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Ming Thein

Armed with a camera since 16, my photographic career has spanned many subjects. Photography is beyond a job for me: it’s a passion. Actually, until early 2012, it was a full time passion and a part time job; I’ve shot commercial assignments on and off for the last eight years, but went full time in 2012. I’m a physicist by training – I graduated from Oxford at 16 – and subsequently left a senior corporate career in M&A/ private equity (and more recently, as a senior exec director of McDonalds) because it simply wasn’t what I wanted to do, and so far, have been lucky enough not to regret it.

This of course means it’s very important to photograph the things you’re passionate about in their own right. Every photographer aims to find a unique look to their images in order to create a signature look for their clients. I take inspiration from many sources – classical photojournalism, abstract art, motion picture and film – to deliver a unique look and style for my clients. Natural color and dynamic lighting create a strong positive emotion in the viewer, which in turn makes the subject of the photograph – your product or service – memorable. I work on location with both available light and controlled lighting, depending on the needs of the client and subject.

I am a commercial photographer specialising in product photography on location and corporate reportage. Lately, I’ve also served as creative consultant and director to ensure a consistent visual look and feel across all aspects of a campaign, including video/ commercials, printed materials and exhibitions – right down to lighting design. It’s no longer just about the visuals: it’s about the experience and the emotion, too.

I have a diverse international client base including Koenigsegg, Nissan, Chun Wo Engineering and Construction, Jaeger Le-Coultre, Van Cleef & Arpels, Maitres du Temps, Richemont, the Swatch Group, Hijjas Kasturi Architects, Tange Associates Architects, Sunway Group, Maybank, Eastern & Oriental, The Boston Consulting Group, several Michelin star chefs including Fergus Henderson and Bruno Menard, The City of London and Moon Travel Guides. I also maintain an extensive library of over 250,000 high-resolution images available to license, both directly and via Getty Images. For 5 years, I was Contributing Editor to CLICK! Magazine, Malaysia and Editor for 2010. I was appointed a Hasselblad Global Ambassador in 2016, and served as Chief of Strategy at Hasselblad and Advisor to the Board of DJI from 2017-18, though have resigned from all positions from 2019 to focus on my watch business. I am also a Nikon Professional Services member in the UK and was a consultant to Carl Zeiss AG.

Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss a project, request a quote, or a specific portfolio of images. In addition, limited edition fine art prints are available from time to time directly via this site.

Please note that I do not answer ‘what should I buy’ questions. Every person’s needs and shooting styles will be different, which means there is no right answer. There are also pages and pages of reviews on this site, along with the recommended equipment list to help you decide for yourself. Any technical support queries should be referred to your camera’s manufacturer.

Ming Thein
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Email: mingthein@gmail.com
Ming Thein on Getty Images


Exhibitions/ In the media:
The Idea of Man, Part II, the Ilford Galerie, Kuala Lumpur (20 Jan-20 Feb 2018)
Un/Natural, with Stephen King, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong (5 Dec 2015-15 Jan 2016)
– ‘The Idea of Man’, The Rangefinder Gallery, Chicago (2-31 Oct 2015)
‘Connection’, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, (11-17 June 2015)
‘Engineering Art in Metal’, The Centre for Asian Photographers, Kuala Lumpur (3-31 Jan 2014)
Interviewed on the official Carl Zeiss blog on food photography (14 Oct 2013)
DSLR Magazine, cover interview/ featured photographer (Feb 2013 edition)
‘Diametric opposites: East and West’, Leica Gallery Starhill, Kuala Lumpur (18 Jan-18 April 2013)
– New York Times/ International Herald Tribune – interviewed on watch photography (24 Nov 2012)
The official Leica Camera Blog – interview/ featured photographer (8 Nov 2012)
BFM 89.9 Tech Talk on Photokina 2012 (8 October 2012)
BFM 89.9 Tech Talk on photography (29 June 2012)
BFM 89.9 Careers unusual (4 May 2012)
The Edge Malaysia, p Op18 (July 2-8 Edition)
Horological photography exhibition sponsored by Jaeger Le-Coultre and Leica Camera, at Starhill Gallery (May 2012)
The Malaysian Reserve – commentary on democratisation of the industry and local support in Malaysia (14 Sep 2012)




  1. Graham Bolton says:

    Hi Ming, I hope it’s ok to contact you. I recently bought the Fuji XF10 largely based on your 2019 review and I’m loving the camera and getting great results. I just bought the Ricoh GC-5 case but there is no way the XF10 will fit into it. Did you have this problem? Many thanks, Graham

    • Take off the lens cap. The front of the case is hard.

