Malaysia has just recorded all time high Covid-19 new daily cases today at 9353. The numbers just keep going up. After 2 months plus of lockdown and being confined in my miserable room, we are nowhere near recovery, that light at the end of the tunnel might be just a train heading straight for us. I now have the Olympus M.Zuiko 8-25mm F4 PRO with me, which I can't do much testing (nothing fun to shoot around here), but we do have a neighborhood cat that is a bit too friendly. I thought, why not? Since there really is nothing else to do. I am sure the spider in my room is bored of me talking to him, so time to torture another creature instead. The spider could use some rest. 

How can you say no to this face?

Crop from previous image - the Olympus 8-25mm is super sharp at longest end 25mm. 

I was very pleased to report that the Olympus 8-25mm lens is incredibly sharp, based on my initial, brief testing. Nothing conclusive yet, I still need to do more extensive shoots but for now, I am happy with what I see from the images that came out from this lens. I only shared this one shot of the cat, because the other images I got were 1) my messy bedroom 2) the ugly buildings near my apartment 3) the boring parking space in the basement with lousy lighting 4) ugly sky that was about to rain 5) myself naked. Ok, maybe I made up the last item, or... did I not? You have to understand, being stuck in a room for more than 2 months, it does things to you. 
Please support me & keep this site going:


I was not joking when I told you guys in my previous articles (and also in video) that photography and videography, both commercial and non-commercial were banned during the current lockdown in Malaysia. However, I was surprised to find out that the production that was carried out indoor, in a private space, that involved no crew or anyone except the owner of the said space, shooting food and products, was also prohibited. In the article published today the government agency/authority FINAS (The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia) raided a commercial studio that was allegedly doing a small scale shooting indoor. Unfortunately, I cannot find any articles in English. 

Press release circulated by the government agency, serving as a warning and reminder that ALL filming and production are not allowed during the lockdown period. 

The official press statement from FINAS

From my understanding, the general rule being mandated by the government during the lockdown is - no economy or social activities are allowed with minor exceptions for essential services such as healthcare, supplies and food. Photography and videography, or any commercial productions are strictly banned. Not only you are banned from shooting outdoor, now it seems clear that you cannot even do anything indoor, inside your private property. No questions here, any form of activity that is non essential (photography and video included) cannot be performed ANYWHERE in Malaysia. 

They also have specifically banned outdoor photography under the category of social activities, but I will not repeat what I have said in my previous article here. 

How the heck are we going to survive this? How does shooting food in a studio environment cause any virus infection? This does not make any sense at all. I understand that we are not allowed to move or do anything outdoor, but why can't we do anything indoor, in the private space to at least be able to earn whatever little cash possible? Struggling small business owners, photographers and videographers especially are dying out there. This is so unfair, and honestly quite unnecessary. 

I am not even sure which category "filming for YouTube" falls into. I wonder if that is wrong too. 
Well, if you don't hear anything from me, if I sudden disappear, I guess you know what happens. I am fighting as hard as I can to weather this storm, but it seems like even the government is against me, instead of helping us who are already suffering massive loss of income. 

The lockdown has been doing on for 2 months now (since beginning of May) and cases are not going down, in fact, it started to rise again. From the looks of things, I can kiss 2021 goodbye at this point. And I sure have little hope for 2022 too. 

Please support me & keep this site going:
I have just published my first impressions on the Olympus M.Zuiko 8-25mm F4 PRO lens. My pre-order arrived, and this was my own lens which I purchased with my own money. Since Malaysia is still under tight lockdown unfortunately I cannot do much testing the lens, so no full review at this moment. I did talk about my initial thoughts and shared my reasons for adding this lens into my camera bag. I genuinely think it is a super versatile lens, I like the flexible zoom range starting from ultra wide 8mm going all the way to 25mm, the build quality with full weather-sealing, close up shooting and the ability to take filters directly. Being a PRO lens I expect the image quality to be consistently good as well. You can find my short video here (click)

Olympus' latest lens - M.Zuiko 8-25mm F4 PRO

I can't wait for the lockdown to be over so I can bring this lens out for some shutter therapy sessions. I will do a full review for my YouTube as well as this blog here, so do stay tuned for that! 

Please support me & keep this site going:
The Prime Minister has just made a casual announcement that the Lockdown will not end, with no indication of how long it will continue to last. The stricter lockdown started on 7 May (Kuala Lumpur), with full lockdown implemented nationwide starting 1 June. It is coming to 2 months of me being stuck in my tiny bedroom. At this point, freedom is just a concept that seems quite far from reach. The little spider in my room is still alive, thankfully so I played with it (by playing I mean I took macro photographs). And I guess if this continues the spider will have to endure my pathetic rants. Who else is there to listen?

My trusty Macro gear - Olympus 60mm F2.8 Macro lens and FL50R fired wirelessly off camera, with a softbox

I took a much better shot this time. More about the shot setup below

When I wrote about the lockdown situation a few weeks ago, it was approaching a month of lockdown, and some people commented - "oh it has just been a few weeks, surely the number of cases will go down soon, just hang in there". Well, it is now 2 months. The number of cases has not come down that much, we still have almost 6000 new daily infections every day. It does not take a genius to see that the lockdown has lost its effectiveness. It may have worked before, but continued use will not yield the same degree of success. What the repeated cycle of lockdowns can guarantee however, is the irreparable damage it has caused to everyone. I am not an expert, but tell me this - the lockdown is placed to bring the number of cases down. So, if after 2 months the numbers don't go down, you still continue with the lockdown for another month. And another. And another. If you turn on the light switch and it did not light, and you flick it a few more times, you will soon realize something is not right with the switch. To continue to switch it on and off won't bring the light back on, you got to find another solution and fix the problem. Well, I am just a small peanut, what does my voice matter any way. Let's just all suffer and drown in silence here in the lockdown. 

