Monday, September 29, 2014

OnePlus One Camera Review

I have been overwhelmed with all the heavy camera talks and news going on from Photokina week with launching of so many new photography products, and me having spent all of my last weekend at a photography centric event, the Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival (KLPF) 2014, meeting hundreds of people, all three full days discussing, debating and sharing about photography products. For once, this particular weekend, I decided to leave my Olympus gear behind. No that did not mean I am not having my shutter therapy, I still do that faithfully. Instead I chose to shoot with something a lot more basic, and simpler. I turned my mobile phone photography mode on, and shot the entire weekend with just my mobile phone. This allowed me to forget most of the technicalities of carrying an advanced system, went back to basics, and just enjoy myself without thinking too much. 

Considering I was already planning to shoot heavily with the mobile phone, I thought why not do a camera review for the phone I am currently using, the OnePlus One. I have searched around the web for information about the camera, not much came up. Therefore, I shall add in my part, reviewing the phone from a photography enthusiast's point of view, how the camera performs, evaluating the image output and see if this OnePlus One camera can deliver. 

Do take note that I am not a tech junkie, I will not be discussing about other aspects of the phone, and concentrate solely on the camera and imaging performance of OnePlus One. I have no connections to OnePlus and I bought the phone entirely out of my own pocket (to replace my dying Nexus 4). I will not do technical analysis and you will not find any charts, graphs or numbers in the results. What you will see are plenty of photograph samples, taken in a course of two days at multiple locations. I believe the findings are best discovered by experience, shooting on the field, and I am merely sharing my user experience using the camera on the OnePlus One phone. 

OnePlus One in action. Camera App used was Camera FV-5 

Taking a closer look at the back camera, 13MP BSI image sensor, with F2 lens, and 27mm equivalent focal length in 35mm format

Sunday, September 21, 2014

KLPF 2014 Day 2

The second day of Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival 2014 has ended, boy was it an exhausting day, but a fulfilling one. There were so many awesome people who came up and say hi, and I was thrilled to meet many familiar and new faces. 

Today we had a loyal and very talented Olympus user, Amir Ridhwan, someone I look up to greatly, and someone I have learned a great deal from when it comes to insect macro photogaphy. Most of my macro shooting techniques were derived from Amir's and he was truly a great inspiration. We were proud to have him on the main stage at KLPF, delivering his talk "Small Gear, Big Pictures". Listening to his speech, I could not help myself but just be in awe, feeling deeply motivated by a fellow photography enthusiast. He shared many truths about photography learning journey, and from many of his stories I can identify with a handful of them! 

The man himself, Amir Ridhwan, do check out his Flickr Page, he has got some awesome stuff happening there. Thank you so much Amir for being such an inspiration to me, and we MUST go out and shoot some beautiful spiders in the jungle some time soon. I miss those sessions!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival (KLPF) 2014 Day 1

It is that time of the year again, Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival is happening and Olympus Malaysia is participating! I am of course, stationed there full time, so if you happen to be there, please do drop by Olympus and say hi!

We have plenty of activities lined up for KLPF 2014, and here is a list:

1) Free Professional camera and lens cleaning service for Olympus users 

2) Live Demonstration on Olympus Capture (tethered shooting) on a studio set up environment, and Keystone Compensation, both new awesome features in OM-D E-M1 Firmware 2.0 upgrade (only on Saturday and Sunday, hence no photographs from Day 1, Friday)

3) Touch and Try with our latest cameras, PEN E-PL7 and OM-D E-M1 Silver version, both launched very recently!

4) Amir Ridhwan will be on main stage, delivering his talk "Small Gear, Big Pictures" on Saturday, 4pm! 

5) Sanjitpaal Singh will be on main stage, speaking on "Journeys and Discoveries through Photography" on Sunday, 1.15pm!

6) Lots of great deals, promotions and unbeatable packages if you consider to grab an OM-D, PEN or other Olympus gear at KLPF!


Day 1 as usual was less hectic and we expect heavier crowd coming in the weekends. Nevertheless, many thanks to many friends who came to say hey and cheered me up. I hope to see a lot more of you soon!

