Tenwest Mandarin School

User profile: Pierre

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  • RegisteredJanuary 20, 2010
  • RegionChina
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  • RegisteredJanuary 20, 2010

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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

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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 www.aa.org for more info on this

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

Have you (both) thought of deploying a content management system (CMS)? Many offer good support for different languages, some even very good support for multi-lingual environments.
Drop me a line via the message function and I can help you further...

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Thanks Ian. That summed it up very well. Nice to hear a voice of reason here. If I could I'd promote your comment. I guess my latest Forum post went in the same direction, just so much more sarcastic.
Again, I couldn't agree more.

To answer (or raise) questions about the relationship of the safari park and the zoo, I can offer you some "experts" (as well as some journalists) opinions, quoted from a China daily article in 2004. You'll find the link to the whole article on the bottom of my post...

... "The zoo is a well-run commonweal which belongs to the public and State," she says. "The wild animal park is a private enterprise. I could never understand why such a good base for zoological education and research should be dumped and its assets be given to a private entity — Huzhou Jinjing Investment Co Ltd from Zhejiang. Isn't this a drain of State property?"...

..."in China, most such [safari] parks are simply artificial surroundings for animals to run loose, some experts point out. So there is no essential difference between such parks and zoos, except parks are farther out of ordinary citizens' reach and charge more for admission.In Kunming's case, the zoo charges 10 yuan (US$1.25) for adults and five yuan (about 60 cents) for children, as compared to the park's 35 and 100 yuan (US$4 or 12) for locals and tourists from outside Kunming, not to mention its distance from the city."...

..."As a commonweal, a zoo focuses on education, research and other public interests, while a park as an enterprise is destined to pursue profits."...

Source: www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-06/29/content_343575.htm

I think there is just no empathy for animals left, and oh yeah, how is a zoo in Anning or Chneggong close enough to be called in "ordinary citizen's reach"? Let's hope they'll only extend the premises and not the number of animals too.

Hmmm, no air conditioning? I don't know, this could work out but I wouldn't bet on it. During winter it should be "ok". It's cold outside you wear a lot of stuff and so you just leave your jacket, scarf and hat on when you get on the train. BUT, summer on the elevated tracks going out towards the airport? This summer we had several AC's failing on our German bullet trains and it was a disaster. People collapsed with heat strokes on the train, emergency stops on the open tracks just to get the people out, etc... ...

And then the guy pointing out: "The subway's signal system is controlled by a computer, and within the controlling system, each train will have sensing antennae installed," Yang said. "The antennae will transmit information such as car location to the controlling platform, with computers automatically directing the conductors of each train."

I mean, this is Train protection system 101, every track should have something like this by now (in working condition too). Hopefully the trains won't have an easy safety override for the conductors/engineers.

Sewer Oil stands as a term and it's so disgusting that I am not sure whether I should believe it's existence or not, though I have seen stories written about it and I have seen people doing it (maybe it's the usual denial reaction), the story goes like this.

Back in the days, restaurants would discard used cooking oil into the cities sewer system where it would collect on certain points (either floating on top or building up large chunks on the side walls). People would then go down into the sewers and skim off/collect this oil, filter, maybe refine, but in the end sell it again.
I read stories about restaurants getting aware of those collection points on (or close by) their property and selling "licences" to people to, officially, clean the gutters.

The only "upside"I see is that, after cooking with this oil there shouldn't be any traces of viruses or bacteria left, as the oil is probably heated up to over 180 degrees Celsius, which, even on a short time exposure, make sure that everything still living in it should be dead.

Nowadays, every restaurant is supposed (by law) to have an oil filter system (basically a large metal box with different chambers to slow down water flow, so that the oil can be skimmed off) in the kitchen, I guess this makes the operation more economical and cleaner (hate to say this).

But like I said, it's so hard to believe that it might be an urban myth and I am not sure. If you want to see for yourself, google is your friend and will help you, if you ask it about sewer oil nicely.

I would like to see how this operates from a business point of view. You know like, how can they run this with profit, how low can the cost of chemicals be to bleach (what the F are they using to do that anyway) and perfumize actually be?

It's the same with fake eggs"? How can the production cost of a fake egg be possibly lower than that of a real egg?

Can someone shed some light on this?

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