there !!!

Kuching Through 25mm

I have mentioned this, and I will say it again. Time in Kuching seems to stretch longer than usual, and I get a lot more things done in a given period of time.

I woke up at 8am this morning (intended to wake up earlier), did some cleaning chores in the house, and got out of the house at 9.00am. I walked to Padungan area to do some light shopping for Chinese New Year (things that you can only find in traditional grocery stores and old markets) and while I was at it, I took a detour, a rather long one in fact, to do some quick shutter therapy. I have actually told myself not to snap that many photographs but my itchy fingers just could not help it and went happily clicking at beautiful things that caught my attention. It was not a dedicated session to shoot, but rather, as I went along my errands, I took a pause from time to time to shoot away merrily. I even had time to sit down and had a nice bowl of Laksa. Obviously tonnes of photographs came home with me.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko 25mm F2.8 Pancake lens. Art Filters were applied to most images, as mentioned.

I am most familiar with Padungan, I grew up there.
Pinhole Art Filter applied.

Awesomeness is the Kolo Mee

Side Note: I am currently away from my usual computer workstation, using an old but still alive laptop. Please bear with some inconsistencies (exposure and colour balance) of the photographs presented in this blog entry.

I have safely landed in Kuching, my beloved hometown earlier this afternoon. I was reunited with my dearest mum, and we spent plenty of quality time catching up. We had dinner and shopped a little for Chinese New Year. Life is indeed great at home, and Kuching will always have a special place in my heart.

Allen Ang (an awesome photographer too)

Hanging Out and DOTA

It was the final night in Kuala Lumpur, before the day I fly home to Kuching for Chinese New Year holidays (which is later in the afternoon today). I can't wait to return to my beloved hometown, to catch up with family and relatives, and of course dearest friends many whom I have not seen for a long time.

It is ungodly 3.35am in the morning now, I have just got home from an outing with good friends here in Kuala Lumpur. We gathered at Old Town White Coffee (seems like the place to hang out these days) and had some nice drinks and chats. Chun Chow has gotten his new Olympus PEN E-PL3. Welcome back to the Olympus bandwagon, mate !!

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

Old Town White Coffee

Jay Chou in Pavilion, KL

It was on random working day that Yeow, a fellow PEN Lover called me up and invited me to the Gala Premier of Jay Chou’s latest movie “The Viral Factor”, at GSC Pavilion, KL, which was happening earlier today (Sunday 15th January). I said yes, but little did I know, the Gala Premier tickets entitled us to a private stage appearance of Jay Chou (main actor of the movie) and Dante Lam (director of the movie) inside the GSC itself, out of the crazy overflooding crowd of Jay Chou fanatics all over Pavilion and its vicinity. Being away from the massive flood of people and still be able to see a real star in person, how was I not to be thrilled?

Before the movie premier (and meeting Jay Chou of course, which was the main event of the evening), Yeow, Mun Keat, Gerald and I had dinner at Nando’s. Nothing beats roasted chicken. I was extra hungry hence I ordered half chicken with two sidelines, which I chose Skewed Potatoes and Grilled Vegetables. A satisfying dinner to start the night, things were getting better already!

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

Free movie premier tickets !!! Thanks Yeow, you are da man !!

Just Because There Are New Cameras Doesn't Mean Older Cameras Wont Click Anymore

Newer and newer cameras are coming into the market, and this season is getting more and more exciting, especially for gear lovers. The lust for higher and higher megapixel count, superior clean  high ISO performance, more powerful and faster lenses have been the popular "wishlist" for things to come in the newer products. Surely, technology is progressing at a rate faster than ever before, and greater things are coming up, replacing the older generation cameras. Most people would just dump their older camera and equipments into the used market, and quickly grab that latest released camera that promises better image quality and camera performance.

I asked myself this question: Am I happy with what I currently have? To be honest, I am very satisfied with what Olympus camera system has offered, both from the E-System DSLR line and Micro 4/3 PEN series. Both my Olympus DSLRs, E-5 and the older E-520 served me well, and still are functioning at their full capability. I have used both E-5 and E-520 for countless shutter therapy sessions as well as paid assignment (I do need some side income to fund for lenses and other accessories!). On the other hand, my PEN E-PL1 has been with me to many places almost everyday, and does its job well as the camera that I can whip out at any time to capture the spontaneous photo opportunity. I am very happy with the image quality that all the Olympus cameras are delivering, and I treasure most the versatility and sharpness of Zuiko lenses, which have been nothing but reliable and performing well in many shooting situations.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-520 and Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens

Love the natural catchlight.


