In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog December 4th, 2010

Safari World Bangkok/Dkink DSL-2542b ADSL+2 Modem/Router, A Review

England Hotel Guide
New Linden Hotel
Duke of Leinster Hotel
Russell Hotel
Waverley House Hotel

I have some unfortunate news to report on this project and total 100% transparency is how I feel this should be handled. My planned beneficiaries of this project, innocent very much in need children at a certain orphanage, have fallen victim to their local manager who we have found cannot currently be trusted and I doubt this is likely to change. Decisions need to be made if we're going to carry this project forward and if so who the new beneficiaries will be. I do expect this project to generate significant revenue so I take it very seriously. As you read this I'll be back in the Mae Sot area investigating further. I'll keep you informed. For now I'll still collect images with the intention of making the best most meaningful mosaics possible and as always, I'm asking for and will greatly appreciate your help with the images.

We are still accepting (and pleading for) images of children from SEA. No matter how terrible you think they are, please send them in anyway. These images will be used to complete a set of 3 high quality mosaics which will be sold to benefit the Karen and Burmese Orphans living in the orphanages and refugee camps. The more images the better, I can use all you have. Please take the time to go through your images for anything you think might help. If you missed the "No Place to Call Home" special, you can click on the link and read more about this. Thank you! [email protected]


Quick Click Links

Feature Photograph Safari World Bangkok Dlink DSL-2542b ADSL+2 Modem/Router, A Review Photography News of Interest

Readers Submissions Readers Questions A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review Infocus Blog, Are You An Artist?T


Feature Photograph *menu

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F11 1/125th 20mm ISO 100

The difference light makes! Recently during a workshop to the boatyards the weather was dreadful. Layers upon layers of thick haze settled over the area and due to a maniac hit and run driver we were delayed several hours arriving at the worst time of the day. Yet, the show must go on and making the best of conditions is what photographers do must often, so making poor conditions a part of the workshop makes sense.

I wish I could say I thought of this shot the first time I visited the place, and in truth I was drawn to these rusty rails in a big way. So many possibilities. On my mind from previous visits I knew on this visit I wanted to try something different. I’d meant to pack along my angle C finder, an elbow device that attaches to the viewfinder of my DSLR allowing me to frame the picture while looking down, instead of laying down in the muck. When I pointed out the shot to my client I get the “I’m not laying in that oily greasy dirty muck” look and I smile inside. Every photographer needs a little bit of ‘crazy’ in their bag, but this time I didn’t want to lay in the muck either. What a perfect time to point out some of the advantages of a ultra-wide angle lens.

Depth of Field (DOF) can be very deep with an ultra-wide, so I explained how we knew in advance that at F11 and approximately 20mm we’d have an almost unlimited DOF save for the first 4-5 inches. To get those first 4-5 inches as well, we’d need F32 but then diffraction would impact overall sharpness. F11 was a good compromise but in retrospect F16 would have been better. Because we had such a deep DOF, and such a wide field of view, looking through the viewfinder became optional. With a wink I set my DSLR right on the rail, carefully pointed it in the right direction, and made the capture. My client looked at me with the “is that all there is to it” look and then quickly made his own capture.

You can tell from the image we were shooting up a short ramp, what you can’t tell is that we were on the water’s edge and one errant slip would have landed us in the drink. See the gentle uphill curve? The boat at the end of the rail was dragged directly forward up the rail. The boats to the side were dragged forward, and then sideways into their work areas. I exacerbated the hazy conditions by shooting directly into the sun resulting in a few small flares I had to correct and much reduced contrast.

Still, I like the capture. Looking up the rail, you see the purpose of the rail, the boats in their proper positions. The great amount of detail from the rust on the tracks, the small leaves and bits of garbage in the foreground, the rail itself running through the frame from the foreground to the middle ground to the background worked well, and the boats in both the middle and background worked well with the direction of light from the sun getting ready to set in front of us. What an interesting photograph!

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F16 1/40th 24mm ISO 100

I know, if you were thinking what I was thinking.. you were thinking “what if you walked all the way to that boat in the background and shot the other way?” Great thought! Since you’re no longer shooting into the sun you immediately notice more contrast but I don’t think the image is nearly as interesting. Without the boat at the end of the rail, the light coloring the rust more orange on the rail, and the little bits of detail, it’s just not the same. But it has me thinking “what about if they were just pulling a boat from the water down at that end, and it was morning and the sun was rising behind it?” Yes.. that’s what I’ll watch for on future visits. Until then..

Safari World Bangkok *menu

Safari World Bangkok as regular readers and workshop clients know, is one of my favorite short day trips. There is so much to enjoy, yet the greatest story untold lurks beneath the surface. I won’t be telling that story anytime soon, but you’ve already seen many hints in my past pieces Safari World In Bangkok , Safari World Critically Sharp , Safari World, A Second Take , and Safari World Landscapes. There is also A Tiger Story and A Bear Fight. And let’s not forget Trounced By My Assistant! Many good memories well documented.

The best time to go is either when they first open in the morning where you’ll often be able to following behind the various feeding trucks, or in the late afternoon right before closing time. During the heat of the day, especially if no food is forthcoming, the animals are largely inactive and the excitement level low. But a cool rainy morning around feeding time brings out much activity, animation, and will keep you and your camera busy.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/320th ISO640

The rhino’s are a bit of a mystery. They have a fortified pen with heavy electrical hot wires, yet one or two is often seen roaming in far off areas of the park where if they wanted they’d be able to ram a truck full of Japanese tourists who didn’t have enough sense to turn off the flash on their point and shoots. They’re not always the same rhino’s roaming free or in the pen. It appears to be totally random.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6 1/320th ISO1250

The bears are always fun and almost human like in expression and behaviors. Watch these guys for a spell and you’ll start to understand where the animation for the Country Bear Jamboree at Disney came from. The crows and bears get along quite well and you’ll notice a certain crow will become ‘attached’ to a certain bear.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/250th ISO3200

Look at this guys broad shoulders, biceps and pose. He’s just hanging out with his crows and having a good ol’ time. Notice the claws?

