September 28th, 2320

Early this week I posted some images of my NEC LCD2690wuxi2 monitor's screen which appeared to be separating.  If you scroll down you'll see the pictures.  Months before, NEC kindly transferred my Thailand warranty to America so I'd be sure to receive my full warranty service period.  I sent them an email with the same images I posted here (scroll down) and soon they had a replacement monitor on it's way to me.  I told you I'd let you know how the experience went:

NEC sent out a remanufactured monitor via 2-day Fedex.  Of course I'd rather have a new one, but it's a fact of warranty repair that virtually every company distributes refurbished units for warranty claims.  Upon arrival I noticed the shipping box wasn't nearly as big, strong, or well organized internally as the original shipping boxes.  I suspect they do this to lower shipping costs since at this weight the box dimensions are used to calculate the shipping rate.  Nonetheless the monitor arrived in perfect condition and soon I'd pulled the original from it's dual display stand next to it's sibling and replaced it with the new unit.  I let it warm for the prerequisite 30 minutes and then profiled the monitor for the four purposes I normally use.  Print, CYMK, Wide-Gamut full processing, and then a slightly less bright sRGB emulation mode for web use.  The standard sRGB Emulation is very bright and uncomfortable for someone used to working in a dimmed room.  To compensate I copied the entire sRGB Emulation profile and simply dropped the illumination level to 180.  Still bright, but workable.  Most importantly it perfectly matches colors for my web output.

Everything went smoothly and the monitor works perfectly.  The hour counter showed the monitor to only have 2 hours of usage, which means it's as close to a brand new monitor as you'd likely to find.  There was a minor glitch where SVII (profiling software) didn't allow me to change the power LED light color to green and dim it from there.  After a bit of poking around I discovered the service techs at NEC forgot to take it out of service mode.. once that was done the power LED light changed colors and all was well.  Overall a positive warranty experience.  2 days from my call the monitor was replaced and working perfectly.

One complaint is that NEC requires the customer to pay for return shipping and insurance.  This is a 39.6 pound large box.  Shipping rates from my home to NEC varied from $120 for USPS to $98 for UPS to $68 for Fedex.  All ground.  Another issue is the box is too large to fit in many trunks, so a pickup is necessary.  I wish NEC would either provide a return shipping label like most companies do, or at least offer to sell you one at their greatly discounted rates.  It doesn't seem right that the customer is saddled with this expense and inconvenience.  And of course they won't release the hold on your credit card until they receive the unit back.

 

NEC sent out a remanufactured monitor via 2-day Fedex.  Of course I'd rather have a new one, but it's a fact of warranty repair that virtually every company distributes refurbished units for warranty claims.  Upon arrival I noticed the shipping box wasn't nearly as big, strong, or well organized internally as the original shipping boxes.

 

September 25th, 0500

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.   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. 

 

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.   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."

 

September 25th, 0445

It's time to make a decision about our weekly column and wanted to share it with you.  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.  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 here, and on the first Saturday of every month you'll find a nicely prepared digest 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.

The weather has turned here in the midwest.  Record high's have been the norm for this summer as severe heat waves held a death grip on most of the nation.  Last week it was a record setting 105f one day, and then overnight the temperature dropped to a high of 71f and lows went from high 60's to high 40's.  This severe sudden drop in temperatures took the state by surprise and killed a lot of fish in our lakes due to the sudden nature of the drop.  Now, fall has a foothold and we'll see a steady downwards trend in local temperatures.  Fall is here!

In Thailand this means the monsoon season is in the strongest part of its cycle and there will be moderate to severe flooding at the normal locations throughout the country.  It's a great time to take pictures, but a dangerous time to be on the road to get these pictures.  Look for a Musing about how I narrowly avoided death by a landslide under such conditions coming out soon.  Be careful, but remember, there are a lot of great images to be had this time of year.

