Year end garage sale – final item!

I admit there may be some surprises here, but utilisation info doesn’t lie…so, in my ongoing tradition of efficiency and this site, I am passing on the bargains to you. All items except the KEFs have the original boxes and packaging; everything will be sent insured via DHL courier and this is included in the prices. Any of you who’ve bought gear from me before will know that it’s been well taken care of, and pristine. First come first served, please use the links to purchase and note I’ll need a phone number for DHL. If you have any questions, I’m reachable here. Also, if you are based in Kuala Lumpur and would prefer to transact via bank transfer/ local delivery, I’m happy to discount out the paypal and FX fees – please send me an email. Here goes…

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Sony RX0 Mark II US$500 REDUCED
Includes additional original battery. ‘Shutter’ count below 4,000, though academic as this has an electronic shutter. Cosmetic condition as new, and still under warranty. Read my review here; purchase here.

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Nikon D850 + accessory package SOLD
D850 body, under 30,000 shutter count. Includes two extra original Nikon batteries, RRS L bracket, micro prism focusing screen (the mirror has been shimmed and zero-adjusted for manual focus), tempered glass LCD protector fitted. Taped logos can be removed or not as you prefer. Cosmetic condition as new. Click here to purchase.

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Nikon D3500 two lens kit SOLD
D3500 body, approx. 5,000 shutter count. Note: both lenses are VR versions, not the cheaper non-VR kit. Includes AF-P 18-55/3.5-5.6 DX VR and AF-P 70-300/4.6-5.3 DX VR. Cosmetic condition as new. Click here to purchase

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Beyerdynamic/ Astell & Kern AK T8iE Mark II headphones Sold
Probably the most coherent yet tonally well-extended pair of IEMs I’ve used, thanks to a single large Tesla-type driver. Includes bonus MEE audio bluetooth cable, which I think pairs well with the rich, warm sound signature of the headphones. I prefer over-ear cans as my ear canals won’t tolerate IEMs for very long these days. I could talk at length about these, but if you know, you know. Cosmetic condition as new, original silver cables included. Click here to purchase.

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KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless SOLD
Noise cancelling, bluetooth or wired, incredible (practically, 30+ hours) battery life. A great pair for travel. But…when you have four other pairs, perhaps a little excessive. Click here to purchase.

That’s it for now, folks. I must really be more disciplined next year…MT

Photoessay: Quotidian for some

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Where I live, making images that are vignetted observations of life in the style presented today is very difficult for one simple reason: people tend not to walk much or use public transport; the former because it’s just too damn hot and society still expects you to wear a suit (and as a consequence, the whole city isn’t very pedestrian friendly in the first place), and the latter because it doesn’t really exist outside of a small network. You land up with a lot of cars and not much human interaction – and thus nothing much to photograph. It’s for this reason that whenever I travel to a place where there’s a lot of human life at street level – I tend to gorge myself photographically and amass a lot of material in a very short space of time. This reptilian approach to photography is not intentional but simply a consequence of circumstance. It does also have the happy coincidence of forcing one to break creative anxiety – every situation is constant reminder that your expectations are probably invalid, and to always be open to serendipity. MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7 and 24-70/4 S, with my custom SOOC camera JPEG picture controls available here.

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Robin’s tips for photographing theatre

I have shared some tips on Concert Photography quite recently (which can be found here) but I have also recently dipped my toes into theater photography. Live plays and theaters share many similarities with musicals and concerts and they are often presented in a mixed genre for increased dramatic and production quality. However, I have also been to a few theater shows that are almost entirely different and require a different set of shooting rules and photography considerations in comparison to traditional concert photography. In this article I explore the importance of playing by the house rules and at the same time finding ways to optimize camera settings to get the best out of a given situation. Special thanks to Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center (KLPAC) for the opportunity to shoot the dress rehearsal for their recent theater play titled “The Ring of Nibelung”.

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Life after Olympus

I left Olympus Malaysia not too long ago, which came as a surprise to many, and subsequently Ming Thein on this awesome photography site as an active contributor. Since then, I’ve been asked by many curious people how my life has been, what I’ve been doing, which manufacturer I’ve jumped ship to (Sony? Fujifilm? *gasp*) and how the hell I can still afford that expensive cup of coffee? [Read more…]

In China…

…I will be, from 21/2 until 24/2 – please excuse slow replies as I have no idea how restrictive the Great Firewall is going to be. I will of course deal with email, comments and posts as soon as I can. However, posts will continue as normal, thanks to the power of scheduling. 🙂 MT

Review: The Olympus E-M1 Mark II

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I’ve had the chance to use a final preproduction (i.e. should be no difference to shipping units) Olympus E-M1 Mark II for the last couple of weeks, thanks to Olympus Malaysia*. The camera was supplied with the new 12-100/4 IS PRO and the 25/1.2 PRO lenses. What follows will be not so much the traditional ‘review’ as series of thoughts on the camera (hereby abbreviated to EM1.2); I’ve previously made my current position on hardware and reviews clear and will again state upfront that this evaluation is performed in the context of the images I usually make, not every possible photographic situation. There are some subjects I just don’t shoot, and it would not be very useful for me to comment on the camera’s performance in these areas anyway. With that aside, let’s proceed.

Important note (and you’ll see why, later): all accompanying images were shot handheld, and edited from camera JPEGs – there is no ACR support for the E-M1.2 yet. This of course means tonality and color will likely deviate from my ideal output intention. Images are clickable for larger versions. I’ll also be adding more images to the flickr gallery here.

*Though some people were apparently paid by the mothership to go to Iceland…

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Would they be famous now? Or, the bar has been raised

I recently attended two exhibitions. First was a semibiographical retrospective of Yves St Laurent at work by French photographer Pierre Boulat, and the other was Steve McCurry’s ‘Iconic Photographs’. Both were in Asia, but held at two of the top galleries in the region – Galeri Petronas and Sundaram Tagore, respectively. There was no faulting the presentation or hanging in either case. For both shows, print quality was frankly disappointingly mediocre. I’m prepared to give Boulat some latitude since he was working in relatively early film days and under ‘documentary’ conditions; McCurry’s film work often has obvious motion blur and focus misses, and his digital compounds that with oversharpening haloes – all of which land up being distracting from the image. He should really have tighter control on his post production, or stop outsourcing altogether – as the recent cloning scandal demonstrates. It’s not so much the use of postproduction enhancement, but the addition or removal of elements in what is expected to be work of a documentary nature. All of this has raised two questions in my own mind: firstly, if either photographer was starting out fresh today, would they have anywhere near the notoriety and fame, and secondly, has the game changed so much that we modern photographers have little hope of making a truly widely-recognized ‘iconic image’?

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Photoessay: Regular forms

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Unconsciously, I must have been searching for Mondriansque architecture – with a touch of diagonal Rothko thrown in by the shadows. I can’t really think of a good reason why, but it came through in the post-shoot curation. Perhaps it’s because those two artists decomposed form into nothing mor than shape, colour and luminance, and for the last few years I’ve been seeing the world not as ‘tree’, ‘car’, ‘person’, ‘building’ but ‘triangle on rectangle’, ‘organic contrasty shape on circles’, ‘matte organic shapes, round on rectangle’ and ‘coloured regular/ recursive squares’ – which I suppose fits in with their gestalt. It feels like visual reductionism, but isn’t – because I don’t consciously search for purely clean forms to the exclusion of some of the more textured and wimmelbild aspects of reality. I also don’t think it’d have worked as well in a location with less directional light and more faded colour – a certain blockiness/ solidity is required. MT

This series was shot mostly with a Hasselblad H5D-50c, 50mm and 100mm lenses in Lisbon, Portugal, with a couple of supporting images from a Leica Q. Postprocessing follows Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III.

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A creative frame of mind, redux

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Things are not as they seem: experimentation, in capture and post

This is an alternative take on an earlier piece I wrote, also on a creative frame of mind: from a different frame of mind, no less. There are some professions where you don’t have to be in the right mood to do your job well. You can be an effective consultant, accountant or middle management without having to be particularly inspired; in fact, imagination is generally not a good thing when it comes to accounting and finance anyway. (At least that’s what Inland Revenue said; if you’re Prime Minister, that’s another thing entirely). However, for creative professions – photography, videography, design, writing, music etc. – there’s no question that your state of mind has a direct and very tangible impact on the outcome of the work. As a photographer, professionalism – the ability to deliver at a minimum standard that’s above your client’s expectations under effectively all circumstances – is the bare minimum. But inspiration is what really make the difference between workaday and brilliant. [Read more…]

Mid term assessment of Hasselblad H lenses (UPDATED 29/5)

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Having used the H5D-50c and a good number of lenses for a while now, I wanted to round off the post from a couple of days ago (which was my mid term assessment of the camera) with some more detailed comments on the lenses – especially since practical reviews of these things are not common, and I’ve been receiving a lot of email of late. This is understandable, since medium format glass is both a serious and not so liquid – at least compared to 35mm – investment and therefore not the kind of thing you want to make a mistake buying. For those who don’t know, Hasselblad H lenses are built by Fujinon in Japan. The good news is that what I’ve used is pretty much excellent across the board – there are some exceptions, but few. I’ve also added some rough numerical scores, relative to other lenses available at the time of writing. I’ve also updated the Camerapedia, too.

I know this post is probably for a very small audience, but why not read on and live vicariously…

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