Posts tagged wireless

Yongnuo ST-E2 Review

Canon’s ST-E2 flash commander, if you can call it that, is an ancient piece of equipment if you think about the last ten years of digital camera technology advances. If you compare Nikon’s SU-800, it’s like comparing an analog, mechanical computer with a quad-core machine today. It’s just that ancient!

So why did I get one? Well, I didn’t until I found a chinese copy on ebay. I wouldn’t pay more than US$90 for the real, original ST-E2, but I found this Yongnuo for less than that one eBay. Plus shipping. That sealed the deal. The Yongnuo ST-E2 can also be purchased directly from Yongnuo HK’s ebay store here.

Anyways, it has several advantages to the original. First is that it takes AA batteries. Not the harder to find 2CR5 lithium battery. This means I can use my Maha Imedions with it. Secondly, it can swivel left and right. The original Canon ST-E2 stays fixed, pointing forwards. If you’re not using a radio trigger like RadioPoppers (get them in Malaysia here), how often would you have your flash places in the forward 90-degree arc of your lens? One other advantage Yongnuo claims is that you can control their YN ST-E2 using the camera LCD. Well, that’s because the YN ST-E2 pretends to be a 580EX. However, with the limited functionality on the ST-E2 itself, there’s hardly much benefit to it. I mean if it has the same functionality as the SU-800 from Nikon then perhaps, the LCD control would be beneficial. Finally, the other advantages Yongnuo claims such as increased range, recycling time, etc are just extras to me.

Any disadvantages? Of course. Basically, this is a cheap Chinese copy. Manufacturing tolerances are going to give. Most apparent is positioning the focus assist beams to line up to my 5D Mark II requires a couple of seconds. Once done and the unit it locked down, it’s not a problem. Minor if you ask me for the price I paid for it.

Finally, most importantly to me is I want to use it with my RadioPoppers. The big reason I bought this is so that I can have my 3 580EX IIs doing something else rather than be a commander. Couple that with my 550EX and 430EX II, that gives me five lights to place in my scene. RadioPopper’s instruction to stick the transmitter on the batter cover is for Canon’s original ST-E2 but, for the YN ST-E2, you’ll need to place it a bit forward of the battery compartment. Other than that, it works flawlessly with my RadioPopper PX. Just make sure you gaffer up the transmitter part of the ST-E2 if your flash units are in the same room and can see both the ST-E2 IR and the radio commands from the Poppers…

RadioPoppers shipment

Will be bringing more RadioPoppers into Malaysia this April/May. Anyone interested?

Note: I do not profit from this. Shipping fees are prorated according to order amount. For occasional shipments where they are brought in by friends, you do save on the international shipping but you’ll need to pay the local shipping charges to my friends in Texas.

To get the price of radiopoppers, please see their website over here.

The Ringgit Malaysia to US Dollar current exchange rate as of this posting is roughly RM3.09 to US$1.

10 Couples on 10.10.10

On probably one of the most popular wedding dates of 2010, I was covering a very unique wedding ceremony. Unique not because there were 10 couples on that date but because all of them are already married. The oldest couple had been married 37 years and the youngest couple, just nine.

It, was however, a marriage vow renewal and blessing ceremony. The page boys and girls were the some of the couples’ children and so were the special song performances. It was a touching and special way to declare your continuing commitment to your spouse before family and friends. With many marriages breaking up before even the fifth anniversary, it’s good to see these couples renew their vows.

It was interesting to see the ten couples walk down the aisle — no fathers’ giving away the brides anymore and no veils either. I do admire the effort taken to get all made-up and all the wedding dresses again! Overall, it did look like a large mass wedding! Thoroughly fun and the oldest couple, Robert and Jenny Mah were absolutely fabulous and he was giving her a bend over kiss!

The light the church, I had three 580EX IIs and RadioPoppers. For the group shots, I had a master 580EX and two slave 580EX IIs firing into reflective umbrellas. Again, my RadioPoppers provided wireless ETTL.

The Bee, Jaya One

One early Saturday morning, we found ourselves near the vicinity of Jalan University. Needing breakfast, we made our decision to head to Jaya One. We arrived at the Bee about 9:45am in the morning. It seems that on weekends, they only have their brunch menu which excludes their burgers. So much for that. The Kitchen is also not open till 10am.

Oh, well, it’s only another fifteen minutes. Ordered a latte which came in decent time. The latte was done reasonably well. Probably the beans weren’t as fresh but still pretty decent. Starbucks can pull a decent latte too but their beans are weeks to a month old. Would I expect a cafe like the Bee to have fresher beans? Possibly, but I don’t know the traffic pattern or output to judge.

