There Is Something About Olympus...

Side Note: Olympus Malaysia is organizing a Macro Workshop on 16th March 2013. The speakers are Amir Ridhwan and Sanjitpaal Singh, both great photographers whom I admire and respect. If you want learn macro photography, learn from the best!! I will be there, so I sure hope to see some of you there too.
More info on my previous blog here (click) and Olympus Facebook Page here (click). 

I have not been using my Olympus gear for street shooting for a long duration of few months now, delegating that task to the newly added Sony A350 and some nice prime lenses. Last Sunday morning, before the afternoon Wheelchair Basketball event (as seen in the previous blog entry) I was helping out a friend Jason on an assignment in leading a group of youth on a photo-walk at Petaling Street. Since I was heading straight to the Wheelchair Basketball League after the photo-walk, it only made sense to carry one system. I chose the Olympus. 

I know how people always mention shooting with Leica will give you that special "look" that other cameras won't give you. Tonnes of fantastic descriptions and elusive explanations were given to differentiate how the godly Leica stands out from the rest of mere mortal cameras. While I may have limited encounter or experience with Leica, comparing to just mere mortal cameras among-st mere mortal cameras, I would say Olympus has its own uniqueness, its own special beautiful characteristics that made their images shine. I do not quite know how to put these all down in proper words, but there are many qualities that I have accomplished with the Olympus, that were absent from the Sony images, and any other cameras. Perhaps it is all in my head, but I would like to believe otherwise. 

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

People keep saying Fuji does very well in color, and is the best. I do not fully agree. I like Olympus color MUCH better. I know color preference is very subjective, as Canon will argue how their colors trump Nikon's. I much prefer Olympus' skin tone and overall "true to life" color rendition. They are very believable  and pleasing to look at. 

Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 macro lens, anything sharper than this lens your eyes might bleed. Not only an extremely capable macro lens, it also doubles up as an amazing portrait lens, with a flattering 100mm equivalent field of view. 

My friend Tom Truong from Sydney has always mentioned how the black and white files from Olympus straight out of camera are simply the best he has seen. I cannot agree more. 

They say Olympus 4/3 and micro 4/3 sensors have difficulties in achieving shallow depth of field. For this shot I was only using F2 (the lens' brightest opening). There are other options such as Sigma 50mm F1.4, which would render even shallower depth of field. I do love my blurry background blur, which I use a lot. You never hear me say it was not enough with the Olympus. 

I know I may be psychologically attached with my own gear, thus I sing praises for it. 

But think about it this way, if the Olympus gear that I have been using all this time was not good enough, why would I still be using them? I believe the most important question here is this: does my gear get the job done? Do they fulfill the photography objectives, and accomplish my shooting needs? Far more than adequate. In fact, they performed splendidly well, and they have not failed me, not yet. I have years of blogging history to prove that. 

This is the FIFTH year I am using my Olympus DSLR System, since 2008

I started with E-410, which got stolen (snatched), then bought an E-520 to replace it, and then got the Olympus E-5 that has stayed with me faithfully until now. I have a modest collection of Zuiko Digital lenses, mostly High Grade lenses now (three most important lenses that I use all the time, 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 macro and 50-200mm F2.8-3.5). With this modest setup, I can do almost everything: shoot weddings, portraits, street photography, insect/spider macro, occasional landscapes, concerts and live performance, events and even sports, if necessary. Sure we all want better and more capable gear, the next best thing, but I am proud to say that, staying loyal and faithful for 5 years now, I have grown to know the Olympus system inside out, and I have improved and learned to be a better photographer. 

I have gone through many wonderful times, gathered unforgettable experiences and surely this journey into photography has made my life a lot more colorful. Now, lets all hope that the rumor of the coming E-7 will materialize !! Long live the Olympus 4/3 DSLR System. 


  1. Robin they are saying second half of the year on the high end upgrade. Rumors also saying the new E-P5 (maybe April?) will cost $1000.

    I like even the old E-3 - nice and capable camera.

    1. Hey Libby,
      Lets hope it comes soon !!
      I would have gotten the E-3 if I could afford it back then ! Amazing camera it is.

  2. Great photos as always Robin! Oh, and I have my E-520 since late 2009, about 3 and a half years now. And it's still performing very fine. That macro lens is my favourite, but occasionally I also use those 14-42mm and 40-150mm kit zooms. I absolutely love that system; it's made for hands like mine.

    1. Thanks Wolfgang !
      Those are amazing kit lenses too !

  3. A camera, in essence, is merely a light-tight box with a (hopefully) nice lens in front of it not made out of Coke bottle bottoms. Let's look at that "godly" Leica. Yes, the lenses are amazing. But so are the prices. But in the end, these are all just tools. The Leicas and those drool-worthy lenses perform spectacularly -- if used for the right photographic purpose and in capable hands. Many people wouldn't get any keepers with that equipment at action sports unless one compromises by "guesstimating" focusing and stopping down, praying for sufficient DOF. That's the way we used to do it. But then, under those circumstances, a $100 compact would do the job too and the optical performance wouldn't differ that much from those super-expensive Leica optics at normal viewing distances and enlargement. Not to bash Leica here; this goes for any manual focus camera.

