Sunday, August 21, 2016

Huawei P9 Camera Review - Is This The Photographer's Smartphone?

Surprise! I have a review write-up and this time it is not a camera or lens, it is actually a smartphone, the Huawei P9. I acknowledge that Huawei P9 has been in the market for months now, and there have been dozens (perhaps even hundreds!) of reviews being posted online everywhere. Not only the usual gadget review sites, this time I also notice a handful of photography specific site reviewing a smartphone, and the most notable one being the review posted on DPReview. Therefore, there really is nothing much I can add to what has been posted and shared out there.

I was connected to Huawei Malaysia by an Olympus user (thanks heaps Grexer), and I was provided with a loan unit of a Huawei P9 for review purposes. I was immediately interested to try out the Huawei P9, considering it was heavily advertised as being "co-engineered with Leica". Leica's involvement, to what extent not being properly clarified, certainly piqued my interest to take a look at the P9 closer. The setup of the camera having dual modules, containing two image sensors that have corresponding two lenses was unusual. There have been mixed reviews thrown out there, several review sites (mostly gadget reviewers) concluded that the camera in the P9 is not as good as competition, while some actually praised the camera's imaging prowess.


I must emphasize that I am not a tech-junkie, and I will only be reviewing the camera and imaging performance of the Huawei P9 only. I will not be covering the phone review of P9, as I believe this has been done and you can read the many reviews available online by major tech/gadget review sites. I am not a professional photographer, I am merely a photo-enthusiast who shoots passionately as frequently as I can. I am not connected to Huawei in any other manner except for this arrangement of a loan review purpose. I shall approach the review of P9's camera the usual way I always do for my camera and lenses reviews on this blog: by shooting a large amount of photographs, and write my review based on the experience using the P9 out in real world situations and carefully scrutinize the image output from my PC monitor. I support my claims through evidence found in the images, which will be shown plentifully here in this review entry. You can say that this is a user-experience approach review of Huawei P9's camera capabilities.

Huawei P9 fits perfectly in my not so large hands. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Olympus Photowalk in Kuching, Sarawak with Great Wall Camera

Last weekend, I was back in my beautiful hometown, Kuching, Sarawak (which is in Borneo Island), and we did an extensive consumer event, stretching the entire Saturday afternoon at Great Wall Camera, Kuching. Firstly, I did an hour long photo-sharing, showcasing a compilation of my most recent street photographs, dispensing tips and tricks on how I obtained my shots, and my ideas and thought process behind each shot. Secondly, we had a touch and try session with the latest Olympus products, we brought along the PEN-F, OM-D E-M5 Mark II, E-M1, E-M10 Mark II, and many M.Zuiko lenses, the 300mm F4 IS PRO, 40-150mm F2.8 PRO, as well as prime lenses such as 17mm F1.8, 25mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8. Thirdly, we had a photowalk in the late afternoon along Carpenter Street and Main Bazaar (neat the Waterfront), and the participants for this event were allowed to loan our cameras and lenses to try and use during this photowalk!

We had an overwhelming response, unexpectedly there were 46 awesome Kuching folks who turned up, filling the floor space of Great Wall Camera's first floor workshop space to the brim. I rarely did such a huge event, however I also acknowledge that we rarely do events in Kuching and we decided to allow more participants to go in after our initial capping of 25 participants. Considering that the same weekend there was the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF 2016), the turn up could have been more than 50 people, since some of the photographer friends I personally know went to the RMWF instead. It was indeed such a great joy for myself to see so many beautiful Kuching people, my own people, coming together to a photography event, and shoot together! I was so glad to see some familiar faces (Eve, Gladys, Sin, Lance) and meeting many, many more new faces!

Before we started the day, obviously, we fueled ourselves with the breakfast of champions, found exclusively only in Kuching.

Kolo Mee

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Adding Interesting Elements Into Photographs

I think it is too easy to create ordinary looking images, an image that can be easily replicated and shot by any other photographers. Every photographer has his or her own preferences in shooting techniques and also unique vision, which contribute to individual shooting style. While it is getting more difficult to find original photographs these days (we all try to surpass certain standards being set before us by another photographer, but along the way we are actually copying the photographer's shooting style), I want to believe that we can, in our own small ways, add interesting elements into our own photographs. Those characteristics create uniqueness and that ultimately resulted in our owb unique photographs.

