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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Zuiko and a Giant

I was passing by the row of shops just after having dinner at Mak Jah's.

I was surprised to see this new landmark adorning the Putra Heights skyline at night. The bright neon signage just attracted me to go nearer and nearer. It was not a problem, just a few hundred yards behind the row of shop houses.

Driving by the empty streets, I was looking for the nice angle for the shoot.

I took out my E-3, and latched on the ED35-100mm F2.0. Lighting was not the issue, nor did the lack of a supporting tripod/monopod. All I need was good in-body stabilization and fast aperture. Apparently, I did not check the shutter speed; thus, I ended up with ISO1600. I could have gone down to ISO400 with the shutter speed just kicking in at about 1/15s. Somehow, I liked the texture of the shot. The noise added some gritty dimension to the image, reminded me of film.

Shooting at F2.0 also did not bother me although it was a landscape shot. Since this was based on 4/3 format, the depth-of-field was adequate to render the palm trees and the building in focus. There was a slight flare; as expected though as I shot handheld through the car's windscreen.

Considering the location just a few hundred yards from my house, my shopping days are going to be much easier. I just hope it opens by Chinese New Year. That will be just GREAT!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Zuiko and a Boring Friday Afternoon

I was at the office. Nobody was around, I guess they were taking extended lunch hours. See, when the big bosses were not around, this tended to happen.

There was this plant that was placed at the window sill with the nice landscape of Bangsar! The weather was just nice with the cloud forming. It was just waiting to be photographed!

Indeed it was a boring day, no e-mails, no phone calls..... I was in the brink of ZZZ-dom!!

Oh ya, during lunch, I managed to get myself a new Circular Polarizor for my 77mm threaded-lens. Being curious with the polarizor, and also nobody seemed to be in office, I quickly setup the shot.

Attaching the polarizor on the 14-35mm F2.0 SWD lens, with the FL-50R in RC-mode at the right side facing the white wall and bounced, an instant studio was created!

After many, many snaps, I was not happy with the shots. This in particular was due to the glass reflection. I have changed angle, changed flash output, shifted the polarizor; but nothing seemed to work. I sort of gave up, until I got this shot. Although there was still some residual reflection, it was minimal. I was somewhat glad with it. And it was the last shot!

This was the first shot, to gauge the ambient light with the background scene... it definitely very melancholic. The window frame added dimension to a somewhat sombre composition.

In order to save the shadows due to strong background light, I used the Shadow Adjustment Technology feature in the E-3 to extract the detail in the plant's leaves.
Without it, the whole foreground will just be a silhoutte.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Zuiko and Olympus E-30: A preview

I was approached by Olympus Malaysia to conduct a product review of the new upcoming Olympus E-30 DSLR.

The E-30 is a new DSLR designed to fill the large gap between the E-3 and E-520. Targeted at the enthusiasts market, the E-30 sports E-3 form factor with a shorter build. I suspect it is due to the smaller glass pentaprism, which shortens it by 1cm. Also, the weather-sealing magnesium alloy construction is not with the E-30. But, after handling it for about an hour during our meet, I can safely say that the build is still solid, and should survive a tropical drizzle.

Other key features it has similar with E-3 are the 11-point cross-hair AF system, slightly smaller viewfinder with only 98% coverage, slightly bigger "free-angle live view" 2.7" LCD screen, and 5 frames-per-second rapid continuous shoot. It also happily works with the HLD-4, too.

The E-30 brings new enhanced features and improvements to the fore.
  • A newly developed 12.3MP Live MOS sensor with the TruePicIII+ processor to produce higher quality image reproduction.
  • 6 Art Filters for in-camera image touch-up. These filters are: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film, and Pin Hole.
  • 9 different Aspect Ratios: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 6:6, 5:4, 7:6, 6:5, 7:5, 3:4. For me, I will mostly use the first 5 as these are my favorite aspect ratios.
  • Built-in dual axis level gauge to measure pitch & roll during image composition and capture. This is great for landscape and architecture shoots.
From the short session, I was quite pleased actually with the E-30. Although, being an E-3 user, I had my own prejudice towards the E-30 before handling it. It is now gone! In fact, the E-30 is a great complement to the E-3.

I will be getting the test unit next week, and will be able to provide a full insight into the real capabilities of the E-30. Focus of the review will be on the Art Filters and usability of the Live View in the field.

I just can't wait!!!!!!!!

* Image of E-30 courtesy of Olympus Corporation.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Zuiko and Leaves

One of my earlier workings with the E-system was the passion to shoot leaves, either in abstract or just detail forms.

The picture here depicts a few leaves on a branch with the blue sky as the background.

With just simple composition of positioning the shot from below, the bright blue sky served as a perfect background. With the morning sunlight shining, it added lighting aspect that enriched the shot.

I laid down underneath it, and with the 50mm F2.0 lens meticulously select the desired visual effect. Ample depth-of-field with the macro range was desired, so did stopping motion. Underexposure was a problem too, as the sky is dominant.

To get the shot, I set aperture to F8, shutter speed to 1/200s, and compensated exposure by +1EV.

I further did tonal enhancement in The GIMP to highlight the richness in color.

To my surprise, I receive an e-mail from an editor for a photo magazine in Holland. Eventually, this image was used by a Dutch Pro magazine as a sample for their E-510 review.


One of first foray to explore the tonal qualities of the E-3 was to shoot high contrast subjects.

Again, leaves were my choice. In this case, I overexposed the sky to whitewash, and purely extracted the rich green tones.

Green is a strong color represented in most D-SLR. This is due to the Bayer filter design principles that partition Green as 50% of the color representation, with Blue and Red at 25% each.

The soft subtleties of the greens can be seen clearly. The texture of the leaves are beautifully captured in great detail. The selection of shallow depth-of-field at close-up, adds texture to the image - where the details and off-focus elements of the textures are interleaved. At ISO100, the tones are at the most maximum, and represent the real capabilities of the camera.

Zuiko and the Swing

Watching children play is a delight. Watching them having fun, pure fun, is God given delight.

One day, I brought my daughter to the playground. She liked to play with the swing. While she was having a whale of a time, I quickly took a snap!

Quick response, with constant tracking on the eyes are the key elements of "nailing"this shot. No other tricks required.

For the static effect, and isolation with the background, I used the E-3 with 50mm F2.0 Macro lens, and chose wide aperture F3.2 and fast shutter speed 1/400s. Even in broad daylight, I had to bump up the ISO sensitivity to 400. Fill flash was used to stop the motion.

Further post-processing in monochrome emphasized the expression of satisfaction and joy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Zuiko and Portraits, Part 1


A snapshot of the soul... a picture to tell the whole story of a person... portraits!

I always like to shoot portraits; mostly candids, as my subjects are mostly children.

The details, the expression, the lighting, the mood, the background, the foreground, the focus, the de-focus, the bokeh, the sharpness, the eyes, the soul, the shadows, the highlights, the smiles, the sorrow... I can go on, and on....


A quick snap with the Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm F2.0 SWD lens yields an exquisite rendition of the children's expression. The subtlety of the monotones, coupled with the soft lighting from the background adds aura to the composition. Adequate bokeh qualities to blur the backgrounds adds silkiness to the textures. Eyes, yes, very sharp eyes!

In awe!

This meticulously composed image was done with care. Soft sunlight through the day curtain provided the adequate side lights to this composition. Flash was not used in this shot, but yet able to have a beautiful catchlight in the eyes. How was that possible?

Apparently, my son was watching the telly, and the reflection was caught in the eyes. Marvellous!

All I needed was a Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0 MACRO lens, and lots of patience.

My niece suddenly made the pose. I saw, I took the shot. Simple!!!

I was shocked to see the image turned out so nice, with the pair of eyes as the perfect centerpiece! Awesome!!

This was made with the Zuiko Digital 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 lens, at the 54mm end. A flash strobe was used to fill the image, bounced! Thus, the fill light on the hair, and soft shadows lining her arms. Soft Gaussian filtering was used to envoke the elusive feel in the composition. Bokeh was not adequate, but the tight crop was able to hide the obvious.

Portraits are fun. It is even more fun if the innocence are captured; real expressions, with the spur of the moment and the luck of exquisite lighting.

All you need is patience, a good lens, and the light. Any lens will do, and any light will do, too. As long as the subject is comfortable with your presence. That is all it takes.