Monday, October 24, 2022 Thursday, November 17, 2022
Today marks the official release of iOS 16.1, the first big update to September’s release of iOS 16. As you will see in my hands-on video walkthrough, iOS 16.1 is packed to the gills with new features and changes.
Some of the changes in iOS 16.1 will have a direct effect on how Apple’s new iPhone 14 Pro works, specifically related to the Dynamic Island, but the majority of features apply to all phones eligible for iOS 16. Watch my hands-on iOS 16.1 walkthrough for details on what matters most.
Friday, October 21, 2022 Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Level has officially launched its newest smart lock, the Level Lock+. The Level Lock+ is similar to the previously released Level Lock Touch Edition, except this time it supports Apple Home Keys, which allows you to unlock your door with your iPhone or Apple Watch using NFC.
I’ve previously tested out Home Key support with a competing smart lock, the Schlage Encode+, and quickly determined that this feature is a game-changer for smart locks as far as ease of use is concerned. I personally would not recommend purchasing a smart lock without Apple Home Key support built in, so this release is a very big deal for Level.
Level has partnered with Apple for the release of the Level Lock+, which means that it’s available exclusively through brick and mortar Apple Stores and Apple.com. Level Lock+ costs $329 and is available in bothSatin Nickel (in stores and online) and Matte Black (online only) finishes.
Level sent Cellular the Level Lock+, and it just arrived in my hands today. Rest assured that I will be testing this lock, and publishing a video walkthrough of the installation, plus my thoughts on how it compares to other locks.
One of the things that has always separated Level from the competition is just how incredibly inconspicuous it is. There are no keypads (unless you want to buy one separately), and no funky designs. Like past Level offerings, the Level Lock+ looks virtually indistinguishable from a normal lock, which is why its tagline is “The Invisible Smart lock”. It even works with regular hardware keys (two keys are included in the box).
But inside the insanely small locking mechanism, which is hidden away inside the door, is all of the tech necessary to make the Level Lock+ work with Apple Home Keys, Siri, NFC key cards, and more.
Here are some of the additional features that highlight the Level Lock+’s capabilities. I’ll be testing many of these features in my upcoming video.
Industry leading NFC capabilities – For continued best-in-class reliability with all Level smart locks.
Power reserve through home keys – Key use remains enabled on an iPhone for hours after it needs to be charged.
Auto-lock and unlock – Lock and unlock your door automatically upon approach by accessing the feature in the Level app.
Guest sharing – With the Level app, you can share access to your home with others, including friends, visitors and people you trust.
Additional ways to enter – Touch and keycard via Level app, as well as using a standard key
Keypad – Pair Level Lock+ with the optional Level Keypad to provide guest access via key codes ($79, level.co)
Straight-forward installation – Simply install with a screwdriver in 15 minutes or less.
BHMA AAA certified – The highest industry standard for safety and durability.
It’s exciting to see Home Key get more widespread support among available smart locks. Stay tuned for more upcoming coverage soon.
Wednesday, October 19, 2022 Thursday, November 17, 2022
Nomad has been one of my favorite Apple accessory companies for quite some time now. The company made a name for itself by producing cases utilizing high end Chicago-based Horween Leather, and has continue to broaden its reach over the years to other areas like wireless chargers, watch bands, and even ink pens.1
But Nomad hasn’t forgot the very thing that got them in the game, case (ahem) and point — a brand new series of cases to coincide with the recent launch of the iPhone 14 lineup.
Nomad is also a big supporter of independent creators, which is something I’ve grown to appreciate even more as of late with the launch of Cellular. The company sent over several of its iPhone 14 Pro cases for me to test out, and I happily obliged.
All of the cases I tested are MagSafe & wireless charging compatible, although you won’t receive the cool MagSafe animation and sound like you do on Apple’s first-party cases. I should also note that each case also features two handy attachment points for lanyards, if that’s your thing.
Something that you’ll notice about all of Nomad’s cases is the amount of emphasis that’s been placed on protecting the cameras. Each cases features a raised camera ring, and this area is now even more pronounced since the cameras protrude even further than they do on previous iPhones.
Nomad Sport Case
The Sport Case features a high-gloss, premium scratch-resistant finish, anodized metal buttons, and a grippy TPE bumper. Nomad says that the design of the minimalistic Sport Case enables 6ft drop protection. I tested out the Marine Blue and Lunar Gray colorways, but there are Black and Ash Green color options as well.
Nomad Rugged Case
If you’re someone who plans on pushing the new Apple Watch Ultra to its limits, then it makes sense to go with a more rugged case option for your iPhone as well. Although lightweight, the Rugged Case is able to withstand more extreme environments. Nomad’s most fortified case option features 15ft drop protection thanks to its TPU bumper and polycarbonate frame.
Nomad sent over the Rugged Case in Ash Green, but if you’re going to buy this case there is only one right choice — Ultra Orange. Not only does this color complement the orange accents on the Apple Watch Ultra, but it also matches Nomad’s new limited edition Ultra Orange Sport Band, which I’ve pre-ordered and am anxiously awaiting its December arrival.
Nomad Modern Leather Case
The Modern Leather Case makes for a good alternative to Apple’s own leather case lineup, which is $10 more expensive. I tested the Brown, English Tan, and Natural colors, but Nomad also makes the Modern Leather Case in Black.
The Modern Leather case features full grain leather, and an integrated air bumper with up to 10ft of drop protection. The cool thing about these leather cases is that they get better with age. Over time the leather develops a patina that gives the cases a signature “worn” look.
Nomad Modern Leather Folio
My favorite case of the ones that Nomad sent over is the Modern Leather Folio. A book-style case with a front and back cover, it affords extra space for storing multiple credit cards, and even has a place to hideaway cash. The case includes a removable magnetic clasp for extra security.
Like Nomad’s other leather offerings, the Leather Folio is available in both standard and more lustrous hand-made Horween Leather.
With the advent of AppleCare+ I’ve argued that for some folks, it might make sense to go caseless, but the vast majority of people probably disagree with my sentiments.
If you’re going to use a case, you should definitely check out what are, in my opinion, some of the best case options available.
Nomad sent over its titanium ink pen along with these cases, and I’ve probably spent more time with the pen than anything, it’s just that good. It actually makes me want to start writing again by hand. It’s pricey, but it’s perfectly weighted and is machined from a solid titanium body. [↩]
Monday, October 3, 2022 Thursday, November 17, 2022
Here at Cellular, I promised to share some of my behind the scenes details on my workflow. My main camera at the moment is the R5 C, Canon’s versatile hybrid camera. In this post I take a hands-on look at several must-have accessories for the Canon R5 C.
Full transparency: I am a B&H affiliate, and thus use affiliate links in this post. B&H loaned me the WFT-R10 and the Tascam CA-XLR2d-C to test for this article and video.
Canon RF 24-70 f/2.8
The RF 24/70 f/2.8 is my main workhorse. This lens is fast, sharp, and has a great focal length range. Most importantly, it has built-in imagine stabilization, which is handy when using a camera like the R5 C, which lacks IBIS. There are several levels of digital stabilization available, however, and when combined with the lens’s built-in stabilization, it can pack a nice punch. The 24-70’s versatility is expanded when combined with the camera’s two main crop modes. With this in mind, this lens can throw out to roughly 210mm. Just keep in mind that these crops come with significantly reduced resolution and light capture.
Drop-In Filter Mount Adapter
The Canon Drop-In Filter Mount Adapter with Drop-In Variable ND Filter is a $400 accessory that sits between the R5 C’s RF mount, and an EF lens. It’s an adapter that lets you use EF glass on a RF mount camera, but it provides the extra luxury of including a variable ND. Since the R5 C lacks a built-in ND filter system like the Canon C70, this adapter can be a huge help when shooting outdoors. It can also save you money, allowing you to use the versatile EF glass that you may already own instead of having to purchase expensive RF lenses.
WFT-R10A for Browser control
The R5 C has a glaring omission, and it’s sort of a head-scratcher. When it comes to controlling the camera remotely via a web browser, it outright lacks the needed support for network connectivity while in Video mode. While both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is available in Photo mode, users are forced to purchase the WFT-R10A Wireless File Transmitter to gain access to network connectivity, and thus Browser Remote, FTP Transfer, IP Streaming, and Canon App control in Video mode. Weird, to say the least.
Is the $1000 WFT-R10 worth it? The answer is a bit more complex than it might appear on the surface.
The WFT-R10 is not a battery grip
The WFT-R10A looks like a typical battery grip. It features a battery sled that’s able to accommodate two batteries, but it doesn’t work in the way that one might expect.
The WFT-R10A is, as its name states, a Wireless File Transmitter and not a battery grip. Hence, only one of the two batteries that you place inside the unit actually powers the Canon R5 C’s camera functionality. When that one battery dies, the camera powers down. The other battery is there solely to power the wireless transmitter inside the WFT-R10A, and plays no role in supplying power to the camera.
Don’t buy the WFT-R10A if you’re looking to extend the battery life of the R5 C, because you’ll be disappointed. If you’re just looking to improve battery life, then the much more wallet-friendly $349 Canon BG-R10 Battery Grip, will do the job.
Conspicuously missing network functionality
The Canon R5 C features built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality, but only for Photo mode. Because the camera runs two separate operating systems, the Video mode is apparently unable to access the built in network hardware that already resides inside the camera. Either that, or Canon wanted to restrict network usage to the WFT-R10A because of the camera’s short battery life. Of course, this is all conjecture at this point, so it’s hard to say for sure.
The WFT-R10A unlocks the R5 C’s conspicuously missing network functionality while in Video mode, and its provides more ways to control the camera than you get with standard connectivity via Photo mode.
The WFT-R10A features built in Wi-Fi connectivity. Canon notes that wireless support has been upgraded over the base R5 (and R5 C photo mode) with 802.11ac/c 2×2 MIMO Technology to achieve transfer speeds of up to 867 Mb/s. There’s also 802.11b/g/n at 2.4 GHz and 802.11ac/a/n at 5 GHz for compatibility with various network setups.
The unit also adds an Ethernet connection to the camera for a more stable, and perhaps faster hard-wired connection.
The WFT-R10 is a solid studio companion
Despite its inability to extend battery life, the WFT-R10A can function as a handy studio companion for the Canon R5 C. If you have your camera set up in a studio for things like on-camera talking-head shots, and product photography, then the WFT-R10A might be just what you need.
Although the Canon R5 C is an extremely power-hungry camera that eats through batteries in minutes, none of that matters in a studio setup with a constant supply of power from USB or via Canon’s DR-E6C DC Coupler + Canon CA-946 Compact Power Adapter. [Fun fact: the WFT-R10 can accommodate two DC Couplers simultaneously].
With Canon’s Wireless File Transmitter, R5 C users gain access to the following functionality:
The most important feature in that list for studio setups is undoubtedly the Browser Remote functionality. While not perfect, Browser Remote comes in handy for controlling the various settings on your camera remotely with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. The other features, like FTP functionality, allow you to transfer videos shot using the camera’s lesser codecs, and IP Streaming lets you use the R5 C with live streaming tools like OBS and the like. Those features are nice, but they have caveats, such as the slow speeds of FTP transfers due to the slow card reading interface. Canon App access is also there, but it appears to be limited to Canon’s rather pedestrian Content Transfer Mobile app that costs $4.49 a month.
In the end, the primary reason to consider the WFT-R10A is for the Browser Remote control functionality, which provides lots of ways to control the camera remotely in a studio environment.
Another downside to the R5 C when compared to a camera like the Canon C70 is the lack of built-in XLR inputs for professional audio. The good news is that, thanks to the powered accessory shoe for the R5 C, users can use the Tascam CA-XLR2d-C to bolt on two direct XLR inputs and a secondary 3.5mm input. The cool thing about the CA-XLR2d-C is that it can be powered directly by the camera, but it can also be powered independently via a couple of AA batteries. Keeping in mind the horrible battery life of the R5 C, you might be best off powering the adapter independently.
The CA-XLR2d-C works as expected. I used it to connect the line out from my Universal Audio Apollo Twin X via a pair of TRS to XLR cables going directly into inputs 1 and 2 with the line option enabled. This simplifies my audio workflow for on camera talking head footage, as there’s one less thing that I have to sync in post.
AngelBird AV Pro CFexpress B 2TB card
I’ve tried several CFexpress cards with my R5 C, but I’ve had the most success with the AngelBird AV Pro. Compared to other cards, which sometimes give me buffering errors when recording RAW 8K, the AngelBird AV Pro has been pretty much rock solid. The AV Pro comes in various sizes up to 4TB.
My 2TB AV Pro allows for full 8K60 RAW LT (2570Mbps) recording. Here’s some of the recording times that I get from the 2TB card:
RAW LT 8K
RAW LT 8K
RAW LT 8K
RAW ST 8K
RAW ST 8K
RAW HQ 6K (crop)
RAW HQ 6K (crop)
RAW ST 6K (crop)
SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II SD Card
The SanDisk Extreme PRO is a UHS-II-enabled SD Card that’s capable of handling a lot of the lower end shooting modes on the R5 C, and even some 8K HEVC and 6K RAW LT video. Here’s a look at some of the available formats, resolutions, and bitrate figures that I came up with after testing:
RAW LT (Super 35)
RAW HQ (Super 16)
RAW ST (Super 16)
RAW LT (Super 16)
Of course, the SD Card can also serve as a CFexpress companion, allowing you to use the SD Card as an audio recording destination, use it for relay recording, or double slot recording. When filming in RAW, the SDCard can be used for proxy or sub recordings. Proxy recordings can be either 2K 8-bit XF-AVC or H.264 files, while sub recordings can be higher quality 4K or 2K 10-bit XF-AVX, HEVC, or MP4.
Using proxies straight out of the camera can significantly speed up your workflow, because you don’t have to use time-consuming computer resources to create them after the fact. If you’re editing on a less powerful Mac or PC, this feature can save you a lot of time.
The R5 C is a great camera, but depending on your workflow, can definitely benefit from several key add-ons. It’s far from a perfect camera, but if you’re looking for a jack of all trades photo and video shooter that can also shoot 8K60 video for super high-resolution slow motion shots, then the R5 C provides that.