Fujifilm’s New X-A3 is a Mirrorless Camera



Fujifilm X-A3Fujifilm has released its new X-A3 camera. It is a upgrade from last year’s X-A2 camera. Both versions are mirrorless cameras that have a fun retro style.

Fujifilm’s new X-A3 camera has a 180-degree tiltable LCD that is great for taking seflies. It lets you check your composition before you take the picture. Eye Detection AF and Portrait Enhancer mode automatically adjust for proper focus and skin tones.

The new 23MP APS-C sensor makes sure every image is high-quality. The X-A3 camera has built in Wi-Fi that lets you share to the Instax SHARE printer (which is also made by Fujifim). It also enables users to transfer the photos off of the camera and onto their smartphone or tablet. The touchscreen LCD monitor offers intuitive controls. Super Intelligent Flask and Macro mode are ideal for nightshooting or close-up photos.

The retro design makes the camera look fashionable. The top cover, front plate, and top dials of the camera are made of aluminum. Newly-developed faux leather gives the X-A3 a nice texture. The X-A3 comes in brown, silver, or pink.

Some specifications include:

* Number of effective pixels – 24.2 million pixels

* Image sensor – 23.6mm x 15.7 mm (APS-C) CMOS with primary filter

* Sensor cleaning system – Ultra Sonic Vibration

* Storage media – SD Card (2G) / SDHC Card (32G) / SDXC Card (256G) UHS-1

* File format for still images – JPEG (Exif Ver 2.3) / RAW (RAF format) / RAW+JPEG (Design rule for Camera File system compliant/DPOF-compatible)

* File format for videos – Movie File Format MOV, Movie Video Compression: H.264, Audio: Linear PCM Stereo

* Lens mount – FUJIFILM X mount

* It has face detection and eye detection.

* Shutter type – Focal Plane Shutter

* LCD monitor – 3.0-inch, aspect ratio 3:2, approx. 1,040K-dot Tilt-type, TFT color LCD monitor (approx. 100% coverage)


List of Multichannel USB 2.0 Audio Mixers/Interfaces



USB 2 logoFor years, Firewire was the reigning technology when it came to sending multichannel audio to/from an interface and a computer or other host device. While it’s still technically possible to use Firewire in many instances, the protocol is clearly giving way to other connection types like Thunderbolt and USB 2.0 (and probably down the line, USB 3.0). With that in mind, I was recently in search of a new USB 2.0 mixer. I wanted the ability to send multichannel audio to my computer for recording, and my current mixer, equipped with a USB 1.1 connection, could only send two audio channels. I began searching around for new gear options and was frustrated by just how difficult it was to find mixers and interfaces that met this requirement. After hours of searching and some suggestions I received on a couple of different podcasting-related forums, here’s the list of all USB 2.0 mixers and interfaces I could find that sell for less than $1000US.

  • Behringer X18 and XR18. Behringer’s fully digital “X” series of mixers are a bit confusing in that the X12 and X16 aren’t multichannel. But the X18 models are.
  • Soundcraft Signature 12 MTK. “The console is designed to deliver pristine recordings. Both have an ultra-low-latency USB interface that flawlessly captures every channel, which can then be mixed or transferred to a DAW for further mixdown and production.”
  • Behringer UFX1204. Another multichannel mixer from Behringer. Unlike the X series, this one is a traditional analog mixer with a USB interface.
  • Allen & Heath ZEDi 10FX. I’ll admit, I was surprised to find something by Allen & Heath in this price range.
  • Presonus StudioLive AR8. This little mixer has some intriguing features, including a built-in SD card slot for recording.
  • Focusrite Scarlett. These interfaces aren’t actually mixers but they are multichannel and Focusrite offers a full range of options, depending on how many inputs you need.

That’s all of the multichannel USB interfaces/mixers I could find for under a grand. Did I miss any? If so, leave the information in the comment section below.


Tascam’s MiNiSTUDIO Interfaces Are Made for Podcasters



MiNiSTUDIOPodcasting has been around for over a decade. During that time, podcasters have had to rely on a plethora of tools that were really designed for other uses. Sure, you can create a podcast with gear that was created for music or live sound production. But it can lead to complex workarounds or other hassles that keep you from the important thing: Creating your podcast. With that in mind, Tascam has released two new MiNiSTUDIO interfaces made with podcasters in mind.

First up is the Tascam US-32:

Central to the MiNiSTUDIO Personal is an XLR/combo mic/line connector and a professional quality micropone preamp. Built-in phantom power allows you to quickly and easily connect your favorite dynamic or conderser microphone…or not… For the ultimate in plug and play convenience, the MiNiSTUDIO Personal features a built-in microphone, so you’re ready to talk the talk right out of the box. Simply press the ON AIR button and go to town. And to top it all off, the MiNiSTUDIO Personal features a 4-band parametric EQ, adjustable on-board compression and a digital reverb effect with a convenient front panel depth control.

The US-32 also comes with built-in clip playback and sound effects. You can use the stock clips that come with the US-32 or you can customize them with your own sounds. Then there’s the built-in vocal effects:

Di(s)guise your voice, fool your fans! Perhaps the most extreme feature of the MiNiSTUDIO Personal is the Voice Effects option. Simply pressing this innocent little button will instantly transform your voice in any one of a number of amazing and amusing ways. Pitch your voice up into cartoon mouse territory or pitch it down like you’ve joined the Dark Side. Add a spacey Echo, wobbly Chopper or go old school with the Walki-talkie-approved Radio effect. Voice Effects: crazy, wacky and a whole lot of fun.

Next up is the US-42. This model has all of the features of the US-32 as well as an additional microphone input. It also comes with a Creator/Broadcast switch:

Unique to the MiNiSTUDIO Creator is a powerful Creator / Broadcast selector switch on the front panel of the device. When set to Broadcast mode, the audience will hear exactly what you hear as all audio generated my the MiNiSTUDIO and/or your computer will be mixed together in a single stereo stream. Talk, play guitar, play games or play MP3 files. If you hear it, they hear it. But flick the switch to Creator and you’re in full production mode. When set to Creator, the MiNiSTUDIO transforms into a professionally specced two-channel USB Audio Interface. Perfectly suited for any DAW or video editing software, the combination of dual HDDA mic preamps, Hi-z inputs, EQ, compression and reverb deliver a powerful and flexible front end for any media production task.

Both versions of the Tascam MiNiSTUDIO are available for purchase now. The US-32 is expected to retail for $129.00 and the US-32 should sell for $179.00.


Windows 10 Update Breaks Support for Many Webcams



Win10 logoMicrosoft has endured a lot of criticism lately over its aggressive policy of pushing software updates onto customers. This was probably demonstrated most noticeably over the company’s unwillingness to let users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 stay with their current operating systems, and constantly badgering (and in some cases, forcing) them to upgrade to Windows 10. Now it looks like the Redmond, WA-based tech monolith is about to receive a new round of hate, as its recently released Windows 10 Anniversary Update is causing many webcams to stop working:

Microsoft made a significant change with the release of Windows 10 and support for webcams that is causing serious problems for not only consumers but also the enterprise. The problem is that after installing the update, Windows no longer allows USB webcams to use MJPEG or H264 encoded streams and is only allowing YUY2 encoding.

And:

Because of this change, which Microsoft tried to defend but then realized the scale of the impact this change has caused, means that when a webcam tries to use MJPEG or H264, the device will freeze. If you use Skype and your webcam freezes after about a minute, this is the reason.

Microsoft is hoping to deploy a fix for this problem next month. If you’re experiencing webcam issues after the Anniversary Update and you can’t wait until then, check the bottom of the article linked in the above paragraph. One resourceful user has found a registry hack that should make your webcam usable again.


iZotope Offers Limited-Time Deals on Plugins



iZotope logoiZotope, the developer of popular high-end audio plugins like RX and Nectar, is running a special on some of its standalone products. The sale was launched as a way for iZotope to celebrate its Facebook page receiving 100,000 likes. The company is offering up to an 80% discount on some items. All of the plugins are priced at $100 each. Here’s a list of what’s available thru this special offer:

Insight Metering Suite: “Insight provides an extensive set of audio analysis and metering tools, perfect for visualizing changes made during mixing and mastering, troubleshooting problematic mixes, and ensuring compliance with broadcast loudness standards. Fully customizable and scalable, Insight allows you to visually monitor all relevant information from your mono, stereo or surround mix in a convenient floating window.”

BreakTweaker Expanded: “Make beats you’ve never heard before with BreakTweaker, a drum sculpting and beat sequencing instrument that blurs the line between rhythm and melody. Give your beats an ever-evolving depth that gets better the longer they play. Use rhythmic slicing to drive everything from pitched melodic lines to sweeping rhythmic overtures. BreakTweaker Expanded includes 4 Expansions including Modern Grooves by Black Octopus and Kicks & Snares by Beatport Sounds.”

Nectar 2 Standard: “Bring your vocal tracks to life with Nectar 2. Explore 11 powerful vocal production tools in one plug-in: Plate Reverb, FX, Pitch, Delay, De-Esser, Saturation, Compressors, Gate, Harmony, EQ, and Limiter. Whether you’re tracking or you’re mixing, Nectar 2 delivers professional vocals in an instant.”

Iris 2: “An inspiring sample-based synthesizer, Iris 2 combines the power of a sampler, the flexibility of a modular synth, and the fun of spectral filtering. Get started with 350+ expertly crafted Bass, Keys, Leads, Pads, and Rhythmic patches. Iris 2 comes with an 11 GB library of audio samples, a modern modulation system, classic filters, evocative effects, and more.”

The plugin sale can be found here. It currently has 9 days to go before it expires.

 


Sphere L22 is a Precision Microphone Modeling System



Sphere L22 microphoneTownsend Labs, Inc. has created the Sphere L22 microphone. It is a precision microphone modeling system that can unlock the Real 3D sounds of the finest microphones in recording history. The Sphere L22 has been fully funding on Indiegogo and, at the time I am writing this blog, has 14 days left.

Sphere L22 is a high-precision side-address large diaphragm condenser from Townsend Labs. It captures the characteristics of the most sought-after microphones. It lets you experiment with selection of different mics and patterns even after tracking.

The Sphere system consists of a high-precision dual channel microphone, which when paired with the included Sphere DSP plug-in (UAD, VST, AU, AAX Native) accurately models the response of a wide range of mics, including transient response, harmonics, proximity effect and three-dimensional polar response.

Sphere L22 lets you audition the sound of different microphones without tiring the vocalist. It reduces bleed, undesirable room coloration, and other common issues using Off-Axis Correction. It also lets you record in stereo from a single microphone.

Dual Mode in the Sphere plug-in makes possible phase-coherent mixing of multiple virtual mic models from the same physical microphone, before or after tracking. It’s also possible to adjust the relative phase alignment of two mics with the Align control.

The Sphere L22 high-precision, dual-capsule, large-diaphragm condenser studio microphone comes with a 10 foot (3 meter) breakout cable, shock mount, hard mount, hard carrying case, and a velvet mic bag.


The eCam is the Camera for Everyone



eCam 4KThe eCam is described as the best ever 4K camera with class leading features. The eCam is priced at $79 – a fraction of the price of a GoPro. This tiny, yet mighty, camera is currently on Indiegogo with a month left to go. It has been fully funded.

The eCam is an extremely light weight and compact camera. It weighs around 54 grams and has dimensions of 29.8×59.2×41.1mm. It comes with all the accessories that you might need on your adventures. This includes all the mounts and straps needed to record various activities ranging from scuba diving to sky diving and virtually any other adventure/activity sport you can think of.

It is easy to use and comes with an intuitive user interface that includes 13 different languages. The eCam has a two inch built-in LCD display on the back of the camera.

The eCam comes equipped with 16MP Sony IMX Sensor combined with a 7 layered 173 degree HD wide angle fish eye lens with F2.1 Aperture. It is the first 16MP camera with that type of lens in its category that is capable of recording 4K videos at a frame rate of 30FPS. It can capture photos in 4K. It supports capturing photos and videos in other resolutions like 2.7K, Full HD (1080p) and HD (720p). It can do time lapse, slow-motion, and loop recording.

It supports Micro SD Memory Cards of up to 64GB memory capacity. The eCam comes with a built in HDMI port and a micro-USB port and also supports Wi-Fi.

The eCam comes with a replaceable battery that can support up to 2 hours of full HD video recording. It has been built using high strength plastic that makes it extremely durable. It is waterproof up to 30 meters depth (when it is used along with its waterproof case). You can operate the eCam by remote using the eCam Mobile application which is available for Android and iOS.


KOMBOS is a Modular Keyboard for Musicians



KOMBOS logoMusicians that need to travel, or would like an easier way to carry their keyboard to the studio, may want to check out the KOMBOS modular keyboard. It is the world’s first fully modular keyboard that lets you bring music anywhere you go. KOMBOS is on Kickstarter and, at the time I am writing this blog, has 32 days to go.

The KOMBOS keyboard was designed to prevent a problem that musicians were facing. They had to choose between a large, bulky, keyboard that was impractical for travel, or a portable keyboard that was unable to deliver the professional quality of the bulkier version.

KOMBOS gives musicians the same quality as a professional set of keys, and also allows them to work with as many sets of keys as they need at any given time. The keyboard literally comes in pieces that can be put together to work in sets of 25, 37, 49, and 61 keys. KOMBOS has a proprietary Easy Lock Mechanism that keeps the pieces together. The audio quality is comparable to professional grade keyboards used in a studio setting.

KOMBOS is bluetooth enabled. This eliminates the problem of having to deal with cords. It has bluetooth 4.0 MIDI capabilities. It is compatible with iOS, Android, and any program that supports MIDI. Mac devices require Yosemite 10.10 or higher, and iPhone and iPad require iOS 8.x or higher.

KOMBOS also offers 8 hours of continuous battery life. It is powered by a lithium battery.


Nikon Releases the D3400 Digital SLR Camera



Nikon D3400Nikon has announced the release of its new D3400. It is an all-new entry-level DX-format digital SLR with easy connectivity to smart devices. This camera easily captures visual content for instant sharing to social media.

The D3400 is the first entry-level digital SLR enabled with SnapBridge connectivity. With the D3400’s built-in Bluetooth low energy technology, it is easy to connect the camera and a smart device via the SnapBridge app. All photos taken with the camera are automatically transferred to a smart device with simple, one-step setup. This eliminates the need to manually reconnect the camera to a smart device for each image transfer.

The D3400 offers a number of enhancements over its predecessor, the D3300. The camera’s ISO sensitivity has been expanded to ISO 100 – 25600 for capturing vibrant and clear pictures in low-light environments with less camera shake. Improved battery performance supports capture of approximately 1,200 shots with a fully charged battery.

It is also equipped with Guide Mode, which provides step-by-step instructions. This makes taking pictures and recording movies easy, even for first-time users of a digital SLR camera. It weighs approximately 395g, which makes it handy for users who are constantly on the move.


4K, 8K Test Broadcasts Carried Out By NHK



NHK LogoTime waits for no one. Nor does the inevitable progress of higher-resolution video. It still feels like true HD video has just barely been normalized here in the United States. And yet the push beyond HD, into 4K and even 8K, has begun. The latest example of the move forward comes from Japanese public broadcasting agency NHK (also known as Japan Broadcasting Corp.) as the company has begun testing both 4K and 8K broadcasts.

Of course, most viewers who can tune into these test broadcasts won’t really be able to see the full depth of the video transmissions, as 4K video is still riding the bleeding edge of consumer technology, and 8K is little more than a pipe dream today. Regardless, NHK will have public displays of the technology available at its broadcast centers across Japan.

NHK is hoping to make 4K and 8K video a regular part of its broadcast set by 2018. The broadcasting company hopes this move will help popularize the new formats in the lead up to the 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympics in Tokyo.

Traditionally, Japan has always been ahead of markets like the U.S. in terms of adoption of new technology. So there’s a good chance NHK will meet its goal in time for the Olympics. 4K TVs are currently available in most markets and are priced affordably. But I couldn’t find any estimates on what an 8K set might cost.