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This is a reasonably sturdy tripod which does its job perfectly well. The locks on the legs are well made so they clip in and out of place with ease, though on mine the extended use is starting to make that action feel a little loose on a couple of the locks. It's had a year's heavy use though, so this is not unacceptable and if it loosens too much there are tightenable screws.
The leg braces and central column give strength to the tripod but are probably unnecessary as the tripod head can only take small cameras, so weight isn't an issue. I wouldn't miss them ,and they also limit the minimum height and add to the weight.
The maximum height is 162cm, which is less than I would like (another 30cm would bring it up to my height) and I am always bending over the tripod to access the camera settings. This isn't the end of the world, and obviously reduces the weight, but bear in mind if you want this for shooting people as you won't be able to get headshots on the same level as the person.
Supposedly a video head, but the fluidiy is somewhat limited and particularly at the beginning of a motion it jerks a bit. With lighter cameras this is quite pronounced.
Good tripod but the lack of smooth video panning and the low maximum height limits it for me to a second tripod when I can't be bothered taking a full size tripod with me.
This lens is a brilliant all rounder, with great build and ergonomics, a very useful range of focal lengths (more on this below) and a good list of features like IS and USM to complete the package as a super kit lens - i.e one that you can use in a variety of situations but which delivers top notch image quality and control over aberrations and flare.
There may be lenses that offer greater maximum aperture, or have a greater range, or are wider, more telephoto, etc, but there really is nothing that can compare with the 24-105mm f4 in general multipurpose usage, a huge bonus for areas such as event shooting.
This is an L series lens, designed for professional use, and it is solid and tightly built from metal and high quality rubber on the zoom and focal rings. It feels like it's built like a tank, and although I wouldn't want to give it a knock, it feels robust enough that it could take it. Nothing flimsy about this lens.
Focal length and optics:
24 to 105mm is a brilliant wide-to-telephoto range, but you really get the best out of it on one of Canon's full frame models, the 5D series or some of the 1D series. On other camera bodies the wider end is much less impressive, and it's this availability of wide angle that really gives the lens such general utility. Perhaps look to the 17-85 f4-5.6 for a cheaper option for APS-C cameras.
The maximum aperture of f4 is reasonably modest, but sufficient and actually the perfect choice. f2.8 would make the lens far too big (and expensive) and actually with the image stabilisation built in and the excellent low-light performance on Canon's full frame cameras it's really not necessary to go wider than f4 - and the image quality is still great with the aperture wide open.
Image quality is professional spec - from f4 and throughout the whole zoom range the lens is a class act, with slight distortion at 24mm.
It also focuses reasonably close to the front element, so while true macro isn't possible you can capture close-up details nicely too - a good addition to an all purporse lens that does everything well and nothing spectacularly.
The lens has an ultrasonic motor, which means fast, accurate focusing is all done internally and can be manually overridden at any time. The focus really is blisteringly fast, it feels instant and really demonstrates Canon's particular mastery in this area - autofocus speed has always been a big draw to their camera and lens line-up.
The lens has a 77mm filter thread - the same as Canon's 17-40 and 24-70 lenses which may also make up part of a pro-kit, and means a saving in filters for ND, Polarisation, UV and so on. This is a nice touch.
One of Canon's greats, a true all-rounder that when paired with a full frame camera such as the Canon 5d mkII or mkIII, delivers amazing quality for a working professional or seriously demanding amateur.
Lens construction: This is an L lens and it's very well built, as you would expect from Canon's premium lens range. It's surprisingly light, however, which is handy for steady shooting for long periods without tiring, but the plastic construction (apart from the metal lens mount, where you NEED metal to protect against wear) makes the lens feel a little cheaper than its L-series brothers. The focus ring is smooth and is capable of tiny adjustments - vital for macro work where the depth of field is so low.
Features: Focus limiter which works very well for 0.3 - 0.5m, as this lens is also a great performer as a short telephoto so it would be annoying to have to wait for it to cycle through the whole range. I have experienced this on macro lenses without a limiter (Pentax DFA 100mm f2.8 Macro) so its inclusion here is welcome. Autofocus is accurate and fast, though not significantly better than other macro lenses which would be a real trump card over the cheaper non-L, non-IS alternative. It's also got instant override, so you can make tweaks yourself - vital for macro work where the depth of field is so low.
Image stabilisation: this lens uses a unique IS system designed specifically for macro, with correction for the frame pitching movements that are magnified by taking close-up pictures. It works excellently when I've had occasion to use it, though if you're using flash for macro it's not necessary. Also it doesn't counter movement within the frame, so a light breeze amongst the flowers you are shooting will still render your shots blurry despite the IS. See below for comparison to the Canon alternative lens, the 100mm f2.8 Macro.
