I have been actively following the discussions over the internet on the newly launched Olympus OM-D E-M1X. I think I have not seen such huge reaction to a camera released by Olympus since the first original E-M5 in 2012, though I must say the overall tone was heavier on the negative side. I am not here to make any further persuasive argument or rebutting any comments, I believe there is sufficient information online to go about for everyone to achieve their individual conclusions on E-M1X. Everything that I have wanted to say about the E-M1X has been covered in my original full article here (click and read if you have not). In this blog entry, I want to bring your attention specifically toward a new customization feature in the E-M1X, which I think is a crucial improvement over previous cameras - the My Menu.

Olympus Malaysia and Singapore had a joint launch ceremony for the new Olympus OM-D E-M1X last week, just a day after the worldwide announcement of the camera. The launch happened at Sepang International Circuit, a prestigious racing track that has hosted Super GT, Moto GP and F1 races over the years. The guests were media and dealers from both Malaysia and Singapore. I was requested to help out, being an Olympus Visionary, I took charge of one of the touch and try stations. It was a fun day meeting so many people, some familiar faces whom I have known from my days of officially working for Olympus Malaysia. All Olympus Visionaries from Olympus Malaysia and Singapore were also present in this event. I managed to take some event shots just before the touch and try slot when I was busy tending to the guests. 

Here are some shots from the event - images were all taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko lenses 7-14mm F2.8 & 45mm F1.2 PRO

Oh yes, the newly announced Olympus M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 PRO lens was also on display. I believe this was a prototype and not fit for any testing purposes. Nonetheless, seeing it in person was quite an experience, I cannot wait to test it out when a review sample is ready. 

 The lens features a built in teleconverter 1.25x, effectively providing the full telephoto end of 1000mm equivalent focal length (in 35mm format). 

There is also a new teleconverter, MC-20, available soon, and will be fully compatible with M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO and 300mm F4 PRO IS lenses. 

The metal unibody design of E-M1X. 

The Star of the show - Olympus OM-D E-M1X

Seiki Yamamoto, Head of Sales for Olympus Japan was present during the launch in Malaysia, giving his opening speech. Seen in the image on the screen in his background, a photo of the legendary Maitani, possibly the world's finest camera designer and engineer. 

This slide served one purpose - to tell you Olympus's staunch stance that they will never go full frame. 

A friend and fellow ex-colleague based in Olympus Singapore, Amos Kang, was doing the product presentation for the new E-M1X. This was my job when I worked for Olympus Malaysia years ago. It was nice being in the audience instead of on stage. Amos did a fantastic job explaining the camera features and key improvements. 

Tanes Jitsawart was the key speaker for this event, an Olympus Visionary as well as Profoto Ambassador. He shared his experience using the Olympus system as well as some tips on shooting motorsports. 

We then moved on to the track for touch and try with the new E-M1X, shooting the fast moving cars. I was busy making sure everyone was ok and answering questions left right front and center so I did not have any chance to shoot during this slot. 

It was a successful event and I was happy to be a part of it, being able to contribute a small part. Although I am no longer a staff, I felt right at home, seeing so many friendly faces who remembered me from the old days. 

A little update: I am flying home to Kuching (in Borneo), my hometown tomorrow, 30th January 2019 to 14th Febuary 2019. Kuching people, let's catch up! Therefore, the soonest I can do further testing on the Olympus OM-D E-M1X will be after my 2 weeks long holiday, and when I return to KL in mid February. 
On the same day as the launch of the Olympus OM-D E-M1X, Olympus also launched a new post-processing software - Olympus Workspace. The new Olympus Workspace effectively replaces the dated Olympus Viewer 3 as the official native image editing software rolled out by Olympus to fully support the RAW (orf) files and allow full conversion to camera JPEG quality. I have had the opportunity to test the new Olympus Workspace before the release, and I am sharing my experience using it here in this blog article. The official page for Olympus Workspace can be found here (click). 

UPDATE 28/1/2019 5.45pm - Olympus Workspace is now live and available for download. Get it here (click). 

Important note: The Olympus Workspace is not yet available for download at this moment, but I went ahead and publish this article because I have promised to do so in my recent E-M1X article. I will post an update here as soon as I get word that the Olympus Workspace is available for everyone to use. 

Before we dive in too deep, here are some disclaimers. I am an Olympus Visionary, a brand ambassador for Olympus Malaysia. I am not doing a review for the Olympus Workspace. This blog article is merely an overview of what is new and what has changed from the previous Olympus Viewer 3. All my images shown from my Olympus OM-D E-M1X article recently were fully post-processed with Olympus Workspace. Since I was provided early access to the software before release, I was using a pre-production version, which may slightly differ from the finalized public release on the official launch.

Here is a brief video showing screen capture of my desktop PC running the new Olympus Workspace. In the video, I have highlighted improvements and new features of the software.

OLYMPUS WORKSPACE - What's New & What's Changed?

I was keeping the video as brief as possible. If there is enough interest, in coming future I can do a short tutorial on using the Olympus Workspace, or a sit down session on how I post-process my images from a real shutter therapy session. 

1. The bare structure of Olympus Workspace is still similar to Olympus Viewer 3, with improvements in overall layout, allowing better customization.

2. The settings/adjustments are arranged in multiple tabs, which is very similar to Capture One Pro style.

3. The image viewing and navigation area have several different layout options, also similar to what Capture One Pro offers.

4. The overall speed in previewing images, zooming into 100% view, going through different images have been vastly improved. Olympus Viewer 3 was annoyingly laggy and slow. The new Olympus Workspace is not exactly 100% smooth but the performance jump is immediately noticeable. The brief pause/lag when dragging the image around during preview is still here but much more tolerable now.

5. Previewing the changes to the image live after adjusting the settings (sliders) is drastically speedier and smoother now. The speed is still nowhere as instant as Capture One Pro or Lightroom, but not to the point of slow Olympus Viewer 3 speed of waiting several seconds for a simple white balance setting tweak to show up in preview. The changes are seen live within half a second or less. The experience is still not seamless and instantaneous, but the improvement is significant.

6. There is a "Super Fine" JPEG export setting, with 1/2.7 compression, which was not previously available for Olympus Viewer 3. The best JPEG compression setting for Olympus Viewer 3 was a vague "high quality" output.

7. Exporting time is still quite slow, I did not notice improvement at all. However, when exporting single image in Olympus Viewer 3, the software locks down and you have to wait until the export process is over before proceeding to the next image. By using batch processing, the overall speed and efficiency of the Olympus Viewer 3 slows down drastically. In the new Olympus Workspace, while images are being exported (either single image, or by batch), the software can still be operated as usual with no noticeable slow down.

8. There are two new adjustment settings: clarity and dehaze.

9. You will need to use Olympus Workspace hand in hand with Olympus Capture to enable full WiFi tethering support for Olympus OM-D E-M1X.

10. There is a new color editor, allowing editing of separate color channels, tweaking saturation, luminance and hue individually. However, I noticed that this color editor can only work with newer cameras, from Olympus PEN-F onward. The color editor is very similar to color profile in PEN-F while shooting in camera, but with more extensive controls.

Bear in mind that the speed of operation of the software is also highly dependent on your computer's processing prowess. I have only tested the Olympus Workspace PC version. The Mac version was not available yet when I was using the software and I do not have a Mac computer to run it either way. I am currently using an AMD powered desktop PC, with Octa-core FX-8350 CPU, 16GB of RAM and an old mechanical hard disk drive (I have yet to upgrade to SSD, yes I know I am extremely late to the party). I also have the budget Radeon RX560 with 4GB Ram which the Olympus Workspace can take advantage of to have some performance boost running the software. I am sure if you have an SSD drive with latest image processing capability, your experience will be better than mine. My PC is coming to almost 7 years old now.

