In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog October 1st, 2011

2011 Bangkok Motor Show/Fuji x100 China Torture Test/Ordering a Amazon Kindle Fire?


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Feature Photograph *menu

Fuji x100 F8 1/500th ISO 320

Not every image is worthy of being an Featured Photograph. Sometimes despite your best efforts, conditions will conspire to produce a rather unremarkable image. When this happens we can sometimes draw on our ‘other’ skills to produce the desired image. By other I mean Photoshop.

In our Featured Photograph you see a man shooting a sporting clay with his shotgun. You can clearly see the man, the shotgun, and the clay at the moment it explodes. These were the minimum desires requested by the client/shooter. Now that the image is produced it appears a simple process. But would you be surprised to know I had to study this image and create several versions, over the course of several days, before I saw the desired image within the image? I started with this.

Fuji x100 F8 1/500th ISO 320

To start, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to time your shutter release to an exploding clay. It took me 4-5 tries before I nailed it. You must have a deep enough depth of field (DOF) to keep the shooter and the clay in focus, and you must have a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the exploding clay suspended in the air. You also need to use a lens wide enough to capture both the subject and the exploding clay. A 35mm lens, an F8 aperture, and a 1/500th shutter speed were requirements. From these selections I can adjust the ISO up/down and the shutter speed up.. to get the desired image.

Now that you have the image you discover that even though you froze the clay in mid-air, it’s still next to impossible to see, and it’s certainly not one of the two desired focal points of this image. You can also see the shooter is not exposed as much as you’d like, but the tree tops are as exposed as they can be without blowing out detail. Everything seems to blend together. No matter how I looked at this, there was no way to take this image to satisfy the clients requirements. Without Photoshop.

One of the first things I did was to make the fragments of the clay larger while retaining their original shape and placement. This took a bit of careful work at the pixel level. While I was at it I made the color of the fragments match a new clay. To finish this part I increased the amount of smoke around the fragments making sure it was feathered and done just enough where it looked natural.

Once the clay fragments were finished it was time to attend to the shooter. I brought up the exposure on the shooter and the shotgun until they could both be clearly seen and were in line with the clay fragments I’d worked with earlier. I thought I’d be done at this point, but the more I looked at it the less I liked my results.

Fuji x100 F8 1/500th ISO 320

The background completed by the trees and harsh sunlight didn’t allow for enough separation from the two main focal points of the image, the shooter and the exploding fragments. I think this image is more ‘natural’, but it didn’t meet the desires of the client, so the next step was to simply de-saturate the background to black and white, leaving the subjects with their natural color. I wrote a tutorial on how to do this here.

We went from an uninteresting original image, to a better natural looking image, and then finally to an image which met the clients requirements. Anyone looking at this image will immediately see the shooter shooting a clay from the air with the clay exploding in fragments. Using my camera I was only able to meet part of my clients requirements, Photoshop allowed me to meet the remainder.

2011 Bangkok Motor Show *menu


Description: Description: Description: Description: http://www.stickmanweekly.com/Photo/19March/images/eyal1.jpgEyal hails from Israel where he works hard half the year, saving to spend the other half of the year using Thailand as a base to travel throughout South East Asia. Eyal has had a strong interest in submission writing and photography and has corresponded with me for years, asking questions, taking notes, and working up to this submission. Writing in a second language is never easy, and often it's very difficult. For some of us impossible. To keep such good records and document the trip so well, and then to put the work in to share with the readers is very much appreciated. I hope to see more of his work grace future columns. You can contact Eyal via email at [email protected]


A journey of eight months in Southeast Asia reached its final stage. Until the flight back to Israel I had some precious time to stay in Bangkok. I was lucky enough to be at the right time in the right place. The big event is the Bangkok Motor Show. For me it’s a ”must.” No matter what will I get there. If you want to see and experience the real Thailand-Bangkok Motor Show should be on your “must do” list while you are staying in the kingdom.

Personal History.

I worked in the auto industry for six years. I did customer service for the most successful leasing company at the time. During the peak it owned about twenty thousand vehicles in a leasing arrangement and forty thousand vehicles in leasing financing. The company was sold at the peak of their success.

A few years after the market has become crowded (it is a small country and a small market compare to Thailand) with many competitors and of course profitability is reduced for everyone. After the company sold employment conditions adversely changed. There was no point in continuing there.

How to get there. Well, this is Bangkok. The easiest way is to take a taxi. I found another way. I took the BTS until the last station in Mo-Chit. Then from the big parking lot I took the mini-bus shuttle to IMPACT Arena.

Background. In the past the Bangkok Motor Show took place in another side of the city at Bitec Bangna. This year the Bangkok International Motor Show has been relocated to the Challenger Hall at Impact Muangthong Thani for the first time. A world-class International Motor Show event.

The growing automobile and motorcycle markets in Thailand create this years bigger show in Bangkok, bigger than all before it. The display space increased to 60,000 square meters. More space was available for outdoor activities. In three years the show duration may have to be increased to 15 days.

Tickets were priced at 100Bt. Relative to the number of tourists and permanent foreign population the number of foreigners visiting Thailand Motor Show, is very low. However an estimate the number of Thai visitors is around two million. I highly recommend those in Bangkok when this event takes place, take advantage of the show. This is part of the experience while you are in Thailand. The automobile industry market is dynamic and plays an important role in the economy. No doubt selling cars is an art.

Here is a brief overview of the data that effect purchasing a new car.

  1. The design-an external design, interior design.
  2. Fascinating and exciting look.
  3. What are the needs? City car or a SUV?
  4. Technical Data, engine size, trunk space. Fuel consumption per liter.
  5. Innovative production technologies.
  6. Spare parts and parts availability. Prices for spare parts.
  7. Price of the vehicle, vehicle data is compared with a similar models.
  8. Understanding individual buyer, everyone has an opinion. Prejudice, cultural influences, unique personality, national honor, profound desire to impress other people, ego, all those factors affect the decision of buying a car.

Many times it will happened with a luxury car. During last years Bangkok Motor Show, 28000 orders for new vehicles were placed. This year sales were expected to be higher than last year.

Thailand industry set a goal that the Thai auto industry will grow further. This task is taken very seriously. It is also a matter of national pride.

The majority of Japanese automobile industry companies are involved in Thailand. Automobile production made in Thailand rivals total production of Mercedes Benz. In two years automobile production in Thailand will reach 200,000 units per year for the local market and for the world markets.

The Thai automobile industry is a major industry that helps drive the Thai economy. The growth in the automobile and motorcycle industry affects other industries as well.

One picture can be described with a thousand words. Please enjoy the pictures from the Bangkok Motor Show 2011. All of my pictures were taken with Fuji FinePix F-31fd. In theUser Photo Galleries I added few related galleries with links to related short movies I download in YouTube. I hope you all enjoy. See you in Bangkok Motor Show 2012.

Fuji x100 China Torture Test *menu

Tom Tweedel is a good friend with significant experience in China and has self-published several interesting volumes of his travels in China complete with many great images and informative narrative. Last year he visited Thailand for the first time and I had a great time showing him around the area. Somehow he found time to put together a like 340 page book of his travels around Thailand and you can get your copy here! I've got a copy of this book and I can tell you it's well worth it, especially for first time travelers or if you haven't seen more of Thailand than downtown Bangkok.

For those whose plans include extended travel in Thailand and China I’d recommend contacting Tom and inquiring into obtaining copies of his books. Tom Tweedel is an Austin, TX based photographer and can be reached at: [email protected]

Fuji x100 F9 1/100th ISO 100

When I first heard about the Fuji FX100 I was intrigued, the style, the specs and the apparent phenomenal picture quality all in a lightweight (though expensive) package. With a month long trip though China coming up I couldn’t help but wonder how well something like that would do. It seemed like the perfect travel camera. Would it have what it took to be the main camera or would its limitations of speed, focal length and battery life be too restricting.

For me it was more of an academic question, however when my friend Steve got his FX100 and agreed to lend it to me for the trip it became world of new possibilities came up. I decided I was going to do a shootout. My Nikon D300 SLR and the Fuji to see which would come out on top. The timing was good in that he was able to deliver the camera to me after installing the initial firmware update which fixed many issues users had reported. Because I got the camera only a few days before the trip I didn’t really have a chance to get to know it before putting it in use.

I should note at this point that the type of trip I was taking, the whirlwind tour of China with my wife and two young children that needed serious looking after was not the best kind of trip for this type of camera. As I will get into later this camera does its best if you have a little bit of time to think about and compose your shot. This trip was more like frantically running to not get thrown off the treadmill. Many times it was used more like a point and shoot than the excellent composed picture taker that it is.

Initial Impressions

When I first got the camera in Austin I was surprised by the size and the weight. When camera companies show off their goods they always find some dude with huge hands to make it seem as small as possible. It was a bit bigger than I expected. This wasn’t really a problem and the size combined with the excellent weight and build quality produces an exceptionally stable shooting platform.

The design, coupled with the wide angle lens allowed me to get reasonably sharp handheld pictures at 1/8 second handheld. A shutter speed that almost always produced blurry disappointment with my SLR. The all metal construction, quality of the finish and overall style exude a level of quality and confidence seldom found in today’s plastic wonders. You get the impression that 50 years from now this camera will still be working.

Fuji x100 F8 1/500th ISO 250

Performance

The real question we all have is does it take good pictures? What are its strengths, what are its weaknesses and how does it measure up in actual use vs. just statistics. I used the camera for a month in a wide variety of circumstances and I had the following conclusions.

Picture Quality

Picture quality out of this camera is absolutely amazing. The sharpness and clarity are in the “have to be seen to be believed” category. Fuji really pulled out all the stops on this one. I figure it had a lot to do with having a fixed lens and single focal length. It allowed them to optimize the camera and the lens to each other to the highest degree. I don’t think it would be overreaching to say that you can’t get a better image at 35mm out of any DSLR and lens on the market today.

Sharpness

Half of what makes these images amazing is the sharpness. They are just super tack sharp. What’s more is that they are sharp across a wide F-stop range. With traditional lenses you need to worry about the sweet spot and make judgments about sharpness vs focal length vs available light. This camera is a game changer in that respect. It is so sharp across the entire range that you don’t think about F-stop vs sharpness, just use the F-stop that gives you the desired DOF or handles the light that you have available. While F8 might be a little bit sharper than F2.0 the sharpness you get at F2.0 is already so good your not going to notice the difference in actual use.

Aside from the quality of the mind blowing, freckle spotting, hair counting sharpness what makes the camera amazing is how EASY it is to get sharp images. With other systems to get super sharp images you need an expensive body, top quality lens, good support, a cooperative subject and great lighting. If you had all that, used the right technique and had a bit of luck and effort you could get super sharp images. With this camera you just have to make sure to hold it steady, don’t squeeze too hard and get the focal point right. It goes from something requiring a lot of work and effort to a nearly effortless exercise.

Fuji x100 F5.6 1/320th ISO 200

Noise/ISO

The second half of what makes the images from this camera outstanding is how clean they are, even at higher ISO’s. When jacking up the ISO of an image to compensate for low light there is usually a cost associated with it. Sharpness, color, detail and vibrance all take a hit to some degree. While this is still true with the Fuji the “cost” is so low you can use higher ISO’s with near reckless abandon. With a touch of noise reduction you can still get very sharp, clear images up to ISO 3200. Going to ISO 6400 will produce some notable degradation but you can still get nice usable images though they lack the pop of the cleaner shots. Being able to go to ISO 3200 has been really nice. You can leave AUTO ISO on, set the max at 3200 and start banging away.

Fuji x100 F2 1/30th ISO 3200

Exposure

Overall the Fuji does a good job of exposure, though this is one area where the DSLRs and their evaluative metering do seem to pull ahead. By and large the Fuji seems to overexpose a little bit compared to other cameras. If you look at the histogram it usually takes the bights right to the limit.

Also when the light gets low (like dark room) it tends to overcompensate a little bit. When taking pictures of street lit scenes what came out of the camera what a full stop overexposed from what I saw with my eyes. Fixing it was easy enough as I could just dial in -1 EV and shoot again. That gave optimally exposed images when looking at a mix of highlight and shadow detail. If you are shooting RAW and forgot to dial in the EV correction don’t sweat it. The files have enough latitude to compensate. If you were shooting JPG though you will need to be diligent.

Dynamic Range

The dynamic range (how much highlight detail and shadow detail are contained in the file) is quite impressive. Dynamic range manifests itself in several ways. First is the way the images look, especially around the highlights. Taking pictures of clouds is a good test, look at the subtle shading. Pictures that have both dark and strong sunlight is another way to see the dynamic range. Can it capture the shadow detail without blowing the highlights. I’m happy to report the Dynamic Range on this camera is excellent as you can see from the sample images.

Fuji x100 F11 1/500th ISO 200

Another area that dynamic range shows up is when you go to process the files. How much processing and the file take before it starts to fall apart. Compared to my Nikon files these Fuji files are amazing. I can push/pull them about 1.5 to 2 stops of exposure and still get perfect files. This is good given the cameras tendency to overexpose in some situations. Even if you blow the exposure by a stop you can pull it back and move on.

Below are some examples of how good it is.

The first image was the base exposure. Too hot

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 400

The second image is the same scene retook with a -1EV

Fuji x100 F2 1/120th ISO 200

The third image is the first image processed out with -1EV.

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 400

And to give an idea of the latitude you have with exposure here is a crop where the previously blown highlights have been pulled down -2EV to give you an idea of what is recoverable.

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 400

Focus

The performance of the autofocus is one area that I was sorely disappointed and wanted to give Fuji a bitch slap because their really is no excuse for it.

Auto focus had three major issues.

First is that it was unable to “lock on” to a wide variety of objects including faces under some lighting conditions. What I was trying to lock onto was not exceptionally difficult and each time I was able to pull out my DSLR or even a cheap $130 point and shoot and lock on and focus on the same object or same scene with no problem whatsoever. With the Fuji I was stuck hunting around for high contrast points in the scene hoping to get a lock. Why is Fuji’s most modern camera easily trounced by a point and shoot? I don’t know, maybe they crippled it intentionally to improve it for the next version? I find it highly odd that when you use the redeye reduction feature that you can have a pain of a time trying to get the initial focus but after you take the picture the camera can quickly and without error automatically detect every face in the picture and check it and reduce redeye. It even detects faces where there was no redeye.

