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 is not just an art to me. It’s also a daily record of things I see or sometimes, a representation of what I feel on a certain day. Instead of stressing up myself to put up only the best shots worth for gallery, I have started another blog just to put up daily shots from my daily digital cameras (well, maybe sometimes, film shots if I manage to get them processed and scanned on the same day). This blog should also satisfy those who are curious about different cameras.
I am so sorry for this long-awaited post. The current status of Olympus micro four thirds lenses have been updated to be ALL MSC (Movie-Still-Compatible) except the pancake 17mm F2.8 and the discontinued 14-42mm mk1 kit zoom lens.
This is a visit I made to the Singapore Zoo not long ago. I must say these are currently the world’s SMALLEST 80-300mm and 150-600mm (equivalent) MSC lenses available! You can hold them in ONE hand.
They do not have great apertures for those longing for F2.8 or F2. The 40-150mm comes with F4-5.6 and the 75-300mm comes with F4.8-6.7. But common sense tells us that if they are made with F2-2.8 apertures, the sizes would be considerably larger. As usual, ALL images you see in this post are SOOC (straight out of camera) with no editing done other than adding watermark and black border.
By now, in the world of the mirror-less systems, it is obvious that Olympus faces tough competition from the Sony NEX and Panasonic GF series. The market share of Samsung is still quite negligible. When it comes to buying cameras, the general consumer usually follows the larger crowd BUT the discerning consumer will look more into details like Image Colors, Sharpness and Distortion, AF speed and the practical need of image stabilization (I.S.), etc.
In today’s digital photography world, it’s common for consumers to choose cameras based upon looks rather than actual performance. At the same time, consumers want instantaneous feedback regarding which camera they should buy, either from their friends, the internet or from the salesman they deal with. We gotta remember NO Review is completely accurate on the internet and NO camera’s LCD screen is totally trustworthy!
Some tips on choosing cameras:
1. NEVER just based upon the looks
2. Bring your own memory card to the shop/showroom and test shoot with the camera
3. NEVER trust the LCD screen, always judge the images using a reasonable computer monitor (most modern monitors are okay, and the MACs have the best colors)
The MOST RELIABLE way to check for Focus-Accuracy and Sharpness is “zooming” in at your computer, NOT on the camera’s LCD screen. That’s also the way I compared GF1, NEX-3 and E-PL1’s AF accuracy in my previous posts. Just click a word in the top left hand corner “SEARCH” box and you will easily access my previous posts.
4. Test shoot both in natural daylight and indoor artificial lights (white balance), test shoot on both still and moving subjects (AF-accuracy), test shoot the minimum focusing distance and infinity focusing at widest aperture (sharpness of images and closeup magnification factor), test shoot at high ISOs (cameras today have no problem with low ISOs but it’s good to check out what’s the maximum useable high ISO).
5. NEVER rush in your decision-making.
I do not write reviews based on test charts, curves, diagrams, etc. I write reviews based on my personal experience with the cameras and lenses. We have to understand that at many times, reviewers online (including me) are not given much time with the equipments to share the most balanced view about them. That’s why I make my own purchases when necessary.
As I walked into the zoo with my family, the 75-300mm lens became my main lens instead of the 40-150mm due to it’s 600mm (effective) telephoto capability. I did not have to squeeze with the many tourists to get a front view of the animals, my camera and lenses were the smallest among all tourists who were using DSLRs, and I had the BEST reach at 600mm effective!
I did not see anyone use the same equipment as me. It’s kinda sad that I saw more NEXs and Panasonics. But of course, DSLRs still dominated the entire zoo.
Having tried the Sony NEX, the Panasonic GF1 and the Samsung NX-10 and NX100 (briefly), I would say the Olympus PEN produces the best colors straight out of camera. Among the mirror-less systems, Olympus PENs are still the smallest in size, having the smallest lenses among all.
The more knowledgeable people may argue about the limitations of a small sensor but we have printed out enlargements up to 50 inches wide with no problems.
The way I believe in photography is about using the right tool for the right job, and most importantly, in overcoming each camera’s limitations and still make outstanding images out of it.
The digital Olympus PEN, being the smallest interchangeable lens system camera which produces DSLR-like quality images with NO shutter lags like the compact point and shoots, is a great camera for anyone, to photograph your daily lives, to travel the world with it or to photograph your family snapshots.
The mirror-less system today is NOT for those who “need” to hang DSLRs on their necks to prove that they’re professionals or professionals-to-be, or for those who require 6-12 frames per second in shooting sports/birds/etc.
To me, images you make speak the loudest, NOT what you carry on your neck or shoulder. Like I said, the right tool for the right job.