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F4 1/250th ISO800

Of course bears love to eat and their table manners are often better than many humans I know. Here, he’s caught a fish and munches on it quite carefully without dropping a single tantalizing morsel. The dexterity exhibited in how they use their claws in amazing.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6 1/320th ISO2500

This male Canuk bear is seated on a rock telling everyone a story. All around him other bears are his audience as he vocalizes one experience after the other.


5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/250th ISO250

You’ve seen this before as a Feature Photograph. http://www.bangkokimages.com/Articles/Featured-Photographs/entryid/828/Elements-Of-A-Composition.aspx This was a terrible day for photographs and I was trying to create a timeless composition with seemingly little to work with. Until I opened my eyes and became creative with the controls and processing.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/320th ISO125

There is a large (4-5 acres) manmade wetlands area which attracts wild seabird populations from the world over. Depending on the season you’ll see different assortments of birds from different regions.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6 1/320th ISO320

This big Rhinoceros was roaming free that day, nothing between this steely gaze and my truck. I was hoping my truck was faster! Notice the sores all over his body? Makes you wonder if they’re wounds or infections.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6 1/320th ISO320

Here you can see he’s found a bit of water and muck to entertain himself. The rhino pen has only very small and very shallow water, this larger and deeper body of water much look plenty attractive.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6 1/320th ISO320

This is a closer look at both the unique leathery skin and interesting texture, but also the wounds which still look active. None of the personnel knew what caused these wounds, and to be fair with only your naked eyes they could go undetected.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6 1/320th ISO320

Here you can see one of the wounds open and seeping, bloody. Parasites, infection, a virus or physical wound?

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6 1/250th ISO500

These little guys ‘flitter’ in a huge way, small enough to make acquisition difficult, and flitters often enough to make capture neigh on impossible. I’ve been able to get a few sharp enough to share, but many more were hardly sharp at all.


5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/320th ISO160

The same three storks from above, now on a mission to find lunch. Their ability to cruise along with their underwater fish finding sonar active is amazing. Every so often their beak dips down and brings up a fish, their beak raises to the sky until their neck is straight, and right down in the gullet it goes.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F4 1/800th ISO100

All of these images were taken during the same outing on a terrible day for photographs. Creative processing was required to bring them out. I like the glassy surface and reflection in this one.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/320th ISO160

Another previous Feature Photograph carefully processed to achieve maximum detail and sharpness without unattractive artifacts.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/320th ISO160

A 1:1 crop of the image above. Critically sharp the detail on the beak, eyes, and gullet creates visual interest.

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6 1/250th ISO400

This image of a plains antelope demonstrates that an unremarkable image can still create interest if its sufficiently sharp and exhibits fine detail. Look at the chin hairs, and the hairs on the grass. Fun!

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6 1/320th ISO500

The tigers weren’t even up to raising their heads. Well fed, hot weather, and perhaps a bit of familiarity with visitors prevents them from leaping down from their loft and through my window. Yet, the one on the right seems to be thinking about it!

5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6 1/320th ISO320

Okay, I hear you. Why the Texas Longhorns at an EXOTIC animal park? There’s a small herd of these recently added, and they do just find alongside their African counterparts. Even the rhinos show some respect. But why prime beef? Opps..

I always do the drive-thru area of the park and will never go to the shows. They have tiger, parrot, and other shows.. but in Asia the performing animals are almost always broken vs. trained. It breaks my heart to see such things.

If you’ve got a spare few hours, jump in your car and visit Safari World for a fun few hours. If you don’t have a car, a taxi will take you through, or you can rent a car or jump on a bus, both available at the gate.

Dlink DSL-2542B ADSL+2 Modem/Router *menu

Introduction

I’ve been plagued by unreliable internet. My exact symptoms were that my connection would drop, seemingly in the same time frames each day, but also often at random. I’d have to power cycle my modem and router to get the connection back. Really, the problem was confusing, the same time frames each day pointed at the ISP, the random outings pointed at the modem or router, and the True tech and I are on a first name basis and even know each other's family. We’ve both tried to fix these issues for several years, him tweaking the node downstairs in our building (the building is large and requires its own node equipment), and both of us trying different modems and network settings.

During the course of these problems I’ve replaced my modems many times, 4-5 times out of warranty and on my own coin, and many more times under warranty. There was a pattern where things would work fairly well (only requiring a power cycle every 3-4 days and the normal time frame outages), and then as the modem aged these frequencies would increase until it bothered me enough to go buy another modem. Because replacing the modem fixed things, I took the time frame outages as the problem of the ISP.. the ISP of course claimed they had no such outages, but this being Thailand you make your mental allowances for such claims.

The Billion Sky modems are probably familiar to all of you. True On-line claims these are the best, and when they work they probably do work the best. However, they sure don’t work well for long. Now is probably a good time to mention there is a big cultural difference between Thais and Westerners when it comes to electrical devices. They tend to plug them in and power them up only when needed. Westerners leave our appliances mostly plugged in, and in the case of networking equipment and cable boxes we leave them operating 24/7. Add a warm non-air-conditioned room, the fact that heat is the second leading cause of electronic failure (power surges are number one), and ultra-cheap componentry common in ISP device offerings and you can start to see why these fail so often.

And exception was a very early Humack router which looks a lot like the one above save for the name. I suspect this Chinese company stamped a lot of names on these cheap devices. For some reason this modem has never failed, but it is limited to a 500kbps upload speed and my service provides 1mbps upload, so I used it as an emergency backup.

Finally I got the bug to move away from the True sourced modems, and you would be right in thinking I must have been pretty thick to take so long to do so. On the advice of my True technician and my local salespeople, and based on my needs, I selected the Dlink DSL-2542b ADSL+2 Router/Modem combination. There is a companion model with build in wireless G, but I already have a high quality Linksys WRT-350n wireless router and Cisco 8 port gigaswitch, so my only need was the modem half of the DLink DSL-2542b.