      • Graham Bolton says:

        Thanks for the prompt reply and by the way I love your site. I have taken off the cap but the problem is the width. The xf10 is 64mm wide but the case is a mm or 2 narrower and I can’t even get camera in a little. Perhaps I have a defective case or did you have to stretch yours a little. Many thanks, Graham

  2. Hi Ming, Firstly, great website, blog etc. Great to see someone giving back to the photo community! I have a Hasselblad X1D and I aim to use it to scan my 6×7 film and 35mm film with a V system makro lens and XV adapter. My goal is to streamline my home scanning as I no longer have access to our photo community Flextight Scanner due to restrictions. I need big files, and didn’t see the merit in using a smaller format to scan as the dynamic range won’t live up to the 6×7 film images (a mix of neg and positive). Had a look around and this is only way I can think of, unless you, or someone else knows a better solution, or confirm my idea has legs?

  3. Stephen Patterson says:

    Hi Ming,

    I’ve thought about getting back to Nikon after using Olympus for three years now. I love my 12-100 and would like to know your feelings on how the Nikon Z 24-200 compares, especially in close focus flat field work, an area few ever test! Aside from my landscape and street work, I do a lot of close focus abstract textural surfaces, that required corner to corner sharpness, an area that my 12–100 is fantastic in……please let me know yoir thoughts, many thanks, Stephen Patterson.

  4. Hi, I was just wondering if there will be another sale on the teaching store videos soon.

  5. Maybe it’s just me, but the guy on the cover Time Magazine for April 20, 2020 is your doppelgänger! He’s even holding a camera! Hope you don’t take that the wrong way, I just have seen the cover pop up on my news feed several times now and my first thought every time is that it’s you! Hope you’re staying healthy and safe!

    Not sure why this is the only good pic I can find of it…maybe cuz it comes out next week?

  6. Tim O’Brien says:

    Hello Ming, will you be offering a new monochrom course for the Leica M10 monochrom?

  7. Иван Алексеевич Пономарев says:

    I saw a photo on Flickr made on a Nikon camera with a Contax lens. I think the adapter with a lens. Please tell me your impressions of the resulting photos. How did the adapter affect picture “quality”?

    • It’s not an optical component. If it’s out of plane, then you’ll have decentering effects and a tilted focal plane. Otherwise it should make no difference to the inherent qualities of the lens.

  8. Thanks. I just joined and am in the process of changing over to mirrorless – Nikon and Hasselblad. My gear list currently looks like yours but I have not yet rationalized. I noticed that you kept your Zeiss Otus lenses and must be using them with the Z7. Are you happy with that pairing? I love my Otus 28mm but have not yet tried it with the adapter. Seeing your list I will give it a test.

    • I use them for special purposes only at the moment – easy to focus but just too heavy to balance well, and my own personal back issues. I also can’t sell them as they’re prototypes I got whilst working on their development with Zeiss…

  9. Hi Ming,
    Love your contributions to photography.
    On your Monochrome Master Class, how familiar with Photoshop should a person be to get the most out of the course?
    I’ve been using Lightroom for several years but want to step up my B&W image making skills. I have a very rudimentary knowledge of how to navigate and do very basic things in PS.


  10. Kevin Leopard says:

    Have you done a review of the Leica CL? If not, do you foresee doing one? Thank you.

  11. Hello Meng, I’m a semi-pro landscape photographer and have followed and have been inspired by your work and articles for many years. Let me start by thanking you. I was also heartened when you joined DJI to rescue Hasselblad. In large part I suspect it was you that helped much of the potential of the wonderful X1D camera to be realized. I’ve been shooting with an X1D now for about six months and I have a favor to ask of you if you still have any influence or connection with DJI since you departed, a sad event for all of us. It would be awesome for Hassie to adopt the .DNG universal RAW format like Leica. Many of us do not love Lightroom and prefer to use non-database developers. But few of the non mainstream but great developer programs have the resources to support the Hasselblad format. In the event you do have any contact with DJI the suggestion that DNG would be a huge boon to all of us loyal Hassie fans would be greatly appreciated. I’d suspect that it would increase sales on this great camera also.
    Thank you for reading this.

  12. Love this blog. You’re the best! 🙂

  13. David Harry Olson says:

    I am reading a lot of your site and your various opinions. I like your honesty and deeper/searching mode of thinking.

    Most people are conscious of some sort of reality. But that consciousness can be quite different for each individual. Photography and the Arts stay alive because of the explorers of reality. “Me too”, in contrast, is a ball and chain.

    Thanks for sharing your view.

