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Olympus has a few announcements today - a minor update for E-M1X firmware to version 1.1, quite a significant rework of E-M1 Mark II's firmware to version 3.0 and a few new features in Olympus Workspace. I was informed by Olympus Malaysia that all these items are available for download immediately after the worldwide announcement. In this particular blog entry, I am exploring the new Firmware 3.0 for Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, which happens to be my workhorse that I use for commercial shoots as well as personal projects.

For those of you who prefer watching a video over reading a lengthy article, here is one of me quickly going through the main improvements in the new Firmware 3.0 for E-M1 Mark II.

Firmware 3.0 for Olympus E-M1 Mark II - YouTube

Here is the list of improvements in the new Firmware 3.0

1) E-M1X AF ALGORITHM PORTED OVER TO E-M1 MARK II
Improvements of AF in E-M1 Mark II
- new algorithm for both S-AF and C-AF
- improved C-AF for movie recording
- low light AF down to -6EV with F1.2 PRO lens
- new 25 AF point grouping with C-AF Center priority
- C-AF + MF added
Olympus has refreshed their AF system in the latest E-M1X and I have claimed numerous improvements on AF performance in my review article here (click). Both S-AF and C-AF performance, in terms of focusing speed and accuracy have been enhanced. I particularly noticed better AF when dealing with messy background or backlit situations. AF improvement is made for both stills and video recording. C-AF in E-M1X's video, according to DPReview's own review, is the best for any Micro Four Thirds camera. This same AF for video is now applicable for E-M1 Mark II too. Additionally, in extreme low light environment, the E-M1 Mark II now is able to perform AF effectively down to -6EV light levels, with the use of F1.2 PRO lenses. I also notice improvements of focusing in low light using F1.8 prime lenses.

Since we are on the topic of AF, one minor change that I did not like happening, was the relocation of S-AF + MF option to the menu. Previously, S-AF + MF can be activated via the super control panel. Unfortunately, now you need to dive deep into the labyrinth menu to get it turned on. Also, there is no customizable shortcut for this important feature. This was not an issue for E-M1X, because I can rearrange the entire menu in "My Menu" setup. Now when I do heavy macro shooting, switching the S-AF + MF on and off will be problematic.

2) HIGH ISO IMPROVEMENT 1/3 EV STEPS IN JPEG SHOOTING
Olympus claims about 1/3 EV Steps improvement when shooting high ISO with the new Firmware 3.0. This is only applicable for JPEG files, so if you are a JPEG shooter or do rely on straight out of camera JPEGs for quick delivery, the minor bump in high ISO shooting is surely a benefit. I can't say that 1/3EV improvement makes a significant difference, but I also must acknowledge that E-M1 Mark II was released in 2016, and in 2019, any new refresh or enhancement is definitely a welcome.

3) ISO L64 AND L100 FOR DETAIL PROCESSING PRIORITY
Instead of just the mysterious ISO LOW, now the new Firmware 3.0 has low ISO expansion to two settings - ISO L64 abd L100. Olympus also mentioned that when these settings are engaged, the camera will prioritize processing more optimized detail capture for the image. I personally will still stay with ISO200 most of the time, as ISO200 is the true native base ISO for E-M1 Mark II, hence granting me the best dynamic range. To me, better dynamic range is more crucial than additional details or sharpness. I have shot extensively over the years with ISO200 and was already very happy with what the E-M1 Mark II can deliver.



4) NEW USB RAW DATA EDIT USING OLYMPUS WORKSPACE
Olympus introduced USB RAW Data Edit in both E-M1X and E-M1 Mark II in latest firmware updates, allowing faster RAW processing using Olympus Workspace. . The raw processing utilizes the Truepic 8 engine inside the camera for faster operation, having the camera connected via USB cable to the PC while running Olympus Workspace.. I personally have not tested this, as the new Olympus Workspace was not available yet at the time of this writing.

5) OM-LOG400 PROFILE ADDED FOR VIDEO RECORDING
For those doing heavy video shooting, the new OM-LOG400 profile as found in E-M1X is now available for E-M1 Mark II. This profile is surely more advantageous when it comes to maximizing dynamic range captured in the video file, as well as offering better flexibility for post-production video work. I am no video expert, I rarely do any video-centric work, so I shall not add any further comments.

7) NO CAMERA FREEZE DURING "BUSY WRITING TO SD CARD"
Previously, the camera locks up or freezes after long burst sequential shooting, allowing the camera to clear the buffer. While the camera is writing to the card, shooting can still be resumed as long as the buffer is not full, but the previous firmware disallow any changes to camera settings or adjustments. The new Firmware 3.0 allows changes of any settings in the camera while the it is busy writing to the card, as well as previewing previously recorded images.