Dlink DSL-2542b ADSL+2 Modem/Router

This small very light router was 1800 baht at Pantip Ladphrao. Bet you didn’t know there is more than one Pantip?

It came packed with the modem, setup disk, short patch cable, a telephone cable, and power supply.

Getting it home I decided to set it up myself.

Installation

The back panel is easy to understand. A place to plug it into your phone line, four RJ45 ports to go to your computer, router, printer, NAS, or whatever LAN devices you may have, and a power connector. Connecting the wires is pretty straightforward.

The front panel lights are also no mystery as long as you get close enough to read the print above each light. A green power-on LED, a ‘connected’ LED for each port you have connected, a green LED to let you know ADSL is active, and a green LED to let you know an IP address has been obtained and you’re connected.

Setup

How you use this modem, as a modem only in conjunction with a separate switch, router, or wireless.. or in its full modem/router configuration, will determine how you set this up.

Like any router/modem you access it from your PC by entering 192.168.1.1 into your browser URL window. You’ll get a login screen like the one above. Default user/password is admin/admin. You’ll want to change that.

Modem/Router Mode

Probably the easiest way for this, is to insert the included disc and let it automatically set you up. My True technician tells me the automatic setup works very well and is in fact what they use when using both DSL-2542b as both a modem and router.

If you do it manually you’ll want to select the PPPoE mode, enable DCHP, and fill in your user/password information provided by your ISP. You’ll also need to know what VCI and VPI values your ISP uses, the chances are they will not be the default values. And the modem will not work until these settings are exactly correct. Technicians know these values, but the phone receptionists will have no idea. It’s a bottleneck you’ll need to work through.

There are also settings for Port Forwarding, security, and more depending on your needs. Use the manual for these, if you have the need you’ll already know which settings to use.

Modem Only Mode

If you’ll be connecting an existing router, or wireless router, to the DSL-2542b, you’ll want to use it in Bridge Mode. Bridge mode DOES NOT require DCPH (disable it), or the PPPoE user/password combination. Your router will handle that. Bridge mode also does not require you set any IP addresses or anything like that. Just leave them alone. Dlink’s setup menu system is a bit hokey, to see the menu’s you need to go through a sort of question and answer screen and then the router sets things up the way IT think it should be. You just can’t flip through the settings menu’s as you can on other devices, so only set what you need. You’ll need to set it to bridge/lcc, set the VCI and VPI, and make sure you disable the DCPH. That’s it. If you try more you’ll be led off into never never land.

Once you select bridge it will ask you for the VCI and VPI values. The setup program is fairly intelligent in that it only asks for what it needs to operate properly in that mode. If it doesn’t ask, don’t worry about it. Keeping it simple really works with the DSL-2542b.

Performance

Once properly set up the Dlink DSL-2542b ADSL+2 modem/router works very well. No more random drops, very few time frame drops, and it scoots right along for about 24 hours. Then it drops and doesn’t connect, or connects again but never works as it should.

I exchanged it twice, it still does this. Every day I need to power cycle the Dlink DSL-2542b to keep it operating properly. I find this far preferable to the True provided Billion Sky modems, but far from ideal.

It could be an incompatibility with my other networking equipment, but I asked Dlink support and they couldn’t tell me. Unfortunately it just works this way and I’ve learned to once a day wander into the office and power cycle the switches. Inconvenient, but the reward is a great working connection for another 24 hours. And it’s not a certain time, or certain number of hours, it could go bad any time, and work from 24-36 hours.. but if I power cycle every 24 hours it never drops a connection. Strange. Forget, and the connection drops to remind you.

Summary

It’s been worth my time and 1800 baht to learn the actual connection from True works fine. It’s not a squirrel playing ping-pong on the wire outside, it’s not the rats chewing the wires inside the building, and it’s not the next door neighbors microwave scrambling my signal, all excuses previously provided by True technicians.

It’s the quality and workings of the modem. From reading I’ve learned the more you put through your connection in the way of IP addresses the more difficult it is for the router to keep running clear. I download 10-15 torrents daily, run my website, email, browse the web, and more.. so I put quite a load on my modem. You might not have an issue.

Also from my reading, people with heavy loads benefit greatly from a professional series modem. There are only a few worth considering, a $300 Cisco wireless router/modem, and a $80 TP-Link wireless router/modem. I’ve ordered the $80 one and will receive it early next week and start immediate testing. If it works out great, if not I’ll try the Cisco.

I’ll continue trying new modems until I find one which doesn’t require power cycling, doesn’t drop, and 100% meets my needs. My guess is this Dlink 2542b ADSL+2 modem/router is a fine unit for most casual users, it’s cheap at 1800 baht, and it’s available and serviced locally. If your needs require more, like heavy torrent use, running lots of data, or really high speeds, perhaps you’ll need a professional series modem/router.

For me, it’s not about the 800 baht Billion Sky price, or the 1800 baht Dlink 2542b price, or the $80 USD TP-link price. I’m willing to pay any reasonable amount for a connection that works as it should, and I’m very pleased to now know my problem is most likely my modem and not all the other things previously blamed. I’ll let you know how the TP-Link works soon.

Photography News of Interest *menu

Hasselblad announces a new H4D-40 Stainless Steel Edition , and a Ferrari H4D Limited Edition. What better way to spend $50,000?

Canon announces firmware update 1.2.3 for their popular 7D DSLR. And firmware update 1.0.9 for their very popular entry level DSLR EOS Rebel T2i/550d.

Panasonic announces firmware upgrades for their FZ100, FX700, and FX75 digital compacts. These improves AF performance while recording movies and more.

Thanks to Mike N. we’ve learned there has been a retraction of the Kuwait DSLR ban. Now they claim it just wasn’t true. Hmm.. Okay. Here’s the retraction:

RETRACTION

On Saturday, November 20, 2010 the Kuwait Times published an article titled 'Multi ministry camera ban frustrates artists' in which incorrect information was provided. The newspaper regrets failing to verify the information. The article wrongly stated that a ban on DSLR cameras was implemented by the Ministries of Information, Social Affairs and Finance. This information is false. In a follow up investigation, it was proved that no such ban has been issued. We regret this error and deeply apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Digital Photography Review produces a great Group Test of what are now popularly called “Enthusiast Compacts” featuring Canon’s new S95, G12, Nikon’s P700, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. Check out this great test here.

