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