State of AirPlay Speakers

AirPlay is Apple's wireless technology that let's you stream audio and/or video to AirPlay enabled devices. AirPlay (formally known as AirTunes) first appeared in the original AirPort Express Base Station. The AirPort Express has a standard digital audio out jack on the bottom of it that lets you plug in a set of speakers or jack into an existing stereo system. Once you have the speakers plugged in you can stream music to them from your computer using iTunes or from your iOS Devices. Apple TV is also an AirPlay enabled device. With the Apple TV 2 you can also stream video to your TV wirelessly from your computer or iDevice. 

 

Setting up a multi-room AirPlay System

When I moved into my new studio I knew that I'd want music throughout the space. This meant have speakers in at least 3 areas. I've been patiently waiting for more AirPlay enabled speakers to hit the market. While I love my Bowers & Wilkens Zeppelin Air at home, I didn't want to spend that kind of money in this situation for all three rooms! I did get one Zeppelin Air for the largest area, but still needed something for the other two.

 

The folks at iHome have been teasing us with their $299 iW1 for over a year. As of the writing of this it's still out of stock (did they ever ship any?).

 

I also tried the JBL On Air Speaker. I usually don't waste time here writing about how bad something is, but the JBL On Air was probably one of my worst out of box tech experiences of all time. It just flat out didn't work! I made sure it did in fact have the latest firmware update, but it couldn't get through a single song without crashing, rebooting or skipping. I boxed it right back up and sent it back. Although I really liked the design of it and the nice color display for album art, I couldn't deal with that many issues on playback. Now keep in mind I may have just gotten a bad one. It happens, but I wasn't willing to go through shipping back and getting a replacement at this point.

 

Tired of waiting

Since the iW1 wasn't shipping yet and the Zeppelin Air is out of my budget range for this multi-room setup, I went with something that has always worked well for me. I bought a couple more AirPort Express Base Stations and plugged regular powered speakers into them. I'm a fan of the Bose Sounddock II and went with a couple refurbs on those. The system works flawlessly! I can push music through to all three systems simultaneously and even control volume levels from my computer or the speakers themselves. Using the Sounddocks also means that in any room an iPod/iPhone can be plugged in on the spot to play something that someone brought with them and wants to hear.

 

What about streaming other source besides iTunes

While I have a rather large iTunes music collection, there are times that I want to stream other music sources such as Pandora Radio or Sirius XM. This is where the software AirFoil comes into play. AirFoil is a 3rd party utility for your Mac or PC that lets you stream just about any source from your computer to your AirPlay speakers. With AirFoil I can fire up Pandora Radio and have continuous music throughout the day from just about any artist for just about any model or client's music tastes. 

You can check out AirFoil here.

Another reason to go with a computer and AirFoil is that while iOS Devices can stream to AirPlay enabled systems, they can only stream to one at a time. AirFoil and iTunes allow you to stream simultaneously to multiple systems. 

 

The Bottom Line

Even at the relatively low price of $299 for an iHome iW1, it's still hard to beat the AirPort Express Base Station for an AirPlay setup. You can plug in any powered speakers you want or already own and will probably save money. I'll probably still get an iW1 to review and if it works out I'll use it in a 4th location up stairs or in my office. There are more AirPlay enabled speakers and receivers on the horizon. While it's nice to have this technology built-in, unless they become much more reliable, stable, easier to setup and lower the prices I'm going to stick with the AirPort Express/Regular Speakers Combo. It just works!

A Software Update To My Watch

  

Along with the iPhone 4S introduced this week, Apple also did minor updates to the iPod line too. With the iPod nano Apple added additional clock faces. The original iPod nano 6th gen only had a black face and a white face for the clock. There are now 18 clock faces for the iPod nano including Kermet, Mickey and Minnie Mouse as well as some digital faces and even faces with moving gears. The good news is that you don't need to buy a new 7th gen Nano to get these faces. Apple also released a software update for the existing iPod nano. I installed it Tuesday and got all the new goodies. 