5) OTHER FEATURES AND IMPROVEMENTS IN FIRMWARE 3.0
- Anti-flicker shooting added
- Frame rate priority for Live View Boost On2
- From 3 to 15 shots can be selected in Focus Stacking and guide lines have been added to the shooting area
- Quick image selection added
- Instant Film added to Art Filter

Here are some samples taken with the new Art Filter, INSTANT FILM





I applaud Olympus for providing such a significant update for E-M1 Mark II. After all, this camera has been around since 2016, with the updated and reworked camera features, the new Firmware 3.0 brings E-M1 Mark II closer to E-M1X especially when it comes to AF improvement, which to me is a critical upgrade. This will directly affect the camera performance across all shooting scenarios.

What are our thoughts on the new Firmware 3.0 for E-M1 Mark II? What other features would you like to have added into the coming Firmware 4.0, if Olympus plans to make it happen down the road? I want to hear from you!

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is available from B&H

Please follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. 

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Originally published on 25 October 2015.

So, I thought it would be cool to produce a workflow chart to show my street shooting processes. The chart is quite self-explanatory.

MY STREET SHOOTING WORKFLOW 

If you want to read in full detail about 'How I Approach my Street Portraits" please read the lengthy blog entry I have written here (click) 


Stephan, my blog reader and visitor from Germany was spending his last few days in KL, and we went out for one final shutter therapy session for him, this time in Pudu. I always love shooting on the markets, and below I am sharing some shots from the earlier session. 

Thankfully the haze got much better today, not sure why and how, but it was good for us as we needed to shoot outdoor. I got with me the Olympus OM-D E-M10 and two M.Zuiko lenses 45mm f1.8 and 25mm F1.8. It was strange, that I purposely left out the gear that I used for my last blog entry and the few repeated questions here in the comment section as well as my Facebook page, a few people asking me what camera and lenses I used to capture the images shown. 

Stephan on his final few days in KL
I really hoped you have enjoyed your time in KL, especially shooting at the streets at Chow Kit and Pudu. There are more places to explore, but I think you have covered the best parts of KL. Do come back to Malaysia again!

Yellow Boots
I like how the man looked so relaxed at where he was sitting, and there was a fan nearby with a bottle of water. 

Waiting. 
While the wife go shopping?

Portrait of a Stranger

Balancing Act. 
Yes this shot is out of focus, a little bit, but that was fine. I was slow to focus and shoot as I saw this. 

Big Fish
I did not approach this man, he offered to pose for us. Sometimes people can be extra friendly, if you already put your friendly aura on. 

Morning Market Folks
Another example of not needing to ask, but volunteered portrait shots. 

Young Kids

Red Chilli


High Places

Friends

Green Tea Latte

So do you find the flow chart making any sense? If you have been following my blog all this time, the flowchart should not come as any surprise. I thought it was fun to have it in a logical process flow. 


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I am not exactly a big fan of overpriced cafe food, since Malaysia has abundance of amazing and delicious local and much lower priced food available everywhere. We have so many choices sometimes we just don't know what to choose, and the most commonly asked question, possibly in Malaysia is "what are we doing to eat?" when we are out and about with friends or family. However, I must admit that the trendy, overpriced, hipster restaurants do get more and more popularity, and I am one of the customers drawn to them. Not so much of me liking the food or supporting the trend, but hey, sometimes you just want something a little bit more fancy and have an excuse to splurge.



The images were shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens.

I particularly love food that is colorful and has a lot of texture. I guess, the plus side of eating this bowl of hipster something something, it is healthy-ish.
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When I am shooting on the street, I am constantly on the move. This is probably due to the idea that not staying in one spot for too long will make you less of a target to bag-snatching thieves or daylight robbery, which can happen in Kuala Lumpur streets from time to time. When I am out and about shooting on my own, which I do quite frequently when I need to get some serious shots done, I consciously move all the time. However, I have also learned that slowing down the pace and taking some time to really look at how certain scenes change can benefit the outcome of photographs shown in a series.




Images were shot on Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens

On one fine evening, I was walking along Bukit Bintang streets with a group of friends. Since we have the number, we were less afraid about being mugged or jumped at unexpectedly. Safety in numbers and all. We decided to make a pit stop at one corner after a long walk to take a short breather and everyone started chatting away. In the midst of the dramatic conversation about bokeh, Fujifilm, Ricoh GR3 and street photography, I noticed the light in the sky changing and I thought to myself, wow, what a splendid sunset it was. I took several photographs within a span of 15 minutes. I would have waited till it was completely dark, but everyone got too hungry and we decided to call it a day and went to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
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I am super thrilled to share this news with all you beautiful people, I have been invited by OBSCURA Festival of Photography to conduct an official workshop! This workshop will take place in the beautiful island of Penang, Malaysia on the weekend of 27-28 July 2019. Yes, it is a 2-day intensive workshop covering many topics from conceptual planning, theme selection to actual sharing of shooting techniques and execution on the street and final review and editing process. We will roam the streets of beautiful Georgetown, Penang together with our cameras and we will do shutter therapy to our hearts' content! Then we will come back with the photos, edit them and share them in a comment and critique session so we all can learn and grow together.



