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News Archives - February 2006

: Spot The Difference

February 25 2006

Back in August of 2004, Canon announced they soon would be releasing a new model in their range of professional digital SLR cameras. Shortly after this announcement I put some hard-earned cash down for one of these new cameras (an EOS 20D) and just before Christmas I was lucky enough to be allocated a camera as part of the first shipment to hit Australia.

At the time I didn't really have a reason for owning a camera of such calibre (or cost!), but it's been a fun way for me to learn a lot about photography. Although I haven't really put many photo galleries up here on Pants yet, looking at my site logs seem to indicate a lot of people appreciate my Clipsal 500 photos, especially the super high-res ones.

And I'm sure it has nothing to do with the Clipsal grid girls or all those women in bikinis... :)
Anyway, back to my rambling:

A few days ago Canon announced the 20D's successor, which they'll be calling the EOS 30D. The picture above shows my current camera on the left (the 20D) and the new 30D camera on the right. Just looking at the two side-by-side, you can probably notice that there's not much difference between the two. That's common though - normally it's the innards that change most.

I realise most of the people reading this site aren't camera buffs like I am, so the specs may not mean much to you, but they basically say that the inside of the camera hasn't changed much either! This is not only extremely surprising news, but it's also very happy news for me & others.

So why is this good news? As with most of the 'digital' markets, the technology often evolves so fast that it's hard to keep up. We've probably all been on the vicious carousel of endless PC upgrades before. You know, as soon you get the new hardware out of the box it's already been superceded by something even newer and even faster...

Similarly I've been stung (in more ways than one) with my iPod purchase...
Not that long after I bought mine, Apple launched the fancy new fifth-generation units which sported useful new features like a bigger screen, video playback and apparently the fifth-gens even actually worked, unlike... well, I think you've all heard the saga by now...

With this in mind, I had been dreading Canon's announcement for some time now, because I (like so many other Canonites) were totally expecting the 30D to be revealed as some über DSLR which would make the 20D seem prehistoric. I couldn't believe my luck as I read their press release though, because it just seemed to get better and better the more I read.

The first and most critical point is that the CMOS sensor in the 30D is exactly the same as what's in the 20D. The sensor is basically the most important part of any camera, and it's why the Canon DSLRs are so stupidly expensive. By keeping the same sensor, it means that the 30D performs exactly the same as my 20D - ie. same megapixel rating, but more importantly same ISO performance, signal-to-noise ratio, speed (frames per second) and basically everything else that makes the EOS range the most popular series for pro photographers worldwide.

Just knowing that the sensor —the nuts & bolts of the camera— was no different to my 20D, that alone made my day. The fact that all the "improvements" the 30D offers was all stuff I didn't need, that just made it even better. That's not to say there weren't improvements, just that the combined sum of new stuff doesn't provide enough incentive to upgrade to the 30D body, which is why I and many other 20D owners (and our wallets) are all sighing with relief today.

So what sort of new things will I be missing out on if I don't switch to the 30D?
For starters the EOS 30D gives you these Picture Style image presets (ie. for landscapes, night shots, portraits etc.) which is quite useless if you're shooting RAW with a decent workflow. Another new thing is a Direct Print button on the back of the camera (great if I had a printer), plus you can now browse the on-screen menus in Korean or Russian, and camera start/wake-up time is now a scorchingly fast 0.15 seconds (compared to the 20D's pathetic 0.2 seconds).

Realistically, the single biggest 30D improvement is that they've increased the rear LCD screen from 1.8-inch (diagonal)/118,000-pixel to a 2.5-inch/230,000-pixel screen. That's a fairly decent improvement, but considering you don't use the LCD as you're actually taking photos, it's not a deal maker for me and I'm more than happy to stick with my 20D for a bit longer.

Although I started half-mocking Canon near the end of this lengthy rant, I'm not upset with them in the slightest and I'm actually happy that the 30D isn't as innovative as I thought it would be. Now I can spend another year or two using my (effectively) current-gen equipment without the fear that there's hordes of people* out there with better cameras than mine!

* (Ignoring the $15,000+ EOS 1Ds crowd. *Sniff* - I'm sure I'll get one of those one day... :)

: Big Normal Day Out 2006

February 17 2006

Regular forum visitors may remember me expressing my dismay earlier this year as people started discussing this year's Big Day Out event. At the time of this conversation, I remember that the only word that came to my mind to describe the 2006 lineup was "woeful".

Well exactly two weeks ago, the BDO trucks rolled up outside of the Showgrounds for the Adelaide leg of the annual nation-wide music festival. Despite my disappointment with the lineup, I had to attend anyway due to contractual arrangements, plus there was still a hopeful glimmer of optimism that the day work would be as "big" as the event name would suggest.

