Readers' Questions

Hi there

Just wondering what your opinion is on buying a camera in Thailand or in my home country Canada.  I have found that any camera I have taken to Thailand with me tends to seize up or stop functioning properly.  When I call tech support the companies tell me they believe it is humidity.  Just wondering if buying a camera in Thailand would reduce my chances of having this type of problem or am I just having bad luck.  By the way the same thing has happened to cell phones I have taken with me.

J-M

J-M, this is a really good questions with a simple answer that I hope doesn’t disappoint you.

Camera models remain consistent no matter what country they’re sold in, with the exceptions of input voltages on battery chargers to meet local power standards, and sometimes whether or not the TV output is in PAL or NTSC.  Over the last few years most digital cameras come with universal voltage chargers and selectable PAL/NTSC as more people travel with their digital cameras than ever before.  Even the instruction manuals come in 5-6 languages in the same booklet.  A Fuji F100 manufactured for instance in Malaysia, will get shipped all over the world to all the different markets, with very small things like the language on the box, the included languages in the instruction booklet, and the plug type in the chargers being different.

Does this mean you’re just having bad luck?  I suppose it’s possible, but I think there might be a different explanation.  Condensation.  Many people don’t realize the possible short and long term damage caused by condensation which occurs as you take a electronic device from an air-conditioned low humidity environment, to a hot and humid outdoor environment.  The damage can be enough to cause the rare instant failure, but often just leaves enough water inside the camera on it’s electronic components to cause a long term corrosion.  One day enough corrosion happens and the camera fails in some way.

What can we do to negate condensation as we travel?  Old fashioned silca gel packs in our camera bags work, but be sure to replace them every so often.  The big thing is to be very careful when bringing out cameras from a cold to hot environment, like coming our of your hotel.  It would be best to have the camera in a small bag with limited air around it, and let it warm up slowly before using it.  About 15 minutes should work fine.  I’d avoid carrying it around your neck on a strap totally exposed to the environment as you transit a cold to hot environment.  I’ve said before that I carry ziplock bags as a matter of habit when I travel? These are great for preventing condensation damage.  Once my bag has been out in the car or heat for about 15 minutes, the temperatures have equalized, and I’m ready to use the camera. 

I hope this helps.

Hi Steve

Thanks for the great weekly series on Stickman's site.  I am really enjoying it.  My question is: I am coming to BKK in October and am wondering if purchasing legitimate copies of Lightroom 2, Nikon Capture FX 2 and Photoshop CS2 is cheaper in Thailand than in the west?  If I do purchase them will I be able to install them on my computer in English or will I need to know Thai.  And can you recommend any shops to purchase them from?

Many thanks

Jeremy

I’m glad you specified “legitimate” because we all know pirated software is readily available in places like Pantip Plaza and MBK.  Because my livelihood depends on copyright enforcement, and because I get a lot of use from my software, I always purchase licensed software.  Pirated copies can also be problematic, as new cameras and devices come out all the time and if they’re not supported by the copy of pirated software you picked up at Pantip last year, then what?  Licensed copies allow you to obtain free updates and support.  This is really the way to go.

You’ve mentioned some really nice software and I’m familiar with it all.  In fact, I own current licenses on everything you mentioned.  This is what I’ve learned about the prices of software and even cameras and electronic equipment in general.  Thailand, like Britain and the rest of the EU charges quite a bit of tax on imported products.  Everything you mention is imported.  Two out of the three products you mentioned are from US based companies.  Because of the taxes and import duties, I buy almost all of my software, cameras, computers, and other electronics in the US when I can.  It’s the largest single market in the world, it’s taxed less than anywhere else I’m aware of and the savings can be huge.  It’s very common for Europeans to take “buying vacations” in NYC, flying into New York and having a great time shopping at the many pro level camera stores like B&H and Adorama.  I’ve been told on average, they save more than enough to pay for their flight, room, and other expenses and they have a great time in the process.

Software however can often be purchased on-line.  Adobe products can for certain.  When you log into such a site it reads your ISP and assumes you want to pay and ship in the currency where your ISP is located.  If I log in from Thailand they assume I want the product shipped to Thailand and will pay in Thai baht.  Because I have credit cards in the US, I can pay the US price and choose their download service vs. actual delivery.  This saves me a significant amount over local purchases in Thailand.  It would save me much more over local purchases in the EU.  I’ve made it a point to apply for and be issued visa cards from the US, Thailand, and the EU.  They often come in handy.

I hope this helps.

Please submit your questions to QandA@Bkkimages.com.  All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.