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J. Smith (England)

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Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC OS HSM for Nikon
Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC OS HSM for Nikon

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent replacement for the standard kit lens, 11 April 2014
Firstly I am only a keen amateur, but like you might be doing now, I laboured over this purchase for ages and read reviews until I was sick of them, but I'm very glad that I eventually went for this lens. I will detail my buying process to help those who may be considering similar things.

Before buying, I had the F/1.8G 35mm Nikon Prime (which I love!), and the 18-55mm kit lens for my D3200. I was originally planning to go for the Sigma 18-250 superzoom for a walk about lens and kit lens upgrade, but thinking about it, I would very rarely need a superzoom as I never really photograph sports and I don't go on safaris anywhere near as often as I would like! So I started to look at the 16-85 Nikon, this 17-70 Sigma or the 17-50 2.8 Sigma. I quickly discounted the 16-85 as I figured it was quite expensive for a relatively slower aperture and seemed quite an old model, compared to the two Sigmas.

All the reviews I had read on the 17-70 had been very positive, my concern however would be that I love my prime so much that I just won't ever use this. Of course as I'm sure you are aware, every lens is a compromise, so I decided the 17-70 had the most features that I wanted. The reasons I decided to go for this are listed below and these reasons have proved to be good choices having used it for some time now...

Good, fast aperture (nb: is only F/2.8 at 17mm). Also 4.0 at 70mm is definitely enough to allow a nice blur on your photos

Macro capability: even though not full macro, good enough for an amateur like me

Weight: at 465g (Amazon's weight listing of 544g is wrong) it is at the max I would want for a lens personally, especially when being used to the prime lens. The other two lens I was considering were heavier. It is definitely weighty, but just about OK for walking around without getting uncomfortable.

Looks: not essential at all of course, but it is a seriously good looking lens!

So discounting the 16-85 earlier, I choose this over the 17-50 Sigma as I figured for low light conditions, i.e. indoors taking pictures of my baby, I would still just use the prime lens, so 2.8 throughout the entire range wasn't essential, and I would rather have an extra 20mm of reach, which does make quite a difference.

Is it better than my Nikon kit lens?...Definitely, the increased aperture speed makes an important difference and that combined with the extra reach and the macro make it a very worth while purchase. I find the auto focus much faster and very rarely "hunts" and is very quiet, sometimes outperforming my prime. Can't say I notice a massive difference in sharpness between this and the kit but I am only an amateur.

Is it better/sharper than my 1.8 prime?... Well no, but of course my prime is only one focal length. And actually the difference isn't as glaring as I thought it might be. Prime is perhaps a touch brighter and sharper, but you'd expect that and compromise of the other abilities it gives you makes it well worth investing in this as well as the prime.

So all in all, very happy with my purchase and enjoy using it in many different situations that my prime would struggle with.

Knack (PS4)
Knack (PS4)
Offered by Mayflower Stores
Price: £13.89

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent game. But really not 5 stars, 8 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Knack (PS4) (Video Game)
Like probably a fair amount of you reading this review, I discounted this game after reading game magazine reviews which generally gave it around 60%. I then read all the glowing reviews on amazon and decided to give it a go. Well I'm afraid in my opinion the magazine reviews were fairly accurate.

It doesn't really have anything wrong with it, there is definitely fun to be had, probably by the younger generation mostly (although it is pretty difficult at times even on normal!). But ultimately it's very formulaic - run here, jump, press button to kill baddie, collect item, repeat, but this time in an ice/fire level. Ok you might say that's a platformer surely?! but that's my point, If you've played a few platformers before, little will surprise or excite you about this. There isn't any beautiful level design or much originality like that we've seen from the recent Rayman games for example. The only original part is how Knack grows and shrinks in size, but that in itself isn't enough to keep you interested for long.

So in summary, technical fine (graphics, controls etc), some fun to be had but just not massively engaging or original so hard to really recommend.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 7, 2014 6:20 PM BST

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens
Price: £146.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An newbie's take, 1 Jan. 2014
With a month to go until the birth of our first child, I decided I wanted to get a decent camera. I purchased a Nikon D3200 with the kit lens. I was very happy, and the pictures I was getting were very good for someone who's only knowledge of photography was from reading the book Nikon D3200: From Snapshots to Great Shots (a great read for those new to photography) cover to cover.

However a friend of mine with the same camera had the 50mm version of this lens, I had a go with it taking pictures of my daughter and I was truly astounded by the clarity, sharpness and wonderful depth of field you could get with the lens so I quickly went out and got one. Someone said the difference between this lens and the kit lens is like that between a point and shoot and a DSLR...not sure I'd quite go that far but it's not miles off.

To answer a few of the key concerns I had around the lens before buying

Lack of zoom: I read millions of reviews/opinions and just wasn't sure how much the lack of zoom would annoy me. And so far it really hasn't. I agree with others who say you really think more about the composition and it is really worth doing as you know the lens will give you a great picture if you compose it properly. And I'd much rather 1 excellent picture I worked for, rather than 10 ok zoomed in pictures.

35mm or 50mm: Using it mostly to take pictures of the little one, I was tempted by the 50mm as that seems to be the best for portraits. However I much prefer the 35 as it is much more versatile, and allows you to take great portrait shots as well. I was worried about blinding my daughter by being very close with the flash, but you don't have to be that close, and it handles low light so well, you can just turn up the ISO and leave the flash off.

Too much aperture?!: Seems odd I know but some of the reviews mentioned how 1.8 is hard to use. I agree - its probably just my lack of skill with a camera but the depth of field at 1.8 is very shallow and can be hard to handle. I find it just about ok if shooting just one person, but more than one and you need to increase - I go for around 2.2 to 2.8. But 1.8 does allow you to take some great shots of stationary objects.

But overall, a great, great lens well worth the money.

Logitech Harmony 650 Universal Remote - Discontinued Version
Logitech Harmony 650 Universal Remote - Discontinued Version

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic gadget, 7 Jan. 2013
Owning a blu ray player, a tv, an xbox 360 and a surround sound system and having to operate 4 different remote controls was proving very frustrating, so having read a few reviews, some of them mixed, I thought I'd give it this a go...

So glad I did!

Whilst I am fairly tech savvie, I'm sure non techies would have little trouble with this. The software is very easy to use, the out of the box suggestions and activity settings were spot on (i.e. suggests using surround for sound, sky remote to change channels etc) and whilst you can change them, it always suggested the right source for everything. All in only took me about 30 minutes to have it all set up, synced and working perfectly. I went back and moved around a few device commands just to make things slightly easier but again very simple.

Best gadget I've bought in a while, thoroughly recommended!

Assassin's Creed 3 (Xbox 360)(2CD)
Assassin's Creed 3 (Xbox 360)(2CD)
Offered by Excess Gaming
Price: £11.50

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Give it time, 30 Dec. 2012
Having previously played and loved the other games in the series, I looked forward to this as a shift from the norm but still keeping what made the others great...and it does this...eventually.

The main issue this game has is the horribly long hand holding tutorials. For anyone who's played the series before, having to play for almost 5 hours before they take off the stabilisers is incredibly tedious and I very nearly gave up as I was quite bored.

However once it lets go, the story comes to life, the action increases and the game becomes a quality entry that is well worth playing. Just keep with it!

The Motorcycle Diaries [Blu-ray]
The Motorcycle Diaries [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Gael García Bernal
Price: £9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Blu Ray Awful - Film Amazing, 19 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Firstly this is my one of my favourite films of all time so wanted to purchase it on Blu Ray. I had read online that the transfer was very poor, but I was hoping the reviewers were just being picky...

...Unfortunately they weren't - it really is the worst Blu Ray I have in my collection by some distance, it is no better than the DVD. So I wouldn't bother buying this if you already have it on DVD. Shame as it is such a fantastic film

London 2012: The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games - Ltd Edition Steelbook, gift with purchase (Xbox 360)
London 2012: The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games - Ltd Edition Steelbook, gift with purchase (Xbox 360)

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun...but short lived, 22 July 2012
First off this game is well made, good fun and captures the spirit of the Olympics. However after you've played all the events once or twice, I struggle to see how anyone would want to play it much longer, multi player or otherwise.