  14. Mike Reid says:

    Ming, so much of worth in your site, so much good advice, words of wisdom and inspiration. You’ve definitely influenced how I see.
    But now to my difficult question. I read a quote of yours from years back on how you don’t like changing workflow, well neither do I, to the point that I’ve put it off for years. Having now moved to a Nikon D810 from previous models, I have to let go of Nikon Capture NX2, question is where do I jump to. Trialling pretty much all the options right now, all have their pros and cons, some easier to get my head around than others. Question is, if you were starting again, post processing wise, would you go down the Adobe route or the Capture One road. For a long time amateur hobbyist come landscape photographer.

  15. Ming,
    I just got done reading one of your articles on Black and White conversion. You are talking about that color digital done in RAW probably all will render the same results after processing In programs like photoshop. If you don’t mind I have the following question.

    1. do you think your theory holds true for cameras with CCD sensors or is that just true for CMOS? I say this because so many people love the look of the Leica M8 for its sensor and I can’t imagine they are just using JPEG.

    • Different native tonal response and different amounts of processing latitude, but you can get pretty close. TheM8 is slightly different as it’s also recording near IR through its famously weak filter pack; this tends to give more luminous shadows. Modern color only cameras try to filter out as much IR as possible, however this is offset by a lot more dynamic range so you have more latitude for recovery in the shadows – just different processing is required.

  16. Just want to say “Happy New Year”.
    Tried you contact email but it was not the way to go.

  17. Michael Cogen says:

    Has Hasselblad announced a release date for a 62mm lens for the X1D?

  18. Ming,

    Purchaser of many of your video series here. Re Workflow III, any help for us poor users of the “low dynamic range” Nikon D5? Failing a brand new ACR profile from you (please!) what would be the closest to use, and what tweeks to that would be best?


    • The Nikon 24MP FF profile is most similar in color response; the profile isn’t affected that much by low dynamic range – it’s more how much you can pull the exposure and recovery sliders if you need to…

  19. Incredibly impressive work. Photography is still a hobby for me, but one I hope to continually develop. I just discovered your site and I look forward to seeing more of your work.

  20. Ming, your Blog has been a great read for its technical savvy and philosophical wisdom about photography. It stands out amidst a blizzard of uninformed advice, and has prompted me to start my own Blog (www.bevdigital.wordpress.com). If I can help in any way, let me know–I owned a commercial studio for decades and continue to be interested in advancing photography on a professional level.

  21. Neil Brown says:

    Hi Ming,

    Great videos, photos and thoughts! Thank you. It’s also fabulous to see you move into the Chief of Strategy role at Hasselblad.

    Amongst other things, your review of the X1D helped me decide that the X1D would be good for me; though I still await delivery. I have read a number of other people’s reviews and I have a concern that I wondered if you might be able to help with. The Nikon D4 is my workhorse and Dance photography is my passion. The environment is often dark and obviously the dancers are moving (sometimes fast). Is the X1D likely to work well in these conditions? Other reviews seem to imply that the delay in shutter might cause me problems.

    Your thoughts would be most welcome.

    Kindest regards, Neil

    • Thanks. Short answer – you can use it in these situations but like all medium format cameras, some anticipation is required mainly for focusing rather than shutter lag (which I think is still present, but low enough that it isn’t usually an issue). We have to remember that the (2013 era!) sensor was never designed for live view AF, and both Fuji and Hasselblad implementations have to work creatively around this to focus at all…

  22. Dirk De Paepe says:

    Hello Ming,
    I just made a (terrible) mistake. One of my pictures that was selected by you to appear in your “The Reader’s Portfolio” was accidently deleted from the group by me. I thought to arrive at your account by clicking on the button, but apparently it just deleted the picture from the group. (What was I thinking?!!) Of course I re-clicked immediately before leaving that window, but the sign appeared that the picture needed approval by you (as all new pictures get this message). I really hope that you can re-allow this picture in the portfolio, Ming. The picture in question is titled: “Spectacle__Cheer”.

  23. Did you ever write the second part of Photography and Psychology: It’s All a Mind Game? I enjoyed the post and would like to read the follow up if it out there.

  24. Ong Kai Kiong says:

    Hi! Ming,

    Will you be conducting workshop in Tokyo for 2017? I would love to attend. Cheers

  25. Hello Ming,

    I just purchased your workflow III package, and after downloading the first video I received a message that the file had a virus or malware. Could this be possible? Or is my system seeing something as a virus that really is not?

    Thank you!