Moving onto a more positive note, the podcast video series, #ROBINSPEAKS which I started a few weeks ago was a success. I did not expect this. I initially expected the long form video format to flop. I cannot imagine people would listen to me rant for half an hour long. The viewership of the podcast videos were strong, and seated at top of the recent 10 videos I released on my YouTube, though the recent videos have suffered a dip in viewership due to lower quality content made during the lockdown. Nevertheless, I still celebrate this small win, it is not easy making content given the current circumstances, and I am glad I can still continue to make something out of completely nothing! 

What most people did not realize was how much effort and time I put into these podcast videos. Well, not that I am lacking time, and it is a good thing I started this now, since I have extra time to burn. I spent about 4 hours or more to film each episode, though it was mostly just talking head shot in one location, with the camera mounted on a static tripod. For episode 1, I shot the whole session, then edited the whole video in 3 hours, so effectively I spent one full day to make one episode. The next day, I decided the audio was not good enough, because the microphone was placed too far, So I reshot the entire session and the whole process repeated itself, consuming another full day just for that same episode. Same thing happened with episode 2. I had no issue with the video part, but audio recording was quite new to me, and I never cared so much about audio recording before because my videos are usually about 10 minutes long. Now that the podcast video is 30 minutes long and to expect people to stick around with me that long, I do have to make sure my voice sounds better. Furthermore, I speak at length and in greater depths of the topics I cover, with no fancy B-rolls or nice looking images, just me speaking on and on, so how I sound was more critical. 

I was waiting for the spider to show the fangs. 

Finally got one with some details of the fangs. Though this image was heavily cropped. 

I tricked the spider to jump onto a wooden board, so I have a nicer background to work with

I like how the wooden grain matches the spider's color 

I am soooooo noob in recording audio. Been going through video tutorials and articles and I still mess up so much. From microphone placements, to speaking into microphone dos and don'ts, there is so much to learn and improve on. Then there is the editing part - I have never touched noise reduction, compressor, de-esser, expander, and all other fancy adjustments before. I did play with basic EQ for most of my videos previously. Maybe I am over-thinking but I guess this is also the right time to pick up a new skill, or improve my audio understanding and producing aspect of my content creation. I was not happy with all my current released 3 episodes. My issue is with consistency, as I moved a lot, and the microphone is sensitive to movement. Also I am not willing to fork extra cash for a better microphone, I made do with what I have, a shotgun microphone designed to be placed on top of a camera, which may not be the best solution for indoor podcast style recording. I guess I can complain on and on but I just have to finish an episode and just hit the publish button. I will improve slowly, for the coming episodes. 

Coming back to the spider - I don't think it is scared of me at all. Sometimes it would jump onto my table. So I decided to take a few shots. This time, I tricked the spider to climb onto a wooden board, so I have a nicer background to work with. I did not touch the spider, that's against my principles. The spider did not move much, and was very cooperative, posing for me. I guess the spider knew I was not a threat? I don't know. Since it was a flat surface, I can compose my shots better too, and get closer. I have shared my shooting techniques and my gear setup here (click) here if you are interested. 

Freedom seems further and further away. 

I don't know what I did to deserve this. Maybe the spider will understand. Let me talk to him. 

Please support me & keep this site going:
Obviously I have too much time, and I can't shoot much being trapped in this tiny miserable room during lockdown in Malaysia, so I thought hey why not do a podcast style, longer format videos of me speaking to you guys? The difference between this new series and my usual videos is - I can speak more freely and openly in a more relaxed manner, commenting on various topics on photography industry, trends or new products, as well as sharing a little bit more about myself. The idea has been lingering at the back of my mind for a while now, and I finally did it. First episode has just dropped and you can see the video here (click). 

New video series #ROBINSPEAKS. Episode 1 is here, go watch it now (click). 

The problem with making videos on YouTube - for the algorithm to work, typically for smaller channels your videos cannot be too long. Ideally it has to be around 10-12 minutes mark, anything too long will hurt the channel. Therefore, I am making these videos in the new series not really to grow the audience, but to engage the current audience. I am not reaching out to new people with these longer format videos, but to speak more openly with my existing followers, blog readers or YouTube subscribers. I will discuss more lengthily on topics without worrying about time limit or dragging the video too long, I will be more candid and casual about answering difficult questions and I will share more information about myself. I guess this is a more effectively way to open myself up and to connect to people that actually do care. And I know, you guys are here, and many of you genuinely care. I appreciate that, and I thank you for being here. 

For this first video of #ROBINSPEAKS series, I started it easy with several topics. I shared what happened recently on the E-P7 and 8-25mm lens releases and I was not informed about the products before launch and did not get any samples for reviews. I also shared my current situation and how I am coping with the recent total lockdown in Malaysia. There was a little photo sharing on the jumping spider I blogged about yesterday, perhaps it would be beneficial for the YouTube audience who do not come to this blog. Also, I took this opportunity to answer some YouTube comments directly, some asking which camera wrist strap that I used, what happened to my body (I look different now), questions about video shooting and also flash on E-M1 Mark II. I took my time to answer these questions and also sprinkled some interesting facts about me, for those who wanted to get to know me better. I don't intend to go on more than 30 minutes long for each video. Ideally, maybe around 25-30 minutes mark would be tolerable. I don't want these videos to become like an hour long podcast, even I can't stand listening to my own voice for that long. 