Many people have known me to be very passionate when it comes to mirrorless camera system, particularly anything to do with Micro 4/3 system or Olympus PEN series. I have been one of many photographers out there who believe that the mirrorless system is the future, and soon the DSLR will soon be a thing of yesterday. However, I also believe that the time has not yet come for mirrorless to fully replace the position of DSLR especially amongst the professionals. Many blog readers as well as friends I have known have questioned me on why I still stick to Olympus obsolete DSLR system, since the promise of the mirrorless future is bright, and as the technology progresses further at the rate faster than ever before, I should be using a PEN with assortment of newer and capable lenses, right?

Well, the answer is not so simple.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 25mm F2.8 pancake and 50mm F2 macro. External Flash used for most shots.
Selected photographs from Wedding Dinner Reception of Zhen Bing and Huei Yien in November 2011.

5 Reasons Why You Should Do Street Photography

Street photography is not exactly one of the most popular choices for fresh photographers especially those who has just bought their first set of photography equipments, this is especially true locally here in Malaysia. More than often the new-comers to photography would choose more glamorous photography genres such as fashion photography, modeling and portraitures, as well as travel and landscape, where the photographs have been overly publicized by all photography and travel magazines. I find it very sad that not many would even consider exploring the beautiful streets of Malaysia, and many local photographers here, even the professionals would rather spend their time shooting a boring empty flower pot at home, rather than go out and hunt on the streets.

I am relatively new to street photography, and have only been consistently doing it for about two years now. I still in the experimental stage, and nowhere near professional or at a level to be compared to the work of legends and many famous photographers out there. However, I am comfortable at the pace I am moving, and more importantly I have enjoyed myself immensely while I was on the street, every single time. Undoubtedly I have gained so much doing street photography, and I have improved to be a better photographer on the whole. There is so much someone can learn and benefit from doing street photography diligently, and I want to share them here.

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

Security 1

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 Review: Street Shooting

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)

This blog entry is Part 3 of the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens user experience review. If you have not read the previous review write ups, please do so at the following links:

In Part 1 of the reviews, I have emphasized on the capability of the lens in performing macro (or more appropriately put, close up shooting), while in Part 2 I have tested the 12mm wide angle end of the lens to shoot scenery.

For this Part 3 which is the final installation of my reviews for this M.Zuiko 12-50mm lens, I have brought the lens out for my usual shutter therapy session, which is street shooting. The location chosen for the street hunting was Masjid Jamek, Jalan Masjid India and Chow Kit, all in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

User-experience based review

As a reminder, and a note to first time visitors, this review will be written from a photography-enthusiast’s point of view. This will be a user experience based review, sharing on what I think and feel using the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 mounted on PEN E-P3 in real life shooting situations. Therefore, this is not a technical review as there will not be elaborative technical explanations, such as explanation of corner softness, optimum aperture range, chromatic aberration and so forth. In addition to that, I will not be doing direct side by side image and performance comparisons with other lenses. What I am presenting in this entry is merely what I can do with the Olympus 12-50mm lens for my usual shutter therapy session.

Why Street Photography?

Street photography is a demanding photography genre, to both the photographer, as well as his equipments (camera and lens). Different lenses will provide you with different perspective and results. Many photographers have strongly recommended the use of prime lenses (single focal length lenses) with various reasons on why that would yield better outcome for street photography. The desired outcome and even the core definitions of street photography have never stayed consistent, and were subject to endless debates over the decades. Similarly can be applied to the implementation and how street photography should be taken. I do agree that using the right tool will get the results that you have envisioned. Nonetheless, setting out all the variables and personal preferences when it comes to shooting aside, for street photography the performance of the lens will be put to test. Will the focusing be fast enough to capture dynamic subjects? Is the lens versatile enough to cover the shooting needs (lens reach, wide angle, etc)? Is the lens sharp enough to deliver enough details to reveal texture and depth of the environment?

50mm, 1/3200s, F6.3, ISO400

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 Review: Wide Angle Shooting at Hulu Langat, KL

Ammendment 1 (5th January 2012)
I mistakenly described "Mirror-Lock" in the settings, which was actually correctly termed by Olympus as "Anti-Shock". It is a setting to delay the shutter release.

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 = AUTO
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)
5. Some images were taken with other cameras, as mentioned in the captions.

To all my beautiful readers, Happy New Year 2012 !! May this new year bring you abundant prosperity, good health and peace.

This is a the Part 2 of the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens review, a continuation from Part 1: Macro Shooting at Butterfly Park, KL (please click here and read if you have not done so).

In Part 1, I have dedicated a full shooting session to try out the macro capability of the 12-50mm lens only. Therefore, in this entry, I shall not be shooting on macro mode, but focus on another important aspect that makes this standard zoom lens rather unique: the extra wide angle of 12mm (which is equivalent to 24mm on full frame format). Indeed, having that extra wideness can add a lot of flexibility in many shooting situations, which I shall be exploring in this entry.

Photo credit to Fattien
Panasonic G1 with original kit lens.