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Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)

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Wrigleys Airwaves Black Mint Menthol Sugarfree Chewing Gum 10 (Pack of 30 x 10 Pellets)
Wrigleys Airwaves Black Mint Menthol Sugarfree Chewing Gum 10 (Pack of 30 x 10 Pellets)
Price: £12.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Now with Sorbitol, 1 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wrigley have signed some kind of deal with Cushelle. For a time there were safe havens away from Sorbitol and over the last few months it now seems most all their gum comes with the same sugar you find in Prunes; Sorbitol.

The gum tastes as good as ever; just take it slow or you might spend the rest of the day in the restroom.

K & F Concept Slim 77 MM HD variable Neutral Density ND Fader ND Filter Adjustable multiple adjustable from ND2 to ND400 for Camera Accessory Filter Set with Cleaning Cloth for Lenses for Canon 6D 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III and Nikon DSLR D700 D610 D800
K & F Concept Slim 77 MM HD variable Neutral Density ND Fader ND Filter Adjustable multiple adjustable from ND2 to ND400 for Camera Accessory Filter Set with Cleaning Cloth for Lenses for Canon 6D 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III and Nikon DSLR D700 D610 D800

5.0 out of 5 stars Value for Money, 1 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had been meaning to buy a variable ND filter for my 24-70f2.8l for a while. When I heard about K&F filters; having tried a 3xnd filter kit pack that I was impressed with; especially at the price. I looked at K&F's other products and found this more than reasonable price ND filter and had to give it a go.

The filter is shipped from China; so its not something to order if you are in a rush - but when it did arrive I was blown away by the quality of the presentation. The filter was packaged inside a well designed; expensive looking, cardboard outer package and then a hard plastic inner with a foam sheet to allow it some protection.

On opening the pack one disadvantage to this filter immediately manifested itself; the front element isn't 77mm so your lens cap won't go back on the lens with the filter mounted. The filter mounted smoothly onto my lens. The variable darkness is achieved by rotating the front element; as you would a circular polariser. The K&F filter spun smoothly but with enough resistance to keep the darkness you set so knocking it won't change the setting. One disadvantage to the design is the filter doesn't have coded ND values so there is a bit of guesswork to get the right exposure for stills.

I tried the obvious and took an image of a plain white wall at various ND settings; and there was some minor differences in the brightness of the photo - it was a bit lighter at the edges of the frames. At its darkest on long exposures; the 6d went red shift but this is correctable in Lightroom (and made much easier if you use a colour checker passport.) If you zoomed in on the plane white background you could see some variations in darkness; and ultimately pixel peeping at maximum darkness a mesh. That said taking pictures of something more interesting than a wall the effect was lost in the detail of the image.

I rarely shoot video so for you dear reviewer; I shot some test video of the same white wall. I don't have any fancy video editing software and just watching the video back in lightroom; the darkening effect was pretty uniform across the photo. As with stills if there were any criticism it is very minor and that the corners show up brighter than the centre of the frame. The majority of the frame being uniformly dark. There was no patterning showing in the video.

Using a standard ND filter definitely gave a more even darkness to stills but I am planning 3 long trips this year and carrying 5 ND filters everywhere felt like a chore. Now I just need one. If i could I would ding 1/2 a star for the front element size not being 77mm but its a minor inconvenience in the scheme of things.

Epson Perfection V550 Photo Scanner with ReadyScan LED Technology
Epson Perfection V550 Photo Scanner with ReadyScan LED Technology
Price: £170.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfection, 22 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought the Epson Perfection V550 scanner to archive a couple of shoe boxes of old photos and negatives.

Taking it from the box I faced a small hurdle in that epson ship the software on CD and none of my home computers have an optical drive any more. So after copying the disk at work I set the software up on my computer and went through three rounds of software updates. This is quite frustrating; i know the disk can't always be the latest version but the software update shouldnt download all the intermediate versions.

Once all was setup; the software itself is pretty useful for archiving volumes of photos. It has 3 modes; and the home mode allows you to load multiple photos at once onto the scanner and scan them in one parse. So whilst its not the fastest scanner I am able to scan (at 600dpi) just over one photo a minute. The software has some features to restore photos; including ICE dust removal and some software tunes to improve color. I found these to generally degrade the quality of the image. Having the multiple modes allows you to choose the settings that best suit you; or you can use the quick scan buttons on the front. The scanner also comes with some OCR software to translate images to text; it did a reasonable job and may help if you need to rescue the text in a document.

What the scanner doesn't come with is any kind of document archive software. The advertising blurb also says you can scan to the cloud; but i can't see how to do that on the OS X version of the epson scan software.

