Shooting Muay Thai: Round two!

When a friend invited me to shoot a Muay Thai fight from the ringside, I immediately said yes. The organizers of Asian Fighting Championship (AFC) were kind enough to extend opportunities to photography enthusiasts to shoot the event. After my previous experience shooting Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) half a year ago, I thought this would be a great time to revisit fast-paced indoor sports and at the same time subject the best camera Olympus has to offer, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, to some torture.

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Heresy and sacrilege: MT and SOOC experiments

IMG_2716 copy

Due to an idle browser, more idle hands and pre-Raya* specials, the un-camera is no more. I traded in the GX85 for an Olympus PEN-F (previously reviewed here), available now at just half of its original launch price (at least in Malaysia) and with bonus goodies of grip with built in Arca rail and extra battery. For a modest supplement, it seemed like a good deal. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself: firstly, why? Well, a couple of things: if I’m going to shoot something serious, then I’ll break out one of the ‘Blads. If I’m not, then managing a three year old and the associated peripherals means that you don’t really have a lot of payload left over for hardware, let alone time to use it. But there are still opportunities to be had, and often single interesting grabs that require something quick**. On top of that, I admit the un-camera had a couple of serious deficiencies: firstly, the body was plastic and felt like it – grip it with moderate force and you’d be rewarded with a squeak or three. The back control dial was a bit recessed to access easily, and turned stiffly. Default color needed serious help (more on this later) – and lastly, I just didn’t like the fact that despite having a very comprehensive feature set (4K, dual IS etc) it felt like an appliance and had nigh on zero emotional value to shoot.

*end of Ramadan
**I’ll be the first to admit this does not describe the current generation of Hasselblads; but we
are working on it.

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A blast from the past II: revisiting the Olympus OM-D E-M5

Of all the cameras that I’ve reviewed in the past, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 will always have a special place in my heart. It seems appropriate to follow the previous revisitation of the very first E-1 by revisiting the E-M5. The E-M5 was a game-changer for the mirrorless interchangeable camera world, pushing the boundaries for capabilities and setting high standards for other mirrorless manufacturers to follow. It’s been 6 years since the release of the E-M5 and I want to explore the significance of the E-M5’s role in changing the perception towards mirrorless cameras as a serious tool. I spent a day with the E-M5 for my shutter therapy and all the images shown are fresh out of the trusty, old E-M5.

MT also reviewed the original E-M5 some time back, here, and wrote about how it was a game changer for him professionally at the time, here.

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A blast from the past: Robin Wong on the Olympus E-1

Between the chase for stratospheric megapixel numbers, lust over new gear releases and pushing the limits of imaging envelopes, I sometimes take a step or two back and relive the experience of shooting with cameras from yesteryear. In this case, the first ever Olympus Four Thirds DSLR, the E-1 which was introduced in 2003. While accessorizing my outfit with a vintage-looking camera matches the overall retro-fashion look that seems hip these days, my purpose of shooting with the dinosaur E-1 was more simplistic. I wanted to slow down, and just enjoy shooting without having the camera get in the way. After all, have I not repeatedly talked about going back to the basics and getting the fundamentals right? Even MT has a great, must-read article about shot discipline, which emphasizes critical timing and technique relevant to all gear choices.

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Firmware 2.0 for the Olympus E-M1 Mark II

Olympus has announced firmware upgrades for their OM-D E-M1 Mark II, E-M5 Mark II and PEN-F cameras. Olympus Malaysia provided me with the early version of Firmware 2.0 for my E-M1 Mark II about a week ago and I’ve had some time to test it out. There are no major changes but there are small yet relevant improvements that can make a difference. In this article, I explore the improvements that firmware 2.0 brings to the E-M1 Mark II, and how it affects my photography.