This system is for those who don’t want to break their backs by carrying heavy equipments. It is suitable for light travel. It offers a great deal of opportunities for discovery, for example, the use of old manual focus lenses with F1 aperture on it. (Here)
It is ironic to see in general that newbies want big professional cameras, but the seasoned working photographers want smaller cameras.
In general, active street photographers love small unobtrusive cameras. A seasoned professional wedding photographer would not mind exploring into the use of smaller unobtrusive cameras to shoot weddings. I have personally shot weddings with a PEN and am now using one rangefinder camera alongside a DSLR for weddings and private functions. I also know of other working photographers who love their GF1s, PENs, etc. These professionals sure know the hidden photographic opportunities in the use of small cameras. DSLRs, Rangefinders or PEN, they serve different purposes.
Advantages of these two lenses:
1. Small and portable. I love it when I am actually shooting the Baboon’s ass, standing at the back of some tourists holding big DSLRs with their huge telephoto lenses. LOL.
2. MSC (Movie-Still-Compatible). They are absolutely quiet in focusing when recording video unlike current DSLRs when AF sounds are easily recorded.
3. Sharpness. These lenses are absolutely sharp! Look at these 100% crop for example…
1. These lenses do not auto focus well in low light conditions due to their small maximum apertures of F4 and F4.8. Be prepared that they can’t find focus in low light.
2. When zoom is extended the maximum especially, it’s advisable to use the optional external electronic viewfinder VF-2 to help stabilize camera on your face. Looking at the Live View can make you giddy.
My overall experience has been good.
1. The option of using the external viewfinder VF-2 is necessary when it comes to using long telephotos as such. So far, only Olympus has such a bright and sharp electronic viewfinder. The Panasonic one still sucks. It’s not even half as good as the Olympus one. The NEX has no such option.
2. The Olympus in-body I.S. is still most amazing. It offers opportunities for using slow shutter speeds without lugging a tripod. The NEX has no I.S. The Pannys limit their I.S. to only a few lenses. The Olympus I.S. works on ALL lenses which can be mounted on it, and that includes all legacy lenses.
3. The depth of field of these two lenses are sufficient for my usage at the zoo. I don’t need too shallow depth of field when capturing close up shots of animals. I’d rather all the hair and whiskers around the face to be sharp! (these are definitely NOT paparazzi lenses!!! They aren’t efficient in low light )
In my opinion (IMO), the 75-300 is good for travel, for safari. The 40-150 is a much lighter option. You can opt for the 14-150mm with the 75-300 in your bag, and these two lenses will be more than sufficient for traveling the world. Total weight? Less than a DSLR with a 18-200mm lens and you get coverage from 28mm-600mm (effective range). Woohoo!
IMPT: THIS REVIEW IS BASED ON A PRE-PRODUCTION UNIT. ALL SOOC IMAGES ARE FROM A PRE-PRODUCTION UNIT.
Just like the Olympus XZ-1 Review earlier, this review IS gonna be about the SOOC images! Some may think that SOOC images aren’t important cause they choose to shoot in RAW anyway, BUT RAW does not mean “unprocessed”. It basically means “UNCOMPRESSED”! That’s why Nikon D3x’s RAWs are different from Sony Alpha 900’s RAWs even though they have the same sensors. And having a Good Image Processor saves you more than half the trouble, whether you shoot in RAW or JPEG.
Good image quality does not just rely on one element.
Before showing you the selected images (MORE are in my flickr, kindly follow my instructions at the end of this review), I will like to share my short verdict of the E-PL2. I have used the first digital PEN E-P1, then the E-P2, E-PL1 and now this pre-production E-PL2 and what I have to say in a short conclusion is:
1. THIS IS NO E-PL1 mk2!!! Even though it has the same image sensor and processor as the E-PL1, it’s ergonomics are DIFFERENT. Finally, I have back the DIAL which I personally think is indispensable. Next, it feels much more solid than the plasticky E-PL1. It definitely has a better grip with that nice textured rubber on the side. It is so much better looking than the E-PL1! It’s Matt Black!!! (Not glossy… I hate glossy)
2. The NEW 14-42mm mk2 kit lens has a Remarkable Improvement in AF speed! It is MSC (movie-still-compatible), which means AF is silent and fast, totally no sound recorded in video when lens is zoomed in and out! This is not just as claimed by Olympus! The Difference IS EVIDENT!
