A year with a free Leica | PART 1

A year with a free Leica | PART 1

A bit of introduction on the brand that made the camera on this post. Leica is a camera brand that has redefine photography since the early 20th century and their camera has been a staple among renown photojournalist worldwide. It’s association with the creation of many iconic photographs throughout the history has led their camera to earn a legendary status and has huge followers (fanatics?) all over the world until now. As a brand, in the early year of the shift in technology from film analog to digital sensor. Leica has struggle to catch up with the rest of it’s competitor. Their slow adaptation to this change towards digital saw them being left forgotten for more than a decade before being bought over by a billionaire that saves the company from bankruptcy. This day, the camera has became more of a fashion symbol for the rich where the price tag of a single M-mount camera is equivalent to a year worth of salary.

So what does this has to do with this article?. Everything.

Most of my favorite photographer use a Leica M camera at certain point of their career, many even stand by it until today. Therefore, obviously there was a time where  I wish to own a Leica just for the sake of it. But god work in a mysterious way and on August 2017, my prayer (I didn’t pray) was answered. Someone actually gave me a Leica IIF along with Leica Elmar 5cm f/2.8, for free.

A clean camera in a good condition. Just serviced to boot according to the owner. 
Using the camera for the first time. I didn’t even know how to load the film into the camera. 

I am a regular reader of Japancamerahunter.com and their recent post during that time was on why the 35mm film is in high demand. From this, the comment section turn into a forum as they were arguing whether the film camera industry itself is in jeopardy as the market consist of a cameras that has age more than a few decades, with many has past half century mark. The question of parts availability and the declining number of capable repairman was part of the argument. Within the comments I slid a short question asking about “What camera brand that still service their film camera?” and left it there for a few day before returning to read anyone reply. Of course, many gave their response (Leica is probably the only one) and one of them happen to be the one responsible for giving me his camera.

I received an email on the following day stating that he was interested in giving out his camera for free and to send it directly from Japan. At this point, I was very skeptic. The argument was that there is nothing for me to lose and following their discussion before on Japancamerahunter, he believes that a mechanical camera such as the IIF would outlive it’s owner and there is nothing to worry about as parts is not as scarce as it seems. Film photography is here to stay and mechanical parts is always easier to replace than electronic. Hearing his reasoning, I don’t think it’s polite to decline his wishes especially as there is nothing for me to be worried about. I gladly accept and waited for the package.

The camera has some used mark but otherwise good. The lens was in great condition. 

Few weeks later, I received an EMS package from Japan along with a name and a note wishing me to enjoy the camera. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much to . Maybe a bunch of worn out camera with a decent Russian made lens. But upon opening the package, I notice a glimpse of the camera shade and further unpacking reveal a Leica IIF with a collapsible Leica lens that I don’t know off.

I contact the sender afterward to inform him that the package has safely arrived and to confirm his motive in sending me the camera. It was unimaginable for me as the camera could fetch a high price on the market today. His reasoning was pretty simple, the camera is not really appreciated by the collectors in Japan given its condition (it’s pretty clean for me) and he bought it as a part for his beloved Leica IIIG. For him, he felt like a waste seeing a capable camera being wasted inside a drybox so instead he decided to give it away (Fuck capitalism he said) to someone who will actually use it. Seeing their discussion from the post in Japancamerahunter, he believes that mechanical camera will last much longer than it’s owner given that it is being used regularly and serviced when needed. A reminder for myself as the camera was actually made in 1952 based on it’s serial number.

Me trying to explain why the camera I hold has such ‘value’ in the history of photography. 

I am not a Leica geek but having the Leica has led me to study a lot about Leica not only as a camera manufacture but it’s impact as a brand to the development of photography itself. At this point, i kept on reminding myself that this isn’t any post on the history of Leica design but you can’t kept it out from the writing seeing how big the brand is itself.

AGFA 400 (2)
Photo that I capture a lot during my first few rolls. 

For this, I would like to state my gratitude to Mr.Damien for his generosity to a poor Architecture student from Malaysia as myself. The camera itself might someday be given away to a certain someone but until then, this is mine to use.

I will be update on my first few months experience on the next post.


