Summer is here

Summer is here
Originally uploaded by FransBadger

The exact point when summer starts is hard to define, weather and calendar both playing their tricks. When your summer vacation starts can set a fuctional entry point for most purposes.

There has been more administrative and various reporting & statement writing work dragging into June than ever before. I am really looking forward to a break; no word that I would be using my hard- earned vacation days for writing my own research, like in so many summers before. That means that I wont be publishing anything, but – that is academic reality this year. My personal goal is to cut radically down administrative duties during the next academic year and work my way back towards doing my own research more. Lets see how that will work out.

Meanwhile, still a couple of days in the office, and then – off we go!

Site back online

It has been a really irritating week, but now this blog should be back online. The root of problems was my attempting to do a quick MySQL security update, without really having enough time to do it properly. Things went bad, and finally my server was so messed up that a reinstall or more advanced tinkering with system registry or something like that would have been necessary — and I did not have time for that, either.

So, the final step was to outsource the server tech and blog software maintenance, and reinstall the site under server farms. There were several technical and communication issues involved in getting the SQL backup file translated into XML that could then be imported into the new blog site. The registration of the new Finnish domain for my name ( and its linking into the site was another hassle, but now everything seems to be working. There are still some links leading into the old blog site, but I have some static files still available from there, so at least images should display fine. And most of my blog photos and videos are embed code from Flickr or Youtube in any case.

But: sorry for the hassle — and if anyone drops by, and finds some broken links, or links leading to the old blog pages, please let me know (fransmayra [at] should work).

EOS 550D with RÖDE Stereo Videomic

Continuing blogging about my experiments with the new Canon EOS 550D: my first tests with the video audio point out that there is actually no sense in attaching an external mic to the camera right now. The AGC (automatic gain control) issue is much worse than what I thought. Here are two tests, the first with the internal mic, the second shot using the Röde Stereo Videomic, and in this latter one the “hiss” is almost intolerably loud:

Apparently the sensitivity of Röde is different from the internal mic, and the automatic gain control keeps on boosting the sensitivity up, until the audio becomes saturated with the background hiss.

There are a couple of potential work-arounds to this, but neither makes me very happy. The first one is to wait for a patched firmware to Canon EOS 550D; it is unlikely that Canon will provide a way to turn off AGC through the official firmware, but there are unofficial projects working on this kind of things. The most famous of these is the Magic Lantern project, but it is highly uncertain whether they will ever produce a hacked firmware for EOS 550D (the main focus is on 5D). More:

The second way that I know about is the “bypass trick”, where you fool the AGC to keep down by pushing synthetic tone to the other audio channel, and record your movie to the other channel. In the post-production you can then remove the extra channel. There is this video that explains the technique:

Neither way is that kind of quick fix that I would be hoping for (and I am not interested in plugging in extra sound sources every time I will be recording a short video clip), so any further ideas or advice on how to work around the AGC issue in EOS 550D are highly appreciated.

Testing the EOS 550D

EOS 550D, originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Ok, my new SLR arrived today (sans VideoMic & Eye-Fi card, those will arrive a day or two later), and it is time for the first impressions. Firstly, it is a real pleasure to shoot using this thing. It is much faster than my 350D used to be, and the large, sharp LCD display makes a real difference. The photos immediately jump to life, and it is possible to get right kind of feedback while trying to get the right tones, field of depth, or exposure. Also, since the camera is so light, it is easy to handle and I can picture myself carrying it around in our regular family travels. I have not got time to test the Full HD video properly, but it seems to be sharp, and camera easy to control while recording. There are some settings I still need to check out from the manual, though. AF point control, for example, was still evading me. It is good to notice that all the controls automatically feel like they are on the right places. Probably that is because they are mostly on their old, EOS-style places, on the other hand, the few changes feel natural and motivated. A good camera. Here are some test shots uploaded into Flickr.

Going for Canon EOS 550D

Photo (c) Canon 2010It was five years ago (time really flies!) when I got my previous Canon SLR, EOS 350D. The photos from the very first session should still be here. The body is still working fine, there are only a couple of dust particles inside, but the feature standard and user experience of today’s top cameras is completely different from 350D. I have now placed an order for Canon EOS 550D (with the kit IS zoom lens), and the key features are worlds away from the 2005 situation:

  • 18 million pixels
  • Full HD video (1080p)
  • DIGIC 4 processor
  • sensitivity range ISO100-12800 (extended, 6400 native)
  • 3 inch LCD display, 1040k pixels (live view — the quality of in-camera image display has grown more and more important during the years)
  • etc.

The manual for this thing is 260 pages (there is some reading and learning waiting for me) Continue reading “Going for Canon EOS 550D”

%d bloggers like this: