Tag Archives: christmas

Need for Speed Shift – PS3 Patch fixes everything

When I first started playing NFS:Shift I thought it was great. The graphics, sound and handling were excellent, that was until I started to drive some of the high end cars.

This was when things started to go wrong, the cars just bounced and lurched from one corner to another. It was terrible and very difficult to enjoy.

But now its all fixed with a new patch. Gone are the problems with the handling and the game is back to its best. With Gran Turismo 5 still way off after what seems like a decades wait this is the best driving game out on the PS3 at the moment and should be the top of anyone’s Christmas list.

Need a camera to replace a Fuji F30, or do I?

We all like to keep up with current trends and as an amateur photographer I wanted to update my now ageing Fuji F30. Now when it was launched it had more plaudits that any other Compact Camera before or since really. It had a 6Mpix sensor and a fairly average lens at 36mm to 108mm (35mm equivalent) but that wasn’t the clever bit, it was its low light performance, that everyone was staggered at.

At the time in some forums people were talking it up to almost SLR levels of noise reduction. Now I’ve got a Canon 40D and it can’t come close , but as a second camera it does an incredible job when you consider the size and weight difference. But having joined Alamy up scaling 6meg images from a compact that takes pictures straight to JPEG is tough to say the least, even the very best 100iso images have small artefacts especially when they are scaled up to the resolution Alamy wants.

But Which New Camera To Get?

I had a quick look around and the list below got short-listed. Some are Enthusiast models that can even capture RAW others Premium more lifestyle models. What was I looking for? Minimum 10Mpix, Wide angle Lens 28/24mm, good screen, not too big (I’ve got an SLR for that) and last but maybe most important, excellent high ISO performance.

[ad#postlinks]

So to the list and a few reasons why the initial ones didn’t make it.

Canon G9/G10 – G9 didn’t go wide enough really but it is quite cheap at the moment, G10 went to 24mm but they are both too big and heavy and fairly expensive for the little extra benefit overall when you pixel peep. Have a look over to Ken Rockwell to see his comparison with the IXUS 870 / SD880.

Panasonic LX3 – A great little camera, zoom lens sticks out though so not as small as it seem and the lens cover could be a fair hassle for a quick P&S. But the lens is good (Big barrel distortion issues get fixed in software LR or Silkpix) 24mm is F2 and 60mm is F2.8 so a fast lens but not long at 60mm. But they are had to come buy and I wasn’t sold with the sticky out lens to go in a jeans pocket and its quite pricey but then it will also capture RAW. This is the current hit camera for 2008 and I can see why. But its a no from me.

Fuji F100fd – The spiritual successor to the F30d or at least in the same bloodline. Its not the best looking camera to say the least but it just about every other way it ticks all the boxes. High ISO performance is good but not great though. Plus at only £165 from Amazon a bargain really and a recent winner of dpreview.com Premium Cameras in the run up to Christmas. This is a Maybe

Canon IXUS 870 IS / SD880 – Now this could be the one. Its small, has a 28mm lens and its not too expensive (I’m married so budget is important 😉 ) Its got a good zoom lens an 10mpix sensor and good ISO performance. At approx £200 its not too expensive either and it looks great. It will also get the CHDK ad on at some point, this will enable extra features and even the ability to capture RAW files.

And the winner is…?

If I am going to get a camera at the moment it will be the Canon IXUS 870 IS, reviewing goodness knows how many reviews its the winner. Some even say why get a G10 when this does the same or better in many situations and with CHDK will be able to capture RAW.

BUT……… what about the F30?

Well I went back and look at some F30 reviews and got a shock. The noise on high ISO images for ALL of the cameras above is worse the higher they go. Sample them at 400iso and you can already see the difference. Have a look at the two images in the links below and see what you think. Yes one is 10mpix the Canon IXUS 870 the other 6m on the Fuji F30 but surely in the last 2 and a bit years it could be beaten even with a higher ISO. But it appears not, even shrinking the picture on some models and running it through Noise Ninja won’t get it as good as the Fuji original.

It begs the question if it wasn’t for the Mpix needed to get into Alamy is it actually better to stay with the F30, I’m still undecided.

Canon IXUS 870 IS IS400

Fuji F30 ISO400

[ad#post-picture]

Lowepro Fastpack 250 Review + Pics

[singlepic id=13 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=left]So you need to carry your camera somewhere and your laptop so you need two bags right?, wrong. You need a Lowerpro fastpack 250 than can do both with ease. I wanted something that would allow me to carry my laptop and my camera gear in one bag and luckily for me Lowerpro had just launched the fastpack series. I went for the fastpack 250 as this is big enough for a laptop of up to 15″ screen size and I use a smaller more portable Dell XPS 1330 which has a 13″ screen, after a fair bit of research I found it cheapest at Amazon and ordered it straight away. As you can see from the pictures below the laptop fits in with ease and with plenty of room to spare. The back of the bag is also well padded to protect me and the equipment in the bag and it works well on both counts.

Lowepro Fastpack 250 Laptop opening and rear padding.

[singlepic id=15 w=240 h=180 float=][singlepic id=16 w=240 h=180 float=][singlepic id=17 w=240 h=180 float=][singlepic id=18 w=240 h=180 float=]


But how much camera gear can it carry, well quite a bit I think considering its size. The images below show that there is plenty of space for several lenses, some filters and space for other bits and bobs. Its wide enough to carry a 40D with a 70-200 f4 or f2.8 L anything bigger and you will struggle to get it in. In the picture below there is a 40D with a 17-85 fitted, a Sigma 30mm f4, Canon 60mm Macro and a little Canon 50mm plastic fantastic, a few filters and space to spare. For me this is more than enough space to take some kit on holiday to take a few shots. Whilst on holiday I transfer some of my kit to one of my other bags such as the Crumpler Muffin Top 5500 that has enough space to carry some of the lenses and a few essentials.