Camera : A companion

Camera : A companion

For those who know me personally, I am probably best described as that annoying bastard with a camera (probably). Clicking and snapping picture in random situation, like when its raining heavily and suddenly someone ran across the street without any umbrella!, its going to look nice on frame and guess who will be missing from the group?.

Taking picture has became a second nature for me and what started as an interest has somehow turn into a habit; an addictive one at that. Mind you, I started ‘photography’ when I got my first smartphone in high school and that was more than 9 years ago.  Within this so called ‘journey’ in photography, the one thing that has always been loyal by my side is non other than my beloved camera. After all, what is a photographer without a camera?, an eyewitness?.

TPB 009
Camera is to be brought to for an adventure for the sake of happy memories.

Camera is also the reason for a photographer excuses in many situation; for it might as well be called their source of superpower.

“What are you doing here?”
“I am a photographer Sir!” as you wave your Leica around
“Okay” followed by a slow thumbs up.

“Can I take your picture?” as you nudge your Nikkor lens slightly.
“Sure, why not?”

“Can you let me in?” while slowly raising your white luscious leather covered L lenses camera.
“Sure, just enjoy yourself” as the bouncer open the door for you. Sounds of some techno song struck through your ears. 

Of course, none of the dialogue is true. It probably happen to someone but its plausible at most. Having a camera by your side is like having a free passport to anywhere, you will never be short of excuses if you are clever enough. After all, the camera is your sidekick or in some cases, your Wingman.

Camera is a companion that most photographer choose and consider as a set of tools. You can liken it to a knife that the chef would choose to make the right cut or a soldier who choose which gun caliber suits best for a situation. Camera is a tool for the professional where its uses can be very specific rather than subjective.

RIC RE 001
I choose  Ricoh GR as my main travel camera mainly because of the size and the ability to be charged using powerbank. Have I ever mention that the 28mm lens is very good?.

   I personally have 6 different camera, each have a rather different use as I see fit. From a Ricoh GR for a casual day-to-day shooting to a Sony A90 for a rather serious attempt or maybe vise versa . I also use film camera for a certain photography project that I am currently working on. The reason for using a film camera has more to do with how using the camera alter my usual approach to my subject than the actual final output from the film camera.

“If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change. A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura.” 

– Nobuyoshi Araki


We photographer need camera and the need varies depending on our intention. Of course, an artist never brag about the brush that they are using but they still going to have a set of it to make a painting. To imagine how this actually work, think about Hajime Kimura works in color or Henri Cartier Bresson using the large format camera, can’t really imagine how their picture would be right?. Specific demand require specific camera, so choose the right partner.

Still, everything that I mention here doesn’t justify the urge to get all the best camera in the world (My dream camera is the Pentax 645D). You only get what you need. Like someone I met few years ago said, photography is a bit like marriage, you need to balance everything considerately or risk losing everything.

End of rant.




IT’S 2016.

IT’S 2016.


Exam is done and home here I come!.

Its been a long day of flight for me and I just finished organizing my workdesk for little bit. I guess the right thing to do now is either to read a few pages of Haruki Murakami or finish this blogpost which has been in draft since last year. (pun intended)

Looking back at the stuff that I manage to do last year, I would have to say that it’s been another great year. Continuing my study is perhaps one of the major highlight of the year because I am leaving a rather comfortable job as a Junior Architectural Designer. It’s been a great 3 year stints at the firm but I foresee a rather bleak future where I am unable to reach my true potential as a mature professional.

At the start of the New Year, my former mentor, Steven Lee post up a rather interesting request to all his photography friend. The request were rather simple where everyone post up their own definition of photography along with their Favorite photograph that define their understanding or style of photography over the year. This simple question has a really strong effect on me at that time since I will busy with my study for the next few years, where would my photography work would go?, or will I be able to retain the same curiosity and vision to produce a great series of work in the future?.

“Photography started out as an excuse for me to go out and getting away from my family and still is one of my favorite excuse to stay late while hanging out with my friends. Over the years, this excuse turn into a routine that has became part of my life where the act of capturing a ‘great’ photograph become more as an act of preserving thoughts and memory.

