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Lb Lewis

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Canon EF 70-200mm F/4.0 L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm F/4.0 L IS USM Lens
Price: £899.00

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one is going to spoil you, you won't look at non-L lenses again, 10 Jun. 2011
No buyers remorse with this one. It's always hard to digest the amount you're paying for quality lenses, specially if photography is a hobby but this is one of those situations where the item in question is truly exceptional. Beautiful contrast and colour rendition, and consistently sharp at all focal lengths from centre to corner. Closed to f8, on a tripod, with mirror lock-up, timer or remote and manual focus micro-adjustment, and you're not going to believe the sharpness of this lens. Without these measures it's still ludicrously sharp, it just has to be seen. The IS is relatively silent but works exceptionally well both in horizontal and vertical stabilization mode, and in panning mode. The f4.0 aperture isn't necessarily a problem unless you really need to isolate your subject from the background with the extra plane separation the f2.8 model would provide you, at a cost in money and weight and no extra sharpness - in fact this one seems sharper. The autofocus is fast, 67mm filter diameter so you won't go broke with filters, but don't ruin the lens capabilities with a cheap filter. The weather sealing is a life saver. I'm not necessarily shooting in torrential downpours but more than once i was caught out in the open with inclement weather and it's a relief knowing the lens (and camera) are able to survive the occasional rain. The bokeh is nice, the f2.8 model seems to have a bit of fringing in the highlights, this one doesn't seems to suffer from that problem. The build quality is excellent, it feels solid, and the included hood does its job without becoming loose. The lens focus internally, so the frontal element won't rotate, important if you're using a circular polariser filter, or a graduated neutral density filter.
There however 2 disadvantages, the first one is that being lighter than the f2.8 model it still needs to be well balanced in a tripod to avoid stressing the lens mount and the lens ring is not included. That's an somewhat expensive item, there are cheaper models but after reading some horror stories about the damage done to the lens, i finally got the Canon one. This should've been included, even if it implied an slightly bump in the final price.
The other disadvantage, and an incurable one, is that you're going to be spoilt, you're going to consider L lenses first, and have doubts about non-L lenses from the moment you get this one onwards, you're not going to be able to look at non-L lenses the same way after this.
In short, buy it, it's worth every cent.


Beneath Flanders Fields: The Tunnellers' War, 1914-1918
Beneath Flanders Fields: The Tunnellers' War, 1914-1918
by Peter Barton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid book, mandatory, 23 April 2011
Interesting well written book on a somewhat obscure and not that documented topic. The author manages to write a general portrait of the tunnellers war while at the same time doing a splendid job covering all the technical basis.
You'll find a bit of everything, the daily life of the sappers, the claustrophobia, the geology of Flanders and how technical problems were overcome, and the unfortunate and gruesome reality of war in the tunnels, or the frenetic digging from both sides as they both tried to gain an advantage and "lift" the other side with inordinate amounts of explosives planted below their trenches and strongholds. Specially interesting as well is the battlefield archaeology, the state of some galleries today that for some reason or other were drained, and that provide a glimpse into a surreal claustrophobic world complete with mattresses, bottles, spent cartridges, abandoned explosives where galleries had long collapsed.
If you're a mining engineer, a geologist, or have some interest in military engineer corps or in WW1 History in general, this book is absolutely mandatory. The way the authors manage to connect the many threads from many disciplines in a coherent narrative without burdening the reader with a dry speech while at the same time documenting solidly everything is superbly done. There's a good assortment of period photographs and the occasional diagrams illustrating shafts, galleries, geology, as well as contemporary photographs from recently found galleries, and their dangers. Many thanks to the authors for a splendid job.


The Entity: Five Centuries of Secret Vatican Espionage
The Entity: Five Centuries of Secret Vatican Espionage
by Eric Frattini
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, defies belief sometimes, 20 Mar. 2011
A fascinating book that although being a serious piece of History research, manages to convey all the information in a fluid and captivating style. Some of the information defies belief and at times you'll feel like you're reading some sort of Dan Brown book, times such as when the obscure sects "The Black Order" and "Octogonus Circle" come into play, and yet everything is extensively documented and well indexed in the bibliography section. What more can i say about this book. It's not a conspiracy theories book, it's an History book following a precise methodology in backing up the assertions it makes. Unsurprisingly some information will be impossible to prove without access to all the material in the Vatican archives, but the likelihood of this happening is nil. Everything considered, it easily deserves 5 stars. And do yourself a favour and get the hardcover version, it's a massive tome, and worth every cent. Congratulations to the authors for making History accessible and fascinating.


