2013 Victory Cross Country Tour

Motorcycle USA has taken the 2013 Victory Cross Country Tour for a ride. They seem to like it. Especially the storage. There’s a lot of it, as Victory claims it has a total of 41.1 gallons of storage space. But that’s not all it has.

The amount of storage will spoil a rider, as will the heated grips, heated seats, standard cruise control, and big rider floorboards. Victory elected to use a toe-only shifter so riders can move their feet around and alter pressure points on the backside and lower back on longer rides. Though we rode solo, the 2013 Victory Cross Country tour has passenger floorboards that are three-way adjustable and can be tipped at a 10-degree angle. Passengers also have the luxury of their own controls for the heated seat.

2013 Victory Cross Country Tour

Also, if you buy this instead of the Victory Vision, other bikers won’t point and laugh at you while you ride down the road.

First Rides of the Triumph Trophy

The initial first rides of the new Triumph Trophy, which is the replacement for the Sprint ST, are starting to come in. Both Cycle World and Ultimate Motorcycling have published their first ride reviews this weekend. In both cases the reviewers liked the bike, and both felt very happy with the handling.

As always with a big bike, and Triumph’s claimed 662 lbs make it a big bike, one always worries about handling capability, especially when the road gets twisty. But, Triumph takes a certain amount of pride in making bikes that handle well, and they seem to have lavished the Trophy with some attention in that area.2013-triumph-trophy-06-290612

Ultimate Motorcycling declares:

Get into tighter turns and the Trophy SE defies its size. Much more agile than you’d expect from a 662 pound bike (claimed wet, but no panniers), it handles direction changes controllably and predictably, even when the road surprises the rider.

Similarly, Cycle World’s tester says:

But by the time you’ve ridden the bike a few blocks and snapped it around a couple of simple corners, that perception starts to change. You quickly forget about the shape of the plastic in front of you and marvel at how light and agile the big Triumph feels when it’s moving…The overall effect is that you feel as though you are riding a bike that is at least a hundred pounds lighter than what its manufacturer claims.

Will it give you the rocket-like acceleration of, the Concors14 or K1600GT? Probably not. But it seems pretty good, and at 135HP with 89 torques, it’s probably not boring:

The bike isn’t exceptionally fast by today’s performance standards, but that strong, linear torque output allows it to accelerate crisply and steadily in any gear, at any rpm and at any speed. Just give the throttle a twist and the Trophy moves forward, never pinning your eyeballs to the back of your skull but always rushing the bike down the road with enough authority to be satisfying.

It should be hitting the shores of North America by the end of the year. But, I wouldn’t expect getting a test ride will be easy.

A little Photoblogging

Chris and I went downtown to take some pictures. This time, instead of lugging around an SLR, I took my new Panasonic Lumix FZ200. It’s a 12.1 megapixel bridge camera, with a 28mm-600mm superzoom lens. I wanted to see how it would do as a walking-around camera. I think the answer is, "very well."

ship

The Star Of India, docked in downtown San Diego.

ads

Old advertisements

corridor

Mall corridor, Horton Plaza

jail

San Diego County Jail

bird

A little bird

building

This odd building looks like an optical illusion

chairs

Chairs in a residential courtyard

dog

A homeless man’s dog, downtown San Diego

leds

LED marquee at the Balboa Theater

trains

Trains at Union Station

UnionStation

Architectural detail of Union Station

reflections

Window reflections

courtyard

Skyscraper courtyard

details

Architectural detail of a restored Victorian-era building

downtownstreet

The Gaslamp District

generalgrant
Architectural detail, Ulysses S. Grant Hotel

lobby

Lobby, Sempra Energy building

mosaicwall

Mosaic Wall, Horton Plaza

parkbuildings

Park and skyline

screens

Each window of this building has a screen that can be lowered to cover the glass

sempra

Architectural detail, Sempra Energy building

victorianbuilding

Restored Victorian-era building in the Gaslamp District

Moon

The Moon and Venus

And finally, to show you how powerful the zoom and video capabilities of this little camera are, I give you The Dog Walker.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Elkh7GKzPAU&feature=g-upl

2013 Triumph Trophy pricing announced…in Canada

CMG is reporting that the pricing for the 2013 Triumph Trophy has been announced for the Canadian market at CDN$19,999.

That’s worse news than I thought, considering the Canadian dollar is about on par with the US dollar now. Still, we’re only getting the full-on SE version in North America, so that’s still more than a grand less than a comparably equipped R1200RT. But it’s still a pricey bike.

Brief Lumix FZ200 Review/Comparison

As a photographer, my first choice for any professional assignment is a digital SLR. But, as a guy who just walks around and likes taking pictures, I want something slammer and more convenient. And I also want to be able to shoot video. Also, as a pro, a nice camcorder that I can use as a B-roll camcorder to back up my big video camera is a big plus. So, after a lot of research, I settled on getting a Panasonic Lumix FZ200—the successor to the impressive FZ150—as a walking-around camera/camcorder.

Today, I decided to do a little comparison of images taken with my Canon D50 with the FZ200. All images are zoomed to 100%.

canon50djpeg

Canon 50D original JPG image

lumixfz200jpeg

Lumix FZ200 Original JPG image

canon50drawconversion

Canon 50D Uncorrected RAW Conversion (Photoshop RAW converter)

lumixfz200rawconversion

Lumix FZ200 Uncorrected RAW Conversion (SilkyPix RAW Converter)

iphone4sjpeg

iPhone 4S JPG image, included for curiosity’s sake. iPhone shoot 8 MP compared to the 12.1MP of the FZ200 and 15MP of the Canon 50D. It’s actually really good for a tiny cell phone camera.

A couple of interesting differences are evident. The Lumix shoots much warmer. Dropping the color temperature of the RAW image from 5100 to about 4600 produces a much closer color match.  The smaller 1.2/3" sensor on the Lumix loses some fine detail, producing a softer image, which is not totally fixable in RAW, but can be sharpened nicely in SilkyPix.

The Lumix JPG compression is really too aggressive. The image is full of compression artifacts at 100% when you shoot in JPG. However, for sharing images on the web, you’ll resize them down by quite a bit, anyway, so much of that won’t be obvious. Shooting for the web and sharing via email will work just fine with the FZ200 in JPG mode. If you’re interested in blowing up any of the images, then you’ll really want to shoot in RAW, so you won’t have to deal with the in-camera JPG conversion.

I’m hoping that a firmware update for the FZ200 will be forthcoming from Panasonic in the not-too-distant future, to improve the in-camera JPG conversion. Until then, shooting in RAW is the best option for shots that you’ll want to use at 100% of zoom.

On the other hand, if you’re just shooting for vacation or family pics, and for sharing online, the Lumix FZ200 is a pretty good camera.

I also took some test shots, using both 6x and 12x zoom with the camcorder function. The long zoom length is great, and the full 1080 HD video shows more detail and clarity than the Canon Vixia I was using. I’ll be very happy to shoot B-roll with this camera.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tECJNQ6kplY

Overall, the Lumix FZ200 is a fine camera/camcorder for casual shooting, and—using RAW—for some light pro applications. It’s perfect to use as a camera for online sharing, and has quite a lot of capability for such a small, compact camera. So, far, I’m pretty happy with it.

I’ll be even happier if Panasonic cleans up the in-camera JPG conversion with a new firmware update.