Few years ago, the worlds seems big with Photography but now my work has become much narrow in perspective and I am slowly turning into a selfish photographer that only concern with my own fetish of my surrounding. Certainly, I consider myself as a good photographer, just not a great one.” – Kelvin Ah Kian

That was the same comment that I post to Steven on what photography means to me. There is probably a sense of ego and humility in my post but being honest is all I had for it. For those who had been following me on facebook over the years, It seems that I have nothing new worth showing up  on facebook. True but not because of artist block or anything, I just have been very selective on what to show and what not.

So for 2016, I have my own resolution that hopefully will allow me to be better as a photographer and much more focused on my interest, especially on student lifestyle or maybe landscape. Part of the thing that I will focus on for the rest of they year is probably as following;


Philip Chong (one of my earliest online mentor) always stress before that any amateur photographer should master the true basic fundamental of photography which consist of 5 point (if I was not mistaken) Shutter, ISO, Aperture, Composition, and probably type of lenses?. But that is not the point, the rule is that once you have master all this point, understanding other photography genre is easy and the same thing apply when you try apply a certain idea or concept into your work. Surely since my Ricoh GR has been performing well on most situation, my photography skills has been a bit dull compare to the time when I use my old Nikon.

So I am going to refresh myself by going through some photobooks by Henri Cartier Bresson, a hero that I sought after, before I hit the shorelines around the Island in the next few months (Labuan or Penang).

The Ultimate camera.


I am a fan of football.

Not a fanatic, just a fan, especially on Arsenal FC, the current leading team for the Premier League 2015/2016. Similar to football, you need to replace or add someone into your team every season since, well, football technical strategy reason of course.

I believe I have a decent amount of gear to enjoy with to go through the next few years with my personal project but ever since one of my player camera has died on me, I have been thinking of getting something much more robust that suits my hectic student lifestyle. There are thousand of option but thanks to my limited student budget, I could only get a certain few. Surely the medical repair cost for the camera going to cost a ton so why not spend it on a brand new camera?.

The criteria should be align with my main objective for the year, which is getting ‘back to basic’ so I believe getting a film analog camera should be great. I have been planning to replace my Yaschica TLR since it suffer from a rather serious haze on the lens element but somehow getting a compact camera or an SLR camera seems a better choice since it is much more flexible to use.


Since this was written during my semester break, I will probably have a few stuff that I need to get done with before I can enjoy the freedom of roaming around the Island. Surely this year seems to be heading towards another great year and with a few photography festival that I plan to attend in the coming month, I am sure I could learn more in the coming years.

Till then, Gong Xi Fa Cai.


How many camera is enough to enjoy photography?.

How many camera does a person need to really enjoy photography?.

This question is answered differently from person to person but most photographer would agree at some point that less is more. There is many different types of photographer throughout the world and their photography work is usually done with a single type of camera and most of them are probably Digital and an SLR camera. Honestly, I think a photographer should at least have one camera that they prefer the most over their entire collection.

Depends on the photographer, a street photographer tend to have less equipment in their collection while the most equipment that I have seen is usually from wedding photographer. The main concern for this question is not for those experienced and established photographer but towards those who are planning to get their first camera.

To enjoy photography, I believe, all you need is just a camera with a 35mm lens and I suppose it to be the one that suits the photographer demand at that moment to allow them to realize what is it that they wanted to capture or create. A photographer shouldn’t be restricted with their equipment and also by their imagination.

Olympus Mju II : My Personal Opinion

Olympus Mju II : My Personal Opinion

Small, light, and cute.

That is the best three words to describe the Olympus Mju II. It is one of Olympus best selling compact film camera and it sports a rather decent Olympus Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 lens. This camera is probably one of the easiest to find as I saw some new unit being clear off from the local camera store.

I was on the lookout for a bargain compact film camera on the internet and I score this litle gem for less than RM150, complete with strap and remote control. Although the condition of the camera is not in a mint condition but the inside is clean and the light seal seems to be replaced as well. I download the manual online and I was ready to go.

I tested the camera with a few rolls of film and by few I mean more than 10. I tried the camera with some Fujifilm Superia and a Kodak Tri-X and so far, the metering is pretty accurate.


