Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 Shell Advance Malaysian MotoGP with Olympus mZD 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens

I had the generous opportunity from Olympus Malaysia in loaning me the latest set up of choice for sports photography in the m43 world, an E-M1 + MC-14 + mZD 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens. Thanks to Mr. Tang and Olympus Malaysia!

With that combination, off I go to 2014 Shell Advance Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang International Circuit for the free practise session to test them out. Panning was the dreaded archilles heel that have put me off of m43 for the time being but it seems that it is no longer true.

There was one thing though is still plaguing m43 systems, which is the battery life. It seems that Pro lenses, like the 4/3 counterparts, suck battery quite a bit. Even with the grip, I managed to capture about 300 shots with a bit of chimping and photo deletion included. Maybe one of my mistake was not to turn off live view on the LCD from the start. I only did that about 1/3 way through the shoot. Depending on the usage, it should only last about one full race. Spare batteries are highly recommended.

The size of the set up is no longer small but is equivalent to an entry level competitor dSLR with a standard telephoto lens attached. The weight too is not feather light. However, compared to its 4/3 equivalent of an E-5 + EC-14 + 35-100mm f2, the m43 combo is feather light. For a motorsports event, having trained arms would be a real added advantage.

On the performance of this combo, AF speed was excellent and was able to focus on the moving bikes without fail. Even the C-AF Tracking did what it's supposed to do. The sharpness produced from the lens was great and it also produces nice bokeh for protraiture. For MotoGP, the MC-14 was a real advantage as 150mm seems to be not enough reach for closer shot photos.

It took some practise to get the panning right. With my limited skills, I have tried the new Panning Scene mode, with and without IS-AUTO, C-AF with tracking and with multiple shutter speeds. What worked for me was S Mode set to 1/200s with IS OFF, S-AF and ISO 200. Old habits die hard as that is the set up I usually use for panning with my E-3 and ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5. 1/200s is considered fast but with limited time on the combo, that would suffice with my old and shaky hands.

Another thing which I have set beforehand was the high frame rate for the EVF. The LCD cannot be relied on heavily for panning as using the EVF would provide the best stability and follow up needed. I have noticed that there is a very slight blackout period in the EVF when the shutter is pressed.

Am I impressed with the new m43 sports photography combo? Hell yeah! With more practise, I'm very confident that panning at slower shutter speeds can be readily achieved. With its light weight and weather proofing capabilities, it is ready for anything. However, the main problem is, where to get the funds?

All photos are captured using Olympus E-M1 body with MC-14 teleconverter and mZD 40-150mm f2.8 Pro lens. The rest of the photos can be viewed here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Land of Smiles

The land of smiles, what Thailand is also known as. And the truth is, it is true! It is not the first time I have set foot in Thailand but this is the first trip to Bangkok with my wife and her friends.

All around Bangkok you are able to see care free people. Most of them seem to not have any worries in the world. People from all walks of life will live happily and without worries, no matter how their situation is.

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and is easily accessible via its international airport, Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Nearly all major airlines will land there. Transportation between the airport and city centre is easily available and relatively affordable. There are options to travel as a VIP in posh limousines or a standard public taxi. The journey from the airport to the city centre is relatively smooth, on the highway.

However, traffic changes as you get nearer to the city centre. The roads seems to get narrower with the build up of traffic. Things get worse with slow and sometimes standstill traffic within the city centre. The traffic condition will be horrendous when bad weather gets involved. Traffic jams can last for hours on end.

Getting around Bangkok by BTS train is highly recommended if you are not up for walking. However, the best way of soaking in the local lifestyle is by walking around every nook and cranny of Bangkok. Do beware of sleazy alleys though.

Weather wise, Bangkok is hot and humid all year round with a few months of wet weather with occasional floods at the surrounding areas of the city. However, be prepared to get wet during the Songkran Festival which happens in the mid of April. It is also known as the water splashing festival. Everyone and anyone will be splashed with water. Buckets and buckets load of water.

The people of Thailand are predominantly Buddhist. Temples are scattered all over the country and also within the capital. You can see many people praying at temples and altars which are set up at companies or even shopping complexes. Prayers are done amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.

Besides all these, Bangkok is also famous for its night life. But then, that will be another story for another day...

All images taken using Olympus E-3 with ZD 14-54 f2.8-3.5 Mk II lens.