Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Simplicity, Again

Sometimes, we (myself included) tried too hard, by taking numerous considerations on lighting control, camera settings, composition options and many other (fill in the technique of your choice) tricks to get the best image possible. Sometimes, I put all that aside, found a good subject, and just whacked the camera directly without much thinking. Sometimes, these shots work very well indeed, and one of them was this man in the unbrella hat. Simplicity works, because the umbrella hat and the friendly look in the man's eyes were compelling enough to make the shot happen. Why black and white? I did not like how the overly colorful umbrella did not match his shirt and the background colors. 

Rainy Days
E-M5 and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Olympus Vintage Art Filter

With the introduction of the latest Olympus PEN E-PL7, and now made available to the OM-D E-M1 via firmware upgrade 2.0, Vintage Art Filter is one interesting new feature that I think many will find useful and enjoy using. I was never a huge fan of the original Art Filters, with the lack of blog posts of photos showing me using them here. Nevertheless, the new Art Filters really added something different this time, and I must admit they looked better than before. Vintage Art Filters may not be entirely original since they surely were derived from the many filters used all over the "Instragram" internet age. However, I find myself loving the Olympus Vintage Art Filters, all three of them, so much that I am shooting an entire shutter therapy session today with only Art Filters applied. 

Weapon of choice was OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens

Vintage Art Filter 3

Monday, October 20, 2014

Long Exposure Photography Fun with Oneplus One Camera

One of the stand-out built in default camera app of the Oneplus One (by Cynogenmod) is the ability to do slow shutter speed, up to 8 seconds long. I have explored the capabilities of the Oneplus One camera and found that it performs admirably well in general shooting conditions (please read here if you have not). In this blog entry, I shall explore the camera further by doing long exposure shooting. The choice of camera app this time was the default camera app, instead of Camera FV-5, because the slow shutter speed in the default app can capture full size 13MP images (while the Camera FV-5 is limited to 2MP, which is actually the direct live view feed from the LCD screen). 

I am going to be honest and start off by saying, in order to do long exposure photography you do need to have some fundamental understanding of photography basics. You need to know how to control shutter speed, aperture and ISO, and you need to know about metering and general available light circumstances. I can share all the settings and steps I took to produce the images shown here but they will not be much of a help if you cannot understand why and how I applied them. Please do read up on photography basics if you intend to pursue any kind of photography further, even if it is just mobile phone photography. 

And yes, I do intend to share my techniques and setup. 

Oneplus One in action, image taken by Olympus PEN E-PL5

Kuala Lumpur City Skyline
4sec, ISO79, F2

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Shutter Therapy Goes On

It felt like it has been centuries since I last did any street photography. The previous few weeks were occupied with the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens, and I had very specific purpose in mind when I went out to shoot. Obviously the long PRO lens was not a suitable street photography lens, so I decided to shoot other subjects, which worked out well for the lens. This weekend, I finally had some room to breathe, and I am glad I can finally do my shutter therapy, doing my own thing and just shoot whatever comes to me on the street without having "objectives" preoccupying my mind all the time. 

It was a solo photowalk, and I do miss the times when I roamed the streets alone. It is not exactly adviceable to do so in streets of KL, since we do have quite a high crime rate here now. Nonetheless, it was refreshing and just the session I needed to clear my head off the dramas and traumas in life. 

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

Coffee after shoot. 

Pink

Monday, October 13, 2014

Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Lens Review Extension: MC-14 Teleconverter, Continuous AF with Tracking and Quick Comparison with M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens

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 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, with slight brightness/contrast balance tweak. All images were almost as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

This blog entry serves as a review extension to my original post M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Lens review, so if you have not read that first part, kindly do so before proceeding to this extension. The reason why this extension exists is because I did not cover three items in my original blog post: 
Shooting with Olympus MC-14 1.4x teleconverter for M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens
Continuous AF with Tracking capability of the lens
and comparison with M.Zuiko 75mmm F1.8 the sharpest M.Zuiko prime lens

I intend to cover all the three items in this blog entry. 

Before we start, let's have a look at how fast the focusing speed of the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens is. I mentioned it was very fast and accurate in my previous review, and I also believe seeing is believing. I have recorded a video of the touch AF (shooting by touching on LCD screen of the OM-D) in action, and you will see how blazingly fast the AF of the lens is. That implementation of new Dual VCM (voice coil motor) mechanism works very well!