Do let me know what you think of this new format video, and if you want it to be a regular thing. Do you think 30 minutes is too long? What topics would you want me to discuss or talk openly about in future episodes? Let me know! 

Last but not least, huge thanks for all the kind messages and positive vibes, I appreciate your support and honestly, you just being here made all the difference. I am truly fortunately to have this wonderful and caring community of blog readers/YouTube subscribers. Don't worry, I am doing OK, I just need to go through what I have to go through, I have always been honest, and I will continue to do so, sharing a bit more about myself here, and in my videos. 

Please support me & keep this site going:
Side Note: Stop asking me about the newly launched Olympus E-P7 and 8-25mm PRO lens. I don't have them. There is nothing I can tell you more than what you already know from the official announcements. 

I guess it came with no surprise that the total lockdown which was placed in effect from 1-14 June was now extended to end of the month (news article here). The partial lockdown started in May (total lockdown started June), and it has been a month and a half I was trapped in my tiny little room. Currently the numbers of daily reported new cases are still running high with no signs of coming down, even after a month and a half long of various lockdowns in place (including 2 weeks full lockdown) and it is also reported that we are running out of hospital beds. If the numbers don't come down and situation does not improve, who knows maybe the whole country will be locked down for more months to come. Quite a depressing thought and seriously there is nothing anyone, or I can do at this point, but to just try to stay sane as long as possible. 

And I found a tiny jumping spider in my room. Hello!

What big eyes you have! Too bad the fangs are hidden, the fangs do look quite cool too. 
This image was obviously cropped. Full uncropped images more down below. 

I'd rather have my room clean from any insects, bugs or spiders, but I guess these little creatures are everywhere and I can't keep them out 100%. So the next best thing is to take out my macro gear and take some shots. Those of you who suggested "hey Robin why don't you do macro photography in your room?", I ask you this - ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?

The shooting technique was quite straightforward and I have shared several times here over the years. If you want the full rundown of what I did, you can go to my macro shooting technique blog entry here (click). I also did a video showing how I shot my insect macro here (click). I have shared EVERYTHING from what lens, what camera, what settings, how to get the shot, wireless flash, how I diffuse my flash, seriously every single detail! I did not hide anything. 

I don't think the spider will survive long. I saw a lizard lurking around somewhere. 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro, FL-LM3 flash attached on camera, FL-50R Olympus flash fired wirelessly off camera, diffused with a square softbox. 

General camera settings: 1/160, F8-11, ISO200, Flash on manual, adjusted accordingly. 

Lighting is critical for macro, there are many ways you can light your subject. The popular choice is using flash, and just make sure it is diffused properly. Using a large softbox is a safe technique. 

That Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens is an optical wonder. Even after all these years the lens is possibly the best macro lens in the market. The image quality it renders is second to none. 

There are many, many ways to get a good macro shot. To get sufficient magnification (getting close and have the subject appear large in your frame), you can either use a dedicated macro lens like the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro, or use various other techniques like extension tubes, macro converters, or even reversed lens ring attachment. You can even use a combination of different methods (say a macro lens and an additional converter) to achieve even more magnification. There is no right or wrong, just find the right method for your needs. 

Insects, or in this case the jumping spider did not stay still for very long. It jumps, because, you know, the name jumping spider. I don't think setting up a tripod and shooting using manual focus is very practical. I need to move whenever the spider moves, no matter how slightly. Being able to shoot hand-held is a huge bonus point. The Olympus cameras support powerful 5-Axis IS, which helps stabilize the live view on LCD or EVF, you don't get crazy shaky viewfinder when framing the spider. The active image stabilization will aid in steadying your view, which prevents headaches and help the shooting process much smoother. 

The spider was quite cooperative. It did stop and pose for me for at least a few seconds before jumping off. It did not seem to be afraid of me, it was just moving around merrily, but not away from me, or hiding in impossible spots. I did not get many good shots, but just a few good ones. 

I somehow wish the spider was green, or blue in color, but I guess that's too much to ask for. 

I quickly realize shooting too low of an angle, though at the eye level of the spider, may not be the best composition option. The spider was hiding in between gaps, though not disappearing from me completely, it did not die deeper into the gap. On normal cases this would be difficult to shoot because of dim light. This explains why I used the wireless flash off camera, I can position the light wherever I want and get sufficient light to hit the spider. 

This was an uncropped image, showing how small the spider was. This image was at full 2:1 magnification. Meaning this was the maximum magnification that the lens is capable of, and the spider was probably only 8mm in size (half of the frame, which was 17mm in length). 

I should have probably stopped down the aperture further for this shot to see more of the body and legs in focus. 

Another close crop, still revealing massive amount of fine details. 

I know some of my friends would catch the insects from their garden or the park, and then freeze them in the refrigerator. The bugs are cold blooded, they won't die, but the low temperature will slow them down. As they were frozen, then they would move the bugs and pose them in grass or leaves or branches and even spray them with droplets of water, making the dramatic look. 

I think that is cruel, inhumane, and falls into the category of animal cruelty. Please, I beg you, don't touch the bugs. Leave them alone. Please be a little more respectful to nature. 

I don't know how to feel about the extended lockdown, with high possibilities of further extension. To be entirely honest, even shooting that tiny spider was not so fun any more. I miss being able to find more colorful bugs to photograph. And if I bring my camera out to the park, I get fined RM10,000 (USD2,500), even if I was shooting bugs alone. 

