Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 On The Street

Now that we are free to move around again after the lockdown is relaxed about a month ago in Malaysia, I have been shooting almost non-stop. It started with the shooting frenzy for reviews of the two recently released Olympus products: E-M10 Mark IV and M.Zuiko 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS lens, which required me to go to various locations for sample images and to put the products through their paces. Then I have also been getting a few photography jobs, not many, but good enough to recover some financial losses during the 3 months full lockdown period since March. In between with some spare time that I have, I have been occupying myself with shutter therapy sessions! I have been shooting on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. 

One fine day I brought out the E-M1 Mark III and M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8, and attacked Petaling Street with my friend, Tang Chun Cheuh. It was a good day with plenty of good light, and I managed to get some keepers. I have also shared these images in one of my recent videos (follow up to the Malaysian government banning video posting on social media), I thought it would be great to have these photographs displayed here in my blog as well. I do have some photos that I really like from this session. 

I disagree with the argument of long lenses not being suitable for street photography. The reasoning of being disconnected with the human subject, or being too far away and not having the "close up" impact, I find them very flawed. Why must we be close and "intimate" with the subject? What is wrong with distance? What if I intentionally wanted the space between me and my subject? Being close is not necessarily the best solution for all shots. I am not saying there is anything wrong working with the popular traditional focal lengths for street shooting, typically 35mm, but I find myself gravitating toward using much longer focal lengths. I simply love what the Olympus 75mm 1.8 can do, it is non-conventional covering equivalent 150mm, which is at the longer end. I find the images cleaner, more structured, less cluttered and more focused on the main subject or story that I am telling. 

There is no right and wrong when it comes to shooting, that much I have learned from my limited experience as a photographer. You just need to work the given tool that is given to you, and find a way to get the best results you can. 

I am just thankful that things are slowly returning to normal here in Malaysia, the pandemic situation is pretty much under control, and I am free to move about and do my shutter therapy sessions. I hope that wherever you are, you are able to go out and shoot too!

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  1. Thanks Robin. I'm just curious how these days of masking might have changed your approach to street photography and, in particular, your encounters with your human subjects.

    1. Hey Brent, nothing much changed really, I don't do so much portraits of strangers lately, since we only get to see man and mask. The men I shot above had their masks off, and that was before it was made mandatory by the government for everyone to wear masks in public. Now that the rule to wear mask is in effect, it is impossible to shoot portraits of others without their masks on.

  2. Good to see you back on the streets, Robin, and my wife will be pleased to see that the cats of Malaysia are doing well!

    1. The cats here are well looked after. We have a lot of food and restaurants with excess food/wastage every day, so plenty to go around and feed the strays.

  3. oh wow nice photographs there. Thanks
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  5. I like the 75mm for street photography in North-America for its focal lenght. In found that in general, people here are afraid of street photography (even agressive about it) and the 75mm helps a lot for candid pictures.

  6. I love the 75mm and use it all the time for street photography.
    It's fine for portraits, but I kind of wish they'd make a 52mm f2, to match the 105mm that was my favorite on film.

    Regarding the 35mm (equivalent) lens for street, I think it's too wide. People often don't like the camera shoved up close to them.

    Henri Cartier Bresson, who was a pretty decent street photographer, said the 35mm view included to much unnecessary stuff. He preferred 50mm.