User profile: Pierre

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Forums > Living in Kunming > Can any photo enthusiasts offer some advice?

Well, there is not one right answer. As you're based in Kunming, I'd go with a Canon or Nikon. There are other good cameras which pack a ton of features for a good price (Pentax!!!) but it's hard to get good glass (lenses) for those down here.

Good, now that we have established which brand you should use (you said DSLR, so I'm leaving out all the good micro 4/3rds) there is the question of which body to buy. My tip: go cheaper on the body, but a good prime lens (fixed focal length) from Canon or Nikon. If you don't know the market (aaaand people will hate me for what I'm about to say next) steer clear of Tamrons and Sigmas, especially for food photography, there is too much "crap" floating around. That said, Canon and Nikon produce below average glass as well.
Which brings us to the next point: Kit-Lenses. You shouldn't get one, but you definitely should get one. Kit lenses do not offer the same image quality as "good", prime lenses do. However, they usually are zoom lenses which gives you the opportunity to test out your favorite focal length.

Ah, focal length... if you get a cheaper DSLR, you're in for what's called a crop-sensor. Don't worry it's not gonna hurt and yes, it is cropping your images, but not resizing them. For a crop-sensored DSLR the first prime lens (see how I keep pushing that nice prime on to you?) you would get a 28mm - 35mm, which achieves the image appearance of about 50mm standard lens (50mm covers about the radius of human sight and is visually most pleasing... not my words and only true in certain situations). The problem is that those 28mm lenses are more expensive than a good nifty-fifty (jopasny correctly pointed out the Canon 50mm f1.4 USM).

For food photography a macro is not necessary (that actually could look gross as you might be getting too close for comfort with your food). I think a good, fast wide-angle lens should serve you well (fast refers to the amount of light which is able to pass through your lens on the largest aperture). However, as those fairly expensive you're in the market for an external flash - or/and - a good (none of that cheap Hong Kong crap they sell to tourists) tripod.
The internal camera flashes are not really usefull. Sure, they'll allow you to "get the shot", but too often, you'll have a blown highlight or washed out colors or an uneven exposure. I guess they're ok for parties and stuff, but "real" photos? ehhh....

Then, if you want to get a flash, make sure that your body allows syncing to that flash, so you don't have to have it on the hotshoe (above the camera) all the time, but can position it at an angle to your subject for a more even exposure and nicer shadows.

OK, nor for the important part, which brand... Nikon or Canon? If you're new to the game, check which brand suits you best. Go to a store and do some window shopping.
Then, to the even more important part that not a lot of "outside" people know about. Canon has not changed it's image sensor in consumer cameras for the last three years... the only upgraded the image processing chip. That means one thing: Cheaper Secondhand Bodies.

If I were in the same position, I'd try and get a used EOS 600d (or anything above a 550d if it's dirt cheap, especially as you are interested in photography and not videography) for "small" bucks and then slap an expensive, fast piece of glass in front of that sensor (that famed 50mm should be too long for for food photography, maybe even architecture as well, so I'd get something wider - remember, that you're getting a crop-sensor camera).
Getting all that stuff in Kong Kong is a vital tip as well, not only because it's cheaper, but because you can get more stuff there, as well as an interested, helpful and understanding shop assistant who will not think less of you for buying a 2 year old, second-hand camera.
Then, after some time has passed (two years or three) and you haven't had your camera in "Auto" mode for at least a year, because, you know, that damn things always screws up my exposure by 0.2 and I know that I can still hold that cam stable at 1/32 - so don't always push my aperture... ..., you might start to feel limited. That's the point where you can get a new body, but still use that one, amazing good lens you got when you bought your camera (by that time, Canon might or might not have come up with a newer sensor?).

There's only one more thing to say: Go find a Nikon fanboy who says, that what I told you, is just utter bull%&!# and Nikon is THE brand to get.
After that, there's only one more thing to say: Go find a Sony fanboy who says, that what I told you, is just utter bull%&!# and Sony is THE brand to get.
And for now, I shall not continue this exercise, as there is not one correct answer, just pointers

Forums > Living in Kunming > Worse than PX

The western media is playing this one down for decades now, although the governments know about the effects of this stuff:

Dicarbonpentahydrogenhydroxyl (DCPH-HX)

DCPH-HX is highly flammable and turns into a gas at room temperature (very EXPLOSIVE) but is still transported through our countries freely by private entities (how can they allow this?!).

Once DCPH-HX crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) it acts as a central nervous system depressant, causing dizziness, nausea, stupefaction, vomiting and in the worst extend certain death. It is further know to effect the development of the embryo in the mothers body.

DCPH-HX does not have carcinogenic properties. However, metabolized byproducts are well known to carry carcinogenic properties. That means, once you ingested it, it is being transformed in your body to something worse.

Some countries have banned already, but in Europe, America, Russia, etc... DCPH-HX is still widely produced, transported and used.

Please check out for more info on this

Forums > Living in Kunming > Website software that supports Chinese Hanzi???

Yes, Bluppfisk is partly right. Check your system first if it's workin all right with Chinese characters.
Even with windows 7, support for characters magically switches off, seemingly with no apparent reason. I had that problem a couple of times and troubleshooting it was quite annoying. In my case it was an Antivirus program's user interface which crashed and disabled character drawing on system level, but not for any other applications (I could still display Chinese on websites and in word documents, for example). To check if you have this error simply create text document on your desktop and give it a Chinese, written in characters. If it reads out right, everything is good. If its coming out in squares only, you have a problem.

Otherwise I have to say that a well deployed CMS is easier to manage an maintain than a "normal" HTML only website; professionally done. Nobody will realize its a CMS, it also won't look impersonal, once the design has been done and set.


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Godspeed John and Cas. I hope you can make Thailand as much of a home as you did with Kunming. That special signed booklet from in front of Diego's place was one of the few things I kept from China. Cheers from another mountainous city across the globe.

Yeah, it's not only the carbon footprint.
Let's ask Alex directly: Look around where you are right now... Can you see an outdoor jacket? Maybe a backpack? Or how about a PET bottle? Maybe you just had a sip of coke, iced tea, green tea, Fanta, water? Do you see any of these items?
I'd say yes. Am I right? If so, I urge you to throw these out immediately as they are made out of PX. Yeah, that's right. When you manufacturer polyester you start with PX. Then you add oxygen to it after that you combined it with an alcohol and voilá, you have plastic.

So, I believe maybe you should rethink your position about PX or throw out everything made out, or containing polyester. Should I sum up some items which you cannot use anymore?

Or is it just the NIMBY problem? Google it and you know what I mean.

I have nothing more to add, otherwise I would take over this thread on how refineries work, how PX is used, how it seems that only China views it as a carcinogen (someone remember the Fukushima-Salt-crisis?) and which substances carry carcinogenic properties.
Ian, take my advice... brew yourself a nice cup of tea (but not a carcinogenic one, all right!?), do some research on those topics, sit back, relax and observe. You might be able to learn more about human nature than you think. Always keep in mind that knowledge is power and will help you in your future life.

Well Ian, I do not agree that much with your second to post. I personally do not blame anybody for protesting, nor would I use the concept of shame.
It's just what you said in the first post: Does everybody really what they are protesting against?


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