What happens to a man when is confined in a small space against his will for an extended period of time? Maybe I will be a case study. We will find out, won't we?

Please support me & keep this site going:
Side Note: No I don't have the newly launched E-P7 and 8-25mm lens. I was not informed about the launch and found out the same time as everyone else.

It has been 5 years since I reviewed the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and today I still actively shoot with the camera. I personally believe that it is the best value Olympus camera out there at the moment, and arguably the best value Micro Four Thirds camera for professional use. You may choose to disagree of course. I have been shooting professionally with E-M1 Mark II as my main workhorse since 2017, the year I left Olympus Malaysia and became a full time photographer, and I have also shot countless personal shutter therapy sessions with my E-M1 Mark II. I want to share my thoughts on why I think E-M1 Mark II is still a great recommendation for anyone who wants to get into Micro Four Thirds system, or those who want to upgrade to something more serious from entry level camera systems. 

Of course I have also made a video discussing the exact same topic, you can find the video here (click). 

E-M1 Mark II is fully weather-sealed. The splash-proof is important for me, as I do shoot in rain. 

Best served with a cup of overpriced coffee

IMAGE QUALITY
E-M1 Mark II shares the exact same image sensor as E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III. While E-M1 Mark II was launched 5 years ago, it still produces the exact same image quality as the latest flagship cameras from Olympus. The same image sensor renders the exact similar 20MP resolution, high ISO performance, dynamic range capability and color reproduction. You do not gain anything more or get better image quality even if you get the latest and greatest from Olympus - this fact places the E-M1 Mark II from 2016 in a very interesting position, you can still achieve the best possible image quality Olympus has to offer without upgrading to their latest offerings. 

E-M1 Mark II's image quality is more than good enough for me and what I do. I understand many photographers would spend more money to get the best of the best, and you don't have to justify how you spend your money. I do wedding photography, portraits, event coverage and lifestyle products, all do not require crazy high megapixel count, in fact 20MP is more than sufficient for all that I do. I have never encountered a situation where dynamic range was not enough, or shooting in too dark of a situation where high ISO is a problem. I use PRO lenses, as well as F1.8/F1.2 lenses which allow me to gather more light and shoot better in darker environment. I also do flash photography, and will bring in extra lights if needed. I have done exhibitions (printed images as tall as 6feet), published my work in local magazines and believe me, you can do plenty with that E-M1 Mark II if you know what you are doing. My clients have been happy with my deliveries over the years (if not why did they keep coming back?). That's all that matters - the camera gets the job done effectively. 

HANDLING
Image quality is not everything. An important factor to consider is camera handling. To me, handling either makes or breaks the camera, and a lot of photographers don't talk about this in their reviews. No matter how amazing your camera is, shooting 10,000MP, ISO2billion and has 55 stops EV dynamic range, if it can't fit your hands well, and you don't feel comfortable using the camera for longer shooting duration, you won't enjoy using the camera, and you won't be able to work with it effectively. 

This may be subjective, but I personally believe E-M1 Mark II has the best handling of all cameras today. I have tried as many cameras as I can from all camps. Obviously I have not tried everything, but I do have access to most cameras from the connections of photography friends in my network, which is not small by the way. The beefy grip fits my fingers perfectly, there is a thumb-resting area and the camera just feels right and comfortable in hand. Yet the camera is still quite small in size, striking the right balance of not being too small and light, in case you need to handle larger lenses, eg the longer telephoto PRO lenses. I cannot say the same for 99% of other cameras out there in the market, there is just something wrong or off in most ergonomics or designs, even from some of the highly regarded cameras out there from other camps. I acknowledge that we may have different hand shapes, sizes, finger lengths, etc but to me, E-M1 Mark II suits me the best. 

Fits my hands perfectly. Best used with PRO lenses. 

The design does scream serious business. OM-D flagships do have the PRO look, which is important to me as a professional working photographer. 

If coffee is not available, hot chocolate will do too. 

5-AXIS IMAGE STABILIZATION
When my ex-colleague told me that he could hand-hold the E-M1 Mark II (not launched at that time) down to about 5 seconds shutter speed, and get away with sharp images, I did not believe him. I was still working for Olympus when the E-M1 Mark II was released, that was the last product launched by the company before I left. Then when I finally tried the camera myself and actually could stabilize my shots using just hands down to 5 seconds, it blew my mind! What trickery was this? 

I am not saying that you can shoot all your shots at crazy shutter speeds. That's not what I am trying to imply. The 5-Axis Image Stabilization helps significantly in boosting your confidence in getting blur-free images. It mitigates most hand-shakes when shooting the camera without tripod, and it is super effective. You can shoot at 1/10 second, half a second shutter speeds, which are traditionally dangerous and will get you soft images, without having to think twice now thanks to the 5-Axis IS. That opens up a whole world of shooting possibilities, that you may not have to use tripods or monopods in a lot of situations that you normally do. You do not have to constantly worry if you will blur your shots accidentally, your camera will take care of that, and you just focus on getting the right composition, lighting and moment! Less problems to worry about, thanks to the 5-Axis IS. 

E-M1 Mark III and E-M1X have made even more improvements when it comes to 5-Axis IS, but I found that the E-M1 Mark II is already so good, it made a huge difference in my photography. E-M1 Mark II's 5-Axis IS is significantly better than the older E-M1 and E-M5 Mark II by miles. If you have used these cameras you will agree with me that the improvement is quite noticeable and made a huge difference in real life shooting. 

RELIABILITY
The last important point I want to talk about, having used the E-M1 Mark II for 5 years now is reliability. Some would argue that this is actually the most important point to talk about. I would not disagree. 

