Controls

Manual audio controls are the achilles heel of HDSLRs. As much as I’ve complained about manual focus, pros have always done fine without.  (imagine my shock upon learning that my dad’s new Aaton super 16 film camera – a 65 thousand dollar piece of hardware – had no autofocus)  But bad audio – and lack of control is really the same – is totally unforgivable.

Good news for 7D owners. There’s a firmware update unlocking manual audio controls. I’m stoked.

This update basically opens up features built into the camera, but not accessible in the previous firmware. Reminds me of the bluetooth chip in 2nd generation iPod touches, which was capable of acting as an FM radio tuner. Unlike Apple, who ignored this capability (have you ever seen an iPod touch with a radio tuner?), Canon has decided to open up features rather than ignore them. Granted, these updates to the 7D do way more for the camera than an FM tuner would do for an iPod.

And there’s more. 25 RAW images per burst, rather than 15, in-camera RAW editing, JPEG resizing, and increased ISO capabilities are there, too. All these updates are neat, but pale in comparison with the audio controls.

from http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/standard_display/EOS7D_firmware

Sides

The new MacBook Pro’s sides bothered me. The ports are split up – some on each side. I can’t argue that Apple doesn’t know how to engineer the insides of a computer and probably split the ports up for good reason, but I don’t like it.

I have a previous generation MBP, one with ALL ports on the left side. I really like this. All the cord clutter is contained. My desk is arranged so that my peripherals live on the left side of my Mac. There is never any confusion or problem with running out of cords on one side, or running cords all around my computer. And for whatever it’s worth, I run the power cord around the back of my laptop, keeping it away from all data cables and avoiding interference.

Granted, spreading ports on two sides is nowhere near as pathetic putting ports all the way around a computer (like countless older machines, and even some new or recent HP models with headphone/audio jacks on the front of the laptop). I had a couple bombproof Dell and IBM laptops with ports sprinkled all over the machine, much like the guns on a heavily armed tank. Ports on the back are the worst. I mean, who wants to pick up their computer and look behind it just to plug something in. And then when picking it up, you bust your thumb drive or the port on the back of the computer.

To sum it all up, Apple is still ahead of the PC bunch here, but I think they’re going backwards.

Focus

Meet the pancake – 40mm, f/2.8, ultra thin, this is the ultrabook of lenses.

My 50mm lens seems a tad long in some applications, probably since I’m shooting on a cropped APS-C sensor, which makes my 50 feel like an 80mm lens. Perhaps the forty would be just wide enough to feel right.

But in this world of HDSLR cameras, I’m concerned that my lenses emphasize HD just as much as my camera. In short, I want lenses that work well for video as well as photos. That wee little focus ring on that stubby little lens looks like manual focus misery. And then I saw a little note saying the lens uses new “STM” technology to provide continual autofocus in video mode. Yee-haw! Woopie! Where’s my wallet? (Granted, “PayPal password” would be more accurate) But I was dumb enough to miss the red flag – new technology. New technology usually requires other new technology to function properly.

Further reading revealed that this fantastic “STM” technology wouldn’t work on my 7D. How about buying a T4i? Ya know, I think I’ll stick with manual focusing my 50mm.

Comparisons

Last week Cricket Wireless became the first cell carrier to sell contract-free iPhones. So for $500, you can get a 16GB iPhone 4S – no strings attached. Man, five hundred bucks, that’s the cost of an iPad!

Granted, that’s not quite a fair comparison; the iPhone 4S has 3G, a $500 iPad is wifi only. Let’s compare a 16GB iPad with 4G, that is a more realistic comparison.

So we have two devices: both with 16GB storage, a cell antenna, and roughly the same processor/graphics. The remaining components – cameras, 30-pin connector, speaker, mic, etc – are also similar. The only remaining items – glass, screen, battery, and rear case – are significantly larger on the iPad. Correspondingly, this iPad clocks in at $629, which seems more reasonable.

But Apple charges $649 for an unlocked 16GB iPhone 4S – twenty dollars more than the iPad 4G. Weird.
This says a lot about phones and tablets in general. For roughly equivalent specs, phones cost significantly more. I’m not going to pretend I know why.

Many Many Technical Parsnips

It’s nine thirty. I have to be at work by six am tomorrow morning. I am already exhausted. So, of course, it is the perfect time to start another blog.

For years, I’ve been going around talking about “Many Many Technical Parsnips –  the cursor blinking on the wall.” In otherwords, “Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin.” Read Daniel Chapter Five if this still doesn’t make sense. Anyway, I thought “The Technical Parsnip” would be a perfect blog name. Especially for a tech blog. Especially for a blog where I simply posted parsnippets, uh, excuse me – snippets – of tech news that I found interesting. I guess readership will show the validity of my assumption. And on the subject of readership, or more accurately, blog activity, “…Google+ users spent only about 3 minutes per month on the social networking site in January…” (Via Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

I hear a lot of people calling G+ a “virtual ghost town,” but I have no idea if it’s true. I haven’t logged in to my G+ account since November of last year.