The second big issue with focus was focus accuracy. Unless the ENTIRE focus indicator square was over the target there was no guarantee it wasn’t going to lock onto the background.

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 1250

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 1250

This was very frustrating because you go to take a picture and snap, you get awesome sharpness of the back wall but your subjects face sucks. I even sat down and tested this at one point and found that if the bottom left corner of the focus indicator was off the subject but the other 95% was on focus was erratic, sometimes it locked onto something in the mid ground, sometimes the background. Once again I found my point and shoot camera was more reliable when it came to focusing on the subject. I tried changing focus modes to let the camera pick the focal point but that was even more of a disaster.

If I was trying to lock onto something that was less than an arms length away I almost always had to go into Macro Mode. This was annoying and the focus speed was very slow. This combination might be a deal killer if I was trying to photograph toddlers. You have to get that close to them based on their size but they will never stand still long enough to lock onto in Macro Mode. For whatever reason macro mode seemed to not have as many issues locking onto things and didn’t pick up the background the way regular mode did.

The third issue I had with focus was focal speed. The time it took to lock onto the subject. This was not as bad as the other two issues but it was certainly not very speedy, once again its performance was on par or even sub par compared to point and shoots. This also means that for sports or moving targets you’re going to have a large percentage of out of focus shots.

When you combine this slower focus time with the speed it takes to either turn on or wake up from power saving mode you are really dealing with point and shoot level performance at best. So if going from not on to taking the shot quickly is important the FX100 is not the ideal choice, stick with an SLR that powers up faster than you can move your finger onto the button.

I tried a workaround for some situations where I knew that my subject was going to be in the distance. I locked the camera on manual focus and infinity. That only partially worked, there seemed to be many different things that would “reset” the focus at 15 feet for some reason.

Fixed Focal Length

Another feature of this camera is the fixed focal length. It is a 23mm lens that when the sensor crop factor is applied works out to 35mm in the full frame perspective. This is wide but not ultra wide. This limitation was my biggest concern and misgiving about the camera. What if I wanted wider or longer focal lengths?

Well for starters for general travel, walking around the street our touring 35mm is an excellent focal length. When I looked at the EXIF of my previous journeys a large percentage of the shots were somewhere around 35mm length, many wider, some longer.

Fuji x100 F8 1/1000th ISO 1250

What I found in practice was that while the 35mm focal length was limiting I was still able to get shots that achieved most of my photographic goals. If I only had the Fuji and not the Nikon I would have taken fewer pictures, and there are some shots that I certainly would have missed due to not having the correct focal length. But on balance I could have lived without those shots and still considered the trip a photographic success. I suspect that had this been a real photo safari where I had time to hunt and compose as opposed to grab what I could passing through that I would have found this restriction even less limiting. There are good shots to be had out there at 35mm, you just have to look for them.

Fuji x100 F8 1/60th ISO 200

Perspective

Aside from the field of view you will get the usual perspective distortion associated with a wide focal length. Items close in the center tend to be exaggerated, while other stuff in the back and edges gets a little minimized. To some degree this does leave a lot of your pictures looking “the same” when they are closer up.

Fuji x100 F8 1/320th ISO 200

Pictures farther off at infinity just look “normal.”

Fuji x100 F8 1/340th ISO 200

For taking pictures of food it is a mixed bag. I prefer a more normal perspective.

Fuji x100 F5.6 1/25th ISO 3200

Though the close up detail is.. well.. delicious.

Fuji x100 F5.6 1/25th ISO 3200

You’ll also have to into macro mode to snap your food shots.

Fuji x100 F2.5 1/80th ISO 1600

Metering

There are three different meter modes, spot, area and multi. I’ve been using multi which is presumably something like the Matrix metering. It seems unusually sensitive to the luminosity of the subject underneath the sensor, seems to be weighted more in its metering calculations. This can cause a bit of an issue with the afore mentioned focus issue where you move off your prime subject to get a focus lock, then move back. It also seems to do an exposure lock when you do a focus lock (this is probably a setting somewhere). The net result is you can have less than optimal exposure by focusing on nearby objects.

In the first shot I metered for the scene in general and it overexposed quite a bit for my taste. About 1.5 stops.

Fuji x100 F2.5 1/80th ISO 1600

I metered off the umbrellas as they were the subject and got better results.

Fuji x100 F8 1/480th ISO 200

Just to check out the dynamic range I went back to the overexposed image and brought it down 1.5 stops in Lightroom. Very impressive.

Fuji x100 F2.8 1/1250th ISO 200

The solution is to press the AE button after you do your main framing, then go down and get your focus lock, reframe and take the picture. Again workable if you’ve got a little time but if you’re snapping away you may get something you were not expecting.

Of course if you shooting raw you’ve got more than enough latitude to correct any minor exposure issues this may cause you.

Controls

The controls and performance of the controls were another area that was a mixed bag. Overall I don’t have any issue with the layout of the controls and buttons. The Rangefinder/OVF switch is a nice touch. The knobs are very retro and it is really easy to go from Av mode to Manual mode. The main issues I had with the controls related to them being too sensitive. The EV knob needs to be more heavily di-tinted. As it is know a casual brush against your hand or your jacket and knock your EV of by over a stop because the pressure to rotate it is so light. If you’re shooting raw its usually not a huge issue as you can recover. But if your doing JPG your hosed.

Underexposed Food Because of a brush with the EV wheel.

Fuji x100 F2.8 1/30th ISO 500

Corrected in RAW, good as perfectly exposed!

Fuji x100 F2.8 1/30th ISO 500

Also the controls on the back with the rotation while needs stiffening up as well. There were times when I went into the menu, made my selection by rotating or pressing the wheel to what I wanted and the act of taking my finger off the wheel or pressing the center button changed my selection (just before hitting confirm). This was more of an annoyance but a fixable one.

Sometimes under heavy use (lots of switching) the responsiveness of the controls seemed sluggish. But I really didn’t pay that much attention other than sometimes the OVF/EFV switch didn’t seem to work. There were a few other issues but I should probably read the manual first to see how they are supposed to work before I knock them.

The menu system is fairly straightforward, though putting Auto ISO on the functional menu vs. shooting menu was annoying, that and macro mode were about the only times I had to go into the menus. Macro mode had a key shortcut. But for whatever reason you HAVE to use the control wheel and select macro. I wish it was like the flash where pushing the button multiple times cycles through all the options.

Viewfinders

The FX100 is a rangefinder type camera, which up until now I really hadn’t used that much (I had a 35mm rangefinder point and shoot in my youth). So going to it after DSLR’s was an interesting experience. The Fuji is unique in that you can compose your shot using the optical viewfinder (OVF) which superimposes framing and shooting information into the viewfinder.

With the flick of the front switch you and go to the best Electronic Viewfinder I have ever used. The sharpness and brightness is great, though the color is way off in the yellows.

You can push a button a couple of times and compose using the back LCD screen like a conventional PNS. In the course of the trip I found all three to b useful. Most of the time I was in OFV mode, to save battery power. The electronic level was a nice touch. When I would snap a picture I had it set to review in the viewfinder for 1.5 seconds. This let me get a rough idea to quickly check if there were any errors and if needed snap again. Sometimes due to the parallax issues some junk would find its way into the bottom or side of my picture. When that happened I would flick over to EFV and compose with confidence.

Finally when doing macro work I would use the LCD. The LCD mode also came in handy when giving the camera to other people to take your picture with. At first they didn’t know where to look and didn’t understand its only going to take a picture of what’s in the gridlines, not the viewfinder. After having my head chopped in half a couple of times I made it a point to turn the camera over to LCD composition mode which everyone seemed to know how to use.

Fuji x100 F8 1/320th ISO 200

Specific Shooting Situations

I’ve covered what I observed in my general shooting experience, however there are some specific shooting situations I faced that I would like to go into more detail about.

Low Light Indoors

One of the super strengths of this camera is its ability to handle low light. The fast F2.0 lens and clean high ISO images give unrivaled possibilities. It is truly new territory for a small camera.

When people ask me what camera they should buy the most common point of dissatisfaction with what they have is that indoor party pictures look terrible. Usually flash is required and the background is horribly underexposed because of it.

With the Fuji it’s a whole new day. It’s got enough sensitivity to handle almost any light people dwell in. Rather than looking for the brightest light available you start looking for the most consistent light. As long as it’s even with no bright spots in the background you get excellent results. You don’t need the flash. I got many comments by people who were surprised that I didn’t use a flash for their picture.

This picture was taken in some truly horrible light, dim and drained. With any other camera I wouldn’t have even considered it or I’d be looking for walls to bounce the flash off, but with the Fuji it was no problem.

Fuji x100 F2 1/40th ISO 3200

This shot was taken in what was perhaps the most horrid dim-mixed lighting condition I saw on the trip.

While it was amazing it wasn’t perfect. There were two issues related to indoor light, one was the previously mentioned focus issue, as the light went down it struggled. Not anything that couldn’t be worked around but annoying. The second issue is that as the light drops it has a tendency to overexpose, perhaps trying to compensate for what it perceives as a stronger background light. It was very common to dial in some negative EV when shooting in poor light.

In addition to taking good pictures of people indoors it works great in another area commonly associated with insufficient light, temples. For whatever reason the big Buddha at temples are seldom well lit. With other cameras it meant going tripod or flash, which is generally frowned upon. The Fuji could do it in ambient light no problem as long as you kept bright windows out of the composition.

Fuji x100 F2 1/45th ISO 3200

In Southern China pictures of the idols in the main temple are generally prohibited. I didn’t try but if I wanted to the Fuji would have been excellent for a covert shot. Small, unassuming, quiet and able to get it without a flash.

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 2500

On the Street

It could be argued this cameras greatest strength is well composed landscape photography. This might be true but its abilities as a street camera is not far behind. I was really concerned the fixed 35mm focal length was going to be an issue (not wide enough) but I had no problem getting what I wanted with it.

Fuji x100 F5.6 1/60th ISO 400

Once you’re past that focal length issue its size and unassuming shape are great for just walking around. You’re not hauling a bunch of stuff and big imposing lenses that alter people’s behavior.

Fuji x100 F4 1/110th ISO 200

With the camera in its case it doesn’t attract the attention larger bodies do. It’s also very quiet (unlikely to be heard over the noise of the street). Review the shots in the EVF and nobody knows you even took a photo, they think your still looking. The shape and feel round it out with excellent handling.

Fuji x100 F5.6 1/90th ISO 200

When I wandered around the streets of China it was my constant companion, if I was going to do some heavy duty shooting I’d bring the Nikon along but for the trip to the store or restaurant I just brought the Fuji. It’s big enough to remind you it’s there, but not so large as to get in the way. When I ran into situations where I really didn’t want to have the camera out it was small enough to stuff in a cargo pocket.

Fuji x100 F8 1/60th ISO 2000

As much fun as it was on the streets during the day it really shined at night. It just produces wonderfully clean, crisp, sharp images. Low light was no problem and it captured neon with ease. I could get the shutter speed fast enough so that slowly moving people were not a blurry mess. The 35mm focal length became even more adequate as at night you tend to shoot wider and closer. Nothing like it out there.

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 1000

The one thing of note is that when shooting street shots at night the overexposure issue becomes more apparent. I found that it was consistently shooting at least one stop overexposed.

Fuji x100 F2 1/13th ISO 3200

Fuji x100 F2 1/40th ISO 3200

Same Shot with -1EV

At first I thought it might be me but I took the shot and then carefully examined the result vs what my eyes saw, paying special attention to the light spilling onto the street from inside buildings. It was much stronger in the picture. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, these brighter shots can give you images you can’t normally see but that are much more interesting than reality. However it does tend to blow some highlights at times and if you’re shooting JPG that’s a real bummer. I found that simply dialing in -1EV fixed most of that and started returning some very accurate exposures.

Fuji x100 F2.8 1/60th ISO 1600

In a Cave

We went to a standard tourist cave while in China. Guide, lights, lots of people. The usual song and dance. Before going in I was thinking I was going to have fun with my tripod. But the Fuji gave me other options.

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 2500

Its low light abilities made easy work capturing the illuminated scenery. Like street shots it tended to overexpose by 1EV which was soon remedied. At this particular cave they turned the lights off the moment the tour guide left the scene so grabbing shots with a tripod would not have worked.

Fuji x100 F2 1/25th ISO 3200

Panoramas

I’m a sucker for Panoramas, love them. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort and money to getting them right. Tripods, heads, nodal points, angle charts etc. Shooting a Panorama of Hong Kong Island from Kowloon and then Kowloon from Victoria peak are shots that I’ve been waiting to get right for 10 years (last time I was there it was raining). To get those shots (as well as night shots of the cityscape in general) I brought a full size tripod, head, pano head, L-bracket on battery grip and 17-35 F2.8 lens for my D300. From a size/weight perspective it was well over half my photo gear. I was loaded for bear, things totally didn’t work out the way I had been planning and the Fuji saved the day in a big way.

When I got my first sweep of Hong Kong Island during the day I shot a regular pano of it handheld using the Nikon.

Nikon D300 F11 1/250fh ISO 100

I’ve found that with proper technique and modern software you can get away with handheld pano’s as long as your subject is in the distance. Sharpness suffers a little bit and if you make a mistake you can blow the whole thing, but I was reasonably confident. After I got the handheld pano I was digging in my gear bag and looking at the Fuji. I had my RRS pano head and a plate for the Fuji along with my Joby SLR mini-tripod . I wondered if that could do the trick.

Fuji x100 F8 1/1000th Pano Mode

I set it up and found that it worked quite well. The light weight and the lack of mirror slap, as well as a very gentle shutter allowed it to work with the Joby. I set it up on a rail, leveled the head between each shot and got pretty good results. The only real issue was the lack of height on the “tripod” which limited my perspective and included a bunch of the supporting rail.

That night I went down to the Harbor with my full kit and got some sweeps with the Nikon and the Fuji.

The Fuji was a bit limited in that I had to use landscape orientation (I don’t have a L-bracket) but 35mm was wide enough for the Island, even when held to the level.

