I am not ashamed to admit that the only reason I am able to be here today is because I have truly great friends. Of all the blessings in my life, I know for sure, I have always been surrounded by many awesome friends, some I honestly think I don't deserve to have. I realized very early on in my life that I cannot survive alone, we human beings are social creatures, and we need each other for support and growth. Some of the truest friends I have had stuck with me through thick and thin, and helped me through some very challenging times in my life. For that I am eternally grateful for these friends, and I know I would not have survived without them. Obviously, I am not going to name each and every one of them, but my friends have made several appearances on this blog, my YouTube (mostly the vlog channel) and social media (Facebook). For this particular blog, I am featuring Jason Lioh, whom I have just caught up with over lunch and coffee, a week or so ago, before my trip back to my hometown Kuching. 

Jason & Gan, the happiest couple I know
I am a 50mm shooter so I must have a 50mm lens for whatever system that I own. For my Nikon Z5, I settled for the cheapest 50mm native Z mount lens I can find, which happened to be the Meike 50mm F1.8 that I got for about USD130/RM600. I tested this lens on the streets and also shooting some food, and I got to say, the lens exceeded my expectations when it comes to optical performance at such a low cost. Since the Nikon Z5 is not my main camera, and I don't use it to make money, it makes sense to keep the lenses on tight budget and this 50mm is the right lens, if you don't want to break the bank. I have shared my full thoughts on the Meike 50mm F1.8 in my video here (click). 

While I was home in Kuching, Borneo recently for mum's birthday celebration, there was an arranged model outdoor portrait shooting session and my friend Kieron invited me to come along for the shoot. I thought it would be a great opportunity to do something a bit out of usual, as I normally shoot portraits of strangers on the streets instead of an arranged portrait session. Nevertheless, keeping an open mind is important and I am earning a living shooting portraits too, so a bit of fun shooting a model at Brooke Dockyard (not really at the dockyard exactly, but the surrounding areas) was something I needed. In this blog entry, I am sharing images shot with the Nikon Z5 and Meike 85mm F1.4 lens. Meike sent me the 85mm F1.4 lens for review and I am in the midst of gathering sufficient sample images. So far, I am loving that lens! I will talk more about my experience using that lens in my coming review, so stay tuned!

Organizer - Nunong Tindin (IG @nunongtindin)
Model - Gillian Octavyia (IG @gillian0ctavyia)
In my recent hunt in the used marketplace, I came across an interesting camera which I never thought I would be buying. I got curious and I thought, at such a low price, why not? I bought this mysterious camera, which I shall not reveal yet, and I had it with me during my short trip home to Kuching, Borneo recently. Of course, I always made time for shutter therapy when I was in Kuching, and this was the perfect opportunity to test the camera more thoroughly. I am still in the midst of gathering more sample shots, and testing the camera, but sometime soon in the future, I will make a video to talk about it. I thought the camera did its job quite well, and I got some cool shots from my hometown! I am sharing these photos here. 

I have been away from Kuala Lumpur for about one week, and just returned from my short trip to Kuching, Borneo to celebrate my mum's birthday. Every year, in July, I will definitely make time to visit mum, and this would also be a good opportunity to catch up with some friends from my hometown, and stuff myself silly with amazing local Kuching food. Not to forget, I also always allocate some time for shutter therapy, and yes, there will be some shots I will share from my street shooting sessions and some photo outing adventures in Kuching here, very very soon. For this blog entry, I shall post a short collection of people I have met and the few favorite food that I have eaten. 

Breakfast with mum. We had a simple dinner to celebrate her birthday, no pictures for that, we are keeping some parts of our lives private. 
Most people would know that I am a prime lens shooter mostly, and I rarely use zooms. I do acknowledge the importance of zoom lenses, especially superzooms in some situations where you really cannot change lenses, for example dusty environment or you can only carry one lens with you. The convenience of having the ability to zoom from wide angle to telephoto outweighs the compromises of making a zoom lens, and getting the shot is always the priority when it comes to photography. I found a used Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm F4-5.8 in the marketplace for a good price I cannot refuse, and I thought why not give it a try? I brought the lens being paired with my Olympus OM-D E-M10 to Thean Hou Temple and took some images there. I shared my thoughts about superzooms and how the Panasonic 14-140mm performed in my latest video here (click). 