I really like Topaz products so I’m pleased to announce their newest productTopaz InFocus. This is an up and coming company and I’ve been reviewing their entire suite of products for several months now and hope to bring you a review soon. I don’t think you’d be disappointed if you purchased their products today!

This is a welcome but unheard of equipment upgrade offer from Canon. 5d Mark II and 7D users have long complained about how easily the mode dial inadvertently moves into another position leaving the photographer in the wrong mode and missing or ruining pictures. Canon now offers a $100 USD factory service center upgrade to change the mode dial to a locking switch like on the new 60D. I’ll be finding out very soon when this will be offered in the Bangkok service center and will let you know.

Readers Submissions *menu

Hi Steve,

Here's a couple of short things for your column:

Stick

Stick –

Nice sharp urban wildlife photo! Nice..

Steve

Steve

Fifth day here on the 30 day visit. Taking lots of local shots around the hotel area. Your instructions have been helpful but I still have a lot to learn..Focus is the big issue for me.

Your comments on your clients wanting to learn the "buttons and dials" on their camera is right on for me. From the P&S to the NEX is a learning curve for me and I am sure for others.

Composing pictures is very important but unless I get the correct settings the results are marginal.

You have mentioned Safari World a few times and I am going to give it a visit soon. I assume you can arrive at their gate, pay and just roam around as you please. The tours I found start at 1800 Baht and takes 8 hours, that's not for me.

Wife has minor surgery Tues, when all is OK there perhaps we could meet, if you have time, for a soda or lunch somewhere close to sky train station.

Rickster

Hi Rick.

Nice pics! I especially like the cross.

You’re right.. the settings need to be correct, but there are no “one size fits all” settings. What settings you choose depends on the variables of the scene you’re presented with.. which means you need to understand how your gear works to consistently be able to select the right settings.

Safari World has three parts.. the drive through wild animal park (the part I go to) and the shows.. I don’t go to the shows. The price I think is 350baht for each passenger in the car. You can go through in a taxi, or rent a car at the gates to drive through. Try to get there when they first open and you might catch them feeding the birds, tigers, lions, etc.. fun stuff

Sure.. let me know which day you’ll be free. There is a skytrain station at Ekkamai.. if you get off there and walk into Suk Soi 63 about 200 meters you’ll find “Durty Nelly’s” Irish Pub.. which is a really nice place to eat and the noise level is low enough where we can have a normal conversation.

Have fun taking pics and keep sending them in!


Steve

I suspect the readers submissions will be a highly anticipated section of this column and I encourage anyone with photographs and travel accounts they'd like to share to please send them to me at: [email protected]

Readers Questions *menu

The following is a 4000+ word exchange of emails with Kevin in Vietnam. I chose to run the entire exchange because this is a very typical situation when someone upgrades from a crop to full frame camera, or sometimes to any new DSLR. There is a lot of information in the exchanges.

Hi Steve,

Decided to cheer myself up last Friday so flew to Saigon for 5 hours to pick up a new 5DM2. Cost $2240US. Also bought the Canon battery grip, spare battery, SanDisk Extreme 16gig memory card, screen protectors and a Sigma 50mm 1.4 EX DG HSM. I also have, apart from that stuff, the 500D, the 16-35f2.8 L ii, the 85f1.8, and the 70-200f4 L USM (that you recommended when I first got the 500D last Xmas), and the Canon 1.4 extender ii. Plus a few other odds and ends.

I'm hoping to get patched up in time to return for Chinese New Year in February. Will have to wait and see. Am going to buy the Canon 15mm fisheye and the 580EX ii flash unit and that'll be enough to keep me busy for a long while. I have Photoshop 5 (pirated) Elements (pirated) and a genuine copy of DxO Elite Pro Optics. ($200 from memory) All I've got to do now is get well, fit, and learn how to use it all. Have attached a few photos. I don't like downsizing them. They seem to lose so much when I do that and I feel I'm doing the photo a terrible injustice.

Kevin. Vietnam.

P.S. All taken with the 500D (Too wet to try out the new camera.) The first 2 were with the 70-200 + the 1.4 extender, handheld from about 100 meters away. The guy and his wife with the net in Vung Tau is a personal favorite. When I put it up on the Samsung HD TV and stood back and looked at it I started to shiver. I could feel the cold I felt the day I took it and I could smell the rain. Its lost a lot of its appeal with downsizing. Number 10 is 3 photos stitched together and the young woman is my wife of 8 years, Miss Nhu. K.

P.S.S. Is there a way you can downsize your photos in batches. One at a time is laborious, time consuming, and I lose interest very quickly?

Kevin –

Sorry to hear you were ill, I deleted the details for the column for your privacy, but I’m sure the entire readership wishes you the best health.

Your new kit sounds fantastic! I’m sure you’re going to love it.

Thanks for the images. I’m sure the readers will greatly enjoy them. I especially love the one of the man casting the fishing net. What a great shot that is! Your images are great and more great is how you feel about specific imagest! Exactly how a good outing should feel when reviewing it later. I’ll bet you felt very satisfied.

Downsizing does almost seem criminal.. but it’s very necessary to match the size and compression of your images to your audience or application. You should be able to provide highly detailed 800pixel (long side) images within a 100kb size limitation with very few artifacts or other image degradation. This is what I shoot for when making images for my column both on Stick’s site and on www.bangkokimages.com my own site. A quality server charges a lot for storage, so you want a fine balance between quality and size.

If you look at the galleries on my site: you’ll notice the display image is something like 700 pixels on the long side. However, in the lower right corner of the control panel you will find a “full screen” button. Most of my gallery images were 1600×1200 which provides a great look as I intend them to look, and some like my more recent galleries of Mae Hong Son are 1900×1200 which is the new size all my ‘full size’ gallery images will be. Take a look and you’ll see that while 1900×1200 is far from the full size, that they still provide a great web view.