 

In Thailand this means the monsoon season is in the strongest part of its cycle and there will be moderate to severe flooding at the normal locations throughout the country.  It's a great time to take pictures, but a dangerous time to be on the road to get these pictures.  Look for a Musing about how I narrowly avoided death by a landslide under such conditions coming out soon.  Be careful, but remember, there are a lot of great images to be had this time of year.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM,  @F8  1/80th  48mm   ISO 100

 

September 24th, 1205

I love buying from companies who support their customers so I want to tell you about my experience with NEC Thailand and NEC America.  Last year I purchased (2) LCD2690uxi2 LCD professional displays from NEC Thailand at over baht 100,000.  NEC Thailand special ordered these in for me, including the matching hoods, and as you'd expect charged me full retail.  90 days later they arrived and were delivered to my home.  These turned out to be great monitors so when I packed up my household goods and came back to the states I brought them with me.

Once I had a free moment I contacted NEC USA and asked if they'd transfer my warranty from Thailand to the USA.  I provided the model and serial numbers and was promptly notified via email my monitors were now covered under warranty in the USA.  Considering the expense of these monitors I slept all the easier knowing they were covered under warranty.

Two months later I noticed a sort of discoloration creeping between the front viewing panel and perhaps an inner panel?  Check out these pics I sent to NEC USA.

 

I love buying from companies who support their customers so I want to tell you about my experience with NEC Thailand and NEC America.  Last year I purchased (2) LCD2690uxi2 LCD professional displays from NEC Thailand at over baht 100,000.  NEC Thailand special ordered these in for me, including the matching hoods, and as you'd expect charged me full retail.  90 days later they arrived and were delivered to my home.  These turned out to be great monitors so when I packed up my household goods and came back to the states I brought them with me

Once I had a free moment I contacted NEC USA and asked if they'd transfer my warranty from Thailand to the USA.  I provided the model and serial numbers and was promptly notified via email my monitors were now covered under warranty in the USA.  Considering the expense of these monitors I slept all the easier knowing they were covered under warranty.

 

This discoloration started out small and because it was on the edges it didn't bother me much at first.  But I took a few images and over the next month it doubled in size.  Maybe layers are separating?  I wasn't sure, so I emailed NEC USA's Support along with the two images (full size) above.  Within hours NEC responded, asked a few more questions, and then issued a return ticket number.  I had to call in and provide a credit card number so they could "advance ship" a new monitor while I continued to use the old one.  I could have boxed up the old one and sent it in without a credit card number, but I didn't have a box and it doesn't bother me to guarantee the monitor with a credit card.  NEC USA sent out the monitor via 2-day Fedex the same day and it should be here first thing Monday morning.   Once it arrives I'll ship back the old one in the box the new one camera in, and I'm responsible for the return shipping as per NEC USA's policy, and then they'll release the hold on my credit card.

I can't tell you how nice it is to do business with a company who values their customers.  I'll let you know if the new monitor works out well and how long it takes for them to release the hold on my card.

Okay, I can hear you thinking "but it wouldn't have been so easy in Thailand."   Perhaps, but my experience in Thailand when dealing with global brand companies is you'll get support.  Often easier than in America.  With service centers everywhere in Bangkok you can often just walk in and exchange a warrantied item on the sport.  I've done this with video cards, motherboards, power supplies, hard drives, keyboards/mice, and more.  And I've done it with USA warrantied products and had the Thailand service center honor the USA warranties.  One company (Western Digital) asked me to call in and have the warranty transferred, and when I expressed a bit of dissatisfaction they did it for me while I was standing there.  Because of these experiences I'm sure I would have received good support in Thailand.  However, because these monitors had to be special ordered I suspect more would have been involved.

 

September 24th, 1100

The web is abuzz over the new Nikon J1 and V1 cameras.  Pro's and Enthusiasts immediately recognized Nikon's new CX system would hold few immediate benefits for them, at least in it's current form.  If Nikon can manage to transfer some of their new technology like frame rate, transfer speeds, and especially focusing speeds, to their DSLR line, then we can look forward to very useful future enhancements to the DSLR's we do use.

With all the speculation and discussion over Nikon's J1 and V1, it's clear that Nikon is targeting a different sort of user.  A sort of "super picture taking rich soccer mom." This mom wants well focused images of their children playing sports and other moving activities and has been let down by the current crop of point and shoot cameras.  She doesn't need DSLR image quality, and she doesn't mind carrying around a stylish small camera with a huge lens attached.  Most of all she doesn't mind paying 3-5x the going point and shoot price, and well over the entry level DSLR price, for this camera.