Nearly all the events are just essentially button mashing or button combos and for me, this variation on a theme grew very dull very quickly.

Now I'm not saying there isn't some fun to be had here, but I'd personally rent this if you want to have a go, because after a few days there is nothing new or challenging, unless you are someone who likes to keep trying to break records etc

So well made, enjoyable but not money well spent if you spend £40 to buy it

Ex-Pro Optical TOSlink SPDIF Splitter - Plus 2 x 1m Optical cables - Value Pack
Ex-Pro Optical TOSlink SPDIF Splitter - Plus 2 x 1m Optical cables - Value Pack
Offered by ExpressPro
Price: £8.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Works great, 15 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Was fairly concerned from reading the reviews that this wouldn't work at all but it works fine!

I needed my Xbox and Blu ray to go into my one optical input in my amp, and I didn't want to have to get up to switch the sources every time and this did it just fine. The only other automatic switcher I could find was about £50 so for the money I was very pleased.

Things to note:

. It doesn't feel quality but then it is very cheap
. You need to be quite strong to get the cables to fit into the unit. When setting up make sure there is a loud click - you'll then know the cables are in
. It won't work properly if both of the units are on - but easily fixed by just turning off one of the two units
. I'm not an audiophile, but I know and like my surround sound and didn't notice any decline in sound quality
. I didn't use the optical cables included as they felt too cheap so can't review those

So overall for the money, a great buy!

Sonic Free Riders - Kinect Compatible (Xbox 360)
Sonic Free Riders - Kinect Compatible (Xbox 360)
Offered by Netro Enterprise
Price: £14.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Fun when it works...which is rare, 18 Jan. 2011
On initially loading the game up, you are treated to a test run which gauges your set up and stance. You run through the tutorial fairly easily, until you get to a test jump section, at which point doubts start to kick in as at a fifth attempt it just does not respond, you get bored and you move on to the main grand prix, hoping for a better experience...

Sonic Free Riders is a good attempt at a fun and different racing game. When it works, it can be really good fun to imagine you are hover boarding across tracks. If it worked 100% of the time, I would say this game was a solid 4 star game, 1 star knocked off for the brevity and also the irritating and cheesy dialogue/voice acting. However I would say the motion tracking only works 50% of the time, and thus any enjoyment is quickly lost as for every good move you've made, you make two poor ones, which are no fault of your own, but simply the system not tracking you properly. Other games such as Kinect Sports and Dance Central show it is possible to track you well, so you just get the feeling the game was rushed out.

Not recommended, especially not at this price.

The Pacific - Complete HBO Series - Amazon Exclusive (Includes: Inside The Battle Of Peleliu) [DVD]
The Pacific - Complete HBO Series - Amazon Exclusive (Includes: Inside The Battle Of Peleliu) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joe Mazzello
Offered by movielovers786
Price: £49.99

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comparisons are perhaps unfair, but inevitable, 13 Jun. 2010
As other reviewers have done, I will use Band of Brothers as the point of reference for The Pacific, as it is made by a lot of the same people and follows a similar premise. Whilst The Pacific for me was always going to struggle to match up to Band of Brothers, I feel it falls so far short I felt compelled to write a review.

What The Pacific does well is portray the awful conditions and terrifying scenes faced by the Marines, at times the battle scenes are very hard to watch because it is so well depicted - this part and this part alone made me carry on watching. However I viewed the entire series mostly because I felt a duty of respect to the subject matter and the shows creators but often found it a struggle in terms of its ultimate goal, to be an entertaining TV show.

Whilst clearly not wanting to belittle the amazing efforts of the marines, ultimately this show is about not only portraying the conflicts and the physical struggles, but also the characters and their emotions. This aspect is where The Pacific falls very short of Band of Brothers and, if this were about any other subject, would not be forgiven for lacking so completely in audience interaction with the central characters.

Whilst you do care about the characters, there simply is no 'Captain Winters' or similar classic characters as in Band of Brothers - a person you care about and have so much empathy and respect for. This vital element is, in my view, lacking throughout the entire series and makes the viewing experience much harder work than it should be.

You can appreciate the program for its technical skills, but true emotion and character development is sadly lacking.

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