Yes. Most programs that allow downsizing (virtually all of them) allow batch processing. Have you read my special on preparing readers submissions? It’s titled Readers Submissions, What Why and How and goes through a lot on downsizing.

Take a look at www.bangkokimages.com . Look at the header images, the small images in the 3D carrousel on the home page. These images are all under 50kb!

With Lightroom or CS5 (using Bridge) you can merely select your images (the same way you select files in Windows Explorer) and then ‘export’ them all at once. You can do one, or five hundred. Other programs I’d have to check on.

Also remember, it helps image quality a lot to shoot RAW, have a really good raw engine which takes the raw images and processes them to your tastes, and which then allows you to ‘export’ jpegs, tiffs, or whatever your requirements might be. A poor quality raw processor, or shooting only in jpeg, really cuts into your quality.

Right now, IMO, Phase One’s Capture One Pro is the best quality RAW processor. I’ve been using them for years, but I don’t use this program on all my images. I only use it on select images which I’m going to process for gallery quality prints.

The second best RAW processor is ACR (Abode Camera RAW) used in both CS5 Photoshop and Lightroom. This raw processor is so good, and the UI (user interface) of Lightroom is so user friendly and capable, that I use LR to process 99% of my raw images.

The others like DxO, Bibble, etc.. are all good in their own right, but they’re not my choice for a reason. And even have licensed copies of all of them.. because I carefully watch for areas where they might excel over ACR or C1pro.. where they might process a certain type of image, or remove CA, or something which sets them apart. Right now, nothing stands out.. so I’ll continue using LR and CS5 for the bulk of my images, and C1pro for those very special images.

I hope this helps.

Steve

Hi Steve,

To be brutally honest when I logged onto your site and saw the Chinese village photos my immediate thought was, apart from, ''Is that marijuana growing in front of the Lisu Village sign?'' ''What the hell have I gone and done?'' ''I've spent $2600 on a 5DM2 set up and if that's the best a professional can do with it what chance have I got?" ''My, cheap by comparison, 500D takes much better photos!"

Of course I soon realised that downsizing had sucked the very life out of them. Not so much for you because you have the original in your mind and on your screen, but for me a rank amateur, it was a shock at first, especially when I saw the gear you'd used. It didn't take long for me to work out why and just now I downsized some of my favourite photos to the size you suggested and did a comparison. Chalk and cheese. So much so I just wouldn't send them out like that. I couldn't. A picture is worth a thousand words but downsizing them that much reduces a paragraph to a one liner. (I fully understand why you need to do it though.)

When I first arrived here the Internet was so slow. It would take forever to attach photos so I downsized them for email using the camera. (I had a Sony point and shoot) They didn't attract the comments I was hoping for so I started sending them out at half a mega pixel or more figuring if people wanted to download and view them after looking at the size of the file, they could. If they thought it was too much they could simply delete them. No one did and the favourable comments began to flow.

I send my good ones out at 1 or more mega pixels sometimes and no one has complained. I've got a beautiful sunrise photo I took last time I was in Nha Trang that I was going to send to you but after downsizing it to 800 on the long side it looks very average and wouldn't warrant a second look from your audience.

I remember reading a comment you made ages ago about keeping and re doing old photos. Up until then I was deleting the ones I didn't like. I have a 1 terabyte external hard drive and started storing the photos I thought weren't up to the mark. A case in point are the 3 photos I've attached. I came across the girl and her grandmother very early one morning in Nha Trang and they asked me to take a photo. I snapped one off and moved away to photograph the bridge in the background bathed in the rays of the rising sun. When I got home I almost deleted the photo of the girl and her grandmother.

I didn't like it. Instead I filed it away. A week or so later I was cropping some images and that photo came to mind. Dug it up and cropped out the grandmother + the foot. Man I'm happy I kept it. Attached it the original, the cropped version and a B & W version of the crop. What a cutie, one with attitude I'd suggest!

Question without notice: What is your opinion on dry boxes for storing equipment? I'm thinking of buying one like the one on the site below. Worth the money do you think? http://phuquangkts.com/phuquangkts&module=product&view=detail&record_id=467814

Kevin.

Kevin –

LOL! This is what I’ve been preaching about in my weekly for a long time. It’s not about the camera, or more accurately it’s rarely about the camera. On a given well lit scene a $150 point and shoot compact will do very nearly as well as a professional DSLR. In such circumstances the only advantages a DSLR will give you in the way of image quality, will only be seen when zoomed in and looking very close.

There is also the difference between taking a shot when the conditions are right, and ‘documenting’ an outing no matter what the conditions might be. In the case of the picture you’re referring to.. there might be slight differences a photography could make, but not much any camera would make.

I thought that looked a lot like weed too.. nah.. couldn’t be..

It took me a long time to come to grips with putting my images on the web. And it started a long learning curve with downsizing and compression. There are more professional ways of downsizing I’ll use when working with clients, but not for the web. The “Stair Step” approach being the most common.

Basically, downsize only 10% at a time until you get to where you want to be. Fortunately the new CS5, Lightroom, and C1pro software has made this redundant, but it’s still a popular method among pros. Did you take a look atlast week’s feature photo? This pretty well summarizes the issue. Especially the last photo taken with a 10 year old point and shoot.

The only difference between an 800×800 pixel image, when viewed on say a 1024×1000 resolution screen.. and a 5000×5000 image.. will be how much you can zoom in. If properly downsized you won’t see any other difference. Let’s say an 800 pixel image is occupying a 8 inch by 8 inch area of my monitor at its native resolution of 800×800 pixels. That’s 100 pixels per inch of screen. A 8000×8000 pixel image will not look any different in that same 8×8 inch area of the screen.. because the screen cannot display more than its native resolution of 100 pixels per inch (assuming that’s it’s native resolution). This is a very common subject I get during workshops and it’s much easier to explain and demonstrate in person.