This works especially well for street photography. We often keep an eye out for something unusual, something outstanding, and something that can generate curiosity when the viewer was looking at our photographs. In this entry, I shall share a few examples, and explain what was added to create these dramatic impact.

In Renovation
The shop lot was under renovation, and the worker was shirtless, peeking out the small opening to the main road outside. As I walked by, we saw each other and I was greeted by a smile. That was a green light for me to step in closer and get the close up portrait. I was particularly drawn by a few things in this frame: 1) the partial opening which hid his hands 2) quality of light on the man 3) his genuine, bright smile and 4) the facial mask to protect from dust or even paint, worn on his head. Location was clearly established, and the purpose of the man being there was obvious. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Fashion Show Photography Analysis: Entry Level Camera Then And Now, How Far Have We Progressed?

So I stumbled upon this open fashion show at Nu Sentral (a shopping next to KL Sentral) and I thought why not stay for a bit and take some shots? As I was shooting the fashion show (which turned out to be quite a good one) I started to remember how it was like 8 years ago, in 2008 when I first picked up my entry level Olympus DSLR and was enthusiastically searching for and shooting free fashion shows in malls around KL. Boy oh boy, how far have we come?

Back in 2008, I had an Olympus E-520, an advanced entry level DSLR (the lowest level was the E-420), with ISO limit at 1600 and 3 AF points only! At ISO400, ugly noise starts to creep in, and I usually do need to shoot at ISO800 if I was not using an external flash, and with ISO800 the photographs normally lose plenty of details, looking soft, and lacks dynamic range. Oh did I say the ugly, intrusive noise? And the focusing was rather slowish, and what the hell can anyone do with just 3 focusing points to choose from? In addition to that, there was shutter lag, though minimal, but bad enough to miss critical moments. Hit rate was quite bad, I get less than 50% hit rate, and it was almost impossible to get critically sharp images with the models usually moving at super fast speed on stage. A year later I got myself an FL-36R flash, to aid in such difficult shooting situation, but it did not help that much either. I often get harsh output, and the recycle time of that flash unit was a pain to work with!

Shooting fashion show can be exciting, rewarding, yet extremely frustrating at the same time. It was a situation where I did wish I had a better camera, a camera that did not miss out so many shots!

Fast forward to 2016, today, shooting fashion show was a breeze. Ok, I shall admit one unfair advantage: I was using the PRO lens, 12-40mm F2.8. And back in my DSLR E-520 days, I used the basic kit lens as well as the 40-150mm F3.5-4.5 lenses, which did pale in comparison to what the modern PRO lenses such as the 12-40mm F2.8 and 40-150mm F2.8 can do. That aside, everything else I am about to say still remains valid, and applicable in the comparison on how much the camera system has improved. I was using the OM-D E-M10 Mark II and the 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens for all my shots. Autofocus was instantaneous! It was so fast, there was completely no lag at all, and damned accurate too. I have 81 AF points to choose from, the AF points stretching out to far end of the screen. Half-pressing and then immediately pressing the shutter button got me 100% accurately focused images, again and again without fail. I got 99% hit rate. That 1% failure was due to my own fault. Furthermore, the ISO was set from 800 to 1600. Even at ISO1600, as seen in the images in this blog entry, there was completely no trace of noise, thanks to the new and more powerful processing engine Truepic 7, as well as an improved 16MP Live MOS sensor. I can shoot at ISO3200 on the E-M10 Mark II with images that come out cleaner than ISO400 on the old DSLR E-520,.and believe me, I am not exaggerating. The camera just works, and it has gotten sooooo easy to get technically good shots (correct exposure and accurate focus). Having a "What You See Is What You Get" Electronic Viewfinder was a Godsent, I can make sure my exposure was what I wanted even before I shot my images!

Also worth mentioning, having the 5-Axis Image Stabillization means I never have to worry about camera shake, and surely you know that the E-M10 Mark II is soooooo much smaller and lighter compared to the E-520?