Some time last year, beautiful reader Patrick emailed me and asked if we could meet up when he came to KL and have a shutter therapy session, and obviously I said YES! Nonetheless he could not make it last year and about a few days ago, I received another email from him, and he is coming to KL again. I don't think I have met anyone from Sweden in my life before, so Patrick would be the first one. However, he is not exactly new to Malaysia, having traveled to KL for work for several times in the past. We met up earlier this morning and I brought him to my favourite street hunting ground, Pudu. We did some wet market shooting, and Patrick told me he has not seen or experienced anything like Pudu market before!
I took this opportunity to further accustom myself with the Sony Alpha A57 and the amazing prime lenses, DT 50mm F1.8 and 35mm F1.8.
Say hi to Patrick!! Amazingly warm-hearted dude all the way from Sweden. From the way he described his beautiful country, I feel like wanting to visit it already. Patrick proudly uses Olympus OM-D E-M5 with several amazing micro 4/3 lenses, including that now-legendary lens, the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8, which some reviewers claimed to be the best and sharpest lens on the planet.
Weight over my head
Portrait of a Stranger 1
One of the few questions that Patrick did ask me was now do I approach the strangers and shoot them. As I have answered him, I did not have any special trick or techniques to do so, all I did was point my camera at them and started snapping away. Usually when I am at close distance, I would smile and gesture my camera up as if asking permission through sign language, if it was ok for me to shoot them. I would say 99% of the time people here in KL streets that I shoot at are generally fine having their photographs taken. For tighter portraits (headshots) I did break the ice and ask permissions verbally. What was the worst that could happen? They said no, you get rejected, and then move on!! There are plenty more people to choose from and attack on the street, so move on and find your next target. As we moved along the Pudu Market, it was a very friendly environment and we got ourselves plenty of people portraits, that were very willing.
Perhaps it was the culture in Malaysia where people are not too overly conscious about their privacy, and do not worry too much when they see a camera and do not treat photographers as terrorists. That level of misunderstanding toward photographers (especially street photographers) do not quite exist yet. Surely I cannot say the same with other countries.
Portrait of an Indian lady
Portrait of a Stranger 2
Portrait of a Stranger 3
I have finally shot in both JPEG and RAW this round, and inspected the outcome of both.
I found that the JPEG engine in Sony applies very STRONG noise reduction to the image straight out of camera, even at very low ISO settings. This resulted in very clean and smooth images, virtually free of any trace of noise at all (for those noise peeper freaks, this is a heaven-sent phenomenon), and you really cannot see any noise even shooting at very high ISO settings, such as ISO3200 or 6400. What the Sony JPEG Engine took away from the noise, also eliminated much of the useful fine details. Even at ISO100 and 200 the images came out very soft, and smudged. It was so bad that I almost thought the images looked out of focus!! This explained my earlier complain (about a few blog entries back) about the wide angle lens having focus shifting issue due to images appearing unbearably soft. I was wrong, the image was perfectly fine, but the native noise reduction produced by the camera's JPEG engine was the culprit. Disabling the noise reduction solved this issue.
The problem is, you cannot turn the noise reduction OFF from in camera-settings. The only way to do so is to shoot RAW, which is something I plan to do anyway, so it was not much of a problem really. Once I set the NR in the Sony's own software, Image Data Converter to "OFF", finally, the clarity, the fine details and the sharpness that the much raved about 16MP sensor came to life. Of course the lenses that I used were not the best to exhibit the strength of the system, but I was not complaining, and was more than satisfied with what I have acquired from the camera's output.
Portrait of a Stranger 4
Portrait of a.. errmm... stranger 5?
This image was shot at ISO3200. Amazing!
Patrick in action with that amazing 75mm lens!
It was indeed great having Patrick accompanying me for this morning's shutter therapy session. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and we had some fruitful idea exchange just about anything from gear to political standpoint and differences in the people and culture. Having visitors also served as a kind reminder that I do have real people who read my blog (sounds strange saying this, but I do sometimes think I am speaking to myself blogging here) and this gives me inspiration to continue writing and keeping this place alive.
To Patrick, I hope you got some good shots and have enjoyed yourself! Hope to catch you again soon before you leave Malaysia.