I like your images. Do you mind if I post them in the column? Yes.. it’s very important to realize future software will greatly improve today's files. Most recently, Lightroom 3.0 and ACR 6.. came out with their first new raw engine since 2003. It was greatly improved. When you go to an image in LR processed with 2003, it will ask you if you want to upgrade the process to 2010, and do you want to see a side by side comparison before accepting the image. The differences are huge, especially in the noise and tonal qualities. And this is only the last seven years. In 20-30 years software will improve so much, powered my much faster computers (remember Moore’s Law?), and will have a significant positive effect to the raw files we capture today.

I tried for about 20 minutes to get this site to work, and it never did fully load. Maybe you could do a screen shot and send it to me?

Take care Kevin

Steve

Hi Steve,

Sorry to hear you're crook. Believe me when I tell you I know how you feel. I've had the 5DM2 for 12 days now and I'm bitterly disappointed with the focusing and the image quality of this camera. The 500D smokes it with all my lenses. The 16-35f2.8 L ii, the Canon 85f1.8, the Sigma 50 1.4 and the Canon 70-200f4 L IS USM are all superb on the 500D but not so on the 5DM2. Don't know what to think. Very poor in overcast conditions and inside the house. Have spent days on the net trying to see what I'm doing wrong. What I did wrong of course was assume that because it cost 3 times more than my 500D, it would produce 3 times the image quality. Big mistake, it can't even match it let alone beat it!

I almost purchased the 7D and I now regret not doing so. It was a toss up. The shop where I bought it offered me a 2nd hand 5DM2 that looked in perfect condition for $1000 less than this new one. I should have taken it. The only thing I haven't done is download the last firmware. The camera has 1.07 and I need to download 1.08, which I will do when I get to Oz and the laptop is up and running. Don't trust the power supply here. I even tried Ken Rockwell's preferred settings. Have David Busch’s Canon Eos 5d Mark II Guide to Digital SLR Photography on order so perhaps I'll learn something in that. Have taken a 1000 photos with about 10% keepers, and they were all taken in almost perfect conditions.

Not impressed. Kevin.

Hi Kevin –

Interesting feedback on the 5d Mark II. You’re the first person I’ve heard say this.

How do you use the camera? Which exposure modes?

Ken Rockwell’s settings are unique to him.. he has a certain style and likes a certain look which isn’t exactly mainstream.

There is no question a properly used and properly functioning 5d Mark II will provide significantly better image quality than a 500d.. so we need to figure out if the camera is defective in some way, or the way it’s being used.

Steve

Hi Steve,

I'll get back to you on this. I punched focusing and IQ issues with the 5DM2 into my search engine and up came a whole host of gripes about the camera, in particular those 2 issues. One guy said everything changed when he updated the firmware. Rockwell said something similar from memory. I just updated the firmware on both cameras and will go out on another shoot later on and see how I go.

Kevin.

Hi Kevin –

The last firmware shouldn’t make any difference.. but hope it does. The .03 was the big one and it was mostly related to the video.

Sure, you’re going to find a bunch of references on the internet about these issues with any camera.. and when you carefully read them you’re going to find they’re mostly new users coming from APC cameras like you are.. and they haven’t yet learned the nuances of DOF, the settings, and so forth.

Without you providing examples listing specific issues I can’t really do more than ‘guess in general’.

I do remember.. a while back when the 1ds Mark II first came out. It was and continues the be one of the best cameras for image acuity out there. It might be 5-6 years old, but in some ways it’s superior to my newer 5d Mark II. The 1ds Mark II was 16mp’s.. until then most people had only seen 8mp’s. They were looking at the 16mp images at the same zoom settings as the 8mp images and saying the image wasn’t sharp. They were comparing apples to oranges. They didn’t know how to judge what they were looking at. This was a huge issue at the time.. and all due to a misunderstanding of what they should be looking at. With a 21mp image compared to a 10-12mp image.. it might be something like this.

Have you made sure your ‘micro-adjust’ settings are in their default positions of zero? Each lens can be ‘dialed in’ for maximum sharpness, but frankly this requires you to be very familiar with your equipment so it’s best put off until then. If the settings had some values, they could be throwing off your lens.

Anyway.. if you go out there and you’re still not happy.. send some example images with specific issues listed, and your camera settings to include:

a. Exposure mode

b. AF mode

c. Which AF points you’re using

d. All Exfil data for each image.

A while back one guy.. was swearing his camera wasn’t focusing properly. He had the camera AF-Cont mode with all the AF points activated. The camera was choosing the AF points for him, but he thought he was doing it by putting the subject in the middle of the viewfinder. Instead, the camera was set up to use the AF point on the closest object in the frame, without regard to it being centered. When I looked at the image and brought it up in DPP (DPP shows the AF point overlay) I could see where his camera was focusing and it was tack sharp at this point.. but he thought he was focusing elsewhere.

The 500d is made for consumer level shooting.. it automatically selects the settings most people will use who use the camera in automatic modes. The 5d Mark II assumes you’ll make your own settings.. so it’s different.

Steve

Hi Steve,

Yes, in all likelihood it is me not the camera, and that's the reason I didn't rush back to Saigon to exchange it in the 10 day exchange period I was quoted. I don't use the 500D on auto, never have. I use Program AE and Aperture Priority AE on both cameras. I shoot the 5DM2 at M, 11 megapixel and the 500D at L, 15 megapixels and can't get over how quickly the batteries run down in the 5DM2 compared to the 500D. Both have genuine batteries and grips but the 5DM2 lasts half the time the 500D does.

I use only the center focusing point unless I shoot landscape. There has only got to be the slightest cloud cover and I've got to crank up the Expo comp on the 5DM2. Have never touched it on the 500D.Looks like its going to rain so I mightn't get out this arvo. When I do get out I'll send you a couple of photos. I'll use the Sigma 50mm 1.4 on the 500D and the Canon 85mm 1.8 on the 5DM2 and see how we go now that they've both been updated. You saw that shot (First on the list I sent you.) I took with the 70-200 + the extender on the 500D. Cannot reproduce anything like it with just the 70-200 on the 5DM2 unless the sun is out and there ain't a cloud in the sky.

