Sunday, December 21, 2014

From World's Fastest Autofocus to No Autofocus

It was a lazy, lazy weekend, I was hanging out with friends, shooting on the streets with the still new to me full manual legacy lens, OM Zuiko 55mm F1.2, which I have used on the OM-D E-M5. For the first few times I used the lens it was very awkward indeed, and I admit rather difficult for me to do my usual street shots, considering I have always been so used to the blazing fast Olympus autofocus system. Taking the AF away was like ripping apart a limb from me, and I felt somewhat handicapped. Nonetheless, in life we are rarely complete, we usually do not have everything that we want or need, hence we strive, we struggle and we work harder. The lack of AF allows me to push myself further, and plan my shots more carefully, rather than just machine-gunning my way around. 

I am proud to say that after many attempts in using the manual focus lens, now I am getting more and more comfortable with it! My reaction is a lot quicker and my estimates are more accurate now. 

Although the lens requires a lot more hard work, gosh, at the end of the day, when you nail it, the shots came out very rewarding indeed. I do like the look of the out of focus (bokeh) area this lens is rendering, and when stopped down to F2, or smaller, the images are VERY sharp indeed. 

My settings on the OM-D E-M5, using the OM Zuiko 55mm F1.2 lens:

1) Aperture Priority, with constant fiddling of exposure compensation to get the exposure balance as I judge on the fly through the electronic viewfinder (what you see is what you get)

2) Image Stabilization set to focal length 55mm. This is crucial, to ensure the IS works with the lens and not cause unwanted shake. 

3) Magnify 7x on focus area for manual focus assist. I used the magnification preview while manual focusing, to aid in getting a tact sharp in focus image, and this worked very well so far. No, focus peaking did not help (we have been through this before and I do not intend to get into another discussion). I assigned the magnify function to Fn2 button. 

4) White Balance adjust in Post. There is something wrong with the white balance engine using a non-digital lens, it was not as consistent and accurate as I expected, hence most of the white balance was adjusted manually in post processing. 

5) I rarely use F1.2 wide open, I normally stopped down a little, in between F1.2 and F2 (I am guessing around F1.4 or F1.8). Still having a 55mm at F1.4 to F1.8 can render superbly shallow depth of field. For subjects further away, or in scenes I require more depth of field, I do stop down the lens to F4 or even F8. 

6) Shutter speed was watched carefully, not to go below 1/50sec, since I was shooting hand-held all the time. 

7) Contrast was boosted significantly in post-processing. The out of camera images lack contrast generally. 

Jackie and Calvin

Into the Morning Light



Portrait of a Stranger 1

Crop from previous image. Crazy sharp lens. at F2.8

Very creamy, beautiful rendering of bokeh. Very close to wide open F1.2

One of the best Curry Puff ever. Thanks for the recommendation Amir!





Portrait of a Stranger 2

Closed Shop



Big Breakfast. 55mm is not an ideal focal length to shoot food when you are outside. 

Flat White at Antipodean, KL

Amir Shariff checking out Jackie's Zeiss. 


  1. Nice breakfast. Are you sure you weren't visiting us in America? LOL. We Americans eat way too many meals that big! haha. (Not me of course)

    I love your street photography, as always. Whenever I can I show your images to my photo club members... as how street photography should be done. Or, at least one way that it can be done! Obviously we all need to be free to develop our own style.

    Peter F.

  2. Nice street photography as always!!

  3. I took pictures for our company Christmas party two weeks ago using a nice ancient Nikon 85 f2 and the Olympus 180 f2.8 via adapters. Lighting was terrible but the photos came out rather nicely indeed, shooting wide open worked perfectly. Olympus OMD EM1, I even let the camera ramp up to 25600. While obviously pushing the limits of possibility, it did guarantee sharp photos (with stabilization turned on and locked into the proper focal length), above all the 180 f2.8 let me get many candid photos without being obtrusive. For web purposes perfectly okay and above all: happy bosses and happy colleagues. :-)

  4. Excellent therapy session.......