Fuji x100 F5.6 5 secs ISO 200 Pano Mode

The real test came the next night. This was our last night in Hong Kong, I HAD to get a pano from the top of Victoria Peak but we could only go there after spending the entire day at the Ocean Park Amusement park. There was just no way, no how I was going to be able to haul all my gear through that all day long. I was hoping after Ocean Park we could swing back by the hotel, get the gear and then head up to the peak. It wasn’t to be and I found myself up late, on top of Victoria Peak without my tripod. It was the Fuji or nothing.

With ISO 3200 F2.0 I was actually able to get some acceptable handheld shots that would do if nothing else worked out, but I wanted better.

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 3200 Pano Mode

I set the Joby+Fuji up. Went over to manual exposure at ISO 200 and shot a series of multi-second shots and got what I needed. I was VERY nervous, years of planning and preparation had been discarded in favor of something I came up with yesterday and tried once.

When it was all over the results were great, as good as anything I would have gotten from my Nikon in terms of sharpness and clarity.

Fuji x100 F5.6 4 secs ISO 200 Pano Mode

Fuji x100 F5.6 2 secs ISO 200 Pano Mode

That was a real moment of truth for me, completely changed my concept of pano shooting. If I were to do it all over again I would have brought a lightweight more compact tripod, the pano head and the Fuji along with an L-Bracket and left the rest at home. The 35mm focal length proved wide enough for all my needs and a lightweight tripod seems good enough to get sharp images from the camera. The main thing I needed the tripod for was to elevate the camera to the right level rather than providing vice grip like support for sharp images.

Pano Mode

Under the drive menu one of the features the Fuji has is the Motion Panorama. This is an In-camera shooting and stitching to create a panorama. You can select 120 or 180 degree panos as well as landscape or portrait orientation.

120 Degree Landscape Pano

Fuji x100 F8 1/280th ISO 200

120 Degree Portrait Pano

Fuji x100 F8 1/300th ISO 200

I used this feature on several occasions, though the results were often less than spectacular. Lots of camera’s have this feature in one way or another. Fuji’s method still seems to have issues and it doesn’t work as well as the same feature on my Sony Point and Shoot. Aside from stitching errors the main problem is that it uses discreet finite pictures of unknown shutter speed vs. a recorded smear like pulling form video.

There is a progress bar up at the top that lets you know if you need to keep sweeping. Taking and processing all these pictures create a strong lag when you are sweeping so that bar is not entirely accurate, you tend to go to slow at the beginning and too fast at the end. The stitching/blending isn’t the greatest either. If you shoot in portrait mode (or the 180 degree pano) the perspective distortion them the projection is really bad, you get much better results in landscape.

Overall I feel this feature is not quite fully baked, If your in a rush it can be useful, but you’ll probably get better results handheld shooting and stitching the pano.

In Camera Pano

Fuji x100 F8 1/320th ISO 200

Stitched Pano of the Same Shot

Fuji x100 F11 1/320th ISO 200

If you do use it, swipe twice, errors often show up in the final product you don’t see in camera. Also it doesn’t work well in low light since the camera is in motion when the shots are taken, it ends up a blurry mess, even from a tripod.

Flash Fill

While it is seldom necessary to use flash on this camera from time to time there are situations when it is unavoidable. Either in complete darkness, or more likely when your subject is strongly backlit and you can’t get an acceptable picture by bumping up the EV to compensate.

I ran into the situation several times on my journey, exclusively with trying to take portraits. I was happy to find the Fuji does an excellent job of metering and balancing for flash fill.

Fuji x100 F2 1/35th ISO 3200

I did find however that you NEED to use the redeye reduction feature. The placement of the flash is such that your almost guaranteed redeye if you don’t. With the redeye feature it does the extended pre-flash as well as post processing of the image to wipe it out.

Fuji x100 F4 1/60th ISO 320

It was seeing in this post processing in action that left me really wondering what was going on with the Fuji Autofocus system. It couldn’t lock onto a face in low light yet after you take the picture it can detect all the faces in the picture (even off angle) and quickly check them for Redeye even if they didn’t have any? What’s up with that?

At any rate the flash and flash fill work pretty good. They are limited in range, but at the wide angle you usually are not that far away.

I had the occasion to take the same portrait with the D300 on camera flash fill and the Fuji flash fill.

This Shot was from the Fuji.

Fuji x100 F4 1/500th ISO 320

Flash fill shot from the D300.

Nikon D300 F4.8 1/250th 55mm ISO 100

Portraits

One usually doesn’t think of 35mm as an especially good portrait length, unless you’re in close quarters. I was surprised at how good of a portrait camera the Fuji made despite this limitation. Being able to go down to F2.0 helped. At F2.0 from a few feet away you have fairly narrow DOF and decent Bokeh. Combined with the sharp crisp detail you can get decent portraits out of it.

Fuji x100 F4 1/500th ISO 320

Close Ups

The Fuji took good close up pictures IF you invoke macro mode. Without macro it usually won’t focus on anything less than a meter away. With Macro it goes to inches, though it is very slow. Switching back and forth was a bit of a pain but I got some great pictures of food in Macro mode.

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 1250

Fuji x100 F2.8 1/30th ISO 320

Aquarium

The Fuji actually makes a pretty good camera for shooting at an aquarium. At Ocean Park in Hong Kong I was able to get some really nice shots of Jellyfish.

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 3200

For the most part the 35mm focal length was adequate for the job, though many times more zoom would have been nice. Cropping usually did the trick.

Fuji x100 F2 1/60th ISO 3200

Perhaps the biggest issue was the autofocus problems I mentioned earlier, due to the distances you had to go into Macro mode much of the time and for faster moving fish this presented a real problem.

Video

The Fuji takes 720p HD video. I didn’t use it for that very much since I was afraid to burn up the battery and memory to early in the day. I used it on a few occasions, it works, its ok but I didn’t see anything that made it stand out over the video other digicams take.

Bracketing

The Fuji has bracketing feature but it’s kind of weak. You can select the bracketing depth, maximum of 1 stop per shot and only a 3 shot bracket.

Other features

There seemed to be some interesting other features listed in the menu. Neutral density filter, dynamic range bracketing and more. Since my trip was so hectic I really didn’t have the time or energy to mess around with them. I had the basics down and that’s all I really needed. On the few occasions where I had some downtime on the road I was afraid to drain the battery so I didn’t mess with it. But there is more to the camera than F-stops and shutter speeds.

Speed

This is not a camera for action photography. As far as speed goes it has more in common with a point and shoot than an SLR. The time to turn it on, or even wake up from power saving sleep mode, is several seconds. The time required to focus (if it gets the lock) is not excessive but it’s not fast enough for action. A lot of chances for missed shots there. Of special annoyance when taking pictures of toddlers is that to get good close ups of their face you end up close than the one meter limit of the normal focus, so you have to go to macro mode which takes even longer. Chances are that they, and the expression you were trying to capture will be long gone by the time you get your focus lock.

The Lens cap Issue

One “gotcha” with this camera relates to the use of a lens cap . With an SLR when the lens cap is on you know it, with a rangefinder maybe not. On a few occasions I would look through the site, snap the shot and then have it go black. While this is operator error the fact it takes the camera out of commission for around a minute sucks. Once you snap it thinks it requires a 30 second exposure with a long NR cycle as well so the whole camera is locked up for a long time . Turning it off doesn’t help; it picks up where it left off when you turn it back on. Watch that lens cap.

