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It has happened to many people. You go on holiday and snap away to your hearts delight only to find you have lost one of the memory cards that held those precious memories. I needed a back up of some sort and did a lot of research.
After reading many reviews I settled on the Nexto DI Extreme model. It is an attractive package in a gold coloured textured metal case measuring 128x77x23mm. There is a small LCD screen on the front so you can see what it is you are doing. A single button operates the device with a series of short and long presses to navigate the menus. In reality it works pretty well. It can act as a back up to your photos, a mass storage USB device or a hard drive for a camcorder.
The device has card slots on the top edge and the left hand side edge and takes all the common memory card formats. There is an internal Sata hard disk which has very fast performance and makes the device one of the fastest out there. The hard drive comes in different sizes and this is reflected in the price. I opted for the 320gb version which set me back £160. This may sound a lot but it has had constant use and never failed me once. The fact that the device will check each bit of info as it copies it and then verifies it 100% so that you know all is well really is a great feature. It will also warn you if you insert a corrupt card or if any files on the card is corrupt..
Using the device is simple. You turn it on and insert a card into one of the slots. You are then giving the choice to copy or move the images onto the card and once all is verified you can either format the card or turn the device off. You are able to browse files and delete them on the hard drive as well. It is also possible to copy files from a external source that has a USB connection and the cable is included for this.
The hard drive has a rechargeable battery that takes about 4.5 hours to charge from the mains or using a USB cable to a PC. I was able to transfer 10 2gb cards on a recent trip and there was still plenty of battery power as indicated on the LCD screen. When not in use the battery holds charge for many months so the hard drive is always good to go.
Now I have discovered the Nexto I never leave home without it when travelling. It is compact and weighs around 225g and has it's own protective soft case. Takes up little room in a camera bag so there is no excuse to leave it behind.
It was time to change my car, not because I wanted to but I had too. I had got a Peugeot 107 new 8 months earlier to use when the weather was too bad to ride my motorbike. However I managed to fall down some stairs and shattered my elbow. Unable to change gear I thought it was a good idea to look at automatic cars.
I had always been a fan of the Vauxhall Corsa. I previously had a 1.2 model in an older shape and had been very happy with that. I decided to look at the latest models to see how they had changed. I checked a few dealers and finally found a 10 month old 2010 model 1.4 SE 5 door Auto for £8900. New the vehicle had cost just under 16500!
The SE model is pretty well equipped. It comes with air con, auto lights, auto wipers, auto dipping rear view mirror, cruise control, cd player/radio with steering wheel controls, heated front seats and a pretty cool heated steering wheel which I had never heard of before. On trying out the heated seats I was very impressed with how affective they are and the heated steering wheel is very welcome on cold mornings as it really does warm up the palm of your hands. In the boot there is a floor level removable shelf that enables a flat load level when you fold the rear seats down. I also found the shelf very useful as it splits the boot into 2 compartments. Be aware the shelf comes with the SE spec 2010 models onwards and is priced at around £60 if you want one for a lower spec model. There is a first aid kit, warning triangle and hi vis jacket also stored in the boot along with a full size spare wheel. The boot alone is a pretty decent size and can take 2 medium and one smaller suitcase when the floor level shelf is removed.
The interior of the car is fairly spacious for this class of car. The seats in the SE model are nicer than the lesser spec models and have leather trim. They are very supportive and good for longer journeys and the drivers seat is height adjustable. I like how easy it is to get into and out of the car both front and rear due to the seat height, rear passengers have good space with an impressive roof height. I like the layout of the dash and the finish of the soft touch dashboard which looks more expensive than some cars. The attractive piano black internal trim used for the SE model looks elegant. Most other models have a silver trim around the radio etc and this has been known to cause distractive reflections on the windscreen. The controls are easy to use and well laid out. There is a nice orange glow to various switches and dials which makes finding them in the dark a breeze.