I attended the official Nikon Z6 III launch in Malaysia few days ago, and I had the opportunity to get my hands on one unit to test it briefly. During my short time with the Z6 III, I was truly impressed with what Nikon has done in their latest camera. I like the advanced stabilization feature, which is optimized for focus area VR, the near flagship level AF performance (close to Z8/Z9) yet it can focus down to -10EV in the dark and has reliable AI subject recognition/tracking, the large and bright EVF which has 4000nits brightness which helps me a lot as I shoot under the sun, and overall the camera build quality, handling and ergonomics are nothing short of being excellent. For all this, the latest full frame mirrorless Nikon is asking for a price lower than OM-1 II, at least here in Malaysia, which puts the Z6 III into the top of my next camera consideration list, when I do decide to upgrade. Don't worry, the time is not here yet, I am still giving OM System/Panasonic a chance to come up with a wow camera before I give up on them. My thoughts about the Z6 III in my latest video here (click). 

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Following up the whole drama of I don't know how to have fun accusation from Lumix USA rep, I thought it would be fun to bring the old GM1 out for a spin in my favourite street hunting ground, Chow Kit. I was with a friend Jackie Loi, and after a quick breakfast, we had the Chilli Pan Mee, we headed to the old market area and started shooting around and inside the market. This time. lighting was much better, compared to last week's overcast weather, and I did not waste this opportunity to grab as many shots as I can with the GM1. The camera may be more than 10 years old now, but man, it still amazes me what the tiny GM1 can do. I paired it with the Olympus 17mm F1.8 and I thought the images came out quite alright. 

My awesome friend Jaya was invited to an official grand opening of the new DJI Hasselblad Store in KLCC Twin Towers. I had the privilege to tag along, and I got to say, it was nice to see Hasselblad finally opening their flagship store and displaying their medium format products for consumers to come in and see. Of course, it was not just exclusively Hasselblad, DJI also displayed their array of drones, action cams, gimbals, microphones and all other latest products in the store. I personally have used and own multiple DJI products before, and am actively using the DJI Pocket 3 for my vlogs and even making content for my main YouTube channel. Sinec it was a free and easy, fuss free event, I decided to roam around with my Nikon setup and took some random shots of the location and event. All images were sgot with Nikon Z5 and Viltrox 20mm, Nikon Z 40mm and Viltrox 85mm. 

Recently I made a first impression hands on video on the Panasonic Lumix S9 which I have published here (click). Two days later, I received an email from Lumix USA, basically disagreeing with my points in the video. Difference in opinion is fine, I do welcome them, but the way the argument was made actually did not register any sense, and I don't want to get into the specifics here. The ending of the email was the one that got me, basically I was accused of "not knowing how to have fun" with my cameras, as the Lumix S9 was created with fun in mind. Therefore, I decided to make a video to counter the "forgotten how to have fun" part, and I used their original Lumix GM1 as an example of how a camera can be fun without too many compromises (like removing mechanical shutter and flash). You can find my video sharing 5 reasons why I think GM1 is more fun than S9 here (click). 

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I believe if a camera was good many years ago, it is still a good camera today. As a photographer I am also infinitely curious about any camera, whether old or new. It is no secret that my small photography business does not allow me the luxury to buy all the latest, greatest and most expensive gear. I do need a consistent stream of content for my YouTube to grow the channel, hence the viable option is to look for older gear in the used marketplace. Using these older gears not only provided me with more content to be made for my socials but also, they are incredibly fun to use! This way, I do not need to break the bank to acquire new (old) gear, and after I am done with my review, there is always an option to resell this used gear to recover some cost. 

I found a Panasonic Lumix GF2 by crazy luck at the used market for about USD10/RM50 only. I tell you, this kind of fortune does not happen a lot, and boy oh boy was I excited to try the GF2. This earlier generation entry level Micro Four Thirds body can still hold its own today, delivering really good results. There are many things Panasonic did right with the Lumix GF2 which I wish they continued on with their newer modern cameras. Sadly, some of the changes they did were not necessarily for the better. I brought the GF2 out for some street shooting and I am actually impressed with the color output from a Panasonic camera, finally! I made a video to talk about this and more here (click). 