Nonetheless, with the exact same setup, I was also running Capture One Pro software (currently on version 10, and have tried the version 12 on trial) and Capture One was still noticeably and marginally faster in all operations. Previewing images was smoother and all adjustments applied were previewed almost instantaneously, even though I was using a now aging PC. Exporting RAW images to JPEG was the largest difference, the speed difference is so much that it can affect my overall productivity as a working photographer.

If you are a professional photographer with demanding post-processing workflow, there are many important features that are not available in the Olympus Workspace, such as layering, masking, gradual or radial filters, etc. If you need a more powerful tool for your image editing, I am sure commercial softwares such as Adobe Lightroom and Capture One Pro will suit your use better.

However, as a free to download and use with no limitations software, with the ability to reproduce the exact same 100% amazing JPEG file quality from Olympus cameras (which is fantastic may I add), I think the Olympus Workspace is a major step up from the old Olympus Viewer 3. The previewing time is now tolerable and applying editing settings is speedier and smoother in operation. I still want Olympus to continuously improve the speed of the software, the image previewing can be smoother and settings should be applied almost instantaneously. Nevertheless, it is a step to the right direction for Olympus, and all the new upgrades, including addition of new features are highly appreciated.

Since the software is free to use, why not give it a try? I would love to hear what you think! Please do leave your suggestions for improvement, I am sure Olympus is listening and we all want the Olympus Workspace to improve.

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Olympus has just launched the new Olympus OM-D E-M1X. Olympus claimed this camera was aimed specifically toward professional photographers operating in extreme and demanding shooting environment. However, the E-M1X is not a replacement for the E-M1 Mark II as Olympus positioned both cameras side by side as the current flagship models for Olympus Micro Four Thirds system. While the core of the E-M1X is similar to the E-M1 Mark II in many ways, the E-M1X hosts a new set of features and notable enhancements which I will discuss in depth in this article. The key highlights of E-M1X include integrated vertical grip, dual Truepic 8 processors built in, improved construction and reliability with better weather sealing, higher shutter life (rated 400k), more effective image stabilization, hand-held 50MP high res shot mode, dual UHS-2 SD card slots, larger EVF and enhanced AF performance. The photographers Olympus had in mind for E-M1X are undoubtedly sports and wildlife shooters.

I went to a hipster cafe/restaurant in Bangkok, just to experience the hipster culture there, which to my surprise is not too dissimilar to Kuala Lumpur. According to my friend Jason who was with me for this trip to Bangkok, everything in Roast was awesome, so we ordered several dishes and stuffed ourselves silly. What is a great trip without overpriced, fancy-looking hipster food? Also, it was the perfect end to my shutter therapy session - a cup of overpriced coffee.

I cannot wait to share my street photography images from my Bangkok trip! The articles are submitted to Ming Thein and are in queue to be published very soon at the end of this month. Do follow me on my Facebook Page for instant updates whenever new articles are being published here or on Ming Thein's site.

All images were shot on Olympus PEN E-PL9 and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens. 

So I have just got the new Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 for my birthday, obviously my fingers were itchy and I took it out for shutter therapy sessions. I am now more comfortable using the 25mm lens for my street shooting than 45mm, and it has become my most used focal length (I am also including the uses of 25mm F1.8 lens previously before I purchased the 25mm F1.2 PRO lens). I still love the 45mm F1.8, it is my go to lens for tight portraits (portraits of strangers), but I do tend to go for wider framing and more environmental shots these days. Either way, the 45mm F1.8 stays in the camera bag and I would not hesitate to switch over if absolutely necessary. The Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO is mounted on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II most of the time!

I also have been doing a lot of event coverage shooting lately. Do read up my tips on how to shoot an event here on MT's site. The main lens I have been using for my jobs is the 25mm F1.8 lens. Upgrading to F1.2 PRO allows me more flexibility when it comes to low light shooting, I have about one stop advantage, which means I can effectively lower my ISO and produce cleaner images. This is applicable to both flash use and shoots with entirely avaiable light, the F1.2 wide open is a significant advantage in less than ideal lighting circumstances. The fact that Micro Four Thirds has 2 times equivalent depth of field, the F1.2 lens is perfectly usable rendering sufficient depth of field for most of my shots. I can use it at fully wide open F1.2 without stopping down, getting enough zone in focus and super sharp results at the same time.

