#238 Camera Bags, Better Touch Tool, Canon HF S100, Orton Effect

My impressions of hearing the NosillaCast hosted by Bart and Chit Chat Across the Pond with Lola Wong. Tamrac Adventure 9 vs. LowePro Micro Trekker 100 camera bags. Matt Hillyer of the Stealth Mac Podcast thestealthmac.com gives us an update on the Tom Tom iPhone application and a freeware utility called Better Touch Tool from blog.boastr.net for controlling the Magic Mouse. Rose from Hobart tells the tale of her new 27″ iMac. In Dumb Question Corner Gaz asks a question that’s too hard about emptying the trash, and John asks a perfect dumb question about how to deauthorize a Mac for iTunes after you’ve wiped it and sold it. Steve Sheridan gives a review of the Canon HF S100 HD Camcorder, how he chose it and his impressions of the camera. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart teaches us how to do the Orton effect on photos using any pixel image editor, a great way to make awesome photos of your Christmas tree (bartb.ie/blog/?p=1494)

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Today is Sunday December 27th, 2009 and this is show number 238. Well it’s great to be back from Mexico, it was hard work applying all that suntan lotion, finding enough lawn chairs for the family, waving down the cabana boys to bring us margaritas, I’m so glad to be home. It’s the weirdest (in a good way) thing to hear the show when I’m gone. I love hearing Bart do the show, his voice is so lyrical and fun, and I love him talking about how hard it is too – it’s nice to have someone else walk a mile in my shoes and appreciate the work this takes!

I took a bunch of notes when Bart was talking so I’d remember what I wanted to say when I got back. When Bart and Lola were chit chatting they were talking about his camera bag and Lola asked if it was a LowePro. Coincidentally I just got a LowePro camera bag! I have a bag I LOVE – it’s a Tamrac Adventure 9 from tamrac.com. I love it because it carries my SLR in a tight area for the camera and three lenses, then has a small pocket area big enough to carry a jacket and lunch, PLUS it has a slide in slot for my laptop. it’s the ultimate bag for travel, because I can cram in chargers and all kinds of other crapola like books. So why did I get a new case?

Well that GIANT case is a big pain in the butt if you’re going to someone’s barbecue and you want to throw in the camera to take a few snapshots. I remember dragging it to high school award ceremonies and feeling like the camel carrying supplies for a 3 month safari or something. (Wait, do camels go on safari or am I mixing continents? never been good at geography!) ANYWAY, I really needed a small case that would still hold my camera and three lenses plus some space for a few chargers and stuff. When we were on vacation this summer Steve forgot his camcorder charger, so we went on a hunt for a universal charger and we found this delightful camera shop that did have the charger he needed (yay!) and they had the very perfect case I was looking for. It’s the LowePro Micro Trekker 100 which runs for around $50 on Amazon right now (of course it was $70 before Christmas). it’s sort of like a miniature version of the Tamrac.

It’s still a backpack, same configuration for the lenses, but a small zipper pocket over the front of the lenses that you can cram full of glasses and maybe a small paperback, and of course no room for the laptop. Handle on the top allows you to carry it that way if the backpack handles seem silly for a particular event. Comedically it comes with straps for across your chest and around your waist when in the backpack configuration, but we’ll probably just cut those off because they’re plain silly. Maybe when I was hanging upside down on the zip-line in Mexico that would have been important but that’s about the only reason I could think you’d need those! If you’re looking for a compact backpack-style camera case for an SLR, I think the LowePro Micro Trekker 100 is a fine choice.

Let’s see, another thing I heard in Chit Chat Across the Pond, Lola was describing everything she packed for her trip away to college. I LOVE that she packed all of her electronics and forgot SOCKS. Lola, you are SO my people! Every year Steve and I go away for one night to a swanky hotel to attend a formal dinner dance – tuxedos and full length dresses and all that. My packing list starts with camera, cell phone, chargers, laptops, MiFi…and somewhere way down the list are silly things like panty hose and high heeled shoes! one thing that left me wondering Lola – you said you packed a microphone but you didn’t tell us what one you favored? I was picturing a Blue Snowflake or something like that but I wasn’t sure. Please get back to us with this critical bit of information.

Al with a blue hawaiianI was VERY pleased that you actually caught Bart loving not one, but two things right out of the box! I have to say even Bart would have trouble finding flaw with a 27″ iMac, but he’s been known to be cranky about the most lovable things. I almost fell out of the hammock and spilled my Blue Hawaiian when I heard Bart say that he loved the Magic Mouse though – how could that be? It’s rare enough for normal people to like Apple mice, how you got him to say he liked one is completely beyond me.

Let’s see – one last thing – Lee, I can’t BELIEVE this was your first review on the Kodak Zi8! It was positively fabulous. Your voice is delightful, you covered many features without dragging it out, and you gave us both the good and the bad of the device. I thought it was very balanced and helpful. I sure hope you do more reviews for the show, besides me being inherently lazy and enjoying when others do all the heavy lifting on the show, I’d like to hear more about things you like or don’t like in technology.

Matt Hillyer update on TomTom and Mighty Mouse
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Matthew Hillyer, Host/Producer of The Stealth Mac Podcast at thestealthmac.com and matthillyer.com tells us about:

Thanks for the updates Matt – it sounds like the Tom Tom app is coming along nicely now. I was thinking it was overpriced at $50, but when i realize that to buy a new DVD with current roads for my Acura in dash GPS system is $75, it doesn’t sound too bad!

Rose
===insert Rose on new iMac=========
Rose regales us with tales of her new iMac. Links she references: re-set System Management Controller, ragingmenace.com/software/menumeters, re-set PRAM.

Well Rose I sure hope your iMac is fixed up nicely now with the reset PRAM. I would be very distressed to learn that you had to send it back after such a long time awaiting her arrival! I am also glad to see that you have your priorities straight on which Podcasts to load first.

ScreenSteps
It’s coming up on the new year, and that means new years resolutions. Here’s a fun one – how about resolving to find a better way to teach your friends and family how to do things on the computer? If you’re on a Mac or Windows, you could buy ScreenSteps to make beautiful lessons for them – complete with annotated screen shots and text you can write. If you have a website you can upload the lessons in html and even embed video screencasts inside the lessons. Are they more the print out a manual and draw lines on it in marker types? Then try the beautiful PDF output for a professional looking manual you’ll be proud to send them. ScreenSteps is only $40 for the standard edition or $80 for the Pro version, and you can even knock 25% off the purchase price by using my coupon code NOSILLA. Go now to screensteps.com and make your friends and family happy and make yourself look like a professional technical writer!

Dumb Question Corner
Gaz’s Trash Question
======insert Dumb Question Corner music==========
======insert Gaz==========
Ok Gaz, I don’t think you know how to play this game. See, you’re supposed to send in questions that are so dumb and trivial that you’re afraid to ask them! This is not the segment of the show where you send in a question that’s too hard for me to answer! You’re not playing fair. I spent over a day searching the internets for even the vaguest reference to this question and I came up empty. I did however learn a lot about the trash can, like there’s a separate one for each user, but I didn’t find any clues. I really wanted to conquer this one on my own, but it was clear I would have to bring in the big guns, so I broke down and brought Bart into the problem.

He had a few ideas. First he asked if Gaz was using secure empty trash, which actually deletes the same file three times. He also reminded me that some files are actually folders that have other things in them. We’ve talked about how the iPhoto library is one big honkin’ file but if you right click on it in Finder, you’ll see an option to view package contents, and if you do that you’ll find all of your images and meta data files and lots of other stuff. Other examples of files that look like one thing are GarageBand files, .app files, and even older versions of iWork can be the culprit. He came up with another idea – if you’re using a FAT32 drive, or any other non-HFS+ drive attached to your Mac, every file is actually two files. All of the stuff Windows doesn’t understand is stored in a separate file that the Finder doesn’t show. After all those great ideas, Bars said he was probably missing some more ways this could happen.

Now the way I deal with this problem is I don’t empty the trash but every month or so, (yeah, it really starts to stink after that long) and then there’s 126,473 files in it so you couldn’t possibly count them! Try that Gaz, and turn off that show hidden file thing! Next time come up with an easy question would you? Like how do I find a command in the OSX menus? or how do I put things in the left sidebar of Finder windows? Those qualify for Dumb Question Corner.

John on un-authorizing computers in iTunes
Now Gaz, you should learn from John Long on how to ask an appropriate Dumb Question. Here’s what he sent:

    Dear Allison, A dumb question. I got a new Mac Pro for Christmas and loaded all the stuff from my old machine to my new machine. When in iTunes on the new machine, I had to Authorize a couple things that I had purchased through Apple. It said this was the 5 of 5 computers. Well two of the computers I do not have any more they have been wiped and sold. Is there any way to “De- authorize” all of them and then Authorize just the ones I still have? Will any of my data (songs, movies, tv shows) be gone? Please help! I am sure others will have this question because Macs sold well for the Holidays!

This is a great one John, because it happens to so many people and there IS an easy answer to it. i don’t think one single time I’ve sold a Mac I remembered to deauthorize it! On top of that I would swear that it counts to 5 faster than I authorize new machines. Ages ago Apple was super snotty about this, you had to call them on the phone, I think you had to beg them and recite an anti-Microsoft chant in iambic pentameter, and only then would they de-authorize your computers. Now it turns out it’s really easy. I put a link in the shownotes to the Apple Support article at support.apple.com for everything you ever wanted to know about iTunes authorization. If you find you have reached 5 authorizations, you can reset your authorization count by clicking Deauthorize All in the Account Information screen. Click iTunes Store in the menu on the left side of iTunes.
If you’re not signed in to the store, click the Account button, then enter your account name and password. it’s kind of lame, but you have to click the Account button again (your ID appears on the button), enter your password, and then click View Account. finally in the Account Information window, you can click Deauthorize All.

See Gaz how that’s done? You pick a question LOTS of people have but is too embarrassing to ask because it seems like it should be easy. Got it? Try to do better next time, and ask John next time if you need help, ok?

Canon HF S100 Review by Steve Sheridan
Panasonic PV-GS180 old cameraWanted to make the switch from a Standard Def to a High Def video cam.

Have a Panasonic PV-GS180 digital video cam with 3 CCDs; my first digital video camera. Records to mini DV tape. Provides decent video quality but has some issues picking up noise from the tape drive when recording low audio levels. Integrates well with iMovie since it has a direct Firewire interface to transfer video directly to iMovie.

Goal was to get good high def video quality with recording onto SD cards in order to eliminate sound from a motor drive. Also wanted good low light performance so I looked for the camera with the largest sensor.

Selected the Canon HF S100 since it records onto SD cards, had a large sensor device (1/2.6 in vs 1/4 in CMOS), image stabilization, an accessory shoe and got good reviews.

Impressions:
Overall love the camera. Used it for a week in Mexico during our vacation and am now processing the video using Final Cut Express. I don’t yet have the finished product, but have seen results from the video clips I capture.

Canon HF S100Pros:

    1) Good quality video. I still need to explore the several levels of recording resolution available but even at the lowest bit rate I am quite pleased with the quality of the video. Low light performance however is adequate but not great. Given the larger sensor I was surprised it wasn’t better than it
    2) Great form factor: it fits very nicely in the hand, very light weight, buttons in logical positions, clean compact looking design.
    3) Good menus: They are fairly easy to navigate and find the function you need. Used the camera for a week vacation in Mexico and haven’t yet read the manual yet, but still getting used to the menu options.
    4) Good face detection. Automatically tracks faces within the image area and sets exposure and color control to the subject’s face.
    5) Good 2.7″ color LCD display with plenty of sharpness & brightness
    Rode Studio VideoMic at amazon6) No mechanical noise! Love the fact that since it records direct to SD cards so there is no motor involved which means no extraneous noise from a tape or disk drive.
    7) Good sound quality. Picks up sound well with good stereo separation. Also has a mini shoe and audio input jack you can use to attach an external mic for even better sound quality.
    8) Still camera an added bonus: Very good quality 8M pixel still photos. Comes with an excellent built in flash. Allison also bought a Rode Studio VideoMic

Cons:

    1) Does not come fully equipped: Does not even come with a small SD card. I ended up buying an extra battery pack, a charger, a couple 16 GB class 4 SD cards (not cheap for the size and speed required) . This ends up adding $400 to the already high price tag.
    2) Records in a special AVCHD format. I think this is a standard for recording to SD and possibly other media, but not tape. I had to upgrade to FCE 4.0 to get the feature that imports AVCHD video format.
    3) Range of zoom limited: The farthest wide angle setting is not quite wide enough. Would prefer a bit more wide angle at the lowest end of the zoom setting.
    4) No record light: Only can see the record indicator on the LCD display. There is no light on the front to tell the subject when you are recording. This could be a pro or a con depending on whether you are trying to capture the subject with or without their knowledge
    5) No view finder. Means you must have the LCD display on to record which drains the battery a bit quicker. Minor point since battery life is acceptable.

Overall I love the camera and and quite happy with it. I would recommend the camera to those who care about extraneous noise in environments with low audio levels. If price is a real driver and you aren’t sensitive to motor drive noise, I would consider other HD cameras with tape or disk drive options. There are cheaper options for cameras that record to SD cards.

Honda Bob
On Christmas my friend Diane was talking about an emerging idea – doctors who actually do house calls (what a crazy idea? what didn’t we think of that before?) and I realized that’s actually what Honda Bob does! Honda Bob does house calls, or maybe we should call them garage calls – he comes to tend to your sickly Honda or Acura cars right in your very own driveway. He fixes their ills, causes less damage to your pocketbook than most places, and leaves your cars running smoothly and safely. He’ll even do well-baby checkups – instead of inoculations he changes fluids and gaskets and that sort of thing to prevent mishaps that could cost you more money. If you live in the LA or Orange County areas and would like to have a house call, give Honda Bob a call at (562)531-2321 or send him an email at hdabob@aol.com. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.

Chit Chat Across the Pond
For Security Light was don’t have much – just that WordPress updated to version 2.9 so if you run your own blog, scamper right out there and run the updater! Then Bart teaches us how to do the Orton effect on photos using any pixel image editor, a great way to make awesome photos of your Christmas tree. Here’s his detailed instructions, including a ScreenSteps PDF file for easy downloading to follow along: bartb.ie/blog/?p=1494

That will wind up the final episode of the NosillaCast for 2009. I wish you all a safe and enjoyable New Year celebration, and we’ll see you in the new year. Please send in your dumb questions, comments and suggestions to allison@podfeet.com and be sure to follow me on at twitter.com/podfeet and you can follow Steve at twitter.com/spsheridan. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

7 thoughts on “#238 Camera Bags, Better Touch Tool, Canon HF S100, Orton Effect

  1. Bren - December 28, 2009

    Heard Bart describing the remote for his camera and thought “Cool!” Then I thought “There must be an app for that.”

    I think I’ve found one: http://itunes.apple.com/ie/app/remote-shutter-camera-bluetooth/id336914166?mt=8 (though the product description seems to have been translated – badly – from Japanese, so I’m not sure…)

    There’s also one more, which definitely works, but your camera needs to be connected to a computer that’s connected to wifi, which means at the best of times you’re going to have a very full camera bag. That comes in a lite and a heftily priced pro version at http://itunes.apple.com/ie/app/dslr-camera-remote-lite/id316771326?mt=8 and http://itunes.apple.com/ie/app/dslr-camera-remote-professional/id316771002?mt=8

    I’d give them a go to send you a review, but I don’t have one of those fancy-pants cameras Bart does, so I’ll leave it to you or to him or one of your other listeners.

  2. podfeet - December 28, 2009

    This looks kind of interesting – can’t tell how it works though. It says it’s blue tooth but my fancy-pants camera (same as Bart’s, the Nikon D40) doesn’t to my knowledge have bluetooth. or does it?

  3. Stefaan Lesage - December 30, 2009

    Interesting review on the HD Camcorder. I’m personally thinking of upgrading my HDV Camcorder lately. I’ve been swearing by a tape based High Definition workflow for a few years now. I have been sticking to it because the tapes can easily be archived and retrieved again for later use.

    Lately I’m seriously considering the option of an HD Camcorder which records to memory cards as well. Not sure what I’m going to take yet. I still love my Sony HDR-HC1E, but it just takes a lot of time to load the movies from the tapes into Final Cut Pro. That is now the main reason why I’m considering to switch to a memory card based workflow. From what I heard though, a Tape based workflow takes some time to read the movies from the tape but people have been telling me that the Memory Card based workflow isn’t necessarily faster. I heard some folks say that you end up spending more time in the rendering / conversion process. Do you have any feedback on that ?

    A few weeks ago I have seen a JVC GY-HM100U (http://pro.jvc.com/prof/attributes/features.jsp?model_id=MDL101845) at an Apple event here in Belgium. It looked pretty descent and apparently even records in a format you can directly import into Final Cut Pro (.mov or .mp4). It is still quite expensive though (3500$) but it is more of a prosumer level camera.

    Still not sure about which camera to get as you can see. I want someting at a prosumer level, but still quite portable and affordable.

    Regards,

    Stefaan

  4. Steve - December 30, 2009

    Stefaan-
    I understand your desire for using tapes to archive since they are relatively inexpensive. Archiving original video onto SD cards will be cost prohibitive. The only option I see for SD cards is to archive to hard disk, but that can also get expensive. Maybe archiving to BluRay is an option?

    Regarding the time to download your video from tape to FCP, is it in real time or slower than real time? I checked the download time with my Canon HF-S100 from SD card to FCE and it was slower than I originally thought. It downloads in roughly real time directly into FCE using a function called “Log and Transfer”. This feature was added in FCE4 (wasn’t in FCE3.5) to specifically import AVCHD formatted files generated by many cameras that use SD cards (possibly those that use disks as well). This transfer time includes any decoding required to get the file into a form readable by FCE.

    The Canon HF-S100 is a consumer level, not a prosumer level camera like the one you’re looking for, so you may be a level or two above what I am dealing with.

    Whatever way you go, remember that HD cameras require fast SD cards (class 4) which are pretty expensive. I think a 32GB card was about $400, so we compromised with two 16GB cards at about $100 each.

    Hope this helps. Good luck with your selection. Let me know what you end up with.

  5. Steve - December 31, 2009

    Allison-
    Weren’t you a little tough on Gaz? He did after all make an attempt at a dumb question. I think he should be applauded, even if his question was a level or two above the dumb rating. Possible candidate for a slightly dull question?
    Steve

  6. Namdar Bolour - January 7, 2010

    Hi Bren,

    Regarding remote control of the Nikon D40 camera, I too have a D40, and I can tell you it doesn’t have Bluetooth.

    I’m not sure there is a communications path between an iPhone and a D40 which would allow the iPhone to act as a convenient remote.

    I use the standard Nikon remote (ML-L3), which works by infrared. It’s about the size of an SD card, and has just one button (Allison will like that!). You can configure the camera, via the menus, to take the picture right away when you press the remote, or wait 2 seconds. The latter allows the photographer to put the remote away if he wants to be in the picture, before the camera snaps the picture, and I use this mode quite a lot. It’s great for self-portraits or when you want to get in on a group shot using a tripod, otherwise you’d look silly pointing the remote.

    You can also remotely control the camera via USB, and that includes -all- camera functions, not just shutter release. But this requires purchase of s/w from Nikon, about $100. Obviously, this would be more appropriate for studio use, unless you want to lug your laptop along on outings.

    — Nam

  7. Stefaan Lesage - January 18, 2010

    Hi guys,

    I promised to get back to you once I could get my hands on one of those JVC Camcorders. Well I rented one for a week and had a play with it. Since some other folks were interested in that specific device, I decided to write my own little review. You can find the results on our company website at : http://www.devia.be/news/article/our-review-of-the-jvc-gy-hm100-camcorder/

    Now I’m hoping I can get my hands on one of those new Sony HXR-NX5U camcorder in order to give it a similar treatment 🙂

    Regards,

    Stefaan

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