SHOOTING WITH OLYMPUS MC-14 1.4x TELECONVERTER ON M.ZUIKO 40-150mm F2.8 PRO 

Olympus has released a teleconverter MC-14, which multiplies the focal length of the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens by 1.4x, and losing the aperture brightness by one stop, from F2.8 widest to F4. Therefore, with the teleconverter MC-14 attached to the lens, you effectively obtain 56-210mm (in 35mm format, it is 112-420mm), at constant aperture of F4, which is still very respectable for a zoom lens. Obviously the purpose of having the tele-converter is to add that extra far reach, and that 40% longer foal length does make a difference when you do need to get a little closer.  Considering that the main gain is the focal length, it is only prudent to use this converter when the 150mm longest reach is insufficient, because if you intend to shoot mostly within 150mm, without the teleconverter you get brighter F2.8 aperture. 
The MC-14 teleconverter is so small and light that it does not add to any significant weight to the lens. It features a protruding element which inserts right into the rear of the 40-150mm F2.8 pro lens, which has a hollow opening. With this specific design, the teleconverter cannot be used with any other lenses, and is tailor made only for the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens. The MC-14 still maintains the weather-sealing properties of the lens and OM-D body combination.  

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Shoot Model Portrait

Just sharing a few more photographs from my recent model photoshoot with Nicole. Honestly, I did not do much, all the posing were done by Nicole. I was a terrible director, and I just told her to be herself and did not force her to do any of the poses she did. If you think the photographs turned out good, it must be all her. I was merely there snapping away with the OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens. 

My part? Just watch how the light fell on her, and compose. The location was a city/urban street with morning light, and most photographs were taken under shade with soft lighting. 

My inspiration for portrait shooting? Kirk Tuck. Though I know I am miles away from what he can do with his portraiture work, and probably my shots look nothing like the ones he could do, but hey, everyone gotta start somewhere. 


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO Lens 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 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, with slight brightness/contrast balance tweak. All images were almost as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.


Finally, the review sample for the long awaited Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens has arrived, and I have found some time to go out and shoot loads of images with it. This marks the release of the second M,Zuiko Pro lens line-up, the first being the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8. 



Here is a super brief summary of the key highlights of M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens:

1) Very Small and Lightweight telephoto zoom lens - half the size and weight of Canon and Nikon's 70-200mm F2.8 lenses

2) Full Weather Sealing - splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof

3) Superb, sophisticated optics design - featuring 5 ED (Extra Low Dispersion) elements, one super ED lens, one EDA (extra low dispersion aspherical) lens and one HR (high refractive index and dispersion) lens. 

4) World's first Dual Voice Coil Motor (VCM) Focusing Mechanism, for super fast AutoFocus

5) Great Close-Up Shooting Capability, almost pseudo macro - minimum focusing distance at 50cm from the front element of the lens, with magnification of 0.41x. 

If you have not read my full introduction to the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens, kindly do so here (click) before proceeding with this blog entry. 

You may find the full specification of the lens at Olympus' official site here (click). 

I have written previously about the key highlights of the pro lens and my initial thoughts. I will not be repeating myself again here and in this particular blog entry I will jump straight into discussing the results and findings I have gathered based on my 2 full day shooting experience with the M.Zuiko 40-150mm Pro lens. For my review images, I have used the OM-D E-M1 body, with the HLD-7 battery grip holder attached to it at all times. Unfortunately I do not have the new telecoverter MC-14 with me at this moment, and I shall be testing the teleconverter separately in near future. 

So what did I do with the lens for the past 2 days?

I went to Zoo Negara, since it was the easiest access I have for animals, or anything resembling wildlife, which I believe this lens will be used for. Considering I grew up in a city/urban environment there is no way I am venturing into the jungle and get eaten by snakes. Or crocodiles. So I figured zoo would be the best place to try out the general capabilities of the M.Zuiko 40-150mm Pro, and they even had a newly opened butterfly garden inside the zoo, which was convenient for me to test the close up shooting ability of the lens. The second day was spent shooting portraiture, which I must say I am not very good at. I seldom shoot an arranged portrait of a model, but I do have experience shooting strangers on the street. I don't think zooming in across the street would do my lens test any good, and this lens is just not the right lens for the usual street shooting tasks. Therefore I arranged a model, Nicole whom I have worked with before in an Olympus event, and spent half a day blasting the shutter away on her. I have also walked around the city area with this lens, shooting whatever that caught my attention. 

150mm, 1/640sec, F2.8, ISO500

150mm, 1/1000sec, F2.8, ISO1600