There is a difference between a working, professional photographer that earns a living from his shoots, versus an enthusiast or hobbyist shooting just for fun. When you are on a job, you don't want your camera to fail. There will be dire consequences. Of course we carry backups to our cameras, and also backups to our backups just in case. The reliability of our equipment - how rugged, the build quality, shooting in harsh conditions, how far we can push the equipment, all this matter more if you are getting paid to shoot. The last thing you want to think and worry about is having your camera or lens fail in the middle of the shoot. 

The E-M1 Mark II is built like a tank, the body is made of magnesium alloy. I need to move fast and I cannot think too much about cameras bumping into another person or a table along the way. I need a solidly constructed camera body to do my job, not something fragile that I have to babysit all the time. It should be able to survive dents, knocks and even mild falls with not much to worry about. 

The full weather-sealing has saved me multiple times over. I have had several jobs outdoor, shooting events (product launch, building openings, sports/family day for companies) where it suddenly rained. I cannot just go to my clients and say "oh sorry, it is raining, I have to stop shooting because my camera cannot survive the rain". Thankfully my E-M1 Mark II (my backups E-M1 bodies) is weather-sealed and can handle the rain, also I have PRO lenses which were all weather sealed as well. Rain or shine the shoot must go on. 

I cannot say the same about cameras from other brands. I have seen flagships from other camera camps fail in the rain, while I was still clicking away with my E-M1 Mark II (and before that, E-M1). The level of weather-sealing Olympus implemented in their OM-D system and PRO lenses is of another level!

Do you have E-M1 Mark II yourself? Share your experience!

E-M1 Mark II is so small, yet it takes big pictures!

Looking at the asking price of E-M1 Mark II now, it is about half of the retail price when it was launched. Yet the E-M1 Mark II delivers the same image output as the latest and greatest flagships from Olympus, offers great handling, solid build, reliability and powerful image stabilization. E-M1 Mark II has never failed me over the past 5 years and have delivered fantastic results over and over again. It is an easy recommendation to any one who looks to upgrade to a better camera body but not necessarily want to splurge on the most expensive newest camera. You can't go wrong with E-M1 Mark II. 

Please support me & keep this site going:




On the 6th day of total lockdown in Malaysia, my friend Irene sent me homecooked laksa! Not just any laksa, but Sarawakian style laksa which is a rarity in Kuala Lumpur, and it is almost impossible to find a good one at the shops here. A little bit of home away from home does make things a little better in such difficult times. Thanks so much Irene! I took this opportunity to take some shots of the laksa with my cameras (yes I finally took them out and not use my smartphone this time).

A delicious bowl of Sarawakian home cooked Laksa!

The broth/soup is prawn based, hence freshly cooked prawns go very well with the noodle dish

Must use rice vermicelli/meehoon for this dish. No other types of noodles allowed. The rice vermicilli can absorb the soup very well. 

On the photography side of things, I realized I need a lot to work on when it comes to food styling, I am so bad at this. I guess the fact that I was already so hungry did not help, I decided to just quickly shoot the images and swallowed the whole bowl immediately after. Setup was quite simple, one light with large square softbox overhead, slightly angled. I used my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III because it was the nearest within my reach, and the batteries are still charged. I shot with M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 for the full bowl, and the close up of prawn and noodles were done with M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO instead. Color is straight out of camera, and I did very little tweak this time. Not like I am going to sell these images or anything, but gosh that laksa was delicious. 

About Sarawak Laksa.
Description taken from source here (click). 

"A typical bowl of Traditional Sarawak Laksa usually consists of rice vermicelli, omelette strips, shredded chicken, beansprouts, prawns, fresh coriander and lime. It's broth is made using a laksa paste consisting of sambal belacan, tamarind, lemongrass, herbs and spices with a little coconut milk. Hence, it has a fine balance of aromatic herbs and spices with a subtle hint of sourish and chili note and not overly rich and creamy."

A lot of misconceptions about Sarawak Laksa, especially those from West Malaysia who has not stepped foot to Borneo, or tried the authentic version of this noodle dish. Sarawak Laksa is not a curry dish. Curry noodles are different, curry is curry, and curry is not made from prawn paste. This laksa is also not prawn noodles, though it is heavily based on prawn and is served with freshly steamed prawns. Penang has very good prawn noodles, and they taste nothing alike Sarawak Laksa. I enjoy Penang's prawn noodles just as much, but it is just not the same. Also, the bastardized versions sold here in the west always made several mistakes - the broth being too sweet (not sure why they need to add sugar, the taste is supposed to be savory, not sweet), using wrong types of noodles, either with meehoon that is too thin or yellow noodles that do not absorb the soup well enough. 

Anthony Bourdain claimed Sarawak Laksa is the breakfast of Gods

Laksa is our breakfast, or brunch meal in Sarawak. Anthony Bourdain claimed it was the breakfast of Gods. I could not agree more. If you have tried it, you will agree too!


Please support me & keep this site going:
It has been one full month since the Movement Control Order (MCO3.0) was implemented in KL, the exact date was 7 May, and almost one week since full lockdown in the whole country was imposed on 1 June. The number of daily new infected Covid-19 cases show no signs of slowing down, we even saw a sharp rise in the past one week, leading to the government's final decision to have a full economic and social lockdown starting June. Things are looking quite grim for the country and us, Malaysians. The government even had to specifically ban "outdoor photography". That did not stop me of course, but being prudent I did not bring out my camera, but just shoot with the smartphone Samsung S21 Ultra whenever I was out getting supplies or buying food. At the very least, we are still allowed to do that. In KL, public parks are banned and we can't even jog or walk out in the open. I shall share some of the shots from my smartphone here, and also my thoughts on the current lockdown situation. 