I know, you're saying there's no such market in America or Europe.  I'd agree.  But I really don't think Nikon made this system in all five bright colors for the western markets.  I think they made this system mainly for Asian markets and if it does well in any western countries so much the better.  For those of you living in Asia, can you see well-off mom's paying big money for the latest pink, red or other fancy colored camera with the marketing hype telling them they'll get better pictures of little Somchai practicing his football or Muay Thai?  I can.  I think it might do very well in the Japanese and Korean markets and I'm sure the Singaporean, Malaysian and Thai markets will jump on anything doing well in Japan and/or Korea as usual.

So, you ask, exactly where does the new J1 and V1 fall in the current lineup of cameras available to us?  Image quality/size/feature wise, we had point and shoots, mirrorless Micro 4/3 cameras like the Panasonic GF and Olympus PEN series, and then the next bigger sensor but in the same size bodies as the Micro 4/3's we have the mirrorless APS-C models like the new Samsung series, the Sony NEX lineup, and the Fuji x100.  Above this we have entry level, then prosumer level, and then professional level DSLR's.  In that order.  Nikon's new J1/V1 CX system fits snugly between point and shoots and the Micro 4/3's systems. 

Do notice that the J1/V1, Micro 4/3's, and APS-C mirrorless cameras are all very close in size and features.  So you ask yourself what features a J1/VX or Micro 4/3's has over the APC-S mirrorless cameras to make a smaller sensor and resulting image quality worth it.  Micro 4/3's cameras have much better lens availability over the current APS-C models and Sony's J1/V1 CX system promises us a much faster autofocusing and frame rate.  They're all in the same basic price range.  So, are any of these features (lens availability/focusing speed/frame rate) more important to you than image quality?  I maintain they will be for some users.  How many remains to be seen.

And Nikon still doesn't have any entry into the Micro 4/3's or APS-C systems.  I think this is their biggest mistake as this segment of the market is the fastest growing.  You just don't sit back for several years and watch other cameras capture market share at a historically fast rate with their Micro 4/3's and APS-C system cameras, and then have the arrogance to come late to the party with a completely different product and think the market will now grow around their new product while abandoning others.  What do you think?

 

Do notice that the J1/V1, Micro 4/3's, and APS-C mirrorless cameras are all very close in size and features.  So you ask yourself what features a J1/VX or Micro 4/3's has over the APC-S mirrorless cameras to make a smaller sensor and resulting image quality worth it.

 

September 21st, 1440

Nikon has released their much anticipated mirrorless system.  I'll admit to not being impressed.  The new "Nikon 1 J1" and "Nikon 1 V1" mirrorless cameras feature 10.1mp CMOS sensors measuring 8.8x13.2mm, or in other words a 2.7x multiplier to compare to 35mm.  So, a 10mm focal length equates to 27mm (35mm equiv).  It also has a 10fps frame rate, a 3" 921,000 rear LCD, interchangable lenses and the V1 model has a 1.4m electronic viewfinder.  You can read the specifics here.  3 lenses are announced as well as an external flash.

For a system "built from the ground up" to be mirrorless, it seems to me it's really missed the mark.  A small sensor will be their greatest sin, and I doubt the cameras looks will endear many, even the pink one.  The prices seem high with the less expensive J1 starting at $649 and the more expensive V1 at $899.  10fps is nice, a "system" is nice, and the electronic viewfinder if implemented well will be nice.  But will that be enough entered so late in the game against established competition?  I really don't think so.  Let's hope Canon does better with their announcement on November 3rd.

 

Nikon has released their much anticipated mirrorless system.  I'll admit to not being impressed.  The new "Nikon 1 J1" and "Nikon 1 V1" mirrorless cameras feature 10.1mp CMOS sensors measuring 8.8x13.2mm, or in other words a 2.7x multiplier to compare to 35mm.  So, a 10mm focal length equates to 27mm (35mm equiv).  It also has a 10fps frame rate, a 3" 921,000 rear LCD, interchangable lenses and the V1 model has a 1.4m electronic viewfinder.  You can read the specifics here.  3 lenses are announced as well as an external flash.

