Announcement

As of 1 June 2011, I have resigned from Olympus Malaysia as their ambassador/trainer/spokesperson. I have served them since Year 2009. For all the Olympus fans out there, you can still keep in touch with me via Facebook, my Blogs, emails, etc. I’ll still answer your questions like usual. Though I think I have always been quite balanced in presenting my views about Olympus cameras, you can be more certain now that I am not biased towards Olympus since I no longer have any obligation to Olympus Malaysia. I am never a fanboy of any brands. I am a true blooded “fanboy” of Photography. My preference still goes to Film Photography.

I shall still teach like usual, except that you’ll have to contact me direct. DCPW (David Chua Photography Workshops) still continues. My style has always been Private, Low Profile and Personal. If you are interested in my works or workshops, do contact me personally. I am easily reachable online.

To ALL my students who have been continually supportive, Thank You Very Much! Keep in touch!

Photography Workshop in Sabah

Info: E-PL1, 9-18mm at 9mm, ISO1600, F4, 1/25sec.

As a last minute reminder to all who haven’t sign up for the workshop held in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah on this Saturday 18 Sep… Do sign up with Olympus Malaysia.

This workshop is organized by Olympus BUT it’s not restricted to Olympus users. It is a comprehensive photography workshop for ALL enthusiasts who wish to build good foundational knowledge in handling DSLR, improve in composition and evolve from snap-shooting to making ART with your camera.

Most of all, it is priced Affordable for ALL to sign up as Olympus has subsidized heavily on it’s expenses.

Click on the following link to retrieve the form. If you have problems signing up, you can contact me at +6012-636 2128.

CLICK HERE.

Info: E-PL1, 9-18mm at 9mm, ISO1600, F4, 1/15sec.

Penang Olympus PEN Workshop Photowalk

These are the images I took during the Penang PEN workshop which I conducted. Images are shot with the Olympus PEN E-PL1 and the 14-42mm kit lens. We had a fun 45 mins’ time of shooting before heading back to the classroom for photo critique.

The images are shot at ISO3200, with noise reduction and noise filter OFF. Some are slightly adjusted for brightness, that’s about it. No manipulation of colors are done.

Tourists in Penang, intended camera shake and tilt.

Sleeping

I actually contemplated to post process them into black and white since I am recently on a personal project on “Portraits of Strangers” which is done on black and white film BUT after seeing the original colors from the Olympus digital PEN, I decided to keep it that way… my usual style… NO CROPPING, NO UNNECESSARY MANIPULATION.

Old Cinema Exterior, man walking pass.

Portrait of a man outside the Cinema

I am a strong believer in “getting it right” at the time of shooting, and not crop pictures afterward. Cropping during post-processing should be kept to the minimum… like hip shots, when the expression of strangers is all that counts!

Kachang Puteh (peanut snacks) Seller outside the Cinema

Cinema Ticket Booth

The world is moving really really FAST in technology, and it’s been about a year since I first knew my E-P1… and now we have the E-PL1, two models after the E-P1. Before we could really experience a camera and review it, a new one is out, forcing reviewers and geeks alike to abandon the old one. Of course, the current curiosity will be about the Sony NEX-5 as well, which boasts of a larger sensor.

A really friendly tourist

He even took off his shirt just to let me photograph his tattoo!

I am First a Photographer, second a geek… in fact, I think I have gone back in time… back to larger and larger format films… oh, there goes my geekiness…

I love shooting, love making images, love expressing myself through images, love capturing others’ lives into images… so my focus will always be on creating better and better images rather than playing with new toys.

First Day of the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival, here's a little camera shake as I was walking while shooting. I like the man's expression.

First Day of the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival

As for the “camera experience”, we NEED time to explore each and individual camera to experience it. Today’s reviewers can be just TOO QUICK to come to conclusion on each new camera they review.

Portrait of a Trishaw Rider, he works in another job during the day.

He's born with a "lazy eye" condition but has since gotten used to it.