Cost

When I first heard that Fuji was charging $1200 for a fixed focal length 12mp APS-C sensor camera I was thinking they had lost it. In reality they found it. While $1200 is a lot of money if you look at what you’re getting it’s a good value. How much is the best 35mm F2.0 lens worth? How much is a sensor that is clean with great dynamic range worth? Now combine the two in a small package with some style. If you look at it from the perspective of what people pay for the components all the time it’s reasonably priced.

Who should buy this camera?

Is this camera for everyone? Not really. This camera is best for experienced photographers who have some time to think about, meter, compose and move around to get the best shot. They are patient, willing to invest money to cover one type of shooting and don’t want to carry a lot of gear. People who don’t want to get every shot they can but want to get a few shots just right. In short it’s the optimal old photographer’s camera. People who know what they want and what they don’t, can see the possibilities and have the time to explore them.

That’s not to say others can’t enjoy the camera. I had some non-photographer friends that saw what amazing picture the camera was able to take of their cat in lousy light without flash, they were ready to go get one till they found out how much it cost.

Fuji x100 F4 1/20th ISO 3200

Conclusion

I spent a lot of time with this camera and the more I used it the more I got to like it. While at the beginning of my trip I preferred the Nikon, by the end I was mainly using the Fuji. For the big photographic events I brought both, but when it was a more casual outing (like going down to dinner) I would grab the Fuji and leave the Nikon behind. Its small size, ease of use, amazing low light and great image quality made it very appealing. After I got used to the limitations of 35mm it became the natural choice.

Is it the “Perfect Camera” or “The only Camera you will need?” No it is not. It has its issues and it has its limitations which I have covered. But it is an excellent camera and for touring cities it is hard to beat. If I hadn’t just blown all my money (and then some) taking the family to Asia I would be getting one of these. If I were a road warrior who travelled a lot for work I wouldn’t hesitate to get one and make it my main photographic tool.

I guess the sentiment that best sums it up though is this. If someone were to come up and say “Tom, your going on a trip somewhere and you can only take one camera/lens” without hesitation I would reach for the Fuji.

Fuji x100 F2 1/240th ISO 200

Photography News of Interest *menu

This is an interesting take a pencil vs. the camera. Belgian artist Ben Heine creates unique works of art by combining colorful photos with detailed pencil drawings. This is creative and fun!

Photographer behind the 9/11 “Falling Man” retraces his steps and recalls the “unknown solidier.” This is perhaps the most shocking and memorable photograph from 9/11, and the photographer talks about this day in detail.

Photos show enduring traces of mans lunar visits. Over 40 years after man first set foot on the moon, his footsteps and the outline of the lunar lander remain. Check out these great shots from an orbiting probe.

NASA’s Cassini orbiter snaps unbelievable picuture of Saturn. This image looks straight out of Star Trek, but it’s a real undoctored image.

Camera lens falls from the sky and through the roof of a home. Some Canon shooter dropped his lens from a passing plane or helicopter, either that or he shot it up in the air with a giant slingshot. I’d hate to be hit on the head by a Canon lens.

Tree climbing goats. When I first saw this images I thought someone Photoshopped the goats into the tree, but these are real images of goats who learned how to climb trees to reach the berries of Argan trees.

Readers Submissions *menu

Steve;

In reference to my request for help on Critical Focus I went back and looked at pictures taken in April this year.

I guess they are sharp and clear as when compared with other pictures that I have taken. Perhaps the final 10% of clarity is a result of my $1000 lens versus the higher quality lens you use.

All of these pictures were taken as Raw files with the "Program Auto" setting using auto focus and set to "center" spot. I use Lightroom 3 for post processing.

Rickster

Rick –

May I suggest a few things?

Looking at your images I can guess what camera settings you were using and I’m guessing your autofocus was in “area” or “multi” (or something to that effect) mode. For scenes like these set your autofocus to “single shot” and activate only one autofocus sensor. Choose the AF sensor which will cover the birds eye while keeping the desired framing.

As you shoot, you’ll need to develop the skill of placing the AF sensor on the animal/human’s eye and gently squeezing the shutter release to make a capture, while properly bracing. Take advantage of any solid verticals (trees, posts, side of buildings, car, etc) by leaning against them on your shoulders. This will drastically improve your bracing. Then try your best to lock the single AF sensor on the birds eye. If you put your camera shutter into “continuous” (not to be confused with AF continuous) take 2-3 images with each shutter release. You’ll find one of these small sets will almost always be sharper than the others.

Your also over exposed. Look up my tutorial on using the histogram and if you have any questions ask. You’re at least 2/3’s of a stop over exposed. You can trust your histogram 99%, you can only trust your LCD about 20%.

Let me know if you have any questions on the above. If you can do these things you’ll achieve critical focus in about 10% (at first, this will rise to 70-80% with practice) of your images.

One more thing. When determining exposure, you’ll want the most bright spot on the animal to show all its detail. See the white around their eyes? Most of the detail is missing. Look at the attached image for an example. The exact same color (white), but here you can see the exposure allows for all the detail without wiping it out. It’s also critically focused on the eye.

Good luck!


Steve

Steve: Sept 2011

Been working with your instructions on how to create sharp, clear photos and have come up with a few to share. These were taken on a recent safari to the zoo in Oakland, Ca.

I have found that by focusing on the eye of the subject the results were far better than in the past. The pictures were taken with the Sony NEX-5 and post processed using Lightroom 3. The yield of this session was about 75% reject, 25% keep and work with.

Please give them a view and advise your ideas and suggestions on improvements needed.

Rickster

Hi Rick –

Yup, you’ve got yourself some nicely focused pictures..  Much better than before, the eye being focused makes a huge difference. I do hope I’ve mentioned this at least 1000 times before, if not I’ve really let you down. It’s part of every workshop and during workshops I show techniques to keep the sensor on the eye.. it’s the entire crux of photographing living creatures, and translates will to anything else.. because placing your focal point is a big part of any composition.

If you can keep this up you’re well on your way to a higher level.

How is your wife doing with her new 5100?

Steve

Steve

Thanks for the info.

Have you got yourself settled now? Where are you located? If you would, please send me the address of your web site. I want to stay up with your activities. Yes I would like some help on setting the color. It would be helpful.

I am sending you a sequence of pictures that I took at an Okland A's game a couple weeks ago. I invested in a new camera. I got a Nikon D7000 and so far I am in love with it. One of the great things is that it lets me shoot with high ISO without much of the noise that is usualy there. I did the whole thing and picked up the nikkor 70-300 mm 1:4-5:6 G lense It has VR and AF-S on it. My goodness what a difference from my old 300 mm lense. These shots were from about 100 yards away. Hope that you like them.

Mike

Mike –

Thank you for the contributions. They really show off your new camera! I can’t wait to see more.

