Saturday, February 26, 2011

Olympus Zuiko 8mm F3.5 Fisheye: The First Dive

It is perfectly understandable why Fisheye lens is not the first choice of many photographers, or does not even make it into the list of considerations of lens additions for the majority of photographers out there. It was not very appealing to me either. The fact that the lens characteristics exhibit massive amount of perspective and barrel distortion was not something that would encourage a frequent, regular use on any photography genre at all. The distinctive outcome of a fisheye image is basically a love it or hate it affair. Sadly, people are so used to seeing things in straight lines that when you bend the lines a little, they will turn into lions and chew your head right off.

Fisheye is all about bending the lines. It is about breaking the rules of technical perfection. It is about exploring other possibilities, and trying to be different, presenting something rather unusual than the ordinary looking photographs.

In this world, lines are straight. But in the world of photography, the possibilities are endless. We, as photographers, should define the possibilities, and we are free to break away from any restrictions that are holding us down. Photography is about freedom of expression, and I choose to express myself differently. Standing out from the crowd comes with a high price: to be seen as a unique individual with new and fresh ideas, or to be ridiculed, rejected and trashed aside simply because you fail to fit in. The debate goes on, in photography, are we shooting to please others and gain recognition, or are we picking up the camera to enjoy photography at its truest essence?

A reflection of an old building.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jason Lioh's Birthday @ The Daily Grind

It was a beloved friend, Jason Lioh's (also known as the infamous Jasonmumbles) awesome birthday that we decided to have a feast and a catch up session on the actual day itself. Chong, Huey Yoong, Jason and I were at the Daily Grind, Bangsar Village for dinner, a place that is reputable for really good burgers.

I have just received my copy of Olympus Zuiko 8mm F3.5 Fisheye lens, couriered directly from Olympus Singapore yesterday. I have the lens at almost zero cost, as a form of payment for the use of one of my photographs in their recent advertising purposes in Singapore. What better place and time to test-drive the fisheye lens, than a friend's birthday dinner, right? All photographs in this entry were shot with Olympus E-5 with the Zuiko 8mm F3.5 fisheye.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

KL Bird Park with Olympus E-5

It was a glorious Sunday morning, the infamous Jasonmumbles and I decided to attack the KL Bird Park. Jason has his trusty gigantic Bazooka Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM UKM MMU lens, while I was armed with my humble, old and worn-out budget tiny Zuiko 40-150mm F3.5-4.5. We arrived ridiculously early in the morning, just after the park was opened to the public to avoid the massive crowd. The weather was fair and we had our early morning shutter therapy.

Gotta love the 50mm F2 !! Check out the bokeh.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Nokia C6-01: The Tiny Camera that Snaps

Side Note: All images in this entry except the first image, were taken with the Nokia C6-01. Moderate post-processing (image editing) were applied, hence the images should not be used as reference.

My old phone was dying, hence I was on a hunt for a replacement. My budget was RM1000, and I would not go much further beyond that. My requirements were simple, I wanted a phone that still is a phone (that does efficiently well in calls and texting, reliably), has a decent screen, with additional important features, such as integrated web-browsing to enable me being connected to the internet wherever I go to. I need regular updates on my emails since I am getting more urgent correspondences these days, and of course, it would be awesome if I could reply any comments on my blog almost instantaneously, right?

Lets not go into why not I-Phone or Blackberry or Android or some cheap China no-brand phone, this argument wont lead us anywhere.

After doing some research, I found the phone that matched my needs was Nokia C6-01, and I purchased it without hesitation. By now, I know you must be thinking, "How about the built-in camera on the phone? How come no mention or any consideration at all?". Well, to be honest, I did not even consider the camera on the phone at all, and I have always believed that camera phones are useless. This may be harsh, but I have not seen anything that comes out from any new camera phones that can make me think otherwise. No offense to some hardcore camera phone fans out there, perhaps, in a few years to come, the technology may catch up, but not now.

Nokia C6-01, image shot with Olympus E-5 with Sigma 30mm F1.4

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chow Kit Frenzy Begins

People who know me know that I have been obsessed with Chow Kit, KL lately. There is something indescribable about the streets in Chow Kit that kept me going back again and again for more shutter therapy sessions. I just cannot seem to get enough of the things to photograph there, and I have always enjoyed my walk every time I was there. People have warned the dangers and risks of being in the unsafe districts of KL, with high crime rates. However, I see things differently. I see great photography opportunities. I see people, I see lives, I see untainted truths, I see preserved genuine Kuala Lumpur, I see a melting pot of various local cultures, I see heartful smiles and I see the soul of the streets.

One week ago, I was accompanied with Fariz and Ujai to Chow Kit. Not getting enough of my Chow Kit dosage, I decided to attack Chow Kit again today, in the early morning together with a great photographer friend, Aaron Chin.

The following are the sets of photographs from last week's walkabout session with Fariz and Ujai.

Circuit failure.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Long Tuesday

Yesterday (Tuesday) was the Prophet Mohammad's birthday, hence we had a national public holiday in Malaysia. Still suffering from post-holiday syndrome coming back from a long Chinese New Year break a week ago, this little day off, no matter how brief, was much appreciated.

I felt that I have stretched my Tuesday a little longer than expected. I woke up rather early, in hopes of doing some shutter therapy on the streets. I know, I know, which crazy dude would give a long morning sleep in a pass, right? Working full time in a city means you have very little time to yourself, and I really treasure my time that I spend with my camera and gear.