After using the mirrorless system and the E-PL1 for a while now, this is what I feel currently:

1. I do miss the mirror sometimes. NOTHING can replace the feeling of having an optical viewfinder OR the sensation of the mirror flipping up and back. Perhaps if Olympus can make the digital PENs like the Leica M8 and M9, a TRUE rangefinder with an optical viewfinder, and design the looks based on the old half-frame PEN FT, wouldn’t that be sooooo-attractive??? I would really love it! The M8s and M9s are mirrorless! Is there no one else in the world that can build mirrorless digital rangefinders like the Leicas? I wonder…

And for that “sensational mirror experience” reason, I think the mirror (DSLR) system should stay in the future…

Taxi Booth

2. If you are one who grow tired of kit lenses easily, and like to venture into vintage lenses, manual focus lenses, old but legendary Olympus, Nikon, Canon, Leica, etc.. lenses… there’s ONLY one way to manual focus with confidence and speed at the current moment: the EVF-2! It’s a MUST! (Read HERE!)

And if you like to use the new 14-150mm lens, the EVF-2 will help stabilize your shooting tremendously when you zoom all the way in at 150mm! I just can’t do without it!

Carpark Booth

3. One thing I just couldn’t understand till now: a cheap RM399 digital compact can have “auto-rotate” feature built-in for it’s images BUT not the E-PL1!!! I am furious at this!

4. A consolation for Olympus PEN Users: if you do a check on www.dpreview.com for image comparison between the NEX-5, Canon 550D, Samsung NX-10, Panasonic G2 with the E-PL1… the E-PL1 is a clear winner!

BTW, one of my previous post did a comparison between the E-PL1 and the GF1 and the difference is clear.

Ok, before I start a “tribal war” here, I must say, I did enjoy using the GF1 for a short time and I don’t think the NEX-5′s menu interface is as bad as what some reviewers say. Color preference is totally personal and I prefer Olympus. You may prefer Panasonic or something else.

Peace!

Another Friendly Trishaw Rider

5. I find that Pop-up flash is not really that necessary since they don’t produce very nice pictures anyway… so I can do without it. I just refuse to shoot at really bad lighting situation. I simply don’t feel that I have the need to prove that my camera can shoot in super low light or no light! Image is gonna suck anyway, and I am not a paid paparazzi!

6. The E-PL1′s Image Stabilization loses out to the E-P1 and E-P2 by about 1-2 stops… so I ended up sometimes with blur images shot at 1/4sec when I could get it sharp with my previous E-P1 and E-P2. Arrgh….

A close up portrait of Steven, the trishaw rider. I just like his white moustache!

7. The high ISO of the E-PL1 is much smoother and the images are sharper than the E-P1 and E-P2 due to a thinner anti-aliasing filter installed.

8. I know that larger sensors are better in depth-of-field performance, so when I want that large sensor effect, I’ll fit on one of those F1.1 or F1.4 manual focus lenses to get the shallow d.o.f. That’s the way I overcome the small MFT sensor.

And as for enlargement capabilities, I have no issue with the PEN since I have ever printed 30 by 50 inches prints from the E-P1′s files. Of course, we can’t say the quality is better than a full frame sensor… BUT is it good enough??? You bet it is!

For a small and portable camera which produces high quality images, my other choice will only be the very expensive Leica.

It’s funny that in today’s world, people like “overkills”.

When photography should be centered on making better and better images: images that speak… we tend to focus on how expensive and how good our equipments are instead.

9. As for the “missing dials” in the E-PL1… I mean the dedicated dials for aperture and shutter speed… I still like to have them back… I really hope the next PEN will be “the one”.

10. The lovely Art Filters… oh… this is something Olympus has exclusively! And its’ a wonderful feature. However, I only like to use the Pin-hole Art filter and sometimes the Diorama Art Filter… but the Grainy Film Art filter, it can be too contrasty for my taste at times, with details in the shadows and highlights clipped! As for the other Art Filters, I hardly even use them.

11. I also discovered that the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 lens when mounted on the PEN, does not give 100% reliability in nailing the focus.

I am not quite sure if this is a communication issue between Olympus and Panasonic… NOT that it is a crucial issue, maybe 1 to 2 out of 10 shots (especially during low light) tend to miss focus… that’s all. But it can be a little disappointing at times.

Finally, to Olympus,

I believe you have heard enough NAGGING from faithful users around the world:

“WE WANT FAST LENSES! FAST PRIMES! FASTER AF TOO! GIVE US F1.4!!!”