  26. Hi Ming,
    I’m interested in getting the new Hasselblad X1D and found your tutorials and site, which were very helpful, during my research.
    I have a technical question which I can’t fully wrap my head around and was wondering if you could clarify things for me.
    It’s the field of view difference/conversion from 4:3 medium format to 3:2 35mm.
    Essentially I need to get as close as I can to what a 16mm lens on a full frame DSLR gives me, by using the X1D. If I go by the formula that an 85mm lens on a medium format 4:3 sensor equals roughly a 50mm lens on a full frame DSLR, then the new XCD 30mm lens should equal a 17.6mm lens on a D810, for example.
    Assuming that the above is correct and since I don’t have the equipment to visually test, here is my question: As an example, if I am a given distance from my subject with a D810 and a 16mm lens and my subject horizontally spans exactly from the left edge to the right edge of my frame; will I see my subject more or less similarly from edge to edge of frame if I switch cameras in the same location to an X1D and its 30mm lens? With more space on top and bottom, of course.
    Sorry for the long question, hope it makes sense.

  27. Hey Ming, are you related to Ming Smith? Check out her photos in today’s NYTimes. In Multimedia/photos section ‘ghost photos”.
    Great stuff. . . .

  28. Herbert Brauer says:

    Hi Ming,

    I enjoy your site for it’s excellent content and professional opinion. I’m wishing you a really good 2017!

    May I ask you for a quick response as to why you never considered the Nikon 28mm 2.8 manual lens? I believe it’s extremely sharp and still relevant in today’s digital world. Personally I agree with your opinion about the Zeiss 28 f2, I certainly prefer it’s bokeh as well. Just wondering as I want to buy a 28mm manual focus.

    Many thanks,


  29. Edwwin waddel says:

    Ming you ever try the fuji Cameras and what you think of them…i am thinking of switching back to my D810 for macro, is it worth the hassle i love the fuji’s and the format, But DSL’s just cant be beat with speed to burn AF and IQ”

    • Yes, I owned an XT1 for a while and didn’t really get along with it. For small/fast/compact, I’d go M4/3, and for versatile, up a size – APSC sort of sits in no-mans’ land.

  30. Hi Ming,
    I was just wondering if you’ve written an article on how your passion for photography began and how you got to where you are today, career-wise? If so, could you send me the link? Thanks, your photos are so inspiring!

  31. Scott Root says:

    I purchased and use many aspects of your Bridge/Camera Raw/Photoshop workflow that is second to none in teasing out true-to-life subtleties in contrast, and that makes all the difference. I’m tired of pop culture norms vying for a second look–eye-candy glitter, surreal saturation, the photo-shopped straightened nose. Contrast is a close cousin to imperfection, and both accentuate a theme and beauty just like a good cup of coffee that is just bitter enough to bring out its subtlety of flavors. Subtleties in contrast is what makes my pictures now work. Take contrast too far and it looks unbelievable and a desperate grope for attention. Keep it subtle and it pops. It’s difficult to get right because contrast is relative. A neon light does not stand out in Las Vegas, but candlelight can pull us towards what it illuminates in a most powerful manner if the contrast is right. This is true in photography and is true with most aspects of the human experience. A great story hinges on contrast–good vs evil, man vs beast, beauty and the beast. Take the contrast of a story line to an absurd level and you lose your audience. Keep the contrast of the story line on the bleeding edge and you have a best seller. Humor works due to contrast–stupidity is funny because we know what is normal, irony makes us cringe because we know what should have happened. I’ve often wondered if mankind’s uncanny attraction to contrast has something to do with peripheral vision that is filled in by the brain with items in our peripheral vision deserving a second look when we notice contrast in color, intensity, or movement. And, just like our peripheral vision that is not in our face, contrast works best when subtle; beyond which it is not believable and boring like a blockbuster Hollywood movie that takes violence to a melodramatic level. Overfed, over-served, overindulged, over-sexed, franchised food, sugar and creamer supersaturated coffee–it’s all the same in being aesthetically empty. The mass media arms race for our attention has generated a grotesque genre involving too much bling, which makes your organic approach to photography so refreshing in this day and age. Thank you for what you do.
    Dr. Scott Root

  32. Manisha Sharma says:

    Hi Ming,

    I read your article on ethics of random street photography. I’ve been capturing people in touristy locations or places I lived in. By now I have some good collection and these days I do editing as well. Basically I want to start posting photos on Twitter and facebook. Recently I found a photo that I took of a bride who was on her photo shoot in Prague at the castle which is heavily flocked by people during open hours. Of course it was a stealthy capture and quick one, while I was covering the castle. Can I post it? The bride and groom are totally anonymous to me and I am just a photographer, not even professional. Photography is my hobby.

    Thank you!


  1. […] When I was first learning watch photography, and trying to figure out what equipment to use and how to light watch photos, I ended up on his site often, and we even spoke a few times, me usually asking him questions about photography. So, it comes as no surprise to me, that he’s currently the Chief of Strategy at Hasselblad and a commercial photographer, which you can read more about here. […]

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