Image quality: World class. Colours and saturation are superb, but the big hitter is the sharpness - perfect, so-sharp-you'll-cut-yourself edges with no noticeable aberrations either. Truly a great lens at a focal length and aperture that lend themselves to high quality (aperture doesn't go too wide, focal length is not loo long or too short)
Comparison: The main comparison is the non-L, non-IS, Canon 100mm f2.8 macro - which also has brilliant image quality. Those using APS-C sensor cameras could also consider Canon's 60mm macro. Neither have IS, and I would say that's not a huge issue, so unless you really feel you'll need it they both seriously undermine the 100mm macro L IS.
Overall, this is a good monitor.
Packaging and contents: The monitor came in a cardboard box with polystyrene and plastic air filled pockets, and came bundled with a power cable and VGA and DVI-D cable, which I thought was generous. I've used the DVI cable that came with it since I got it and have no issues or problems - signal has always been fine.
Use: I've used this monitor for a year and it still performs well. When it was new the resolution (1680x1050) seemed sufficient but now that I watch more HD videos I find myself wishing it was just that little bit higher - a minor issue, though, as it's close enough to make little difference.
Comments: From the technical details I see the viewing angle is described as 170 horizontal and 170 vertical - I find this hard to believe, as on my monitor I would say anything over 90 degrees starts to look quite different (muted colours, greying blacks) so while the display is still viewable it's nothing like it's supposed to look.
However, the monitor is crisp and colours are vibrant, the contrast ratio of 8000:1 is great and the refresh rates are high enough for gaming (Crysis 2 plays perfectly on my system and looks great on this monitor)
I don't use the built in speakers, though their inclusion is a nice touch.
Great quality lens filter - but at an eyebrow raising price. The quality of this filter is flawless, I can't see any image degradation, but to be honest I can't see degradation from much cheaper Hama or Hoya filters either, at less than half the price.
Any ND8 filter reduces light entering the camera by 3 stops - (so a shutter speed of 1/1000 would become 1/125 at the same aperture and ISO, for example). I have seen cheaper filters give the picture a slight colour cast, but this one does not. The construction is solid, the threads are made of high quality brass and screw in firmly but not don't lock to the thread (a problem I have had with cheaper or second hand filters)
I typically use this for video outdoors when I want a lower aperture for creative reasons, and it works very well, does exactly what it says on the tin. I've never had a problem with this filter.
However, at the end of the day a filter is a reasonably simple piece of optics and I can't see any difference between this and a Hama or Hoya filter which does exactly the same thing (reduces light by three stops) at a better price.
This is one of Canon's premium flash units and it oozes class and functionality.
Construction: The flash unit is very well constructed out of robust materials, with no awkward hinges that look like they'll break through harsh use, and a weatherproofed and dustproofed (to reasonable level of use, I assume - I have used it in sandy and rainy conditions for short periods and it was perfectly fine, but I wouldn't want to push it to see where its breaking point is). The buttons are responsive and setting manual output, for example, is easy - no re-pressing a button because the first time didn't register, a problem I have had with cheaper manual flash units like the Yongnuo 460-II.
Power: Using AA batteries is handy as they are easily available, and I have a set of rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries which are good for a whole day's shoot on this flash (several hundred shots) with a set of spares. The power output goes up to a whopping 60 at ISO 100, which is great for bouncing flash and diffusing flash as the light that reaches the lens is much reduced by the spreading out with distance - so that big topline power gives you flexibility to light a bigger subject from further away or fill a room with bounce flash. The recycling rate is excellent, though at full power the several seconds seems a little long and can leave your subjects waiting - so I'd like to see a little faster at full power.
Head tilt/rotation: Full 360 degree horizontal coverage and 90 degree upward vertical coverage gives me the full range of bounce options. The head turns solidly and always feels well-locked into position. The downward tilt of 7 degrees feels a little measly, as I shoot macro and would like a little more, maybe 20 or so degrees just to give me that little more shooting versatility, but no other flash unit offers this either so it seems harsh to seriously judge the 600EX-Rt for this.
Integration with camera: Great. The flash uses the latest E-TTL II mode and I've found in full auto it rarely over or underexposes, and when it does the cameras I use it with (5d mkII and 7d) have easily enough latitude to fix it in post as the over/under exposure is never by much.
Additional features: Off camera wireless mode, slave mode and modelling flash I have not used, so can't comment. However this flash offers all three and my experience with this flash as a faultless unit inspire confidence in these areas too.
Included accessories: The wide angle panel is a good extra to include though I don't use lenses wider than the 20mm the flash goes to natively (20-200mm). The flash stand is similarly useful to those who use it off-camera, and it's good to see Canon considering these extras as necessary to include and not selling them separately (as they do with lens hood, for example)
Conclusion: This unit can take heavy use. I have used it for whole day events and I have never experienced a fault, which is of course vital for professional use. For more casual users or amateurs I would suggest considering one of Canon's cheaper flash units with less advanced functionality for much less cash, but if you're serious about flash and want to experiment with the full range of functions Canon offers I'd definitely consider this.