Going through the day chronologically, me & the lads arrived early in the morning, infact around 11am just as the gates opened. I don't know why we were there so early considering the opening acts (woeful), but it worked out to be an educational experience for me anyway...

For starters I learned that Coke Zero tastes exactly like Pepsi (hence, tastes like shit), which is probably why they were giving the drinks away for free. Secondly, at the Wolf & Cub performance (our first band for the day), I bumped into someone I've known like forever (from my school days), and I discovered she'll soon be travelling to Amreica, Canada and Japan to pursue a career in journalism. I tried really hard but I don't think I managed to hide my 66% jealously of her. Best of luck, Sara! :)

After Wolf & Cub we took some time to have a look around the showgrounds to see where everything was this year. This must've taken us about two hours somehow because the next band I remember seeing was The Grates, who were great. But seriously, I originally thought I didn't know who they were but some of their songs were familiar to me, plus it was mesmerizing watching the lead singer bounce around the stage. From there we desperately avoided the masses of angry thugs at the Mudvayne stage by strategically loitering around the food stalls. It was here where I hit the first highlight of the 2006 BDO - I ate a very tasty hotdog. Mmmm...

After the coast was clear at the main stage and the Mudvayne fans had moved out, we headed over to check what Wolfmother were doing. No surprises here, but it turns out what they were doing was ripping off other bands that found success in the 70's & 80's. From the main stages we then headed to the Boiler Room to see Belgian duo Soulwax. Normally the Boiler Room is only a place for dance music and/or groping people in near-darkness, but Soulwax's performance didn't fit under either category. They would return to the Boiler Room later that day (under the name 2 Many DJs) with music more suited to nightclubs, but their afternoon set was very enjoyable and easily became my second highlight for the day. They even covered Funky Town!

Kings Of Leon were up next on the main stage so we headed over there to sit down for a bit and ponder which band member was Leon. After that heated discussion we went over to the Green Stage to listen to Henry Rollins spend an hour just talking about stuff. Being a late announcement in the BDO lineup, as soon as I heard Rollins would be doing a spoken-word appearance I knew I had to be there to experience it, and he definitely didn't disappoint.

Although he only had an hour (which, for Rollins is barely enough time to finish an introduction), he did try his best to cover as many topics as possible. Starting out with personal stories about previous visits to Adelaide, moving on to terrorism, politics, careers of fame & stardom, social trends and black lesbian presidents, you could see he was just getting started... Unfortunately one hour was all he had, but his monologue definitely marked my third highlight of the '06 BDO.

Despite my doubts, it was a good thing I was optimistic before heading to this event because pretty much immediately after Henry Rollins' fantastic talk, I stumbled on my fourth BDO highlight for the day - I purchased and consumed another hotdog. Oh man, I'm telling you that this was even better than the first hotdog from earlier that day... Covered with American mustard and tomato sauce, oozing with melted cheese, it was damn good. What a highlight!

We would then move to the main stages where we would spend the next three hours. We first caught the end of Franz Ferdinand's homogenous & derivative set where every song sounded like the one before it. Next up was Iggy Pop & The Stooges, who put on a decent show. I wasn't familiar with any of the songs Iggy played, but he seemed to enjoy himself. He even invited people from the crowd up to the stage later on, but for most of the performance it was just him up there strutting his stuff and generally looking kinda... weird.

After Iggy was finished weirding up the place, we shuffled back to the left-hand main stage for The White Stripes performance. As much as I really really hate Jack White, I must admit they put on a decent show, on par with Iggy's in my opinion... Plus, to their credit, they even started on time this year, unlike their BDO appearance from a couple of years ago. Pre-show we heard Who's A Big Baby? (my favourite Stripes song), then during the show they shocked the audience by playing a rare, "live" version of Jolene, and they also dedicated Little Ghost to my pal Doogs.

After they were finished we headed back to the Boiler Room to check out Soulwax/2 Many DJs but (as expected) they were now playing dance-y music so that was the end of our night.

Overall the 2006 Big Day Out didn't turn out as bad as I thought it would. If you have a look in the archives from previous BDOs, most of my complaints were addressed this year, and it truly felt like the event was organised a lot better this year compared to the previous four events I've attended. I would go so far as to say that's actually my fifth highlight of the day...

The food stalls and the Lilypad/Lilyworld were both positioned much better this year, the pothead problem was fixed by providing a nice tall ferris wheel to climb up, and even the seemingly unfixable problems with toilets was solved as well. In some parts there were even security guards making sure women didn't invade the men's toilets, plus there were more facilities too...

I'm more than willing to admit when I'm wrong, but I'm still standing by my comments that the band lineup this year was woeful. The fact that (ignoring my subtle sarcasm) only one of my five highlights this year actually involved music, I still feel my comments were justified.

I still had fun this year, but hopefully next year's BDO will be a bit bigger. [/soapbox]

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