In 2010 the 1.4 engine was redesigned to extract a further 10 BHP bringing it up to 100 BHP. Many owners of the 90 BHP version had stated that the engine was a little under powered which is not surprising as the car is pretty heavy but this translates to a solid well built car. The fuel economy has also been improved. I recently averaged 38 MPG when using around town / on A roads with 4 adults in the car. This is fairly good when you consider the car is quite heavy and the transmission is an auto. The car pulls well and happily can cruise at 80 MPH for a good period of time. 0 - 60 time is between 12 to 13 seconds which will keep up with traffic. The automatic gear box is smooth but a little jerky when engine is cold but still better than the auto 1.4 Fiesta i test rode. Some may find the ride a bit harsh but it does a good job of smoothing out the imperfections of the road. On twisty country lanes the slightly harsh suspension comes into it's own as you weave the car around and it is more fun than it should be.
Dust particles will eventually find their way onto the filter that rests in front of the DSLR camera sensor. Many camera models have their own dust removal systems but they are only affective to a certain degree. Sooner or later most DSLR owners will notice small dark spots on images which are more apparent against blue skies and when the aperture is closed down.
The thought of cleaning the delicate insides of a new expensive camera does send some people weak at the knees. Your options are to pay someone to clean the dust away or do it yourself. The DIY option makes sense financially as who knows how often you will need to clean it. Even those who rarely change lenses will get the dust issue as zoom lense will suck air in when you zoom the barrel. You will need to choose between a wet clean or a dry clean. The safest is of course the dry clean and at it's most simplest form there are small devices that blow clean air onto the sensor to blow the dust away. However this only moves the dust around in the camera. A better solution is to remove the dust particles using a brush. This review is about the Visible Dust 724 Super Bright which does exactly that. You can find it for £90 upwards from online retailers.
The brush comes in a protective padded box. It consists of 2 parts, the handle and the brush which has a clear cover to keep the brush clean. The handle is comfortable to hold and the plastic has a nice texture. On the side you have a switch which powers the brush on, off and also activates the 2 LED lights located at the front of the handle. Two small AAA batteries provide the power. The brush has fibres that are electrically charged and attract the dust particles when they come into contact.
Using the brush is easy but care must be taken to not touch the sides of the camera chamber when you insert the brush. The sides in the camera chamber will have lube and this will containment the fibres. Once you have put the camera in cleaning mode and removed the lens, you simply lie the camera on it's back. You then remove the cap from the brush and turn it on, the motor in the handle will spin the brush head at fast speed and this will cause the bristles to charge while also dislodging any dust on the fibres. The instructions advise you to spin the brush 3 times for 5 seconds each time. You then push the power button to turn the lights on and insert the brush into camera, then swipe the brush once over the sensor filter and then extract the brush and reinsert to swipe the sensor a second time using the other side of the brush. It is as simple as that. The 2 LEDS are useful as they allow you to see the internal of the camera chamber so that you avoid the fibres of the brush touching anything but the sensor filter.
The brush does a very good job of lifting dust. In 6 years it has performed flawlessly and is a quick easy way to keep the sensor dust free. There is a liquid cleaner available to keep the bristles clean and you can also buy a more heavy duty brush head.
I obtained a full motorcycle licence late in life at the age of 39. I was more than happy to throw away the learner plates and decide upon which would be my first bike. I did hours of online research and at the end of it all my attention was drawn to the Suzuki SV650S sports touring model.
The SV650S has an upper front bikini fairing and a more forward reaching seating position than the SV650 naked version. The seating position is no where as forward reaching as a super sports bike so it is still comfortable to ride at slow speeds around town. It is termed as a budget bike and can be gotten new for around £4900 on the road. It is classified as insurance group 9 which translates to low insurance premiums. Do not be fooled though, the 649cc v twin engine produces 69bhp and with the bike being fairly light at 169kg you have a fairly fast machine in your hands. I will refrain from repeating any more specifications as these are freely available online.