V-2: A Combat History of the First Ballistic Missile (Weapons in History)
V-2: A Combat History of the First Ballistic Missile (Weapons in History)
by Tracy Dwayne Dungan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 18 Dec. 2010
This was a bit painful to read. The title promised a lot, but doesn't delivers. It's not very well written, like one of the previous reviewers mentioned, it's full of contemporary political correctness, when the pages would've been better spent with a bit more of research on the actual topic, since there seems to be some conflicting information on the program history. Nevertheless, there's a good assortment of photographs and accounts i haven't seen or read anywhere else, but this redeeming feature isn't enough to save the title though. Disappointing.


Mistel: German Composite Aircraft and Operations, 1942-1945 (Luftwaffe Classics)
Mistel: German Composite Aircraft and Operations, 1942-1945 (Luftwaffe Classics)
by Robert Forsyth
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable, the reference work on the Mistel, 18 Dec. 2010
All these Midland Publishing series titles are excellent, with a couple of exceptions. This one however is the best of the best. It's The Reference work on the Mistel, there's just nothing that can compare with it. It covers the early British experiments with composite aircraft in the twenties and thirties, the pre-war German experiments, right into Mistel operations, and all "paper projects" and late-war variants, all with the development history, accounts, line drawings and colour profiles. It's a bit expensive, and i was a bit relutant at first, but when you first look at the book you'll notice immediatly it's twice the thickness of the other titles in the collection. Absolutely mandatory for any aviation enthusiast, worth every cent.


Battle Over the Reich: v.1: The Strategic Bomber Offensive Against Germany 1939-1945 Volume 1 August 1939-October 1943: Vol 1
Battle Over the Reich: v.1: The Strategic Bomber Offensive Against Germany 1939-1945 Volume 1 August 1939-October 1943: Vol 1
by Dr. Alfred Price
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 17 Dec. 2010
Excellent book by Ian Allan Publishing. The moment i saw the logo when i opened the book i thought about the Luftwaffe Colours series, if this book had some information from the apparently unavailable Nachtjager volumes. I can't confirm this, since i don't have these titles, but the first volume has a plethora of information on the strategic bombing campaign from 1939 to 1943, from the first RAF attacks during daylight, to the night bombing campaign, and the entry of the USAAF into operations.
The book is well organized, it covers with detail some of the most important actions, with diagrams, maps, and overall feels like a Luftwaffe Colours title, but with much more depth. There are accounts from the British, American, German sides, overall well balanced, together with colour profiles of some of the airplanes used in some of the operations, or shown in photos. It covers also in detail the electronic warfare, the use of radar, the development of the Himmelbet radar network, IFF, electronic counter-measures, and eletronic intelligence, the Wilde Sau and Zahme Sau tactics.
The first volume gives some predominance to the night bombing offensive, which is understandable.
Anyone interested in this should also check the volume 2, which covers the daylight offensive in more detail. There are some interesting accounts that i've read earlier in "Clash of Eagles", by Martin W.Bowman, and this title is a perfect companion for these two volumes.
In short, well worth the money, and if you're interested in the topic, either from the historian or the modeller's point of view, you won't be disappointed. Highly recommended.


Storm of Steel (Penguin Modern Classics)
Storm of Steel (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Ernst Junger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, and should be mandatory reading, 17 Nov. 2010
Very graphic, fast pacing, the images it evokes are disturbing, and yet you just can't put down the book. The way he describes an artillery barrage, and its effects, it's almost surrealist, you can see a surrealist painting in the images he writes. It's hard to write a review without mentioning specific episodes, and mentioning specific episodes will be a spoiler for some. I'll just say that it is a very visual and fluid writing style, and definitively a masterpiece, besides, several other reviewers managed to write about the book much better than i'll be able to - i just finished reading it and i'm still in shock. About the author's role, or his work's role in Nazi Germany, well, if you're interested in reading this book then hopefully you're an adult and can make the distinction between the merit of a person's work (or the lack of it) and his political and ideological inclinations, or the (mis)appropriation of someone's work for the same reasons.
And i still can't believe someone gave 2 stars to this book. What next? 1 star to Eric Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" because he was German?


