Austin Mann’s iPhone 11 Pro Camera Review

Austin Mann’s take on iPhone’s camera is the review I most look forward to, year after year.

By now, it’s apparent that iPhone is no longer a phone primary.

The advancement of camera images has been amazing. Live photo is life-changing for me. Especially helpful when you’re photographing a kid that never stop moving.

This year, iPhone 11 brings us night mode. Comparing Pixel 3’s night shots against iPhone 11, I prefer the former, albeit slightly. But iPhone’s pictures captures more details and are less heavy-handed with the tuning of low light/ night shots.

While I enjoy the tactile experience of Fuji X100T, the convenience of a pocket camera is unbeatable.

And may iPhone continue to pave the way for even better experience and quality in the future.

Declining Sale Of Cameras, And Our Relationship With Photo Taking

Om Malik on the declining sale of camera, why this trend will continue, and our relationship with photo taking:

What we are doing is creating selfies, documenting moments with family, and snapping photos of food and latte art. We aren’t even trying to build a scrapbook of those images. It is all a stream — less for remembrance than for real-time sharing. In other words, we have changed our relationship with photography and photographs. It used to be that, photos served as a portal to our past. Now, we are moving so fast as we try to keep up in the age of infinitesimal attention spans. A minute, might as well be a month ago.

[…] People talk about printing photos, but very few people actually do. Most of our images are sitting in cloud accounts that sync with our smartphone cameras.

We snap every day moments with our phones because it’s the most convenient option. Food, receipt and just about anything we don’t want to be forgotten. These are momentary snapshots unlikely to be revisited often, not with tens of thousands of pictures already in our album.

We snap, share, take a fleeting look at them, and move on.

Film Camera

Why are we attracted to film cameras? Is it because pictures from digital cameras are so sterile and clean that they’re lack character? Or is it because we enjoy the approach and process of analogue cameras?

To me, I’m drawn to the imperfection of film. The little bit of haziness, the softness, the lush colors, the tone. They oozes that bit of charm where modern cameras couldn’t replicate. Film produces the kind of look and feel that trigger emotions. 

Load a roll, wind it, snap it and move on. You can’t playback to see what was taken. And finally when you received the set of developed film, you get taken back to those moments.

I’m firmly behind the resurgence of film. Yes, YouTube might be full of hippies showing off their Leica M6, but these hippies take pretty nice photos and I’m happy to watch them all. 

One may say presets and filters are all we need. VSCO is especially fantastic in this aspect and I certainly like them. But here’s the problem – people (I) get too caught up in post-processing to simulate the look and feel of film. Before we know it, it’s down a rabbit hole of filters and tweaking sliders. 

While some lament the lack of instantaneous feedback, people who have embraced film actually enjoy this delayed gratification. Send the negatives for processing and wait a week. The wait heightens anticipation; like a kid eager to open their Christmas gifts. Because you never know what you’re going to get with those shots, the moment of truth is always filled with excitement (and sometimes disappointment). 

Well, someday, I’ll try my hands on film. It’s ironic that as technology advances, we yawned to go back to the vintage stuffs of mechanical watches, film cameras and fixed gear bicycles.


What sends a shiver down your spine? Is it staring death in the face? Is it facing your phobia?

My mother has always been awkward in signing papers. Given a choice, she’d rather get her thumb printed. That’s old school. But that’s how she is.

She was given an anaesthetic for a procedure in the hospital. She was visibly affected, but still in good spirit. When she was told to sign on the document, her hands trembled. The doctor said the medication may have caused her to shiver.

Deep down, I know she’s worried and scared and anxious about the result. Never one to seek treatment, such tests and procedure are foreign to her. She gave an awkward grin and said she couldn’t stop her hands from shivering. She could only complete a third of her intended signature before it became too much for her.

The doctor intervened, thankfully: “That’s enough, it will do.”

Ironically, it’s through these checkups in the clinic and hospitals that our relationships have strengthened.