Overall for my purposes the ability to scan photos and archive them; its giving me good quality scans - you have to manually load them - but you don't get the track lines that feed scanners were giving me. The ability to scan multiple photos or slides in a single pass is a real timesaver- though I wish the scanner had usb3 and scanned 50% quicker as the pile of photos is still daunting. 4*
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2015 11:12 AM GMT

Vax U85-ACLG-B Air Cordless Lift Duo Vacuum Cleaner
Vax U85-ACLG-B Air Cordless Lift Duo Vacuum Cleaner
Price: £199.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Vacuum without much vacuum, 21 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Vax Air Cordless Lift works in two modes; a traditional upright complete with LED lighting to help you see where you are vacuuming and spinning brushes to beat dust out of carpets. The second mode allows you to remove the vacuum and use it as a hose vacuum; and in the box there are two brush attachments supplied to help with this; though strongly the main unit only has a storage point for one of them. My first impression was Vax had designed a complex box that made it quite hard to get the vacuum out; but once it was out the packaging was well laid out with separate sections for batteries; hoover attachments and the charger. Vas include two large; but light, batteries with the hoover and a large charger.

My overall impression of the vacuum was sullied by the hose mode; there isn't enough section to do a good job - putting my hand over the pipe it didn't feel like there was much; and testing it I found it couldn't lift a 1 inch screw up with suction. Like many people I use the hose mode for vacuuming my stairs; and neither of the two brushes supplied did a great job of getting into the fibres. The flexible head was stiff to position; but as soon as i tried running it along the vertical section of my stairs it changed snape and the brush didn't get into the fibres. The rigid brush was slightly better - but the low suction meant it did do as good a job as my existing mains powered compact vacuum. Using it on my stairs I was also perplexed why there isn't a shoulder strap for the device. Not having a strap makes for two handed use when you separate it from the base unit; the hose isn't long enough to get up half a flight of stairs so you will need to move it with you as you go up.

After my first impression I dismantled the unit and removed (and washed) the filter; something you need to do after every 5 uses, and reattached all the hoses and this didn't make a difference - there just doesn't seem to be enough suction to lift heavier or clingy items from the floor. When used in traditional vacuum mode on carpet and wooden floor the brushes do a far better job of getting dirt and throwing it up into the vacuum - my screw made it into the hopper used in traditional mode. In traditional mode the head is nice and wide and the unit is reasonably light and has a pivot to make it easier to turn.

The batteries are rated to last 50 minutes; and this is plenty long enough for me to complete any vacuuming session. As two are provided you can always keep one on the device; and have a spare charged ready for the first to run out so you shouldn't be unable to complete any task because of a lack of battery power.

I remember reading about how the european rules about powering vacuums was going to make them less useful and thinking the vacuum companies would come up with a resolution for that. I don't know if this is vax, if my unit is defective - though other reviews seem to confirm the suction issue or if it is that post power restrictions vacuum manufacturers still have some way to go. 3* as the full unit does an acceptable job; the inability to satisfactorily vacuum my stairs losing the other stars.

Vanish Gold for Whites Powder Fabric Stain Remover - 1.4 kg
Vanish Gold for Whites Powder Fabric Stain Remover - 1.4 kg
Price: £6.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stain remover; and white's brightener, 21 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Using detergent boosters isn't something I normally use; relying on the chemists working on Persil and Aerial to do their jobs. So I tried Vanish gold for the first time in my wash. The first thing I appreciated was the instructions on the packaging covered all eventualities; pre-soaking and using with my machine. Inside the pack is a small scoop for getting the right dose into the wash.

To give it a test I spilled some espresso onto a work shirt; and let it dry. As a tougher stain I created a paste and used the scoop to rub it into the stain and ran it through my wash. Sure enough the stain was gone when my shirt was done in the machine. Running more day to day things through the wash; like my white sheets, these came out brighter than before.

As a stain remover I was impressed with the speed the stain was removed; and after the wash the shirt really was looking as it did before i wasted my coffee. For generally brightening up whites it did a good job. The large pack might last me a lifetime; though if you have stain makers in your life I can see the benefits of the large pack.

Creative Sound Blaster Roar Speaker: Portable NFC Bluetooth Wireless Speaker with aptX/AAC. 5 Drivers, Built-in Subwoofer
Creative Sound Blaster Roar Speaker: Portable NFC Bluetooth Wireless Speaker with aptX/AAC. 5 Drivers, Built-in Subwoofer
Price: £129.43

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blows the competition away, 21 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For the asking price the Creative Roar is simply an excellent Bluetooth speaker. Even at twice the price it would gain a good review. The Roar is a portable mains or battery powered speaker. Running on battery and played at a sensible volume the Roar has an all day in the office battery life.

The Roar looks pretty good too; with a nice metal case with millions of holes; that look a bit like the newer bose speakers. The sies have a wider mesh; and are supposed to be bass radiators. The controls; which are either solid switches or blister buttons are all placed on a silicone wrapped section which is nice and grippy. Though given the number of controls you need to hold it carefully to avoid changing something. All the metal and battery has resulted in a speaker that is a little heavy weighing close to a kilo; its like carrying a second laptop around with you – and it uses an external charger so you may have to carry that too.

Soundwise for the price its outstanding. It doesn’t compare to my Zeppelin for audio quality but it is a quarter of the price and far more portable. The small size prevents you from getting stereo separation, this is the big sound limitation in the Roar – but you can buy two and set them up as left and right speakers if you want. The Roar is built to fill a small room with music – and is plenty loud enough for that. There is a ROAR button which is a software process run over your music that tries to make the soundstage bigger; but doesn’t really add anything besides a little bit of volume. If you are a fan of singlish pressing the terabase button smoothly tells you “Terrabase on”; it also destroys the music you are listening to by overwhelming the lower end but if you like it that way you are covered.

You can stream music onto the Roar from standard bluetooth; you can also stream high quality sound using aptx bluetooth sound (which really did make a difference when streaming lossless music to the speaker.) You can also stream music to it over USB.

One thing creative have done that doesn’t impress me is try and make the speaker more than just a Bluetooth speaker. Cramming in a micro sd card slot so you can playback music without using Bluetooth (aac codecs work fine.) This playback is supported by normal music play type buttons on the back; which crowd up the back of the device. These buttons don’t work when streaming over Bluetooth though. You can also record phone calls using the speaker; given the speaker phone suffers as they all do from fishbowl sound for listeners.

Overall used as a speaker for the price its looks and works far better than similar priced products I have tested from Sony. If you are looking for a gift the packaging is well done and the device feels like it will last.

A Foto-gears Mesen New Professional 77MM Neutral Density Filter kit ND2 ND4 ND10 Filter Set with a filter bag for Pentax Fujufilm Sigma Olympus Nikon Canon 77mm lens ND Filter kit
A Foto-gears Mesen New Professional 77MM Neutral Density Filter kit ND2 ND4 ND10 Filter Set with a filter bag for Pentax Fujufilm Sigma Olympus Nikon Canon 77mm lens ND Filter kit

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ND2-4 and 10 stands out from the crowd, 15 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Foto Gears filters 77mm ND Filters are well presented with a 3 filter fold out wallet to store them in. The selection of filters in the case is unusual and what attracted me to them - the ND10 filter is a stop darker than most kits ND8 and saves doubling up on the filters (which can lead to vignetting at wider angles.). Filters are normal thickness; and have smooth threads for your camera; and if you do need to double them up.

When you do take longer exposures the filters add a red hue to your images (as do many other ND filters.) This tint was easily corrected in Lightroom. When used to reduce the light hitting my sensor the images had an even color palate suggesting the filters didn't have any light or dark spots across them; they also don't appear to have interfered with getting sharp images when in use; so the quality of the filters seems to be on the mark.

If you want some filters to let you open your aperture in the day; or take light streaks at night this is a good kit and the inclusion of the darker ND10 is useful. In the past a kit like this would have been maybe twice the price; but there are competitors with similar or lower pricing; I wanted that slightly darker filter for my lenses. 4*; not for the quality but as competitors are slightly cheaper.

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport - MSCCPP
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport - MSCCPP
Price: £69.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Time Saver, 15 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Last year I caught the long exposure photo bug; I have enjoying just watching the world for a few minutes whilst my sensor catches up. What I didn't enjoy was fixing the red color cast on my photos. I read about the ColorChecker and its abilities to automatically calibrate color on images through a a ligthroom plug in. I held off buying it for a while; as for an amateur this is a considered purchase. I finally had the chance to use it over the past few weekends taking pictures of snow melt in the peak district.

On the day of your photo shoot you need to take an image of the chart in the scene with the same camera and lens (and filters) you are going to use for the shots. My example is attached. When you get back you import the photo into the included ColorChecker software and give it a name. The colorchecker software then finds the card in the image and creates a custom color preset (you give it a name) that you can apply in Lightroom from the Camera Calibration profiles menu. Once you have the preset you can quickly color correct all your photos from that scene in one pass.