Walter Schellenberg: The Memoirs of Hitler's Spymaster
Walter Schellenberg: The Memoirs of Hitler's Spymaster
by Walter Schellenberg
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitively worth reading, 17 Nov. 2010
Very interesting book. I was expecting a somewhat dense, even boring read, gladly i was wrong. The author keeps using the first person along the book, as if trying to promote his achievements, but that's a minor annoyance. What's of interest here however is the relationship of Schellenberg with Hitler's entourage, and the way he portrays characters such as Hitler himself, or Von Ribbentrop, but due to his post and obligations, mostly Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler, specially Heydrich. One is so used to the demonization of such characters, well deserved mostly, that it's easy to forget that they were human beings as well, with their own personality traits, flaws, and yes qualities as well. Schellenberg didn't lived long after the war, his memories were published shortly after his death, and this is essentially an updated edition.
This being said, i'll just add that regardless of the accuracy or not of some of the information (and according to the forewords by Allan Bullock and Richard Evans most of it is accurate, and confirmed), the visual manner in which everything is described, without overburdening you with irrelevant details, places you right in the middle of the action. The conversations between Schellenberg and Heydrich, his characterization of Heydrich, his morning horse rides with admiral Cannaris, and all the intrigue and political manoeuvres within the third Reich's security institutions is fascinating, while at the same time exposing in a clear manner the shortcomings of a totalitarian state and its "ego culture".
There are numerous interesting episodes in the book, some operations involving the British, Dutch, Soviet secret services, as well as the reaction to the Rudolf Hess's "episode" and several interesting views on the then geopolitical situation, but it's best not to spoil the book.
A fascinating read, written by someone who was in a position to witness most of the power games within the third Reich, and the deterioration of the war situation. It's well written, fluid, easy to read, not dense at all.
Schellenberg never apologizes for anything, and we should be thankful for that, for here we have essentially the footage of a camera that witnessed the inner workings of the third Reich's security and intelligence institutions, without making subjective judgements, or post-facto apologies - just relaying what it captured.
Definitively worth reading.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 29, 2013 9:56 AM BST


Aircraft of the Third Reich: Arado to Focke-Wulf v. 1
Aircraft of the Third Reich: Arado to Focke-Wulf v. 1
by William Green
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get it while it lasts, 17 Nov. 2010
Excellent book that with the upcoming 2nd and 3rd volume no doubt will be the ultimate reference on everything the Luftwaffe has ever flown. Not only it includes domestic production, it includes captured aircraft and production aircraft of occupied countries. There are a couple of situations where the artwork was reused from some other titles, i can remember of David Donald's "Warplanes of the Luftwaffe", but this is the (very rare) exception, not the rule, so don't let this nitpicking discourage you - this is a book with a life of its own, which unlike other titles, doesn't relies on recycling existing material.
What more can i say. It's good to finally see books covering the not so famous airplanes that everyone knows about. The amount of photographs is astonishing, beautifully printed, and with a couple of exceptions, material that i haven't seen published anywhere else. There's also some posters and propaganda material. Regarding the colour profiles, a vast assortment, also original, enough to keep the modelling enthusiasts busy for months at least. There's always the issue of colour precision, but then again if you're picky about this, then you already know that not even the mechanics in the field followed the RLM guidelines and used whatever paints they had at hand, specially during the later years of the war as conditions deteriorated. Having said this, and as someone who has some experience in graphics arts, i cannot see anything abnormal with the reproduction of the colour profiles, nor with anything else in fact, it's beautifully printed.
Get it while it lasts, before second hand sellers start charging ludicrous prices for available copies.


Air-Launched Doodlebugs: Hitler's V 1 Missiles and 111/Kampfgeschwader 3 and 53
Air-Launched Doodlebugs: Hitler's V 1 Missiles and 111/Kampfgeschwader 3 and 53
by Peter J.C. Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title, a disappointment, 16 Nov. 2010
Somewhat disappointing. I was expecting a balanced book with some information on air-launched V1's and the KG3 and KG53 operations with hopefully some accounts. There are some (very few), but the title is misleading. The book deals mostly with the development of a defence strategy against the V1, and presents some laundry lists of where the V1s fell, and their consequences, casualties, and so on. Most of the times it's quite a dry reading and covers in a very superficial way (when it does so at all) the Luftwaffe's point of view, the development of the V1 attack strategies, mobile, ramp, and air launchers.
Overall, a disappointment. If you expect a reference on the development of the V1, air launched operations, strategy and tactical details of the program, and field implementation, not to mention the KG3 and KG53 role on it all, you'll better search elsewhere, this just isn't it, no matter what the title says.
Probably of interest to someone who wants to know where a particular V1 fell, and in which farm, how many cows it killed, and so on. I'll give it two stars because there's some interesting information on the development of a V1 defence policy and some interesting period newspaper headlines and articles, but other than that, it was a severe disappointment, completely unbalanced.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 28, 2011 6:33 PM GMT


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