Kevin.

Kevin –

How fast do your batteries wear down? I routinely get 2000+ images per charge with mine, but my shooting probably used less IS and LCD use than most. Others I know average 1200-1700 images. If you’re not getting at least 1000 images per charge something is amiss.

You’re shooting jpegs? And reduced resolution jpegs? This is a giant red flag when someone says they’re not getting the image quality or focus they’re after.

You know that jpegs are tagged with the shooting style selected? Do you have both cameras set to the same shooting style?

Personally I don’t think you can properly evaluate a camera unless you’re shooting full size raw images. Adding shooting styles is something you can do after the fact to a raw image.. and for sure affects the way the image looks. They go from dark and muddy looking to bright and colorful depending on which style is selected. I don’t teach “styles”, rather I teach my students has to easily manipulate the raw data to develop the look they want and get the most from the image.

When you’re comparing both cameras.. are you comparing them side by side at the same time? You can’t really compare shoots from different days, or even a few hours difference as the light changes so fast.

One more thing. Due to sensor size, you get approximately the same DOF on a crop frame DSLR at F5.6 as you get on a full frame camera at F8.. Sensor size is one of the four variables in the DOF equation, so consider this in your settings.

Curious how your shoot goes..

Steve

Hi Steve,

Things have improved considerably although I have used 32% of my dual battery power today for 100 shots at 11 megs but this may be due to the time I spent fooling around with the settings and looking at the photos. I've probably had the live screen working 5-6 hours solid today after a full charge overnight. I will be watching it though. Use the live screen on the 500D a lot as well when I think about it and don't seem to wear down the batteries.

I read a post on DPreview this morning where a guy was having the same problems as me with his recently bought 5DM2. Focusing and image quality. He then came back in and mentioned that he'd updated the firmware and although its not mentioned by Canon there was a big improvement in IQ and focusing speed. I remember Rockwell saying something similar just after he got his first 5DM2.Ayway I downloaded the firmware and while there was significant improvement, it wasn't enough for me to be over enthused.

Then I remembered another post I read yesterday. Guy said he was having focusing probs and asked for advice. He then came back later and said he's fixed the problem by deleting all the settings and starting again. I did as well and can assure you there's been a significant improvement in both IQ and focusing speed even with the 70-200f4 L IS in poor light. Can't show you the photos because all my software is on the laptop and I'm not familiar with what's on this old desktop but I'm hopeful that the problem has been solved. Besides David Burch's book on the 5DM2 I'm also purchasing Bryan Peterson's book on Understanding Exposure. In fact I may do an online course with him when I get back from Oz. $400 from memory.

Kevin.

Hi Kevin –

Interesting turn of events for sure.

Let’s hope this solved the issues..

Courses are good.. understanding exposure is an essential skill and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the course.

Keep me up to date on this.. I seriously have never had anyone unsatisfied with the 5d Mark II.. most are thrilled with the improvements.. Having personally used the camera for a while now I can assure you it’s capable of very high quality images.. but it’s not the miracle camera some profess. I often still use my 1ds Mark II (even over my 1ds Mark III) for image acuity when in the studio and using low ISO’s..

Steve

Hi Steve,

I'm pleased to report that its all systems go with my new 5DM2 since the firmware update and I cancelled all settings and started over again. I don't know why that is, I can only tell you what I see with my own 2 eyes. I'm glad I remembered this paragraph below from Ken Rockwell's site…

“”If you played with one before, the newest version 2.0.4 firmware makes it a completely different and better camera than when it was first released. I know; this free and easy update makes my 2008-vintage 5D Mark II handle and respond instantly to inputs, and not slow and pokey as it was when new. Be sure your 5D Mark II is running the latest firmware, since it gives a huge improvement in just about everything. “”

After reading another guys post about focus issues and what he did to remedy them I remembered Ken Rockwell's comments. After downloading the firmware and then resetting the settings the camera came to life and the focusing issues are now completely gone, even with the 70-200f4 L IS. Is it something I did wrong? No, couldn't be. When I'm in doubt I flick the dial to f8 on P and work from there. The settings I'd added were all the recommended ones Ken uses and could not have possibly interfered with the focusing of the camera..

My other big disappointment was the 16-35f2.8 L ii. It was just OK on the crop sensor, and although disappointed I thought it would be better suited on the full frame. It was the first lens I tried on the 5DM2 and I was so underwhelmed I put it back in the cupboard thinking I'd have to send it back to Canon. It certainly did not produce images you'd expect from a $1600 lens. Tried it again yesterday in bleak conditions and WOW, it's also come to life! Got some great shots of my dogs and the Sigma 50mm1.4 is an absolute dream now as well. I was panicking after reading heaps of posts and reviews about this particular lens.

People did say however that if you were lucky to get a good one to hang on to it. Well its apparent now that I did and I love it! The images are razor sharp. When I get back from Oz I'll post you a disc. I can't see the point in sending you a downsized photo then asking if there's something wrong with my camera or technique. I got a shot of one of my dogs on the patio. To his front, just to the right of me is a chair. It's out of focus. The railing behind him is out of focus as well. When I looked at it on the camera screen it looked a bit iffy because he appeared to be slightly of focus as well and I was about to delete it.

I then put it on a stick and put it up on the Samsung. Absolutely incredible! Stunning photo! Then I got a pile of before and after firmware/setting shots and compared them. Chalk and cheese! Don't know what the problem was Steve but it's fixed now. The jury is still out on the batteries. Book says 480-500 per battery. Will wait until they run right out and I do a full recharge. Who knows, perhaps firmware has fixed that as well. We can only live in hope.

Kevin.

Hi Kevin –

I’m glad you got it worked out..

I’m still not buying the firmware. I’ve had every version of it from the beginning of the model and the focus and image quality has never changed. Ken Rockwell needs to be more specific in what he writes..