I got this at the pound shop for the princely sum of £1, and it works just fine. I have digital cameras that use SD cards and mini and micro SD cards in other devices, and use this reader to transfer to the computer to save having to find various USB cables.
I have used it for almost a year and it has no issues with plastic weakening or any indication of imminent failure - it works as well as when it was new.
The transfer rate is a little slow compared to transferring directly from my digital DSLR, for example (A Pentax k-5) but not as slow as USB 1.0 and fast enough if you just leave it to transfer. I often take this with me if I am away on holiday rather than take cables for my camera, and for £1 it performs a great little job on the cheap.
The device is a little too wide at the USB socket end, I couldn't fit it beside a slot with another cable in it, which is not ideal as I only have 4 USB slots available and usually use 3 or 4 of them for external hard drives, printers and an external SCD writer - so my biggest gripe would be that this is too wide.
I have had an XM1 for almost five years and it still performs well as a back-up camera in some situations. I can honestly say I have never used a camcorder that has stood up to the long, rough treatment this camera has received in a life of use. All functions all still work perfectly although it needed a firewire port replacement 2 years ago which was £50.
It's quite small and light and the ergonomics and build lend themselves well to prolonged shooting without tiring.
In many ways it is approaching obsolescence; it is a 10 year old camera, it is only Standard Definition and is DV tape camera, which requires you to ingest to computer in real time. These are major limitations in 2012. For me, this means if I was considering the camera to buy now I would only buy it if it was second hand or otherwise inexpensive, and only if I had a specific use for it. For me, that's as a back-up for events filming with a good telephoto zoom and still-good quality that can be tweaked in post for good quality - the 25MBPS signal hold up well for modern editing programs liek Final Cut to adjust brightness/contrast /colour.
Everything about this lens is exquisite. It is extremely well built, with solid, metal construction and smooth-as-silk focus and zoom rings that respond to almost effortless, tiny adjustments but don't creep when you don't touch them.
It produces fantastically sharp images all the way through the zoom range with the colours looking saturated and effective, and the aberrations and curvature of field are well controlled.
The range it offers, 24 to 70mm, is only of real use on a full frame camera - so a 5D (or MkII or MkIII) and 1Dx being the current full frame models made by Canon. That puts this lens firmly in the luxury territory, one only considered by professionals or extremely enthusiastic amateurs with lots of cash to spend. On a crop sensor camera it would be about 38 - 112mm, a much less useful range. On a full frame it can be used as a landscape or architecture lens, as 24mm is quite wide.
The maximum aperture and zoom range of this lens make it useful in practically any situation as an event lens - indoor or outdoor - and when combined with the high end bodies mentioned above it really is an unbeatable combination.
Alternatives include the cheaper 17-55 f2.8 (on a crop sensor body) which I have found noticeably poorer in terms of image quality, but at less than half the price.
This lens is a great upgrade to the kit lens, the 18-55 f3.5-5.6, and has a similar topline - slightly wider and quite a bit less telephoto, which is a shame, as the 45mm (67.5mm equivalent) just doesn't feel quite long enough for a standard zoom - for example, portraits are a little too wide or else you get unflattering widening of features if you fill the frame.
The lens feels reasonably well built, slightly dry feeling zoom ring and focus ring which make small adjustments a little tricky, and the lens is quite light which gives it a slightly cheap feel when compared with Pentax's DA* lenses.
As a general purpose lens with an emphasis on capturing a little more of a scene in wides, this lens is great, and image quality is a substantial step up from the kit lens. Aberrations are ok, on larger prints or crops you'll see quite a bit of sharpness fall off and curvature and chromatic aberration, particularly at 16mm and wider apertures.
The motor drive autofocus is quite fast, but noisy, and the quick shift function is useful as you can get the lens in the right ballpark then let the camera's autofocus tweak it for tricky subjects.
Compared to the alternatives, Pentax's own DA* 16-50mm f2.8 and DA 17-70mm f4, the older 16-45mm f4 is much cheaper and for a more modest telephoto end gives you that slightly punchier wide angle. The 16-50mm also has SDM autofocus, which is quieter but has been associated with failure issues.
Everything about his lens screams "budget!"
The construction feels cheap and light - it feels like a toy - and the 3 I have used have all have different quirks - one focused beyond infinity, another focused beyond infinity then if you kept turning it clicked back to infinity focus, and the third was defective and the right of an image was smudged (it was replaced promptly by Canon). This poor build quality is unusual for Canon.
