Nikon D5100 DSLR

Product Review: Nikon D5100 DSLR

I enjoy taking photos, and I got good use from my trusty Fujifilm bridge camera, but I decided I wanted something a bit more serious, so with some money from my birthday I got myself a new camera šŸ™‚ Originally I’d been aiming fairly modestly, for a decent second hand DSLR. After a lot of research, and a lot of eBay watching, I’d decided on a Nikon (it helps that a friend has a D3100 which he is very pleased with). I was planning to spend about Ā£150-Ā£200. Then I found a website that was selling the D5100 with 18-55mm lens kit for Ā£295 brand new. So I bought that instead! Good intentions…



First impressions – lots of buttons and switches! This wasn’t my first SLR, I used to love my old Yashica FX-D 35mm, but that was like a pocket calculator compared to a supercomputer besides the Nikon.

I love the fold out screen, mainly, to be honest, because you can fold it back against the camera body to protect it from scratches, but also because I don’t normally use it. As a camera geek I try to always shoot in full manual mode, and have never actually used the live view mode either, so the screen is only used for browsing the menus and reviewing shots after shooting.

Picture quality is extremely impressive, especially if professionally printed, the images look like true film, with no colour noise (a noticeable limitation of my old camera) at all, unless using really high ISO values. A small selection of samples is shown below. Click on the small image to view the full resolution file (approx 6MB each).

 

The supplied lens is nice to use, the 18-55mm zoom gives a decent range of shooting options, from a fairly wide angle to close up. The max aperture at f/3.5 is alright for most conditions. I would like something faster, but smaller numbers cost bigger numbers. My next lens will be the Nikkor 55-200mm AF-s VR II, which should let me shoot better wildlife shots. I personally prefer plants, animals and people (in that order!!) to landscapes, so am looking forward vto getting that. Additional sample images will be uploaded once I’ve got the hang of it.

The menus are quite logical to use. One slight annoyance is that if you switch on the built in HDR mode RAW saving is disabled (fair enough) but isn’t re-enabled again afterwards.

I have’t tried the video modes yet, to be honest I’ve got a perfectly good 1080p Panasonic camcorder, which is smaller and lighter. Ironically the SLR would probably do the job better, with improved sensor size and lens.

All in all this is an extremely nice camera for me. It isn’t the best or newest model, but that’s why it was good value. A full frame camera would give better quality, but the camera and lenses are both significantly more expensive, and I find this one very nice to use.

Website screenshot

nw-gas.co.uk Website completed

Work has finished on a new website for a local plumbing business.
North-west Gas & Heating Services specialises in large scale commercial and industrial gas appliances, whilst also offering a full range of services to home users.

LPG equipment is also supplied, maintained and repaired.

Would you like a website like this for your business? Click here for more information.

 

Updating Huawei E5776s-32 Firmware

This article describes the steps involved in updating the firmware of the Huawei e5776s-32 4G Router.

The necessary update files for Windows users have been uploaded to my web server, to make accessing them easier. For the paranoid (i.e. sensible!!) user the originals are available at the time of writing at http://consumer.huawei.com/en/support/downloads/detail/index.htm?id=22287 . The files needed are nested several layers deep in Zip files, along with some dubiously outdated documentation. The original Huawei download also includes Mac and SD Card update options, so is much more flexible.

It goes without saying that any attempt to update firmware is at your own risk, and if it went wrong you could render your device useless. You have been warned!

Before you start you need to have available the flash memory password, which can be calculated using this online tool. Make a note of the password, which should be an 8 digit number. Ignore the unlock code – that won’t do anything (including unlocking the SIM)!

Download firmware version 22.265.11.00.00 or get it from the Huawei link above. Connect your router via a MicroUSB cable, and wait a few minutes for the drivers to install. If this is the first time you have upgraded the firmware it might be necessary to install an updated set of drivers onto the router, shown in step one. If you have already done an upgrade (like I had) this won’t be required. The following instructions should be carried out in the order stated. If you get an “Error 10 Find Port Failed” message make sure that you have the drivers and connection software correctly installed, then try again.

  1. Run the file Update_UTPS1.12.00.414_MAC1.12.00.414.exe This will update the drivers that are used to communicate with the router. First the new files are copied to the router, then the router should be recognised as a new device and the new drivers installed on your computer. Let everything finish. A reboot wouldn’t do any harm at this stage. (This file isn’t included in the Huawei download, I got it from the German firmware upgrade package – see original post linked below)
  2. Run the firmware upgrade file E5776_Update_22.265.11.00.00.exe This is the stage that requires the password generated earlier. It doesn’t take very long, and the router will reboot itself a couple of times during the process. This is normal.
  3. Finally, once everything has settled down run the last file, Update_WEBUI_15.100.09.00.03_E5_V7R1_V3R2.exe I don’t think this is essential, but having got this far you may as well. This updates the web interface, and includes a new connect/disconnect button and support for the same feature via the Huawei mobile App

 

Screen shot

Enjoy your new unbranded router. Let me know in the comments if this fixes issues such as losing signal at random. Some things I’ve noticed:

  • The LED display now has extra symbols for when data is being transmitted/received.
  • There is a prominent connect/disconnect button on the router homepage (see below).
  • My data is provided by virtual network Globalgig, I now get their name showing instead of 3, whose physical network they use.
  • The data counter on the LED doesn’t reset after power off.
  • There is a new monthly data counter, you can set billing date and allowance to avoid going over your package limits šŸ™‚
  • Different language options, including Arabic, Chinese and Russian (see screengrabs below for full set and monthly limit setup).

 

Screen shot 1 Screen shot 2 Screen shot 3
One more feature that has been added is support for remote connect and disconnect using the Huawei Mobile app, which may be handy for some people:
Mobile app
Some people in the comments have mentioned signal issues. This isn’t something I’ve come across personally, but an external antennamay help in some situations. These aren’t signal boosters as such, but they can be placed in positions that might help get a stronger signal, eg through a window.

If this info has been of use to you please consider making a small contribution to help cover the costs of running this site. If you don’t want to that’s perfectly ok too! The button below will bill you one pound and reward you with my gratitude (and maybe some extra technical help). Alternatively you could always visit one of my advertisers šŸ™‚





A previous version of this article, detailing installation of firmware versionĀ 22.264.07.02.414 is available here.

Google Analytics – Free Fun For Fact Freaks

A few weeks ago, not long after I set up this new website* I thought it might be interesting to see if anyone actually visited it, so I signed up for Google Analytics. The basic service is free, and seemed extremely comprehensive. You get an account, which is basically just an extension to your existing Google (Android/YouTube/whatever) account and a small code snippet which is added to the site. To work effectively the code is inserted into a section that is accessed on every page load, so you can either manually insert it, or if you’re lazy like me just install a free plugin to do the work for you. I use the cunningly name Google Analytics for WordPress which can be downloaded or simply installed from the WordPress dashboard. In this case you enter your account code and the plugin does the rest.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting much, if anything, to happen. I checked the Analytics site today and was was quite surprised to find that the site had had over 826 visitors and over 1300 page views. OK, I’m happy to admit that most of those will be search engines and spam bots looking for forum sites to promote their crap (I get a lot of spam comments, so setting up Captcha or similar is my next job…).

Now the interesting bit starts. Google lets you break down the visitors in all sorts of graphical formats. My favourite so far is the Geo mode, which breaks down the data by country, like so:

google_analytic

If you hover the mouse over a country it tells you how many sessions came from there, and, depending on the country, if you click on it you can get a larger scale map with regional information too. I was amused by the two visits from Kazakhstan, also one each from Afghanistan and Iran. My site seems very popular with Indonesian search engines, there were 59 visits from there! Map colours represent the number of visitors graphically, a darker shade means more sessions.

Another section that I found interesting was the Browser and OS section under the Technology header:

google_analytic2According to this table almost half of all visits were from Google Chrome based browsers. Whilst this might be correct I am a bit dubious to say the least. I use Chrome on my Android Phone (because the Samsung browser is rubbish) and on my Nexus tablet because it came pre-installed, but I’ve never liked the desktop version, and only ever tend to use Firefox unless I need to test something for cross-browser issues. The bit I found least likely was Internet Explorer in fourth place with only 12% of users. If that is correct I would put it down to the content of my site being interesting only to tech geeks, who, like me, generally avoid Microsoft IE like the plague.

 

 

*(incidentally the old one was created about 5 years ago and was last updated about 4 1/2 years ago – it was getting past it, plus was all hand coded php/html so a swine to modify)