For long exposure shots it was a bit of a palaver getting the color card in the scene; but once it was loaded as a correction it quickly removed the red shift from my long exposures; and so for me was perfect.

In the Colorchecker box you get color card; along with a greyscale card. The card itself isn't water protected so you need to keep it dry otherwise the color chips might run. You also get a CD to install the software from (though if like me your laptop doesn't have a drive you can download it from the x-rite website.

Having tried it with long and short exposures the speed of correcting colors in images is definitely worth the money; and if you are a professional photographer this will likely save you hours recovering colors on images. As an amateur its a considered purchase; but likely worth the investment. 4*
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K&F Concept 77mm Lens Filter Kit ND2 ND4 ND8 Netral Density ND Filter Set Camera Accessory For Canon 5D 6D 7D 70D LF290 6D 5D Mark II 5D Mark III for Nikon D610 D700 D800 DSLR Cameras + Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloth + Filter Bag Pouch
K&F Concept 77mm Lens Filter Kit ND2 ND4 ND8 Netral Density ND Filter Set Camera Accessory For Canon 5D 6D 7D 70D LF290 6D 5D Mark II 5D Mark III for Nikon D610 D700 D800 DSLR Cameras + Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloth + Filter Bag Pouch
Offered by dcmall
Price: £27.98

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Value, 14 Feb. 2015
My lenses are generally 77 or 82mm threads; and I obtained a 77mm set to use with my 24-70mm F2.8L. ND filters like these are like sunglasses and are great for reducing the light that makes it to your sensor letting you shoot with larger apertures in daylight or take longer and longer exposures and the ND number goes up.

In this box there is a K&F branded 3 slot filter holder wallet; loaded up with ND2, 4 and 8 filters as well as a microfibre cleaning cloth. The threads on the filters looked clean to my eye and they threaded into my lens smoothly (despite me dropping the lens into mud on the day I took them out for review - the cleaning cloth worked great on the lens barrel.) The K&F ND filters are the average thickness of a screw in filter; on my full frame camera that means I can stack 2 of them them up and only get vignetting at the 24mm.

The day I went out to give these a go the blue skies and while fluffy I watched from the office all week dissapeared to be replaced with fog and cloud but very bright. I wanted to take photos freezing movement of the skies; and ended up capturing the snow melt in the Peak district. I was able to take a couple of second images with the ND8 alone; stacked with the ND4 I could stretch to 5 or 6 seconds. This longer exposure resulted in silky smooth water flowing around rocks (and hopefully an example image is attached to the review.) When you take long exposures with the filters doubled up you do get a Red tint to your images; but this is easily corrected in Llightroom or other image editors. Using the filters on their own they had the expected impact on my exposure times (if you are new make sure Auto ISO is disabled as it can just keep increasing the iSO to compensate for the filter.)

Back in the day photo filters used to cost an arm and a leg with stories about the complexity of their manufacture. These filters are excellent value and give you some creative freedom that the sun tries to take from you. The K&F filters were more than enough quality for me; the included wallet had some padding to protect them and keep them together in my day bag. At the time of writing they are fulfilled by amazon which makes ordering and delivery quick and efficient (and free on prime.) 5*
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Canon SX710 PowerShot Point and Shoot Digital Camera - Black
Canon SX710 PowerShot Point and Shoot Digital Camera - Black
Offered by Market Deal
Price: £189.00

98 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zoom to the moon; with stabilisation that works., 14 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am blessed to travel for work and I love to take photos of all the places I get to visit. One of my annual treats is upgrading the camera in my pocket. Superzoom camera's are the camera you carry when your cameraphone won't get you close enough to the action. Last year Canon moved to a 30x zoom from a 20x zoom with the SX700 and I was massively disappointed - in low light the images were poor and I didn't feel the image stabilisation was up to the zoom range. When I read that the SX710 jumped the resolution up to 20 megapixels my hopes for 2015 weren't that great; I still took the plunge as sensors and software definitely get better every year; and its a rare treat.

The box is the usual Canon fare - the don't believe in making the box an experience the outside is all sales the inside doesn't have the adventure of opening a new phone. Inside the box you find the camera and battery, wrist strap, a manua and papers and a plug in battery charger. Given that this is a camera for taking on holiday I'm not sure why Canon still haven't to USB charging which would be far more convenient. A morning of charging and after slotting in a Sandisk SD card I powered the camera up. You are asked to tell it where you and set the time; and after that its ready to take pictures. As I was at work I played with the zoom a little before my long walk playing on the way home. I was amazed that the zoom in the office could photo a whiteboard from about 80m away and you were able to read the writing on it.