There are many accessories available for the SV650S. I added lower fairings to give the bike a full fairing look as well as a rear hugger which fits over the rear wheel to offer protection from dirt and road spray. Perhaps the most common and one of the first things owners do is change the exhaust. The v twin engine has a lovely deep growl which is killed off by the standard exhaust. For as little as £120 you can get an after market stainless steel exhaust to replace the standard one and the difference is sensational. Just make sure the exhaust you get is stamped for road legal use or you will not pass the M.O.T. when the time comes. The bike comes with a basic tool kit which fits in a compartment under the seat.
The bike feels light on the move and is easy to flick around those great twisty country roads. The suspension is adequate and is adjustable on the rear. I had no need to make any changes but then again my weight is 170lbs and someone heavier may find they need to adjust the suspension a notch or too. The front suspension does an ok job of soaking up the bumps but you have to remember the bike is built to a budget. This is most evident when you need to undo a bolt on the bike as if you are not careful you can easily strip the thread or snap the bolt. They are basically made of cheese and I ended up replacing many of the fairing bolts with stainless steel ones.
The v twin engine is just great and has good torque. It will propel you to 60mph in around 3.8 seconds. The top speed is well over 125mph so it is more than enough when you consider the motorway speed limit is 70mph. The bike feels well planted at high speed thanks to the bikini fairing and this makes for a decent touring bike. I added a Renntec sports rack to the back of my bike to which I attached a Givi roll bag. I was able to remove the rack quickly and easily for the times it was not needed. I had no interest adding a top box to the rear of the bike as in my opinion they spoil the look of the bike. The rack and bag saw me through several trips to Alsace in France. The bike just gobbled the miles up without any complaints though it did take a day or 2 to get used to the seat which could do with more padding. However I still managed to do 650 miles on one day without much bother. They only other thing to note is the vibration from the engine associated with it being a v twin. This takes a bit of time to get used to but eventually your wrists become accustomed to it and it will no longer be an issue. All in all though the bike does well at touring and you can expect about 55 mpg with fuel fill ups every 125 miles.
There are a couple of issues you need to be aware of. The position of the front spark plug means it will get soaked in heavy rain. This can be avoided by adding a fender extender and/or grease around the spark plug, to avoid the bike running on one cylinder. You need to take care with the throttle as power delivery is not exactly smooth at times and if you are not careful the bike can lurch forward.
To sum up, the SV650S is a very capable bike that would well suit a beginner as well as more seasoned riders. It is cheap to buy and run (5 years NCB meant £91 fully comp ins) and is great fun to ride.
I needed a new home for my DSLR and accessories and the Kata 3-n-1 10 caught my eye as I was walking around a photo show. I was attracted to the odd looks as I had been on the look out for a bag that did not resemble a camera bag. At the show the bag was on offer for £60 so I decided to get it.
The bag has a reinforced front for protection. It also has a padded back which holds the straps when not required and removeable straps that allow you to fasten the bag around chest for stability. The straps are great as you can configure the bag as a rucksack or a sling bag with little fuss. As a sling bag you can have it in either left or right format and you just tug on the strap to pull the bag around to the front of you. To get to the bag you have a quick release system in which you undo a buckle and pull the flap open. This is on both sides. To close the flap again you just zip it back up. I found the bag served as a decent resting area to help steady shots when the bag is in front of you.
Internally the bag is all yellow so things are easy to find. The main lower conpartment is provided with several flexible dividers. The upper compartment has 2 internal pockets and a mesh pocket and also holds the yellow rain jacket which I can confirm keeps the case dry in the rain. You are also able to unzip the divider between the upper and bottom compartments. There are also 2 external pockets on the sides that can hold small things like spare batteries or filters etc.
I was surprised just how much this case can hold. The main compartment can accept my Nikon D7000 with the 16-85mm zoom attached, Nikon 70-300VR lens and a chunky Tamrac filter holder case. The upper compartment can take 2 SB 800 flashes and a few other small bits and pieces. Considering the size of the bag I do think it is a little Tardis!
