Pro Tools Upgrade?

The last time I purchased Pro Tools was in 2012. I bought Pro Tools 10.0 for Students, which came with a miraculous four years of software upgrades for just a few hundred dollars. The last version I received under that plan was Pro Tools 12.4, in December of 2015. Four years on, that version is still working really well for me under macOS Mojave (10.14.6).

Avid announced some Cyber Monday deals that are still live until Christmas Eve, which has me investigating whether now is the time to upgrade. It looks like my options are:

  • $199 for an upgraded Pro Tools perpetual license, with one year of active support (and new releases).
    • If I can get education pricing through my wife, this reduces to $99/year.
  • A subscription Crossgrade: $80 for year one (with a Cyber Monday promotion), $99 for year two, then $299/year.
  • Apple’s Logic Pro X for $199.

The main driver for upgrading at all is Catalina support. It looks like the Avid Video Engine is the only part of 12.4 that isn’t 32-bit, and I don’t do anything with video, but I’m not sure if the bundle will work well with the embedded 32-bit binary. I don’t plan to update my machines to Catalina for a while, so this is more of a theoretical issue for at least a few more months.

I’m pretty sure I’ll go with a perpetual license when I finally upgrade. After the end of year two, it’s substantially less expensive than a subscription, and I’ve already demonstrated that I can easily live with an out-of-date version for a while. $299/year for a subscription doesn’t match the value I’m getting out of Pro Tools at this point in my life. Since there’s no current discount on a perpetual license upgrade, I’ll just wait until upgrading to Catalina forces my hand.

Preventing USB Drives from Mounting at Boot

The two USB backup drives that are permanently connected to my iMac have been in service for six years, so I recently ordered replacements.

I wanted the new drives to be unmounted from the computer when they weren’t being updated; I’m not sure why I had never configured this before with the previous drives.

Carbon Copy Cloner will try to mount the target destination if it isn’t mounted when a backup task starts. You can optionally configure the drive to be unmounted when the backup task completes. The only remaining piece of the puzzle is to make sure the drives don’t mount when the machine boots up.

The first step is to find the UUID of your drive. This command will return a UUID with the form XXXXXXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXX:

diskutil info /Volumes/"Volume Name" | grep 'Volume UUID'

Then, you can a line to the /etc/fstab file with your UUID and the noauto option:

# Warning - this file should only be modified with vifs(8)
# Failure to do so is unsupported and may be destructive.

Save the file, reboot, and the drive should be in an unmounted state!

I was installing watchOS 6.1 on my series 2, but now it has somehow decided to install watchOS 5.3.3. Strange. It’s almost done, so I’ll try moving to 6.1 from there.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

I just caught wind of the announcement of the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, and I got really excited about the prospect of a higher resolution (20MP!) sensor.

I currently own an E-M1 Mark I that I bought just before the Mark II was released (at a steep discount). I originally planned to buy an E-M10, but the cost delta from that to the discounted E-M1 was small in late 2015, and the feature set was a huge step up. Now, coming from that E-M1 Mark I, the performance improvements of the E-M5 Mark III aren’t as pronounced as coming from an earlier generation E-M5.

I pulled together some specifications comparing the OM-D E-M1 Mark I, OM-D E-M5 Mark III, and the OM-D E-M1 Mark II (which I’ve managed to avoid splurging on over the last few years):

Camera OM-D E-M1 Mark I OM-D E-M5 Mark III OM-D E-M1 Mark II
Price $1400 (in 2013) $1200 $2000 ($1700 now)
Body type SLR-style mirrorless SLR-style mirrorless SLR-style mirrorless
Processor TruePIC VII TruePic VIII TruePic VIII
Max resolution 4608 x 3456 5184 x 3888 5184 x 3888
Effective pixels 16 MP 20.4 MP 20.4 MP
Sensor size Four Thirds Four Thirds Four Thirds
Sensor type CMOS CMOS CMOS
Sensor rate 10fps 30fps 60fps
Autofocus 81 Points 121 Points 121 Points
ISO 100-25600 64-25600 64-25600
Stabilization 5-axis, 4EV 5-axis, 6.5EV 5-axis, 5.5EV
Video 1080p @ 30fps 4k @ 30fps 4k @ 30fps
Lens mount Micro Four Thirds Micro Four Thirds Micro Four Thirds
Focal length X
Articulated LCD Tilting Fully articulated Fully articulated
Screen size 3″ 3″ 3″
Screen dots 1,037,000 LED 1,040,000 TFT LCD 1,037,000 TFT LCD
Viewfinder 2.36M 2.36M OLED 2.36M OLED
Max shutter speed 1/8000 sec 1/8000 sec 1/8000 sec
Format H.264, Motion JPEG MPEG-4, H.264 MPEG-4, H.264
USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec) 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec) 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)
USB Charging No Yes No
Weight 497g (1.10 lb) 414 g (0.91 lb) 574 g (1.27 lb)
Dimensions 130 x 94 x 63 mm 125 x 85 x 50 mm 134 x 91 x 67 mm
GPS None None None

These specifications really highlight DPReview’s claim that the new Olympus E-M5 Mark III is a mini E-M1 II. But, for me, I think it would be the better camera. Smaller, lighter, less expensive, and nearly as capable. The main advantages of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II are “a significantly faster burst rate with AF and a deeper, more comfortable grip”, but I don’t think that’s worth $500 to me.

The more important question is whether the benefits of the OM-D E-M5 Mark III over my current OM-D E-M1 Mark I justify the upgrade. The main benefit for me would be the higher resolution sensor; I’ve never really found myself limited by the sensor throughput, and I’ve never used the camera for video. I think I’ll wait for now to see how the camera is received when it’s released later this year.