Penang Photography Workshop

Last Call for sign-ups. This is an Olympus Workshop BUT is open to all. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax and whatever brand users ALL are Welcomed! Please click on this facebook link for more info… or contact me. This workshop is for beginners to serious amateurs. I’ll be teaching not just the foundational techniques BUT on artistic composition as well. The most fun part will be a practical shooting session outdoors and a “harsh” Open Photo-critique Session. Do join us if you can! It’s gonna be fun! The KL guys experienced it.

Today’s DCM/MPH Workshop Walkabout Shots

As promised to all my workshop attendees today, here are my 9 shots from today’s 30min walkabout session. I gotta set an example to shoot together with the rest too, and it was fun. I believe some probably “hate” me after my photo critique session today, so do feel free to “whack” me here. :)   My shots aren’t perfect, many still have “flaws”… we all learn together, and the most important thing is to have fun!

Photography is very individualistic, so stay that way. Don’t give up just because someone pass a negative criticism and hurt you, ok? To open up your works for critique is to give yourself a chance to see what others see and feel about your works. You may not agree with them all BUT it definitely matures you and makes you grow.

Some technical info: All of the following shots are shot with the E-PL1 with VF-2 attached for easy manual focusing, using the old silver nose OM Zuiko 50mm F1.4 lens. Most of the shots are stopped down to F8.

Pinhole Art Filter

Pinhole Art Filter

Grainy Film Art Filter

Grainy Film Art Filter

Diorama Art Filter. Robin Wong, robinwong.blogspot.com

Diorama Art Filter

Diorama Art Filter

Diorama Art Filter

Diorama Art Filter

Lowlight Shooting with Olympus E-PL1

The following shots are done at the last Olympus workshop which I conducted. Location is Chow Yang Pasar Malam. Many of us are impressed with the high ISO performance by the Olympus E-PL1. Shots are all done in P mode with auto ISO and many of the shots are at ISO1600. It’s a truly enjoyable camera to use! These are some of my favourite shots:

Best Mode of Transport

Medicine Man

Pink Theme

Resting

Underaged Drivers?

DVD Seller

Cheap Wardrobe

Look Out for our next workshop! Join us and have fun while learning something valuable!

My Olympus E-PL1 Workflow and Re-Review

Okay, as promised in my previous post, you shall see my crappy shots in this post. Again, I seriously think my shots aren’t half as good as some of those Olympus Brand Store Guys. But, still I really enjoyed the shooting session with the whole bunch of them. Join me for photography workshop in future. It’s fun!

I have been getting quite a number of questions emailed to me regarding the use of the Olympus digital PEN E-P1/2/L1… so I’ve decided to list down here how I usually “manage” the camera.

1. I shoot in P mode when I just wanna concentrate on getting the shot, the expression, the action, irregardless of the depth-of-field. In fact, I want a deeper depth-of-field in order to quickly capture a moment, minimizing the risk of getting things out-of-focus. “F8 and be there.” Like Weegee said.

2. Using the camera in P mode when there’s sufficient light, i.e. when ISO does not automatically go up to 1600 with corresponding aperture of F3.5-5.6 for the kit lens is fine for the “F8 and be there concept”. Yes, I use Auto-ISO too. Sometimes, when I want more control, I will set the ISO manually.

But for lowlight usage, WATCH your shutter speed. Even with the Image Stabilization (IS) ON, a slow shutter speed CANNOT freeze action. Image Stabilization helps to capture non-moving subjects in sharpness when shutter speed is slow.

3. To speed up the camera, I always TURN OFF the automatic preview on my LCD and use my camera in Sequential Shooting Mode. To capture a certain action, I usually shoot 2-3 frames to get the best shapes and forms. I also hardly “chimp”, i.e. look at previews when I shoot. I don’t wanna lose a moment while “chimping”!

4. In my personal opinion and experience with different brands of digital cameras, I found out that Olympus’s RAW files are not all that “tweakable” as compared to the other brands. I figured out that since I am not getting a whole lot more from it’s RAW files, unlike the Canons or Nikons where the tolerance can go as far as 3-4 stops, I’d rather shoot Olympus JPEGs. I also figured out that the Normal JPEGs are good enough for me for general usage as I find no visible difference comparing them to the Fine JPEGs.

