Logitech Listened! C920 Webcam Has a Tripod Mount

In October 2011 I posted a rant asking Logitech to add a tripod mount to their webcams. While readers did point out that the C615 does in fact have one, my webcam of choice was the C910, which did not have one. “Hey Terry! Why do you even need a webcam since your MacBook Pro has an HD FaceTime camera built-in?” The FaceTime HD camera that is built-in to my MacBook Pro is fine for video chat, Skype, FaceTime, etc. however, for my video recording/podcasting needs I want to be able to mount the camera higher than the top of my laptop. Logitech seemed to be stuck on this being the only option for the majority of their cameras. I did ultimately get a C615 and I use it on the road because it’s so small. I usually mount it to a Gorillapod and life is good. However, when I’m in studio or at home I prefer the higher quality of the C…… oh wait, they have a new one….

The Logitech C920 is What I Asked For!

Hands down the NEW Logitech C920 has to be the best if not one of the best webcams for the money. The video quality is crystal clear and smooth. Also at long last it has a standard tripod mount in the base! Woohoo!

You can immediately see the advantage of being able to mount the camera where you want in the sample above. I’m sitting at my desk and the FaceTime HD camera is tilted up so that I can see my screen. However, the Logitech C920 is mounted on a tripod right in front of my desk and is aimed straight on. This way I can put the camera where ever I want. You can even see the difference in lighting/quality in these unretouched/unadjusted screen grabs.

I record my video tutorials/demos using Screenflow. Screenflow recognized the new camera right away with no need to install any drivers or other software.

“Terry, can’t you use your Nikon D7000 or D4 for even better quality?” Sure and I have used my DSLRs for better quality than these sub $100 webcams. The problem though is that it adds to the post production process since the video would then have to sync’d and edited in afterwards vs recording directly into Screenflow. Also DSLR video is harder to focus when you’re working alone :)

They did more than just add a tripod mount

This camera got some beefier specs too! Adding onboard compression (reduces CPU usage of your computer) and H.264 as well.

The Bottom Line

This is my new favorite webcam for screen casting and recording my Creative Suite Video Podcast. You can get the Logitech C920 here for about $80. (List price $99.99)

Elgato Thunderbolt SSD Portable Drive – Fast, Expensive

 

I’m always in search of the fastest portable external drive I can find and I think I found it. I got the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD 240GB drive. It is by far the fastest portable external hard drive I’ve ever used, rivaling the speed of my internal SSD drive. Typically I use an external drive to boot from while running beta software or beta OS’s. While I’m testing things like Adobe CS 6 I want it to perform as fast as it does when I’m booted from my regular internal drive.

The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD Portable Drive is FAST, but has a flaw

While this drive definitely has the speed I’ve always wanted, it doesn’t come cheap. It comes in two flavors. There is a 120GB version for $429.95 and the 240GB version for $699.95! Those prices are crazy, but they are what they are. While the price could be a big showstopper for many, the price is not the flaw I was thinking of. The one problem with this drive is that it only has ONE Thunderbolt port. That doesn’t sound like much of a problem except that Apple uses the Thunderbolt port on MacBooks to also connect mini-display adapters too. This means that I can’t have the drive plugged in AND a projector. That kinda kills it for me for using this drive when doing live presentations.

This and other Thunderbolt devices need to have two ports. You need the ability to be able to pass through to a second device or display. Apple did a good job in putting multiple ports in their Thunderbolt Display and Belkin is coming out with a $299 Thunderbolt hub (it also has Firewire 800 and other ports to help justify the price), but we shouldn’t need a hub just to hook up a display and a drive. Other than this flaw, there is no doubt that the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD drives is one of the fast bus powered portable hard drives that you can get.

You can check out the Elgato drives here and here.

Shooting Wirelessly with The Nikon D4 and WT-5

You can find all kinds of reviews and sample images on both the Nikon D4 and D800 out there. My goal here is not so much to review this great new camera, but to put it to the test when it comes to shooting wirelessly with the New WT-5 WiFi module. The WT-5 currently only works with the D4 as it plugs into a special new port that only the D4 has. This was one of actually one of the deciding factors that pushed me to the D4 instead of the D800 (although the D800 should work with Eye-Fi cards).

