Attacking Malacca Street

Last weekend, I was working in Malacca, probably the oldest and most the historical city in Malaysia. I was giving talk on stage at Mahkota Parade Shopping Mall on both Saturday and Sunday evenings, and on Sunday morning there was an official photography outing organized by Olympus Malaysia, which was headed by me. I knew very well that I would not have much time to shoot on my own if I were to be there bringing a group of photography hungry people walking on the beautiful streets of Malacca. I would be too busy answering questions, sharing some shooting tips and composition techniques, as well as making sure every one was ok. Not having shutter therapy, especially street shooting for several consecutive weeks will turn me insane!

Therefore, I decided to travel to Malacca a day earlier, on Friday evening, staying over a friend's place, and started my Saturday extra early, roaming the streets and attacked whatever subjects that I came across. I had with me, the trusty Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, and I used the much underrated M.Zuiko 17mm F2.8 Pancake lens as my main gear for this session. It was a fruitful, enjoyable session and I managed to grab quite a few good shots which have become my personal favourites. 

Those of you who follow me on Instagram (@Shutter.Therapy) and Facebook Page, you would have noticed my "What's In The Bag" post. 

A glimpse into my bag:

1) The bag was a Honx, made in Indonesia. They have an official Facebook Page here (click). They make awesome camera straps too. 

2) My own E-M10 Mark II, with 17mm F2.8 pancake lens as my primary lens. 

3) M.Zuiko 8mm F1.8 Fisheye lens, just for some fun shots, if I want to

4) M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens, for tight portraits, just in case. 17mm F2.8 remained as the main lens. 

5) Two spare batteries with colorful soft pouches

6) Think Tank Pocket Rocket with plenty of SD cards

7) ECG-2 external camera grip for the E-M10 Mark II

8) Powerbank for my phone, as I was out the whole day

9) Small, foldable umbrella for unpredictable Malaysian weather

10) The new book from Saharil Hasrin Sanin, "Cerpen-Cerpen Underground" to accompany coffee breaks

The much underrated 17mm F2.8 lens

I know the 17mm F2.8 pancake lens is not a popular choice. It received mediocre reviews, is sufficiently sharp, but not critically sharp, and at a decent F2.8, instead of the updated brigher F1.8 widest aperture opening. The AF speed was painfully slow (by today's standard) and honestly, there was nothing to shout about, and I would not recommend this lens to anyone. 

However, I just soooooooooo love the pancake design of the lens. So small, so slim, so compact! I used to own the Panasonic 14mm F2.5 which I also simply loved so much, though I gave that away as a gift to a friend, I miss the lens a lot. I wish Olympus and Panasonic would create more of such small, compact lenses, I am ok with the widest aperture of F2.8 (no more narrower), but make them super compact and slim, with superbly fast AF. Most importantly, MAKE THEM CHEAP! I want a 25mm F2.8 panacake, I want a 35mm F2.8 pancake. I know it may be difficult to do longer lenses, but you know, pancake lenses are just so, so awesome. I can live with the few compromises in image quality, if the lenses were not expensve, and just super fun to bring around and shoot with. 

Sometimes, the fun factor is the main thing photography hobbysts look for, not technical perfection. 

What is the point of shooting if we are not having fun? Seriously, I was having soooooo much fun with the old 17mm F2.8 pancake lens on Malacca streets. 

The Red Door

Whte Towels


Man on the cart

The Red Truck

Hardworking Workers


Signature Malacca Red

Morning Conversations

Five Foot Way


Morning Paper

Morning Paper 2 (shot with silent shutter)


At the Flea Market

A little bit of selfie on the mirror

Coffee is a MUST after each shutter therapy session

Selfie with the bunch of street shooters on the following Sunday morning! Thanks to all who came, some from KL/PJ travelling to Malacca just to join this outing. I hope you all have enjoyed yourself, grabbed some beautiful shots and learned a thing or two about shooting with Olympus cameras and lenses, as well as some photography tips in general. 