    Can we see the difference between your beloved Oly's and Sony optics? I for one believe, yes, indeed. But not always. You made some truly stunning shots with Olympus, but equally I absolutely loved some of the work you did with the Sony. All cameras, lenses, and even the entire systems themselves are compromises, and have to be. Nothing is absolutely stellar at everything.

    It all comes down to being there, at the right moment, pointing the camera in the right direction and having at least some vision, plus feeling for the right moment, composition, color, and light. That's so many variables already... and in many cases, even things like "lens sharpness" or those stupid megapixel numbers don't matter nearly as much as the gearheads, nerds and geeks want us to believe. Like you, I don't visit many forums anymore because of the hate-wars going on between absolute nerds, pixel-jockeys and neanderthals too busy bashing or glorifying equipment while they should be out there, creating art... or at least get a half-decent shot.

    One of the many reasons I really like you blog (and reviews) and truly admire your work is the fact that you know what you want (and have artistic vision), and use your existing equipment to the fullest. You know it as well as the inside of your pocket, got your technique down too, and, hence, as a result, create fantastic images.

    That is, in my opinion, the definition an photographic artist.

    1. Hey Andre,
      You were right, a camera is merely the tool, and there are so many other important factors to consider in creating a good photograph. I agree with you that when practical shooting comes in play, that $100 compact camera would do a better job than Leica ! How true.

  4. Hello Robin,

    true words as always ;) I am shooting with Olympus since 4/2010 and I have advanced from a e-410 to a e-620 and I really enjoy using it. Especially the small design is something I really love, because the i have the possibility to attach a battery grip for the use of my 12-60 lens and if i do not have enough space, I remove the grip, attach the 25mm f2,8 and can put the whole camera in my jacket (which you have to wear always in Germany ;) ).
    Of course a full frame cam can deliver beautiful blur, but in my opponion the blur should underline the main motive and not be the most beautiful in your picture ;)

    I really hope, that a E-7 appears this year, so I can get my hands on a cheap E-5 :D

    Greetings from Bavaria

    1. Hello Stefan,
      You are right on about Olympus having smaller size, that itself is a huge advantage, being able to carry the camera and lenses around easily without breaking the back.

  5. You should have retitled it as-
    There is something about Robin.....
    I am sure if you are given a mobile, compact, DSLR, Olympus, Sony or any film camera, you will make awe inspiring images.
    That is the true photographer....

    Don't worry about Leica, which is just another tool. Great pictures are not all about sharpness or bokeh or Leica (not Leica bashing here as i do own Leica and love it). If you can produce pictures that can convey emotions and tell others the Malaysian way of life... that is the great photographer in you.

    Thank you and keep the great work coming.

    TH - Sarawakian in Sydney

    1. Hey TH,
      Thanks for the kind comments, I do not think I deserve them at all !!

  6. " I like Olympus color MUCH better. I know color preference is very subjective, as Canon will argue how their colors trump Nikon's. I much prefer Olympus' skin tone and overall "true to life" color rendition."

    I think this is the bottom line: preference is a subjective matter. To be honest, I can't really tell the difference from one brand to another brand; especially when shooting in raw where we can play the color in post processing (changing WB, filter, picture control/style).

    To me personally, I don't have a high bar/standard on Image Quality. Acceptable is enough. Operability/function is more important for me.

    1. Indeed, as I did mention, color preference is very subjective. Nonetheless, I was merely stating my own preference of Olympus color. Color balance is very important to me. It comes with even the RAW file. Every manufacturer has their own specific "look" to the images.

  7. So excited to see your new post every time and you always don't let us down!Keep up the good work Robin!
    I'm just a beginner in photography but i have learned a lot from this blog. We can feel your passion in photography too!

  8. Hi Robin,

    I've been using Olympus DSLRs since 2003 - I've never used another brand of DSLR, and have no particular desire to change that. I think it is fairly well established that the ZD lenses are almost all excellent to outstanding, even te kit lenses, so that helps! But I also believe that the much maligned 43 sensor's depth of fielld characteristic as a lot to do with the character of the results. I'm not really into the analytics and engineering of photography (yawwwwwn), I react more emtionally, and indeed, subjectively, to photos, so I can’t really say much else than I fully agree with you. But hey, all cameras are good these days!

  9. I am Olympus user from 2008. like you. First body that I bought was E-510 (and still have it) and year and half ago I bought second one, great E-5. I have 50 f/2 macro, 50-200 SWD and 12-60 wich are amazing lenses. Shortly, good equipment is important but not as passion for photography and wish to learn and improve your skills. Keep going with this wonderful and inspirational blog.