NOTE: (This post is not intended for professionals who require different tool for different job. It is meant for end-users).
For all of you who have been following my blog, I have taken 2 days rest from my Daily Photo Series. Since the Olympus E-5 has been circulated around for reviews in Malaysia, I have also not spoken much about Olympus yet. (I requested to be the last to touch the E-5)
There are much rumors out there that the four-thirds system is dead/dying, that E-5 might be the last Olympus SLR, etc. and etc. The Nikon and Canon fans never fail to bash Olympus through the years for it’s small four-thirds sensor.
Now, the mirrorless Micro Four-thirds PEN system is also under fierce competition from Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and soon Nikon and Canon…
In the world of photographic gears, we love to compete. Who has the biggest sensor, who has the highest megapixels, who has the fastest frame rates, who has the quickest AF, who has the fastest lens, etc. and etc…
We seem to have let technology taken over us. We grew highly dependent on what technology can do for us.
Soon, we will have electronic shutters on high resolution digital cameras doing more than 100 frames per sec. The photography concept may evolve into the “Motion-Jpeg Concept”, where photographers literally sit down in front of their 60inch HD TV, pausing images for screen captures.
Photoshop already has auto-color, auto-tone, auto-contrast and soon we might have auto-crop since more 21MP 5Dmk2-alike DSLRs are likely to surface, when photographers can crop to a small part of the image and with 21MP, it’s still useable. And the auto-crop function might have the computer diagnose and crop the images for us…
With the amount of photographic software available today, it’s not difficult to see that a batch-processing program of “art filters” would probably surface too. Photographers don’t even have to spend much time thinking and doing what they want to their digital images as such software can diagnose and batch-process for you. Maybe you just need to do selective re-processing.
If you like bokeh, here is an excellent plug-in for you: BOKEH 2. (Now you save yourself some money buying L lenses…)
Now, can we just come back to photography, photography as a craft, photography as a D.I.Y. craft instead of letting technology take over our work?
The Olympus followers are a strange crowd. They do not follow the “Big Numbers Game”. Some of them might whine about the restrictions they face with Olympus gear at times but they come back to making images. I know of at least 2 fervent users who stick to their Olympus E-1.
The specs of Olympus’s AF and frame rate per sec may lose out to the big boys BUT the Olympus users carefully compose each shot, knowing that they can’t be overly dependent on the automation.
Having not more than 13MP on a small four-thirds sensor also means that Olympus users MUST compose each shot carefully, to avoid post-production cropping. I bet you see lotsa lame shooters firing away with their 21MP 5Dmk2. I know of those who proudly proclaim that they own a camera with “2-sensors”, a crop one and a full one literally, and they crop 90-95% of their shots at post-processing. This practice only produce sloppiness.
With the restriction of Olympus high ISO noise through the years (which has since been solved in the digital PEN series and the E-5), Olympus users are known to use tripods for their shoots, and that again trains our discipline in the whole composition process.
With it’s amazing in-body I.S., which also requires users to hand-hold the camera stably, Olympus users are trained to stop breathing for seconds. LOL…
See? Restrictions can be beneficial!
The following are some shots I have done at a birthday party with the Olympus PEN E-P1, mostly shot at ISO1600. I am still amazed at it’s sharpness and color rendition, it’s consistency in auto white balance, it’s IQ at handling mixed lighting and hotshoe flash. I can tell you, even the Leica M8/9 doesn’t quite have such IQ in AWB.
E-P1, 14-42mm kit lens, ISO1600.
E-P1, 14-42mm kit lens, ISO1600
E-P1, 14-42mm kit lens, ISO1600
E-P1, 14-42mm kit lens, ISO1600
A crop of the above. Look at the sharpness and detail at ISO1600, simply amazing!
Client's Sony Alpha "waxed". Shot with E-P1, 14-42mm kit lens, ISO 1600.
Shot with E-P1 with Olympus hotshoe FL36R Flash attached.
Enough Is Enough! Let’s get down to making images!
As I have quoted in my facebook sometime ago…
“Photography: there’s more than one way/tool/camera/lens to get what you want. Just choose one and start creating.”
Have you started yet? When was the last time you shared a really proud piece of work you did?
