Olympus PEN E-P5 Review: Insect Macro Shooting

Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 3.
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images, except slight brightness/contrast balance tweak. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

This is a continuation from Part 1 of my Olympus PEN E-P5 review series, if you have not read Part 1 please do so here (click). In this Part 2 review, I have brought the Olympus PEN E-P5, together with the amazing M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro to KL Butterfly Park for some insect macro shooting. 

The reason why I always brought a camera for macro shooting, was because this is an all rounder test to gauge a wide variety of the camera's performance and aspects. Pixel peeping insect macro images can review fine details which are important, and handling of camera becomes an important factor. This also provided me a chance to test the manual focusing by using the external viewfinder VF-4 and the newly included feature focus peaking in E-P5. 

For this particular macro shoot, I used the exact same technique as I have blogged before, the shoebox flash bouncer experiment here (click), and here (click). All camera, lens and flash settings, down to how I execute the shots with manual focusing, were similar to the descriptions in the previous mentioned blog entries. 

So how does the new Olympus PEN E-P5 fare in macro shooting? 

All images were taken with Olympus PEN E-P5, M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro, with External viewfinder VF-4 and external flash FL-50R held wirelessly. 

1/30sec, F2.8, ISO200 No Flash

Bryan & Claudia: A Wedding at Golden Palm Tree Resort, Sepang Gold Coast

Important Note: For those of you in Malaysia, you can pre-book Olympus PEN E-P5 from Olympus Malaysia (click here), this has been extended until 28th June 2013, so hurry up!

We take a short break from the Olympus PEN E-P5 review series, mainly because I need to find time to shoot and gather sufficient photographs, and one of the series will feature macro insect photography, which I have yet to receive a macro lens for my usage. The review shall resume as soon as I can, much later in this week. 

I dug out some of my recent photography assignment photographs to be uploaded to my portfolio page, and thought that this particular assignment at Golden Palm Resort, Sepang Gold Coast stood out. At the time of assignment, when I Googled for photographs of wedding being taken at that location, the only hit I got was the wedding outdoor portraits of the world no 1 Badminton player, Datuk Lee Chong Wei. Considering that place just opened quite recently, I was fortunate enough to get a wedding job there! We did a full actual day wedding shoot, including some portraiture around the location of the resort. It was an outdoor styled wedding, and the ceremony was held by the seaside during sunset, something which is not a norm in Malaysia. 

This particular assignment stood out, because this was one of my first few attempts of utilizing two separate systems for a shoot, blending the Olympus gear (which has become my main workhorse since forever) and at that time newly acquired Sony A350 and a few prime lenses. I'd say I used the Sony a lot more than I have originally intended, and I was very pleased with the outcome of the photographs.

Olympus PEN E-P5 Review: Street Shooting and Pudu Wet Market

For those of you in Malaysia, you can pre-book Olympus PEN E-P5 from Olympus Malaysia (click here), this has been extended until 28th June 2013, so hurry up!

Update 2: The focus peaking mystery resolved! It has to be activated by assigning one of the custom buttons. I have tried and it worked well with the 25mm F1.2 CCTV lens I have. I shall dedicate a full shutter therapy session using the CCTV lens on E-P5 to test how well the focus peaking, in combination with the new VF-4 performs. I was VERY glad I was wrong in this regard. Apologies for causing unnecessary panic. Special thanks to Pekka Potka for pointing out the mistake and explaining how it worked. 

Update 1: Belicht Fotografie pointed out that focus peaking DOES work with maunal lenses, especially C-Mount CCTV lenses as shown in this video here (click). However, I shall verify with Olympus Malaysia on this issue. Perhaps it was a bug or something I have not figure out. I really hope I was wrong!

Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 3.
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images, except slight brightness/contrast balance tweak. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

It has been more than half a year since my last gear review blog, and when Olympus Malaysia loaned me the Olympus PEN E-P5 I cannot help but get overly excited. Olympus PEN E-P5 has been announced more than a month ago, and the review unit has not been made available (final version) until recently. This blog review of Olympus E-P5 is the continuation of my previous "Initial Thoughts and Impression" (click here), so if you have not read that entry, please do so. 

I was loaned two lenses: 12mm F2 and 17mm F1.8. I did request for 45mm F1.8 and 60mm F2.8 macro but those lenses would only be made available for me the following weekend. Without longer focal length lenses, the photography shooting opportunities have become rather limited for me, and I have expressed my inflexibility in using the 17mm F1.8's focal length previously. Therefore, for this blog review, I initially have decided to do something rather unusual for a change. 

I was loaned the BLACK version of E-P5. I preferred the Silver version, but now that I am using the Black, it is not too bad either!

Shoo Herng and Yen Ju

The main reason for my holiday back to Kuching was to attend, and shoot an old friend's beautiful wedding day. I was tasked to shoot the Groom's side of things in early morning, while another photographer friend, Kenn Wai covered the Bride's side. The challenging part of this assignment was waking up at ungodly 3am in the morning (why does all Chinese weddings have to be commence impossibly early???), and the wedding assignment lasted the whole day till dinner reception, which ended rather late into the evening. 

I was hesitating between Sony or Olympus system, and I would have brought BOTH if I was doing an assignment in Kuala Lumpur. The fact that I needed to travel home (about 2 hours flight away) to Kuching, meant I shifted priorities to travel light. I chose Olympus in the end, not that I have anything against the Sony, but I felt that Olympus would deliver the results that I seek (beautiful skin tone, reliability, better handling, etc). I brought the Olympus DSLR E-5 as the main body, with my old, but still alive E-520 as a back-up, and all the primary Zuiko Digital lenses that I do down: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 macro and 25mm F2.8 macro. I found myself using the super wide angle 11-22mm most of the time, followed by the 50mm F2 macro lens. 

I shall be previewing a few images from the shoot in this blog entry. Bear in mind these are just initial edits, which would differ from my final delivery.

Kuching Short Holiday

I am finally back to my place in Kuala Lumpur, hence blogging activities shall resume as usual. I apologize if I have not replied any emails, comments or messages from the FB page. There are a thousand things in my mind which I need to sort out and it does seem like time is getting shorter and shorter somehow. 

As I have expected I did not get to shoot much when I was in Kuching.  I spent a full day shooting a friend's wedding, two full days providing assistance and support to a friend who was doing a video project and basically that left me very little precious time to spend with beloved mum, and catching up with a few friends. Consequently there was no shutter therapy session (much to my disappointment) but I did steal some shots for myself while I was helping out the friend's video shooting. 

Oh, and I brought Olympus home. Left the Sony behind. No particular reason. 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses, 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 or 25mm F2.8 pancake

Sarawak River
Part of the video shooting took us into a Sampan, a local wooden boat which is an important means of transport across the river, connecting the villages and Kuching city. Local folks, including school children use this river daily. 

Kuching, Can't Wait

I will be travelling to Kuching, East Malaysia, my hometown from tomorrow till end of this week (12/6/2013 to 16/6/2013). There will be a wedding assignment, an old friend of mine is getting married and I am excited to shoot his wedding. Also, I look forward to spend time with beloved mum, and hopefully have enough time to catch up with some friends as well. Shutter therapy in Kuching? I really want to, but lets not push it, I am not even sure if I have time left to shoot for myself at all!

So what will it be this time? Olympus? Or Sony? Or both?

Kuching Waterfront

I will be traveling home light, and I won't have a laptop or computer with me. For the very least, I will only have my Android tablet, and the micro USB port is... ermm.. non-functional now. Consequently I have no means to transfer my images from camera to the tablet. Therefore, I won't be blogging until I get back from my short holiday. 

