Review: the Panasonic DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60 f2.8-4

Olympus and Panasonic have been releasing increasingly similar and overlapping lenses as the Micro Four Thirds system matures. More options and choice can definitely be seen as an advantage. Early this year, in January, Panasonic released the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 zoom lens. The other competitors for a similar zoom lens are: the Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 and Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 at about the same price as the new 12-60mm F2.8-4. For a premium, you can have the Olympus 12-100mm F4, and at the lower end there is the Panasonic 12-60mm F3.5-5.6. There is no shortage of standard zoom lenses. Therefore in this review, I shall explore the capabilities of the Panasonic 12-60mm F2.8-4 and discuss how this lens stands out from the rest of the crowd. [Read more…]

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 Canon EF-M 22/2 STM

Just when I thought my temporary flirtation with the Canon EOS-M6 was over, Canon Malaysia came back to me with the EF-M 22mm F2 STM lens which I was very interested to try out. In my recent review of the Canon EOS-M6, I concluded that it performed well, with the only serious downside being the sub-standard kit lens. Therefore, I was hoping that the 22mm F2 pancake would do justice to what the M6 is truly capable of!  [Read more…]

Review: The 2017 Canon EOS M6

With the release of the Canon EOS-M5/M6, perception towards Canon’s mirrorless system has changed. Both the M5 and M6 use the same APS-C 24 Megapixels image sensor and dual pixel AF system as Canon’s high-end APS-C DSLR, the 77D, Thanks to Canon Malaysia, I have had the new Canon EOS-M6 to shoot with for the past week. I understand that the M6 is not a new camera and has been on the market since April. Some of you may already have one. I am doing this review purely out of curiosity: to find out where the M6 fits in the almost never-ending choice of mirrorless cameras now. [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…]

Premiere and review: The 2017 Olympus E-M10 Mark III

Olympus just launched a new camera in their OM-D series – the E-M10 Mark III. I personally own an E-M10 Mark II that was launched 2 years ago and have found it to be an extremely reliable and versatile camera to work with. The new and third iteration of the E-M10 comes with a few feature upgrades and improvements. In this article I shall review the OM-D E-M10 Mark III’s performance based on my own experience.

[Read more…]

Field test: the Scarabaeus camera clip

The Scarabaeus is a German hand-made camera holster system that clips to the waist belt allowing quick access to the camera. Generally, special holster for quick access camera attachment systems can be useful for street shooters. Ming Thein and myself have had one each to try out for the past several weeks. . In this article, I shall share my experience using the Scarabaeus camera clip in street shooting scenario. MT will add his thoughts towards the end, having also road tested it.

Disclaimer: the Scarabaeus was sent to us by; we agreed to try it out to provide feedback because it seemed like an interesting idea and solution to the problem for those who don’t like neckstraps, but still sometimes need their hands free.

[Read more…]

Review: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f2.8-4.0 ASPH

I had the opportunity to shoot with the newly launched Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH, thanks to a loan unit from Panasonic Malaysia. In this review article, I shall share plenty of sample images shot with the Panasonic 8-18mm lens, exploring the characteristics and strengths of the lens, as well as adding my own personal experience during the limited time using the lens.

Some important notes first, before we dive into the lens review. This write up is done independently, and I am currently not tied to any company. The Panasonic 8-18mm F2.8-4 lens was only a loan unit, and has been returned to Panasonic Malaysia after use for review purposes. My photography review style is less technical and analytical, but heavily based on user experience approach, thus my opinion is subjective. All the images taken in this article were shot with my own Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, shot raw and converted via Olympus Viewer. [Read more…]

Book review: ‘The Scent of a Dream: Travels in the World of Coffee’, by Sebastiao Salgado

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‘The Scent of a Dream: Travels in the World of Coffee’, by Sebastian Salgado, first edition, Abrams, late- 2015

It’s been a little while since I last reviewed a book, and a surprisingly a much longer while since today’s subject put out what was supposedly his last work – ‘Genesis’ (2013). Genesis’ challenge was that its scope was massive (a decade-plus of work, covering umpteen continents and locations) and it had been played up to the point that expectations were extremely high. Accompanied by a massive travelling exhibition with a huge number of large prints – you really got the sense that the images were meant to be viewed in that format over the book, and perhaps that we were missing something from his previous work by viewing it smaller. Unfortunately, this proved to be mostly not the case: whilst the impact of the prints was definitely wonderful, anything remotely approaching an intimate examination revealed serious shortcomings in printing and huge inconsistencies in post processing. There were also so many images that the whole thing felt like it could have used a bit more curation; understandably the output from a lifetime magnum opus would be huge, but even with the audience giving you the benefit of the doubt – there’s only so many images you can fully appreciate before hitting saturation. At least the lighting was nice.

[Read more…]

Review: Apple MacBook Pro 13″, late 2016 with touch bar

Screen Shot 2016-12-15 at 16.03.03
Image: Apple

Like every piece of hardware, there are plenty of reviews out there that assess the product from just about every possible point of view. For computers, there are other places that do the extensive quantitative testing far better than I could even if I had the time and inclination – which I don’t – but I think where I can add perhaps a little clarity is to review this machine from the point of view of a working and travelling photographer. If you don’t want to read the rest, in short and in my own opinion, this is perhaps the best laptop out there at the moment for the serious photography. There are a couple of major gotchas, though – which may or may not be a deal breaker for you. I’ve been using one of these new machines since the start of December, which is long enough for performance and battery life to settle down, and to figure out how it fits into the workflow overall.

[Read more…]