Some users complained that the F1,2 PRO lenses are huge. Yes they are much larger than the F1.8 lenses, I agree with that. However, in terms of handling, I felt they were perfectly balanced on the E-M1 Mark II (I cannot say for smaller PEN cameras). It was as if I was using the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens, which was perfect in terms of handling with the OM-D E-M1 series camera. The F1.2 advantage is huge, and having slight size and weight penalty, I am totally ok with the compromise.

Anyone else using the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens? Do let me know your thoughts!

 Of course, the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens will not be my default food photography lens. New Years resolution 2019 - shoot more hipster overpriced fancy looking food. 

Check out the Feathered Bokeh! Smooth, creamy!

For the past one week I was in Bangkok Thailand, eating local food, doing touristy things like visiting temples and also doing some shutter therapy along the way. What was supposed to be a personal holiday somehow turned into partial work when Olympus Thailand invited me to speak to their consumers in a photography event. I immediately jumped in and said yes! This was my first photography event conducted outside of my home country, Malaysia. I was extremely excited and nervous about it. The photography sharing session took place on 9th January 2019 at Olympus Store in CentralWorld shopping mall in Bangkok.

The event venue was Olympus Store at Centralworld Shopping Mall. Such an impressive store with a dedicated space for workshop/seminars. 

Originally, my one-hour long presentation was made up of images I have shot in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia only. Just hours before the actual event, I decided to do something extra. I thought the Thai audience would appreciate me sharing some images from my recent shutter therapy session in Bangkok. I did a last minute edit and included about two dozen images at the end of my presentation as a surprise. It was no easy feat as I did not have that many images which I was very happy with, but they were sufficient for that brief photo-sharing. After all, I wanted to show how much I love Bangkok and how I have enjoyed doing shutter therapy there. What better way to show some of the results?

The audience was surprisingly responsive and asked me more questions that I have expected, which was a good indication that they were paying attention and they were interested in my sharing. I always welcome questions during my talk. Our biggest concern was the language barrier, and Olympus Thailand had their staff on standby in case translation was needed. It was indeed a wonderful experience speaking to an entirely different audience. I sure hope my tips and tricks about shooting on the street can spark some ideas and inspire some of the crowd to go out with their camera and do some street shooting.

All subsequent images were from Olympus Thailand and used with permission.

Special thanks to all awesome Thai participants who came to the event! It was an honor speaking to everyone. 

Miss Tata was the person I communicated with throughout the whole of this event. None of this was possible without her help and support, she did a fantastic job at making sure everything ran smoothly. Fun fact - Miss Tata was also there during my South Africa trip, she the representative from Olympus Thailand office. Another fun-fact - she is a wonderful photographer! Check out her Instagram here (click). 

Look who made an appearance! Ekkarat Punyatara, a National Geographic photographer and a fellow Olympus Visionary! Thanks so much for coming and I appreciate your support man. We should definitely collaborate soon. 

I also dropped by the Olympus Thailand HQ and caught up with some people. Amornsak is the Product Specialist for Olympus Thailand, we went for training together in Tokyo several years ago when I was still employed by Olympus Malaysia. It was great seeing him again!

I have worked closely with these two gentlemen before during my time with Olympus Malaysia. Oh how I miss the good old days! Special thanks to Mitch for having me in Thailand, I could not ask for a better way to start the year! It was also great seeing Hiro again, he was the one taking care of me and my ex-colleagues when we were in Hokkaido several years ago. 

Special thanks to Olympus Thailand for organizing this event and included me as the guest speaker. I appreciate the opportunity and experience on sharing my photography to a new audience. I have had an awesome time and I enjoyed every single moment of the event. It was fun interacting with Thai participants and I only hoped we have had a chance to do a proper photowalk together on the streets, and definitely that may even happen in the future. 

To all Thai participants who came and support the event, thanks so much for coming and I hope you all have had fun! Go out and have more shutter therapy please!