For a system "built from the ground up" to be mirrorless, it seems to me it's really missed the mark.  A small sensor will be their greatest sin, and I doubt the cameras looks will endear many, even the pink one.  The prices seem high with the less expensive J1 starting at $649 and the more expensive V1 at $899.  10fps is nice, a "system" is nice, and the electronic viewfinder if implemented well will be nice.  But will that be enough entered so late in the game against established competition?  I really don't think so.  Let's hope Canon does better with their announcement on November 3rd.

For a system "built from the ground up" to be mirrorless, it seems to me it's really missed the mark.  A small sensor will be their greatest sin, and I doubt the cameras looks will endear many, even the pink one.  The prices seem high with the less expensive J1 starting at $649 and the more expensive V1 at $899.  10fps is nice, a "system" is nice, and the electronic viewfinder if implemented well will be nice.  But will that be enough entered so late in the game against established competition?  I really don't think so.  Let's hope Canon does better with their announcement on November 3rd.

 

September 19th, 1300

Tom Tweedel has put up his long anticipated review of the Fuji X100. "Fuji x100 China Torture Test."

Tom has his own unique style of reviewing.  He's a part time professional photographer and a full time family man who needs to capture the same images that you need to capture.  He regularly travels to Asia and has written a large handful of articles for this site from his unique perspective.  When he told me he was going to China for a month and would like to borrow my new Fuji x100 and in return would write a short series of articles about his experience, my response was to box up the new Fuji and UPS it to him immediately. 

I encourage you to read Tom's Fuji x100 review.  I doubt it will be like any other you'll read.  There are no specifications and no studio product shots.  There is merely 7155 words and 61 images discussing the use of this camera as you'd use it while on vacation in Asia while pulling your family along.  A working review has much value.  You don't want to miss this one.

 

I encourage you to read Tom's Fuji x100 review.  I doubt it will be like any other you'll read.  There are no specifications and no studio product shots.  There is merely 7155 words and 61 images discussing the use of this camera as you'd use it while on vacation in Asia while pulling your family along.  A working review has much value.  You don't want to miss this one.

Fuji x100  F8 1/320th  ISO 200

 

September 19th, 0120

Several people have asked me about the speed of the Fuji x100.  With it's 5fps it appears to be faster than many DSLR's.  Frame rate yes, but there are several measures of a cameras speed.  The latency factor from the time you press the shutter release to actual shutter release, the image to image frame rate, and finally how fast the camera can save the images to your flash memory card so you're back in action as quickly as possible.

Yesterday I took both the Canon 5d Mark II and the Fuji x100 with me to a shooting outing.  Catching flying brass or exploding clays is never easy with any camera, and with most cameras it's near impossible.  I found the Fuji x100's 5fps frame rate higher than the 3.8fps of my Canon 5d Mark II.  Yet, the latency of the shutter button was much higher and it took 4-5x longer to save the images to disk.  Still, we're talking a large pocket camera, and not a huge DSLR.  With patience and a bit of skill you can certainly capture these moments with the Fuji x100.

 

Yesterday I took both the Canon 5d Mark II and the Fuji x100 with me to a shooting outing.  Catching flying brass or exploding clays is never easy with any camera, and with most cameras it's near impossible.  I found the Fuji x100's 5fps frame rate higher than the 3.8fps of my Canon 5d Mark II.  Yet, the latency of the shutter button was much higher and it took 4-5x longer to save the images to disk.  Still, we're talking a large pocket camera, and not a huge DSLR.  With patience and a bit of skill you can certainly capture these moments with the Fuji x100.

Fuji x100  F5.6  1/200th  ISO 200

 

September 17th, 2305

This announcement from Canon if floating around the blogosphere and it's not in Canon's usual press release area of their website.  Some people think its the announcement of a mirrorless system, some think their new DSLR's, others think video cameras.  I think they saw how well Fuji's x100 site did and copied the theme a bit.. ;o)   What do you think?

 

This announcement from Canon if floating around the blogosphere and it's not in Canon's usual press release area of their website.  Some people think its the announcement of a mirrorless system, some think their new DSLR's, others think video cameras.  I think they saw how well Fuji's x100 site did and copied the theme a bit.. ;o)   What do you think?