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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Zuiko: Using the 7-14mm Ultra-wide

I made a point to myself to use the Zuiko Digital ED7-14mm F4.0 more.

The morning was actually quite rainy, so I chose to use the Olympus E-3 as it was weather-sealed should rain to come during the middle of the shoot. The 7-14mm was weather-sealed, too.

Palace of Justice, cropped in 16:9
7mm, f/9, 1/200s, ISO100

Initially I did not know I would end up here at Putrajaya, but thinking logically that the 7-14mm would be more useful for many architectural and landscape shots, the national capital was the perfect location.

I was driving along the main road, and the Palace of Justice struck me. Since the town was virtually empty due to the long Eid Adha holiday weekend, only a couple of tourists and keen photographers were there. This was good for architectural shots! And a bonus; the sun suddenly appeared amongst the clouds to render the buildings with good light.

Shooting with an ultra-wide lens was very tricky. One thing that could really could screw things up were the perspective. It could easily be a nightmare if not done properly. For that shot, to keep the perspective in check, I used the E-3's focus markers and put the horizon along the 5 points. And I checked the 3 vertical markers with the building's pillars to ensure the perspective was correct. And all was done handheld, without any tripods or supporting gizmos. To get it right the first time, I held my breath to freeze my framing and quickly but calmly clicked the shutter.

The composition was heavy bottom, with half of the frame being the road. Well, I just cropped off the bottom.

Another thing, to get all in focus, it was very easy as the depth-of-field for such a wide lens with the 4/3 format was very huge. I just dialed in F/9.0 and it was more than enough.

Palace of Justice framed in the Putrajaya Holdings HQ main entrance
7mm, f/8.0, 1/1000s, ISO100

For both images, the sun was directly in the frame. This posed a problem in the Dynamic Range department. And, I chose not to use RAW, instead opted for the Superfine JPEG (which means the JPEG file is ultra huge, but not as huge as TIFF). The original file showed much shadows in the buildings' details; thus, I had to post-process the images using my trusty GIMP software.

Using tone mapping with Overlay settings at 40%, I used 3 layers duplicated on top of each other and merged them one-by-one. A bit of S-curve to enhance the shadows and highlights, and increased the saturation by 40 points did the trick (during the tone mapping, the colors faded).

One thing that ticked me off during the shoot. I was actually chased away by the security, claiming that this place was not for public shooting. I was aghast, and immediately responded that I am taxpayer, and these buildings were built using the people's money. I was not even inside the building, just outside within the corridors!

I was shocked, and immediately left the place. I managed to get a couple of great shots, but those were it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Zuiko and A Boy

A simple telephoto shot from about 20 feet. Using the maximum aperture and maximum zoom, I was able to have a shallow Depth-of-Field for a full body shot.

E-3 with Digital Zuiko ED35-100mm F2.0
100mm, f/2.0, 1/4000s, ISO200

The sunlight was on the left, and was quite high up around 11am. Nonetheless, the boy's subtle posture caught my eye. The pose was good for a composition. I just needed to wait for the boy to shift his head a bit to the right and endsured that his hair on the left did not cover the metal railing.

The story was simple, I tried to invoke a sense of loneliness using the optical isolation to accentuate the boy's body language.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Canon S90 Image Gallery

This will be the small gallery for my S90 shots, and the contents will updated as the images come in.

Click the small picture to see a slideshow of the Canon S90 Gallery.


A typical scene at KL Sentral, with the landmark being the Hilton. Security is quite tight here, maybe not as secure as KLCC, but it's definitely above average compared to other high profile areas in Kuala Lumpur.

It's quite common to see a squad car patrolling the area. And the foot patrols are also around every 50 yards or so.


I found that the Auto-focus system is fast enough to capture that "moment". Not bad for a pocket P&S!


There's a cool feature in this camera, aptly named the "Color Accent" mode. What it does is it allows the photographer to choose a color in a scene using a color spot meter, and any other than the selected color will be rendered as monotone.

All I did in postprocessing is to crop it to 6:6 ratio.


This is a close-up shot at 6mm and f2.0. The ISO800 is still clean, that I had to add more film grain. A bit of Dodging & Burning and adding the lens flare effect with a square crop seemed to accentuate the mood.


10.7mm (25mm equiv.), f/3.2, 1/125s, ISO1600, -0.3ev

One of the greatest assets of a pocketable camera is its unobtrusiveness. Especially when casually shooting children in close proximity, the petite size of the camera and lens really help. Coupled with a great lens, fast AF and close-focusing ability, I can actually be in direct contact to interact with the children and at the same time make meaningful candid shots.

Why I like this image? It is due to the purity of children expressions. The eyes say a lot about their innocence. The spontaneity is captured with subtleness.