As I got up to the glorious sunrise in the morning, I felt the urge to do something different. I decided to just take a walk around the park near where I stay, and did a little macro hunting instead. It was a short walk, lasted a little more than an hour, and I did not shoot much, but I did get some shots I was happy with.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sometimes, WHAT Matters

We have always been spammed with constant reminders on the importance of choosing the right gear and executing the appropriate techniques to obtain that perfect photograph. We are so focused on the technicalities of camera settings and which lens combination that would work best for a certain shooting situation. We have put too much emphasis on applying the best tips and tricks to achieve the biggest impact in photography, may it be professionally or just for a hobby, that many of us have lost sight of what truly matters sometimes. No, it is not about the best cameras and photography equipments, it is not so much about the techniques. It is all about “WHAT” we choose to photograph. Simply put, the photography subjects that we placed within the viewfinder of our camera, before we make that magical shutter click happen.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Back to Reality

Slightly longer than a week spent in Kuching, my beloved hometown felt like a lifetime, and now Kuala Lumpur seemed so far away. Much time was swallowed by Chinese New Year festive activities, visiting relatives and friends, gatherings with old friends, and also some feasting and gambling sessions to usher prosperity, good luck and health for the Rabbit Year 2011.

Alas, all good things come to an end. As abrupt as it has been, I must wake up from such a sweet, sweet long slumber and come back to Kuala Lumpur, the city of harsh realities.

Looking up, Bukit Bintang/Sungai Wang area.
Dramatic Tone Art Filter. Aperture set to F14 for the star burst effect.

Unfortunate, innocent child.
Hip Shot.

Maybe that is why I do not return to my hometown very often, because everytime I do so, I find it very hard to leave it behind, again.

I look forward to the weekends. I look forward to shutter therapy sessions.

Anyone wanna come with?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Olympus E-5 Review on DPreview

Finally, the much anticipated "official, professional, independent and trusted" review of Olympus E-5 was out on today.

I jumped right to the final conclusion page, skimmed through the points in pros and cons, and their summary write up. Then I scrolled down to the ratings segment, with Olympus E-5 being given an excruciatingly eye sore inducing mediocre score of 75 percent only.

I felt my heart shattered to a million pieces, just like many who had higher hopes for Olympus E-5.

After downing a glass of Coca Cola (abundantly available during the Chinese New Year festivities), I suddenly felt the urge to write something about this.

The main issue with DPreview is not so much of their unshining write-up, or whether E-5 is really that good or bad in reality. The painful frustration many have shared was due to the inconsiderate, biased and purposefully delayed timing of the E-5 review. Who would have thought E-5 would be reviewed so late after Christmas? It was ok if E-5 was reviewed not too far after Pentax K-5, Canon 60D and Nikon D7000, but having a long, dreadful pause after the afore-mentioned three cameras have only proven that E-5 has been deliberately shoved aside. It is very true that Olympus users may not be the majority, but have they checked their own forums? The forumers on Olympus DSLR thread alone in DPreview are sufficient to annihilate a small island country.

During the long delay of the release of E-5 reviews, many have turned to other reviews, and having high hopes on E-5. Many review sites have praised E-5, and regarded it as one of the best cameras of today (one website ranked it third best cameras of all time, just behind 1Dmk4 and D3s), many have agreed that the ISO performance and dynamic range are on par, if not better than direct competitions Canon 7D and Nikon D300s. Lets face it, when such reviews were being claimed by other professional review sites, everyone started to believe in miracles. There were so many original full size files, both JPEG and RAW available for downloads and pixel peeping, and even the common users have done their share of pixel peeping and comparisons long before the camera was made available for purchase. When the E-5 was on sale, surprisingly quite many have bought it, and again, consistently testified to many of the earlier claims.

Like many of you, I have clicked on DPreview day after day, in hopes of seeing Olympus E-5 review up. Weeks after weeks... and it has become months now, that I have decided the review may no longer matter since it is not the decision breaking point anymore. Then out of nowhere, they finally released the review.

And it was not very encouraging.

Timing is VERY important.

When E-5 was first announced, no one was expecting miracles. In fact, looking at the unimpressive specification sheet of the E-5, no one expected E-5 to shine. If DPreview said what they had to say right from the beginning, without delaying this much, I strongly believe many would have agreed "yeah, we did not expect so much in the first place anyway".  Of course we cannot avoid the constant grumbling and moaning of many loyal Olympus fans, regardless of when the review was released. Nonetheless, it is a fact that the delay has added much agonized dramas and traumas which could have been done without. Setting Olympus aside, putting it last after all other reviews were done, and making such a dramatic delay were not really telling people that DPreview is "unbiased and honest, regardless of camera brands/manufacturers". Now, how do you expect people to trust and believe your review? All hell will break loose, and who is it to blame?

I, for one, am very happy with Olympus E-5. It will be my companion in my photography journey for quite a while. The truth is, Olympus E-5 is NO LESS capable than any other cameras out there (I still find it ridisulous how people judge cameras by high ISO performance and technical specifications solely), and even if you own the supposingly BEST camera, it will not make you a better photographer. Therefore, having a better camera does not guarantee you better results.

We speak, not with our cameras, but with our photography work.