It has been a long day (started early, ended late, and here I am blogging with plenty of photos), so the photographs will appear in a rather random manner.

All images were taken with OM-D E-M5 and mostly M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens. All SOOC JPEG. I was too tired to bother about any post-processing at all after standing on my feet for all day. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Don't Underestimate The Kit Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 on PEN E-PL7

In the spirit of the frenzy happenings at Photokina, churning out endless announcements of latest photography products, pushing the advancement and technological barriers, I have chosen to put all the gear measurebating aside today. How did I do that exactly? Simple, for my shutter therapy session, I chose to shoot with one lens only: the Olympus Kit Lens that not many people cared much about, M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6. 

Kit lens is not something most people would want to stay with very long after their first system camera purchase, many looking for options to upgrade to pro zoom lenses (normally with constant bright aperture, eg F2.8), or adding prime lenses. It was not a surprising fact, since most kit lenses bundled with entry level camera (and in a handful of cases, mid-level to even higher level APS-C DSLR cameras) were usually performing less than mediocre, in terms of overall image quality. When setting up with prime lenses or higher grade zoom lenses, the original kit lenses become pale in comparison, generally not as sharp. 

However, let me ask you this. 

Have you used any Olympus kit lenses before? 

From the DSLR days, the Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 (Four Thirds version), which I used extensively for 2 years before upgrading to better lenses, to the latest offerings from Olympus Micro Four Thirds line-up, such as the M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3, and even the lowly, often underrated 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 2R. If you have used ANY of the above mentioned kit lenses (like really put them to good use) mostly bundled with Olympus cameras, you will realize that Olympus makes some of the best kit lenses out there, ever. I may sound like I am exaggerating, but I have photographs to show in this blog entry, and believe me this is not the first time I am blogging about the goodness of kit lens. 

Accompanying the kit lens, I used the latest Olympus PEN E-PL7. This time, I had the BLACK version. 

Prayers

Warmth
Who says kit lens can't render shallow depth of field?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Multiple Olympus Announcements: M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO Lens, OM-D E-M1 Silver and Firmware Upgrade 2.0

It is that exciting time of the year again, with Photokina happening, and all camera manufacturers pushing out new products and making huge announcements. Today, Olympus has officially announced 3 important updates to their Micro Four Thirds system range:

1) The highly anticipated M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO Lens
2) OM-D E-M1 Firmware 2.0 (available for both current E-M1 Black and the new Silver version)
3) OM-D E-M1 Silver


This is perhaps the only image that I have with ALL 3 new items combined: E-M1 Silver (already comes with Version 2.0 Firmware) and the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens


Olympus OM-D cameras have been highly successful, and well received by many professional photographers and photo-enthusiasts (much like myself) alike. Even DPReview.com awarded E-M1 the "Product of the Year 2013", and E-M1 has garnered praises from prominent photography bloggers such as Steve Huff and Michael Johnston (TOP). Since the introduction of the OM-D, Olympus has been targeting more serious photographers, mainly professional photographers and serious hobbyists who shoot in demanding and challenging situations, requiring a reliable camera system that will deliver the results. In this continuous effort, Olympus has placed their focus in developing the PRO range of M.Zuiko lenses, with the release of the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 lens and now, the newly launched M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens, a professionally built telephoto zoom lens to match the earlier standard wide zoom lens. In addition to that, the E-M1 has a major firmware upgrade, adding plenty of useful features, adding value to E-M1 users. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Taking Up The Challenge: Shooting with only M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 on Olympus PEN E-PL7

Note: For those of you Olympus users coming to Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival this coming weekend, there will be free professional camera and lens cleaning services for your Olympus products! Do not miss out. 


I planned to shoot with only the kit lens this weekend, since I have been using mostly prime lenses these days in every photography sessions. The forgetful me after a long week of work did not bring home the M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ pancake zoom lens, hence I shall be doing the kit lens only shoot some other time. When I asked myself what else I could do differently this time for my shutter therapy session, I looked at the "fringe" lenses that I have. M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 is not exactly a lens which I would use as my first choice, and I will find every excuse to use any other lenses that I have. I have explained before why I am not the classic 35mm shooter, and I will not do so again, but lets just say using the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 is quite a big challenge for me, and I am taking that challenge up today. Nope, no 45mm F1.8, no 25mm F1.8, just sticking to ONE lens for all day. 