Details of the workshop here:

CULTURAL AWARENESS & PLACE MAPPING : STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP with ROBIN WONG

Date: 27 to 28 July 2019 
Full timetable to be announced soon
Location: Georgetown, Penang

Fees: RM400/USD100
Available slots: Limited to only 15 slots, so hurry up and register!

Official OBSCURA Festival Workshop Page (CLICK) for registration


How is this workshop different from my other photowalks, outings and events I have conducted previously, either for Olympus or on my own? While most of my events were mostly completed within 3-4 hours within a session, the OBSCURA Festival's coming workshop will be a lot more intensive, covering more ground. We will have a lot more open discussion, and not only we get to shoot together, but we will come back together and look at each other's photos and share our comments. I will be more hands-on in guiding from conceptualizing thought process and workflow of street photography to the actual demonstration on some advanced composition as well as shooting technique execution. Basically, you get a lot out of me from this workshop, and yes we will get to drink lots of coffee together too. 

Who is this workshop for? Basically anyone interested in street photography and want to take it to the next level. Learning together in a class, during the prestigious OBSCURA Festival can not be more inspiring! It will be fun having shutter therapy together with you in the awesome city of Penang. 

Do sign up early before the slots run out! See you in Penang. 
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Olympus has just launched their latest Tough series camera, the Olympus TG-6 today, and I have had the chance to shoot with it for a few days last week. I am not an adventurous person, certainly I do not do crazy intense activities like diving, mountain climbing, trail running or anything extreme, which this camera is designed for. Therefore, I shall be exploring some special features in the Olympus TG-6 such as the extreme macro shooting capabilities and comment on the general experience using the camera.

Important notes: Before we go too far, allow me to remind you that currently I am an active Olympus Visionary member, being an ambassador for the brand. The Olympus TG-6 was a loaner from Olympus Malaysia, I had it only for few days and it has been returned before the writing of this article. This blog entry is NOT a review of the product. Instead, I am only discussing a few key aspects of the TG-6, specifically the macro shooting capabilities, general image quality and overall comment on the TG-6 as an imaging tool. My experience with the camera and observations may be subjective. All images were shot in RAW and minor post-processing (exposure compensation, white balance tweaks, etc) was applied via Olympus Workspace.




Olympus Tough series is no stranger, the many incarnations of Tough cameras up to the previous TG-5 have won numerous awards and recognition for the robust build quality and reliability. Being waterproof, dustproof, shockproof and freezeproof, tested again and again the Tough cameras always survived, and have earned Olympus a strong reputation in this particular product segment. In fact, Olympus over the years has axed all the other variations of compact point and shoot cameras with the exception of the TG-series, the remaining Tough product line which continues to be a testament for what Olympus is capable of achieving generally in their imaging products. The two strongest features found on the flagship Olympus OM-D system are weather-sealing and superior optics, both I am very happy to report are present in this new Olympus TG-6.

Perhaps the biggest question is - why do I even bother with a compact camera with a small sized image sensor, especially me being a city-sheltered boy who does not venture out much on extreme activities where the Tough camera thrives? My answer is simple - I have suggested to many friends and blog readers to have a Tough camera handy as a backup. The Tough camera is small, it does not take much space in your camera bag, should anything happen to your main cameras, in the harshest environment the Tough camera will most likely survive. There is no question that this TG-6 (or any other previous iterations of TG cameras) is built like a tank. For the first time, I am picking this up and seriously giving it a closer look to determine if the TG-6 is sufficiently capable as a back up imaging tool?


Olympus knows what they are doing when it comes to optics

Let's get the key specifications of Olympus TG-6 out of the way:
12MP resolution on 1/2.33 inch BSI CMOS Image Sensor
Truepic 8 Engine - similar to Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X
TOUGH Features - Waterproof (down to 15m), Droproof, Dustproof and Freezeproof (down to minus 10 degrees Celsius)
Olympus lens 25-100mm F2.0-4.9, with built in Image Stabilization
Lens design - 9 elements in 7 groups
Super Macro AF - 1cm minimum focusing distance, now available in P & A shooting modes (in TG-5 only available in Microscope mode)
Built in field sensing and tracking features - GPS, Thermometer, Manometer, Compass & Acceleration sensors
Improved LCD-Screen with 1.04 Million Dots (over TG-5 with 460k Dots)
Olympus Specific Features: Live Composite, Pro Capture Mode (in 10 fps), Focus Stacking in camera

For full product specifications, please visit Olympus' official product information page here. 

