the cafe { portraiture }


This pretty much sums up the three(3) albums for miss Megan Khor. If you are in malaysia and happened to need a make-up artist or a model to boot, you can find her at :
I often get asked, “how did you finish processing all the photos so quickly?”. well, first of all, i have a policy of delivering photos on the very same day, at least for one(1) album. So the man gotto be the man right.
If you need a top, elite, best of the best of the best outdoor photographer, you need me of course ;-). Humor aside, enjoy the photos.















Why m43 is still relevant and will get even stronger.

Before reading my thoughts below, i just want to clarify that i am only thinking this way as a hobbyist, a passionate photographer and not as a professional photog who depends on photography for food on the table.

Having owned the M9, Nikon D4, Sony A55, Ricoh GXR, Nikon V1 and current remaining gear of Xvario, Olympus EP5 and Sigma SD15, u can imagine i went thru various workflow and system while doing shoot for models. With over 85 albums of different tones and styling and never ending quest for the best gears given allowable budget, i am gonna summarize my experience here.

I have been offered and taken jobs from anywhere between a humbling USD 75 for 2 hours to USD 30,000 for a project, small workshops and talks where i was given token of USD 100 range of budget. Yup, thats as far as hobbyist like me goes.

Today, if anyone were to ask me, which of the cameras that i was totally satisfied with and impressed with for my kind of shoot. I would say its the Olympus EP5.

Lets summarize some thoughts on the following trend/system :

M9-MM-M. Folks, hate to break this out to u but putting a non precise optical VF to your face which only allows central focusing-recompose is a very dated experience. You should not miss it, not for the price you are paying for it. Its fun in some ways, often rewarding you with images but its not really accurate technically and the thought of having recalibrate the camera…ouch.

Shooting B&W? This can be done in post processing. And while there are some scenes where B&W matters, in most cases, its should be used to represent historical images or vintage. B&W used to be a technological crutch, not something that we should be limited in today. 100 years from now, people who view your photos wants to know how things like buildings, streets, dress, fashion or cars are colored. B&W are the past, it evokes such feelings and hence many don’t question why it is appealing, but its practically history and your photos should reflect today so that others in the future can appreciate your work.
Having said that, i don’t deny that Leica in camera JPG produces some of the most amazing B&W toning. Its very hard to duplicate that high contrast B&W that you see in the Leica JPG using photoshop.

Leica lens. I no longer believe that Leica has superior lens quality that other manufacturers can’t have, precision technology has made most manufacturer closer to each other. What Leica do have is SMALL size for FF experience at the cost of focusing distance. Its very good if you don’t do macro at all. This IMHO should be be no.1 reason to pay for Leica.
The panasonic-Leica combo for m43 however, is an example of great value for performance, too bad they don’t release any such lens for Canon, nikon and Sony.

The rangefinder does not allow you to be more discreet in the street. This argument is as old as the typewriter. There are a gazillion of compacts and systems that could easily beat Leica on this. Leica’s own X system such as X2 and Xvario, easily beats any M system in this field. Using LCD is way more discreet than holding up anything to your eye. I know the M240 has live view, but you don’t pay USD 7 grand to use a live view on an exclusive range finder do you?

The no.2 reason why anyone should buy Leica is the name and image associated with it. Impression opens doors, you also get cocktail invitation to Leica launches as a legitimate customer 🙂 . Leica carries as a plus, a historical track record of prestigious photographers for streets. U just looked better with Leica than any other camera when attending any event 😉

No.3 reason? DNG. Will get to this later.

Full Frame
Sony A7, A7r, D600, D610, 6D . The list goes on when it comes to new FF coming to the playground. With big sensors, comes big spending hahaha. While its totally true that FF offers much better quality in images, that is true only in physics and specifications.
If you are shooting only landscapes, the APC Sigma SD1 would probably blow all the current FF away. But the SD1 is not so usable generally for other genres.
If you are shooting for billboard, yeah bigger sensor would help.