This will also be a break I am taking from blogging, which I think I do need! Nonetheless, worry not, when I return, not only will I have images from Kuching to share, but I have been told by Olympus Malaysia the Olympus PEN E-P5 will be available for me to review soon. So yes, do stay tuned!

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There is Something About Olympus...

The more people see me shoot with Sony, the more I blog with Sony photos, the more assumptions people started to make. I have been getting questions like "have you given up on Olympus?", "what made you switch to Sony from Olympus?", "did Sony Malaysia pay you?". In all seriousness, those are the questions I have least expected! No, I never gave up on Olympus, I don't think I ever will. I still am very much in love with Olympus gear, and I have not sold off anything just yet. Olympus will still remain as my main workhorse, and whenever I do something more serious that requires me to be absolutely critical about performance and results, Olympus is the answer. No, I never switched or jumped ship. I bought into the Sony system as a means of cheap back-up system, which worked well enough for my needs, and I have little complains so far. I do wish Sony Malaysia pays me though, so I don't have to be too poor suffering day and night for my engineering job. 

Yes, I admit I have been using Sony and only Sony for most of my recent shutter therapy sessions. I have not been out shooting much lately, not as much as I would want. Today, Patrick, the dude visiting from Sweden asked for one more shutter therapy session before he leaves Malaysia. This time, I brought along the Olympus, and boy, did I miss using it on the streets!

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital Lenses 25mm F2.8 pancake and 50mm F2.0 macro lens. 


Fremantle Sunset

Back in my old uni days, nearing the exam period I would take a bus (or train) all the way to Fremantle, and did my revision there. My favourite spot was a McDonalds (which has been closed down for years now) overlooking the sea. Imagine, sea breeze hitting your face, the sound of waves crashing on the shore, and the sight of magnificent ocean, while studying for that ridiculously difficult engineering paper. The calm and peace of the ocean balanced the mess and chaos in my mind. 

During my recent trip to Perth, Western Australia, I revisited this similar spot.

Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 (focal length 88mm)

Life has been increasingly busy lately, and I did not have the time to go out for my usual shutter therapy sessions. I do wish I have more free time. At the same time I do wish there is a place (within local travelling distance!!!) to go to and just calm my ever chaotic mind. I guess, looking at this photograph that I took would suffice for now. 

A Bridal Shoot at Setiawan

I was away for the weekend in a place called Setiawan, about 3 hours drive north from Kuala Lumpur, together with a gang of Sony crazy shooters. The main agenda for us to travel so far up north was to have a bridal shoot at various locations around the beautiful, yet peaceful town of Setiawan. The group and photoshoot was led by Kevin Ng, who introduced me to studio portrait shooting, and guided many newcomers to Sony system (both DSLT and NEX) since he was an appointed Sony trainer. 

There were 12 models dressed up in wedding gowns, with make up and hair done professionally, awaiting to be shot by us, photography enthusiasts. None of us were professionals, and we were doing this purely for the joy and fun of photography. Of course the arrangement was done by Kevin, and he was kind enough to guide us and help us out. I know you all must think that I have been shooting wedding actual day coverage for a while now, but the huge difference here is the absence of groom. Having just the brides, was something unusual, because most of my portrait poses for weddings were done with the couples. I really did find it a challenge to shoot brides!

We had various locations to cover, from the seaside, to indoor studio and also the streets of Setiawan! Considering this was an outing exclusively organized for Sony users, it would be suicidal to carry along my Olympus gear, hence I left my Olympus behind and brought along the Sony A57 and the few lenses that I only have for now. 

I shall share the few photographs from this session, which were initial edits, with very quick post-processing done, sufficient to be displayed on this blog entry as a preview to what I have been shooting for the weekend. Please do not use these images to gauge the final delivery, as there obviously would be a lot more work to be done for any kind of portraiture post-processing works!

All images were taken with Sony A57, DT lenses 50mm F1.8, 35mm F1.8 and 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens