Blog Keywords

Popular Posts for the Month

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zuiko and the Generation Gap

The grandma and her grandson. The latest addition, for now.

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm f2.0 SWD + FL-50R
35mm, f/3.5, 1/60s, ISO400, -0.3ev

This is a shot straight out of the camera, with the JPEG setting at Large Fine, or JPEG/4. The only thing I did was to resize so that I would not clog the upload bandwidth.

Olympus JPEG is just perfect to my eyes; the Auto White Balance of the E-30, to me is equal to E-3, makes shooting a joy. Why? Because I can get perfect shot, everytime!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Zuiko and a Colorful Habit

Awesome colors, indeed.

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm F2.0 SWD
21mm, f/6.3, 1/40s, ISO200, -0.3ev, Pop Art

Alas, not so awesome when the rubbish is also prominent in the shot. Really, it is a sad tale of beautiful Malaysia. Amidst the beautiful flora and fauna, the colors rich and vibrant, rubbish has to show its ugly head.

I find it is a challenge to shoot a rubbish-free picture, when it comes to public parks and other public areas. The people's attitude got to change, and I don't see it happening in the near future.

I have been keeping this picture for quite a while, and thought now is the time to show the other side of Malaysia.

Well, at least the colors are vibrant!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Zuiko and Low Light Corporate Event


E-3 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm f2.0 SWD
35mm, f/2.0, 1/80s, ISO800, -0.7ev

Yes, I have heard it many times. Olympus can't shoot low light. It's too noisy, it lacks dynamic range. Bla, bla, bla... the debates go on, and on.

It is funny, though. When it comes to clients, they don't know all this technical mumbo jumbo. What they want to see are great pictures showing the important moments of the event, and please don't make the CEO look stupid on stage.

In the end, what matters most to the client is the results. Please keep that in mind, and don't really worry about your "bad" Olympus camera!!!

Covering a corporate event is a mixed situation. There are occassions where it requires quick and rapid shooting, and there are situations when it is very laid back. It is similar to wedding photography, but in my opinion it is less stressful. Partly because the client is not very particular of the nitty gritty details.

It is important to keep in mind that to shoot corporate events, make sure there are enough batteries to keep things running. And please bring the fastest lens you have!!

In this particular event, the photographers were hit with a bombshell!!

Due to videography requirements (thanks to the live screen on stage), flash photography was prohibited!! Why was that? Simply because the screen will instantly show the flash in full feedback effect, similar to a Viper fighter scrambling out of the Battlestar Galactica's flight deck! That was very annoying.

One Nikon shooter was put out of commission because he was only using the 18-200 variant with a big SB-800 flash, not knowing about the no-flash ruling. At that moment, I had my Zuiko Digital 14-35mm f2.0 and 50mm f2.0 lenses. No problem at all. I later saw him shooting with the 50mm f1.8 lens. Not much for him to shoot, though.

In this shot, the CEO was making a strong point to the staff on key milestones and goals. The expression said it all. To be honest, I took multiple shots to ensure I got the right gesture to convey the story.

Corporate people are not very boring, actually. Most of the time they are very serious at what they do. This is no fault of them. However, they can be very funny with sharp, rapid quips. And, it is very important to capture the moment. All I can say that it is rare; so, it is better to be on your toes so as not to miss any of it!!

This shot made the whole auditorium broke into laughter. The picture was actually one of the senior executives, and this snap was a shot of him gasping for breath at a recent Iron Man event!

At the end of the day, everybody was happy. The staff was happy. The client was happy. I was happy!

And isn't this what photography is all about?!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Zuiko and the Six Sigma Team

I was approached to do a team shoot late last year. The client wanted a serious but cool corporate image. Since they were part of the Six Sigma Audit team, I understood the image they were looking for.

As for location, the company's training center lounge provided the perfect backdrop.

Prior to the shoot, I advised the team lead to get everybody up to character. This somehow helped a lot, as the when I arrived on location, they were all zoned in! All I needed was a setup of E-3, Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm f2.0 SWD and FL-50R. The situation was a bit of a mixed lighting, though. I had to think a bit about how to balance the shot.

E-3 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm F2.0 SWD & FL-50R
20mm, f/2.5, 1/50s, ISO200, +0.7ev

I was looking at a 3-light-source setup. The flash provided the fill, along with the sunlight from the window with the ceiling downlights strongly eminating the indoor space.

It took me five minutes to asses the situation and decide what to do.

One way to balance the lights was to shoot bright. I had two options; pump up the flash or utilize the sunlight. Apparently, I chose to get the group to pose about 5 feet from the window sill. That solved the lighting situation. Yet, I still needed the flash to bump up the shadows a bit, as I did not want a flat-looking image. Yes, the catchlight in the eyes added more pop to the shot, too.

It was quite an easy job as everybody understood their role in the shoot. I took 3 shots, and the session ended within 10 minutes.

Great job, everybody!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Zuiko and Merdeka!!!

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

Malaysia celebrated it's 52nd year of Independence last week, on the 31st of August to be exact.

Celebrations were low key this year due to Ramadhan. Yet, this should not hamper the spirit of Merdeka within the hearts of the people. Patriotism for the country should live on, irregardless of many differences in opinions be it race, religion or politics.