Steve

I’d like to mention that everyone, myself included, is really enjoying the current trend of readers submissions. Everyone loves them, but remember we can really use more. I have only another week’s worth in my queue, so please take the time to put together a few images and words if you can and send them in. Thank you. [email protected]

Readers Questions *menu

Steve:

I have a question concerning the following from your posting JPEG Degradation

(Concerning your question, and yes the answer might be useful for anyone who shoots in jpeg. Jpegs are different than tiff files as you noted because tiffs are ‘lossless’ and jpegs are not. What this means, is that each and every time you open a jpeg, edit anything, and then save it, you are degrading the quality of the original file. The old Xerox “copy of a copy” analogy comes to mind.)

Understand that if you edit a jpeg and save, it suffers some degrading. But if just copy a jpeg from one folder to another does it also degrade the quaility??

Rickster

Hi Rick –

Yes, you have a good understanding of this subject. Also realize tiff’s are 16 bits and jpegs are 8 bits. This means for any type of editing, the 16 bit tiffs will contain more data which is always an advantage.

No, a copy of a file will suffer no image degradation. In fact, many jpeg shooters immediately make copies before they open the files, and then work with the copies for editing and other chores.

I hope things are going well for you.

Steve


Steve

How would a person turn off "Auto sort" in the galleries. I would like to place them in a certain order. When added now they go to a Alpha sort.

Thanks

Its great having you 2 hours away.

Rickster

Hi Rick –

If you go to “Manage” you’ll see where you can drag and drop your albums in any desired order. Auto sorting is enabled as a default sort order for uploading. The only hitch in the system is that when you add a new image to the album at a later time, then the entire album resets back to ascending order. We can’t get around that with Microsoft’s current SQL.. but maybe in the future.

I hope this helps

Steve

Hi Steve

thinking about it . i am intrested to made a water mark on my pictures .its ok you will put your water mark on my pictures. i contribe to bangkokimages site and i am glad i do it.but if someone will take my work /steal its disterbing. really bad when someone take your work and enjoy the fruits .you wrote about it in the past. can not agree more.

Eyal

HI Eyal –

You should know that the watermark Bangkok Images adds to the images in the user galleries are not part of the file, they’re “layered” on top of them as they appear to the viewers, but they’re not attached.

If you want to use your own they can take many forms and different ways of doing it. I wrote this tutorial for watermarking in Lightroom.. which I find the easiest overall method: Watermarking and Framing Your Images in Lightroom

And keep in mind Lightroom has their own watermarking now, which wasn’t available when I wrote the above article.

Keep in mind there are many watermarking programs and utilities. They differ in price, capability, style of watermark, and ease of use.

Let me know which watermark type you’re interested in and I’ll see what I can dig up.

Steve

Dear Steve

I am a bit confused about this as I have not before heard of this site and it was only forwarded to me by a friend living in Bangkok also. I too live in Bangkok.

I would like to ask you about SHIPITO. (read our review on Shipito.com here)

I will have some photography gear sent to me and would like to verify this company is legitimate. I would hate to see my purchases lost. A seller from eBay will only ship to a US address.

Thanks in advance for your reply,

Ronn

Ronn –

I never had that experience with Fedex/UPS.. but I do know the customs/duty goes through a special area with different employees and the duty/customs can be a lot more.. and they do open packages. Choose the USPS Express.. and pick it up from your local post office instead. I know it's a pain to go find your local post office, but once you find it. It's easy from there.

Steve

Steve Thanks.

I have checked these guys but there seems to be some sort of problem. I always get shipping rates for DHL or FEDEX and those are 50% of what the guy shipping directly to me would charge.

I find no reference to USPS at all on their site.

Thanks though for the quick response before. Hope you are having a great weekend.

Ronn

Ronn –

You might want to contact them via their email contact and ask. See the attached jpeg. You can see it's all I used. It's actually quicker than fedex/DHL/UPS in most cases because USPS has more routes, USPS would get the package to me in 3-4-5 days consistently, fedex/dhl/ups (they all use each others planes/routes) would sometimes get it in 3 days, sometimes 6..

The biggest difference was that fedex/ups/dhl would deliver to your home and collect the duty/vat at the door.. and they had a special 'path' worked out with Thai customs to do it fast, but the duty/vat would always be checked and high. USPS uses the normal 'path' all regular mail services use, which means the busy crowded path.. things don't get looked at too closely unless they stand out in some way.. and the package must be picked up at your local post office and duty/vat collected there.

I found, that sometimes this longer path would result in the USPS shipped item taking longer overall than fedex/usp/dhl would have taken, but only a day or so. For the most part the time till the package was in your hands was the same (on average) either way.. but USPS would be cheaper for shipping fees (roughly 10%) and not looked at by duty/vat people.

And yes.. all these shipping rates are very good, often less than half of what it would cost some retail businesses or if you walked in and shipped it. I know from owning several businesses, that my shipping rates would fall by volume. The more I shipped, the cheaper the rates they'd offer so I'd use them over the competition. This is why places like Amazon can ship things so cheaply. Hell, I walked into a brown store (UPS) last week to send a 3 pound box 12/12/12 inches.. and they charged me $30 for ground! I was floored because I was so used to my reduced biz rate from before. I took the same box to USPS and they shipped it for $4.86..

Sorry to be verbose.. but these service is very good. They pass on their shipping discounts to the customer and I've been very happy with them. If you're happy with fedex/ups/dhl then great.. but if you want to pay a bit less in shipping and don't want the duty/vat people looking too close at your package.. and you don't mind going to the local post office to pick it up.. use USPS..

Steve

Steve,

If you have a few minutes this lazy Monday afternoon I have a question for you.

Wife is wanting a DSLR camera, either the Sony A55 or the Nikon D5100.

I am leaning towards the Nikon but not sure why. Perhaps the name.

She likes the Sony A55 because it is lighter weight, better video, lenses are cheaper because the image stabilization is in the camera and has had great luck with all the Sony products we have used in the past.

Any comments would be very helpful.

Rickster

Hi Rick –

Did you know the new A77 24mp DSLR with 12fps is available for pre-order, which means it will be on the shelves soon?

I’m leery of 24mp’s on a crop sensor, but impressed at the same time with it’s features.

Sony or Nikon or Canon. A few years ago I’d have told you to avoid Sony DSLR’s, that they were too new and not yet refined. Well, since then they’ve made rapid progress and are now the new 800 pound gorilla in the room. This puts them up there with Canon and Nikon for consideration. Sony’s are feature rich and well refined at this point.

When looking at a DSLR you might want to consider the entire system offered by the manufacturer. Bodies, lenses, flashes, remotes, all of it. If you know you’ll only be buying a single camera then just pick the most desirable features at the best prices. But if you think this might be the start of a growing hobby then you’ll want to look at the “system” supporting the camera and also the history of the brand and their current financial outlook.

With that said, I’d lean towards the Nikon as well because they’ve been on a recent trend (over the last 6-8 years) of revamping its entire lineup, all with first class gear. Their D7000 is especially nice for a crop frame. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy either one, the Sony or the Nikon, if I thought it would be an only camera, or the only one every once in a while. Have you looked at the Canon T3i? Superb in its class.

The Sony A77 offers the most pixels (significantly more), almost twice the frame rate, and much more. I’m not a fan of in-camera stabilization, I find it works great with small mid-range zooms, but it’s not nearly as effective in the>100mm range, and his is more pronounced above 300mm.

Are there any particular features you’re looking for? Often, someone will like something better “just because” and will show more enthusiasm towards the hobby if they get what they want. Wife’s can be that way about such things.. 

