What's New at 120studio.com

(May 2015 archive;  click here for current.)

2015 May 30

Canon T6S 

I'm testing one now.  More to follow, when I get the review finished.  Or, just get one here if you like compact DSLR's with very good AF and a lot of pro features.

Initial thoughts:  Camera is superb, with only minor limitations that can be overlooked.  Get one, although if you require a more spacious viewfinder, you'll want one of these instead.  (For film scanning, the new Rebel is actually better with 24MP.)

The 6D: Still Awesome (for a digital camera)

At the time I write this, there's a good deal through this link.  (Also, the 6D with 24-105).  You might find it for a bit cheaper than that, but by then you'll probably be into gray-market territory.

I have no idea how long that price is going to last, but if landscape is your thing, this is one of the best cameras around.   Review here.

The new T6S has better AF, but the 6D has better image quality, better construction, and a larger viewfinder.  And the low-light performance is thus far unsurpassed.   It's sort of an apples-to-oranges comparison, and some people will find uses for both types of camera (full-size, full-frame vs. light, compact, APS-C). 

Film Camera

Article / review:  Superheadz Usagi Camel.  Almost identical to the Vivitar Ultra-Wide Slim, a cheap pocket camera that attained cult status.

More Film Goodness

A couple of you have been emailing me about some film shoots you've been doing lately.  Weddings, trips to mountainous Asia... these are the kinds of things that demand film.

2015 May 25
Memorial Day

Have been unable to do updates for several days, so this one is belated.

Here's hoping you all got to spend time with your families, on this special day to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve freedom.

2015 May 20

Someone had given me a pair of headphones that had a bad connection near the plug.  This is a very common failure mode for headphones.

Good advice:  try to find out if the speaker drivers are still good before you go to the length of replacing the headphone plug.  Soldering those tiny wires can be a lot more work than you would expect.  One stray filament can mess up the channel balance. 

Better advice:  because the headphones could still be semi-junk after the repair, just get yourself a new set instead. 

Even a pair of these headphones would probably be better than the ones I'm using now (cheap Koss phones).

High-end audio buyers sometimes don't like tone controls on a stereo receiver.  They say it is putting extra stuff in the audio path.  I can understand that.  On the low end of the price scale, on an amplifier such as the Lepai, that makes a huge difference (and boy, does it).  The tone controls cause major distortion.  But on everything else, I find that tone controls are usually worth having.

To me, that's one of the biggest things I miss when using an MP3 player.  If you can't at least adjust the bass and treble, a recording can sound flat or muffled.  There are too many acoustic interactions and variables to leave this to chance.   Solution?  This is what I'm talkin' about.  Bass, Treble, Balance... and a Phono input.  And it has Wolfson DAC's.

1980's Tech Device

Find out what this does, and why it's been soldered:  new article.

2015 May 15

The first person who can tell me what this is from... is a smart cookie.

Hint:  it's something from the Eighties.   That doesn't really narrow it down much.   Give you another hint:  it was a brand sold by the now semi-defunct Radio Shack, which many of us knew and loved for its assortment of electronic parts, radios, and gadgets.  They had some cool stuff.

This gadget needed repair.  Actually the part you see here was not really bad;  there was another part that had corroded through.  Someone left batteries in it for many years.  So, it turned into a repair project.  Article forthcoming.

The photo was taken with a digital Canon Rebel.  Are you stoked for this new one yet?

I'm hoping to get around to reviewing that soon, maybe when the electronics kick subsides... though it never fully will (been an electronics nerd since the 80's, around the time the device pictured above was manufactured.)

Bellari Phono Stage & Headphone Amp

A more detailed look at the VP-130 circuitry.   New article here

2015 May 10
Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

Until I can dig out another scan, here's one from a previous year.  This is Kodak Elite Chrome 100.   Today I would use Provia 100F for the closest equivalent.   The way I scanned this, it has sort of a "vintage" look to it;  once you master the techniques, you can adjust the look to almost anything you prefer.

2015 May 6
Wednesday evening

Just some fun stuff... a sky at sunset, captured on 110 film.  Grainy, because it was underexposed quite a bit. 

There are so many cheap 110 cameras around.  Pick one (see the guide to 110 cameras), get some film, and have a blast.   The better pro labs will still do 110 film processing. 

Analog photography is like analog audio... even the lo-fidelity stuff has information that digital will not convey.  A scratchy, noisy vinyl LP still has a nicer sound than an overly noise-reduced, overly-compressed MP3 file.  I mention that because many of the MP3 files you'll buy today are still encoded at only 96 or maybe 128 Kbps, which you may know is going to lose a lot of the quality. 

2015 May 1

It is amazing how much cool stuff there was in the analog-only days, yet this knowledge would be lost if it were not for dedicated enthusiasts.  This is true of film photography, of course, but it's also true for audio.

Good example:  Tape loops.  

You would make an "endless loop" out of the tape in a cassette:  a short section of tape that just goes round and round on one spool of the cassette.   It would have a recorded sound on it. 

While playing it, you could run the loop output through various filters and adjust levels to get all sorts of different sound modulations... while recording it on something else.  This little technique opened a whole era of experimental music, before there was digital. 

The unique types of distortion introduced by analog equipment lend their own sound to it.

Today is a good time for making your own music with effects.  There is a lot of great IC-based equipment, too.  There is at least one pedal that does guitar loops.   Combine with something awesome like this pedal or this one for a bit of experimental music.  There is lots of fun to be had here. 

Learning the guitar beyond playing a couple of partial songs is on my extended to-do list, but I'm already quite fascinated with the various electronic effects.

That reminds me:

Realistic 31-2005 Graphic Equalizer.

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