I treasure our time together much more after I became a father. Being a parent isn’t just a lifestyle change. It’s a life changed. The perspective changes. You develop empathy and you communicate more coherently so a 3 year-old can understand.

You understand parenting is the hardest job in the world and it makes you appreciate your parents more.

And for me, the fear of losing my love ones make me shiver.

Advice For People Who Are Unemployed (from someone who’s unemployed)

Feeling down is inevitable. But don’t let get that negative emotion wash over you.

Jobs availability are out of your control. Jobs that are suitable for you may not be on the market. Similarly, when the vacancies does come, it may not be the right time for you to move.

But what you can control is keeping your chin up. I know it’s difficult. I’ve been through this several times to know how depressing it can get.

Get yourself a side job. This will help cover with expenses until you get hired. Don’t get a shit full time job. It will only go downhill from there. Get a part time job, anything to get you through this testing time. You need money coming in.

You may feel sorry for yourself for this plight. Get it out of your thinking ASAP. Start action.

Keep yourself occupied with activities. Try new stuffs. Don’t let the devil’s mind wander down the dark path.

Apply for jobs. Continue to do so with more vigour. If the opportunity to interview arrived, seize it. Be prepared. Impress the interviewer.

At the end of the interview. Forget about the outcome, because that’s something you can’t control either. There are plenty of candidates out there competing for the same vacancies as you. They want it as much as you.

There will be disappointments. Plenty of it. Don’t be disheartened.

Keep going. Believe that one day, you will get out of this slump.

Your family and friends have your back. They’re rooting for you.

And one day, you will be write a story like this, sharing your experiences and urging the fallen ones to get up and continue to fight.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

I once had a wise boss. He was a gentleman, firm but considered. He told us not to save on trivial things which would cost more in the future.

I totally agree on this, especially on things intended to use for a long time.

But there are also some things which I try to squeeze every last cent out of. Like skimping on car parking coupon.

This afternoon, I walked across the street to get the best milk tea in town after finding a nice parking lot. This is a hot spot where parking attendant would regularly inspect.

Yesterday, I almost had a summon if not for my wife, who asked me to check on the situation outside. Just as the parking attendant was about to issue the ticket, I hurried over and drove the car away. She was nice enough to spare me.

But not this time.

When I came back 10 minutes later, I found a ticket on my windscreen. $40. If I had put a coupon, it would only cost me $0.40. That’s a difference of 100 times.

For a stubborn person like me, I guess this is the time it really registered. Don’t be penny wise, pound foolish.

Sunday Bliss: Grilled Cheese Sandwich

After watching the legendary scene of grilled cheese sandwich in the movie Chef, I’m inspired to make one of my own.

In what’s like a follow-up to the movie, the mini series Chef Show (now streaming in Netflix) showcases Jon’s chemistry with his buddy Roy. It’s nice to see him getting his hands dirty and his willingness to just about try anything.

I’m also convinced Roy is the coolest chef, after the late Anthony Bourdain. As a celebrity chef, he remains grounded and speaks with honesty and zero fluff. His easy-going and laid-back nature are pretty rad. But when it comes to cooking, we can see his intensity coming through and he demands the very best.

Today, I made my very own grilled cheese sandwich. Sourdough bread, kraft, cheddar and emmental cheese, unsalted butter and olive oil. That’s it.

I’d say not bad for my first attempt. If I were to tweak anything, I’d just have 3 slices of cheeses instead of 6. That would be just nice.

Something To Succeed In

I was looking through my Day One journal and 2 years ago, I closed the entry by writing this:

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is someone special. I proposed to my wife in the cinema after watching the show “The theory of everything”. He was witty, intelligent, compassionate and funny, all the traits I inspired to have.

Life hasn’t gotten any easier now as compared to years back. But I know people around me have my back and I’m really grateful.

When life throws you a lemon, hopefully you don’t slip and never recover from there.

Being Employed

Being employed is a blissful thing.

Your days are structured. You look forward to the off days. 

If the job is tough, you look forward to the end of the day. If the job is boring or repetitive, you will find ways to entertain yourself. 