I do believe resetting your camera to default could have helped. Especially if you put his settings in the camera in the first place. One of the first things I do with a client is go through each menu item of their own camera and discuss what each function does and help it match their style.. often important settings are screwed up.

In any case, if you see improvement then I’m glad you’re finding the charms of the camera. It’s an easy camera to love.. very forgiving. Unfortunately the heavy AA filter hurts it for really pro use.. I’m thinking of sending mine in and having the AA filter removed..

Let’s see some pictures!

Steve

Please submit your questions to [email protected] All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.

A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review *menu

A single workshop this week which was a lot of fun. I’ve continued work on the website as it enters the final stage of Stage III. This week there have been a lot of small changes/improvements to www.bangkokimages.com which makes us much more visible to the major search engines. I’ve optimized the URL’s which ‘shouldn’t make past links invalid, but if you encounter an issue with a link in a past column this is probably why. The URL’s are much more friendly, have common names, and less codes and ID numbers. We’ve also brought a uniform default font which helps a lot. Bugs have been virtually eliminated, the site streamlined, and even theUser Photo Galleries have been improved with a better looking and faster user interface.

The site is scalable from handing the current number of users, to tens or hundreds of thousands more with no changes or effort. Stage IV should come sometime next spring when I’ll add a video library for tutorial podcast, more interactive social networking, and much more.

Positive comments continue to pour in about our new look and much faster more interactive site. If you haven’t already checked it out, visit www.bangkokimages.com to see my latest galleries, share your own galleries, participate in the forums, and scour our large repository of photography related articles. The What’s New page continues to be very popular with almost daily updates and interesting content.

I’m still testing more equipment and have more reviews in the pipeline. If you have any neat gear you’d like to write a review on shoot me an email and I’ll do what I can to help.

Infocus Blog, Are You An Artist? *menu

Do you have trouble calling yourself an “artist?” I sure do. I’ve always figured I’m about as much an artist as Lady Ga Ga is a singer. One day I looked it up: Artist is defined as a person who produced works in any of the arts which are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria. Another definition states: A person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting. There’s more, but I think the one we all dwell on is this: A person whose work exhibits exceptional skill. Rings a bell?

Canon 5D, 24-105mm F4L IS USM @F4 8 seconds 40mm ISO 1600

All the above qualifies, and more. But I think we get hung up on the “exceptional skill” part. Why? As we walk through museums most of the works are by famous recognizable artists. If we don’t recognize them it’s not the artists fault, it’s ours. If the person rates being exhibited in a museum surely they qualify as an artist right? How about a local gallery? The bar is certainly lowered as local artists, usually still living and struggling to eeek out a living are featured. But because someone noticed their work, and by virtue of someone being willing to hang it on the wall of a place that person titled “a gallery” then this person is an artist!

Is it possible for someone to be an artist, yet not recognized? I think very basic thought show it’s possible that talented artists often go unnoticed or unrecognized all the time. Don’t believe me? Recently Pablo Picasso’s personal electrician came forward with 271 never before seen or recorded original works of art by Pablo himself. Where these works of art.. really art.. if no one had previously seen them? Or did they become works of art as soon as some stuffy guy with a French accent squint through his monocle and proclaim the works “ART!” I think in this case we call all agree, even secreted away in the electricians garage, these 271 works were art all along. Valued in excess of 100 million franc’s they’d better be.

Nikon D2h, Nikkor 12-24mm F4.5 @F8 .6sec 12mm ISO 1600

What about photography. A true sticky wicket. Every time a photographer tries to define what makes a photographer an artist they’re labeled self-serving. Even though I know better I’ll give it a try and attempt to define when a photographer technically becomes an artist.

BKKSteve defines a photographer as an artist when: The photographer looks beyond the basic technical settings that derive the exposure, and instead frames the composition exposure notwithstanding.


Nikon D2h, Nikkor 300mm F2.8 AF-S w/2xTC @F8 1/400th 900mm ISO 200

That’s it? Yes. In the most basic sense, I believe that when a photographer starts noticing what’s in his/her viewfinder and arranges what he/she sees into a cogent composition, then it’s at this moment they become an artist. Quite the revelation I’m sure.

I wouldn’t presume they’re a good artist, or a famous artist, or even an artist whose work will hang in a ‘”gallery” someday. But they are an artist. Beyond any doubt. This is we as photographers start being artist. A starting point. A starting point it necessary to claim we’ve arrived anywhere.

Nikon D2h, Nikkor 300mm F2.8 AF-S w/2xTC @F5.6 1/1250th 900mm ISO 200

Sure, most of us I’m sure have tons of room to grow as artists, but it’s important you recognize yourself as an artist. Why? Well, like I said, it’s a starting point. Once you accept that through your photography, you’re truly an artist, then you’ll need to make the conscious decision if you intend your art to be with purpose or without. If your art has purpose then it will have direction. With direction it will travel a journey leading to improvement, to refinement, to your vision.

Whether or not my ‘art’ is good or not I’ll leave to the opinions of others. Some will think it’s good, some will vote bad. What concerns me, and only concerns me, is if my art accurately represents my vision. If it does then I’m satisfied. How others see my vision is simply an evaluation of my art. I know it’s art because it has purpose unique to its composition. My vision.

Nikon D2h, Nikkor 300mm F2.8 AF-S w/2xTC @F5.6 1/750th 900mm ISO 200

What say you dear reader? Do you create art? Do you like my art? Yes, your opinion is as meaningful as the opinion of anyone else, especially that stuffy guy with the French accent. Without you art wouldn’t exist. The stuffy French guy with the monocle notwithstanding, art is the domain of the common man. We often define art through consumerism. We buy the recordings of artists, we buy their prints, we hire them to design and decorate our homes. An artist is nothing without his/her adoring public. Yet, they’re still an artist even if their work is kept from the public for nearly 100 years in an electricians garage on the French Riviera. You’re an artist the moment you look through the viewfinder and frame your composition with purpose. With vision.

Until next time..