We cannot predict the weather here in Malaysia, forecasts can often be inaccurate, and for street photography sometimes weather is everything. I prefer sunny days, with harsh light for creative shadow and light play, and even my portraits of strangers look better with brighter days. However, that was not the case for last Sunday out with a few friends, we ventured into my favorite part of town for shutter therapy, Chow Kit, and it was gloomy, with very flat lighting. We decided to spend more time inside the wet market, which was not affected by the outdoor conditions, and the light inside the market was never good to begin with, but the shoot went on. I had my Nikon Z5 with the small-ish 40mm F2 prime, and here are some images from this session. 

Every single time I posted a topic about other formats than Micro Four Thirds, I get such loud backlash that it was almost a crime to just look at anything other than Olympus/OM System or Panasonic Micro Four Thirds product. Case in point - I posted an upcoming weekly Live Stream with the topic on Nikon Z6 III, which was quite an interesting camera and worth taking a closer look, I'd say. Before even the stream started (at this time of writing, one day before the stream) I have received dozens of comments bashing my choice of topic - some said "wow Robin you are a traitor", "Robin this is such a clickbait", "now Micro Four Thirds is not good enough? What crazy talk" "so now you are backtracking your words Robin?" "Robin, since you left Olympus, your opinion is no longer objective". Just by posting a Nikon Z6 III topic, I did not say I jump ship, I did not say I am leaving Micro Four Thirds, I did not say anything about giving up on my Olympus OM-D System, just by posting Nikon's latest camera topic, I get all these jabs. 

Image by Jaya Prithivi Raj, used with permission
Yesterday was a public holiday in Malaysia (Hari Raya Korban) and I took his opportunity to catch up with my friends, whom I have not seen in a few months. Everyone is busy with their own lives, and only on weekends on public holidays we can meet and hang out. Usually, we would go to a comfortable restaurant or cafe and had many hours long session of conversations. This time we went to a Botanica & Co. Seriously, nothing beats great food with awesome company of friends, and having even better conversations. I know I need this more, and I should make more time out of my filled timetable to allocate for my friends. It was my first time being to Bamboo Hills, such a cool name in a nest of restaurants and cafes somewhere not too far from Mon't Kiara. I initially wanted to take portraits of my friends at the location after our meal and conversations, but it rained so heavily, so that had to be put on hold. Maybe next visit to Bamboo Hills again, we shall have some shutter action. 

Spencer looking at the Menu
I believe the Nikon Z5 and Viltrox 85mm F1.8 is the best budget full frame setup for shooting portraits. The Z5 brings some modern tech in a low price tag - large, bright high resolution EVF, 5-Axis IS, mini DSLR like handling and operations, effective human face & eye tracking AF and a full sized full frame image sensor that renders great dynamic range and shallow depth of field (compared to smaller cropped formats). The Viltrox 85mm F1.8 is capable of producing very sharp images with beautiful looking bokeh, and I was impressed with what the lens can do with such low asking price. Both Nikon Z5 and Viltrox 85mm I bought from the used market for around RM3500 (less than USD700) and you just can't get anything better with the set of features and performance at similar price. I made a POV shooting video on the portrait session, you can watch the video here (click). 

We often strive to get the most extra-ordinary images; hence we go great lengths in hopes of obtaining the award winning, Nat-Geo worthy results. Many would travel to exotic locations for photo safaris and plan an elaborate photoshoot that would take a crew of dozens and weeks to execute. There is nothing wrong in doing the best you can to produce imagery beyond the normal expectations, but I also believe in finding beautiful things in the ordinary setting. Photography is storytelling, it is a medium to communicate your ideas, it is a way to express your emotions. You don't need to travel all the way to Iceland to do that. Sometimes, your best shots are right in front of you, you just have to see it. 

When I was studying in Perth, Western Australia the blue boathouse, or more prominently known as Crawley Boatshed was just a stone throw away from my University. I sew it almost every day, if I have to go to the city, and back to Nedlands where I stayed. I have seen it so often that it never occurred to me of how special the boathouse was, and it seemed like a popular spot for wedding photography, and now an iconic spot for tourists to take a selfie at. I never paid much attention to it, until I left Perth, and started my photography journey more seriously, and I found out how incredibly beautiful that boatshed was. The visiting years returning to Perth for friend's weddings and visiting other friends, I brought my camera to take some shots of the Crawley Boatshed. Special thanks to Charmaine and Chris who hosted me in 2019, I managed to take a night sky shot of the boathouse with long exposure of 45 minutes, creating star trail in the background. This is my favourite shot of the Crawley Boatshed, and the only one I have taken at night. 

