My Golf GTI

Ever since I bought the Golf GTI back in March I always planned to take photos of it with nice background. It finally took Leah being stranded in the UK by volcano ash and a burst of sunny weather today to get me to do it.

All of them are taken using my Canon 50D with 50mm f1.8, handheld. This is also the first time I used Aperture 3 in a more in-depth editing role. The brush-in adjustment feature is absolutely awesome!

The whole collection is on Flickr but here are a sample:

Front view

Rear view
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Philadelphia Experiment

Leah and I went to Philadelphia on a weekend trip this past weekend. For me, it was two days of experiments. All of which are for our trip to Naples/Pompeii later in July.

Canon 50D
The 50D is a vast improvement over my old 10D, bought way back in 2003. The increase in pixel count is obvious, but it is other much more subtle features that impress me. First, the quick startup time from sleep mode. The 10D takes about 5-10 seconds to wake up, thus sometimes I would miss shots. The 50D wakes up and ready to shoot almost instantaneously. The LCD screen is of course larger but it is the colour rendition that makes me take notice. With 10D, the LCD is always too bright and colour too saturated. The screen is still slightly too bright but the colour is almost spot on so preview is actually accurate. The low(er) noise level on high ISO settings makes it, for the first time for me at least, viable to shoot indoor with ISO1600 without worrying about unusable image. Images are still noisy but at least it is manageable.
Kata DR 467
I've been using a camera hipbag inside my Oakley backpack on trips for a few years now. Mainly so it is not obvious that I'm carrying an expensive digital camera. While that worked fairly well, it was awkward to store and retrieve the camera as I have two bag openings to deal with. Alex Lindsay (from PixelCorp and MacBreak Weekly) on Twitter recommended Kata DR-467 for travelling with DSLR. I looked online as well as touched it for real in B&H before deciding to buy it. After this weekend, I was so glad I bought it! I can't believe I didn't get it earlier. The slide out compartment at the bottom for the camera and lenses are the best feature, making it very easy to store/retrieve camera on the go.
I've always wanted to geotag my photos so this trip was a perfect opportunity to utilise the built-in GPS in my iPhone to try that. I found on the AppStore this free app, GeoCoder, which claims to make geotagging easy. It was pretty easy to use and I just needed to remember to start a 'recording' in GeoCoder at the beginning of the day and stop it at the end. I was afraid that it would drain my battery quickly but it turned out not to be the case.
I was pretty excited about this whole geotagging thing until I got home and tried to use the GPX files GeoCoder produces in Google Earth. Turns out the iPhone GPS receiver is not sensitive enough to pick up GPS signal when the phone is in my pants pocket! So all I have are a handful of GPS locations whenever I took my phone out for a quick Twitter check or the iPhone happened to have enough signal.
So GeoCoder is out for me for the time being.
For the Naples/Pompeii trip, I have considered using one of my iPhone case and strap it to the Kata's shoulder strap in order to get decent GPS signal for the iPhone. Or I can purchase one of the cheaper GPS recorder and use that instead. I'd probably still need to expose the recorder to the sky somehow though.

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Quick hands on with Canon 50D

Last night I went to a Canon sponsored seminar at Adorama to see the latest DSLR, 50D. I spent about 30 minutes in total playing with it along with various lenses, 70-200 f4 IS, 24-105 L, 24-70 L, 18-200 IS. Here are the features that really tempting me to upgrade from the old, trusty 10D:

The 9 points focusing is much better than the 10D since all of them are cross type. Even in the dim light of the room, the 50D latched onto sharp focus easily with no hunting. I even tried it on uniform colour wall in the dark corner and the 50D focus with no problem.
Continuous Drive
6.3 fps! Way faster than the 10D's 2.5 fps. And this is with 15 MP both RAW and JPEG, with 17 RAW and 60 JPEG buffer. This is the main feature that would be hugely useful for me, even if only for the once a year surf photographing session I go with Dan.
High ISO Performance
The new CMOS chip and DIGIC 4 processor allows much less noisy photo in high ISO setting, when compared against the 10D, but not 40D. The noise level at 3200 on 50D is approximately the same as 800 on 10D. 2 stops higher! And 12800 is still usable but quite noisy.
LCD and LiveView
The 3" VGA screen beat the crap out of the 1.25" screen on 10D. The LiveView on the LCD looks cool but I doubt I would use it often. What I find useful would be to see LiveView on the computer screen using the USB remote control connection.
Much better menu system and easier to use, thanks to the large, high resolution LCD. The joystick helps too.
Nothing special here, apart from it being noticeably brighter than 10D's.
A more detailed review is now up on

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