Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Olympus Product Announcements: OM-D E-M10, 14-42mm Pancake Zoom Lens, 25mm F1.8 Prime Lens and Fisheye Body Cap Lens

Moving into the mirrorless interchangeable lens system world, Olympus has poured dedication into advancing the Micro Four Thirds camera and lenses. The highly successful Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the multiple award winning OM-D E-M1 have made it clear that generally the crowd still leans positively toward DSLR-styled camera with a good viewfinder and ergonomics (not being too small, and still handling well in hand). We know well that the E-M5 was a mid-range enthusiast camera, and the E-M1 was targetted towards professional and serious enthusiasts. Therefore, today Olympus announced a new OM-D camera, the OM-D E-M10 which is slotted into the "premium compact" category. To accompany the OM-D E-M10, there are several new lenses announced together, namely the new M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ Pancake Zoom, the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 prime lens (FINALLY!!!) and a new body cap lens, which is also a Fisheye 9mm F8. 

In this blog entry I shall be writing a brief introduction to these new products, as well as my first impression and quick thoughts. A more thorough review will follow very, very soon. 

Let's take a look at each of the products.

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Trying Very Hard to Love that Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 Lens

Trying very hard. Really. But no matter how I shoot something always seems missing, something is not right, something is not balanced, and something could be better. I don't think I will ever understand how this focal length can be such a highly recommended focal length. I know this is probably personal and subjective, but trust me when I say I am still giving it a chance.

Here is a collection of some photos I have taken with the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 lens. Shot with my OM-D E-M5 of course.

Say hi to Tom visiting from the US!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Way They Looked At You

I have often been told by people who liked my series of street photographs that, the one thing that stood out for them was the way the people looked at me, or at my camera. To be entirely honest, I have never really given that much of a thought to how people looked at me. The only tip I can give, or share, is to smile, and be nice. After all, how people looked at you is actually their spontaneous response to how you looked at them in the first place. I fully understand that this perhaps can only apply to people here in Malaysian streets. Now that I am starting to pay more attention to my street portraits, there really is something about the way people looked at me. My favourite photos that I took almost always have that bright smile and warm expression. I am drawn to those emotions somehow. Maybe there is something about me that I do not quite know!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Post-Processing for Blogging Purposes

I have been receiving many requests to share my workflow for post-processing which I have used for the photographs shown in this blog. I know I can ramble on and on with long descriptions, then it hit me life would be so much simpler if I can just create a screen video capture and just show it here! 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

OM-D High ISO Shooting: Paperplane Pursuit and Darren Ashley

High ISO performance of a camera has always been the overrated issue debated by virtually every online photography groups and forums, and it was as if the only thing that mattered in photography. I never overemphasized on the importance of high ISO noise control, but I do acknowledge the importance of being able to push that extra bit of sensor ISO numbers just to gather a bit more light. In the case of last night, I was shooting live performance at The Bee, Publika, a place known for showcasing local talents in a stage setup with rather poor lighting conditions. High ISO was necessary, so how did the now not so new OM-D E-M5 performed?

I had with me only two lenses: M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8, which I utilized mostly on the 45mm for the longer reach. The shooting of the live performance happened rather spontaneously as I bumped into a friend, Albert Ng (click to check out his awesome blog) who is an avid Sony fan, as well as a local gig frequenter. Should I have known about this event earlier, I would have brought along the amazing M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8 for even better reach. Nevertheless being able to move closer to stage, I was able to utilize the 45mm f1.8 to achieve sufficient reach. 

The OM-D performed very well, and I was pleased. The focusing was extremely fast and I nailed 99% of my shots in focus (can't say about composition, that is something rather unpredictable with the constant movements). The lighting was horrendous, casting a strong cool magenta cast on the performers, which I corrected via post-processing, an advantage I had by shooting everything RAW in the first place. I used mostly ISO3200-6400 for all shots in this entry, mainly to attain adequately fast shutter speed to freeze movements. It was a rather dynamic performance with the lead singer moving really fast, hence I needed shutter speed above 1/250sec. The images turned out still very clean (at least to my eyes) and retaining high level of usable detail. Coming from the 45mm F1.8 lens images were very sharp and I had some control over shallow depth of field, shooting wide open at F1.8. 

If you have not checked out Paperplane Pursuit (click) and Darren Ashley (click), you can find out more about them at their Youtube Pages. 



Friday, January 17, 2014

Available Light for Street Portrait Shooting

When shooting on the street, I prefer to deal with available light, mainly for simplicity and easy execution. As abundantly available as the sun light, it is still very crucial to take into considerations lighting aspects in a photograph. The quality of direction and quality of light can significantly affect the outcome of any photographs, and this is especially true for portrait or people photos. It always pays at the end of the day if extra effort and attention were placed in making sure the lighting was right in the first place. It is true that there is not much that can be done about available light, not much control can be done, but if you watch closely how the light hits the subject, how best to position your subject (if you can) and from which angle and side to shoot from to bring the best out of the given light, the results can be rewarding. 

