Ducati Monster 1200S – Portraits with my iPhone

Every Ducati is a work of art, and it’s always fun to find new ways to photograph these beauties on a small island like Singapore. I used to scout actively for photographic opportunities on my previous Monster 1100 Evo with my larger cameras, but I’ve slowed down a bit with my current Monster 1200S due to work and generally lousy weather.

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Stop using zoom lenses!

People often get puzzled when I tell them I don’t like to use zoom lenses with my Canon EOS 5D or Olympus Pen digital cameras.

“So what do you use on your camera?”, they will ask.

“Fixed lenses, otherwise known as prime lenses.”, I say.

“So how do you zoom in and out?”

“With your feet!”

The conversation usually ends there, because people just think that I’m being difficult. Or being a photography snob.

Ok, I’ll admit I’m a bit of both, but my firm belief is that prime lenses help one to achieve better photos easier and faster.

But how can that be, you say? Isn’t it very troublesome to be changing lenses all the time?

You’ve hit the nail on the head! That’s why they call dSLRs and hybrid dSLRs “interchangeable lens cameras”.


My collection of prime lenses for the Canon EOS 5D (24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 100mm macro) and Olympus Pen (28mm, 35mm, 50mm equivalents). I do have two professional zooms (24-70mm and 70-200mm f2.8, but they’re too big to fit in this photo.

When the earliest SLRs were launched decades ago in the early part of the 20th century, the philosophy was that you would keep changing lenses to obtain your desired image.


A 1954 Leica M3 rangefinder camera with a 50mm prime lens. (Image from Wikipedia)

Somewhere along the line, zoom lenses were created to provide convenience to the masses, and over the years, primes have been relegated in importance. However, prime lenses are still manufactured in the thousands (if not millions) because photographers who want the best quality will still use them.

The question is why should an average Joe – who doesn’t care about photography technicalities or even manual exposure – use prime lenses?

Prime lenses can be cumbersome, relatively expensive (usually a few hundred dollars to a few thousand each), and horrors of horrors, you would actually have to remove the lens on your dSLR and possibly expose the image sensor to the elements!

First, let me explain some fundamentals in photography.

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Olympus XZ-1 review

xz1 jp 1

The Olympus XZ-1 incorporates the most classy design elements of its Canon and Panasonic competitors and has an amazing lens to match. (Image from Olympus Japan)

Updated 1 Feb with a new gallery of evening shots

Updated 5 Feb with more thoughts on the camera (no, I still love it)

I always tell people that I’m a Canon fanboy, but my first serious camera was actually an Olympus mju II compact film camera. You know, the one that came with a rock-solid 35mm f2.8 lens.


The good ole mju II from the film days.

I brought this small mju with me for a Nepal trekking holiday in 1998, and it turned in consistently great images even though I was untrained in photography then.

These days, I often have mixed feelings about Olympus. It sometimes demonstrates forward thinking in its products and really focuses on great image quality, but is often let down by its inability to follow up on a good thing. Or perhaps is just saddled by a poor marketing (read to the end).

Two years ago, Olympus created a whole new target market with the Pen series of Micro Four Thirds, but since then has lost momentum to Panasonic (GF series) and Sony (NEX series).

I love my beautifully designed EP-1, wrote extensively about it, and still use it weekly 18 months after I bought it. But the lack of prime lenses has dampened my enthusiasm for the system.

Olympus seems to think that coming out with cheaper bodies like the EPL1 and EPL2, or even fancy decals, will help its fortunes, but doesn’t seem to get it that the Pen series just needs a solid range of professional-grade lenses (ie. more bright aperture fixed lenses like the 17mm f2.8 instead of consumer grade zooms) to beat the competition.

Even as a faithful owner, I don’t think the Pen series is going to win the hybrid camera war with today’s state of affairs.

Now Oly has another shot at industry greatness, and that’s in the high-end compact camera segment with the new XZ-1.

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Image from Olympus Japan

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Bishan Skies, now a Windows 7 theme pack (Updated)

Bishan Sky 1 Bishan Sky 2 Bishan Sky 3 Bishan Sky 4 Bishan Sky 5 Bishan Sky 6 Bishan Sky 7 Bishan Sky 8 Bishan Sky 9 Bishan Sky 10

Updated 28 Jan 2010 with three new images

Some time ago, my friend Sanjay asked if he could use some of the dawn photos I took from my home living window for his Windows wallpaper. I kept forgetting about it but I’ve finally compiled them into a Windows 7 themepack, made from 7 of my favorite images.

If you’re using Windows 7, just download the file below and double-click it, it’ll automatically become your Windows 7 desktop wallpaper. In Win 7, you can choose how often you want to shuffle the images and even choose which images you want to display.

If you are using earlier versions of Windows, just click on the images above to download each image separately. They’re in 1920 by 1200 pixel resolution, so will fit on 24” screens or smaller easily 😀



We want pancakes!

From dpreview.com : On Lenses For Small Cameras


The year 2009 will surely be remembered by photographers as that which finally saw the long-overdue arrival of the large-sensor compact system camera. Indeed ever since compact digicams were first introduced, the obvious next step seemed to be to develop the basic concept with larger sensors and interchangeable lenses; so much so that the only real question has been, what’s taken so long?

But now that Olympus and Panasonic have blazed the trail with the likes of the E-P1 and GF1, and Samsung has shown its hand in the shape of the NX10, it seems only a matter of time before all of the major manufacturers jump on board and produce their own competitors in this potentially lucrative new market segment. But while we’ve certainly been pleased to see these new cameras, we’ve been less impressed by the lack of imagination shown by the initial lens ranges. So in a (probably futile) attempt to steer the manufacturers in what we think is the right direction, here are our suggestions for what they should be making.

Read the rest of the article here.

I couldn’t agree more, this article expresses exactly how I feel about these marvelous new cameras from Panasonic and Olympus. The Oly Pen is a great camera but its potential is far from realized, thanks to the lack of great pancake or prime lenses. Manufacturers are obsessed with reaching out to the masses who don’t know a cheap zoom from a glass bottle, and are losing out with the real market – professionals and enthusiasts who do not blink at spending big money for great, and compact lenses.