Obviously I was unable to test every single feature listed above, and I shall just jump right into the most enjoyable part of this article - shooting with the Olympus TG-6!

Knowing that the TG-6 can go incredible close to the subjects I specifically chose to do insect macro with the camera first. I also brought it out for some street shooting rounds, both in the day as well as evening time. 

For the insect macro shooting, I used A mode (Aperture Priority) and manually select the F-number, usually not the widest to get a little more depth of field. I also activated the in camera flash. I controlled the flash power manually. ISO was fixed at 100 (minimum) for optimal image quality. 

F4.9, 1/100sec, ISO100

I finally found something I have been looking for a long, long time - an Ant Mimic Spider preying on the Ant it was mimicking. I have shot Ant Mimic spiders many times, and have seen them together with other ants, but never captured one eating the ant before. This was my first shot (I know this is not an uncommon image, but to me it was my first, so it was special), and I managed to shoot it with the Olympus TG-6! The lighting was not ideal since it was from a harsh direct in camera flash, but to be honest, all technicalities aside, knowing that it was a compact camera that produced this, with minimal effort, the overall result was still quite impressive. 

I am not expecting the level of details I get from using an OM-D camera and Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens, that would be an unfair comparison. I have even customized my wireless flash technique to achieve better lighting than this. Nonetheless, for a simplified point and shoot effort, I think the TG-6 performed admirably. Images came out clean, colors were punchy and realistic and there was sufficient bite in the sharpness. Truth to be told, that one tiny lens on the TG-6 is one heck of a great lens!

F6.3, 1/100, ISO160


I obviously did not go as close as 1cm for all my shots, I did not have to, and the insects I was shooting were not that tiny that I needed to go super near. For most shots, the insects were about 3-10cm away from the lens, with a majority of them being closer thsn 5cm. And I have zoomed in the lens to the furthest end 100mm equivalent for all the insect shots. 

Focusing on the insects at such close up distance was unexpectedly fast and responsive. I had no issues locking focus even in heavy shade environment where many insects and bugs were hiding in. I did move the focusing area around to make sure that I achieve critical accuracy on the exact area I wanted. The focusing was sufficiently reliable to get the job done. 

F4.9, 1/320sec, ISO250

F6.3, 1/100sec, ISO100

F6.3, 1/100, ISO100


F6.3, 1/400sec, ISO100

F4.9, 1/100, ISO125

F4.9, 1/320sec, ISO200

My biggest complain of the camera so far? No ability to control the shutter speed. I just feel that having Aperture Priority and Program exposure modes are very useful indeed, but why not include Shutter Priority or even better, full manual shooting mode? To say that the users whom the TG-6 is targeted for are not serious photographers and may not even care to use the advanced shooting features is an unacceptable excuse. There are many advanced features in camera - Pro Capture Mode, focus stacking and the fact that the camera allows RAW image shooting show that this camera is preparing the users for the next advanced level in photography. Not having the option to control shutter speed is a little limiting.

I wish I could do some slow shutter speed motion blur shots of the water, or pedestrians walking on the street. Surely there are workarounds to force the camera to achieve slow shutter speed, but a dedicated control would have been a better option.

Using the Olympus TG-6 on the street was quite an interesting experience. I have always preferred to work with smaller cameras doing street photography so people do not immediately feel threatened at the presence of a gigantic black boxes shoved in front of their faces. Nonetheless, the bright red color of the TG-6 loaner I had did not help me being stealthy at all, as the bold red screamed attention. Having said that, there is a black TG-6 variant, which i should have personally requested for my own shooting instead of the red.

F3.5, 1/10, ISO100

F4.1, 1/100, ISO100

F4.9, 1/100, ISO100

F2.7, 1/50sec , ISO100

F2.3, 1/60sec, ISO200

F3.2, 1/800, ISO100

F4.9, 1/200, ISO250

F5, 1/60, ISO100

F2.4, 1/1000sec, ISO100

The images at base ISO 100 came out clean and sharp. Perhaps I was only happy with the images up till ISO400. Anything above that to me has lost too much details into aggressive noise reduction, smearing the images into "painterly" look. Then again, I must remind you this is coming out from a small 1/2.33 inch image sensor, and I am not expecting miracles to happen here either.

The lens, for non-macro shooting, performed well in all situations. The lens handles wide angle very well, with no distortion noticeable, and this could very well also partly due to in-camera software correction kicking in hard. I did notice some traces of Chromatic Aberration, but that would be me nick-picking, as the purple fringing in bright contrast areas can easily be eliminated in post-processing.  Sharpness was consistent throughout the focal range all the way to the longest telephoto zoom. I tested the lenses in various lighting condition, shooting subjects near and far, and they all rendered beautifully.

For night shooting, especially for landscape shots, I highly recommend having a tripod handy to stabilize your shots. There is only so much you can do with F2 aperture and ISO100-200 for clean shots. While the image stabilization in camera can be helpful in gaining a few stops of shutter speed advantage, it was far from the effectiveness of the OM-D level of image stabilization.

F2.8, 1 second, ISO100

F2.8, 1 second, ISO100

Top left ISO400, Top right ISO800, Bottom Left ISO1600, Bottom right ISO3200
ISO tolerance, personally for me, is up to ISO400. Anything beyond that to me, I would do my best to avoid. 

F2.8, 0.5 second, ISO100

F2, 1/20sec, ISO400

Shooting directly against extremely bright source of light, the lens handles flare and ghosting well. there are traces of lens flare but nothing too distracting, and can be easily remedied by shifting the framing around a little.

Handling on the TG-6 was very good. The buttons will feel very "rubberized", and you need to exert some force to push them, since the camera is sealed against water. It will take some time to get used to, but nothing too difficult to handle. The camera feels light yet reassuringly solid in hand. There is a sense of confidence when holding something that is so well built and robust.

The battery life of the camera isn't amazing - I could get about 200-300 shots per charge, just enough for a half day outing. In fact, it was barely sufficient for one single intense insect macro shooting session, since almost every shot I used the flash, with some shots near full power. Therefore, I highly recommend getting spares if you do travel with the camera.

What I did like, was the new LCD screen. Having the TG-6 side by side against TG-5, tt was apparent that the TG-6's 1.04M Dot resolution is more crisp, and easier to determine critical focus accuracy for each shot that I took with the camera.



I did briefly test the Focus Stacking feature. There is no way to control the width or distance from each incremental movement from shot to shot. You can choose how many shots taken for stacking, up to 10 shots. The resulting "stacked" result will only be in JPEG, and you do lose a little width due to minor cropping to align the multiple images for compositing. I personally do not see the need for focus stacking using a compact camera, because due to the nature of shooting with smaller sized image sensors, we already have massive depth of field. Also, the advantage of having Aperture Priority mode means we can further stop down the F number to achieve even greater depth of field.

Looking at the results, the focus stacking in some situations almost obliterated the background blur, which may work against macro shooting when we still want some subject isolation from the background while achieving sufficient depth of field to cover the whole subject itself. Having everything in the frame perfectly in focus and clear may not be appealing for every one, especially not for macro shooting purposes.

Focus Stacking ON

Focus Stacking OFF

Focus Stacking ON

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Live Composite is a unique and useful image stacking feature built into Olympus cameras that has been introduced since 2014 in Olympus OM-D E-M10 (first generation). Live Composite allows extremely long exposure shooting without overexposing the image. Typically, an ordinary single frame of long exposure image will capture too much light if the shutter is left open for too long. To prevent overexposure, Olympus' Live Composite basically stacks multiple images of similar exposure over a long duration of time while maintaining balanced exposure from the first frame. The exposure settings are fixed on first frame, set on a shorter exposure duration and are the same for subsequent shots. To illustrate this, instead of capturing a single 60 minutes exposure image which will certainly cause overblown outcome, Live Composite stacks 60 images (all taken at 1 minute exposure each) subsequently and continuously. The compositing process only selectively and additively blends in brighter parts of the subsequent frames onto the previous image. As a bonus, as the blending happens (for example, trailing of light due to slow shutter), you can view it occurring live on the camera's LCD screen, hence the name Live Composite.

While this Live Composite is not a new feature, I have rarely used it. Living in the metropolitan Kuala Lumpur, light pollution negated the possibility of shooting night sky. Furthermore, due to tropical weather, we typically get thunderstorms or lousy cloudy skies at night. Recently, I made a trip to Perth, Australia and did some star trail shooting with Olympus Live Composite. I thought why not do an article about this, and maybe share some tips to those who may want to explore this feature with their cameras?

All images in this entry were shot on Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO

5 seconds each image, total composite duration 40 minutes, ISO200, F2.8

The beauty of using Olympus' Live Composite was the convenience of having compositing feature already built into the camera, generating results at the press of just a few buttons. Traditionally, to get a star trail image, hundreds of images were taken subsequently and then composited via software processing on a computer. When shooting Live Composite, Olympus gives you not only the ease of capturing one frame with full composite result, all done in camera, but also the ability to preview the star trailing effect as it happens right in front of your eyes.

HOW TO CAPTURE STAR TRAIL USING OLYMPUS LIVE COMPOSITE

1) TRIPOD
You will need a tripod, there is no going around this. You may think that propping the camera against the rock or your backpack will work, but trust me, if you want to get into the photography game, do yourself a favor and get a sturdy tripod.

2) START WITH FULLY CHARGED BATTERY
The last thing that you want to happen is battery dying off in the middle of an almost successful star trail shooting, losing a chunk of precious time and have to restart the process again.

