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FA CUP: Liverpool 0 – 0 Plymouth Argyle

Liverpool V Plymouth Argyle, FA Cup 2017

It’s been many years since I wrote about domestic football on my blog, but it’s not every day that the two teams I support play each other, being three leagues apart. The last time my hometown team Plymouth Argyle and Liverpool met was in 1962 at Home Park when both clubs were in the old Division 2.

I have to admit that I expected Liverpool to win the game easily, even with Klopp’s young inexperienced team. But the first half gave me some hope that the Pilgrims could force a draw and earn a replay at Home Park. The home side, Liverpool had more than 80% of the possession, however, Argyle repelled all of Liverpool’s attacks and had a little luck with Origi’s goal being disallowed for a foul on Miller.

Clearly buoyed by the 0 – 0 scoreline at half-time, the Pilgrims pushed forward and even had a couple of chances on goal. The Liverpool manager decided to bring on Sturridge in the 63rd minute and Firmino and Lallana in the 74th minute. This put more pressure on my hometown team, but amazingly, Argyle held firm, throwing bodies in front of the ball while goalkeeper McCormick made some crucial claims.

When the 90 minutes were up; the fourth official held up a board that said six minutes of added time. These were some the nerviest minutes of my life. Before the game, I was unsure which side I would be rooting for; or whether I would be neutral; in those six minutes, it was very clear that Argyle was the team I was 100% behind. Thankfully, Plymouth blocked every attack and to Home Park we go for the replay.

I believe that Red’s manager Jurgen Klopp underestimated the Pilgrims, expecting the fourth tier club to crumble under pressure. Obviously, this did not happen, Argyle kept their discipline and shape despite the heavy pressure from the Reds. Speaking as a Liverpool fan, I think this has been an issue for Klopp’s Liverpool which has cost them points as proven by the 2 – 2 draws with Sunderland and West Ham.

I have to give a big shout out to the 8,500+ Pilgrims that traveled the 300 miles to Liverpool. I believe the visiting fans were louder than 45,000+ home fans, I’m sure the Argyle players really appreciated their vocal support and drove them on to get the result; which of course was to come away with a draw.

So it’s back to Home Park we go for the FA Cup 3rd round replay and man, how I wish I was back in Plymouth right now to see the Pilgrims host Liverpool. But sadly living in America, being more than 24 hours and thousands of dollars of travel away, I’ll just have to hope it’s shown on US TV.


Review: LG Electronics V20 Smartphone

LG V20 Smartphone

While standing in a T-Mobile store buying a new phone for my wife, I also ended up upgrading my LG V10 to the latest and greatest from LG, the V20. I was happy with my V10; however, as I was on JUMP! from T-Mobile and had not utilized the upgrade option, making the upgrade to the V20 made sense.

The LG V20 has the same basic functionality as it’s predecessor. The V20 has the same 5.7″ IPS QHD display with an auxiliary screen for displaying notifications, which appears brighter and clearer despite the resolution remaining the same as the V10 at 160 x 1040 pixels, however, the IPS light bleed is gone.

The CPU and GPU have been upgraded as you’d expect; the LG V20 sports a Snapdragon 820, 2.15Ghz with an Adreno 530 GPU. The V20 performance seems to be the same to me; I notice no speed increase in my day to day use compared to the V10. I do find it interesting that LG elected to move from the hexacore 808 to the quad core 820 processor; even if the overall clock speeds have increased.

The big selling point of the V20 is its photo and video functionality. And in general, I don’t see much difference from the V10; image quality is excellent with good sharpness and detail at low ISO settings, but gets noisy quickly when the ISO is pushed into the 400-600 range, i.e. indoor and lower light shots.

The biggest difference is the camera itself, the dual lens front “selfie” camera has been moved to the rear offering a 16 megapixel sensor with 29mm F/1.8 and 12mm F/2.4 lenses with optical image stabilization, while the front camera maintains it’s wide angle functionality despite having a single 5 megapixel sensor.