However, if I need to use the camera to shoot any stuff that’s exceptionally important, I will still shoot RAW, more for my mental and emotional consolation. Olympus’s JPEGs are about the BEST you can find in the world. The only other brands which I think can come close to it are Leica and maybe Pentax. Okay, I know I may sound subjective, but look at the skin tones! Any colors on any inanimate objects can lie BUT skin colors DON’T LIE! (If you still disagree with me, okay.. it’s my personal taste, alright?)

5. The E-PL1 has much lesser noise at high ISOs as compared to the E-P1 and E-P2, so I am more confident using it at ISO1600-3200.

6. According to Steve Huff’s review, he complained that the movie-record button on the E-PL1′s back can be easily and accidentally depressed BUT I have since found out that it only takes less than 5 steps to OFF the switch permanently in the menu system! No Issue At All! Just OFF it and use the same shutter button for recording video and stills. (Menu-Button-oFunction-Off)

7. I shoot in A mode when I wanna shoot at specific apertures to achieve the depth-of-field I want.

8. I prefer P mode over the E-PL1′s i-auto mode as I don’t like the i-enhance to be always ON as it does in the i-auto mode. Personal preference.

9. Generally, Olympus JPEGs can be a little under-exposed. So some brightening is usually necessary at post-processing. Or for the E-PL1 users, you can choose to use it’s Live Guide, which is “idiot-proof”. If you know digital cameras, a little under-exposed is definitely better than over-exposed as burnt highlights in digital files can never be restored.

10. When using the Pin-hole Art Filter, images may seem a little under-exposed too, so some brightening at post-processing stage will be good.

11. When using the Grainy B&W Art Filter, avoid high contrast scenes as highlights can easily be washed out!

12. If you are a fervent Art Filter Fan, I suggest you shoot RAW and choose your desired Art Filter in Olympus Software afterwards so you can enjoy shooting without having to wait for the “almost forever” in-camera Art Filter processing. Those few seconds can mean eternity when you are out there.

Okay, finally, there’s ONE THING I hate about the E-PL1!

It DOES NOT HAVE AN ORIENTATION SENSOR! Which means, I have to manually rotate all my vertical shots! Olympus, is it that expensive to have this included in the E-PL1? This should already be the norm among all digital cameras of year 2010!

Here are my shots from the street shoot, constructive comments are welcomed!

Drying her hair by the roadside, hip shot.

Pinhole Art Filter Effect

Prostitute outside motel entrance, hip shot. I forgot to watch my shutter speed!

panned shot of man walking past

HOT!

Fierce! Hip Shot.

Pin Hole Art Filter

Travelling

My small reflection in-between.

Beggar

Security Guard

Summon!

Diorama Art Filter

Diorama Art Filter

Pop Art Filter, shot by manually focusing till patterns appear

The following are two shots by the NEW 9-18mm M-Zuiko Lens. This is such a small, compact and sharp lens with good close focusing distance! It’s in stock!

Shot with NEW 9-18mm M-Zuiko Lens

Another shot by the NEW 9-18mm M-Zuiko Lens

Lastly, the bunch of Olympus PEN Street Shooters! Shot by a stranger. Isn’t it great to have an “idiot-proof” camera for a stranger to hold? I’m sure the in-camera IS helped. LOL…

Malaysia Olympus Brand Store Street Shooters!

Related Posts:

1. BEST Street Photography Machine

2. Photo-enthusiasts ROCKS!

3. The Power of Small Cameras

4. E-PL1 Review

5. More about the E-PL1

The (one of the) “BEST” Street Photography Machine Ever Made!

I am very sorry for the overdue updates to this site due to my busy schedule lately. I actually have the images of the “Mom and Baby Fair” photo kiosk shoots that are yet to be posted… followed by some of the images of last week’s workshop’s night street shoot… and etc..

Not too long ago at Olympus, we had a workshop training with the staff of the newly setup Olympus Brand Store at Mid Valley Shopping Centre Unit #LG068. There were a total of 8 participants and we had a street shooting session at Petaling Street, each holding a Olympus PEN E-P1 with the 14-42mm kit lens. I was using the Olympus PEN E-PL1 with the kit lens.