Now what if these are not your main genre. What if shooting people, portraits and general shooting is what you do…as a hobbyist. Bigger sensor also requires BIGGER lens, there is just no exception to this. Its as simple as the fact bigger glass (for bigger apertures) allows this unit of light to come in to fit in the size of a 35mm sensor FF.

With bigger systems, you pay dearly in mobility penalty.
Besides at the end of the day, if you are sharing your online which is like what most hobbyist does 99% of the time, you end up presenting just 2048 or less pixels across. That is less than 4 mp on most monitor and ipads.
APSC and m43 today offers even 16mp, that should be enuf for almost anything.

Low light has more to do with stability than sensor size.


Why is Fuji raking up so much news and sales nowadays?
Its because of mobility. Basically people want to believe that APSC in Fuji is the way to go simply because carrying such a nice form is better than a DSLR.
I agree. DSLR is surviving largely on past glory and huge lens support. As Fuji ramps up their lens offering, these advantages goes down, for the enthusiasts at least.
So why didn’t i buy Fuji instead of Leica Xvario. Because, of the RED Dot, Zoom lens and DNG. I bought the Xvario as a travel cam, i don’t want to be changing lens, want to be seen by whoever i talk to in visited countries as a more discerning photographer (lol i know). The DNG is 100% easier to process than any other format. I don’t want to crack my head over which raw converter is best for Fuji.

Finally we are here. The EP5 i have is one camera that i find i am totally happy and satisfied with “consistently”. I do go thru cycles of gear lust changing mood with Sigma, Xvario etc, but the EP5 always delivers.

The 5 axis stability by Olympus, is really an out of the world feature. I have more sharp images on my EP5 taken at low light with ISO 400 and a 1.8 lens, than i had with D4 with iso 500 and 1.4 lens.

The form is compact and lens offering for M43 is just amazing. Most folks wants to argue about DOF. For eg, a 25 mm Pana Leica f 1.4, they argue that on FF this is f2.8. Actually that just complicate things and causes confusion. A 25mm f1.4 on FF is a 25mm f1.4.

The DOF behaves like what you would have if you had a FF 25mm 1.4.
On m43, that translate to : 50mm f1.4 as far as focal length and aperture is concerned, but as for shallow dof, its what you would have if you had 25mm 1.4 on FF. Now thats much easier to understand now isn’t it?

But, if you just had a 1.8 lens, with the 5 axis stability, you can practically shoot sharper and better photos than most FF today given the same 1.8. Why? Just imagine, the 5 axis is like a… monopod.

If you want really shallow dof and light guzzler, you have the Voightlander 17.5, 25 and 42.5 f0.95. That my friend, is f0.95. Some say but its 1.8 on FF, that is only true for the “shallow dof part” but get this, with PEAK FOCUSING, you can use a practical f0.95 without central focusing.

Here are one example that my friends thought was done using my D4, but its actually EP5 with 75 mm 1.8.



Photos with feelings vs Fashion shoot

Personally i have always preferred photos the enacts emotions of peace, serenity and love rather than fashion and glamour.
I called these images “emoref” meaning photos that convey reflective emotions. Fashion is pretty much like its actual counterpart in the real world, often
shifting from one end to the other and whose heavy makeup hides the true beauty of the model.
I believe many years from now, these emoref images would still convey the same emotion as it would long after folks in the images are old and moved to another stage of life.

These are images taken at Bukit Tinggi, Pahang, Malaysia. Its a remote tourist spot that features french like village.
I hope u enjoy these images as much as i made them. Model name is Joyce Low.











Amazing combo : see for urself, 35 mm f2.0 ZM on a EP5

Few days ago i combined the m43 EP5 with a manual lens 35mm f2.0 ZM Zeiss. I was totally blown by the results.
Here are the OOC Jpeg of the combo result. All the images below are unedited.

First off, the lens is easy to focus, even without the peak focusing, but i was doing it on the VF4. The VF4 puts the Xvario’s VF2 to the cavemen days.


The lens has beautiful character.


And it comes with free “glow”. I notice the skin has free glow without editing, these naturally occurring glow didn’t exist when i used the same lens on the M9.