Can everyone shoot artistic images??? With a camera like the PEN, almost!
Though I have been teaching photography for a while now, I find that there’s just one thing that can’t really be imparted: how to see artistically!
But with the latest technology, digital cameras like the Olympus PEN series which produces fantastic jpegs straight out of camera, and with the additional in-camera Art Filters… … shooting ARTS straight out of a small and portable interchangeable lens camera has never been so easy before!
I have the images to prove you here. Not all are excellent but most are impressive! These are ALL the images from the participants of the 3 sessions of Olympus Photo Walkabouts on Sat, 26 June, Urbanscapes at KLPAC!
The shots are mostly shot with E-P1, some brought their own PEN, and only Art Filters are used.
Guess who are the 6 winners? (if you do not already know…) Click and enlarge the individual images, put in your comment if you wish.
Judging was based on the public’s votes and 3 judges: the Urbanscape organiser, our Olympus GM Kee Nyap and myself. (Not all the winners’ shots are among my personal 6 favourites… so judging was fair… :p)
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.
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
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
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
Baby Megan. Shot taken with Olympus E-P1 and kit lens 14-42mm.
I love to watch her grow. I have been photographing her mum since she was pregnant till now. This picture is taken a couple of months ago when she still had her “static hair”. I don’t see that hair anymore in my most recent photography session with her 2 weeks ago. But she still is really cute! And she kinda has an attitude now… haha.. hard to get a smile out of her lately…
I’d like to share what I think I missed out in my previous post about the comparison between the Panasonic GF1 and the E-PL1. Also, I’d like to share a short summary of what cameras I have been using during the couple of months I went missing from this blog early this year.
Basically, from the E-P1, I switched to the E-P2. At first, my initial impression of the E-P2′s EVF2 (external electronic viewfinder) wasn’t so impressive. Yes, up till today, it is the highest quality electronic viewfinder you can ever find on earth, no other brands can match it yet. The Panasonic GF1′s EVF really sucks badly when you compare them side by side.
But in my then E-P2 Review, I wrote that looking through the EVF is no different from watching Live View through a peep hole. In the months when I went missing from this blog, I found out that this wasn’t true! The Olympus’s EVF2 is about the ONLY thing in the world today which can make Manual Focusing of old SLR lenses, Leica M-Mount lenses, and even the C-Mount lenses on the Olympus PEN E-P2 and E-PL1 POSSIBLE!
I get as high as 10/10 hit rate in terms of nailing my focus using the EVF2 on my E-P2, even when I was using the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm F1.1 lens wide open! Using Live View to manual focus is just too time-consuming, too tedious and too slow!
Yes! The Micro Four Thirds Mount can mount almost limitless types of lenses on it via adapters! And China make most of these adapters at really affordable prices! The Micro Four Thirds System shall rock the world of photography!
I shall write more about using these various lenses in my next few posts, so stay tuned.
After switching to the E-P2, I started my indulgence into using the EVF2 to manual focus with all sorts of manual focus lenses (including old Olympus SLR OM lenses, of course). This is addictive! At the same time, I tried out the Panasonic Lumix MFT lenses.
And finally, the road led me to the E-PL1. (For buddies who have been hanging out with me, they also saw my indulgence into many other types of cameras… Leica being one of my favourites! Haha… sinful… )
An overall experience told me that for AF lenses, my favourite is the Lumix 20mm F1.7. As for MF lenses, there are quite a few I really like: the Nokton 50mm F1.1, and the C-Mount Ampex 25mm F1.4 TV lens in particular.
I prefer the look and feel of the E-P1 and E-P2, but I think the E-PL1 is currently the most practical choice for me. The E-PL1 is a more intelligent camera, produces sharper and nicer images, is smaller and lighter, and more comfortable to hold. However, I really hate the menu system. According to Olympus, this camera is supposed to be simpler and easier to use. But I find it otherwise.
Fiddly Menu in the E-PL1, CW trying hard to find out how to switch apertures. This image is captured with my iPhone.
Both CW and I were having a hard time trying to find out how to switch apertures. We, like most of you out there, don’t read menus! Haha…
And on a separate occasion, I passed the E-PL1 to another of my photo-enthusiast friend to try out, he had a hard time trying to change ISO.
