Tuesday, January 17, 2023 Tuesday, January 17, 2023
I’ve been a fan of microphones like the Rode Wireless GO and the DJI Mic. The Comica Vimo S shares several similarities with the aforementioned microphones, but also sports its fair share of differences. One of the biggest differences is the price, as Comica’s mic can be had for south of $100, whereas both Rode and DJIs offerings, while admittedly in a somewhat higher tier performance and build quality wise, are roughly 2-3 times more expensive.
In this hands-on video walkthrough, I’ll unbox the Comica Vimo S, discuss how it works, and consider some of its strengths and weaknesses. In the end, you’ll hopefully be able to judge for yourself wherther or not it fits within your workflow.
2.4 GHz dual channel wireless microphone
Two TX and one RX with Lightning connector
48KHz/24 bit record
Rechargeable case with magnetic storage
Pass through iPhone charging and zero-latency monitoring…
Omni-directional polar pattern
Stereo and mono recording
Stepless volume adjustment wheel
One-press muting and denoise
<20ms sound delay with working range up to 200m in open area
Wednesday, December 14, 2022 Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Apple released iOS 16.2 yesterday, and it’s jam-packed with brand new features and changes. The headlining user-facing feature is without a doubt the Karaoke-inspired Apple Music Sing, but the update features so much more. Watch my full video walkthrough for a step-by-step look at what’s new, and check out my writeup on a few of my hand-picked standout features from the update.
If you’re an iPhone 14 Pro user, the new Always On Display options found in iOS 16.2 may be of interest to you. One of the biggest issues with Apple’s implementation of the always on display is that there’s too much information displayed, and the screen stays too bright when configured with certain Lock Screen wallpaper. In iOS 16.2, when visiting Settings → Display & Brightness → Always On Display, you’ll now find the option to disable wallpaper and/or notifications when the Always On Display is enabled.
In iOS 16.2, the ‘Everyone’ option for AirDrop has been changed to ‘Everyone for 10 minutes’, which limits the amount of time that you can have AirDrop available to receive from any user, even those not in your contacts. After the 10 minutes elapses, the AirDrop setting will automatically change back to ‘Contacts Only’. This change, which initially rolled out in China during the iOS 16.2 beta, has now rolled out to additional territories in public form.
This change has proved to be controversial for a number of reasons. From a purely technical standpoint, however, it’s controversial because users no longer have a choice to keep AirDrop access enabled indefinitely for those not in their list of contacts.
Prefer Silent Siri Responses
A new setting found in Settings → Siri & Search, allows users to Prefer Silent Responses from Siri. With this new setting enabled — except for cases where you have headphones connected with the screen off, or while driving — Siri will present the information you request on screen without any audible response. People who bristle at Siri’s voice will find this handy, along with those who don’t want Siri audibly responding with sensitive information in a public setting.
Apple Music Sing
Apple surprised its users when it recently announced Apple Music Sing, a new karaoke-inspired feature for Apple Music. By tapping into the already popular live lyrics feature found in the Music app, Apple Music Sing provides an even more engaging experience. New real-time lyrics make it easier to follow along with a song’s beat, adjustable vocal mixes let users turn down the volume of vocals, and animated lyrics for background vocals and a duet view for multiple vocalists, make it easier to sing along.
I tried out Apple Music Sing with one one my favorite songs — Lovely Day and Just the Two of Us by Bill Withers — and it was a lot of fun. Combined, each of these songs provide perfect demonstrations for all four of the new tentpole Apple Music Sing features.
Apple Music Sing makes the previous “live lyrics” feature in Apple Music look antiquated. For example, in previous versions of iOS, an entire line of lyrics would highlight as the song progressed, which doesn’t allow a person who’s following along to know exactly where they are in a song. Apple Music Sing changes this, because each word in a song is highlighted at just the right time.
In previous versions of iOS, prominent backing vocals would be grouped in with the main lyrics, adding to the confusion. In iOS 16.2, Apple Music Sing demotes these background lyrics to smaller text that is still real time, but easier to differentiate.
When there are multiple vocalists, such as with the duet on Wither’s classic song Just the Two of Us, previous versions of iOS proivide no way to differentiate each vocalist. With Apple Music Sing, each vocalist’s lyrics appear on opposite sides of the interface.
Finally there as the adjustable vocal mixes, which will no doubt garner the majority of the attention, and rightfully so. This feature allows a user to reduce the volume of sung lyrics, while maintaining the volume of the instrumentation, through the user of a simple slider that appears on top of the live lyrics interface. Users slide down to reduce lyric volume, slide up to increase volume, and tap to toggle adjustable vocals on or off. In typical Apple fashion, it’s simple and easy to use.
Although I don’t have the nitty gritty details on how adjustable vocal mixes work, it seems likely that Apple has access to the various stems — separate parts of the song that make up the entire track — and that would make it trivial for Apple to isolate the volume of just one portion of the song. Apple could also be applying its machine learning expertise to help accomplish this task as well.
Advanced Data Protection
The opt-in Advanced Data Protection feature in iOS 16.2 provides end-to-end encryption to a host of additional data types stored in the cloud. These data types can only be decrypted from a trusted device, such as your iPhone, and even Apple doesn’t have the keys to decrypt this data.
This type of end-to-end encryption isn’t new for Apple users. Up until now, sensitive data types like passwords and health data have been encrypted this way. What is new is the sheer amount of data types that are end-to-end encrypted. With Advanced Data Protection enabled, 23 different data types are end-to-end encrypted. These data types include Wallet Passes, Voice Memos, Siri Shortcuts, Safari Bookmarks, Reminders, Photos, Notes, iCloud Drive, and perhaps most notably, Device Backups, and Messages Backups.
Although iMessage has always been end-to-end encrypted, Apple could still gain access to iMessage conversations (in the case of being subpoenaed) by simply accessing that conversation data via iCloud Backups or Messages Backups stored on its iCloud servers. With Advanced Data Protection, this so-called loophole would be closed.
To use Advanced Data Protection, you’ll need all of your iOS devices that are signed in to your iCloud account running iOS 16.2 or later1, or else remove those devices from your iCloud account. You’ll also need to establish account recovery options, such as a recovery contact and 28-character recovery key2.
Since Apple no longer has access to decryption keys, it will be imperative that you have a way to recover your account in case you lose access to your trusted devices. I recommend printing your recovery key on a physical hardware wallet, instead of a sticky note that’s easily lost. If you lose access to your trusted devices, and you have no recovery method, you lose access to all of these data types — backups, photos, messages, the whole gamut.
To enable Advanced Data Protection visit Settings → iCloud → Advanced Data Protection. If you try to enable ADP on a new device, you’ll have to wait until a time threshold elapses before being able to do so. Perhaps Apple sees this as a way of thwarting another possible attack vector that might originate from a surreptitiously added device to your account. Once Advanced Data Protection is enabled on your account, it’s enabled for all devices linked to that iCloud Account.
There are over 40 new changes and features in iOS 16.2, as you’ll see in my hands-on video walkthrough. iOS 16.2 is a massive update — not just for the obvious user-facing features — but for a lot of the tweaks and updates littered throughout the rest of the release.
Devices running older versions of iOS will not be able to sign in to iCloud with ADP enabled, you’ll need to update these devices first [↩]
Apple requires that you establish a recovery key before enabling Advanced Data Protection [↩]
Friday, November 25, 2022 Friday, November 25, 2022
Back on November 1st, Nomad launched its Super Slim case for iPhone 14. The case, which is available in either carbide or frost colors, aims to protect your iPhone 14 in the most minimal way possible. This is a good case to consider if you want to protect your device, yet wish to maintain the general form factor of the iPhone 14.
Corresponding with Black Friday festivities, Nomad has launched an 30% off site-wide sale, which includes the Super Slim case and everything else Nomad sells. If you’re looking for some of the best iPhone and Apple Watch related third-party accessories out there, this is it. Sale ends Monday, and products are limited, so act now.
50% recycled materials
Premium & grippy matte finish
360º coverage with chamfered cutouts for buttons and ports
Raised camera bump for added protection
Wireless charging compatible
I recently went hands-on with a video walkthrough, unboxing the Super Slim case, and showcasing it when paired with my space black iPhone 14 Pro. Both the carbide and frost color options looked great, but I appreciated how the translucent frost color paired with the space black colorway.
I found that the case provided a decent amount of grip. I think it arguably enhances the grip on regular iPhone 14 with the aluminum band, but isn’t quite as grippy as the stainless steel band on the Pro models.
In the end, I think the Super Slim case is a good choice for those who desire a measure of protection, but don’t like being saddled with some of the more unwieldy case options. Keep in mind that these cases are wireless charging compatible, but aren’t officially MagSafe cases due to the slim form factor.
Nomad also sent me the ultra-compact 30W power adapter in a limited edition transparent colorway. The adapter is almost as small as Apple’s 5W adapter, but because of GaN technology, it’s able to provide up to 6 times the power output. I especially find these adapters nice for replacing Apple’s 20W power adapters, because they are much smaller and fit in areas where Apple’s charger may not. For example, I’m using Nomad’s 30W chargers to power my HomePod mini setup, and it provides a cleaner look and simpler install on my power strip due to the small size.
Transparency: Nomad provided me with the cases and power adapter for review, but opinions are my own, and I wasn’t paid for this post. I genuinely like their stuff, and they’ve always been super supportive of independent creators.
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.
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.
Thursday, September 29, 2022 Thursday, September 29, 2022
As noted during Final Cut Pro guru, Richard Taylor’s, most recent live stream, Cinematic mode videos shot on iPhone 14 will require macOS Ventura to have full control over focus point adjustments in Final Cut Pro. That’s because adjusting Cinematic mode videos shot on iOS 16, which comes preloaded on all new iPhone 14 models, requires macOS Ventura for full editing access within Final Cut Pro. This news comes after today’s update to Apple’s support document for editing Cinematic mode videos.
Apple notes in the document, updated September 29th, 2022:
To edit Cinematic mode videos recorded with iOS 16, you must use iOS 16, iPadOS 16.1, or macOS Ventura or later. iPadOS 16.1 and macOS Ventura will be available in October.
This means that if you wish to view and adjust focus points in a Cinematic mode video clips originating from any new iPhone 14 model in Final Cut Pro, you will need to wait until October’s release of macOS Ventura. iPhone 13 users, on the other hand, who have yet to update to iOS 16, will still be able to view and manipulate focus points in Final Cut Pro and iMovie on macOS Monterey.
Although I no longer have an iPhone 13 in my possession, I have several Cinematic videos in my library that were originally shot on iPhone 13 running iOS 15. I confirmed that I was able to fully edit these videos on the current version of macOS 12.6 Monterey, and Final Cut Pro 10.6.4.
I next installed the latest macOS Ventura beta 9 to see if Cinematic mode videos shot on iPhone 14, and thus iOS 16, would work in full on Final Cut Pro. Sure enough, I was able to enable the Cinematic toggle without error, even on the current Final Cut Pro 10.6.4 release.
In its support document, Apple notes that iPad users are also affected. Users wishing to edit Cinematic mode videos on iPad will need to wait until October’s release of iPadOS 16.1.
Cinematic mode has been vastly improved on new iPhone 14 hardware, including the ability to shoot in 4K24p on both the rear camera system and the upgraded front-facing camera. In my opinion, it’s one of the best upgrades to come to Apple’s new hardware.
macOS Ventura’s October release is rumored to be accompanied by several new M2 Macs, including an updated Mac mini and MacBook Pro. The same can be said of iPadOS 16.1, which should also see new iPad hardware coincide with its public debut.