It has ZERO flare even when shooting straight at the sun, with or without a B+W filter.


Sure, its 70 mm and F4 equivalent on the FF. i been shooting over 300 images and the batteries are still full? All the time i just used the VF4 with the manual focusing. Perhaps electronic lens uses up bulk of the power.

wow. just wow. Totally happy with this combo.

Here are 3 more reasons :
1. the olympus 5 axis stability works on any manual lens, be it legacy or not. I been shooting ISO 200 (base) the whole time. Its crazy.

2. The setup is very small, even with the adapter, M mount lens are small and beautiful.

3. WYSIWYG. You don’t need to be be chimping all the time, what u saw on the VF and what u get, is the same. Set your dials to “M”anual, and just roll the shutter dial speed until u see an image that u like.




Amazing combo, I am stunned

I was just playing with the idea of using a Leica M to m43 on my EP5. The xvario have been doing lots of shooting lately and I decided to awaken the lonely EP5 with a surprise and give the xvario a break.

I got myself a shogun L/M to m43 and I slap on it the 35 mm Zeiss f2.0 that I kept in the dry box .

I was surprised at how easy it was to focus using the vf4 and the micro contrast totally blew me off .

Watch this blog as I use this new setup on my next project


Street photography with Zoom

When i do street photography a year back, i was a strong advocate of shooting from the hip. I trained myself with the leica M9, 5 meter and zap. Nowadays there are crazy super street cameras such as the Ricoh GR that could do very discreet SP from 2 meter onwards using the same technique.

Well the thing is, in malaysia, its no longer a safe place to just walk around. So most photographers relocated themselves to either shoot in the malls or near big malls or some festive events such as Thaipusam. Its a sad situation really.

Seriously shooting in malls is kinda strange for street photography. But what is even stranger is shooting street photography with zoom lens. Ever since owning the 75 mm 1.8 on the Olympus Ep5, i am often amazed by the quality of this lens and coupled that with the image stability provided by the EP5, shooting bokehlicious photos and strong focus on subjects is a breeze.

My sigma sd15 camera and the 18-35 ART lens is now on route to Japan for fine tuning. Yeah despite tuning it myself using Allen screws and such, i find that i have not much confident that i am just missing a tweak or two.

So today i took the EP5 with the 75 mm and did the Mall’s Street photography. I know rite? Go ahead let the flame begins. But i do love the images taken. These are all edited using just IPad with no special apps.

A new snack in town, looks like curled Aunty Anne pretzels.

A couple enjoying BR. With the Zoom that was easily done across the other side.

A beautiful westerner at the mall, framing this was a split second decision.

Love this setup.

Just a casual pose near the Japanese section.

Comparison : 75 mm 1.8 Olympus vs 85 mm 1.4 Sigma on Nikon D4

My nikon D4 was hospitalized at one point in time and i had a friend coming down from Kampar (Perak, Malaysia). Basically its going to be a night shoot and without the D4 my only other

feasible option is to use the Olympus Pen Ep5. (I did get the camera back in time and you can check out the album here :

The problem with the Olympus EP5 is that its a 4/3 and the lack of shallow depth of field and low light usability might be too far off my nikon D4. So i ordered the 75 mm 1.8 Olympus and tried it on a friend who

is keen to try night photography too.

The Olympus have one advantage that might even out the results, it has the amazing 5 axis stability, that combine with the 75 mm 1.8 might just pull off a decent result.

First the previous albums done, using D4 and the 85 mm 1.4 Sigma wide open.


Here is how the 85 mm 1.4 on D4 looks like :

DSC_9981-Edit DSC_9985-Edit



Now this is how the 75 mm 1.8 on EP5 performed, handheld :



Although i had to stand way back (75 mm on 35 mm format = 150 mm! ) , but the light gathering of the lens at 1.8 + stability did give me enough light to workout the image that i wanted.

The 4/3 continues to amaze me and if Olympus could churn out something like 24 mm 1.4 on 35 mm equivalent XD, i guess i would probably use it instead of the 24 mm 1.4 nikon 😉