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Benito Benito "benito_benito" (London)

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Adobe Photoshop Elements 8: Maximum Performance: Unleash the hidden performance of Elements
Adobe Photoshop Elements 8: Maximum Performance: Unleash the hidden performance of Elements
by Mark Galer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.80

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indespensible, 10 Mar 2010
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You will need guidance if you are new to Photoshop Elements. I discovered Mark Galer when searching youtube for tutorials on Photoshop Elements. His clips were especially informative hence I bought the book. I feel I have been handed a solid grounding in post-production methods and now understand the importance of processing the RAW file in Adobe Camera Raw (that comes with Photoshop Elements), the importance of tonal mapping and sharpening. I have learnt to use layer adjustments in ways that perhaps Adobe did not intend and the book is an eye-opener to what can be done. I have gotten to grips with blend modes and now recognise photos that have been similarly manipulated. Out of the many dozens of filters offered by PSE, I have honed down to perhaps a half dozen that Mr Galer used (blur, high pass, liquify); the book has been a great guide to this sophisticated piece of software.

The book also includes the movie clips on the accompanying DVD as per you tube plus many more. These clips are easier to follow than the text. The projects are also included and I found them useful for stepping through each layer to understand what they were doing; it is one thing to follow the steps and another to understand them well enough to play your own tunes. Overall the book has upped the ante on my post production work and I would say a text like this is indespensible for any serious hobbyist digital photographer not yet enlighted as to what post production can do for you.


Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 (Mac)
Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 (Mac)

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More powerful than I expected, 19 Feb 2010
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A cursory browse of reviews or Adobe's advert gave me the impression of Elements being something with just a little extra over the likes of an image editor supplied with iphoto, but on impulse I bought it anyways. I am impressed with the range of tools it possesses. For example, a hue-saturation-value editor, available also iphoto, can target not just the whole photo, but any portion you chose, or any band of colours you choose. With layers, blending modes, transparancy you have what seems to me total control (though surely the full Photoshop must have more!). You can lift portions of a photo off for separate correction and layer it back on. I had an old photo of a school friend where I had focussed on the background behind him. With Elememnts I could cut him out and apply a sharpening filter and overlay it back leaving the background unprocessed.

I guess my point is that Elements is feature-rich and not just basic editor. A lot of Adobe's advertising or independent reviews seem to promote features of the new version only or differences between 7 and 8. I wish I had bought this years ago!


Fujifilm Finepix F200EXR Digital Camera - Black (12MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD
Fujifilm Finepix F200EXR Digital Camera - Black (12MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Large sensor is a winner, 11 Feb 2010
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My reason to buy this is the (1/1.6 inch) sensor. It is larger than anything in its class (typically 1/2.2 inches) and as big as that of the Lumix LX3 or Canon S90. True you don't get the fast lens, RAW output etc of these cameras, but it approximately half the cost and this camera is smaller. Which ever way Fujifilm cut it with their EXR modes, the large senor will give you higher signal-to-noise than its rivals. Indeed comparison with my Lumix FX33 at ISO400 were poor in comparison to the F200EXR's ISO at 800, perhaps even 1600 too.

Addendum: I printed off a photo at ISO 1600 on a 5"x7" print. Whilst noise is apparent, I would describe it as tolerable.

For those who notice the manual controls only permit the aperature to be wide open or completely closed, this is because the camera does not have an 'iris' but uses a neutral density filter. At least Fujifilm were honest enough to say so in the specifications.

For Mac users, I found like other readers that the F200EXR does not connect via the USB as the usual 'drive'. This is easily overcome by using Apple's "Image Capture" (found under Applications). It recognizes the camera and downloads the images. In fact it is much faster than the other way of treating the camera as a card reader. I would not bother with Fujifilms viewer software.

The reason for 4-stars is that I would reserve 5-stars when they add RAW output: the camera seems aimed at the slightly more technically interested user. Also the zoom is a little oversensitive and I have trouble overshooting. Otherwise I am 100% happy with this.

Further addendum after a taking it on holday and shooting 600 photos: The control dial easily moves when you put the camera in your jean pocket so beware the settings change. I used only 2 modes: the EXR low noise or EXR dynamic range mode, both with ISO capped at 400. The results are very good indeed. I definately would replace my F200EXR with the same camera should something happen to it and the budget is the same. However I would say the camera may confuse point-and-shooters and these users may want something a little simpler.

Another addendum: those who experience below averge battery performance, I believe the Auto mode is hungrier than others as it hunts to decide whether its signal-to-noise or dynamic range your're after. I choose these manually and find battery life most acceptable.

Another addendum: 18 months after purchasing I am amazed how Fuji packed a 1/1.6 sensor into this at the price I paid. The current crop of high-end camera with the same sensor (Canon S95, G12, Lumix LX5, Olympus XZ1, Nikon P7000) are twice as much. Unfortunately this camera is discontinued and the sucessors revert to the 1/2.2 inch sensor. If you get hold of one of these, hang on to it!

Another addendum (May 2013): having been given a Nikon P7100 as a present, I realise that asking for raw output may not be useful. The Nikon writes raw files slowly and so I retract my desire for this and upgrade this camera to 5 stars.


