Categories
Apple Computers Photography Smartphones Videography

Apple iPhone 13 Event

The yearly iPhone 13 event has come and gone, and pre-orders for the new devices (except for the Apple Watch Series 7) have begun. I was pretty adamant, based on the rumors, that I would skip the iPhone 13 and stick with my trusty Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro. However, a few things changed my mind.

First, the upgrades this year are pretty modest. But, when you are dealing with a product as mature as the iPhone, you aren’t going to get revolutionary features every year.

What did we get? With the iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 13, we got bigger batteries, slightly better camera lenses and sensors (though still limited to 12 megapixels), a new sensor shift (ie, image stabilization) feature, and of course, a new processor – the A15 Bionic. The new processor is the key feature, as it powers some nice new software features. Specifically, the Cinematic Mode that is present on all the iPhone 13 models. This feature allows you to perform rack focus in video, something that is sure to elevate the iPhone 13 from a nice tool to augment filmmakers, to one that can be at the center of their workflows. Another software upgrade to the camera app, Photograph Styles, allows you to apply photo filters to the live image while you are shooting to see what the filters will look like before you capture the shot. Apple claims that these filters apply only to the areas of the photo that you would want them to – specifically, leaving skin tones as natural.

The Pro models now feature the same identical camera systems, so the only real differentiator between the Pro and the Pro Max now are battery life and screen size.

What Apple did to differentiate the standard models from the Pro models this year is small tweaks throughout the features. These consist of:

  • 120hz refresh rate. This adaptive refresh rate ramps up and down depending upon what you are doing. But with support at 120hz for games, the gaming experience on the Pro models is going to feel significantly more premium than the base models. The big question is how will this affect battery life. I’ll let you know when my iPhone 13 Pro arrives.
  • More RAM (4GB on the iPhone 13 Mini/13, 6GB on the Pro/Pro Max)
  • Extra GPU Core – 4 on the standard models, 5 on the Pro
  • Batter cameras with faster apertures for the wide, ultra wide. Ultra wide cameras on the Pro models also feature auto focusing capabilities, giving them the ability to perform macro shots.
  • Ability to shoot in ProRes video recording. This is coming in a software update later this year. The ability to shoot in 4K ProRes is limited to the 256GB models (ProRes video formats created incredibly large files, and 128GB wouldn’t be enough to store more than a few minutes of 4K footage). 128GB models can shoot in 1080p ProRes.

So the value proposition is this: Apple improved the overall base model iPhone 13 experience in the batteries, cameras, processors, and added some nice video features (Cinematic Mode/Photograph Styles). The main reason to buy the 12 Pro (apart from the larger screen/battery of the 12 Pro Max), comes down to a better gaming experience, better photographic and video hardware and software), and the increased RAM giving your device the ability to keep more apps running simultaneously. I find the Pro value proposition quite smaller and more targeted this year than most other years. I’d really recommend the Pro models to people who either have to have the larger display size of the Pro Max, or people who actually use their phones for semi-pro or professional video applications. Everyone else will be better served to stick with the iPhone 13 standard models.

Apple Watch

So the Series 7 Apple Watch is one of the smaller updates to date. It received a small upgrade in screen size, and really… not much else. There’s speculation based upon supply chain leaks about what was expected vs what was delivered that Apple scrapped the real Series 7 plans a few months ago, and instead scrambled at the last minute to put together a substitute release. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it definitely feels like this release is small compared to other years. No new ground breaking applications for the Series 7, just small refinements to screen size and some other software editions. If you have a Series 6, you can save your money until next year and not feel like you are missing out on a lot.

iPad

The iPad mini got an update that brings it inline with the iPad Air. There’s no more Home Screen button, replaced with the fingerprint reader on the power button like the iPad Air. I’m not a fan of this design, as you get a mixed experience – navigating your iPad with gestures like you have FaceID, but authenticating with putting your finger on the power button, which, depending upon how you are holding the device, can be a bit of a disruption.

Otherwise, you get a slightly underclocked A15 chip in the mini, 5G support (in the cellular models, but no mmWave support), and some new colors. Fans of the minis form factor will probably be happy that it got some love, but at a $499/649 price point. for 64GB/256GB configurations, the mini isn’t the value proposition it once was.

The base model iPad got a small update as well. It is now sporting an A13 processor and a true-tone display. The base model also went form 32GB to 64GB. The entry level iPad remains one of the better technology buys at $329, not just from Apple, but from any company. The spec bumped version now features 256GB of storage, but at an increased cost of $479. Otherwise both still use the same accessories and case sizes as before.

So what swayed me to get the iPhone 13 Pro instead of holding steady with my 12 Pro? First off, the new Cinematic Video features look impressive, and will be a welcome addition to my videography toolset. Second, the addition of macro photography is another feature that I could justify upgrading for. Finally, the improvement in battery life sealed the deal. Battery life on my 12 Pro hasn’t been bad, but I’ve noticed in the last month or so that I’m running out of battery regularly before the day is over. The Battery Health is rated at 88%, so I’ve had 12% degradation in about a year of everyday use. This isn’t terrible, but it’s enough that had I kept my iPhone 12 Pro, I probably would have opted for a battery upgrade before the year was out. Upgrading to the new model solves that problem for me, and gets me some very nice photo/video features as well.

Categories
Apple Software Videography

Final Cut Pro X 10.5.1 – what kind of bullshit is this?

I use Final Cut Pro X for all my videos. I love the feature set, and I’ve been happy with the way that Apple has constantly updated it since it’s release 9 years ago and haven’t charged any users for upgrades in that time.

That said, the latest update released – 10.5.1, features a major downgrade.

Prior to this release, you could export and upload your video in one step thru the sharing feature to YouTube. This made it extremely convenient to render and upload, and set your title, keywords and description all from within the Final Cut Pro X export dialog.

With 10.5.1, Apple has replaced this with a “YouTube and Facebook” option, which just exports the video to your disk at the “recommended” export settings for those services. This is a huge step back and takes what was a once step process before, and turns it in to a multi step process.

Now, I have to export the video. Then I have to login to YouTube, navigate to the Creator portal, click Upload Video, and then find the video on my filesystem and drag it to the browser. The main thing that’s annoying is that during this upload, I feel the need not to do any serious browsing, because if I somehow cause the browser to be unstable, and it crashes, I have to start the entire upload over again.

I’m sure Apple took this route because keeping compatibility with YouTube’s upload API was resource consuming. But it was a major friction point that Apple had turned in to a simple one step process.

I really hope they listen to their users and roll this feature back to how it was.

Categories
Audio Videography

Comica Boom X-D D2 versus Rode Wireless Go

Comparable wireless systems in price, with a clear value winner.

If you are looking at the Comica Boom X-D D2, you are probably also looking at the Rode Wireless Go as well and trying to decide between the two. While about the same price, the Comica Boom X-D D2 offers more bang for your buck. First, you are getting 2 transmitters in this set, versus the 1 transmitter with the Rode Wireless Go. Additionally, you are getting an LCD display on each transmitter on the Comica Boom X-D. The LCD transmitter shows battery strength and signal output. The Rode Wireless Go transmitter has 2 blue LED lights – one for battery (which only tells you if the battery is active, it doesn’t relay how much or how little battery you have left on the transmitter), and it’s pairing status with the receiver. Additionally, Comica includes 2 lavalier microphones in the set. This allows you to hit the ground running recording interviews and other multi person situations. You’ll have to purchase the lavalier microphones separately if you go with the Rode Wireless Go. Both systems come with dead cats (fuzzy attachments to dampen wind noise) for the units, but the Comica Boom X-D dead cats are easier to attach and have a more solid connection than the Rode Wireless Go, which is constantly being knocked off when I use it. 

The Comica Boom X-D’s wireless range isn’t quite as long as the Rode Wireless Go. The Comica is rated at  165 feet/50m  where as the Rode Wireless Go is rated at 230 ft/70 meters. I tested both out at 100 feet range, and both were still very strong at this distance. I don’t see much need for going beyond 100 feet, but if you work in an area where you record subjects over 165 feet away, the Rode might be for you.

Recorded signals with both systems set to 0 db resulted in a hotter output from the Rode Wireless Go. But the Comica Boom X-D was plenty loud enough, and only required a few db boost in post to get it to match the signal output of the Rode Wireless Go. Both sound clear and full. 

Both charge via USB-C and feature built in batteries. That makes both essentially disposable when the batteries inevitably fail. The Rode Wireless Go battery is rated at 7 hours, and the Comica Boom X-D is rated at 5 hours. The Rode charges in about 2 hours, and the Comica charges a bit quicker, at around 100 min.

Overall, if I could only have one of these systems, I’d choose the Comica Boom X-D. It’s not quite as loud as the Rode, and it’s range is a bit shorter, but it’s a solid system that gives you more flexibility in recording (with the extra transmitter and the included lavalier microphones). The LCD display on the transmitters is the feature that seals the deal. Not having the signal information on the transmitter on the Rode Wireless Go is a source of constant frustration when I use it, and it’s inclusion on the Comica Boom X-D makes using it much more enjoyable. 

Pros: 

  • Complete system with 2 transmitters and 2 lavalier microphones for what you would pay for 1 transmitter and no cavaliers microphones on the Rode Wireless Go.
  • LCD display on the transmitters provides easy to read, useful information
  • Dead cat attaches easily and isn’t easy to detach (like the Rode Wireless Go)
  • USB-C charging is convenient and quick

Cons:

  • Range, while good, isn’t quite as strong as the Rode Wireless Go
  • At 0db, the signal out of the Comica Boom X-D isn’t as strong as the Rode Wireless Go
  • No way to replace the battery, making this a disposable product.