3. The E-PL2 has included so many variations to it’s Art Filters, which I personally am having a headache as to what to use in what situation. BUT I fell in love with it’s Grainy Film II Mode which renders the image lowercontrast as compared to the often too-overly-contrast grainy film mode which existing PEN users are experiencing. And my favourite workflow which I developed with the E-PL2 shortly in these 10 days is shooting in the Grainy Film Mode II with Art Frame ON and recording it both in JPEG and RAW at the same time. The RAW is my backup in the case when highlights are blown.
I have also been using the NEW Olympus Viewer 2 software to convert the RAW files when necessary and I must say this is the easiest software I have encountered in my years of using different digital cameras. Results from the software are also excellent. The main setbacks of the software which I have found are:
a. Art Filter Variations NOT included. Things like Grainy Film II, Pop Art II, Art Frame, etc.. ONLY the basic Art Filters are included and that includes the Dramatic Tone Art Filter. (I know many “die” for this…) Will there be any hackers who would hack the software and make these Art Filters available to all other RAW files… that I don’t know, I am not a software geek.
b. Certain corrections can’t be done, like Contrast, Picture Tone… this could be due to the pre-production E-PL2 I’m using… so it may be too early to draw a conclusion.
4. The NEW 14-42mm mk2 lens is designed for fitting the NEW macro converter, wide converter and fisheye converter. So if you think these new converters can be fitted on your existing 14-42mm lens, you are wrong. Soon we’ll see the old 14-42mm kit lenses flooding the used market at dirt cheap prices! The macro converter allows 0.28x magnification at 24cm with the 14-42mm lens at 42mm. The wide converter turns your 14mm to 11mm wide. The fisheye converter gives 120 degree view.
I personally think that the “perfect combo” could be using the m-zuiko 14-150mm lens with a step up ring 37-58mm (available from Olympus) to fit on the NEW macro converter! You can also do the same for the m-zuiko 40-150mm lens since it also has 58mm diameter!
5. Macro Arm Light: This is innovative! It is a pair of alien-looking flexible arms with LED lights for use in macro photography. Now macro photography has gone to a new level of excitement.
However, if you are getting the macro arm light, it’s better to use it with the macro converter, unless you have a short specialized macro lens. Reason being: the arms are NOT long. (in this case, I doubt the compatibility with the 14-150mm and 40-150mm lenses. I haven’t try, so I can’t say for sure…)
6. PENPAL: a bluetooth transfer device. I was told that this is NOT compatible with the APPLE iPhones/iPads. Sad… I am still wishing a bluetooth transfer technology to my iPhone for me to upload images on the go to facebook and flickr (which has automated resizing capability).
The following are the rest of the selected images:
With SO MANY FEATURES packed into the E-PL2, this is obviously NOT a E-PL1 mk2!!! To view full resolution images with EXIF data, please have a flickr account, add me (click here), and send me a message. I’ll make sure you see them!
IMPT: THIS REVIEW IS BASED ON A PRE-PRODUCTION UNIT. ALL IMAGES ARE FROM A PRE-PRODUCTION UNIT.
I am reviewing the XZ-1 compact point and shoot digital camera from a professional photographer point of view. All my opinions are entirely personal. I always do my best to be fair, to point out the weaknesses I find. I may not be the fussiest person on earth to nick pick on each camera’s weaknesses cause I am a strong believer in “Overcoming the Limitations of your Camera”. I am NOT writing this review in the most technical engineering way like dpreview.com
I’m writing this as a user, with a background of using various formats film cameras, various brands of DSLRs, mirrorless digital cameras and digital compacts. My first DSLR was the 6MP Canon D60. (NOT the current 60D in case you got it mixed up). My first camera was the Canon A-1.
I believe Images SOOC (straight-out-of-camera) is the BEST way to show.
Even before going into details… I CAN’T WAIT to TELL YOU that: “Finally I have found a compact digital which can give me ABSOLUTELY CLEAN ISO1600 file, and at F1.8, focusing at night IS FASTER than the Olympus PEN E-PL2 with it’s NEW 14-42mm mk2 lens! In fact, there were situations when the PEN could not achieve focus and the XZ-1 DID at the snap of fingers!!!”
I assure you, ALL images are SOOC. The only thing I did was adding watermark. I have selected a few images to put here. There are MORE in my flickr site in High Resolution for pixel-peepers! However, due to restrictions from Olympus to post original resolution pre-production images online, you will need to have a Flickr Account, ADD me, SEND me a message, and I’ll make sure you can see them.
I am very fortunate to be selected to help Olympus Malaysia launch the Olympus PEN E-PL2 and Professional Compact Digital XZ-1. Today, at 1100hrs local Malaysia time, these 2 NEW cameras are launched worldwide. Having tested the cameras over a 10 day period, I have quite a number of shots taken around Malaysia and I must say this: Olympus is gonna have an exciting 2011! This is a sneak peek. I shall be posting more detailed reviews of the two cameras very soon.