45 minutes long star trail. Olympus E-M1 Mark II on a tripod. Shot using Live Composite. 
We sould have stayed longer but we noticed thick clouds approaching the frame very quickly. 

My favourite sunset photo. The Perth skies were always clear and void of clouds. Hence the presence of cloud added a rare texture to the sky

Crawley Boatshed, a popular spot for wedding photography. Yes I am also guilty of using the location to shoot some wedding portraits. 

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I have been itching to do some black and white mini project lately. Shooting everything without color makes things a little bit simpler and more challenging at the same time. The colors are usually distractions and can add too much information for the human eyes to process, leading the attention away from the main subject in the frame, or taking away the depth of the story the photographer is telling. Without colors, the scene is plainer, and the focus can be placed directly at the main subject. However, shooting in black and white is not as easy as it seems, you need to have better understanding of light, how to execute contrast in composition and there are many things to avoid as well. I am still a learning photographer in this genre, and I do love black and white. I should do more black and white photography soon. Heck, I even have dressed myself in monochrome for a year or more now, I talked about it here (click).about it here (click). Here are some of my older black and white images. 

I found a Sigma 19mm F2.8 at a clearance sale and I bought it out of curiosity. The price was so low, I won't regret it even if I did not like the lens. It was one of the first few prime lenses that Sigma made for mirrorless system, and it was originally designed for Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras. However, they also made the mount available for Micro Four Thirds, and this was a huge deal back then because in the early days there were not many choices for mirrorless native lenses, even from the camera manufacturers. Now, with so many options for lenses available, I cannot help but wonder if it was still worth getting the Sigma 19mm F2.8 today? My video on this topic here (click). My video on this topic here (click). 

Sigma 19mm F2.8 Art Edition
Special thanks to my friend Jaya, I managed to sneak into the official launch of Fujifilm' latest products, the GFX100S II and X-T50. Obviously as I have said many times, I am not important enough to be invited directly for anything camera related. I am not exactly a media blogger and I don't do press releases or announcements, I have never done any here on my blog. This is a photography blog and honestly I don't want it to turn into a media site, hence I guess I shall never get invited to any of these launch events. Nevertheless, since I was there, I had a great time catching up with many friends I have not met in a while within the Fuji active community (Calven, Qippy, Arthur from DCM, TJ, some media and dealer friends). It also felt a little strange because the week before the launch of X-T50 I already made my first impression video on the camera, which was made available for touch and try by consumers in dealer shops. Anyways, it was a fun, exciting event and I was happy to be there, observing. Fuji indeed has come a long way, and they have carved their own unique position in the market. Here are some images from the event. 

Fujifilm's latest medium format offering: GFX100S II
I started doing photography more seriously in the year 2008, when I just arrived in Kuala Lumpur. I got my first DSLR, the Olympus E-410 (which was stolen from me) and subsequently the E-520, and I started exploring the vast and beautiful world of photography. I have had a running blog at that time, which slowly transformed into a photography blog, where I share my weekend adventures capturing new images, and I also wrote about the challenges that I have faced and the lessons I have learned. I continued doing my shutter therapy consistently, week after week, year after year, and I still have the same fire I had 16 years ago. I still pick up my camera whenever I can, and I go out to shoot. I remained persistent and I did not know back then that I was in for the long game. 

Image taken by Jojo, used with permission. 
Panasonic has just recently launched the Lumix S9 camera in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I managed to sneak myself inside, as a plus one to my friend Jaya Jaya (thanks man) who was invited to the event. Obviously, again, I am not important enough to be invited directly. I am just a photographer being isolated on his own island. Having the opportunity to get my hands on the Lumix S9 and used it briefly, I decided to do a quick first impressions preview on location and shared some of my thoughts about the Lumix S9. Obviously, this is not a review, I did not have enough time with the camera to make a meaningful review. The Lumix S9 is indeed an interesting camera, and I have a lot of things to say about it. 