I took a selection of photos of my kids and wildlife at the Sedgwick County Zoo and image quality is good for static objects. However, capturing moving objects is very hard as the resulting images have significant motion blur. I do like the ultra-wide 12mm lens, it appears as wide as my Canon EF-S 10-22mm USM lens. I could use the LG V20 in a pinch for real estate photography as rooms tend to be static by nature.

Video recording seems to be on par with that of the V10; the imagery is sharp with good contrast and color using auto exposure mode. However, I believe the auto-focus mechanism to be too sensitive, it does not take much to get the camera to pull focus from the subject making the video blurry for a few seconds.

The camera has options for 4K, 1080p 60 fps, 1080p 30 fps and 720p 30 fps and does have a plethora of manual video settings for those creative types. However, on a cell phone I prefer the point and shoot experience, pull it out of my pocket and hit record, if I was doing serious videography I would use my Canon EOS 80D. I would suggest that the majority of cell phone users use the automatic modes.

Audio is still great with the same Hi-Fi DAC with headphones plugged in. However, unlike the V10; it does not stop playback if it deems that I have the volume set too high. I can play my music as loud as the device allows without interruption on the V20, which makes me immensely happy, to say the least.

Battery life has been hit or miss; I’ve had the V20 on battery for 14+ hours with 40% remaining. The next day, it barely managed 6 hours with similar usage to the previous 14 hour day. Another evening, I put the phone down with almost 50% battery life and left it for about 90 minutes before noticing the secondary display was off. I found that the battery had drained completely in that short time period without use.

For the record, I set my screen brightness to 50% and have all the same apps as I did on my V10. I don’t tend to install apps on a regular basis, I have my core apps and that’s it. I know I could use auto-brightness to conserve battery, but that does not work well for me, it tends to be too dark to my eye in most situations. I also used 50% brightness on my V10 and got more than 24 hours usage every day.

Ergonomically, not much has changed from the V10; with the exception of the volume buttons being moved from the back to the left-hand side. I do like my volume rocker on the side instead of the back, however, the power button/fingerprint scanner remains on the back. I’d prefer the fingerprint scanner to either be on the side or the front, so I don’t need to physically pick up the phone to unlock it.

Android 7.0 (Nougat) is pre-installed on the phone, which seems very much the same as 6.0 just with added security features. Finally, the charging input is USB 2.0 Type-C, which is great from my point of view, my family can not steal my fast charger anymore as they all have microUSB 2.0 chargers.

Would I recommend the LG V20? If it’s a brand new purchase and not an upgrade from the V10; I’d recommend it. However, if you already own a V10; save your money and keep it for another year. In my opinion, the V20 is not a big enough jump from the V10 to justify the hefty price tag of the LG V20.


Review: Mayflower Electronics O2 ODAC/Headphone Amplifier

Mayflower Electronics Objective 2 ODAC/Headphone Amplifier

Mayflower Electronics is a small US based company that handmake affordable “audiophile” equipment for connection to PC computers. I have been following the company through some of my favorite tech YouTubers and I’ve wanted one of their ODAC/headphone amplifiers for some time, but always talked myself out of buying one; there was always something more important to spend my money on. But, thanks to my mother-in-law buying me one for Christmas, I now have an O2 sat under my monitor.

The O2 did not come in a pretty box with glossy photos, but a standard USPS box with all the parts packaged inside. Inside the box was a power brick, high-quality USB to mini-USB cable and the Objective 2 itself. Setup was as simple as plugging in the USB, power brick and powering on, Windows 10 instantly found the O2 without a restart, I changed the audio output from the system tray and played some tunes.

The Mayflower Electronics Objective 2 is roughly 4.3″ (w) x 1.25″ (h) x 3.4″ (d) in size, made entirely of metal with four non-slip rubber feet on the bottom and is surprisingly heavy for such a small device. On the front panel of the unit, there is a power switch, 1/4″ headphone jack, red power LED, volume knob, gain switch and 1/8″ input jack while on the back there is a mini-USB input and DC power input.

I am using a pair of JVC HA-RX900 with the Objective 2 which produces a neutral sound with little to no colorization. However, I prefer a little colorization of my audio. I am using Equalizer APO with the PEACE GUI to customize the EQ curve to my liking. No complaints about the O2’s ability to drive my HA-RX900 cans, the volume is ear-bleedingly loud without the gain switch activated at 100% Windows volume.

I have personally set my Windows volume to 60%, activated the gain switch and run the Objective 2 at about 2/3 volume, which is about the maximum comfortable listening level for me. Although I am a former live sound technician, I don’t buy into the elitist “audiophile” mentality. What sounds good is subjective at best, what sounds good for one person may sound terrible to another person.

Clearly, I would recommend the Mayflower Objective 2 ODAC/Amp, the question is how important is high-quality headphone sound to you? if the sound you hear from your onboard/internal soundcard is adequate for you, don’t buy the O2. However, if you want to hear audio in a new light, get an O2 ODAC/Amp, the difference in audio quality is amazing, punchier bass, fuller mids and crisper highs.

I’ve been rediscovering my music since hooking up the Mayflower Electronics Objective 2. I have been noticing new elements in songs that I’ve heard a thousand times, bringing new life to my music collection.


Review: Dashcam Pro (As Seen On TV)

My wife bought me a Dashcam Pro from Bed, Bath and Beyond for Christmas. Obviously, this was not my main gift from her, I would be severely disappointed if it was. It was an after-thought as the Dashcam Pro was on display near the cash registers, so she grabbed it for $20 as she knew I wanted a dashcam.

I’m going to get it out of the way immediately, DO NOT BUY, especially at the full retail price of $39.99 + $9.99 shipping. The first thing to note is that the mount inside the box is not the same as the one pictured on the outside of the box; always a red flag. The actual mounting solution is reasonably solid; however, don’t expect it to hold firm if you hit any sudden bumps or heaven forbid get into a car wreck.

The box claims that it’s FULL HD; it’s not, it’s not even 720p according to the standard, it’s 1080 x 720 although it looks like it’s scaled up from 360p or 480p, not true 720p. Image sharpness is a joke, roadside signs are blurry and license plates are not readable until almost up on the bumper of the car in front. It does seem to offer the advertised 120° FOV and audio recording is adequate for the purpose.

Now for some of the Dashcam Pro’s good elements; it does offer motion detection, which will start recording if it detects any sudden motion. It has continuous recording functionality with auto-saves made every 1, 3, 5 or 10 minutes and it also has a switchable date/time stamp persistently displayed on the recording and an off timer for when the Dashcam Pro is not actively recording video.

It does have a feature listed as auto ignition recording on the box and in the manual; it’s supposed to power on and start recording when you start your car; however, for me, this did not work. I’m guessing it does not work for me as most modern cars have persistent power going to the 12v outputs (cigarette lighter, for the old school). So I guess that I cannot ding the Dashcam Pro for this feature not working.

The built-in SD card reader is suspect, it refused to read two of my 16GB SD cards; simply powering off when the cards were inserted, a third card of the same brand, speed and capacity worked fine, all cards work fine in my PC and DSLR cameras. It comes with a 12v power adapter which charges the included battery pack, however, the battery pack only offers about 30 minutes of usage when not charging.

Bottom line, it works, however, the quality of recordings is low, even at 720p HD settings, the mount would not stand up to much punishment and the menus are clunky and unintuitive. it will record an incident and could be used in court, but don’t expect pin sharp image quality to read license plates from distance. I would not recommend this device to anyone, pay a little more and get something much better.

Please see the video of a short drive that I took to my local store this morning at the top of the page for an example of video and audio quality if you have not already clicked the red play button.

UPDATE [Dec, 28 2016, 13:54]: A screenshot of a night time run and it’s even worse than daytime.

Dashcan Pro Night Time Run


Stupid Policies / Massive Medical Insurance Price Hike

Stupid

In continuing the crappy year that has been 2016 for my family, today my wife was sent home from her place of work and told not to come back until she can get an unrestricted medical release.

In accordance with that request; my wife called the doctors office, where she was yesterday for an appointment concerning the very issue she was sent home for. My wife has deformed feet and every now and then, she has a flare up and finds it hard to walk. However, she still does her job despite the pain while never complaining. However, on this occasion, she asked for help with delivering notices.

Sorry, got a little off track there, back to the doctor’s office; my wife called and they told her she would have to see a podiatrist for a medical release. Fine, but the earliest appointment was for December 21, that’s two weeks away. In the meantime, my wife’s employer won’t allow her to go back to work until she gets a medical release, that’s two whole weeks without any wages, that’s close to $800 in income lost.

I don’t know about you, but our income is not so high that we can afford to simply lose $800 in income. Obviously, this was not a viable option, so my wife called another podiatrist and lo and behold, they had an appointment tomorrow, December 7, two weeks earlier than the Via Christi podiatrist appointment.

I believe this company policy to be a stupid and inflexible one; how can you expect people to not have income for weeks? My response would be “I’m looking for another job”; I cannot sit idle because of petty company bureaucracy when my job is mostly sit down at a desk with maybe 10-15% up on my feet. They could have easily had my wife manning the office while the other staff member showed apartments.

Now, the concern is that this new podiatrist won’t give my wife a medical release with no restrictions as required by my wife’s employer. Which means the end of employment and ending 2016 like it started with my wife being unemployed. I get paid well for this city, but still not enough to absorb a $1,600 monthly income loss, especially with just having taken out a $24,000 loan to zero our credit card balances.

Now to the second part of the title; it’s time to renew my medical insurance and damn! my insurance premium has increased by 44.8%. The letter from my company CEO said it was a 12% increase, but an increase from $153.51 to $222.29 is definitely not 12%, just glancing at the difference tells you that much.

Not that I am complaining about the cost; $222/mo for what is very good insurance is a great value. However, I got a 3% salary increase while the medical insurance went up by nearly 45%, seems somewhat disproportionate, doesn’t it? How I wish that the DNC didn’t screw over Bernie Sanders in the primaries.

Day 2: My wife and I visited the podiatrist and he did some x-rays and the end result was that he said there is nothing he can do; which we’ve been told many times before by other doctors. However, he still gave my wife her work release… but my wife’s employer rejected it because it didn’t actually say the words “NO RESTRICTIONS”. If there were restrictions, the doctor would have written them down.

My wife still can not return to work so we will visit the same doctor to request that he write a new work release including the words “no restrictions”. Hopefully, this won’t be an issue, but it will be another day of wages lost as corporate will have to approve the release before my wife is allowed to return to work. I’m sick of this petty bullshit from this company, it’s beyond a joke, especially two weeks before Christmas.

Day 3: We got a second work release with”no restrictions” written on it, which my wife’s employer finally accepted and she can go back to work tomorrow. We also found out the reason for her medical suspension; a jackass called the corporate office saying that my wife refused to give him a property tour; which was 100% false as there is a visitor card with name, drivers license number etc in the office.

I’m pissed off because all this could have been avoided if the corporate office talked to my wife; she had evidence on her desk that this person was lying. So it’s piss poor communication that has cost us upwards of $300 including the doctor’s visit. My wife’s employer claims to “love” their employees; clearly not if a simple courtesy call could not be made when there’s an unsubstantiated claim of wrongdoing.


Canon EF-S 10-22mm Versus Canon EF-S 10-18mm

Canon EF-S 10-18mm Vs 10-22mm

I have recently purchased a Canon EOS 80D with EF-S 10-22mm USM Lens; you can read my initial thoughts here. I replaced my EF-S 10-18mm STM lens with the 10-22 because of the issues I was having with ghosting and flaring of light sources and windows in my real estate work, see my thoughts here.

If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of these two lenses, you’ll need to look elsewhere, I am looking at specific elements and this write-up is aimed at real estate photographers and real estate agents.

I took two identical shots with the same settings and my thoughts are based upon these two photos. The settings I used were 1/4 second shutter, F/8, ISO 400 and I switched lens without changing tripod positions or turning the camera off, both lenses had their respective Canon branded lens hoods

The first thing I noticed was that the 10-22mm was approximately half a stop darker; the 10-18mm produced brighter images despite the same 1/2, F/8, ISO 400 settings. Image sharpness seems to be the same; neither lens was sharp when zoomed in 100% without any post processing. The 10-18mm did look wider at 10mm, but that is because the 10-18mm is a shorter lens; giving the impression of being wider.