Originally in color, I wanted to infuse more persona into the image. In this instance, monotone with grainy, high-contrast effect is the perfect projection of my vision. Please take note that I added film grain in post-process, which means that at ISO1600 it's still too clean for my liking!!

I love it!!!!

This is another shot from the same series. This is a simple shot to catch the cheery baby eyes. Due to the lack of shallow Depth-of-field to blur the foreground, I opted for selective monotone to emphasize more on the baby.

6mm (14mm equiv.), f/2.0, 1/200s, ISO1600, -0.3ev

There are more to come... stay tuned!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Olympus E-P2, and Why I Ended Up with the S90

A lot of buzz has been happening this week regarding the launch of E-P2. Well, it turned out to be a minor tweak to the E-P1. Looking at the specs, I strongly suspect this was what the E-P1 should be. And, knowing that being the fastest to market is key in this new "compact-size, big-sensor" segment, I believe Oly rushed the E-P1 out of the oven. Nothing wrong there, but it may anger a few E-P1 owners especially it's only five months back.

I am for now still not satisfied with what Olympus is putting on the plate. For one, I somehow still want a built-in flash on it, a-la Panasonic's offering with the GF-1! Simply because I want my E-P1/2 to have a wireless-flash commander on it. I have two FL-s, and it's a waste not being able to use it with any E-P1/2 camera!

Enter the Canon S90.

Well, actually to be frank, I did not know about this camera's existence until yesterday. I was merely talking to my regular camera shop guy about the Panasonic LX-3 and it's cool retro looks. You see, I was looking for a photographer's camera that fits in a pocket. And the E-P2 was also in the list until I saw it still lacked the flash!!

He pulled out another LX-3 competitor, the Canon S90. I was not impressed, actually. I am quite hesitant with any Canon's offering except for calculators, printers, scanners and copiers. Then, he showed me the ultra-cool retro aspect of the S90; there's a Control Ring at the lens!!


This little contraption allows many functions that include Zoom steps of 28-35-50-85-105mm (in ancient 135 terms), Manual Focus, ISO selection, Exposure Compensation, and many other stuff. It literally won me over!!! The ease of use, akin to my E-3 and E-30 ability to allow quick access to key photographic controls meant that this the compact that I have been looking for! For many years now I have been dreaming of such a camera.

To top it off, the lens is an F2.0 at least at the wide end!!... And you guys know how am I a sucker for F2.0 lenses. I already have two F2.0 zoom lenses in my Digital Zuiko stable: the pro grades 14-35mm F2.0 and 35-100mm F2.0! With the S90's classic 28-105mm (again in ancient 135 terms) coverage, it is just perfect for nearly 80% of my typical shooting range!

And, the flash is so cool, too!!.... It's tucked nicely hidden to left of the body, which is perfect for some wireless flash action!!! (albeit only with Auto mode slave setting). Then again, the beauty of using compact P&S is the modern leaf shutter design. This means that I can sync up to maximum 1/1600s for outdoor fill-flash; not like the ancient DSLR's focal plane shutter that usually stuck at 1/250s!!!

And here it is, from Canon; which I didn't expect it to be! (pun intended, ;p) That explained why I didn't know about S90's existence until yesterday. Bummer!!!

A few haggles, and the deal was done. I am now a proud owner of a legend-in-the-making camera, similar to the E-P1!!

Here are a couple of shots with it.

Canon S90 with 6-22.5mm f2.0-4.9 lens
6mm (14mm equiv.), f/8.0, 1/1600s, ISO80, -2ev

Canon S90 with 6-22.5mm f2.0-4.9 lens
6mm (14mm equiv.), f/2.0, 1/25s, ISO800

Canon S90 with 6-22.5mm f2.0-4.9 lens
6mm (14mm equiv.), f/2.0, 1/60s, ISO200

These three pictures show the high quality of the images the S90 produce; flare control is good in strong sunlight, high ISO noise at 800 is acceptable, and the wide open bokeh just melts with goodness!

This is one camera that really elevated the standards of pocketable compacts to come.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Zuiko and DSLR 101 Class

My first batch of students...

And they hinted for more stuff....

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm f2.0 SWD + FL-50R
14mm, f/4.0, 1/60s, ISO800

More to be told after I conclude the next session.....

Zuiko and I Am Amused

Just a simple snapshot.. out of five frames, this one was just right.

E-3 with Zuiko Digital ED35-100mm F2.0
42mm, f/2, 1/100s, ISO1000,+0.3ev

Patience and anticipation for the shot is important. Just waiting for that cute baby gesture.

A bit of contrast push, and some medium level High Pass Filter sharpening.

I love the bokeh of the Zuiko Digital ED35-100mm f2.0 lens. This telephoto marvel just oozes quality in every optical aspect. But the bokeh for me just stood out, even at strong backlight source. There's no harsh spectral effect for this lens; that typically ruins many good lenses.