3) TURN ON LIVE VIEW BOOST 2
To enable easy framing using the LCD screen in the dark, switch on the Live View Boost 2 feature. Go to Menu --> Gear/Cogs Icon --> D tab --> Scroll down to Live View Boost --> Live Composite/Live Time --> On 2.
With this setting turned on, you may even see some visible stars in the sky, and you can clearly see the foreground (trees, structures, etc).

4) SET TO MANUAL FOCUS
We are shooting landscape (if you are doing portrait photography then skip this step), so the focusing should be set to infinity. If you have Olympus PRO lenses (12-100mm, 12-40mm, 7-14mm, etc) pull down the focusing ring, and set the focusing mark to the infinity symbol.

5) CAPTURE A SINGLE FRAME
To start, shoot the scene with a normal exposure. For the Crawley Edge Boatshed at Mounts Bay Road scene as shown in the opening image, I did some trial and error using Manual shooting mode, and figured out that a single frame capture of exposure settings ISO200, 5 seconds shutter speed and F2.8 aperture were needed for a balanced shot. The shot below is an example of the single frame taken before replicating the exposure settings for Live Composite.

5 seconds, ISO200, F2.8


6) ACTIVATE LIVE COMPOSITE
Having figured out the exact exposure settings for a single capture as explained in point 4), then we can now turn on the Live Composite mode. Turn the mode dial to M. Dial down (slow) the shutter speed to 60 seconds, then you keep turning it to find Bulb, Live Time, and finally, Live Composite. At this point, the LCD screen may suddenly become dimmed, do not be alarmed, that is perfectly normal as we normally use Live Composite shooting in dark environment, hence the camera intentionally dims the screen.

7) SET EXPOSURE SETTINGS FROM 4)
Based on the single capture settings from point 2), make sure all the settings are the same. You can adjust aperture via the control dial, and ISO from super control panel (or any other shortcuts you have set). However, to adjust the shutter speed, press the "MENU" button. This step is extremely crucial, and is often missed by many newcomers to Live Composite.

8) PRESS SHUTTER BUTTON ONCE TO GET READY
The camera will require capture of first frame to get ready, so just press it.

9) PRESS SHUTTER BUTTON AGAIN TO START
Press the shutter button again the second time to start the Live Composite process. When the process started, you should be able to see capture information at the bottom right corner of the LCD screen, showing number of frames captured and total duration of capture.

Once the Live Composite process begins, you will get live feedback shown on the LCD screen. Within 5-10 minutes, you will start to see the stars trailing a little.

10) PRESS SHUTTER BUTTON AGAIN TO STOP
Please allow about 45 minutes or more for the trails to develop. The longer duration of the capture the longer the trails will be. Once you are satisfied with the developed trails in the frame, press the shutter button to stop.

Additional tip - Live Composite can be shot in RAW, meaning the final composited result can be recorded as a RAW file. This allows better flexibility in post-processing, having full control over white balance and some detail recovery over shadow and highlight regions of the photograph.

Behind the scenes image of the E-M1 Mark II shooting the famous Blue Boathouse at Matilda Bay

30 seconds, ISO3200, F2.8

60 seconds each image, total composite duration 45m minutes, ISO1600, F2.8
Trail was not smooth due to intermittent frames with no star visibility, sky covered by cloud obviously. Trails should be smooth with clear, cloudless sky throughout the duration of shoot. 

60 seconds each image, total composite duration 45minutes ISO800, F2.8
This was taken at Tau Game Lodge at Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. Shot from the balcony of my room. 

There are some limitations imposed by the camera while using Live Composite (hardware limit, or software processing capability) which should be taken note of:
ISO highest limit - ISO1600
Shutter Speed - 60 seconds (for single frame)
Aperture  - No limit, but typically set to widest to capture as much light as possible
Image Stabilization is disabled during Live Composite, hence sturdy tripod is necessary

Practically, I highly recommend maxing out the shutter speed, set the aperture to the widest (if you have an F1.2 lens, use F1.2!) and finally, only increase the ISO as necessary. 

If you have an Olympus camera (E-M10 or newer) and you have access to location with not too much light pollution, and the weather is not too cloudy, why not give star trail a try? There is always something magical shooting the stars in the sky. If you have any questions regarding Live Composite please ask!

Acknowledgement - Special thanks to Charmaine and Chris who brought me to awesome places to shoot night skies in Perth, Western Australia recently! 
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I was recently invited to attend the official launch of The Barn's latest outlet in Sunway Pyramid, marking their 6th outlet in Malaysia. I original found out about The Barn at One Mon't Kiara when I was still working for Olympus Malaysia several years ago, which was then situated within the same building. We even held mini gatherings and events at The Barn with Olympus consumers and photographers, since the venue was just perfect for small functions in an intimate, quiet environment. I am happy to hear that The Barn has grown over the years and finally is opening a branch in a more commercially accessible location such as Sunway Pyramid! I attended the event as a blogger, and I just could not help myself but snap away with my camera!

