First of all, Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all my Muslim friends who celebrate! Maaf Zahir dan Batin. 

Hari Raya Puasa is quite a huge occasion in Malaysia, and we have the long weekend for the huge celebration. Therefore, that also meant more time for shutter therapy sessions. This time I decided to do something a little different, instead of using my usual favourite focal lengths (14mm, 25mm and 45mm) I have decided to shoot with an even longer focal length, 75mm. Armed with the amazing M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 on an E-M1 I roamed the KL streets and little did I know I have enjoyed myself more than I expected!

One of the constantly propagated myth about using long lenses on the street is now disconnected your subjects will be in the photographs. I certainly find that not to be true at all. There is a difference between shooting with a long lens from a far distance from the subject, and shooting with a long lens by getting close to your subject. 75mm (in 35mm format, equals to 150mm) does not mean I can hide in one corner and started clicking away without my subject knowing me shooting them. I still do what I normally do: I walk in and approach the strangers. Interestingly the longer focal length allows tighter composition, meaning I have less background to work with and easily produced cleaner shots. 

The super thin depth of field that the Olympus 75mm F1.8 lens offers is simply amazing. I do not think (not even the Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 lens) any lens from Micro Four Thirds at this moment can rival the shallow depth of field produced by the 75mm F1.8 lens. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens

Hard Worker

It is the start of a long weekend, and I intend to make full use of this rare opportunity. What better way to start it off with a shutter therapy session at Pudu, one of my favourite hunting grounds. It was then followed by a morning coffee session at Pulp. What made it awesome was the amazing people I was blessed to be with. 

I was using mostly the Olympus 45mm F1.8 on the street today and I am continued to be amazed by what this lens can do. The ability to create shallow depth of field with this lens was much appreciated, as I was able to separate the subjects from the background. The contrast and sharpness of this lens is surely very good, and I practically have no complains at all. Perhaps next week I will have the opportunity to shoot with the Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 when Shaun returns to Kuala Lumpur, but even if that lens turns out to be better than the Olympus 45mm F1.8, it is still difficult not to love what this 45mm F1.8 can do. 

The second set of photographs (in color) taken in the coffee house, Pulp, was with the 25mm F1.8 lens. The lens is very sharp, and the field of coverage was just perfect for all kind of shots I was shooting in the coffee place. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Panasonic 14mm F2.5, Olympus 25mm F1.8 or 45mm F1.8

The Lorry Man

I was flipping through the images I have taken during last weekend's trip to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, and boy, I found a few more images which I thought are worthy to be shown here. I know I have overflooded the previous entry with more images than usual, but hey I do not get to travel to North Borneo that frequently, and even if I do I usually do not have the time to shoot that much. It was great to getaway from the busy city and immerse myself in a peaceful place, thinking nothing but photography, doing it together with like-minded friends. More importantly, they were all Olympus supporters. 

This image was taken with the 75-300mm lens. I needed that extra zoom (to about 100mm) to get this framing. It was an interesting composition which I rarely explore, where I placed quite a lot of elements within one frame. There was that man in the river looking for sea cucumber, a bird flying by on water, with the landmark State Mosque and the majestic Mount Kinabalu in as the backdrop, all this bathed in the magical morning golden sunrise light. And that mist hovering around the mosque was the icing on the cake. 

I was away from the city last weekend to North Borneo, where the beautiful Kota Kinabalu (KK) city was at. This trip was partly conceptualized when I was visiting KK last year, in a conversation with Dr Soon Ruey (an amazing friend and great photographer). Dr Soon volunteered to organize a trip for members (local Olympus user forum in Malaysia), inviting us to go to KK for a weekend of shutter therapy adventures there. 

Kota Kinabalu is such a beautiful place! Mount Kinabalu (opening images here, plenty of them taken at different time of the day) is the peak of South East Asia, used to be the highest mountain of South East Asia but has lost about 6 meters over the years. This was my first time being so close to the mountain and gosh, it was such a majestic sight to behold. The KK city itself is located by the sea, overlooking sunset. There were markets setup along the sea and the place was bustling with activities throughout from afternoon till evening. With whatever little time that we had in KK, we attacked these places and what a wonderful experience it was, shooting in a beautiful city with fellow Olympus users. 

People in KK never failed to amaze me. I usually do not chatter up with strangers that I shoot, but one dude took off his shades, and asked me "what can I do for you, sir?". I was shocked, and was speechless for a few seconds. Then we had quite a bit of chat. Surely this kind of warmth is a rarity in Kuala Lumpur, and I sure wish KK will remain as it is for a long time to come. 

Considering this was a photography-centric trip, I packed in more gear than I usually do. I have with me the OM-D E-M5 and PEN E-PL5, with 9mm F8 fisheye body cap lens, 14mm F2.5, 25mm F1.8, 45mm F1.8, and 75-300mm F4.8-6.7

Peak of Mount Kinabalu during sunrise

Shaun is visiting again, and new, shiny toys be brought for us!

He brought along with him the Panasonic GH-4 and the Leica Nocticron 42,5mm F1.2, the first F1.2 lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. 

Shot at wide open, F1.2

It was a brief encounter, I did not shoot enough to make any meaningful comments. However, I will be seeing Shaun again soon and I will rob the lens off him and shoot for at least a few hours, and you will see a blog entry full of F1.2 photographs soon. I will make sure that happens. 

It has been a while since I last shot and displayed everything in black and white!

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 or PEN E-PL5 with M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 or Panasonic 14mm F2.5

Important Notes:
1) I am an employee of Olympus Malaysia. I am reviewing from a photography enthusaist’s point of view. I was given the liberty to perform the gear review as usual. 
2) This is a user experience based review.
3) All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG Large Fine via Olympus Viewer 3 
4) General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
5) Minimal Post Processing applied to the images (minor contrast/exposure tweak and white balance adjustment)

I have attempted to do a full review on the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens, which was released together with the launch of the now highly acclaimed OM-D E-M1. Naturally, the M.Zuiko 12-40mm lens served as the default kit lens for the E-M1. Also, worth taking note that this M.Zuiko 12-40mm is the first Olympus lens with the PRO label, and two more PRO series lenses are already announced to be under development, namely the ultra wide angle 7-14mm F2.8 PRO as well as the super telephoto zoom 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. When all the PRO lenses are released, the holy trinity pro zoom will be complete. 

For now, lets shift our attention back to the M.Zuiko 12-40mm Pro lens. To me, the introduction of this lens is quite a big deal, signalling Olympus stepping their foot firmly into the professional photography ground, competing with the giants by offering comparatively matching or even better zoom lens solutions for the now maturing Micro Four Thirds system. To match the E-M1, the 12-40mm Pro lens was designed with the following specification highlights:
1) Fully Splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof (down to minus 10 degrees Celcius)
2) Internal focusing mechanism
3) Snap Focus mode (quite pull of focusing ring to switch to manual focus immediately)
4) Highly sophisticated advanced optics design, featuring Dual Super Aspherical (DSA) Lens, two Extra Low Dispersion (ED) lenses, and two High Refractive lenses
5) Impressive close up shooting capability, going as near as 20cm closest focusing distance, with magnification of 0.3x (in 35mm equivalent, 0.6x)
6) Fixed Aperture of F2.8, versatile zoom range of 24-80mm (in 35mm equivalent format)
7) Most importantly, the lens is made small, and very light (382g), in comparison to competition (Canon 24-70mm F2.8L is 950g and Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 is 900g)

Image above was taken with three point flash setup, using wireless TTL Flash system. I used FL-50R and FL-36R