The bag is very well made and has chunky zipper pulls and heavy duty zips. I would not however use the bag without the rain/dust cover if dust was around as there are tiny gaps that will allow the dust to get in, at the point where the zips for the side panels meet the quick release buckle for the main compartment.
I was looking for a case that would hold my Canon G12 camera along with a few sd memory cards. I did not like many of the cases I checked in stores as they either were not a good fit or looked quite ugly.
Looking on the Kata website I noticed the DP-415 camera case. Dimensions looked about right so I ordered one from a seller on Ebay for the sum of £17. The bag itself looks pretty cool. There is a easily removeable shoulder strap and also a small yellow cover that will keep the case dry if you get caught out in the rain. Having tested the yellow cover in wet conditions I can safely say it does a good job. The front of the camera case has a reinforced front for added protection. You access the camera by unzipping the upper part of the case. The zip itself moves freely and has taken a lot of abuse but still works perfectly. At the rear of the bag is a very strong loop fastner. This allows you to attach to a belt or as I have done, to the handle bar on my mountain bike.
Inside the case is all yellow making it easy to find things. There is a divider that is well padded and seperates the camera from the accessory holding area. The camera slides into the back part while in the front part of the case there is a mesh pocket as well as a small removeable sd card holder. You can also store the rain cover in the front area.
My Canon G12 has a thick wrist strap attached. The camera slides into the back of the case behind the divider, with ease and the fit is perfect. I then coil up the wrist strap and that is inserted into the front area of the case. There is no space for an additional battery but that is not really an issue for me as the G12 battery holds charge well.
All in all I like the overall look of the bag and it does exactly what it is meant to do and that is protect the camera well.
When i upgraded my Nikon 18-105 lens to the Nikon 16-85mm lens I decided it was time I also invested in a better circular polariser. Up to that point I was using a Hoya HMC Circular Polariser which after a few years started to have a few tiny specks on the glass after some light cleanings.
The B&W I have is the MRC version which has a tough multi coating which is tougher than glass and will resist scratching. B&W claim the coating repels water so you do not get dried water marks. This was put to a test when I dropped the camera with filter attached into a stream! Off course I killed the camera but did not even have to dry the filter. It is a bit slimmer than the Hoya filter I was using previously yet it still has the option to add a further filter or clip style lens cap to the front. I believe that this is not the case with the very slim profile filters on the market.
Optical quality is very good and I can see that there is a more even, pleasing look to blue skies using this filter, when compared to the Hoya filter I was using. As with all polariser filters you can control the amount you want to polarise by rotating the outer ring.
A circular polariser is recommended for auto focus digital cameras and will help clouds stand out in the sky or darken the blue in the sky. It is also useful to cut down on reflection from leaves, water and glass. When using it in some instances you get the best effect when the sun is at 90 degrees to you.
After using this filter for 7 months I can highly recommend it as you do get what you pay for in terms of quality.
I recieved this as a present at Christmas after dropping various hints to wifey. I wanted a tripod i could easily take abroad but could hold my Nikon DSLR safely. This version of the Joby tripods can hold 3kg in weight and i have no problen placing my Nikon D7000 with 16-85mm lens onto it.
Each leg is made up of a very clever system of 10 connected ball and socket type joints. Each ball will rotate anyway you need and this is the beauty of the system as you can secure the legs around many different things like branches, posts etc. I use my quick release ball head from my mono pod on the Joby and it makes for a very versatile system which is light and fits into my camera ruck sack easily. Without the use of an additional tripod/ball head though a camera mounts directly onto the top of pod which does make it very difficult getting the camera level so i highly recommend using an additional head, even a cheap one.
On a recent trip we came across a lovely waterfall and i wanted to take a long exposure to create a silky smooth flow of water. The Joby was perfect as I was eaily able to set it up onto various uneven rocks and the rubber feet kept the pod in place. Having damaged a camera due to dropping it in the past i always have the camera strap around my neck even when the camera is mounted on the Joby as it is better being safe than sorry. So far though it has performed perfectly though the balls right at the top are very stiff. Better than being too loose i guess.
We got the Smoky Joe Gold to replace an earlier model. Our old model lasted 9 years before it got crushed (don't ask) and though it had been outside all it's life it still looked great up to the moment it was killed off, with no signs of rust at all. The Gold model looks to have the same finish as our previous model and that was very easy to keep clean with some soapy water. Assembling the grill is easy and quick and this version comes with a carry handle as well as a locking lid which is something i missed on our old model. There is an adjustable vent on the top.
The grill cooks well but having a small cooking surface only suitable for a couple of people if making anything bigger than sausages. Very convienent for camping trips or if you just want to have a cook out somewhere for the day.
The grill does come with a 10 year warranty but i doubt you will need to use it as the grill is as robust as our previous one and i expect it to last many many years.
Got one form Sainsbury's in a sale for just 20 quid. Very easy to use, just turn on and await light to go out then lift lid, load the food, close lid. Thats all it takes. The lid is hinged at the back so that it adjusts to the height of whatever you are cooking. Very easy to clean, i spray a lil low fat cooking oil onto the plates and everything just wipes off.
Initially when we first got it we cooked sausages with it as it is less mess then putting under the grill. However it tends to be burn the skin never mind how careful you are turning and trying to get an even cooked sausage. Also you will find the if you use large sausages the lid sits fairly high and you get a bit of grease spat out on anything close to either side of the grill. We now just use the grill for doing chicken, bacon and also toasted sandwiches/panini. The tray that sits at the bottom catches any fat that runs of the food, from the grooves.
A tip.... when doing a toasted sandwich or panini spread some magarine on the outside of the bread. It stops the bread sticking and the inside of the bread ends up nice and soft while the outside has a crunch depending on how you like it.
Do you own a DSLR? If so you more likely than not change lenses and never mind how careful you are dust particles can enter into the camera body and attach themselves in front of the sensor. A lot of new DSLR owners get very nervous at the thought of cleaning the sensor to be rid of the dust. Dust will show itself as dark spots on the image especially visible in sky areas so it is something you do need to deal with. This is where the Rocket Blower comes in. You have here a device that will puff out air that is clean and free from condensation and a filter prevents the blower from sucking dust into it's air holding compartment. Most of the time a few blasts from the blower is enough to dislodge dust particles from the sensor and it really is as simple as that. Aim, be sure to not touch anything in the body of the camera and then blow the dust off. Can also be used for blowing dust from lenses etc. There is a smaller version which is a bit more portable which i also aim to get.
I was looking for a compact camera with a big zoom and electronic viewfinder to take on my motorcycle holidays. Did not want to risk my DSLR gear. Decided on the H50 but exchanged the first camera for having a bad blurry left side in images. Second one is better. I liked the fact the screen could be moved up and down which certainly helps with framing in awkward positions as well as the manual controls. The electronic viewfinder is decent and it is how i prefer to frame pics especially in bright tight. The zoom lens is fairly sharp and the image stabilisation system works well. I was very surprised with the night shot mode. This mode is fun in itself allowing pics in almost dark situations. However i learnt by adding a R72 Infrared filter i could shoot hand held B&W IR photography and this opened up a whole new creative side. I did not use any of the modes like smile mode etc but i am sure someone has use for such things. Now for image quality. This camera suffers pretty bad from purple fringing (purple outlines around edges in high contrast areas) and it is visible in even small size pics. Colours are good as is exposure and detail is not bad. In comparision my Canon G12 blows this out of the water in terms of image quality but then again it does cost a lot more. Do not get me wrong the camera is capable of getting some very nice results but it could never be my go to camera if i really wanted decent quality. Then again it is an all in one lil package that does a fairly good job for the money. Maybe if it had the option to shoot RAW i would be a bit happier. Have to add that i have dropped this camera 3 times onto concrete and tiles and there is just a tiny mark on the lens barrel. It also went rolling down a motorway in a tank bag that came off my motorbike but still worked without problems.