 

It could be better

There is one thing stopping this from being near perfect and that's the fact that you still need to press the physical button on the side to see the time. I wish there was a way to set it so that it stays dim until you touch the screen or perhaps use the accelerometer to shake to see the time. Other than that, it's great having so many clock face choices that I can change anytime I feel like it.

 

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day the iPod nano is an iPod first that just happens to have a clock display. If you need a watch that you can just look at and see the time, then this is not for you. However, if you want to carry a sizable music collection, some photos, have a way to track your runs/walks and have a stylish watch, then check out the new lower priced iPod nanos. Here's the band I use.

Which Rumored iPhone 5/4S Feature Are You Looking Forward To Most?

Today Apple will be announcing a New iPhone 5 or 4S or both. As usual the rumored features have been flying around for weeks. We will soon find out what's real and what's not, but out of curiosity "Which Rumored Feature Are you Looking Forward To Most?"

 

Which iPhone 5 Feature Are You Looking Forward to Most?
 4G Data
 Sprint Service
 Faster Processor – A5
 Larger Display
 8MP Camera
 Better Antenna/Fewer Dropped Calls
 Thinner
 Better Battery Life
 Something Else
 I don't want an iPhone
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Adobe Creative Announcements at MAX 2011!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr_KML5H13k

Amazing Opening To Adobe MAX here in Los Angeles

 

I'm just getting back from the Adobe MAX Keynote where we announced a bunch of NEW Apps, acquisitions and the Adobe Creative Cloud. Rather than sit here and try to recap every detail it's easier just to point you to the Adobe Blog posts that have already been written on each topic (I'll personally have more to come on each of these as time goes on:)

 

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Photoshop Touch <-Photoshop on your tablet!

Adobe Touch Apps (see videos of the Adobe Touch Apps in action here)

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite SINGLE EDITION <-what so many of you have been asking for!

Adobe Acquires TypeKit

Woodwing moves their solution over to the Adobe Publishing Suite!

Adobe to acquire Nitobi, creator of PhoneGap

 



It was definitely an exciting keynote and I'm jazzed about the new possibilities!

Great Time at My Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk

 

Once again I led a photowalk in the Detroit area for the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk. This time I decided to try a different kind of location as opposed to the usual urban scenes of the city. We did our walk at the Franklin Cider Mill.

 

When I chose this location I figured it would give us a chance to see some fall colors and some more rustic imagery. 

What I didn't realize at the time was that one of our walkers and good friend Jamie Feldman knew the owner.

 

We had unprecedented access to the entire location including some behind the scenes looks at how the Cider process happens from start to finish. 

 

The weather started out on the cold side, but after about an hour the sun came out and it tuned into a great day for shooting. 

 

I'm looking forward to seeing the shots from our walk and I can already tell it's going to be hard picking winners.

 

Thanks goes out to all that attended my walk!

Guest Blog by Jason Lykins: How Phone and Camera Choices are Similar

The iPhone 4 SLR Mount at the Photojojo Store! (not a great idea in our opinion)

 

The other day a friend of mine and I were talking about the upcoming release of a new iPhone and he asked me a deceptively simple question, “do you ever see yourself switching to an Android?” My first response was no, I could never see myself not having an iPhone. My initial response was based on immediate things that came to mind for me as to why. First, I really love the UI (user interface) of the Apple iPhone. There is something about the way everything is just seamless and integrated. The look and feel of the iPhone makes other phone operating systems seem clunky and unrefined to me. The integration with my iPad, Apple TV, Macbook Pro, and iTunes is something that I have become accustomed to and couldn’t see myself living without. Then I said something that caused me to have an epiphany; I have WAY too much money invested in Apps! I don’t know why I had never thought of that before, but suddenly it hit me like a knockout punch from a heavyweight prizefighter; the tendency to stay with a particular phone manufacturer is just like the tendency to stay with a particular Camera manufacturer. It was so incredibly clear. Let me explain.

 

Common Camera Responses

I’m a photographer that prefers to shoot Nikon cameras. I have a bunch of friends that shoot Canon cameras. They started out with Canon back in the film days for whatever reason (Hey they were young and dumb what can I say…  kidding). Now that they are into the digital world with the Canon systems they complain about autofocus quality and speed. They complain about ergonomics, and most of all they complain about the flash system and it’s shortfalls. Now this isn’t to say that Canon is a bad manufacturer. As a matter of fact if I were a Sports shooter, I would have a 1d Mk IV or two for myself. I’m also not trying to start a “which is better” battle in the comments. I’m just repeating what they tell me, so please don’t flame me in the comments section.  When I say to them, “why not switch to Nikon then?” The response is ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS the same; “I have too much money wrapped up in glass.”  For those of you not into photography lingo, “glass” refers to the lens. For almost any professional grade lens for a Nikon or Canon DSLR you’re going to spend $1400 or more just for one lens. These lenses are not interchangeable between brands, and while new cameras are coming out yearly, the lenses tend to last a long time. It’s not uncommon to see a person shooting with a 15-year-old telephoto that they paid $6500 for.  The Canon shooters that I’m referring to in this paragraph have multiple pro quality lenses amounting to well over $15,000-$20,000. When they say they “have too much money wrapped up in the glass”, they mean that they can’t afford to take the loss of selling these lenses and buying new ones from the other brand.  All of that to say this, phone manufacturers are locking us into their particular brands with each and every App we purchase just like camera manufacturers lock us in with their lenses. Let me explain. 

 

How Phone Manufacturers are Keeping Us Coming Back

I did a quick (and rough) estimate tonight for this article. I have roughly $300 in purchased Apps on my iPhone! (I say purchased because I have many more that were free) Now, don’t get me wrong I know that I’m a little bit of an exception because I write for Terry over at bestappsite.com where that’s what we do every day; test and review Apps.  I probably have more Apps than most people do. Actually I know that I do (I have almost 400 Apps loaded on my phone right now).  I’m sure there are a lot of people that have more than I do, but in general most people have 30-40 Apps.  The other thing that contributes to my high dollar amount in Apps is the type of Apps that I download.  My favorite navigation App is Navigon which costs $60 all by itself. It took me trying out two other Navigation Apps (each were $35 and $45 respectively) before I decided Navigon was the App of choice for me.  Of course I don’t expect that most people would go through three expensive navigation Apps before settling on one (I expect them to come over the Best App Site and read our reviews to help make a choice) but again, that’s what I do.  Photography is another notoriously pricy App category. I have multiple Photography Apps that run anywhere from $5-$25. Not to mention the two-dozen or so Photography Apps that cost $1-$4.  

By now you’re probably thinking two things. First, you’re thinking this guy is addicted to Apps and needs to seek treatment, and you’re probably right 🙂 .  The next thing you’re thinking is, “I never thought about how much I really have invested in my Apps, and you’re probably also stopping your reading of this article right about now to do a quick estimate of how much you have invested. Don’t worry; we’ll wait for you to come back… All right, done?  Now that you see how each one of those $.99 purchases has added up, you’re probably seeing where I’m going with this. If you switch phone platforms from one phone brand to another, you’re going to lose all of the money you have invested in those Apps. Done. Gone. Never coming back.  They’re not a physical property. You can list them on Craigslist used and get some of you’re money back… You’re out whatever you have invested. What’s worse, you will have to re buy the exact same (or similar) Apps on your new phone if you switch platforms.  For me, this is a huge deal. This would definitely make me think long and hard before switching from my iPhone. There would have to be a very, very serious improvement or advantage to get me to willingly take a $300+ loss and I’m sure most you smart (hey you’re here reading Terry’s Blog you must be smart) people would think long and hard before you made that jump as well. 

So what do you think? Do you think that Apple and Google have developed a way to keep consumers buying their products? Do you think it was done on purpose, or is it just a “happy accident”? Have they created as much of a “hold” with Apps, as camera manufacturers have with their lenses? We want to know what you think. Let us know in the comments section below.  

How I use Lightroom and Dropbox Together

 

I use Lightroom everyday as I'm always doing something with my images. I have multiple catalogs for the various kinds of photography that I do. My images are temporarily captured and stored on my internal hard drive of my MacBook Pro until they've been reviewed, selected, retouched, shared and delivered. After that the keepers are moved to my Mac OS X Server (Drobo) where they are backed up each night to another Drobo and to the cloud via CrashPlan. Once the images are moved from the internal drive on my laptop to the server, i update the catalog with the new location of this folder of images. This way if I ever need to work with or output those images again Lightroom will do so over my network to the server. The catalogs themselves always remain on the laptop drive. That's where the problem comes into play. What if I want to access one of those catalogs from a different computer? Networked Catalog access is not supported or recommended.

 

My Lightroom Catalogs are on Dropbox

I saw the value in Dropbox long ago and signed up for their 100GB plan. Dropbox basically became my "documents" and "pictures" folder so that I would have cloud backup and access to my documents/pictures no matter which computer or mobile device that I use. That's been working out GREAT! One day it dawned upon me to try it with a Lightroom catalog. I figured if my catalog is sync'd to Dropbox, then I would be able to access that catalog from any of my computers running Lightroom. I put my most frequently used Lightroom Catalogs in my Dropbox folder and I have to say that I love it! I can now go to any of my computers running Lightroom and access my catalog. Also something else works that I wasn't sure if it would or not. The images themselves (except for the most current shoot/work in progress) are on the server, all I have to do is mount the server and Lightroom sees the images too. No relinking necessary. 

 

Could you put the images in there too?

Sure! I could also put the images from my most current shoot in the Dropbox folder for a true "work anywhere" scenario. The only reason that I usually don't is because of the time it would take to sync hundreds of RAW files relative to the initial time I actually need access to that folder from more than one computer. The other option and the one that I would lean towards would be to immediately copy the current shoot folder to the server when I get home. The only reason I don't do that is because it just works faster overall when the images are on the local drive for the initial edits. If I were to pick either of the above workflows, I would just copy the images immediately to my server right after the shoot. This way I could work on them from any computer in the house.

 

Side tip

Dropbox is also an easy way to share the final images. You can zip them up, put them in your public folder and then right click on them to get a public link. Simply email that link to your client and they'll be able to download the large file without having to have a Dropbox account or even know what Dropbox is.

 

The Bottom Line

I use Dropbox for lot's of things (see my 5 Ways to Take Advantage of Dropbox post here). Every time I think of a new way it makes me value the service that I pay for even more. You can get a FREE 2GB Dropbox account here.

Should you use a knockoff camera accessory?

 

Camera manufacturers go out there way to make sure that you can buy their branded accessories for just about every major need you'll have. They sell lenses, batteries, cables, adapters, GPS units, filters, etc. However, these branded accessories usually come at the higher end of the price range and many would argue that the lower cost, 3rd party alternatives are just as good if not better. I tend to agree when it comes to certain things like Nikon compatible GPS units. Every 3rd party one I've tried to date blows away the Nikon branded GP-1. However, I haven't been as pleased with 3rd party lenses. When I first started getting into photography I bought lenses from Tamron and Sigma and while these lenses were good, I later replaced them with with Nikon branded glass that I liked much better. This could start a very long debate and that's not my goal here. If you're happy with your 3rd party glass, rock on! Recently I decided to try a 3rd party battery grip for my Nikon D7000 that was priced so low that I actually bought it more out of curiosity than the need for a battery grip.

 

The MeiKe Multi-Power Battery Pack for the Nikon D7000

I bought my D7000 the day it came out and I always intended it to be my travel camera, but also serve as a backup body for my D700. I have the Nikon battery grip for my D700 and I've always been quite happy with it. I have gone back and forth on getting the Nikon MB-D11 Battery Grip for my D7000, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Not because it's all that expensive, but mainly because I wanted to keep this camera small and light weight for travel. However, after recently having to use it in studio while my D700 was being repaired I realized that I really did miss having a battery grip for taking portraits. I sighed and said "oh well, time to order it and stop putting this off." On my way to order it I did a search to remind myself of the price. Although I primarily buy my photographic gear from B&H, I still like to check prices on Amazon because you never know when they may be having one of their one day sales. While the Nikon branded grip came up for $258.82, (B&H has it for $219.95) I noticed another grip in the search results for only ——- $40.41!!!!!

What? How can this be? How can it be sooooo cheap? It must be crap! Cheaply made, easily breakable, etc. 

I figured for $40 I could take the risk. Worse case I'd get a piece of crap, return it and have a topic to blog about. I ordered it. Meanwhile as I was waiting for it to arrive I saw this clip from F-Stoppers on an apparent scam where this very adapter is also being sold in a Nikon branded box, manual, etc. at full Nikon prices as a complete FAKE/rip off!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV_rxL3UV-g

Can you imagine paying full price and then later discovering that the item you bought is not authentic and worse yet also being sold for significantly less?

 

The MeiKe Multi-Power Battery Pack Arrived

While I was a little freaked out by the video above, the one thing I took away was that it was so good he really didn't notice that it wasn't the real thing. Mine arrived and it was packaged in a MeiKe box. There was no fake Nikon branding of any kind. I put my extra Nikon D7000 battery in it as well as a set of AA's in the optional tray. Both worked fine. With the Nikon battery in the camera even registered it as a MB-D11 in the menus showing the battery status. While there was no noticeable play in the connection, I can confirm that the dial works in the opposite direction just as the F-Stoppers discovered. Otherwise all the controls seem to work as they should.

 

The Bottom Line

This is one of those cases where I'm going to side with a using a knockoff accessory. I don't plan to use a battery grip on this body full-time. It's also not a mission critical accessory for this body. Actually it's PERFECT for what I wanted. I kinda wanted a battery grip for those times that I need one, but didn't want to pay top dollar for one in this case. Is it as good as the Nikon one? NO. The plastic is of a cheaper grade. The rubber definitely feels different. Functionally it works, but it does feel like a cheaper grade product. You do get what you pay for. This is a no frills battery grip. If your D7000 is your primary camera and you make a living with it, then you should probably get the Nikon one. If you are in need of a grip only on occasion, then it's hard to go wrong with this $40.41 knockoff. As a side note the 43 reviews on Amazon are mostly positive with an average rating of 4 stars. I'm happy with my purchase at the moment. Time will tell.

Why I Don’t Want More Megapixels

 

Yesterday I told you about how I broke my Nikon D700 again via a tethering accident. What I didn't mention was that I still had another shoot to do while the D700 was being repaired. I went to my backup body, which is a D7000. I love my D7000, but this was the first time that I actually used it during a studio shoot. I had no real issues with the camera or setup, but what I quickly realized was that there is a disadvantage to having more megapixels. The D7000 is a 16.2 MP camera, while my D700 is a 12.1 MP camera. If you do the math (it's not hard) there's a 4 MP increase in the image captured. What this translates to is that my RAW files on the D700 are about 10.4MB (average) in size and my D7000 DNGs are about 16MB (average) in size. This means that every shot is going be roughly about 6MBs larger than the ones coming from the D700.

 

Why is a larger file/higher megapixel image a bad thing?

The first thing I noticed that shooting tethered was taking longer. It makes sense. I'm used to a certain rhythm from the time I fire the shutter till the time image is displayed in Lightroom. There was a noticeable lag. The second problem was that my drive was running low on space and during the shoot I got a warning from the OS that I was basically out of space. I had to make some room right then and there. My shoots can range anywhere from 300-1,000 images. While I could have run out of space with either camera, the point is I probably ran out of space faster with the larger files coming from the D7000.

 

The Bottom Line

I'm not saying that camera manufacturers shouldn't build cameras capable of capturing more megapixels. What I am saying is that more megapixels no longer influences my buying decision. While I await the rumored Nikon D800 and D4, I cringe at the rumored specs of 38 Megapixels! Imagine having every photo you take be significantly larger in size whether you need it or not. I would much rather these guys build a 38MP camera (one model) for the guys that really need it and leave the rest of the line at a more reasonable/manageable MP number. 

Less is more 🙂

 

Added note for clarification: I would welcome the larger MP images if the camera manufactures would also add the faster transfer technologies (ie. USB 3, 802.11n, Thunderbolt, etc.) into the bodies as well. What I'm saying above is that I don't just want more megapixels and nothing else. If you're going to make the files bigger then also make the transfers faster too!

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