As I have always said, Images That Speak! Let the images do the talking. Now, let’s see some of these amazing shots and you tell me, is the Olympus digital PEN one of the BEST street photography machine ever made?

Yes, I know… the person behind the camera plays the Major Role in seeing and capturing the images, but we absolutely can’t deny that the Olympus PEN indeed helped us so much in getting what we want! It was a truly enjoyable and memorable street shooting session we had with the digital PEN!

And do you know? It’s not the first time I encounter in my teaching that a student with the least knowledge in photography actually produces the best shots! This is enlightening! If you have been a photographer for many years and if you call yourself a “PRO”, you really ought to think along with me, why does this actually happen, I am saying, a person who knows nuts about photography, takes up a camera and produces a higher amount of keeper shots as compared to someone who’s actually trained in aperture and shutter speed.

The question is, “Are we all too bothered with what white balance to set, which shutter speed to use, which focal length is best, what aperture is better… etc… OR are we more concerned of getting that expression, getting that “look” we saw, getting the moment?”

The following are the selected shots by the 8 participants.

NONE of the pictures are cropped. Only slight brightening is applied to some of the color shots. If you are a PRO who often crops your own shots during post-processing, you ought to be ashamed. All of them are staff in the Olympus Brand Store and they are not PROs. They are not even frequent shooters! Due to the large amount of pics in this post, I shall feature my own shots in a separate post. I seriously don’t think I got better shots than some of these here.

Enjoy!

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Pinhole Art Filter in E-P1

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Sleeping Guard

Foreign Worker

Asking directions from a monk?

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1, same sleeping guard from another point of view.

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1, I like the tension in this shot.

Pop Art Filter in E-P1

Related Posts:

1. Photo-enthusiasts ROCKS!

2. The Power of Small Cameras

3. Olympus E-P1 Review

4. Olympus E-P2 Review

5. Olympus E-PL1 Review

1st Photography Workshop 2010

In partnership with Olympus Malaysia, I’ll be conducting my 1st workshop on 27 May 2010, Thursday evening. This is a comprehensive workshop organized by Olympus Malaysia and it’s open to both Olympus users and Non-Olympus users. Location will be at my studio in Petaling Jaya. The exciting thing about this workshop is we’ll all be going out for a Pasar Malam Night Shoot together and review the pictures after that! (If weather permits) This short 4-hour workshop is gonna cover the basic handling of your camera, practical shooting tips, basic artistic expressions and going beyond making ordinary pictures. I will also be answering all your questions and doing a photo critique. Charges are made very much affordable by Olympus. Please CLICK HERE for more information and to register.

Photography: Art Or Gadget Lifestyle?

Taken with Holga 35mm Pinhole Camera using Tri-X 400 film, self-developed in Rodinal using stand development.

In recent years, photography has changed so much in the world from what it used to be. The advancement in photographic technology, the “super-duper-magical” digital cameras which can shoot at ISO1million (very soon I guess)… , the BOOMING camera-trading industry, the almost complete death of film once (Thank God, it’s very much back alive!), the death of very good professional labs…(they are still not revived yet)… , and the influx of thousands of “professional photographers” who become “professionals” literally overnight by getting themselves a 2000 bucks DSLR.

Recently, we have the PC Fair in Malaysia, and it’s not the first PC Fair to have camera booths selling cameras in it. I thought PC means personal computer? I know me and my wife are backdated… as my wife still asked me, “why are they selling cameras at a PC Fair?”

So many-a-times, I asked myself,” why the hell have I gone digital?”

Because of work, I’ve “gotta” upgrade my digital cameras every few years. (nowadays, the advancement is so fast that it’ll probably be shortened to every one year). Do I really have to upgrade? Even for photo-enthusiasts, they are upgrading, many even quicker than the pros usually. I only know of one wedding photographer around me so far, who upgrades as fast as a rich photo-enthusiast/gearhead, that most of us can’t even keep up to half his speed. LOL… :p

Shot at a wedding, Nikon FM3A, 85mm F1.8, Tri-X 400, self-developed in Rodinal.

What has photography become?