What is this??? Is it just us being “too advanced” to understand the “simpler” menus in the E-PL1, or is Olympus misunderstanding what the consumers need? Sometimes in trying to make something simpler, we made it more difficult. Less is More? Simpler is Complicated? Hahaha….
Just to share some E-PL1 shots here, all with minimum tweaking, Olympus is famous for beautiful digital images straight out of camera!
A quick shot of the busy Satay Man. ISO1600, F5.6, 1/20s.
Trying out the POP UP FLASH in E-PL1 … …
Personally, I wouldn’t bother much about pop-up flashes, since all pop-up flashes in the world do not produce as pleasing results as external hotshoe flashes which can bounce. Bad lighting? I’d rather not shoot. Pop-up flashes aren’t gonna make it much better.
Shot by CW.
The E-PL1 is also perfect for hip shots:
Hip Shot of Uncle, a little post-cropping done. ISO200, F7.1, 1/250s.
Corn Salesman. Shot from hip level using Live View. Something not possible with my Leica M6 and M8. ISO200, F3.2, 1/200s.
The above images speak for themselves Olympus’s image qualities!
I imagine one day, I show my son a photograph of a morning glory and teach him what’s purple, he replies, “It’s BLUE!” And I will say, “Oops! That’s Panasonic!”
I’d rather go for the E-PL1. :p
1. GF1 vs E-PL1
2. E-P2 Review
3. E-P1 Review
I am extremely honored to be invited by Olympus to speak of my experience with the PEN on 5 Nov at the launch of the Olympus E-P2, and also not-to-forget, experiencing the E-P2 over the past 1 week on it’s new features. I must say the PEN, being the 1st micro four thirds system in the world, is gonna rock the world just like it did with it’s half-frames (72 shots) in the 1960-70s.
NEW OLYMPUS PEN E-P2, image from dpreview.com
Image by Leo from Olympus Malaysia
I was actually busy photographing the big group of media photographers photographing us during the photo session. I should be getting those images back from them soon. The PEN is such a joy to use! You should try it.
Below are some pretty girls’ shots of the Olympus PEN E-P2 ambassadors of the day taken backstage. I am so-not-used-to dressing up formally without carrying my PEN E-P1 in my camera pouch strapped to my waist, that I only managed to steal some shots of the day intermittently whenever I can get my E-P1 out of my bag. All the PEN E-P1′s images shown in this post below are straight out of camera. No touch-ups at all.
It has been a truly enjoyable day meeting new friends, chatting with the Olympus Team about up and coming exciting developments, and sharing my experience with the PEN to the crowd. I must say, somehow I find the Olympus Team different. They are truly passionate about the Olympus Brand!
To them, it’s not just about selling cameras. It’s about high quality photographic instruments and human-to-human connection. Olympus is about high quality photography made available at ease to everyone and anyone.
Let me remind you, I am not paid to shoe-shine for Olympus just like I’ve earlier mentioned HERE. They just want a truly passionate genuine PEN user to share something at their meetings, and here I am.
I also have the priviledge to meet the veteran photojournalist who uploaded the first Tsunami shots online during the 2004 Tsunami. He’s none other than John W. Ishii.
Me and John
And a photo with Hugo from Olympus Japan and Mr Tan, the managing director.
Below shows the high quality huge enlargements frames of the Olympus PEN E-P1 and E-P2′s images at the launch, largest being 30 by 53 inches. Mind you, the enlargements are made from “Normal JPEG” straight out of the cameras. Not even “Fine JPEG”!
With such high quality, I absolutely don’t see the need to shoot RAW with my PEN E-P1 at all, unlike my Canon and Nikon DSLRs I used to own. I have since sold both my D700s and now back to shooting lots and lots of film (still my 1st Love), accompanied by my PEN E-P1!
Thank you Olympus Malaysia for giving me the honor to speak of my joy in photography using the PEN!
Coming soon… I will be blogging more about the PEN, both the E-P1 and E-P2.
Man smoking, waiting. Olympus E-P1 at 14mm, 16:9 format, built-in art filter. I was about 2 metres from my subject.
I have recently grown much in love with small cameras like the Olympus E-P1, Leica M6, Rollei 35mini, and even the old classic legendary half-frame Olympus PEN FT, just to name some. My madness and fanaticism over small cameras is not getting any better and in fact, is getting worse… though the Leica M9 at RM25k is way out of reach. I figured that I can do the same thing by mounting my Leica lenses on my Olympus E-P1 via an adaptor and manual focus it even better than the M9 by using live view. Haha… self-consolation maybe. Or use my full-frame film Leica M6. Cheers man!
Still, I am often humbled by the fact that good images do not rely on good cameras BUT good photographers! Just browse through Flickr and you will be humbled just like me. Many of my favourite shots often come from my small compact cameras too.
Why own a perfect, what I call a “magic camera” like the Nikon D700 or D3, that when you wanna “steal a shot”, the cameras are so huge that you will be caught way before you press your shutter button! Not unless you are using a 70-200mm telephoto or even longer, and stand 50 -100 feet away. However, I also remember Robert Capa said,” If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.“ So, I guess wide angles and standards are still my preferred choices. I like to sneak up close and personal, “steal” a shot without scaring my subjects with huge cameras, and sometimes, “ask” for a shot from my subjects. (I’ll be writing on the difference between “stealing” and “asking” for shots in another post).
So, why do I call the D700 a “magic camera”? Cause it really can continue shooting at ISO6400 or higher when all other cameras “died” in the darkest environment ever. (Of course the Canon 5Dmark2 too will continue shooting, but maybe focus blur. Kidding… cause personally I think Nikon’s AF is better).
Then the Olympus shooters will exclaim, “why shoot in such lowlight when the lighting is not even good, all flat?” And the Olympus shooters will whip out their off-camera TTL flash and boasts of the best skin tones and lighting achievable in such situations! No doubt, they will get the best-looking portraits.
I often wonder, why still shoot when all around you is so blindly dark??? Oh, then I figured that maybe you are a paparazzi or a private investigator doing your job trying to catch someone in their “act”. Lighting is no longer important, “the act” is more!
Now that I’ve been missing my big SLRs, let me try listing down it’s advantages.
ADVANTAGES OF BIG DSLRs:
1. Faster frame rates (but the loud clanky shutter sounds will give you away)
2. Size and look will boost your self-confidence or ego (if being regarded as a professional by “how you look” is more important to you than your images)
3. Faster auto-focusing (compact cameras with F8 aperture can “focus ” faster due to deeper depth-of-field)
4. More inter-changeable lens choices (an up close personal 28mm F8 shot of a stranger on the street is a 100 times more compelling than a 85mm F1.2 shot showing a reluctant face)
5. You look like a PRO, you look like a PRO, you look like a PRO. Oh, what can I say? The whole world thinks you are a PRO. You get people asking you for business cards. You don’t really have to show your images. The gear you hang on your body speaks everything. No one dares to comment openly about your images. All you will hear is,“Nice. Very professional.” (I’d rather not live in delusion)
Conclusion: Yes, I still use my big professional SLRs when the need arises (faster frame rates, lenses, etc.) But I will always want my images to speak for me, NOT my equipments.
And the power of small cameras must not be undermined! A small and insignificant camera with a quiet shutter doubles up your photographic opportunities, even triples! It also tests your communication skills with your subjects!
It’s great joy and excitement to shoot with my friend Louis for a Big Nokia Event recently that I just can’t help, but to share some of the images from the Olympus E-P1 I was using.
The following are telephoto shots taken with a Leica 90mm F2.8 lens fitted on the E-P1 via an adaptor, and due to the 2x crop factor, it achieves a fantastic whooping 180mm! Due to that, I didn’t have to fight with the professional journalists using Huge Canon and Nikon bodies and lenses (also don’t have to fight with Louis who was using a powerful Canon 70-200mm F2.8 Lens), and still reasonably achieved close-up shots of the speakers on stage! The manual focusing on the sharp E-P1 screen made things possible.
Chief Designer of Nokia
Close-up during a coffee table dialogue session
Chief Designer giving a talk
Oh man… I was being twittered! I should really start twitting soon!
A Large 60-in LCD Screen connected to a laptop on twitter
Some new products… …