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Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000: wireless keyboard , mouse
Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000: wireless keyboard , mouse

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Works, but with problems, 18 Sept. 2009
Firstly, if you're left-handed, don't buy the keyboard+mouse package. The mouse is the most unfriendly peripheral for left-handed people I've ever used!

In general, this is a fairly good keyboard; keys are clearly spaced, well arranged and hard-wearing. Touch typists will quickly grow accustomed to the layout. There is a large backspace key for those of us who make many errors, but the enter/return key is disappointingly small. The hot keys are a useful function and are easy to personalise.

This is not, however, an ergonomic keyboard and does not deserve the high price. One of its major weaknesses is the very fragile props beneath the keyboard, which break all too easily and make the broken keyboard all but unusable. The 'hump' in the middle is a natural magnet for every form of dust.

More importantly, this keyboard - like every other touted as 'ergonomic' - does absolutely nothing for the unnatural twist of the hands to a relatively flat position (known as 'pronation'). If you are a heavy keyboard user, Google "ergonomic keyboard" and look at the vertical models.


Canon Speedlite System Digital Field Guide
Canon Speedlite System Digital Field Guide
by J. Dennis Thomas
Edition: Paperback

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete and useful only if you have no idea about flash photography, 5 Mar. 2009
Flash photography was a frustrating mystery to me when I bought this book. Although it provides some basic, much needed information for the complete beginner, it contains a lot of off-subject items (posing your subjects and rules of composition for natural light photographs), but does not cover vital issues such as modelling flash light and gel filters.
This book predates the EX 580 mark II, although the differences between the old and new models aren't so huge.
Basic info is adequate and well-written: GN, wireless flash, basic techniques.
There are some convenient 'crib sheets' for standard flash situations: portraits, macro, event photography, although the amount of detail is necessarily meagre. The images used in the book are, frankly, average.
If you have a basic grounding in flash photography, you'd do better to visit dedicated websites.


The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers
by Martin Evening
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weighty and exhaustive or possibly just very heavy, 3 Mar. 2009
This is the third magnum opus from Evening I have purchased, as my Adobe products have expanded and been updated. Each one is a doorstop with this book weighing in at about twice the weight and page count as the LR 1 book.

Definitely *the* reference book which exhaustively and exhaustingly covers everything you might possibly want to know about LR 2. Certainly not a 'how to' book, although tips are highlighted. Non-Mac and non-Canon users may be put off by his focus on these products, although options are provided.

The examples and visuals are clear. However, I find the writing a little tortuous and tiresome at points. Not a book you can read from start to finish despite its 'workflow' based structure, but it is the first reference book I reach for when I need to learn something.

Is is possible to write a how-to photography book in paperback format and perhaps save a few trees?


Canon Digital SLR Camera EOS 5D Mark II
Canon Digital SLR Camera EOS 5D Mark II

39 of 88 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been much better and some niggling defects, 24 Feb. 2009
I have moved up the Canon camera food chain from a SureShot to a 400D to a 40D and now the much-awaited 5D mkII. Perhaps I waited too long. In the 2+ years since the mkI was released, there has been much technical progress, not all of which reflected in this camera.

I'm happy with the solid build (but see below), the ergonomics, the lovely LCD, fair low-light performance, handy battery information (you'll need new batteries) and above all the overall image quality.

I am disappointed by the 95% viewfinder, excessive file size, mediocre AF and low frame rate. As of late Feb. '09, Adobe has not released an upgrade to CS3/ACR 4+ to read this camera's RAW files. The only Adobe-compatible solution is to to upgrade PS and/or Lightroom or use Canon's software.

I'm annoyed by the squeaky card compartment flap, the camera's loose mirror (Canon will fix this at no charge) and its early glitches which Canon had plenty of time to fix before release (black dot and banding issue, addressed by firmware upgrade).

I'm totally indifferent to HD video, although the live view function is very useful for macros and manual focus lenses.

If there were no other full-frame DSLRs, the 5D mkII would be an achievement, but there are, and they seem to out-do Canon in features, price and IQ. I'm locked into Canon because of the lenses, but brand loyalty shouldn't have to be the main reason for buying a pixel super-sized, full-frame version of the 40D.