Olympus has made the following feature additions or enhancements to the E-M1 Mark II via the firmware upgrade:
– Smaller AF target area for both Single-AF and Continuous-AF
– Focus Stacking compatibility for M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 PRO lens
– Indication of 1 to 1 magnification view on image reviews
– Improved buffer of Pro Capture Mode to 35 pre-burst frames from previously 14 frames only.
– In camera fisheye lens distortion correction (de-fishing)
– New Flicker Scan Aid function allows for easier removal of flickering when using electronic shutter.
– New Art Filter added: Bleach Bypass

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Review: The 2018 Olympus E-PL9

Olympus has just launched a new addition to their PEN line-up, the E-PL9. I had the opportunity to shoot a review unit for about a week before the launch. Looking at the compact form factor, stylish design and inclusion of a selfie screen, the E-PL9 is clearly targeted towards the entry level market – particularly smartphone users who need better image output and performance but are not keen on carrying larger and heavier DSLR cameras. However, there is no shortage of entry level system cameras now, both from the mirrorless and DSLR camps. In this E-PL9 review, I explore the capabilities of the small PEN camera that allows it to stand out from the crowd, as well as the compromises that were made to keep the compact form factor. [Read more…]

Street photography with the Olympus ZD 17mm f1.2 PRO – an addendum to the review

Some of you who read the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 PRO lens review here, must be wondering why there were no street photography images, since the 35mm equivalent is a classic focal length for street photography and it is widely known that I do love shooting on the streets. The culprit was bad weather, thanks to a spell of rain over the last couple of week combined with overcast skies. Lighting is crucial for all photography and with cloudy weather I would have had flat, uninteresting and dull looking images. Fortunately, I did have a little time left with the Olympus 17mm F1.2 lens before returning it to Olympus, so I went out to do some street shooting when the weather cleared. This article shall be an extension to the Olympus 17mm F1.2 review, with more sample images shot with the lens.

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Review: the 2017 Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f1.2 PRO

With the Micro Four Thirds lens collection now no longer lacking good, affordable zoom and prime options, Olympus has shifted their focus to making premium large aperture prime lenses. In addition to the existing M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens, Olympus just announced two new PRO lenses: the 17mm F1.2 and the 45mm F1.2. Special thanks to Olympus Malaysia for the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO loan unit for this review. I’ve had one full day to shoot with the lens on the streets and behind the scenes of a Chinese Opera.

The highlights of the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO lens are:

  • Designed to be optimally balanced between delivering excellent resolution and producing beautiful “feathered” bokeh.
  • Complex lens construction consisting 14 Elements in 10 Groups with 1 ED lens, 4 HR lenses, 1 aspherical lens
  • Full weather sealing (splash and dust proof)
  • Minimum focusing distance of 0.5 meter and maximum magnification of 0.1x
  • LF-n button (customize-able function button on lens), manual focus clutch mechanism, takes 62mm filters and weighs about 410g

You can find the full technical specifications on the official product page.

In case some of you aren’t aware yet, I left my Olympus employment in April. So neither MT nor I are affiliated to Olympus in any way and this is an independent review. The Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO lens and OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera body were provided on loan by Olympus Malaysia strictly for review purposes only. This is an experience based review and is likely to be subjective. All images were shot in RAW and post-processed in Capture One Pro version 10.2. For higher resolution images with full EXIF data intact, kindly view the images in the online gallery here.

Read on for the rest of the review. [Read more…]

Review: The Olympus Zuiko Digital ZD 12-100/4 Pro

For the last year, the question I’ve been asked most frequently is when will I review the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 lens? The reason this has been pushed back so long is because I knew I was exiting Olympus, and I wanted this review to be written after I had left the company. While Olympus never restricted me, during my time there, in saying anything I wanted to about their cameras or lenses, I just felt that being completely independent would make it easier to write freely. [Read more…]

Street photography with the Olympus E-M10 Mark III

Traditionally, I always bring a new camera to the streets to shoot for review. For the recently launched Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III (full review here), I decided to shoot a different variety of sample shots which included sports, outdoor portrait and landscape. I am all game when it comes to doing something different to keep my reviews fresh. Still, since I had the E-M10 Mark III with me for a few more days, I had to satisfy the itch to have my shutter therapy on the streets. [Read more…]