Took this in the laundry room, the sun shining sharply behind me, casting deep shadows. 
Malaysia is now under total lockdown, and we are not even allowed to step out of our houses without good reasons, not even exercising in the park, and public parks in KL are banned from the public. My itch to shoot and create content is still there, and I need to scratch it somehow. I gathered a few Olympus cameras that I have, plus a few that were borrowed from Olympus and friends (some were overdue for return, but hey, lockdown and everything right?) and I thought, wow, I do have quite a few cameras to play with. Then the idea came, what if I made a video just to show off the shutter sounds from each camera? I did a quick search on YouTube and found nothing on shutter sound from Olympus cameras! 

The first Olympus DSLR using Four Thirds image sensor format. The legendary E-1, launched in 2003, 18 years ago. 
The setup for the shooting process was quite simple, I used one light, and placed the microphone as close as possible to the camera. I recorded everything with E-M1 Mark III and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens, except for the shot of E-M1 Mark III which was then recorded with E-M5 Mark III. The video output matched perfectly. I did not tweak the audio at all, except lowered the ambient sound pickup immediately before and after the camera clicks. I did this because I was living in an apartment bedroom with thin walls and windows, just by an open highway, it is impossible to get 100% zero sound environment even when I was filming in the middle of the night, which I did. 

In the list of 12 cameras, I managed to include the first Four Thirds DSLR Olympus E-1, which was launched in 2003 and also was known to have a very quiet and sweet shutter sound effect. I also managed to fit in the latest system camera - Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. I have the oldest and newest Olympus system digital cameras in the mix (at least at the date of publishing). Among other notable cameras include various OM-D and PEN cameras over the years, and I even threw in the Olympus Air, which did not have a shutter unit at all, and it emitted fake electronic shutter sound effect via its speakers. I thought that was kind of ironic and funny at the same time. 

Unfortunately, I wish I have a few more popular cameras like the E-M5 Mark II, or the fan favorite PEN-F in the mix. I wanted to wait and see if I can ask around to borrow but then now everything is so impossible to do with the nation-wide strict lockdown and I guess, let's do this first, even if the list is not really complete.

I did have an E-520, my first Olympus DSLR that got me into photography, and fell in love with Olympus, but somehow the camera decided to act up and did not turn on at all. Not a surprise, I have tortured the camera a little too much over the years. I also have a faulty E-P5, which had a dead screen. I can still press the shutter and it will still click, though I cannot set the self-timer. I'd probably be able to do so if I have an external EVF (VF-2, 3 or 4), which I don't have at the moment. Having the E-520 and E-P5 into the mix would have been cool. 

The whole process was so fun and enjoyable to do, the filming took a little over an hour, time well spent I must say. 
PEN E-PL7 which I borrowed from a friend to do a comparison shoot against a smartphone (Xiaomi's Poco X3) half a year back and I have not returned the camera yet. Oops. 

OM-D E-M10 Mark II, which I wanted to make a video discussing how this is the perfect E-M10 and Olympus should build their future E-M10 cameras based on this, but never got to do it before the lockdown. Another borrowed unit, and I should be returning it soon too. 

This was mine. E-M5, I got this as a back up to E-M1, which I did use as my professional shooting workhorse for many, many years before I upgraded to E-M1 Mark II. I still really like the original E-M5 a lot. 

I set all the cameras to self timer for consistency sake, so you don't see my hands/fingers in the frame, and the video emphasized the camera as the center of attention. The shutter speed was fixed at 1/80 sec. I tried various shutter speeds and I figured 1/80 was the sweetspot - not too fast that you don't hear the first and second curtain, and not too slow that you feel there was something wrong with the camera. I have to admit some cameras like the faster newer models E-M1 Mark II and E-M5 Mark III sound much better at 1/60 sec, or a bit slower, because the shutter unit was so much speedier in response. But I want to keep it consistent for all cameras, so at the end I decided to go 1/80. 

I did the video in vertical/portrait orientation, I think much to a lot of people's annoyance. I was experimenting with YouTube #SHORTS, that has two criteria - the video must be less than 1 minute long and it must be in portrait/vertical orientation. I am still new to this YouTube game, and this was my second #SHORTS video, but I also realized if I don't try new things I will never learn and grow. Since this video did not have any talking head shots, and it was solely on camera clicking, I thought the #SHORTS format suits this perfectly. Only time will tell how this will perform on YouTube. Whether it will do well or not, it does not matter, at this point, I just want to give new things a go and besides, there is not much I can do being in such tight lockdown situation. 

Out of the 12 cameras, I am sure many of you owned at least one, or even several. Which shutter sound is your favourite? Do tell! I am curious. 
Please support me & keep this site going:
The government has just announced an hour ago that a total lockdown will be implemented in Malaysia, nationwide, starting 1 June 2021 to combat the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. We are registering above 8000 new cases daily now. For the sake of staying out of prison, I will refrain myself from commenting on the political issues or questioning the authorities on their decisions concerning the country. In case you do not know, freedom of speech is pretty much dead in this country, everything is censored, and if I speak against these people I will end up in prison, or worse, just made to "disappear". What I can safely do is to make observations and comment about me - how I am coping and how I intend to get through this lockdown period. 