As I mention earlier, this camera is pretty-darn-small. I have a Leica Minilux before and the Olympus is basically half the size of the Minilux!. A small and lightweight camera is actually a sign of a good camera as it encourage you to pick the camera up instead of your bulky DSLR.

I bring the camera almost everywhere and I found that the lens is rather sharp and snappy while the entire camera design is not that threatening when you point the camera up into some stranger face, much less when you compare to the reaction that I usually get with my Nikon D60.

The design is unique as the lens front element is covered by a clam shape design which is similar to the Olympus XA series.


I always bring the camera with me for day-to-day basis and while using it, I found some of the camera irritating drawback. The first three would be;

1) You need to manually turn off the camera flash everytime you have closed the camera, the Mju II doesn’t memorize your setting and once the clam design slide is close, it will automatically reset every setting on your camera into a default setting. A totally frustrating experience as I accidentally blinded a few people while taking a picture on the street, but once you get used to it, its not much of a nuisance.

2) The autofocus is an Active multi beam infrared focusing system which work in a similar principal as a Sonar. I learn this in a hard way as I found that some of my picture is out of focus especially those taken thru a glass and mirror. Infrared can easily be reflected and this cause confusion to the autofocus sensor and shooting a self portrait inside a toilet is not a good idea though.

3) What you shoot is not exactly what you will get, and following the frameline inside the viewfinder would really help especially if you are taking picture close to the subject.


I admit it, I take more picture a week with this camera than with my Nikon D60. Its very easy to use and the camera is fully automatic. The only problem with this tiny camera apart from the first two problem that I mention earlier is that the film rewind sound is very noisy, people know that you are taking their picture once they heard the sound. Not a good idea for those who try to be invisible like Henri Cartier Bresson. I don’t have much of a problem while using the camera and I am confident enough to take some picture during my family holiday with the mju II.

The lens is sharp and the contrast is good as well. Those purist might turn this camera down for its triangular shape bokeh and yes, the bokeh is indeed in triangular shape due to its aperture design but it doesn’t bother me much though. The flash performance is rather good with an occasional overexpose scene but much of it is my fault as I get to close to the subject. Metering is pretty accurate as well and there is no manual override to adjust the exposure setting.

Autofocus is pretty much accurate and the good thing with the autofocus design is that it doesn’t affected by the lighting condition. My only advice is that don’t expect the camera autofocus to be in the same level as your DSLR, this camera need some time to get used to and once you are familiar with the camera, using it will be a breeze.


After going through 17 rolls on this camera, It is safe to say that the camera is well suited for most photographer who seek a reliable compact film camera to compliment their huge camera. I found the camera to be interesting and fun to use and suited well for street shooting due to its small size and non-threatening design.

The camera design is very girlish in my opinion and I suggest try to get a black colour Mju II instead of the Champagne gold color, just for the sake of looking manlier.

The camera could be easily found on E-bay and if you happen to destroy this camera, you can easily get another probably at lower price. Will I recommend this camera to other people?

YES, the price is not that expensive and it is a good camera for those who wanted to try a film camera without the hassle of manual focusing and manual exposure setting. Be warn though, the camera tend to use flash even in a normal shaded area so always remember to turn it off. (Unless your intention is to blind some random people on the street.)


My try with a Seagull TLR | Part 1

I have been using a TLR for while last year and it is an old Seagull TLR which I loaned from a friend of mine. My opinion on the camera in short is simply a delighting experience, apart from trouble when loading in a fresh film.

This is the camera that I use for the next series of picture. – http://www.flickr.com/photos/kinoz/5770540014/in/photostream

There is a little dust on the negative during the scanning process. The Russian camera on this picture belong to a friend of mine and its mint and freaking heavy.

This is what we were shooting for that day, there is more on this series but I decided to show only part of it.

The actual model of the day, sadly there was some developing chemical bleed through the emulsion but at least it create a nice looking border.

Another TLR, this one is a Yashica Mat. I find that the focusing is much harder on the Yashica compare to the Seagull TLR that I am using but its probably because of the viewfinder.

My try using the TLR for street shooting. A good experience though but need some time to get used to the focusing but a big plus is that people don’t seem to bother with me using the camera to take their picture.

Street shooting is fun but using a TLR camera which use a 120 sized film format means that you will often find yourself changing film, which takes time, 12 frame per roll is not enough for street shooting. The picture was taken near Petaling street though.