1) EVEN LIGHT

To most people, even lighting can be very boring and flat, appearing mundane especially on portraits. As usual I always go against the norm, and to me even lighting is possibly the easiest to achieve, and you can rarely go wrong with this kind of lighting on people photos. To accomplish this, the best way to shoot is to have the people stand underneath heavy shade. This is the safe approach, and the default for most of my street shooting, as I avoid shooting my subjects directly under the sun. The subject's facial skin tone usually will come out very pleasant, smooth and portraits appearing flattering in this light. The bonus point of shooting subjects under shade besides even light, is the more natural expression, usually because they do not have to squint their eyes under harsh sun. You also can avoid highlight burns such as shiny nose or oily skin. I use even light mostly to emphasize the sense of warmth and friendliness, which I portray a lot in my street portraits of strangers all this time. If the original image appear too flat, a little bit of contrast can be added to boost the depth of the image in post-processing. 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pudu with M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8

It has been a long while since i last used the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens extensively, hence I decided to use this one lens only for my morning shutter therapy session at Pudu earlier today. It was a difficult focal length to use being too long for most subjects that appear to be very short distance from the camera. Nonetheless, a little challenge will make things more interesting, and surely pushed me to try even harder to get good shots. I have come to love the 75mm F1.8 lens and acknowledge its amazing sharpness, along with the capability to render very shallow depth of field. The bokeh this 75mm F1.8 lens creates is just simply beautiful. 

Portrait of Stranger 1

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Engineering Art in Metal: An Exhibition by Ming Thein

Ming Thein a strong supporter of Olympus OM-D system, as well as a photographer whom I admire a lot, is having his first photography exhibition of the year at Centre for Asian Photographer, running the whole month of January 2014, and Olympus Malaysia sponsored a reception launch earlier this afternoon. It was great seeing Ming Thein exhibiting his photographs, all taken with either his Medium Format camera, or our Olympus OM-D system. This is a living testimony that Olympus OM-D system has matured and come a long way, in large print which is the ultimate test quality for any camera output, no one can successfully distinguish which photographs were taken with the medium format or Olympus OM-D! Ming Thein made an appearance, and was the star of the event. We were fortunate to have him (if you know who he is you know how extremely busy his schedule is). Here is a collection of some photographs I have taken to cover the event. 

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5, and M.Zuiko lenses 12mm F2, 17mm F1.8 or 45mm F1.8. 



If you are in town, do check out Ming Thein's exhibition, titled Engineering Art in Metal, at Centre for Asian Photographers. For location and details about Centre for Asian Photographers, kindly visit their website here (click). 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Color or B&W?

One of the frequently thrown questions to me when people saw my photography work is "why black and white?". I usually do not have a straight and consistent answer. I guess it all comes down to personal preference and reasons for choosing to remove colors from a photograph. I do think some photograph appear a lot more compelling and expressive when the colors are absent.

For example, the following photograph.




I personally lean towards the B&W version. I do not know how or what to tell you how I justify my preferences, but to my eyes, the B&W works much stronger to convey certain feel and emotion of the human child portrait. Just my thoughts. What do you guys think?

Oh and that M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 is just amazing. Enough said. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Olympus STYLUS 1 Review

Important Note:
1. I am an Olympus Malaysia employee. 
2. This is a user experience based review, based on my personal opinion which can be subjective.
3. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 2.
4. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
5. 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.

About 24 hours ago I posted up a teaser for this review entry, mainly because I did not have sufficient time to compile my images and compose a blog entry by yesterday. The teaser served one purpose, and one purpose only, to buy myself time so that I can prepare my full blog review, while keeping my blog updated considering there has been no new updates since the New Year. Little did I expect it somehow went a little bit viral with wild guesses on what camera and lens I have used to capture the shots shown in the teaser. Looking at the title of this blog entry you would altready know the answer, it was the latest compact digital camera from Olympus, the Olympus STYLUS 1. 

I believe I was partially at fault for being too vague, and I purposely said new "camera and lens" to suggest the importance of the lens in this particular camera I am reviewing. It came as an overwhelming surprise to me that a huge number of people actually guessed that the images were taken with a Micro Four Thirds camera (rumoured E-M10) and even more incredible, the highly anticipated M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 pro lens. The discussion spiralled out of control in 43rumors comments and DPReview forums (yes I do read them though I do not participate). My apologies if I have created unnecessary drama (as I mentioned it was not my intention) but clearly, this proved something very interesting: the Stylus 1 performed MUCH better than expected. The shallow depth of field and odd bokeh rendering was due to long telephoto compression effect. 



Before we move on further let's have a look at the key features and specifications of the Olympus STYLUS 1 camera:
1) Bright F2.8 constant zoom lens, with 10.7x Optical zoom capability (equivalent of 28mm-300mm focal length)
2) Truepic 6 Image Processer, which is similarly adopted by the highly acclaimed OM-D E-M5
3) Image Stabilization built on the lens
4) Wireless Connectivity via Wi-Fi, capabilities and functions similar to Olympus OM-D E-M1
5) High Quality Electronic Viewfinder similar to the one used in OM-D E-M5
6) Small and lightweight design

For full specifications, kindly visit the official Olympus website for Stylus 1 here (click)

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Guess What Camera I am Reviewing Now?

Happy New Year 2014 to all you beautiful people! I have been busy shooting and it was for a blog review of this new camera, of course from Olympus. I am in the midst of shooting and compiling my images and should be writing my full review soon. 

 I shall show a few of the images I have taken so far with this new camera, and can you guess which camera and lens combination used to take the following images? No prizes for right answers though.