I always was curious about these lil motors and decided i should get one. We were moving home and the new house had a garage which i would keep my motorbike in. Why do i need a car if i ride a bike? Easy.... i am not the type to ride in the ice and snow or heavy rain for that matter. The Pug 107 was the perfect size to fit into the garage along side the bike. So we went to have a test drive. I was surprised how much room the front passengers have! The back seats can take 2 average sized passengers ok and having the 5 door model certainly helps. The car i purchased was an ex demo in Urban model in black with the optional rev counter that took a bit of time to get used to. I was not too keen on the centre of the dash, housing the heater controls but this eventually grew on me. The boot is tiny but can take a few shopping bags though access is tight. I was surprised how zippy the 1L engine is but you really do need to plan your overtaking well in advance if you are not to be the cause of road rage. Going uphill can be a struggle at times on fast roads but i found if you rock yourself forward and back this helps the car get up the hills :) The suspension does not exist and if you run over an ant you will know about it. The most annoying thing about the car is the lack of insulation in the wheel arch area. You can constantly hear tapping and knocking of stones being thrown up from the wheels. The car is very basic on accessories and even lacks a door cover for the glovebox area, which is an extra. Sound system is poor as is to be expected but at least allows connection of an MP£ or Iphone etc. Seats are not too bad and gave no problems on longer journeys. The car is brilliant on petrol averaging 400 miles on a tank and 20 quid for car tax! Very easy car to park and all in all is a lil bundle of fun to drive (avoid ants and stones)
The wife was offered a BMW 120dSE as a company car a few years back. I was not to happy to begin with as i was not to keen on the shape of the car and also though a 3 series would be a better size for us. I am not going to go into facts about the spec etc as i am sure you know these already so here is my view after living with this car for 2 years. The car has quite firm suspension but this is not as bad as in the Mini Cooper we had before it. The firm suspension comes into its own on twisty country roads. It is a delight throwing the car into bends with confidence. The 2L engine is pretty responsive for a diesel and pulls well. Overall the car feels quite fast and the gear sacing works well. The car came in black with the added option of piano interior trim. We also had the sat nav business option fitted. The screen is nice and large but it can be a bit hard to see as it is positioned on the top of the dash were sun can shine onto it. The bluetooth for the phone works very well and the controls on the steering wheel all do the job well. The seats offer good support and we can drive for long period of times with no problems. The car has proved big enough for our use though if we had children or taxied people around in the back more this would not be the case. I can not quite understand why there is a cup/bottle holder underneath the arm rest as you can not have the arm rest down if you have a bottle there! Biggest fail on rear wheel drive is the driving in ice or snow. This is even worse for the 1 series as it is so light. We just left the car at home when it would not get out of our drive this past winter and made off in our 2nd car... a Peugeot 107! Not to impressed with the run flat tires which do cost a bit to replace but if you keep the tire pressure where it should be you can get good wear. We just replaced the tires at 38000 so thats it good wear!
So we were in the market for a new all in one printer and took a stroll to PC World to see what was on offer. The Canon MG6150 instantly grabbed my attention and on getting home i scoured the web to see what i could find out about it. I was looking for a decent scanner as well as a good photo printer to accomodate my hobby of photography. I found the touch controls layout and the whole interface very easy to navigate and it looks pretty cool with the way everything lights up. The pop up monitor is a good size and you do not need a PC to print as the monitor shows everything you need. I had no problem setting up the wifi link to my router and this is a big plus as other printers i have had would lose the signal at times but not so with this Canon. The photo quality output is brilliant and certainly helped by the six ink cartridge system. Printing high quality photo prints can take a bit longer than you might expect but this does not bother me as i demand high quality and this printer delivers. No problems with text print outs as all is nice and clear. The printer is BIG so make sure you have space. The printer seems to spend a bit of time cleaning and setting itself up when turned on and this could waste ink in my opinion.