Wireless Freedom

When I’m in studio I’m shooting tethered to my MacBook Pro and Adobe Lightroom 99.9% of the time. This means long USB cables and enviably tripping over them. The D4 has a USB port on it as well as an Ethernet Port! While the potential for fast Ethernet transfers intrigues me, it would still mean having a cable attached and potentially tripping over it regularly. While I had no doubts that the WT-5 would work, the question was would it be fast enough to allow me to cut the cable?

Last night I did my first shoot with the Nikon D4 and I did the entire shoot wirelessly with the WT-5! I configured the WT-5 to connect to my studio’s WiFi network and to send the images directly to my MacBook Pro on the same network. Keep in mind that I shoot in RAW and the images (16.2 MP NEFs) are also being written to the card when you use the WT-5. I stuck in one of my new Transcend 32GB 400x CF cards, configured a Lightroom 4 to Auto Import from the Nikon folder and began shooting.

The 1st image takes a while

From the time you press the shutter till the time you see the 1st image appear in Lightroom it can take an agonizing 30-60 seconds (wow we’re impatient). Much of this time is for the WT-5 to wake up, connect to your WiFi network and find your computer. However, if you keep shooting the subsequent images come in much much faster, usually 5-8 seconds for RAW. That’s much more acceptable and usable. While it wasn’t fun waiting for the 1st image to come in during my live shoot, it wasn’t the end of the world. Once I saw that the lighting was right I could just keep right on shooting knowing that the rest of the images would be transferring as I shot.

Here’s a video on how long it takes…

 

The Bottom Line

While shooting tethered via a wire is faster and cheaper, I’ll take the speed hit to shoot wirelessly any day! This solution also works great with the recently updated Shuttersnitch App on iPad. The WT-5 is way way way overpriced IMHO, but it works as advertised and the ability to add multiple profiles, setup an adhoc network, shoot directly to a PC/Mac via the Nikon software or to any FTP server makes it a killer solution for those that want/need wireless shooting. Next I’ll play with the remote control capabilities of the WT-5 and controlling it from any web browser including Safari on iOS.

You can get the Nikon D4 here

You can get the Nikon WT-5 here

Homeworks Internet Controllable Radio Thermostat

Programmable thermostats are certainly not a new thing. I’ve had one in my home for several years. They allow you to lower your energy costs by turning the temperature up/down automatically at times throughout the day/night where you’re either not home or wouldn’t notice as much because you’re asleep. You can set these times and days of the week to match your daily routine/schedule. While that’s all well and good, it doesn’t help much in a situation where you don’t have a daily routine. For example, in my studio I’m not there on any kind of regular schedule. Some days I could be there every day for several days in a row and other times I could be gone for weeks at a time. In the past I would simply put the thermostat on the lowest setting before I leave and turn it back up when I arrive. There have also been times where I’ve forgotten to turn it down and the heat was going for no reason for a day or two with no one there. I started looking for a better solution.

The Homeworks Radio Thermostat was the answer

This thermostat is programmable like all the others, but it also allows you to control it via an App on your smartphone or tablet over the internet or locally via WiFi! With the App I can see the current temperature of the studio AND adjust the thermostat remotely at any time. If I forget to adjust it when I leave, no problem as I can now adjust it from anywhere in the world. If I want to turn the air conditioning on to cool it down before I arrive, I just pull out my iPhone and adjust the thermostat on my way in. So far this device and App have worked really well.

Installation – While I have installed thermostats myself in the past, I decided to let my electrician do it since I had him out working on other things anyway. It didn’t take him long to wire it up. Once It was installed all I had to do was set it up via the iOS App (works on Android too) and connect it to my WiFi network and pair to my account. From that point I could control it from my iPhone or iPad inside the building or via the internet from anywhere. The only thing that I can’t seem to figure out how to do is to switch it from Heat to Cool or to Auto from the App. I can do this from the panel itself, but not remotely. Otherwise, I have the control I need from the App.

You can get the Homeworks Radio Thermostat here for about $107.

You can get the App for free here from the iTunes

Adobe Announces Photoshop CS6 Beta – See My Top 6 Favorite Features!

Today we are releasing a Public Beta of one of my all time favorite tools – Adobe Photoshop CS6 Beta is here!

New Features in Photoshop CS6 Beta

Photoshop CS6 beta demonstrates Adobe’s focus on huge performance enhancements, imaging magic and creativity tools that offer customers a new experience in digital imaging. Key features include new additions to the Content-Aware tools: Content-Aware Patch allows greater control by letting users select and duplicate an area of an image to fill in or “patch” another. Content-Aware Move lets users select and magically move an object to a new place in the image.

Customers will experience incredible performance, powered by the new Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine*, enabling near-instant results from popular editing tools including Liquify, Puppet Warp, Transform and Lighting Effects; and a refined, modern interface featuring dark UI options to make images pop. New and re-engineered design tools make creating designs faster and more efficient. Vector layers allow users to apply dashed lines and gradient strokes, searchable layers help quickly zero in on any layer you need, and new type styles let designers quickly apply type treatments to their designs.

In addition, the Photoshop CS6 beta offers all the features of Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended, such as new 3D editing features and quantitative imaging analysis capabilities. These features will be included in the shipping version of Photoshop CS6 Extended when it becomes available.

My Top 6 Favorite Features of Photoshop CS6

As usual I’ve got my favorite features and I’m going to share them with you in this video:

Grab your copy of the Photoshop CS6 Beta here.

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Suite Videos on my Adobe Creative Suite Podcast and get the App here. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version:

Learn Adobe Creative Suite with Terry White - Wizzard Media

What I’m Teaching at Photoshop World DC

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to head out to one of my favorite shows – Adobe Photoshop World. This year’s east coast event takes us to Washington DC. As usual I have a slew of classes that I’m teaching on a variety of topics. Everything from using the iPad in your Digital Photography Workflow, to InDesign classes for Photographers and Designers, to Importing and Managing your Images in Lightroom 4. Also while I’ve got your attention, the class that I’m doing on creating Interactive Portfolios is based on using InDesign to create Interactive Portfolios for Tablets.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Today ONLY: Amazon offers the Transcend 32GB 400x Compact Flash Card for $51.99

I’ve been using the Transcend 16GB and 32GB SD cards for quite a while now in a variety of different cameras including my Nikon D7000 exclusively with no issues to date. Today (Monday, March 19, 2012) Amazon.com is offering the Transcend 32GB 400x Compact Flash card for $51.99! I just ordered two of these for my New Nikon D4, which is on the UPS truck to be delivered today!

Check out the Transcend 32GB 400x Card here.

I went with the Verizon iPad WiFi+4G LTE

On Friday I posed the question: “Which iPad WiFi+4G LTE is Better: Verizon or AT&T?” and overwhelmingly people responded with “go with Verizon.” When I woke up that morning and looked at the comments on the blog and social media, I decided to head out to the Verizon store on my way to my studio. I figured that although I absolutely hate standing in lines for this stuff, it would be worth a shot. Keeping in mind that I was meeting someone at my studio at 9AM and that left me very little time from doors open at 8:00 AM to get in and out. I got to the Verizon store at 7:37 and I was stunned to see absolutely no line whatsoever!

I thought to myself “something must be wrong! I’m never 1st in line, let alone “only one” in line.” A sales rep opened the door and asked if I was here for the new iPad and I said “yes” and he told me that they would open at 8. I asked if they had the 64GB model in and he said that he would check. A few minutes later I looked back in the window and he gave me the thumbs up. By the time the doors opened at 7:56 AM (for the mad rush), there were only 4 of us there.

I was in and back out with a Black 64GB Verizon WiFi+4G LTE iPad in hand by 8:01 AM.

Why did I go with Verizon one this one?

My 1st two iPad WiFi+3G models were on AT&T and since I got in on the ground floor of an “unlimited data plan” with no contract, when the New iPad was announced I just automatically ordered the AT&T version. Then I started reading some other posts online asking “why go with the AT&T one?” and it got me thinking and doing a little research. This really cast a doubt in my mind as to why I should stick with the AT&T version? Here’s what I found out:

Verizon’s 4G LTE coverage in over 200 cities above.
AT&T’s 4G LTE Coverage above and with Michigan not even in the Coming Soon area.
  • I live in Michigan and Verizon has LTE service here and AT&T doesn’t. Not only don’t they have it, but it’s not even on the publicized roadmap for this year!
  • I travel abroad quite a bit and this was a big concern until I found out that the Verizon version also supports GSM and has a standard Micro SIM slot too. Yes Verizon does international too, but GSM is EVERYWHERE!
  • Lastly Verizon supports wireless tethering (sharing your fast LTE connection with your laptop or other WiFi devices) at no additional cost while AT&T is still scratching their heads on how or when they will make it available. <-this was kinda the last straw!

How well does it work?

I got back to my desk and began the setup and restore process on the New iPad. Once it was done, I saw the Verizon status bar, but before I setup an account I popped my AT&T SIM with unlimited data from my iPad 2 and put it in the New Verizon iPad and my jaw dropped when it just worked. I turned off WiFi and was surfing on AT&T’s faux 4G  (non LTE)  HSPA+ network from my Verizon iPad.

I put the Verizon SIM back in (yes it comes with one) and setup a 2GB/month plan for $30/month. Next I had to test the LTE speed

Whoa!

Yes the speeds live up to the hype. Very close to if not exceeding many broadband connections in people’s homes today and certainly faster than anything I’ve seen on AT&T to date.

Finally I have tethering

One of my other frustrations is that while I enjoy an unlimited data plan on my corporate iPhone 4s, I can’t do a Personal Hotspot (without jailbreaking) because in order to add that feature I’d have to give up the grandfathered unlimited data plan that I have. I have an AT&T MiFi (yes another monthly cost). So perhaps one of the tipping points was that Verizon freely allows tethering with no additional charges or contracts. You buy your data plan and use it the way you want. What a concept!

It’s also FAST! Here’s a speed test from my MacBook Pro while using the Personal Hotspot over the iPad’s 4G LTE connection.

Speedtest from my MacBook Pro tethered to the New iPad’s 4G LTE connection

 

Going Abroad

While Verizon claims that their iPad will work in other countries I see no provision for adding any international roaming data the way AT&T does directly on the iPad. Granted AT&T’s international roaming rates aren’t cheap and you can probably do better picking up a local SIM in the country you’re visiting, but at least they are convenient to do right there on the device and you buy as much or as little as you need for a trip. When that data runs out or the month (30 days) expires you can buy more when you need it. This is definitely one of those times where I could see the need to pop back in the AT&T SIM or a local SIM that you get in the country you’re visiting. Verizon wants you to call them and enable International Roaming and they aren’t really advertising the rates from what I can see.

 

The Bottom Line – The Best of Both Worlds

While I have no real love or hate for AT&T, I haven’t had any problems to date with my last two iPads. However, from a competitive feature advantage and 4G LTE coverage advantage I have to give the nod to Verizon! I returned my unopened AT&T iPad to the Apple Store over the weekend with no regrets. I have the option of keeping the unlimited AT&T data account by simply hanging on to the SIM (and continuing to pay for it) for a bit and see if I ever need it. Lastly because of the Tethering feature I could potentially kill my MiFi account and even save money while still hanging on to the AT&T plan as the MiFi plan costs more. Not to mention the iPad gets about 4x the amount of battery life of my MiFi.

 

Whoa, whoa, whoa, what about the Retina Display, speed, etc.

I thought I was done here, but you probably want to hear my impressions about the New iPad in general. So here are a few first impressions:

  • Although the New iPad is technically heavier I don’t notice the weight much. I did notice it going from the iPad to iPad 2 and figured that this one would feel heavy again. It doesn’t.
  • Yes the retina display is nice, but honestly with MY EYES, I can’t see that big of a difference YET. I have an eye doctor appt this afternoon as I’m overdue for new glasses :)
  • Photos still look great (ones at 1024×768 or higher), but I can’t DEFINITELY see the difference in LOW RES photos now. They look jaggy! If you are using your iPad as a portfolio device you’re definitely going to want to replace your photos on it with high res versions. While most of my photos look fine, some were apparently a lower resolution than others and I can see the difference immediately.
Low res photo above looks really bad zoomed in on the iPad Retina Display
My existing photos at larger resolutions of 1024×768 (and higher) look fine zoomed in.
  • YES, the camera is much better. That’s not hard to do since I viewed the camera on the iPad 2 as “unusable” for photos. I still wont’ be doing much shooting with it, but it’s nice to know that at least now I could.
  • Larger screen captures. Since you now have 2048×1536 resolution this means that your screen captures are going to be at the higher res too. This is a good thing for authors and bloggers.
  • Is it worth upgrading from an iPad 2? Probably not unless you want the faster speed of the 4G networks. Otherwise, you might want to skip this one and wait for next year’s model. If you don’t have an iPad or you have a 1st generation iPad, it’s time to upgrade. I’m already starting to see new Apps come out that don’t work on the original iPad. That trend will likely continue.

Get the SpeedTest App I used above here on the iTunes

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