If you have been following the online space recently, you would be aware of a drama surrounding the Panasonic Lumix S9 launch where a particularly famous YouTuber bashed the by-invitation-only event at Osaka, Japan. The famous YouTuber boldly claimed that these events were designed to create hype and not give enough time and opportunity for the content creators/photographers/whoever that were invited to make a balanced, meaningful content. The fact that the trip was sponsored the participants were expected or required to produce positive reviews. Then he continued to question the validity of the initial reviews from such press event. He does have some valid points and sensible argument, but I think the whole situation has been over-dramatized. It was not as sensational as it was made to be, and this was not something new, or even worth making a fuss about. As someone who was very involved in the imaging industry, who still am today in some small capacity, I do have some things to say. 

The topic of my live stream on YouTube this week was about 1-inch image sensor and if it is good enough for photo and video purposes today. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to bring out the Nikon J1 that has a 1-inch image sensor and did some street shooting. I paired the J1 with Nikkor 18.5mm F1.8 lens, which gives me equivalent focal length of 50mm in 35mm format, which happens to be my favorite for street shooting. I joined a group of friends and we attacked Petaling Street, a popular area for street photographers in Kuala Lumpur, but strangely it is my least favorite location to shoot. Nevertheless, we did have a lot of fun, I got some cool shots with the old Nikon J1 and I have shared them during my live stream session last night. I am sharing the same series of images here in this blog entry. 

Ever since the unexpected growth of this blog, and subsequently the adventures on my YouTube channel, I have somehow gathered quite a large following online, and I am constantly aware of that. Having an audience definitely has changed my way of shooting. In order to grow my YouTube channel, or get viewers to revisit my blog, I do need to consider making images that can resonate or get the approval of the audience I am interacting with through my platforms. If I were to just entirely shoot for myself and not care about what anyone else thinks, it isn't difficult to predict that I will lose subscribers and probably you won't want to visit this blog anymore. I can't shoot for my audience all the time, that would eat me up alive as I do have things that I want to do. Therefore, the trick is to find the balance, a fine line between shooting to keep the audience happy and shooting entirely for my own soul. 

For more than a year now, I have been dressed in full monochrome schemes. I was partially inspired by Wesley Chan from WongfuProductions who also mostly dressed himself in black, white and gray. There is a certain appeal to looking completely lacking of bright colors, and the simplicity of matching outfits - all monochrome colors go well together. I started having darker clothing, many black shirts and pants because being a photographer, especially when I am on assignment, it is best to wear everything dark. It is an unofficial dress code, but this dress code has spilled to my casual, non-work clothing. It is also fun to find different variety of color-less shirts, pants and shoes. With the absence of colors, patterns and design become more important, but I have always opted for simplicity. Anything plain works for me. Now that I dress myself in monochrome, maybe I should do more black and white photography!

Image taken by Jojo (IG @jojoelisan), used with permission

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Sony took the imaging world by storm when they released their first 1-inch sensor compact camera, the RX100 in 2012. Being so bold to fit a larger sized image sensor into a super compact camera body reaped a lot of benefits - the image quality jumped a few notches in comparison to the peers and competitions using smaller sized image sensors. The RX100 was such a hit that even Panasonic and Canon came up with their own 1-inch sensor camera iterations. Sony continued to push the RX100 further and now we have RX100 Mark 209876254. I found one at the used market and I cannot help myself, so I bought the RX100 original out of curiosity. I shared my thoughts and experience using the RX100 in my latest video here (click). In summary, Sony did not prioritize photographers when they made the RX100 - it has poor handling, laggy LCD screen, sluggish camera operations and sub-par lens quality. Sony cleary designed the camera to please the number worshippers, and it worked. Nevertheless, being the first of its kind, the RX100 did change the landscape of compact cameras, and deserves some respect. 

I notice a lot of photographers struggling to improve or be at the proficiency that they aspire to be, and that can usually be traced to one particular cause - not spending enough time shooting. They may spend time scrolling through thousands of images on Instagram, or watching tutorials or photography tips videos on YouTube, but they just did not use their camera enough. You can read all the photography books you want, attend the most prestigious and expensive workshops by celebrity photographers, but if you don't actually shoot, you will never get better. There is no secret really, in order to be the photographer that you want to be, all you need to do is to do the work, spend more time shooting and be super consistent. 