The reason I did this experimentation was because I have heard so many people praise the EF-S 10-18mm lens and reported no such issues with ghosting and flaring. Yes, I could have just gotten a bad lens; but if that is the case, many others have also gotten a bad EF-S 10-18mm STM lens as I have also seen plenty of reports on the ghosting/flaring issue written on the Internet during my research.

So the results are in and with the identical shots I took; my 10-18mm had ghosting of the ceiling mounted light and flaring from the window. It was not as bad as in some photos I had taken of other properties, but it’s definitely there while the 10-22mm showed none of the same ghosting and flaring.

I won’t tell anyone to buy one lens over the other; it comes down to personal choice and the 10-18mm is less than half the cost of the 10-22mm, which is why I initially chose the 10-18mm STM over the 10-22mm USM. However, I’ve had issues with the 10-18mm which has cost me precious time in post production and in some, albeit rare cases even ruined the shot completely as I could not fix it in Adobe Lightroom.

I didn’t include the photos as I did not want to post photos of the disaster that is my house right now. If you have questions or want me to elaborate on my quick write up, please comment below.


SCAM: Domain SEO Service Registration Corp

Scam Alert

As someone that manages multiple domains for my employer I get these Emails from Domain SEO Service Registration Corp on a regular basis. The Emails give the impression that you are renewing your domain name; but if you read a little closer, you’ll see it’s for SEO services, not domain renewal.

Clearly this company trawls the Whois database for non-private registration information and then spam the contact Email address. The subject line says “[your domain name] Expiration”, this is what gives the impression that it’s time to renew your domain(s), clearly hoping you’ll pay the $64 without realizing.

Domain SEO Service are technically doing nothing illegal; the message tells you exactly what the service is; but only if you read carefully and fully. I knew that it was a scam as this is not the company I register our domains with and the cost is five times more expensive than our regular domain renewal fees.

The thing that makes me think it’s a scam; other than the misleading text is the following;

Failure to complete your [your domain name] domain name submission search engine optimization service may make it difficult for customers to find you online.” and “Non-completion of your domain name search engine optimization service submission by given expiration date for [your domain name], may result in the cancelling of this search engine optimization notification offer

I don’t know if this company actually provide the service they advertise; so I won’t comment on this.

Domain SEO Service Registration Corp claim to be located at 1000 5th St, Suite 200, Miami Beach, FL 33139; and have a phone number, (954) 320-4679 listed on their website, http://www.dorvice.org.

For all I know, Domain SEO Services Registration Corp could be a legit company; however their methods of marketing would suggest otherwise to me. They even sent postal mail to my employers business address; thankfully the company Chief Financial Officer called me before simply paying the invoice.

You can ignore the expiration date shown; I get these Emails 3 – 4 times a year for each of our domains. These solicitations use scare tactics to make you click on the link and submit your credit card details.

Just out of interest; I clicked the link from the Email, then clicked on the payment link on the site for one year and the payment input page is not secured by SSL; this in itself is a massive red flag as all your payment information will be sent in plain text; which means it can be hacked and stolen.

Below is the actual message I received so you know what to look out for…

Domain SEO Service Scam

PS: The domain shown in the Email screenshot above is a personal domain that I let expire.


Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2016

Nico Rosberg Wins The 2016 World Drivers Title

Nico Rosberg sealed the world drivers championship by finishing second to Lewis Hamilton for the fourth consecutive time since his win at the Japanese Grand Prix. While Sebastian Vettel delivered a podium for Ferrari in the final race of the season with a late charge on super-soft tires overtaking both Red Bulls.

You have to say it was a dull race overall; Hamilton trying to back Rosberg into the chasing pack, Max Verstappen spinning coming out of turn one on lap one to recover to finish fourth, jumping ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo by staying out for 22 laps while Ricciardo pitted on lap 9. And finally, Vettel’s late charge through the pack on super-soft tires, that’s the story of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton has received significant criticism for his actions during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, backing Rosberg into the chasing pack and ignoring direct team instructions. Personally, I don’t blame him; why should he do anything to help his title rival? They’re racing drivers, not best buddies on a road trip.