E-510 with Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 & FL-36

27mm, f/5.6, 1/50s, ISO400

I remembered one shot I did in 2007 that captured the spirit. This was an impromptu shot, with my colleague quickly draped the Jalur Gemilang across his body.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Zuiko, What's with the Grades?

Any Zuikoholics would know that Olympus has a clear line in defining the lenses in the E-system. Apparently, it is categorized in three distinct grades: Standard Grade (SG), High Grade (HG) & Super High Grade (SHG).

For a normal consumer, this does not mean much, except that the higher the grades go, the higher the price.

Now for shutterbugs, more questions are abegging. What really matters if I move to a higher grade? What to gain? Nothing to lose? If it's getting better, will the high price justify it?


For me, I had started with the SG lenses namely the kits of 17.5-45mm & 40-150mm. These lenses were the defacto for my early foray in E-system; though, I have to admit that since I was not a beginner in photography when I got my first E-system camera, I did purchase the 11-22mm beforehand. And, it is a HG lens!

With the 3 lenses, I found myself understanding the precise difference of the grades. Olympus did not simply grade the lines by the differing optical speed, but also the overall quality.

I quickly found that the 11-22mm was really kicking the two kits' "asses"!

Optically superior, better build quality and superb tactile response were the immediate attributes that I quickly appreciated. Once I saw the images on the computer screen, the 11-22mm lens yearned for a better companion.

This was really an example of how Olympus really put the grades on their Zuikos. Simple and true!

Let's look at the current line of Zuikos. There are about 20 or so lenses, which is about 7 lenses per grade. Well, I stopped counting...

With the SG the most obvious trait is that these lenses tend to have f/4-5.6 openings. In no way fast; however, they are very compact and light! Ingenious optics with the ultra wide and generous spread of ED elements for telephotos mean that the SG is in now way inferior. Optically may be a bit lower than the HG range, but by not much!

I have also tested the 9-18mm and 70-300mm lenses, I found them to be high performers! The only gripe I have with these range is the slightest tend for chromatic aberration at strong contrast at the periphery of the frame. Nothing too serious, though!

For the price, I will not complain much on the build quality and ergonomics. It is simply as good as it gets!!

As time went by, I slowly sold the kit lenses and replaced them with the HG lenses. Along came the 14-54mm, 50mm and 50-200mm. The 11-22mm was not lonely anymore, and these lenses had f/2.8-3.5 openings as a minimum! That's fast!!!

The funny thing was, I was shooting with the E-510, which was not weathersealed!! Odd, wasn't it. Part of the HG lenses were for this feature, and the body was not up to par!

The most notable uniqueness of the HG line is the ability to provide high zoom range from 12mm to 200mm with just 2 lenses, with the speed honorably starting at f/2.8. And the close focusing distance of these lenses are just great for pseudo-macro shooting, too!

Olympus put a HG sticker on these lenses for a reason, and this means that it's not really the best of the Zuikos! And, from my assessment, this is true!

Don't get me wrong. The HG lenses are exceptional, but there a quirks that need to be told to understand why it's not the Top-of-the-Line Zuiko!

I never really got the 8mm Fish Eye, and it's such a specialized lens, I hadn't found a reason to own it.

From the 11-200mm range, I could tell that the 11-22mm was the best performer!! The 14-54mm was not sharp enough unless at f/4, the 50-200mm had annoying bokeh, and the 50mm macro simply was a focusing nightmare! If you can live with these quirks, you are Okay with the Zuikos. There's no need to look much further!

I couldn't! I yearned for higher performance!

Enter the 14-35mm. This was the first SHG lens that I bought. And boy, this was an optic marvel. I paired this with the 50-200mm, and boy did the 50-200mm struggled to keep up. This eventually made me move up to 35-100mm. Alas, to fund for it, I had to sell off all of the HG line except for the 50mm macro.

The SHG are high performance lenses. Big, fast, and heavy! I kid you not. Essentially, the biggest attribute of the SHG lenses is not the mind-boggling F/2 aperture, specifically designed for low light and more creative control.

In practical terms, it is catered for Full-frame type of shooting. You see, the behaviour of these lenses matches the Canikon F/2.8 variants. I think that Olympus is really trying to penetrate the pros by matching it as close as possible with the Big Boys. I won't comment on their market success; but, suffice to say that Olympus took the telecentricity aspect a bit too far and made a behemoth of lenses that are optically superb!

What I learn when I move up to SHG, I have to change my shooting style. And this is by no means an easy feat!!! Focusing distance are much farther than the HG variants, and the weight! Boy, these lenses are really heavy!! Back pain and arm stiffness may be the common ill-effect after hours of shooting, but the soothing of the eyes appreciating the optical perfections made all pain go away. It's really worth it. If you have the dough, please splurge on it!

There... my observations on the Zuiko grades. They may be different, but they are alike all the same. All the ranges have their own strength and weaknesses. Learn your needs, and buy the right lenses. Do have confidence when putting the lenses on, as the performance of Zuikos are actually above par from the competition.

Grades... who needs them, actually? It may be good for marketers, though!