Image taken by Van Ligutom, used with permission. 
I have been scouring the local used marketplace for cheap, old cameras to play around with. I found an RM200 (USD40) Canon 1100D which seemed to be in really good condition, and the seller told me it was in working condition. I was not made aware of any issues with the image shooting process, so I hit the "buy" button and got the item delivered to me. I could not test the camera immedately because my Canon lenses were loaned to a friend. We had a photowalk planned on a Saturday, which I intended to shoot some street images using the Canon 1100D with my 35mm F2 EF lens. Everything went well, until I reviewed the images and it appeared to be half black frame (bottom half). Of course I can initiate return and refund process but, at this point, I just chucked this case into one of the few unfortunate ones. You win some, you lose some, when you gamble on ultra cheap, old used products. I continued shooting anyway, hoping that the RAW files would appear differently, but as I have guessed, I was not so lucky. I decided to show you the half black images, but I cropped off the black part of course. 

I admit, I was attracted to this Canon 1100D because it was in red. 
Just for the sake of fun, I paired the smallest interchangeable lens camera, Panasonic Lumix GM1 with the super slim body cap lens from 7Artisans, 18mm F6.3. The result - the world's most compact 35mm equivalent street shooting setup, well almost, because 18mm is roughly equivalent to 36mm, but hey, I believe that is close enough. There is a certain joy in using such a tiny combo on the street, it feels so liberating having handled much larger cameras before. Also, the fun factor is there, it is almost like a toy camera, but you can get some seriously good results if you know what you are doing. Of course there are some compromises like manual focus only, optically the lens isn't great and handling a small camera comes with its own challenge, but hey, you can't have everything, there will be some compromises as you downsize the setup so much. I thoroughly enjoyed this session and I think I got some cool images. I did a POV video showing how I got the shots with this GM1 + 18mm BCL combo, you can check out the video here (click). 

I believe that as photographers, we cannot avoid putting a little piece of ourselves into our photography work. Whether we intentionally do so by allowing our thoughts and feelings dictate the outcome of our images at that specific moment, or sub-consciously doing so without realizing that what we go through, or our state of mind can affect what and how we shoot our images. Of course, I am discussing this topic from a non-scientific point of view, as there probably is no research or data to back up any of my claims (maybe there is, who knows) and I am blurting out merely theories that I have in my mind, as a practicing photographer. Maybe my curiosity on how human psychology works inside a photographer has a lot more to do with myself, and how I perceive my world around me. 

Image taken by Jojo, used with permission. 
My friends were still persistent in getting more images to join the Fujifilm Malaysia contest, which required them to shoot food and location images in designated cafes. I merely tagged along again, and of course, enjoy the hipster, overpriced food and drinks. This time we went to SWOL Cafe in Bangsar, just after our morning shoot (outdoor portrait of a model). I had with me the Nikon Z5 and an 85mm prime lens, so I took some food shots with this lens. I think longer lenses work so well in managing unwanted perspective distortions that can make the outcome look less natural. When I was shooting with my Micro Four Thirds gear, I'd usually go for the 45mm F1.8, or if I were shooting with the 12-40mm PRO zoom, I'd zoom close to the full telephoto end anyway. Lighting in this cafe was great, plenty of window light for the perfectly balanced colors, without the mixed ambient light that can usually be destructive to the images. At the rate of me cafe-crawling around KL, I can probably start a cafe/restaurant/food review already. 

Classic Wagyu Beef Cheeseburger
Viltrox sent me their 16mm F1.8 for Nikon Z mount, and I had the opportunity to test this lens on my own Nikon Z5 at various locations in Kuala Lumpur, at different times of the day. This was not a new lens, they have made it available for Sony FE mount a year ago, and now finally the lens is made compatible for Nikon Z system. Having used the lens extensively, I have to say I am genuinely impressed by what Viltrox has done with this lens, there is so much to like, and almost nothing to dislike about the lens. I have also done a full video review, you can check it out here (click). 

Viltrox 16mm F1.8 for Nikon Z, quite a large lens

The lens being on the bulkier and heavier side, does balance quite well on my Nikon Z5
Back in the year 2019, just before the misery of Covid-19 struck, I went to Bangkok, Thailand for holiday, which partially turned out to be a work trip, as I was also invited to conduct a photography workshop there. The workshop did not take a lot of time, and I had plenty of room to roam around the streets, especially in early mornings. I particularly love exploring Hua Lamphong Train Station, which was the famous location for Rammy Narula's Platform 10 photo project, and overall, I just love shooting street photography in Bangkok in general. Now that the pandemic days are behind us, I should make new plans to travel to Bangkok and hit the streets again with my camera. Some shutter therapy in a foreign land, which is not too far away, and on an affordable budget sounds really exciting at the moment. Until that plan actually materialize, for now, I shall relook into older photographs, and share with you guys some of my favourite street shots taken during that trip. All images were shot with Olympus PEN E-PL9 with M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8. 

