I’m a wanderer. I enjoy walking around and through the little nooks and corners of a city to imbibe the energy and the culture of the people; to observe the scurrying rodents, the architecture of old buildings and the sounds and smells of the city. I can end up walking for hours, in fact, only stopping to observe, to snack or to chat with a stranger on the street.
Several nights ago, whilst Ciki was off some place fancy sipping her foie gras consommé, I was enjoying a similarly exquisite dining experience at my favourite street side stall in Pudu. I then decided to take a walk around the area. I like Pudu by night – nice and quiet, and quite the opposite from the din, smoke and crowd during the day.
The putrefying stench of Pudu wet market, where I am heading to, still reeks even at this hour. It’s rainy season, the potholed streets are still wet with puddles of dirty stinking water, fish scales, cockle shells, and rotting flesh. The dimly lit area, the atmosphere and that particular time of night, was the perfect opportunity to take images in low light for an illustrated review on Micro 4/3 M.Zuiko f2.0 12mm and f1.8 45mm prime lenses (first two lens in image below). Both are fast and bright lenses.
When fitted with the Olympus PEN EP3, the system provides the street photographer an opportunity to capture action when it unfolds instantaneously. There is of course the short delay when the camera powers up. The Imaging Resource provides a comprehensive technical rundown on start up times and other technical information if you really need to know. There will not be special test shots and deep analysis on color, distortion and in depth analysis such as those provided by professional photographers. That information can be found easily with a quick search. This review only provides a glimpse on how an amateur photographer handles the EP3 and the prime lenses in low light situations. All camera’s take decent to excellent shots in daylight or well lit situations but low light environments are the ultimate tests of quality since a lost photographic opportunity could mean the loss of a precious Kodak moment.
The M.Zuiko 14-150mm lens with aperture range between f4.o-5.6 took a rest this night as it would not be fast enough capture any action in a dim lit environment without a combination of tripod, viewfinder, and flash.
Some points to note on the street photography,
- Noise filter and reduction was switched off. Images will look grittier as a result. All images were taken handheld without flash and without a viewfinder.
- The images have been reduced in size to fit the post. Images that have been cropped or had some contrast adjusted will be indicated.
- No image sharpening or color adjustment was performed. Picture Mode has been set to Natural.
Excerpt from an Olympus press release on these new Micro Four Third:
M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f2.0 lens: This high-speed, single-focal-length, wide-angle lens is ideal for shooting high-quality, dramatic landscapes and street scenes in low-light conditions. It has a beautiful full-metal body and a snap ring that enables photographers to pan focus with a distance indicator.
M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 lens: This single-focal-length portrait lens has a beautiful shallow depth of field which allows for background blurring effects that are not possible with the 14-42mm kit zoom lens. The Movie Still Compatible (MSC) mechanism is great for tracking a moving child or pet, and provides a quick and silent focus mechanism for movies and still photography.
These two lenses join the new MSC ED m14-42mm II R f3.5/5.6 zoom lens (28mm-84mm equivalent) which comes standard with the new PEN kit as well as the M. Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm II R f4.0-5.6 lens, an extremely light, wide-zoom range with a 35mm equivalent to 80-300mm lens that offers versatility and portability. Both have been designed to match the body design of the new generation of PEN cameras.
M.Zuiko f1.8 45mm lens
As I moved around, stray dogs in the distance noticed me. The image makes the area look bright and well lit but in actual fact it was a lot dimmer plus this pregnant bitch and partner looking for their supper weren’t going to stop and pose for me.
f1.8 45mm 1/40 ISO2000 (Below cropped image)
Caged birds drenched by the downpour earlier.
Below, some small traders in a corner preparing petai for the next day’s sale.
Some animals didn’t mind my intrusion in their personal space, especially this ass-licking pussycat (ahem). With a 45mm focal length (equivalent to 90mm on 35mm), you won’t get too close to your subject to distract.
Hot off the press Chinese dailies being sold by the roadside to supper seekers and those working late.
At ISO200, the large aperture allowed me to capture moving cars clearly without noise.
At a smaller dark road, a car zips pass as I was shooting the background.
Below image had contrast increased a little and edges cropped.
Low cost flats. Contrast increased.
Below cropped image with details still apparent.
Below, at an Indonesian food stall, a young man totally immersed in strumming his guitar, belts out popular Indonesian rock ballads while waiting for customers. He was very good and so was the tune. I’ll probably visit this stall again to try the Indonesian fare. The baskets of freshly fried chicken, duck, tofu and freshly ground sambal (not in pic) at the counter looked very tasty.
M.Zuiko f2.0 12mm lens
The f2.o lens performed well in dimly areas. The 12mm focal length gave more depth to the images.
The threaded ring can be pulled back to reveal distance meters which allow the photographer to manually control the point of focus instantly without having to change settings on the camera body. Great for macro lovers who can change the area focus by pulling down the threaded rind and rotating the dial.
Below, the sweet smelling durians at a street corner draws the attention of a handicapped motorcyclist.
Walking through an alley led me to a small building of flats. In-camera film grain processing was performed.
Picture of Kannan’s mutton stall below was in an extremely dark section of the wet market.
Another dimly lit stall with X’mas lighting (for decoration not because it was the season).
Could you sleep in such a place? I couldn’t but it’s still better than being out in the rain. Image cropped.
Banana tree trunks. Contrast adjusted.
Each camera brand and the model has it’s own peculiarities. Experienced photographers have a shorter learning curve while amateurs will take longer to learn the best configurations to meet their personal imaging needs. So if you have bought an EP3 or another brand, and the images don’t turn out as what you see on this site or other more spectacular photography sites, then there is some play time required to learn. Photography just like any other interests requires time to hone because each situation encountered is different unless you are in an indoor studio where the environment is controlled.
HOW I FEEL USING THE LENSES
1. The 45mm/F1.8
5. Fast Autofocus
2. The 12mm/F2
The 12mm F2 ED MSC is a brand spankin’ new lens developed for the new MSC focusing system which acts together with the lens, sensor and the processor to deliver more accurate photos. To boot, it does so at speeds that knock the pants off of some DSLRs. On the Micro Four Thirds system, it has a 24mm equivalent field of view.
Veteran photographers will love the focusing ring which switches immediately into manual just by pulling it back. That means that you won’t have to dig into the AF settings to switch it into manual focusing.
The lens is fast and super responsive, due to the new and fast autofocusing system and you can get really close to the subject. You should try, walking up to your friend, bring the camera up, tap their face on the touchscreen, and in a split second you’ll be able to take the photo and walk away! However, the lens is very sharp wide open and will distort your image quite a bit, unlike the 45mm. The bokeh quality is absolutely gorgeous and very smooth. It’s not as creamy as I’d like it to be though like for example the panasonic pancake lens (20mm F1.7) that I am used to. But still, if you talk about the lens we were given, the bokeh award goes to the 45mm F/1.8 .