If the job is not what you want, you will keep a glance out there for (potentially) better opportunities. 

Most importantly, being employed means you’re paid. The assurance and security, knowing that there will be money in, is such a comforting feeling. 

I’m jobless. For 38 days and counting, I’m unemployed. 

My savings are long depleted. I’m in debt. Having applied for countless positions, I’ve only gotten 2 interviews, without success. 

For many – especially men – not having a job plays on the mind. We are supposed to be the breadwinner, the primary source of income to support the family. 

My wife is now shouldering this responsibility alone. I feel inferior. With each passing day, I’m sinking deeper. 

I suffered panic attacks. I’ve had sleepless nights. They kept me up, and I wondered if I’ll ever be able to get out of this slump. 

Now, I’ve resorted to applying for positions which I probably wouldn’t go for if given a choice.

In 2 weeks, we will be heading to New Zealand. I’m grateful (but also sorry) that my wife has taken up the bulk of the expenses for this trip. 

But with the uncertainty surrounding my future, it’s tough to truly enjoy my time there.

I’d love to secure a job before we leave. I thought of calling my former boss, a gentleman I’d gladly work for again. 

But something’s holding me back. Deep down, I’m feeling ashamed to be in this plight. I’m worried how others would see me. And I’m afraid of being rejected. 

But what’s there to lose?

Welcome Back, MacBook

The MacBook Pro I’m typing on is a 2013, 13″ model with the lowest end specs – 128gig of SSD, 8gig of ram, and the slowest processor (but still blazing fast for most tasks even today).

It’s a superbly built machine. I remember when I first opened it up from the pristine box and holding it for the first time, it was a surreal sensation. How can a laptop be so strikingly beautiful?

When I opened up the lid and the screen came to live, words appeared so sharp, pictures so vivid, that I was totally blown away. Doing everything on it just became that bit more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, it went bonkers when I updated the MacOS a year ago. Just after the update was completed (or did it not?), it did the customary reboot with the black screen. And it has remained that way since.

The orange indicator flickered when I plugged the charger in. After a while, it disappeared altogether. I was wondering if the charger, the cable, or the battery has failed. When I switched it on again, the fan started spinning so loudly I thought the machine was going to take off. Still nothing on screen, pitch black.

I casted it aside. By then, it has became a good-to-have-device. I never needed it to do serious work. Most of my needs were already well served with the combination of iPad and iPhone anyway.

The MacBook has remained in the cupboard, neglected. A few months back, I decided to resurrect it. To send it for diagnosis, to understand the actual problem. Not too sure what prompted me to do so, but it turned out to be a wise decision after all.

I popped by a repair shop with raved reviews near my home, where the friendly technician concluded it was motherboard failure, a common occurrence for this model. Changing it would cost $350. I weighed the value of getting a new model against changing the motherboard. Or if I’d get along fine without the laptop. Eventually, I decided to go ahead with the motherboard replacement.

Seeing a previously unusable device come to life before me was gratifying.

It’s not just a laptop. It’s a loyal companion that witnesses several life events with me. It has been a constant when all the gadgets around – iPhones, iPad, and the likes – changed.

It has been with me through my move to a new home, marriage, and having a kid. I reminisce the days when my wife (then girlfriend) would play Dungeon Defenders late into the night.

While others have wax lyrical about how tablets are the future of computing, I’m happy with my laptop. Touch screen may seem natural to most, but I’m content with using a trackpad, especially on a trackpad as precise as the MacBook’s.

While the keyboard of recent years MacBook played out like a nightmare, typing on this keyboard is a pleasure. They keyboard on this MacBook is everything the current models aren’t – the key travel, tactility and durability – it’s perfect.

And this laptop has all the ports I need – 2 USB ports and SD card slot. Dongles not needed!

It has also reignite one thing: the invitation to write.

Since typing is such a joy on this machine, I just open iA Writer and punch the words away. Writing no longer feels like a chore, something forced. It feels like old time again, where I’d write and share at every opportunity.

Thank you and welcome back, my MacBook.