The waitstaff seem to be rather disorganized and are unable to keep up with even four tables occupied. Our food arrived after a fairly long while – like twenty-five minutes. It’s not like they were full but I’d hate to be sitting there when the place is overflowing with people. Taste wise, nothing to shout about but overall good filling meals. The banana-peanut butter toast was pretty unique and flavorful.

Done with our breakfast (or brunch), we called for the bill. That took another ten minutes and we decided to put it on the card. The nice thing about my Citibank Visa is that the points can be used to buy anything. Of course, the rate isn’t fantastic — they’re a bank and they’re out to make money from you but if you gotta use the money anyway, might as well build up the points to get something… like a new lens or refrigerator, etc. Back to the Bee. The credit slip took them another fifteen minutes to produce for us to sign. Overall, waiting for service, waiting for food and waiting to sign the credit card slip took longer than our entire meal.

Bottom line (NPS-like) is I don’t think I’d recommend friends to the Bee, or at least I’d be neutral which means “negative” in NPS-speak. Food-wise ok but I’d need to try the burgers so means I’d be going back, at least one more time. If the service-delays persist, it’ll be my last.

Unifi, decent Broadband at last?

As one of the first TM Streamyx customers way back in 2001, ten years is a long time to wait for decent broadband. Streamyx was good when it launched but like anything in Malaysia, it just stagnates. Anyways, my parent’s house is among the first few areas for Unifi, unlike where I stay now which is low on TM’s priority list just because the exchange we use is pretty run down.

The speed is great but the installation purely sucks. Don’t get me wrong, the guys did a decent job and were quite clean but I think the first thing Telekom Malaysia should have done is not to assume each household has a single PC. Secondly, the installers should not assume the cable drop is next to the phone table and next to the TV set. So here goes the installer bitching about my complicated setup… see below and trying to charge my mom RM12 per meter run of CAT5 cable. Good thing I have a box (a thousand feet) handy. CAT5 cable run in my parent’s home, measured from the switch is about 85 feet (26m) to the TV area, 75 feet (23m) to the guest room, 65 feet (20m) to Rooms 1 and 2.

Original ADSL setup

Since I wasn’t around when the completed the installation, they managed to hoodwink my parents into believing that all the PCs are already connected. As my parents didn’t know how to run any network testing, all they did was try to load some websites. They even forgot to testing printing. My mom tested printing from her PC (in the guest room) though so she thought everything worked. Yes, it works but half the house is still on Streamyx!! See below diagram.

Initial Unifi Fiber Setup

I dropped at 4:30pm and first thing I did was to do a cable trace. Not liking what I found, I turned off the ADSL connection and immediately two PCs lost internet connectivity. It’s obvious why. These are the things I immediately configured or changed:

  1. Change the Router’s Administrator password (defaulted to blank!)
  2. Turned off the Wireless on TM’s DIR-615. (If you intend to use it, rename the Wireless Network Name/SSID)
    * The default SSID uses the customer’s name, i.e.: subscribername@unifi.
  3. Disable Remote Access to the router
  4. Enable Firewall, including blocking scan, DOS attacks, service filters, the whole enchilada….
  5. Adjusted the DHCP port range so it didn’t conflict with my other devices that were statically assigned

Here’s how the network finally looks like:

How it looks like in the end

It looks like I’ve to be around and end up doing a fair bit of work if (when TM decides to upgrade the Sungei Way exchange) I subscribe to Unifi and their installers come to my home. It’s way more complicated that my parents!

By the way, I didn’t play around much with the phone service or the IPTV service. It’s not that attractive to me at the moment but hopefully it’ll change in the future. I’m hoping for pure SIP services from TM in terms of the voice side…

Shooting Tethered part II

For Canon users, shooting tethered usually means USB cable (or WFT transmitters) and EOS Utility. While fully functional and usable, the only thing I don’t like about the EOS Utility is it will exit (and sometimes still stay in RAM) when you disconnect your camera. While perfectly fine for single session of shots, it doesn’t make sense at least when you occasionally need to disconnect your camera. What is actually needed is a checkbox that says “Don’t exit on Lost connection” and if it’s checked, it should stay around and try to reconnect when the USB cable gets reconnected.

However, now I’m experimenting with DSLR remote in terms of wedding photography. Using a manfrotto lightstand and tripod head adapter, I can actually mount my camera in some location that’s hard to reach or out of bounds when ceremonies begin. Live-view coupled with a laptop with ad-hoc wireless running and my iPhone, I should be able to capture some unique angles and shots. The only drawback I guess is that I need another camera body and lens.