The other talking point is did Red Bull disadvantage Ricciardo, intentionally or otherwise by pitting him so early compared to his team mate, Verstappen who was running significantly behind on the road at the time of the stops? I think it’s safe to say that decision swung the inter-team battle in the Dutchman’s favor.

More significantly, Abu Dhabi marked the final race of two of the old guard; McLaren’s Jenson Button and Williams’ Felipe Massa who between them started 555 Grand Prix, claimed 26 wins and 91 podiums.

Personally I will miss Jenson Button; I’m sad that he didn’t take Williams up on their offer for a drive in 2017; but that said; I could see that Jenson’s heart was not in it during 2016. Button himself said that he regretted not announcing his retirement before the British Grand Prix; I guess this was brought on by the emotional response of the Brazilian crowd for Felipe Massa at Interlagos two weeks ago.

I’ll be happy to see the back of the 2016 Formula 1 Grand Prix season; like the two seasons beforehand, 2016 was a forgone conclusion with Mercedes dominating proceedings claiming an easy constructors title victory and one of their drivers was guaranteed the world drivers title such was their dominance.

That’s about all I have to say about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and season overall, this season has been a disappointment; dominance of one team makes the sport very dull; not to mention the accustomed FIA bureaucracy and inconsistency; and who can forget the qualifying debacle at the start of the season.

I’m hoping that 2017 and the new regulations will rejuvenate the sport, I can’t bare more of the same.


An Expensive Camera Doesn’t Make You A Good Photographer

I'm sorry but buying an expensive camera doesn't make you a photographer

Today; I received a set of photos taken by someone else of some of our local properties and I am really not impressed. I’m not sure why someone else was used for photography when we already have high quality photos taken within the last twelve months. Looking at the photos; I am making the assumption that it’s someone with a highend camera; rather than a professional due to composition and settings.

According to the EXIF data, the camera used was a Canon EOS 5D MkIII with a 17-40mm F/4 USM wide angle lens; and yet the photos I took with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i and EF-S 10-18mm STM lens a year ago are better composed and sharper. Obviously, that is subjective at best; but general real estate photographers consensus about good composition, lighting and exposure were not followed in the shots.

Given that ISO’s ranged from 100 to 4000, apertures from F4 through to F11 and shutter speeds between 1/100th and 1/2000th; I would think that their camera was set to full auto mode, I always shoot with my camera locked in M mode. The interior shot at ISO 4000 was so noisy that I would’ve thrown out the shot; this could have been fixed with a tripod; lower ISO, maybe 200, 400 max and longer shutter speed.

There are certain things that are accepted practice in real estate photography, such as using the lowest ISO possible to minimize noise, using a tripod and slower shutter speeds; avoiding converging lines created by shooting up or down; verticals should be… well, vertical, not at a 10-15° angle.

I understand that not every vertical can be perfectly straight in camera; heck, I often correct verticals in Adobe Lightroom; but my verticals are never more than 1-2° off straight. Honestly, I believe the photos to be straight out of their camera; even the best photographer needs to do some post production work. Just to be clear; I am not claiming to be the best photographer, I am still learning and improving.

The standards expected by local real estate professionals is not very high looking at the photos in the MLS of million dollar houses. So if expectations are that low; having professional grade equipment will create better photos than photos taken by the real estate agent with a cheap point and shoot camera.

I have recently stepped up from a consumer DSLR to a prosumer DSLR due to feeling I had reached the limit of my current kit. Not to say that my previous photos taken with the Rebel T3i were bad; but there were little things that I was not happy with, mainly the light ghosting and flaring caused by the $300 10-18mm lens. I’m incredibly critical, I set a very high standard for myself, I always feel I can do better.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on the photographer; maybe I shouldn’t hold others to the same standards as I hold myself. After-all I am not the end customer; most would be happy with the shots provided as they don’t know any better. In a previous life, I was a live sound tech and because of that; I can no longer go to a live gig without analyzing the sound and thinking what I would do to change it.

As a result of being a professional real estate photographer; i.e. getting paid to take photos of houses and apartments. I tend to analyze others work; sometimes I am not impressed; but sometimes I am amazed by others work and want to know how they achieved the shot to improve on my own photography.

Rant over; being told to use inferior photos on our marketing really grated on me. Don’t get me wrong; if the photos were genuinely better; I would replace my photos; infact there were some exterior shots that were better that I did use; but the majority were inferior, so I kept my original photos on our marketing.


First Impressions: Canon EOS 80D + EF-S 10-22mm USM Lens

My personal Canon EOS 80D w/ 10-22mm USM

I have talked about upgrading my Canon Rebel T3i for some months now; and last week I finally took the plunge with a total $1,600 investment and I am now a very happy Canon EOS 80D DSLR owner.

I have been on three real estate shoots with my new DSLR; and it took a while to get used to the more advanced 80D. I had to re-shoot my first house as it did not go as well as I had hoped, I ended up with a very soft focus using the 45 point auto focus in manual mode. I experimented at home and found that a single center focus point with spot light metering works best for sharper images; although still a little soft.

Apparently the Canon EF-S 10-22mm USM tends to have slightly soft focus at 10mm. I could have done testing with the 10-22 on my T3i to compare; to see if it’s the EOS 80D creating the soft focus; but I am not a professional reviewer, so decided to skip the extra work. Besides the softness can be easily fixed in Lightroom and/or Photoshop; which is what so many 10-22 owners have recommended online.

The camera itself is 15-20% larger than the T3i to make room for the top mounted LCD display which allows for quick changes to settings such as auto-focus, drive, ISO and metering modes, it also has an orange backlight for darker environments. Although I have to admit I haven’t really used this aux screen.

Instead I have been using the 3 inch articulating touchscreen on the back of the camera. The screen is easy to use and the touch response is top notch; a little too responsive at times; it’s easy to activate the screen while articulating the display. It’s very easy to change settings by pressing the Q button and then simply double tapping on a setting to change it while a single tap brings up some function helper text.

Pressing the INFO button alternates the screen between off, camera stats, electronic horizontal level and current settings. The menu system is comprehensive; with menus being split into five sections with multiple sub-sections which can be accessed via the DPad to the right or the touchscreen itself.

Taking photos is very simple; even in M mode. The 80D feels good in the hand, not too heavy and is made of a grippy rubber material. Shutter speed is controlled by the scroll wheel just behind the shutter button. A half press of the shutter button activates light metering and then it’s as simple as rotating the scroll wheel to bring the indicator in the exposure meter to the center then fully depress the shutter to shoot.

In real estate photography, the touchscreen is amazing; when I compose the shot on my tripod; sometimes the camera is unable to focus on the center AF point; however, I can tap on the screen in live mode to focus; so I don’t have to move the camera, half press the shutter and return to the original position before taking the shot which means I don’t have to change my meticulously composed shot.

The new AWB White mode allows you to shoot indoors under tungsten light without the inevitable yellow/orange tint to the photos in normal auto white balance mode. The emphasis is put on creating truer whites instead of the warmer yellow look of traditional AWB, I personally love this feature as it requires me to do much less work in post processing of the photos in Lightroom after the shoot.

The EF-S 10-22mm USM lens is a big step up from the 10-18mm STM lens I was using previously. The 10-18 has major issues with flaring and ghosting of light sources; to the point where it ruined shots. The 10-22 doesn’t suffer from the same affliction; however there is some flare if exposing for a darker room with bright sunlight flooding in through the windows; but nowhere near the level produced by the 10-18.

Although I have been working with real estate photography for a few years now; I am still learning, so maybe it’s me that is doing something wrong. Maybe a flash would help balance the interior and exterior light to reduce this flare. I currently use HDR in my photography without a flash; maybe it’s time to experiment; although a Canon speedlight is not in my budget after spending $1,600 on the 80D & 10-22.

Overall, I love my new prosumer grade Canon EOS 80D DSLR; it’s a big step up from my consumer grade T3i which I had been using for three years. The 80D may not be a full frame camera; but the APS-C format of the 80D is more than adequate for almost everyone; most would not be able to tell the difference between a photo taken with a Canon EOS 5D and a photo taken with the Canon EOS 80D.