The door gift for guests!

 The stage area in bold, bright red!

The Barn is known for it's huge selection of wine. The bar is a prominent area within the restaurant



I must admit that the only other outlet of The Barn that I have ever dined in was the one in One Mon't Kiara. I simply loved the food there, usually in small servings but delightfully presented and they were all delicious as I remembered them. I also particularly loved their coffee, there were so many catch up sessions with Olympus photographers that I have had outside of office, since The Barn in One Mon't Kiara was the nearest legit place (better than Starbucks coffee anyway), it has become the most frequented place for me to talk to photographers who worked closely with Olympus Malaysia back then.

The comfortable and charming interior were carried over to this new outlet in Sunway Pyramid, and I am glad to witness such a huge ground area with many tables yet the place was spacious and airy at the same time. To me, I prefer to spend time catching up with people at locations with tables and chairs that are not too small and cramped, I just like space, lots and lots of space. The ceiling high side fully transparent glass served as the perfect lighting for Instagram worthy selfies or food shots. While I personally do not drink much, I can see why people love the cocktails and other drinks served here!

The Emcee in full costume, in theme for "The Barn". 

The founder of The Barn, Ms Candice Lee giving her opening speech. 

And then out of nowhere there was a camel! YES A CAMEL IN THE RESTAURANT!

The camel had a name - Barny The Camel!

The media, bloggers and guests flocked the grand opening, and I was honestly lost in the sea of people, none that I knew (except for Charmaine, who has always been super awesome in blogger's events). It was a simple event, officiating the official opening of The Barn in Sunway Pyramid, with the VVIP of a real life camel, being brought into the restaurant for selfies and group pictures with everyone. Yeap, you heard that right, a real camel, who would have seen that coming? The camel's name was Barny. Get it? The Barn? Barny? They even had a special cocktail drink named after Barny, which was called "The Hump".

I was just minding my own business, shooting at anything that caught my attention. I was using Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 12mm F2, 25mm F1.2 PRO lens and 45mm F1.8 lenses for all the shots shown in this blog entry. I somehow wished I have brought along the M.Zuiko 7-14mm for a much wider coverage.

Alright, onto some glorious, hipster-looking, yummy food!

New item in The Barn's menu, Creme Brule!

 Pescatore Pizza - Prawns, tuna, anchovies, olives, capers, mozzarella & basil on tomato sauce

I can't help but to take a close up shot of the pizza! 

Smoked Beef Short Ribs - Smoked beef short ribs with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables & creamy smoked paprika sauce

Tapas Combo Platter - 
Pork belly, Lagrimas, chicken wings, German sausage, Italian sausage, luncheon fries & pork satay




Got myself a drink to end the day! Cheers

I know where my next chillout location with my mates will be in the coming weekend. And this time, instead of alcoholic drinks, I shall have overpriced coffee instead. 
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On a chilly, rainy Sunday evening, I went to Publika to catch an acoustic live performance by some of my favourite local singer-songwriters in Malaysia. I was there to catch Hameer Zawawi and Beverly Matujal, both I have come to love their music so much. While enjoying myself with original awesome music on a lazy Sunday evening, I also get to work out the camera and get some shutter action. Nothing overly serious or crazy, just casual relaxing shoot.

The stage was quite dim, even with the F2.8 wide open on M.Zuiko 40-150mm PRO lens, I needed to boost the ISO to about 3200 and at times 6400 to get about 1/100 second shutter speed. I brought along two lenses, the 40-150mm PRO and also the 17mm F1.2 PRO (using the 17mm for any wide shots). I have been so used of using F1.2 or F1.8 lenses for shooting stage and live music that I forget how dangerously dim and challenging the light can get even for an F2.8 lens! What I normally could get away with ISO 800 or 1600, now I need to go up to 3200 or even more. Nonetheless, this was a shoot that was entirely personal and it does not matter if there were traces of noise in the image. The rendering of the 40-150mm PRO lens is just simply superb, creating a life-like image with good contrast!

The local singer-songwriters present for this particular performance:
Hameer Zawawi
Beverly Matujal
Amrita Soon
Azmyl Yunor

All images were shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and 40-150mm PRO or 17mm PRO.













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Continuing from my previous post, I have separated all the food photographs to be posted in this single blog update. Yes, you got that right, I am spamming all the food images here! I have always loved the food in Perth since my university days, and I believe Perth did some food really well. The images were all shot with either my new smartphone Realme 2 Pro, or Olympus E-M1 Mark II. Honestly, when it came to food, I was always too hungry to bother about taking high quality images. There were even a few meals which I skipped taking any photos altogether. Just enjoy the food!