Image shot with Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and 14-150mm II

Screenshot from the newspaper site, The Star

Here is a quick history of different levels of restrictions, partial lockdowns and what the government calls Movement Control Order in the past one month:

7 May 2021 - Kuala Lumpur is placed under MCO 3.0 city-wide. All businesses are still allowed to open. No inter-district and inter-state travel allowed. Bans on public gatherings and social activities. However, there is limit to operating hours. "Public filming is not allowed". 

12 May 2021 - The whole Malaysia is placed under MCO 3.0, similar conditions to the 7 May MCO for KL. No restrictions on businesses, but local parks, outdoor areas are now prohibited, except for individual exercise or runs. Some businesses and locations are directed to be closed (tourism, art related). 

25 May 2021 - MCO 3.0 is tightened with stricter measures, limiting business hours to 8pm, cut of transportation capacity, and out of nowhere, a specific ban on outdoor photography is added. I have talked about his recently here (click). 

Now the latest news, just in...
1 June 2021 - TOTAL LOCKDOWN, not even MCO anymore, but lockdown will happen nationwide. All economic sectors and social activities are not allowed to operate, except the essentials (healthcare, pharmacy, groceries, etc). 

The government officially announced the total lockdown for 14 days, but from the history of how they run things, I doubt it will be 14 days. It might be at least 2 months, minimum, or at least until the numbers of new daily Covid-19 cases drop down significantly. 

What does this mean for me?

Again, all my photography jobs, whatever little bookings that I have managed to secure for the coming month or more, are all gone. The calendar of jobs is effectively wiped clean, and I can also pretty much prepare for empty July and August too. I can't just magically make job bookings happen once the lockdown is lifted, it takes time to build up momentum, same goes for any service type of business. 

I am not against the total lockdown. The healthcare in the country is overwhelmed, we are running out of hospital beds and the medical personals are being stretched thin everywhere. This move is completely necessary. However, that does not mean the people won't suffer the consequences. I just hope there is something to look forward to when all this blows over. 

Strangely, I am deriving my income from YouTube now, I guess it is not a surprise, and thankfully I managed to build that up in the past one and a half year. I have worked really hard creating new content week after week, and I am getting consistent inflow of ads revenue from Google. It took a lot of time, hard work and resources to make it work, and I am glad I did. It has saved me from unforeseeable problems, and at least now I can still pay rent, put food on the table and indulge in small luxuries, like the USD20 camera bag I just bought and shared in my latest blog article (click here). 

One thing I did not anticipate was the tremendous support from the community - without all you beautiful readers, I will not be here now. You all continue to watch, like, comment and share my content (video on YouTube, or blog articles here), that has helped me significantly to grow my platform and make it somewhat sustainable at this point. On top of that, I never expected the generous contributions - both coffee and direct PayPal donations to come in, they have certainly eased my difficult times over the past year of multiple partial lockdowns and movement control orders. 

I do want to thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. There is no Robin Wong, without your support. I am only here and still can continue to keep the camera clicking because of you. I genuinely appreciate each and every one of you. 

As for now, the best thing I can do for myself and the country, is to obey the rules. I will stay indoors during the lockdown period as mandated by the Malaysian government. 

The good news is - I have stock-piled content (it is predicted that the lockdown will happen any way, honestly) from the beginning of this month, before the nation-wide MCO on 12 May, and before outdoor photography was banned, and I do have videos in the pipeline ready to be published. I am not running out of content, at least not yet. I acted ahead of time, and it paid off. I trusted my instincts, and I made all the necessary preparations anticipating the inevitable lockdown. Should the lockdown continue dragging on for the coming months, I will run out of content. By then you will see me making videos in my miserable little room, but I will still continue to fight on. 

I will continue to blog, share my thoughts, and there will be more videos, and maybe some photos to come. I do apologize in advance for not having my usual supply of street photographs, insect macro or all those dramatic singer/theatre live stage shots. or even urban landscapes during day or night. I can't do any of those, but rest assured, I am a photographer, I have been doing this blog thing for more than 10 years, and the best part - I have not run out of ideas just yet. 

Thanks again for being here with me. That means a whole world to me. 

Please support me & keep this site going:
Now that Malaysia is under partial lockdown (or MCO 3.0) and I can't do shutter therapy at all (referring to the previous blog, government officially banning photography), I guess the next best thing to keep myself sane and in good spirit is - RETAIL THERAPY. Nothing beats the thrill of buying something new, stylish and functional for my gear. I bought a Honx shoulder camera bag for USD20 only, and I thought it looks gorgeous and is really functional at the same time. Oh the joy of buying new bags, I guess women would understand this more than a guy like me? I want to talk about that bag here, and I did make a video mini review (click here) for the Honx shoulder bag, for those who prefer to watch rather than read texts. 

I got myself a Honx shoulder bag, model HNX-008, color Navy. It costs me USD20 only, including shipping from Indonesia. 
In the updated "SOP" on what is allowed and prohibited during the next tightened Movement Control Order (MCO as the government calls it, or what we locals refer to as semi-lockdown), an interesting item is added in the prohibited list - outdoor photography. I am not here to question the judgement of the officials or challenge the authorities, but this new statement changes things, and I want to discuss it here. I am a photographer that earns a bulk of his income from shooting outdoor, and even my content creation was mostly done outside. 

The full list of updated SOP items, go to the bottom right you will see outdoor photography is now banned. 

Previously, the statement was "public filming not allowed", meaning cinematographers or filmmakers need to record their video in an indoor environment, like a studio. Nothing was mentioned on photography, but being cautious and not wanting to set a precedent to bad things happening to the photographers crowd, I have refrained from doing any street photography, or any outdoor photography at all since the beginning of this MCO 3.0 on 7 May 2021 (technically, 7 May was the start date for Kuala Lumpur residents, but the nationwide partial lockdown began on 12 May onward). I did however go out with my cameras of course, not actively hunting for photos, since I am a photographer, I carry my camera everywhere with me (if you don't, you call yourself a photographer?), and I will steal a few shots there and here when I see the opportunity. It was different back then, because there was no specific rule saying photography is not allowed. As long as I am not wielding the camera, walking around aimlessly, I should be fine, since chances of being caught is very low. I will take out the camera when I see something that caught my attention, take a quick shot, and the camera goes back into the bag after that instantly. I am playing very, very safe, but I cannot deny the photographer in me who wants to have some shutter action. The fingers do get itchy. 

Now the rules have changed so drastically. It is said outright - clear and bold - outdoor photography is prohibited. 

That means, you cannot go to the road side with your camera for that sunset shot over the urban skyline. You will be fined, possibly up to RM10,000 (USD2,500). Man, you can afford a brand new E-M1 Mark III with that kind of money, with some change. You cannot just bring out your super telephoto lens and catch some birds at your neighborhood trees. You want to go out your house just because you hear that rare bird calling? You might get sent to prison on the spot if you get caught. You want to walk around with the camera hanging around your neck just in case you spot some interesting moments on the street? Be prepared to be stopped and questioned by the police. Good luck in explaining your reasons. The police or the army should they choose to mobilize, are only doing their jobs and following orders. They see you with a camera, you are doomed. 

I have never been so afraid being a photographer. What have I done wrong to deserve this?

Before someone starts asking me to go to the police and seek special permission to "work" as a photographer, forget it. Now that it is a national law, by the National Security Council, you think the police will make an exception so easily? I'd get higher chance of being struck by the lightning in a thunderstorm. 

I fail to see how the camera comes into the equation, and how photographers are being banned. If you say, no social gathering, that is fine. Or no two people should walk together, or no crowd is allowed, that is perfectly understood. But people get together with or without a camera. Just because there is a camera does not mean there is a crowd. Photographers like myself shoot alone 99% of the time. I do my YouTube videos, filming myself alone. I am a one man crew. I have no one to infect, and there is no one to infect me. Just because I have a camera, and I do photography outside, what danger do I pose? How am I a threat? You see, we all play our parts and do the best we can in terms of social distancing and prevention, but now that the government themselves put a formal ban on photographers, I just feel so attacked somehow. Like I have done something wrong, being punished for no reason. 

Before anyone starts giving me ideas to shoot photography indoors, just don't. You are not helping. Keep your ideas to yourself and do it privately. In case you are not aware, I have been around for more than 10 years, sharing photography consistently and frequently, uploading fresh content without fail. I am not lacking ideas. That is NOT the problem. The problem is the government puts an official ban on me and restricts my right to use my camera. I don't see how that is fair, but who am I to say anything? I am just a nobody. 
Please support me & keep this site going:
I saw the moon outside my room window and I just could not resist the urge to pick up the camera and make some shots. After all the Olympus M.Zuiko 100-400mm F5-6.3 lens which is on loan from OMD World Imaging is still with me. Just within a quick minute, I got the following shot. Everything done hand-held, no tripod, monopod or any extra support needed. The magic of image stabilization, and modern digital imaging technology, you can capture subjects from a far distance with ease, right from the comfort of your own bedroom, without much effort. 

1/200, ISO200, F6.3
E-M1 Mark III and M.Zuiko 100-400mm lens
Hand-held

The trick here is to use spot-metering. And you will get fast enough shutter speed to hand-hold the long lens, even the Olympus 100-400mm lens with the furthest end at 800mm equivalent (in 35mm format), at 1/200 second shutter speed, it was a breeze considering we do have powerful image stabilization to help steady the shot. The image show above is heavily cropped of course, I did not have any of the tele converters with me, but even the cropped image revealed plenty of good details and impressive contrast. 

Some people said that they don't see the Olympus 100-400mm resolving fine details, referring to my previous blog entry/YouTube video on bird photography at KL Bird Park. I was like... how many more fine details do your eyes need to see? Yes, the PRO lenses like 300mm PRO, or most possibly the newer 150-400mm PRO will give you better details resolving power, but to say that this lower level 100-400mm cannot resolve good enough fine details, and does not have good enough sharpness, is a laughable conclusion, considering I have shown so many examples proving just the opposite. It is sharp. It is not that easy to get such pin-sharp results, but you can get it, if you put in enough effort, and know what to do with the lens. A 800mm equivalent lens is definitely not for everyone. 

While the size may not be ultra portable, but this combo is perfectly hand-holdable, and handling wise, there is zero issues. 

I really can't wait for this current semi-lockdown situation in Malaysia to be over. From the looks of it, I doubt that can happen any time soon. The government has just announced stricter measures to be implemented in a few days, signaling the longer battle ahead, and lockdown that will not be eased any time soon. I have a strong feeling that if the number of daily active new cases does not drop drastically soon (currently hovering above 6000 new cases daily in Malaysia, inching closer to 7000 cases), it is no surprise a total lockdown as seen from last year's first March Movement Control Order (MCO) will be enforced. It is inevitable. I don't see how the current measures are sufficient to bring the numbers down. 

That also, unfortunately means, I won't be having much opportunity to shoot fresh images and make new contents. 

Wherever you are, I hope you fare better than me here. If you have a camera and you are free to go out to shoot, don't take that for granted. Go out and take more photographs. For me please. 

Please support me & keep this site going: