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Elusive Silence: iPhone XLR Mic Interface Noise Floor Comparison [VIDEO]

During my time in the Boston University film production program, we students were given access to some nice mics, and by that I mean the $1000 Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun mic. It’s called a shotgun mic because it looks a bit like the barrel of a firearm.  Its tubular shape helps it accept sound that’s in front of it and reject sound from all other directions – which is handy when you’re trying to record any specific sound by itself e.g. dialogue and not, say, a nearby bus. In the sound kit film students were lent, this mic was paired with an aluminum Nagra reel-to-reel field recorder the size of a small briefcase of money.  To this day Nagra units are valued at between $1000 and $5000.  Together these two pieces of equipment were capable of capturing sounds richly and beautifully. So much so that during production I was often distracted by the allure of some stumbled upon mundane-turned-magical noise: the piquant clink of a china teacup laid on its saucer, the exquisite baritone creak of a wooden door or the majestic chattering fury of a squirrel on high. (more…)


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Tesla Model S Test Drive

The Model S has gotten some great press lately.  It’s been lauded as ‘the safest car ever tested’ by the US Government and it garnered the highest score of any car ever tested by Consumer Reports.  Here’s my take:

On January 12th 2013, we travelled to White Plains NY to test drive the Tesla Model S.  Thanks to Elon Musk’s steady handed leadership and wonderfully transparent marketing, Tesla had been on my radar as a probable next car for some time.  The allure of  its staggering mechanical simplicity, instant power delivery, silent operation and promise of a full ‘gas tank’ every morning had won me over before before ever seeing one firsthand.  While visiting Washington state , we’d popped into the Tesla’s Seattle mall showroom to inquire about a test drive.  Turned out there was a 2 week waiting list so we sat in the demo and pushed its buttons.  A disembodied powertrain was also there for examination and seeing the car’s entire inner workings there on the floor was quite inspiring to someone who’d spent months working beneath a more conventional (and far more complicated) internal combustion design. (more…)


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The Case of the Counterfeit Powerjolt Dual Micro

Griffin Powerjolt Dual Counterfeit

Counterfeit on the left, genuine on the right.

T he Griffin Powerjolt Dual Micro is reputedly an excellent USB car charger.  It outputs the proper 5 volts at 1 amp for an iPhone and it has a breaker-like surge protection feature called the ‘Smartfuse’.  It sports two USB ports yet fits almost entirely in the cigarette lighter barrel.   Many people have been happy with it, but on Amazon there are some odd reviews of late.  People have complained that the quality control has gone downhill or, more surprisingly, that they received a counterfeit product.   I would have thought that counterfeit products on Amazon would be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly, given their stern anti-counterfeiting policy, but sometimes things are not as they seem. (more…)


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100 Watt Bulb. Lumens?

A Lumen Reference Point

“100 Watt Bulb Lumens” was one of the first things I searched for when I started looking into alternatives for incandescent lighting.  Like you, I was looking for a reference point to compare options.  I, like most people, have a very good idea of the relative brightness of a 40w, 75w, 100w or 150w incandescent bulbs in my home and I know that 100w is the one I’m most comfortable with using for a lamp.  It’s the one that is going to be bright enough, but not too bright, for most situations.  Since wattages are no longer a good basis for understanding a light bulb’s brightness across different bulb technologies, I figured that lumen figure would be the starting point for my search.   However, there was a problem.  When I searched, the answer to the question of “How many lumens does a 100 watt bulb put out?” was not the same from source to source.  Some places said over 1700 lumens, others 1245, and others 1100.   And some 75 watt bulbs claimed to put out 1150!   What is going on here? (more…)


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Part 3 – The Hallway – Different Types of Light Bulbs

One of the tests I did with these lights is to install them in my hallway and photograph them illuminating the same scene.   My baseline bulb is the incandescent Sylvania BR30 65 Watt Incandescent Economy Flood, so I set up my camera on that one first.  I ‘white-balanced’ (with an ‘18% gray card’) so that whites would appear white and colors would appear normal.  Then I locked the white balance.   As long as I kept the initial white balance setting, as I changed to different bulbs, any color shift in their light would show up in the picture when compared with initial picture with the incandescent.    Also, the exposure was set to the incandescent bulb’s light, and locked.  Thus any subsequent change in luminosity would show up when compared to the original picture.  I figured this set up would allow a fairly objective comparison of what these different types of light bulbs were doing, relative to an incandescent anyway. (more…)


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Part 2 – The Bulbs at a glance – Different Types of Light Bulbs

Now that we have some familiarity with the competing bulb technologies, let’s compare some representative bulbs head to head.  For this review I chose a group of recessed flood bulbs of nearly equivalent color temperature and light output.  Although there is some variation in their form (it’s a mix of BR30/R30/PAR30) the bulbs are as closely matched as fundamentally different approaches to making light can be.  The idea for the review was to use each bulb in my hallway’s recessed and see how each bulb feels and performs over a matter of weeks. My thoughts: (more…)


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Part 1 – The Technologies – Different Types Of Light Bulbs

With all energy saving choices these days, it can be overwhelming when you’re trying to choose between all the different types of light bulbs. They may be interchangeable, but the their energy use and light output characteristics are all over the place. Is there a perfect option? Not quite yet. Each technology has its advantages and tradeoffs. Packages are spackled with numbers and acronyms meant to help compare products, but based on my experience, they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. At the time of this writing, there are five main light-producing technologies used in screw-in light bulbs: (more…)


Elusive Silence: iPhone XLR Mic Interface Noise Floor Comparison [VIDEO]

During my time in the Boston University film production program, we students were given access to some nice mics, and by that I mean the $1000 Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun mic. It’s called a shotgun mic because it looks a bit like the barrel of a firearm.  Its tubular shape helps it accept sound that’s in front of it and reject sound from all other directions – which is handy when you’re trying to record any specific sound by itself e.g. dialogue and not, say, a nearby bus. In the...
article post

Tesla Model S Test Drive

The Model S has gotten some great press lately.  It’s been lauded as ‘the safest car ever tested’ by the US Government and it garnered the highest score of any car ever tested by Consumer Reports.  Here’s my take: On January 12th 2013, we travelled to White Plains NY to test drive the Tesla Model S.  Thanks to Elon Musk’s steady handed leadership and wonderfully transparent marketing, Tesla had been on my radar as a probable next car for some time.  The allure of  its staggering mechanical simplicity, instant power delivery, silent operation...
article post

The Case of the Counterfeit Powerjolt Dual Micro

T he Griffin Powerjolt Dual Micro is reputedly an excellent USB car charger.  It outputs the proper 5 volts at 1 amp for an iPhone and it has a breaker-like surge protection feature called the ‘Smartfuse’.  It sports two USB ports yet fits almost entirely in the cigarette lighter barrel.   Many people have been happy with it, but on Amazon there are some odd reviews of late.  People have complained that the quality control has gone downhill or, more surprisingly, that they received a counterfeit product.   I would...
article post

100 Watt Bulb. Lumens?

A Lumen Reference Point “100 Watt Bulb Lumens” was one of the first things I searched for when I started looking into alternatives for incandescent lighting.  Like you, I was looking for a reference point to compare options.  I, like most people, have a very good idea of the relative brightness of a 40w, 75w, 100w or 150w incandescent bulbs in my home and I know that 100w is the one I’m most comfortable with using for a lamp.  It’s the one that is going to be bright enough,...
article post

Part 3 – The Hallway – Different Types of Light Bulbs

One of the tests I did with these lights is to install them in my hallway and photograph them illuminating the same scene.   My baseline bulb is the incandescent Sylvania BR30 65 Watt Incandescent Economy Flood, so I set up my camera on that one first.  I ‘white-balanced’ (with an ‘18% gray card’) so that whites would appear white and colors would appear normal.  Then I locked the white balance.   As long as I kept the initial white balance setting, as I changed to different bulbs, any...
article post

Part 2 – The Bulbs at a glance – Different Types of Light Bulbs

Now that we have some familiarity with the competing bulb technologies, let’s compare some representative bulbs head to head.  For this review I chose a group of recessed flood bulbs of nearly equivalent color temperature and light output.  Although there is some variation in their form (it’s a mix of BR30/R30/PAR30) the bulbs are as closely matched as fundamentally different approaches to making light can be.  The idea for the review was to use each bulb in my hallway’s recessed and see how each bulb feels and performs over a...
article post

Part 1 – The Technologies – Different Types Of Light Bulbs

With all energy saving choices these days, it can be overwhelming when you’re trying to choose between all the different types of light bulbs. They may be interchangeable, but the their energy use and light output characteristics are all over the place. Is there a perfect option? Not quite yet. Each technology has its advantages and tradeoffs. Packages are spackled with numbers and acronyms meant to help compare products, but based on my experience, they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. At the time of this writing, there are...
article post