It used to be about mastering the ART of capturing fleeting moments that passes us by too quickly that a paintbrush is hard to describe. Is it still? Oh yes… maybe… and it’s has gone so much easier today with digital cameras isn’t it? Face-detection, smile-detection, what else?

But, why is it that it doesn’t seem any more enjoyable than the old days, when we don’t get to see the results immediately, when we often screw up in our exposures, etc. and etc.. For the new generation, you possibly do not know what I am talking about, then maybe, you should really try getting an old film camera, pop a roll of film in it, and try it out for yourself?

We have heard that Olympus has in her plans, the potential of making cameras that can shoot up to 100 frames per second, like what Casio once did… except that this time, if it’s successful, the images are gonna be stunning. It’s the “motion-jpeg concept” they talked about… when I can imagine future wedding photographers inviting their clients into their posh and cosy lounge, looking at huge screens with a remote control in their hands, viewing “motion-jpegs” or shall we call it video? … and pressing the pause button whenever they see a “moment” to do a screen capture for output as an enlargement print. Oh, not-to-forget some soft background music and two glasses of champagne too… Now, isn’t that lovely?

Will Henri Cartier-Bresson jump out of his grave since he strongly believed in “decisive moment” by the photographer but now, it’s about “decisive pauses” by the audience?

Shot with a camera called the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super, made in 1959.

Also shot with the 1959-made Contaflex, using cheap China Lucky Color Film

I am just being emotional again.

Photography is about being emotional. The whole photography process is emotional. By introducing “better” cameras that supposedly make life easier for the photographer to concentrate on ARTS can also at the same time, take away certain pleasures the photographer is enjoying.  I am imagining and asking myself, “if the whole world shoots using the “motion-jpeg/video concept”, will I still be a photographer? ”

I know it’s definitely exciting for technology to advance like this… exciting for the engineers, NOT the artists, not really for me. It’s a cool gadget to have, but not for serious photography I would wanna do.

Photography is such a hybrid. It involves heavily with gears and instruments, and yet you can develop it as ART. So, it’s not surprising that many photographers are more “involved” with changing equipments than actual shooting. You change your camera, you get a different result. Take the camera away from the photographer, and he/she can’t produce pictures anymore. Whereas, a painter can still try painting with his/her fingers. So, it’s definitely highly equipment-dependent.

But how should we develop our artistic vision in the midst of all this technology advancement? Cameras are no different from mobile phones nowadays. The newer and better cameras are always luring us to believe that owning them can make us better photographers, which is TOTALLY UNRELATED to your personal photographic vision!

Taken with Rollei 35, Ilford XP2, part of my personal project "Cari Makan"(earn-a-living).

Also taken with Rollei 35, but on Kodak BW400CN.

Simplify!

I have ever mentioned that the Olympus E-P1 helped me in expanding my photographic vision, unleashed the experimental part of me, and that it is a camera that gives you great JPEGs without much retouching. I used it in automatic mode so I could concentrate on my photographic vision. That’s one way. Get a camera which can produce wonderful images without having to do much post-processing and in-camera settings. Set it to auto and concentrate on your composition.

Shoot film.

Shooting film slows you down. From shooting thousands with my DSLRs, I slowed down to shooting 36 per roll, a few rolls per week. Recently, I shoot just 12 shots a day on my favourite medium format camera for about 3-4 days per week. I am telling you this “slowing” is gonna continue for me. I am currently addicted to seeing as high as 10-11 keeper shots out of 12 per roll. And this feeling definitely beats having 30 keeper shots out of a hundred odd digital snaps.

Photography: ART or Gadget Lifestyle for me?

It’s still partly ART and partly a gadget lifestyle for me since I am often tempted by good old film cameras and sometimes the small digitals. :p But, I’d rather keep to my First Love which is Shooting! I WILL NOT spend more time on the computer than going out there for actual shooting as long as my eyes can still SEE.

Do feel free to share the images you shoot with me by inviting me to your flickr or whatever photo-sharing website you have… I’d love to see them!

I’ve been doing private coaching for quite a while now and I am gonna have a group photography workshop soon, so please email me if you are interested. Thanks!

Related Posts:

1. Why Photo-enthusiasts are cool!

2. Good to stay “innocent”.