This is a continuation from the previous post, my friends Van and Jojo decided to explore a second cafe and we went to Bricks and Bread which was situated about one LRT station away. We got there just in time for lunch hours, and continued our camera clicking spree attacking the food before devouring them. My friends were focused on getting their best shots for the Fujifim Malaysia contest, but as for me, I just wanted to enjoy the moment, had some good coffee, food and conversations with my friends. It all worked out, what a way to end the week, and the start of this week has been crazy hectic. All images shot with Nikon Z5 and Meike 50mm lens. 

A coffee a day makes you a better photographer
I always allocated some time in the weekends to catch up with my wonderful friends. Me being a freelance photographer, my timetable is quite unpredictable, I can get shoots at any day of the week. Most of my recent jobs have been concentrated on weekdays, which was a good thing, as most of my friends work the normal 9-5 jobs, and the only time they have is in the weekends to hang out. My friends Jojo and Van wanted to explore a few new cafes and join the on-going Fujifilm Malaysia photo contest that requires them to shoot on these specific locations. I merely tagged along for the delicious food, and of course, I brought my camera long for some clicking action. Van actually vlogged this particular session, you can check out his video of us having too much fun with food, coffee and conversations here (click). 

Jojo attacking a cup of coffee
During my recent trip back to Kuching, Borneo during the Chinese New Year festivities earlier this year, I managed to squeeze a bit of time for shutter therapy action. I went out with my friend Kieron Long to the streets of Kuching and had a casual street shooting session. The local folks were really friendly, I got some very nice portraits of Kuching strangers, and you know what, we even got invited to have coffee with them! All that and more in my latest POV style video here (click). I brought home the Pentax K-01 and I thought it was quite a fun camera to use - I love its quirky design, the challenges to operate and oh, the super awesome colors the camera renders! The 40mm pancake that came with the camera was not too shabby either, producing sharp enough results, and the unusual 60mm equivalent focal length was a joy to use. I had an issue, I brought back the wrong charger, not sure how that happened (not even sure how I got two Pentax chargers, since I only have one Pentax camera) and I had limited battery charge left, but it lasted the entire session and I had so much fun, shooting on the streets of Kuching! I know I have been receiving some unreasonable complains about my images showing too many males, well, you know what, here are some females this time. 

Thank goodness for the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 - making POV video is so much easier now. 
If you have been following this space, or my YouTube channel, you would know that I have recently added a Nikon Z5 into my arsenal. I have explained my reasons why I did so, you can find it in my previous blog entry here (click). There was something unusual that happened during the acquisition of that camera. Long story short, I brought the camera home without the charger and battery, a mystery which I have not solved until today. I thought this incident was quite interesting and worth sharing here. 

Blogging was where it all started for me. I started this blog all the way back in 2005, sharing stories and adventures as a university student in Perth, Australia. Little did I know the blog would go this far, as I dived deeper into the world of photography, and it has opened so many doors for me over the years. As I got involved with Olympus on an official capacity, and subsequently left, and then started my YouTube channel, the attention was taken away from the blog. It is no secret that YouTube pays a lot more than blogger, when it comes to ad money, and it has become a sustainable source of income during the dark times of Covid/Lockdown. YouTube was the sole reason I survived the pandemic. It was no coincidence that I poured my heart and soul into growing my channel in the past 4 years, and only recently I have surpassed 75k subscriber count on YouTube, which was no small feat for this Kuching boy. Nevertheless, the blogger in me is yet to give up on blogging!

Most of my friends work normal 9-5 jobs on weekdays, and the only time I get to catch up with them would be in the weekends. A lot of my friends already have their own families and usually are tied down with their commitments, which I can fully understand, family first always, I would have made the same decisions. However, the close friends which remains a few, would always make time to catch up, no matter how busy life gets, and I appreciate them doing so. Last weekend, I had brunch with Jackie and Jaslyn (I think we have been friends for almost 12 years at this point?) and boy oh boy, did we feast! I brought out the Nikon Z5 and 40mm prime just for a few quick shots. It was nice seeing everyone again and hearing individual life stories and dramas. Indeed, real life is more exciting than fiction. 

