Need a mic? Find a Yeti.

In the last few years it’s got­ten a bit easi­er to use a micro­phone to record audio on your home com­puter — USB head­sets with qual­ity micro­phones have been avail­able for a while, but only recently have USB desktop micro­phones oved out of the niche and spe­cialty retail­ers into the main­stream, driv­en mostly by the devel­op­ment of pod­cast­ing and Gar­age Band record­ing sys­tems.

But qual­ity desktop micro­phones were expens­ive — the keyword there is were — now we’re see­ing a bunch of new, high qual­ity USB desktop micro­phones in the retail­ers at a much more reas­on­able price-point.

The Blue Yeti is one such micro­phone that has quickly developed a bit of a repu­ta­tion for itself, in a good way, of course. So let’s take a look at some of the reas­ons the Yeti is get­ting some buzz.

All this on a micro­phone?
First off, the Yeti isn’t just a micro­phone. Inside the sturdy, heavy, burn­ished alu­mini­um case is actu­ally 3 con­dens­er micro­phone cap­sules, stra­tegic­ally loc­ated to provide 4 record­ing pat­terns. I’ll get into those in a moment.

And it’s a THX cer­ti­fied micro­phone:

THX cer­ti­fic­a­tion is either pass or fail. And product pri­cing is nev­er a driv­ing factor. If a product meets the THX test­ing stand­ards, then cer­ti­fic­a­tion is gran­ted. With all of this test­ing from THX, the con­sumer is assured that the TV, receiv­er or speak­er  sys­tem they are pur­chas­ing meets the highest stand­ards for qual­ity and com­pat­ib­il­ity right out of the box.

backcontrols.jpgAlso inside the unit all the hard­ware neces­sary to trans­late the ana­log audio into digit­al audio, and then pump it out the mini-USB port and into your com­puter.

This hard­ware includes a pre-amp (con­trolled by the Gain knob on the back) and a zero-latency head­phone jack so you can mon­it or the micro­phone audio without hav­ing to plug your head­phones into your com­puter, and  exper­i­ence that annoy­ing bit of audio lag (latency).

Three, no four mics in one.
Cap_300.jpg You see this neat shot of the three con­dens­er mic cap­sules? Well the way the Yeti uses them is kinda cool, because these three mics work­ing togeth­er give the Yeti the flex­ib­il­ity of four dis­tinct micro­phone pickup pat­terns.

The illus­tra­tion below shows the pat­terns and their best usages.

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Mobile Record­ing Stu­dio
One of the oth­er reas­ons I wanted to take a look at the Yeti was to explore it’s func­tion­al­ity in a highly mobile envir­on­ment — spe­cific­ally how it worked when con­nec­ted to the USB input in Apple’s Cam­era Con­nect­or Kit for the iPad.

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By com­bin­ing a high-qual­ity micro­phone with some of the soph­ist­ic­ated digit­al audio edit­ing soft­ware for iPad (such as Mul­ti­Track DAW), a poten­tially power­ful pod­cast­ing setup could be cre­ated.

3_500.jpg

Sweet Sounds
Yep, the Yeti works as a very nice and clean mic in a mobile situ­ation.

I recor­ded some audio of my wife set­ting up her acous­tic gui­tar, and while I’m no sound engin­eer, was quite impressed with the sound! Much bet­ter than any of the home / con­sumer mic’s I’d tried pre­vi­ously.

Ste­reo Nor­mal­ized by bgri­er

And, of course, I recor­ded the first para­graph of this blog post to give you an indic­a­tion of what voice sounds like through the Yeti. The Yeti was con­nec­ted through an inex­pens­ive USB hub to the iPad, which was run­ning Mul­ti­track DAW. Yeti gain was up a bit, and the mic was set into the Car­di­oid pat­tern.

Yeti Mic Test by bgri­er

Then Apple Changed Things
Sadly, in the last OS update, Apple changed the way power was sup­plied through the Cam­era Con­nect­or Kit USB port — and the Yeti stopped work­ing *when con­nec­ted dir­ectly to the iPad*.

The work­around is that you now need to put a powered USB hub between the Yeti and your iPad in order for the sys­tem to work again.

Mostly Mobile
So, as things stand, I’ve got a mostly mobile record­ing and pod­cast stu­dio.  The one major draw­back with the Yeti is it’s heft — it weighs in at 1.85kg.

Add to that the need for a powered USB hub now, and things are a bit more com­plic­ated — but not enough that I’d not con­sider using the Yeti / Hub / iPad com­bin­a­tion in a mobile set­ting.

Need a mic? Find a Yeti.
If you com­pare prices on sim­il­ar mics, you’ll find the Yeti extremely inex­pens­ive — con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of addi­tion­al fea­tures you get built in (multi-pat­tern, THX cer­ti­fic­a­tion, intern­al Pre-amp, etc), well worth a ser­i­ous look, or listen.

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I have a new blog! And a contest!

iPad Darkroom Icons Header (480px)

Over the last little while you may have noticed I’ve become a bit iPad cent­ric. To be spe­cif­ic, I’ve been explor­ing using the iPad as a port­able, digit­al dark­room.

Yes, the iPad doesn’t have a cam­era (for now, maybe in ver­sion 2?), but that shouldn’t stop us from using it to manip­u­late images impor­ted into the iPad.

A few of my Future Shop posts have explored this concept, most recently this series I’ve star­ted on digit­al dark­room work­flow.

But there’s so much stuff to talk about that I thought it deserved it’s own blog. And now it does:

iPad Darkroom Logo

iPad Dark­room is a place where I’ll start shar­ing inform­a­tion on Apps, Tools and Tech­nique for using your iPad as a core com­pon­ent of digit­al pho­to­graphy.

I hope you take a look around, it’s still quite new and a little rough in spots — that’ll be fixed up in the com­ing days.

And do feel free to leave your thoughts, here or on the blog itself.

Oh, I almost for­got. To really kick the blog off with a bang, I thought I’d have anoth­er blog con­test — with the help from my good friends over at Mac­Phun.

All the details on the con­test are, of course, over at iPad Dark­room. So go! Enter the con­test, and let me know what you think!

Woot! New Canon Rebel T3 cameras

T3.jpg

Last year around this time, Can­on intro­duced the Rebel T2i (also known as the EOS 550D). An awe­somely speced-out cam­era, as all the Rebel’s are, aimed squarely at the con­sumer Digit­al SLR and home video mar­ket — yes, the Rebel T2i was a true hybrid.

Well, today Can­on reprised that tune with the announce­ment of the two new Rebels; the Can­on Rebel T3 (EOS 1100D) and Can­on Rebel T3i (EOS 600D).

The T3 (pic­tured above) looks like a great, mod­ern entry-level DSLR with some power­ful fea­tures. Here’s a few that caught my eye:

  • High Res­ol­u­tion 12.2MP CMOS Sensor
    A 12.2MP (APS-C sized) CMOS sensor and DiG!C 4 pro­cessor cap­tures high res­ol­u­tion images boast­ing excep­tion­al sharp­ness, clar­ity, ton­al range and noise reduc­tion.
  • EOS scene detec­tion tech­no­logy
    Enhance Pho­tos Eas­ily — When you want to go bey­ond Auto­mat­ic Mode, Cre­at­ive Auto allows you to change the photo fin­ish to exactly how you want it.
  • Live View Func­tion
    Live View allows you to com­pose your shots using the large LCD mon­it­or. This func­tion is now avail­able in ALL shoot­ing modes includ­ing Full Auto and Movie Mode.
  • 63 Zone Dual-Lay­er Meter­ing Sys­tem
    This Meter­ing Sensor ana­lyzes col­our and lumin­os­ity inform­a­tion sur­round­ing the chosen AF points to optim­ize expos­ure and image qual­ity.

That’s just a few of the fea­tures on the inside. On the out­side the T3 is a very styl­ish cam­era too — avail­able in Black, Red, Brown and Metal­lic Grey — some colour’s you don’t find often on DSLRs.

For a full-up pre­view and more details, check out DPReview’s writeup.

T3i.jpg

Mov­in’ on up
But if you’re a more advanced pho­to­graph­er look­ing to gradu­ate into a cam­era that offers you more cre­at­ive options with more ser­i­ous tech, check out the Can­on Rebel T3i.

T3i_screen.jpgMore closely aligned with it’s pre­de­cessor, the Rebel T2i, the T3i breaks tra­di­tion with the pre­vi­ous Rebel mod­els by adding this one cool fea­ture; a large Vari-Angle LCD dis­play screen — A First to the Rebel Series.

The 3.0” Vari-Angle LCD screen makes it easy to shoot from very high or low-angles. Fea­tures a 3:2 wide aspect ratio, and an incred­ible 1,040,000 pixel res­ol­u­tion, allow­ing for pre­cise focus check­ing.

Flash!
Anoth­er neat fea­ture when you’re using multi-flash light­ing lay­outs is the abil­ity to remotely trig­ger and con­trol the power of extern­al flash guns — the fea­ture is called ‘Integ­rated Wire­less flash con­trol­ler with multi-flash sup­port’.

Full HD 1080
And one fea­ture that rein­forces the hybrid status of the Rebel line is the abil­ity to record full HD res­ol­u­tion movies at 1920 x 1080p.

Con­sumer or Prosumer?
Both cam­er­as are part of Canon’s con­sumer line. Yet the line between con­sumer and pro­fes­sion­al equip­ment is get­ting quite blurred — espe­cially with the intro­duc­tion of power­ful equip­ment like this. I can’t wait to get my hands on them and give them a workout :smileyhappy:
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Havin’ a ball

Some­times it great just to kick back and play ball with the dogs. Espe­cially when it’s -20 some­thing out­side and the little Daschunds just don’t enjoy play­ing out­side. Yes, they like their squeaky balls.

Red Ball FTW

As you can tell, I’ve been play­ing with pho­tos in my iPad Dark­room. This shot was taken with my Panason­ic FZ-30, expor­ted from the SD card to the iPad using Apple’s Cam­era Con­nect­or Kit. There, I cropped it using Pho­to­Pal. Then loaded it into Cam­era+ for a bit of fil­ter­ing (Tail­fins fil­ter) and a nice ‘film look’ bor­der.

Then, shared on flickr and on #mostly365, and Cam­era+ page.

Revisiting an old friend

It’s a new year, so the slate is clean and there’s lots of new things to try. Or old things that dropped off the radar to revis­it.

In my case, it’s pho­to­graphy and image pro­cessing. I used to enjoy work­ing in a wet dark­room and watch­ing images mater­i­al­ize on paper. That was years and many moves ago. My wet gear has long since van­ished, and my atten­tion turned to oth­er things.

Recently, you’ll have noticed I’ve star­ted explor­ing iPad Dark­room apps and tech­no­logy — and have once again become inter­ested in mak­ing and enhan­cing images in post pro­duc­tion.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Revis­it­ing an old friend”

Keeping your holiday photos safe

fz50.jpgThe hol­i­day sea­son is upon us, which means that we’ll be enjoy­ing time spent with fam­ily and friends. Many of us will grab our handy cam­era-enabled data phones and snap price­less shots that we’ll want to share, and keep for pos­ter­ity.

But that’s where the tech can get a bit tricky. Sure, we’ve tried shar­ing to our vari­ous Face­book, Flickr and Picasa accounts, but what about the ‘sav­ing for pos­ter­ity’ part.

Pho­tos in the Cloud
Well, two of those three ser­vices men­tioned above are a great start. Here’s the four that I’ve seen and used that will offer sol­id photo ser­vice over the hol­i­days and into the future:

  • Flickr offers a Pro level account (about $25 per year for unlim­ited photo and video stor­age) that will keep all your pho­tos online and avail­able. Free gives you unlim­ited stor­age, but only your most recent 200 pho­tos are view­able. Online image edit­ing provided by Pic­nik.
  • Picasa has a free account that offers 1GB of free photo stor­age and basic image edit­ing tools.
  • Smug­Mug is pri­ci­er, offers three levels of ser­vice, and is geared toward the more ser­i­ous pho­to­graph­er.
  • Adobe Pho­toshop Express gives you access to basic online photo edit­ing and organ­iz­a­tion tools, and 2GB of free photo stor­age. Addi­tion­al stor­age space can be pur­chased annu­ally.

flickr.jpg

So, what’s so great about stor­ing your pho­tos online any­way?

  1. Backup — you don’t have to worry about keep­ing your images safe; the ser­vice you’re using does that.
  2. Shar­ing — easy to embed the images into blogs, email and twit­ter mes­sages. Each photo usu­ally has a pub­lic URL that’s shar­able (or private, if that’s your thing).
  3. Print­ing — a few of the ser­vices are offer­ing part­ner­ships with pro­fes­sion­al print­ing labs which lets you pro­duce pho­to­books, cus­tom prints etc.
  4. Integ­ra­tion — some of the more pop­u­lar ser­vices are already integ­rated into your iPhone cam­era applic­a­tions (such as Instra­gram). Push a but­ton and your latest shot is uploaded to the ser­vice, ready for you to edit and share.

Loc­al stor­age?
Yep, you can keep your pho­tos on your own com­puter, but you do run risks should your com­puter crash or worse. I do keep the major­ity of my images at home, stored on a net­work attached stor­age device that’s got two drives, one a mir­ror of the oth­er. So if one should die, I’ve got a copy of my data on the oth­er.

Also, I backup my pho­tos weekly, and move the backup drive to an off­s­ite loc­a­tion for even great­er safety. Yeah, a house­fire would ruin a lot of things, but I know my pho­tos and oth­er import­ant data would be safe.

Your needs?
It depends. Take a sol­id think about what you plan to do with your pho­tos, how you want to share them, and how import­ant they are to you (can you afford to lose them?). I’ve likely giv­en you some ideas to try and exper­i­ment with as we head into the hol­i­days. I’d love to hear what you’ve tried and how it worked (or didn’t).