Let me know what you decide?

Steve

Steve:

Well we did it. The Nikon D 5100 with two lenses, camera bag, 4 GB chip class 10 and a load of reading material. $1000 from Cosco plus tax.

It will keep her busy for a while learning how to use it. I just hope she can get pictures as good as the dragon fly shots. Those were taken with the $250 Sony DSC HX5 and are very clear.

Thanks for the advice.

Rickster

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

In Focus Bangkok Images Moves to Monthly Publication

It’s been another busy month. Perhaps the most important announcement is something you probably already noticed, In Focus Bangkok Images will now be published monthly on the first Saturday of the month. If we get more user submissions, user features, questions, and other material then I’ll publish a column more often.

Some of my rational behind this decision is that I believe in being loyal to those who help you, or in this case the Stickman site which first gave me the opportunity to reach a large readership. Because of this, I always made it a point to publish first in the In Focus Bangkok Images column on the Stickman site, and then on my own site Bangkok Images. This was the genesis behind releasing articles once per week, and 5-6 or more articles at a time, when obviously it would have been better for the site to release them one at a time to keep site traffic up.

Now I am forced to make changes because there just isn't enough material coming in for a weekly column, but there is enough for a once a month column. There will also be other articles coming out throughout the month in the way of equipment and software reviews and my personal musings. Because of this I'll no longer be able to keep my 'publish first' policy regarding my column on the Stickman site. Instead, I'll release a steady flow of columns on this site first, and then once per month on the first Saturday of the month, I'll take the best articles and put together a nicely prepared monthly "digest" for publication in the In Focus Bangkok Images column. So, throughout the month you'll find new articles posted on Bangkok Images, and on the first Saturday of every month you'll find a nicely prepared digest here on the Stickman site. And thank you to the Stickman site, I'll always be grateful for the opportunities it provided and continues to provide as a central focus point for our photography.

New Computer Build Service

Here at my location in America I’m still trying to find ways to provide a service to those in Thailand. While in the Kingdom I built quite a few custom workstations for clients, mostly for imaging processing and video rendering, but also for other businesses which required specialized configurations such as the multi-monitor setups for day traders. Since my return to the states I've had even more requests and I'm currently producing some really nice high-end workstations for clients in Thailand. I've found there's a certain amount of enjoyment building high-end machines for clients, so I added a new menu item on this sites menu header titled "Computers."

This page walks you through the process of what I can do for you, the advantages and disadvantages, and brings another option to the expat community of Thailand. If you're interested in a new workstation which can actually make your image processing enjoyable, give it a read. If you just have questions and need help building your own inside Thailand, I'll answer your questions. I’ll have a complete review, including images and a price breakdown, of the first builds in time for our next column on November 5th.

Environmental Portrait Service Coming

Another local project scheduled to get off the ground mid-Feb 2012 is an high-end portrait service for my local area. My target customers will be doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, Professors, and any local professional who wants unique high quality portraits of them ‘in their job’ doing what they do best.

I’ll be building another website to service this business and placing ads in the local yellow pages. What will be of interest to many readers here, is this service will require a very high quality lighting kit which is highly portable. It will need enough capability to provide quality studio light in a multitude of different environments while remaining portable and quick to set up. I’m busy researching and designing such a system and I’ll bring you my work when it’s complete followed by a series of tutorials using this lighting in various scenarios.

The system should be able to be carried by one man, and deployed in under 5 minutes. It will use the latest poly-lithium battery technology, small high powered strobes with fast recycling times and which will have a 100% duty cycle. There will also be a variety of lighting modifiers, total control of each strobe (power levels, modes, and syncing) via wireless, while maintaining a small size and user friendly operation. This is going to be great!

And let’s not forget I’m planning on being in Bangkok this winter. It was going to be January, but due to a delay in shipping our last family member (our female parrot), quarantine requirements, and so forth.. it appears I’ll have to push back this date till the middle of January or the beginning of February. I’ll have firm dates by our next publication date on November 5th. If you’re interested in taking a great workshop please email me at [email protected]

Infocus Blog, Ordering an Amazon Kindle Fire? *menu

Today was the big day, the day Amazon announced their new Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. And I’ve already pre-ordered mine! This isn’t like me at all, I don’t order any electronic gadget before reading a ton of reviews and knowing everything there is to know about the gadget. And even then Apple’s Ipad didn’t reel me in, nor did any of the many Android based tablets which have been released since. So why did I literally jump to order the Amazon Kindle Fire?

First, what exactly is the Amazon Kindle Fire? It’s about half of what the Apple Ipad 2 is. The necessary half. The Amazon Kindle Fire is a 7 inch 1024×600 IPS Gorilla glass covered dual core processor powered cloud storage based wi-fi connectable USB and Audio port equipped 14.6 ounce custom Android based tablet which will run 8 hours on a single charge and retails for $199.00 USD’s. $210.98 delivered via 2-day Air. What else do you need?

What do I need a tablet for? I really don’t. I didn’t need a $800 Ipad 2, or a $400 Android tablet, and I don’t need a $199 Amazon Kindle Fire. But at $199 I ‘want’ one. At $199 if I don’t like it I’ll give it to a family member. If I do like it I’ll order one for everyone. At $199 I won’t worry if it gets scratched, or lost, or the battery goes flat right outside of the warranty period. $199 does that. It’s a kind of magic price that tells the buyer “so what, buy me..” $199 is the price that will finally result in serious competition for the Apple Ipad 2, 3, and 4.

I’d love to tell you I bought this to run photo aps, or to use tethered to my DSLR, or to serve as a second monitor to my laptop. But I really don’t know if it will do any of those things. After all, that’s why I bought my Lenovo x201s reviewed here.

Have you ever used the Amazon Kindle Reader software for your PC or Smartphone? I use it nearly every day. It’s wonderful, probably the best ebook reader out there. Amazon keeps all my books in their cloud available any time I need them. Amazon also provides Kindle versions of all the free books in the public domain. The Amazon Kindle Reader PC application lets me take notes, highlight text, it looks up words, and it remembers the last page I read. On every book I’ve opened. It’s the easiest to use quality ebook reader and ebook buying service I’ve ever used. The Amazon Kindle Fire promises to be better. I bought the Amazon Kindle Fire because I use the Kindle Reader application every day. And it’s only $199.

The Amazon Kindle Fire also provides access to Amazon’s streaming movie and tv series collection which while not Netflix, it’s still very complete. With it’s headphone jack I’ll be able to connect to my Itunes library on my Dlna server FTP from anywhere. I’m sure I’ll also be able to view my FTP stored images from any location.

You see, the Amazon Kindle Fire will do everything I really want it to do, and probably more. But I have little doubt it will be worth it’s $199 Apple Ipad 2 killing price. And if it doesn’t, for $199 I can hang it in the parrots cage so they can surf the web, no worries it has Gorilla glass so I’m sure it can handle a parrot.

Seriously, for $199 it’s an easy purchase for my first tablet and will provide the opportunity to learn about tablets. Even if its just a useful stepping stone to something better, it’s still worth it’s cost. Mine arrives on November 17th. I’ll let you know how I like it soon thereafter. Ordering a Amazon Kindle Fire?