Image quality is fine - good even, particularly for the cost. It's a 50mm lens with a simple and effective construction, and as such you won't see much chromatic aberration or curvature - only a true pixel peeper would! But one of the best and most distinctive things about 50mm lenses in general is the background blur, or bokeh, and on this lens it is quite ugly (to me). The highlight circles take on a variety of approximately circular shapes near the image edge which I find distracting, and at higher aperture values the unusual 5 pointed aperture gives bokeh a cluttered feel.
On the plus side, this lens is a steal - cheap, better quality than the kit lens, and it does offer that low depth of field, which opens up various creative possibilities denied by zooms, and low light possibilities.
For a beginner with an 18-55 kit lens looking to improve image quality, this is a no brainer - get this lens. For more experienced photographers, it may disappoint, and the more expensive big brother of the 50mm 1.8 mkii, the 50mm 1.4, is a better bet.
As an L series lens - Canon's premium line-up of professional lenses - this lens is excellently and solidly built of high quality metal (with some plastic) and the seals and rings all feel tight and durable. I have used several copies of this lens on hire and they all had no mechanical or optical faults or any feeling of looseness, which is great from a hire lens that assumedly faces a little more rough treatment than it would from an individual owner.
This is one of 4 types of 70-200 lens Canon make - they make f2.8 and f4 versions, with and without image stabilisation. As the f4 non-IS, this is the cheapest, smallest and lightest. The optical quality is still excellent and the autofocus motor is ultrasonic, great features in a lens of this cost.
I have found the autofocus on Canon's newer cameras (5d MkII and 7d) to be blisteringly fast and accurate, even in low light, and the colour rendition is accurate and saturated, with great detail and sharpness from edge to edge.
If you don't need that extra stop of aperture offered by the 2.8, nor the IS, this lens is a fantastic purchase.
Amongst its class of entry-to-intermediate level cameras, the 600D represents great value for money now that it's replacement the 650D has been announced - causing a price drop on the 600D. It also represents a leap from its predecessor the 550D, the flip-out screen isn't just a gimmick and really adds versatility to the angles you can achieve and helps you tilt the camera to reduce glare in bright light, and in video the full HD zoom and manual audio control are welcome additions over the 550d.
The build is good, solid and the buttons respond well to the touch - all in all a class act from Canon though lacking the pro-feel of mechanical robustness of the 7D, 5D and 1D
In terms of the brand, Canon is the market leader - they have the largest lens line-up of any manufacturer so there genuinely is a lens for everything - also for me the ability to hire lenses for one-off use from companies is vital, and for that you really need Canon or Nikon.
There are a few minor irritations, including the plasticky feeling of the flip out screen - I always feel in danger of snapping it off. It is also just a little disappointing on image noise at ISO 800 to 1600, I feel at 100% size they are quite badly affected by loss of sharpness and the appearance of blotchy noise which means large size printing is out of the question at high sensitivity. Would also like to see better weather protection and a top screen, but you have to upgrade to the significantly more expensive 7D for that.
All in all, great camera - particularly right now, as the price has dropped.
This camera is my back-up to a bigger DSLR, and I always have it with me. It's performed well for over a year. Build quality is fine, the battery door feels a little flimsy however, as does the lens cover.
The start-up time is ok, not quite as fast as I would like considering I carry it to take photos when I see a great opportunity. The lens takes a reasonably long time to deploy.
The buttons are slightly fiddly. The on/off button in particular requires a finger nail to depress it, and the zoom buttons are a little small; I have to look for them on the back sometimes.
The picture quality is good, having 14 megapixels is a lot to crop a picture later and still have an acceptable resolution, and the low light performance is fine too, better than a lot of other cameras at a similar price. Above ISO 400 noise does become quite pronounced however, and so I try to avoid taking pictures with high ISO. Some of the built-in modes like night scene are good for dealing with this automatically, as they use a low shutter speed instead.
The screen is bright and quite large, and the zoom, while modest, is sufficient for most subjects.
My family all have Casio cameras and though I've never had a technical fault my sister's similar camera developed a lens problem where it would whine and not deploy on start-up maybe 50% of the time.
One disadvantage for me is that it doesn't have a RAW mode - but I could hardly expect it to at the price, so it's not really an issue.
I have had this for 2 years now and it's still working like a charm. The mp3 player looks great, slim and well built as you expect from Apple.
The capacity is generous, enough for all of my music and photos and videos with lots of room left over for more (I have only filled 40Gb in 2 years).
You do pay a premium for the brand, of course, and if you are completely immune to Apple's style you should look elsewhere - Creative Zen, Archos, and so on, for similar functionality at a lower price.
The interface is good, well designed and easy to navigate - would like to see a few more options like the ability to alter playlists on the device rather than through a PC, and a few minor similar things where it feels like the functionality has been limited to make everything as simple as possible.
The wheel system is fast and intuitive, though occasionally when scrolling it can get a bit annoying having to twirl it round and round for several full revolutions compared to the one-brush of a finger touchscreen alternatives.