On the way home I played with the camera in dying light and compared to similar shots with the SX700 the new 710 is slightly better in low light. As my playing in the office confirmed the zoom and image stabilisation work far better together this year than last. The image stabilisation reduces the movement of your hand affecting the image. With the SX710 the image stabilisation steady hands is enough for the optical zoom; if you want to try the digital zoom a ledge or lamppost give you a sharper image than hands alone. In lower light more noise creeps into the image; and the camera starts asking you to raise the built in flash. At short distances this does a reasonable job of filling in a scene - anything above 4m and it doesn't difference. The zoom range is still 30x; which is enormous and it does result in pictures that are distorted because the lens isn't perfect; if you avoid straight grid lines its not going to ruin the image - and you aren't going to get away from it in a lens like this. Its no better or worse than the SX700.

Once you run out of optical zoom canon the camera has up to 4x digital zoom; but the image quality degrades and the chances of holding the camera still evaporate with it. Given that the sensor is now 20 megapixels you likely crop the image of an optical zoom photo to get a bit closer and still stay within the abilities of the stabilisation. One great feature on this camera that is missing from the Sony's is a button on the side that when you press it zooms back and shows you a white box that is the area the camera was zoomed into - this allows you to quickly zoom out to reframe a scene if you have lost what you were trying to photo; line the box up with your subject - release the button on the side and you zoom back in.

As the first weekend took I had decided to take some photos of the melting snow falling through waterfalls in the peak district and took the SX710 with me to document the scene and try the video. On the day it was exceptionally cloudy and despite the high contrast environment the camera did well the heather and grass came out well in stills and photos. I was also able to use the camera to take some huge range zooms of wildlife and and have recognisable results.

When it comes to the software in the camera; it feels like Canon are stuck in a timewarp; there is still no sweep panorama function in the camera which is the most obvious and useful gap. The camera has various filers and scene modes (some for taking images of things like food or fireworks) and some creative photo modes including my still favourite miniature mode. They have also added a Creative Shot option on the dial that seems to take one of each filter one; I'm not sure when i would use it but if you can't decide it might be the mode for you. The SX710 like the SX700 has a prominent connect to phone button; and it can connect using WIFI - and set itself up if you phone as NFC. Once connected up you need the Canon Mobile app; this allows you to download and share images without a computer as well use your phone as remote control for the camera. Given the SX710 lacks a gps (another big gap on a travel camera in my opinion) you can also use your phone as a gps logger using the app and update the images with coordinates later. I think that having gps in the camera saves my phones battery life; canon clearly disagree. As I write the Mobile App is quite basic for taking images - you have to use the mode dial to change modes you can't do it in software. I also wish canon would put an intervalometer in the camera or app (and their slur app.) The wifi and app work well for downloading and sharing images and if you want a more complex selfie the remote control will give you a preview image to get the framing just right.

Taking Video on the SX710 is done at up to 1080p (in MP4) and you get up to 60 frames per second which gives you a smoother video; or if your software allows gives you the chance to slow the video down for a slomo effect. The SX700 had a super slow motion option at 640p this is gone in the SX710. There are no microphone inputs on the camera (the only slots are HDMI Micro and USB.) For recording video that leaves you with the stereo microphones which are either side of the lens on the front of the camera. This position does mean you can hear the micro motors if you use the zoom whilst recording; though the autofocus is inaudible on the recording. In my tests even when recording very unbalanced colors of water rushing down a weir the camera managed exposure well with the bright whites of the rushing water and the greens and reds of the plants looking natural. The sensor also handled the movements of the plants cleanly and smoothly; the whole picture looks nice. Sound too was managed well; and far better than superzooms even 2 years old which weren't so good at managing varying levels. The water pouring down the weir was well managed by the sound auto level in the camera the sound didn't spike to white noise and as I panned the camera there was a small degree of channel separation as I moved the right channel out of view. Watching the video back on my TV the picture looks good; there are times the autofocus hunts a little.

Last year I said don't get the SX700 and save money to get the SX280. I felt this because the 30x zoom wasn't that usable over 20x. The SX710 far exceeds the image and video performance of the SX280 (and the battery life.) Thankfully in the SX710 the image stabilisation has caught up with the reach of the lens; and hands free you can make use of the 30x zoom more often. Even with the launch price I would recommend the SX710 over the SX700. If you are working on a budget and want a 30x zoom Sony's 2014 model the HX60 was very good - and has a sweep panorama. The HX60 was the camera in my bag for about a year; till I tried the SX710 the king is dead long live the king. 5*.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2015 4:08 PM BST

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