… … Yes! It’s Olympus E-1! Not the latest E-5… Hahaha…
I HAVE NOT USED A DIGITAL CAMERA WITH SUCH BEAUTIFUL STRAIGHT-OUT-OF-CAMERA IMAGES IN MY LIFE!
Digital sucked when I switched from film to digital more than 10 years ago and today, it still sucks when it comes to straight-out-of-camera images when I compare with my lab film scans in terms of colors and brightness…
Okay, I’m speaking in general terms here… the Nikon D60 is alright… the Canon 5Dmk2 when mounted with my old Zeiss lenses is alright… the Olympus E-30 and E-620 are quite good… the Olympus E-P1/2/L1 are slightly better than the E-30/620… the Nikon D700 is “clinically perfect” with not much character I know how to appreciate… the Leica M8/9 maintain that Leica look with stunning optics BUT auto white balance can be cranky…
If I look back at all the digital cameras I have used before, NOT ONE impressed me like this Olympus E-1 I just touched few nights ago!
This is a Year 2003 Camera! The detailed review can be found HERE.
I’m mad! No one is gonna read this post! But I am writing it. Cause I don’t write for money. I write for my own passion.
The ergonomics of the camera is perfect! I love the way the CF Card Compartment Door gently springs open with a twist… I used it without the extra battery grip and it’s perfect… It sits perfectly in my palm and works as if it’s a part of my body!
It’s shutter sound is as quiet as my Leica M6! This is shocking!
Do you believe that a camera has a “soul”? I do. It basically means you can feel the “spirit” of the designer, the amount of effort put in, the intricate thoughts put into each detail of the design meticulously, the direction and belief of the designer, whether the designer is an artist OR just someone out to make money from consumers… …
“A photographer’s duty is to improve and increase his techniques! For knowledge of technique is the only tool for ensuring that the camera may be used to its maximum capability. So many photographers overestimate the function of the camera by itself – but I’m afraid a cook who relies on nothing but a sharp knife has no guarantee of producing excellent dishes.”
another quote would be:
“Even if your camera can capture shots of outer space or bacteria, it’s useless if you don’t have it with you …”
Yoshihisa Maitani is a legend.
A camera is not just a camera. It’s used to take photographs. And it’s the person behind it who does it. And it’s the individual soul you see reflected in each person’s works.
The photography process is emotional! It’s NOT just about holding a photograph in your hand or looking at a 72dpi image on the screen! It goes far beyond that! It starts the moment when we hold a camera!!!
Why do I love Leica? It’s NOT because it’s a luxurious brand. It’s purely because I could feel the spirit of the Leica designerOskar Barnack!
The same goes when I hold my Olympus OM-1, the PEN FT, and now the E-1. Though the E-1 was not designed by Maitani, it definitely followed after much of his spirit.
The entire process into making a photograph should NOT be restricted just to the final image.
I’ve always believed, if you hold a camera you love in your hands, you are naturally a happier person. A happier and more confident person already has half the battle won!
(this I learned from a good friend named Joe Meng)
Now, let’s continue my madness into searching for the old and forgotten…
Let’s look at how I managed the E-1 with the zuiko digital 25mm F2.8 pancake lens, with the restriction of ISO400 (I was told that ISO800 is not really useable by David Ching who lent me the E-1), shooting in a Pasar Malam (night market)!
I shot ALL wide open at F2.8! And the E-1 has beautiful TIFF files! The shutter is so quiet that I managed to take a couple of really close distance shots of strangers and NOT get caught.
The following images are resized as jpegs for easier uploading/downloading. Do email me if you are interested to see the full res images. (If you even bother to read this far regarding a 2003 model… LOL…)
If you would like to use my images, please inform me via email, CREDIT and LINK to my site. Thank you!
(NOTE: I just realized that the 5MP TIFF files are so “BEEFY” that I need to resize them much further due to WordPress restrictions! I’ll be really curious to try how large an enlargement I can make next… stay tuned for future posts…)
Now, a search on eBay shows a MINT condition E-1 body is around USD450.00.
Like Maitani said, “… … a cook who relies on nothing but a sharp knife has no guarantee of producing excellent dishes.”
Will you consider restricting yourself to ISO400 or maximum 800, 5MP TIFF files and a 1.8inch LCD?
For all I know, I love this camera, and I shoot it like a film camera, with absolute confidence of getting what I want out of the camera! And I think the E-1 with the 25mm pancake is a perfect combination!
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.
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?