Fastpack 250 Camera compartment

[singlepic id=11 w=240 h=180 float=][singlepic id=12 w=240 h=180 float=]


In the top compartment you can store batteries, battery charger and more besides. I normally put a Nintendo DS in there and the power supply for the Laptop along with other bits and there is still room to add more see the image below to how big this areas is.

[singlepic id=14 w=240 h=180 float=]


All in all I’m very impressed with this bag it more than meets my requirements to carry may laptop and a few lenses on holiday which is exactly what I wanted it for. It’s not a full on dedicated camera bag so if you have 5 or 6 smaller lenses and a 300mm f4 then this isn’t for you have a look at a Lowerpro Trekker AW. It would also be nice to have the ability to lock some of the zips up as you might be carrying some pretty expensive gear that you don’t want to go walkies but with all the flaps at the back you would have to be very good to get in undetected if you were wearing it on your back.


[ad#postlinks]

So I’m going to award it 9/10 losing a point on the slight security issue, but otherwise its highly recommended.

Need some gift ideas for a photographer?

Ok so your other half or family member has a photography hobby and you don’t know what they want. So here are a few ideas that you might want to buy they.

Less than £50

Crumpler Muffin Top

Crumpler Muffin Top

Crumpler – Muffin top 4000 or 5500Shoulder camera bag – Yes that is what its called, it might have a quirky name (virtually all of there bags do) but its a good bag and they also do a great range. The company is a little off beat but there is nothing wrong with that. I went for a Pretty boy in the past but this is the latest over the shoulder camera bag they offer. The 4000 and 5500 will carry and SLR and a couple of lenses the 5500 could carry a charger and a flash as well perfect to take on a day trip or on holiday to carry a your gear during the day. I went for one of these because it doesn’t look like a camera bag and with hope will attract less attention as a result. On a recent trip around the Med on a cruise to Barcelona and Rome it was perfect. Camera out of site but easily to hand and the padding on the shoulder helps with coping with the weight of an SLR.
[ad#crumpler-bag]

[ad#postlinks]

£50-£100 Cleaning

Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly SL724 – Every photographer with an SLR gets a spec of dirt on there sensor at some time or other but how do you clean it without damaging it? Well the Visible dust ‘Arctic Butterfly’ is the answer. This model can be found as part of a kit from Warehouseexpress that also gives a lit sensor viewer and other cleaning swabs and fluids. Basically you get just about everything you need to look after mild marks on the sensor of an SLR camera a perfect gift for someone that hasn’t got all the cleaning bits that has just started out, this is a must have.

Tripod

Manfrotto MN190XPROB Tripod £77 – Just about every photographer needs a tripod at some time or other but to the person that knows nothing about them what do they get? Well with Manfrotto you can’t go far wrong I’d class them as the BMW of the tripod world, well made, handle well but don’t cost a fortune. This model has recently been updated with some new features that makes taking the shot you need easier and faster. The legs release quickly, its not too heavy but it is sturdy and you can make the column go horizontally out from the middle of the tripod to help get close to the subject when taking macro shots which is very useful. My only comment is that it doesn’t go very high, if the person thats going to use it is 5’11 or above then look at the 055XPROB (£110) as it extends higher when required but then it is quite a bit heavier, either are great.

Oh one other thing, you need a head. This is the bit that goes at the top of the tripod that enables you to mount the camera to the tripod. For this level of tripod get a 486RC2 head its about £35-40. You will have a VERY happy photographer if you buy them this combination.

£100+

This is where things can get a little tricky I’ve got one extra thing but note that everything so far doesn’t mention the actual camera. At £100+ you would need to look at getting specific things relating to the camera they have got. Is it a Canon, Nikon or maybe even a Pentax because it makes a huge difference as to what might be best to get and if it will even fit the camera. At this level you need to ask them about what lens they would like or how much something they are looking at is or get ideas from a good camera shop make a note of the model of camera they have got before you go though.

A full Camera Bag

Lowepro Trekker / Trekker AW / Compu – Now this can get tricky, but you need to look at Lowepro. Which exact bag can be down to how much you want to spend and which lenses they have got. As this is most likely a present for someone that doesn’t have too many lenses I’d go for either the Lowepro Nature Trekker II AW Black £140 or the Lowepro Photo Trekker AW II Black £165. Why are they good? Well they have everything; Space, they can fit just about every lens they will ever need to store for the amateur at least. They are waterproof, can hold a tripod on the side of the bag and have more little cubbyholes than you can shake a stick at. They are padded all over the place to protect the equipment and on the back to protect you from the probably substantial weight it might need to hold.

There are so many other ideas I could give I would be going on forever but here are the must haves for a photographer or certainly items like them. Put it this way they are ALL on my Christmas list and I certainly done my research.

Places to buy

If you are looking on the Internet then places like Warehouse Express and Jacobs are good, have a look at the likes of Amazon as well. Be careful with places like Jessops on the high street, they do price match other high street stores but you can and will often pay a premium for the same product, the list above would cost £100 more if bought from them put it that way. Looking for some lenses or equipment and want to get a good deal? then this is the place to check out, I use it all the time highly recommended link to bookmark CameraPriceBuster.

[ad#postlinks]

[ad#post-picture]

Visit Us On TwitterCheck Our Feed