Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Backpack Camera Bag - My new gear

Have been thinking about to replace my single-strip-type camera bag with a backpack-type for quite some time. The backpack type has the advantage that the load is equally distributed on both sides of the shoulder. Hence, easier to carry and not as tiring. Also, it is less likely to cause you a back pain.

However, one normally thinks a lot before putting something into action. And I sometime (or most of the time), is this kind of person. 
I am "forced" to decide on getting one due to the up coming Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain of China) trip. As there might be a thousand steps of staircase to climb at the Yellow Mountain, hence a 40-year-old should not take the risk for the sake of his own precious spine. 
A backpack is no longer an option, but a must! 

I have always been very specific/choosy about the camera gears that I am to own. The spec is always the top priority, then the price. 
In situation when the price is beyond reach, I rather not having  it than to compromise for something that did not fulfill the spec that I am looking for and keep complaining about it. 

So, here are the thing I look for when come to a backpack camera bag:
1. Can carry my heavy bulky tripod. 
2. Has a slot for laptop.
3. Can fit a 5D markII body with a lens, and a slot for one extra lens. 
4. Not too bulky, because I will use it as a regular backpack as well to carry clothing (when go to enjoy a hot spring) or laptop, external hard drive or books (when go to work).    

After searching through all the available models at Yodobashi and Bigcamera, including the high-tech bumblebee by Kata, and some other expensive models, none of them meet my 4 requirements.

Through intensive search, I finally found this one on ebay. A China made (what else isn't China made these days, btw) :) 

First, it carries the tripod ;)

It can fit the 5D markII, though very tight. 

To be honest, the quality of the divider (yellow one) isn't that good. So I replaced it with the one I have in my single-strip bag (grey one). 

The laptop slot.

The upper section. If they could provide some zip pockets inside, that will be perfect. Too bad.

When the divider that separate the upper and lower sections is not use (by unzipping it), and take out the camera cushioning, it becomes a regular bag pack.

 There is a large zip pocket in the middle...

and two smaller zip pockets at the sides.

 It also provides a net-type pocket for carrying a bottle drink. The net can be keep inside a zip pocket when not needed.

As well as a rain coat for bag! How thoughtful.

I must mention that the build-quality wise is kind of less convincing. The thread is kind of loss isn't it? Really hard to tell if it can survive a tough trip like climbing the Yellow Mountain. Anyway, got to give it a try.

Finally, the price is about usd45.
If you are interested, this link might be useful

Monday, February 11, 2013

A cool GIF creating app

Just discovered this GIF creating app:

What I like about it over other GIF makers are it allow image import from the camera roll (as the animated GIF sequence), it has many cool filters, it saved in camera roll, and it's free ;)
For those who can't read Chinese, there might be a problem because all instructions are in Chinese.

Here are some samples I made during the Chinese new year 2013.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mt. Yotei Hike

Summer is the month for camping or other outdoor activities in Hokkaido. 
As usual, we rented a car for a camping trip. But for this time, the main goal is hiking! 
The targeted mountain is not some ordinary mountain, but the so-called Mount Fuji of Hokkaido - because this Mt. Yotei resembles the famous Mount Fuji. 

I initially planned to rent a van for seven of us, but due to Obon holiday season in Japan, most cars were already reserved by others. The only car left was quite a luxurious one - an eight-seater Nisan. It's very pricey! Cost us 32,130yen for 48 hours. 

We began at the base of Kyogoku Route. (There are four different routes to follow for Mt. Yotei hike, but we opted for this one because there are hot spring facility, a convenient store, and a campsite for us to stay overnight near the base)
We talked, we made jokes... This was how we hiked the mountain! ... at least while at the beginning... 

This was the second milestone (as according to the signboard). There are nine in total before you reach the top.
Notice that everyone were still with a smiling face at this point :)

The third milestone.

Here, we started to see clouds in the surrounding just like the morning mist.  

The forth milestone, no one smile anymore... Even if someone does, it didn't seems natural...

The hiking keeps on... which milestone was this? Why someone was blocking the signboard? Okay, who care, lets take a snap and keep going... "pai rew rew"

This particular stone seems so much like the one you will see in a Chinese ink painting.

Again, which milestone was this? or probably we just decided to take a rest somewhere in between. And I don't care anymore that guy in a black shirt wasn't even ready for the picture. Lets snap a pic and more on!
The decision of not bringing my 6kg DSLR gears prove to be a very wise decision! A smartphone with a good camera is all a poor hiker needs!  

From the eighth or ninth milestone onward, the ground becomes very stony. 

Hiking on the stony ground isn't easy, because the stones can easily sliding against each other and causing you to slip. So there is a rope for you to hold while passing through this area.  

After the stony route, you will reach a plateau and see this signboard. Turning left is going towards the top of this bloody hell Mt. Yotei :)

Almost there, but this is a good spot to take photo too. So why not... 
Finally, the top of Mt. Yotei!

Actually, Mt. Yotei is an active volcano just like its big brother Mt. Fuji. You can see its crater in the next two photos. 

There are some short plants at the plateau of Mt. Yotei. 

I have totally no idea what this is... someone's grave?

I took a nap at the plateau (probably 40-60min) before we went down.
The way down... after some rest and a meal for lunch, the smiling face reappeared!

Some wildflower species at Mt. Yotei.

A view of Kyogaku town.

Pink mushroom. Looks very delicious.

From about the half mountain down, I started to walk with a cane. My thighs and the right knee hurts a lot probably because of me jumping too much (from branch to branch like a chimp) at the beginning of the way down. 

Right out of the forest is this resting place with the magnificent scene.
Here Matteo kindly offered a piece of apple to us which, as far as I can remember, it was so refreshing and tasty that it made me forgotten about the pain at my knee and thighs, momentary.

After the hike, we went to the nearby campsite and set up the tent.
Beside the tent is this crystal clear stream...  

The next morning, I brought a chair there to enjoy my breakfast. Superb!!!