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Friday, October 31, 2008

Zuiko of the Past

I started into photography back in 2002, when I got myself an OM-1 film SLR with a couple of Zuikos: 50mm F1.4 (SC) and 75-150mm F4 (SC). My passion grew with other acquisition throughout the years, namely in 2005 when I got an OM-4 with a slew of fine lenses: 28mm F3.5 (SC), 50mm F1.8 (MIJ), 135mm F2.8 (SC), 200mm F4 (SC) and 35-105mm F3.5-4.5 (MC). Among my favorite lenses were the 28mm and 35-105mm.

And I also started to experiment with Kodak Royal Gold films. Slowly, after a couple of years, I moved towards Fuji Reala 100. The reason is simple; Fuji Reala produced the most exquisite skin tones and natural colors for any consumer grade film. And now, the film can be had for RM7 per 36 exposure roll.

*** A little technical stuff, here ***
The shot of Putra Mosque was done with the OM-4 and 28mm F3.5 lens. Using the Auto mode with Off-the-film metering and Hyperfocal focusing, I only have to care on composition without having to worry about over/under-exposure or out-of-focus subjects. Using old manual camera system like the OM-system, can be very fast or even faster than modern DSLR, given a certain situation with the proper settings. The film used was the Fujifilm Reala 100 with the aperture at F11.0 deep depth-of-field. Postprocessing of the negative was done via the Canoscan 4200F scanner at 3200dpi, and converted to monotone. Additional contrast was added to accentuate the mood, and a tighter crop was needed to solely focus on the mosque.

Some shots made using various bodies and lenses.

OM-2000; 70-210mm F4.0-5.6

OM-4; 35-105mm F3.5-4.5

OM-4; 50mm F1.8

OM-4; 28mm F3.5

OM-4; 135mm F2.8

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Zuiko inside Gua Tempurung

About a couple of weeks back, I went to Gua Tempurung near Gopeng, Perak with my office mates. For just RM6, we were on a journey to see one of nature's beautiful splendor; and of course a rather tiring affair with the stairs.

One of my colleagues who was very keen with the hike uphill.

The journey began. Through a small opening, we were greeted with a huge chamber lined with stalagtites and stalagmites (hope I spell it right). The condition was surprisingly humid, though. Yellow tungsten lights provided ample lighting into the total darkness.

And all I cared about was to snap some nice cave shots.

This shot was quite breathtaking for me, at least. It showed the size of the cave, with both its depth and length. The sheer volume really showed! The stairs looked like model scales you see in Home Fairs.

To make this shot, I used the Olympus E-3, with the Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm F2.0 SWD lens. The aperture was at F2.0, with ISO at 1600 and shutter speed at 1/5s. This shot was done handheld, thanks to IS within the E-3 to provide the necessary stabilization; thus, sharp image.

The end of the tour was at Stage 2. There were 4 stages, and the RM6 we paid only allowed till here. The last image is actually at the end of our journey, where I snapped my buddy.
As for the final image, a little trick was required to make the portrait work. The exposure was the same as the cave image described. Only that I put a fill-flash on-board the E-3 to provide the necessary luminance. Also, I used the 2nd Curtain flash to ensure the background was captured in its ambient nature. There was one slight problem, there was not enough Depth of Field in this shot to render the background sharp. I might needed to shoot at F2.8 and bumped up to ISO3200 to make this work, though.

And one amazing thing, with such a fast zoom lens, at F2.0, the E-3 was able to focus in the dimmest of darkness.

Kudos to Olympus. This is really a great system, at least for me!!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Say Hello to the Zuiko ED35-100mm F2.0 Lens

My latest purchase.

Q: How much does it cost?
A: Simple. I have to sell my Zuiko Digital lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 and the 50-200mm F2.8-3.5. Also, it is not enough! I also have to sell my E-420 twin kit lenses.

Q: How does it feel to have a Super High Grade lens?
A: Awesome! And, my ED14-35mm F2.0 SWD now has a bigger brother. The F2.0 performs as good as other aperture range up till F11, where diffraction limits takes over.

Q: How many lenses do you have now?
A: With the ED14-35mm F2.0 & ED35-100mm F2.0 lenses, I still have the ED50mm F2.0 MACRO 1:2 lens, along with the EC-14 for extra reach.

Q: How about the lens quality?
A: See for yourself......

Zuiko and Creative Lighting

I have an assignment lately, that is to shoot a cover for the company's newsletter. The basis of the cover is to emphasize hands, specifically a child's hands in prayer. Well, the easiest hand model for the task would be my daughter and probably my son.

Since I was at home early at around 15 minutes before 6pm, I quickly called my daughter to come out in the sun for a fast shooting session. My wife was around to help with the directing of the shots.

By attaching my camera with a normal zoom lens, and using two flash that can be totally controlled remotely up to 6 meters, the outdoor studio was ready. Amazingly, with the simplicity of the E-system remote flash, all was set up in less than 5 minutes.

The main shots were to have the hands in cusp position, as in mimicking a prayer posture.

The first shot was simple. All I needed was a single main light to lighten the hands. Otherwise, the strong sunlight will render the cusp dark in the shadows. To get the blue sky, I simply meter it as the reference exposure value.

The shot below used the two lighting setup, with the main light directly covering the palms, and the fill light was to the bottom left of the hands. The effect of the fill light gave added dimension to the image. And shadow emphasis was not only from the main light. Otherwise, the image would rather be flat.

The next shot is a bonus shot, as I quickly captured my son holding my wife's hand. The lighting was simple. Direct flash from the camera plus a fill from below. My left hand holding the main flash, while my legs shoving the fill flash to follow their quick movements.

The whole exercise was over within 15 minutes, and the three images bore testament to the ability of the system.

*** A little bit of technical stuff, here. ***
To enable the shoot, I used the Olympus E-3 camera with the HLD-4 battery grip. Attached was the Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm F2.0 SWD lens. Also, for the portable lighting, I used the Olympus FL-36R and FL-50R flashes.

The exposure setup for the camera was A-priority mode, with aperture locked at F8. With the flash strobe on, the shutter was set at 1/60s. The ESP+AF TTL exposure was set at -2.0EV.

The exposure setup for the remote flash was both at FP TTL. FL-50R was in Channel 1A, and FL-36R was in Channel 1B. The exposure for both was at +1.0EV.

Other settings were set to Auto.

Postprocessing was done using the GIMP to balance some exposure, and for the last image, a monotone conversion. No added sharpening was done.


Zuiko and Futsal

About a couple of weeks back, I was asked to cover a futsal event. I never did a sports coverage, and being indoor, the challenge was doubled.

I arrived at the venue, at a fitness center in KLCC, with a very brief instruction from the organizer. "Pick a spot, and cover as much as possible." It seemed, other than myself, there were 3 other photographers at the event. I opted to move around, rather than stuck in a spot. The organizer agreed.

Basics of event coverage entailed me to capture the atmosphere.

Rather than worry about shutter speeds and wide angle lenses, I jumped into the event. "Be there, and F2.0", as I will say it. Everybody was pumped up for the tournament, although I can say 80% had hardly kicked a futsal within the year itself!!

Well, in good clean fun, the energy was electric!!!
Shooting sporting events is fun. The emotions are real. The expressions are real. Everything is real!

*** A little bit of technical stuff, here. ***
In covering the indoor event, I realized that I need to shoot wide open at F2.0 with my ED14-35mm F2.0 lens. The light was at EV8 or lower, and fast action entailed at least 1/250s shutter speed. With the mode set at S-priority, and the rest on Auto, I was set to rock-and-roll. AF setting was at AF-S with Group mode.

Thru the eye of the Zuiko

It has been quite a while since I last blogged.

I tried it last year, but seems that I had lost focus about doing it. Maybe, with this new blog, I want to start fresh with a more specific perspective.

The idea is to convey my thoughts and my observations through my camera lens. As I have browsed my Flickr pictures, I realized that I have lots of things to say. Maybe I need to put my pictures into words too, as I do not think the phrase "A picture is worth more than a thousand words" really applies. Sometimes, the picture needs some verbal expression to convey the right message and experience.

Well, I hope I can achieve my target, and put my thoughts into words with the correct perspective as seen through the lens.