Olympus TG-Tracker has been released recently, entering into the Action Camera market. I may not necessarily be the best person to test and review the TG-Tracker, since I am pretty much an indoor person, a city-safe, homely kid. I do not climb walls, jump off planes, swim with sharks or do exreme sports like surfing, skating or biking. Not sure if I can do anything useful for the TG-Tracker, but my initial posting on my Facebook Page indicated that there is still interest in me doing something with this TG-Tracker. 
If I can figure out what I want to do with it, maybe I will do a short, rather basic, photography-driven review for TG-Tracker. You will not see Robin Wong swim with sharks, not in this lifetime. We shall see what happens!

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  1. Great shots Robin! I like the Reflection shot alot. The 17mm 2.8 is more compact that's a plus. i think many will take it for that reason alone over the 17mm 1.8 not to mention the steeper asking price for the 17mm 1.8.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Jerr62c! Yes, sometimes, the form factor is all that matters, and if the lens can deliver sufficiently sharp images, I think we can live with it!

  2. Like your photos . Inspired me to go on shooting . For picture no.5 , remind me of this smiley , 😆.

    1. Thanks for the compliments, Michelle! Yes, keep on shooting!

  3. Try beach, gentle swims (when I was a kid, I wanted a camera to just play by the beach. Try shooting more in the regular downpours in the rain. Try some gentle treks (not extreme sports) like the scouts would along streams etc..

    1. Would it not be better to just leave it to the pros? Everything gentle will not yield anything out of the ordinary!

  4. I'm inspired as always-- and a big Hello! to that great group of street photographers gathered with you in Malacca :)

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  6. As usual, awesome pictures from the Olympus system.
    I, too, am wishing for more awesome pancake lens. I gifted my 17mm f2.8. Now that I've seen what you did with it, I am tempted to go get another copy!
    Thanks for sharing all the beautiful photos.

    A foldable camera [#9]? You secretly testing some future camera ah?

    1. OOPPS!!! Man how I wish we have foldable everything!

    2. one of the hardworking workers segment

    3. Haha, thanks for allowing me to shoot.

  7. Nice photos, Robin. I do have that lens and is not at all so bad, except that if you shot raw it has a very strong barrel distortion that you have to correct for. Often I bring only the 17 pancake and the 45 mm because thet are so light! Moreover you only need a set of 37 mm filters, as they have the same thread.

    1. I shoot in RAW, but using Olympus Viewer 3 the distortion is automatically corrected.
      Yes, 17mm and 45mm seem to be a great combo!

  8. I'd love to get hold of a few TG-Tracker cameras, since I photograph at skate parks regularly to see what people could do with them.

    I hand out equipment at times and let skaters and riders use equipment that they could not afford but having them ride with US$3000 worth of equipment is a little bit crazy.

    1. I think the TG-Tracker is an interesting product as Olympus leverages on their Tough features and know how in camera-making. Gopro is dominating the market, so I do not think it is easy to penetrate the already established market. But lets just see what happens!

  9. I wish you could get Honx bags here in the UK. They look great!

  10. Love the color and shadows!!

  11. In your previous blog you write "After trying my best to adapt to the 35mm focal length, I have concluded that the 35mm is just not meant for me and I should only use it when necessary. I am now shifting my shooting style back to my original preferences: wide angle and medium telephoto range. Not so much of 35mm which is neither here nor there." In this biog you praise the 17mm Olympus and present appealing pictures, obviously caught with this lens. One of us seems to be confused, Robin.

    1. Hey Ludwig,
      Indeed it is true I have given up on the 35mm perspective, but tha does not mean I will not use it. Usually I will just go to 45mm F1.8 or 25mm F1.8 if I were to stay "safe" and shoot confidently. The 35mm is neither here nor there for me and I find it rather difficult to compose. Nonetheless, that 17mm pancake lens is just sooooooo cute and so fun to use. This is one of the few times when I can forgive photos that are not that sharp, with slow AF, and perspective that is difficult to work with.
      I understand your confusion, but hey, everyone has preferences but that does not mean they will not shoot with anything else!

  12. kkkk
    "exreme sports like surfing, skating or biking"... :) you need to get out more ;) :p

  13. Interesting that you travel about as light as I do. Kit bag voyeurism hmm, since you've shown me yours... Great shots, I'm amazed how well you do pictorially each and every time you go out, hats off to you Sir!

  14. Hi Robin,
    I always look forward to reading your new posts, thanks for sharing your insight with us. I saw the Honx bag you used and then went to their website. Do you know if they only sell in Indonesia as a Google search came up empty.
    Regards, Robert