The day started with Pudu Wet Market, and it was extra wet today, due to heavy rain during our shoot. I was with Joseph and Nik, both awesome photographers whom I have known from my active days shooting with the Sony gang. We had a coffee break, rather long one actually, until the rain tamed down a little before we continue clicking our shutters away. Thankfully the rain did gave way and we still had plenty of chance to grab some shots. I was armed with the PEN E-PL7, which unfortunately is not weather sealed. I would have worried less if I was using my own OM-D E-M5, which I decided to leave resting at home. 

I did not have any agenda or anything particular I wanted to achieve in this shooting session. Heck, I was not really doing any tests or further review for the E-PL7. This was my weekend, my only time free, and I wanted to do something for myself, and my shutter therapy has only one purpose, to make me happy!

Noodles and Seafood

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Answer Comes to Those Who Seek

A few years ago, a friend bragged about how superior his camera system was, being able to capture by continuously focusing on a flying dragonfly. No one knew how he did it, No one saw how he did it. I did not have the answer.

A few years later, the answer revealed itself to me. If you look at this image, it was not that difficult to guess how I got this Dragonfly in Flight photograph. It was so simple, so easy, that sometimes we seek answers at all the wrong places. Note that I was using Single-AF, not continuous.

Image taken with Olympus PEN E-PL7 and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens. 

Well, I could have said along the lines of "OMG the E-PL7 has improved Continuous AF that it can track flying insects!". That was the exact same thing that the friend did years ago, with his system. 

I guess those who have shot enough dragonflies will know the answer. I shall keep it open for you to guess, if you have not already known it!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

To Achieve That "Robin Wong" Look

I find it rather humorous how people can refer to certain look and feel to photographs that look "Robin Wong". Truth to be told, I have not successfully developed a distinctive photography style yet (unlike established photographers, such as Ming Thein and Steve McCurry, one look and you know those are their photos), and I am still in the process of experimentations, trying out different techniques and shooting methods, deciding what works and what do not. I believe photography is a dynamic process that require us to continue to study, dare to try out new and different approaches and push beyond our boundaries of comfort. Growth in photography takes time, and I, like everyone else am still learning. 

However, I have received so many comments here, as well as email and requests on my FB Page asking me to share my "magic settings" or post processing tricks to produce the images I always show here. No one put it better than Tom Hogan when he blogged about "There is no such thing as Magic Settings" (click here to read). I agree with Tom, there really is no special technique or settings that work universally, every scene in photography condition changes, and no matter how we optimize the camera it will never be the same being used at different locations and by different photographers who obviously have different preferences and mindset. I think it is very crucial to acknowledge that what works for me, what I do and practise in photography may not necessarily be the most suitable choice for you, or any one else. Also, there is no right and wrong, just different approaches to get to where you want to. 

Since the requests have been made multiple times, I shall share what I can in this blog entry. No I will not give you that "cheat sheet", instead I will share my thoughts and experience from my shooting background. Why I did certain things in specific manner, and the logic behind my choice of general camera control and setting. 

All images in this blog were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens. . 

Innocent Eyes

Monday, September 01, 2014

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review Extension

As promised, I have been busy shooting with the Olympus PEN E-PL7 for the past few days, and I have come home with plenty of images. In case you have not noticed, I have changed the way I did my camera review, I no longer broke the review into several parts. Instead I have said everything that I needed to say in that one part of E-PL7 Review. This particular blog entry shall serve as an extension to the main review, with more sample photographs, and perhaps jotting down a few points and thoughts which may have been missed out. Therefore, before you proceed to this review extension, please make sure you have read the Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review here (click). 

For this review extension, I shall be exploring a few items: High ISO Shooting, Low ISO Shooting and 3 Axis Image Stabilization both in video and still shooting. I originally intended to cover a few more items (eg improved focus peaking, etc) but I then decided I should not cramp too many things within one blog post. This is not my last time using the E-PL7 and surely, if time permits, I can do more extensions. As an extra, I have also provided 14 full resolution image samples for download at the end of this blog entry.