Pouring Kombucha into my Salmon Chazuke
Insect macro is so fun, and I can spend the entire afternoon hunting for bugs and spiders. Besides the thrill of discovering new insects that I have not seen before; part of the excitement was also experimenting with different lighting alternatives and gear setup to boost magnification. The quickest way to do macro is to get the rather expensive dedicated macro lens, but if you are not shooting macro a lot, and it is not what you do 90% of the time, yet you want to achieve some high magnification shots, there are many options for you to do so. The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 has a dedicated macro function, once enabled can give you about 0.72x (equivalent to 35mm format) magnification, which is quite incredible on its own. I decided to amplify the magnification further by adding extension tubes, and this was quite an interesting trial, with really decent results. The image quality, especially sharpness and flaw controls (spherical aberrations, purple fringing, corner softness, etc) are far from the level of a true macro lens, but on a pure budget standpoint, the images are satisfactory. In my latest YouTube video, I also demonstrated my gear setup which includes wireless flash and all my camera settings, you can find it here (click). 

Summary of gear setup: 
OM System OM-1 with 12-50mm kit lens with Meike Extension Tubes
Olympus FL-50R external flash fired wirelessly, triggered by on camera flash FL-LM2
Softbox attached to the wireless flash, and flash power controlled manually. 
Camera settings: 1/250, F8-11 (adjusted as necessary), ISO200

My friend Azul Adnan is currently having an exhibition in Bubble Bee Cafe at Petaling Street area, downtown Kuala Lumpur. It was a mini exhibition showcasing some of his recent work, especially taken in Kuala Lumpur urban areas during the night, with plenty of lights reflecting off glass and wet surfaces due to rain, hence the name play "Illumined". If you are in KL and have some free time, do drop by the cafe and have a sip of coffee while enjoying Azul's work in glorious prints! I highly encourage photographers to print their work, whether to be hung up on the wall, or simply making a photobook/zine, there is a certain satisfaction that comes with seeing the final prints. Also, you get to dive deeper into the curation process which includes selection and sequencing of your photographs into a series. You gain a lot out of the whole process of printing, and it will make you a better photographer!

Azul's exhibition "Illumined" runs from 15 April to 15 May 2024 at Bubble Bee Cafe. 

Azul's exhibition at Bubble Bee Cafe, KL

I have been getting an influx of paid shoots recently, and the calendar is getting filled fast, at least for the coming several months. Thankfully I have also piled up on my content buffer for YouTube, with some free time I had previously, I had as many as 8 videos stacked in the pipeline to be released one by one for the coming weeks. It is not easy being a YouTuber, as we adhere to consistency, we do need to continue pumping up comments to please the algorithm. Being a freelance photographer, honestly I cannot predict my work schedule, I can be free for the entire two week stretch, or I will be fully booked with back to back shoots. Either way, having more jobs is better than none at all, so I should not be complaining. 

Viltrox is releasing their 40mm F2.5 soon (I am not sure when the exact date is at the moment) at the price of USD158. This is the second lens in their budget primes line up, after the first Viltrox 20mm F2.8. They both look very similar, and have similar price tag too. I am privileged to get an advanced copy for review purposes, and I took the lens out for some street photography action. I have made a video review if you prefer to watch in video format (here). I am sharing my thoughts after having used the Viltrox 40mm F2.5 on the streets quite extensively. 

VIltrox 40mm F2.5 for Nikon Z
I have started doing Live Streaming on YouTube about more than half a year ago, regularly on my channel, typically on Thursday night 10pm, Malaysian time. I have written before about my intentions why I started Live Streaming, the challenges that I faced and how I worked around them, you can find my previous articles here and here. Since my last update more than 3 months ago, there has been some small changes which I do want to explore and talk about in this blog. It has been quite fulfilling being able to reach about 150-200 people concurrently during a live session, and throughout the entire stream, thousands of people. My Live Stream is definitely a work in progress, so from time to time it is important to sit down, reelect and make adjustments for further improvements.