Flamenco Guitar Made Easy [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Flamenco Guitar Made Easy [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Charles Sedlack
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £9.44

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says, 13 Dec 2009
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Mr Sedlak conveys the basics of flamenco in good bite-sized chunks, from picking technique, strumming, rumba (8-beat strumming) and then 3 short flamenco songs broken down in detail piece by piece. This would suit a relative new comer to guitar (someone who can play Am, G, C, F & E chords) but may struggle with the picking technique, or, as in my case, someone with a few years experience in several styles wishing to kick-start flamenco-style playing in a relatively short time. I did not need the downloadable pdf but beginners would need it. My DVD would only play in B&W probably due to NTSC format but it did not matter. Very pleased with the product.


Sharon Isbin: Journey To The New World
Sharon Isbin: Journey To The New World
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.84

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virtuoso classical guitar, 10 Dec 2009
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Out of the various "crossover" CD's that Sharon Isbin has produced, this is my favourite. It is a compilation of pieces spanning genres from European Renaissance to modern US, touching classical, pop, and blues. The pieces are played with a sense of tranquility, sensitivity and delicacy that leave me feeling rather peaceful.


Classical Guitar Answer Book (Acoustic Guitar Guides)
Classical Guitar Answer Book (Acoustic Guitar Guides)
by Sharon Isbin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The other things that guitarists should know, 23 Nov 2009
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Useful tips on peripheral issues to playing such as cases, posture, footstools, nails, amplification, repetoire, from an eminent classical guitarist. I found the section on what guitarist should know about guitar care especially useful as it gave me the confidence to service the tuning pegs and file the bridge down on my 20 year old guitar.


Mike Tyson's Greatest Hits [VHS]
Mike Tyson's Greatest Hits [VHS]
VHS

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At his best., 29 Sep 2009
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The VHS tape ends with Tyon's victory over Tony Tubbs, and there were only 3 more wins before everything caved in. The footage of the presented bouts are highlights of his career up to 1988 (with the exception of his first championship fight, which is shown in its 2-round entirety). Having watched most of the other bouts in full from other sources, I can say the selection is choice. Tyson gives some commentary himself and it is strange to know that it was all to turn upsidedown two years later. Tyson concludes the tape saying "the best is yet to come". This is Tyson's boxing genius as I prefer to see it... with all the controversy out the picture.


MIKE TYSON - THE UNDISPUTED COLLECTION (DVD)
MIKE TYSON - THE UNDISPUTED COLLECTION (DVD)
Offered by Takedaryu
Price: £4.88

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just three fights... not exactly an undisputed collection, 2 Sep 2009
This DVD has just 3 fights : vs. Trevor Birbeck, vs. Micheal Spinks, vs. Frank Bruno

The firsts lasts 2 rounds. The second lasts just 90 seconds.

Its a bit inflated to label this an undisputed collection.


LG Viewty Silver Mobile Phone on Vodafone PAYG
LG Viewty Silver Mobile Phone on Vodafone PAYG

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin, 7 Aug 2009
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Had this for a month. I wanted something that I could check web-based email and social networking sites plus read the occassional news when on the go or check train timetables. This does the job. Touch screen works very well. PDF viewer has been useful particularly for downloading maps such as a London Underground map. Pre-installed Google maps is ok but you'll need to tell it where you are.

Only criticism is the scrolling takes skill, accuracy and patience. The zoom is not practical (or I don't have the patience).

I loaded another browser, Opera mini, which worked but doesn't allow use of the qwerty screen, so I don't use it. But nice to know I can load an app onto it.

Battery life is fine. Youtube works smoothly (but mobile version is low res and low quality sound).

A bargain handy and practical touch-screen 3G phone. Recommended but take care when scrolling.

Addendum Jan 2012. The phone still works fine. I am tempted to upgrade for a capacitive touch screen and wi-fi but can't justify it as my Viewty just keeps on working!


Daewoo DSD9503T - Freeview Set top Box With 160gb Hard Drive Twin Digital Tuner
Daewoo DSD9503T - Freeview Set top Box With 160gb Hard Drive Twin Digital Tuner

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mine began to crash too - here's how I fixed it, 23 Jun 2009
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As much as I loath to write a review afer Amazon started to use real names without my permission, I feel compelled to write this as it may help others. Mine too started to 'blue screen' after a few months. At first just occassionally, but months later it was rare for the unit to say up for more than a few days. It even started to buzz softly and it needed a hard tap to stop it.

The cause was probably static charge as the unit was sandwiched between my DVD player below it and my TV (with built in VHS) on top. By moving the unit to free-standing the problem has disappeared. I suffered with this for the best part of a year but it works fine now. I hope this fix helps others.

Update after 2 months. The fix has worked and the unit has not blue-screened since its repositioning. It does occassionally freeze, but changing to another channel then returning stops it. The unit also buzzes occassionally, presumably the transformer is vibrating the casing. Otherwise I have had this since mid 2007 and it is serving my purposes fine.

Final word. After about 3 years the hard disk started to play up and eventually died. I lost all my recordngs. I have switched to a cheaper Grundig that allows puts the recordings onto USB sticks.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 6, 2011 2:19 PM GMT


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