I first discovered the joy of good coffee in Perth. This was at a time when coffee culture has not picked up in Malaysia. When I started working in KL in 2008, there was no proper coffee places yet, the most common places were Starbucks and Coffee Bean. I was dying from coffee withdrawal syndrome and I don't think I truly ever recover. Thankfully there was a huge overpriced coffee revolution in KL, but expensive coffee is not equivalent to quality coffee. It is no wonder that during my short stay in Perth, I overdosed myself with at least 2-3 cups of coffee per day. 

Brunch in Australia is awesome, thanks to the abundance of bacon, and not just having bacon, but properly prepared and sizzled to perfection slices of heavenly supercilious bacon!! This plate of wholesome pork goodness was called "This Little Piggy Went To The Market", found in Duck Duck Bruce at Fremantle! Honestly I ordered this dish just because of the name. Yes, branding matters!

Auber-Jean Is Not My Lover, Duck Duck Bruce, Freo. 
So, sooooo goooood!

As expected I did a lot of walking around for street photography around the CBD area. I found this little cafe Toastface Grillah from one of the prominent graffiti in the inner streets. Who would have thought, graffiti can be such a powerful tool to draw people in! All the 3 people in the frame were waiting for their morning coffee. I noticed that people in Perth cannot function without their coffee. I have that disease too. 

Grilled cheese ooooohhhhhh heaven!!!

Had this breakfast in a bagel thingy at the Botanical Cafe, Kings Park!

Good coffee is everywhere, so easy to just make a quick stop to rest the legs, get away from the scorching UV radiation and sip some caffeine. This was at The Italian Corner, Perth CBD. 

You know what I miss most from Perth? THEIR GLORIOUS PIZZAS!!! YESSSS!!!! This was at Theo and Co, a spinoff from the original Little Ceasors. We used to drive an hour to Mundaring just for these pizzas! Now it is much nearer to the city, at Leederville. Owhhh, look at the juicy prawns and Prosciutto! 

A slice of heaven! Janes Addiction - one from the seafood pizza menu, an award-winning one that is!

Smoked BBQ Short Ribs, with a side of slaw! YUMMMMM

I could not help it but order a dessert pizza. Read the descriptions:
MAGIC DIRT - Chocolate soil is tossed over a rich chocolate sponge, topped with an in-house made strawberry and sour cherry jam, drizzled with fresh cream and dusted with icing sugar. Get your shovel out and dig in

One of the must try places in Fremantle - Bread in Common! The place is soooo huge. You know how those Malaysian cafes tried to imitate "industrious" look? Well, this is not just looking like a warehouse, it is one. 

Bread and butter, that's all you need to make a happy Robin

Good butter is also hard to come by in Malaysia. The bread, oh don't even get me started on the bread!

baby beetroot  macadamia, apple, mustard

 duck fat roasted potatoes, lemon thyme, ketchup
This thing is legit the bomb! Potatoes that tasted like roasted duck!

lamb ribs, lime, mint, black garlic, sherry
Possibly the best lamb I have ever tasted in my life so far, though I admit I don't eat lamb that much. 

Went deeper inside Bread in Common and explored a bit more. I can imagine this place to be amazing for a photography workshop!

An old friend, Sarah brought me to Aliment and we had brunch there. Buttermilk Fried Chicken on Pancakes, with Bacon and egg! AND MAPPLE SYRUP OMG!

Apparently this Kombucha is a thing in Perth, and I have just tried my first one. 

The Dragon Paddle, Shy John's. Gotta admit this was my first time drinking beer while having dim sum. Quite an experience. 

Dim sum is another thing that I miss so much from Perth. KL dim sum cannot lah!!!!!

Look at how cute those molten lava salted egg thingy!!

More dim sum adventures, this time at Dragon Palace, Northbridge. 

My favourite - deep fried squid tentacles! I eat them like I eat French Fries. 
 
Aussie is the land of awesome burgers, but I did not get to try much. This was the only one I had at Big Rigz Burgers. 

Seafood platter at Kaili's in Freo!

This Coke No Sugar - Peach is so good it deserves a spot here, also not found in Malaysia yet. Why does Perth get all these good stuff?

My all time favourite, all the way since my university days, MEAT LOVERS from Broadway Pizza. Toppings include beef, peperroni, bacon, ham and cheese

LOOK AT THAT!! LOOOOK AT THAT!!

During my time in Perth, I had a lot of Malaysian friends who complained day in and out about how they miss Malaysian food being away. I was probably the only weird one keeping quiet in one corner because I enjoyed ALL the food I have had in Australia. Yes there are weirder stuff like Kangaroo meat and more, but you get the idea. I think I am a food lover, wherever I go to, my stomach will say yes and I will always have a fantastic time eating! I live to eat. 


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