My Nikon D60 was sent to the Service center to have its shutter unit replaced so I have to use the TLR most of the time. The camera has been fantastic though and I don’t mind using it for holiday.

Getting the angle within the frame was not difficult though and I am impress with the Tri-X for this picture, the highlight detail is amazing and the film structure is fantastic as well.

Those was a series from my recent collection, there is more picture from the TLR but I share it when I got the time to do so, other than that, enjoy. 🙂

25 minutes with a Ricoh GRD III

25 minutes with a Ricoh GRD III

Its a fact that there is more people around the city area during school holiday than any other day. Its by far more convenient to travel around especially for those who have family. Its been more than 3 weeks since the day I return back to my home and finally I could visit my hometown area. The sea breeze along the coastline, huge hill across the land, and not to mention those narrow road along the way, I really miss it and its refreshing compare to the peninsular Malaysia. This time its a bit exciting and obviously I am looking forward on attending my cousin wedding but this blog is more about my photography journey therefore I am going to skip this.

One of the thing that I look forward to was visiting one of the Photography Exhibition which is organized by a Photography club called Jebat.net Photography Community at ProArt Gallery. The exhibition theme is “All About Passion” and the selected picture was beautiful and clearly show each of the photographer interest and approach in Photography. My only comment for the exhibition is that the arrangement is a bit sloppy and could be better in some other way but overall its an interesting exhibition worth visiting. The gallery is located at the first floor of 1Borneo and could be easily find by asking people around.

Another reason for me to visit the gallery is to pick up my 5R size print from ProArt printing service; not only they provide space for exhibition but they also provide a professional printing and consulting services mainly for photography reproduction. This is my prints though, and as usual, it look so damn fine. Worth every penny.

This is Su Chung, the Master printer for ProArt. The new gallery seems to have more interesting air conditioning duct system which make it look more industrial than the old gallery.

Luckily, I finally happen to meet a photographer who I wanted to meet since the last time I visited his exhibition last year and he happen to sale his Ricoh GRD III which I notice when he posted it on his facebook wall. Ryan is an excellent photographer and happen to own a camera store called PIXEL at the concourse floor level of 1Borneo supermarket.(RICOH GRDIII is on the right side while the other camera is Olympus mJu II)

Of course, he was kind enough to let me try the GRD III for a while but I couldn’t try it any longer than an hour because I happen to bring my cousin along. My first impression with the GRD III is that it felt really SOLID, the built quality is so good, it makes my Nikon D60 felt cheap. The handling is amazing and the control is really easy but it takes time for me to recognize some of the button setting but nevertheless, my opinion on a camera is not base on a scientific experiment but more to a practical approach of taking the kind of picture that I wanted and here it is, a 25 minute around a shopping complex with a Ricoh GRD III, complete with an external viewfinder.

A self portrait of me while using the camera, looks stealthy enough for me. 😛

She is interested at the promotion discount.

The camera autofocus is fast enough for this kind of shot. The only drawback is probably the 28mm lens which is probably to wide for some people, but 28mm is my favourite POV.

I should take picture inside a Shopping complex more often, its interesting.

They were watching a traditional dance performance up at the stage.

This was taken using the ‘snap’ mode of the Ricoh GRD III, a fast picture taking method that snap a picture at a predetermined focusing distance. The depth of field is stunning though.

Another thing that I notice about the GRD III is the color reproduction and white balance, the color look natural which I believe some would call it dull while the white balance is accurate even under artificial lighting. I can say that it is better than my Nikon D60.

The dynamic range is limited if it is compared to most DSLR but this is by far one of the best file I have which is taken by a compact camera with 1/1.7 size sensor.

All the picture taken here were mostly slightly adjusted in Adobe Camera RAW but mostly to reduce the noise and increasing the sharpness. The camera responded well for my kind of photography and I really enjoy using it. The viewfinder is cool as well but I can’t really give an accurate conclusion on this camera.

For those who are looking for compact camera capable of capturing fast and high quality picture, the Ricoh GRD III might be the ideal camera. I will really going to buy myself this camera, should do well for street photography around Malaysia. 🙂