I have Canon lenses, there's no choice. If you're not already locked in, take a serious look at the competition.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2011 5:36 PM BST


Canon TS-E 45mm f2.8 Tilt and Shift Manual Focus Lens
Canon TS-E 45mm f2.8 Tilt and Shift Manual Focus Lens

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest lenses in Canon's stock, but not for the fainthearted, 12 Jan. 2009
Tilt-Shift lenses alter the focal plane for selective focusing (rather like Lens Babies but without all their woes). They also allow you to correct for the 'falling away' effect of converging verticals (shoot a building from ground level and it looks like it's collapsing backwards). Canon T-S lenses also rotate through 180 degrees so you can have the same effects however you hold your camera. They're ideal for product shots, architecture and alternative creativity with just about any subject, but...
* They're strictly manual focus, so you need a full-frame large viewfinder, live view or at least an angle viewer
* They're all primes, which means IQ, flare and CA are what you'd expect (except the 24)
* You need to meter exposure without tilting or shift first because your camera body can't meter correctly when using tilt or shift
* A tripod and time are necessary to get the full benefits of this lens
* However experienced a photographer you are, it's going to take several shots before you get what you want. This is not a walk-around point-and-shoot lens.
Of the three Tilt-Shift lenses made, the 45 is probably the sharpest and perhaps the most versatile. Do not be duped by the red ring L on the soft and flare-prone 24. The 90 is too long for my purposes. I own a full-frame and a cropped-sensor camera, so the 45 covers more of my needs and is sharp, very sharp. Construction quality is L grade. It's also a solid, hefty lens which balances out well on Canon's bigger cameras but probably wouldn't suit the smaller, cropped-sensor bodies. The seven-blade diaphragm and f/2.8 aperture ensure a pleasant out-of-focus background ("bokeh"). The focusing ring (manual, remember?) is smooth and precise and the lens markings are acceptable if nothing else (and are rated only for film and full-frame cameras anyway). Compared to lens babies, this is a dream for controlling exactly where you want your focal plane, but if you have large hands, the rather small tilt and shift knobs and the minuscule rotate latch will pinch your fingers.
One inevitable disadvantage: the lens' design easily allows dust to enter the barrel. This lens is a dust magnet and should be stored at all times in its pouch (included with a clunky, but serviceable hood) when not in use.
This really is an excellent and unusual lens in IQ terms, but a demanding one, so not at all for the beginner or full-auto shooter.
Comment Comment | Permalink


Omron Walking Style II Pro Pedometer (Blue/Black)
Omron Walking Style II Pro Pedometer (Blue/Black)

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best compact camera available - at the time, 4 July 2008
(January 2009 update: if the price differential is large enough, buy the G9. If not, the G10 is viewed by many - and I concur - as overkill with noise issues. The Panasonic Lumix LX3 is probably a better bet as a comparable camera with the G9.)

Don't buy this camera if you want something small and simple. Do buy it if you want a wide range of features and RAW format functionality.

I love my DSLRs and, like many amateur photographers (I suspect), I'm something of a control freak, which rules out my picking up a compact or point-and-shoot because I'm given little or no say in what I do. I also despise the long, long, long shutter lag and complete inability to shoot fast-moving objects or in low light. The other gripes common to *all* compacts - chromatic aberration, distortion, noise - would normally prevent me from buying a compact at all.

I've owned two: the Nikon Coolpix 5100 and the Canon G9, which I've used when I needed something small. I gave away the Nikon. I've kept the Canon. Below are the reasons why.

The G9 is solid, well-built (some might say `chunky') and only just qualifies (IMO) as a compact. It does have a tiny, but usable, optical viewfinder. If you have small hands, I would imagine the weight and no grip would make shooting one-handed difficult. If you have large paws like mine, the zoom dial is not easy to use. The Nikon is admittedly more ergonomic. I wonder why Canon bothered with an ISO dial on the top (nice touch, I confess), as only 80, 100 and 200 settings are of any use. There is the usual, pointless print button which is thankfully customisable. If you're used to recent Canon models, the interface and buttons are not too complex. Highly useful functions, such as changing the white balance, EV settings and focus modes are all easily accessible. The Nikon interface is quirky, bordering on irritating.

Both cameras feature a 12 million pixel count, resolution presumably being the only number camera manufacturers think we can understand. Noise in low light conditions or at anything above ISO 200 makes the Nikon useless, the Canon just about OK. (I admit I'm spoilt, being used to Canon and Nikon DSLRs.) If you want to take family snaps indoors, don't waste money on the Nikon.

The internal flash on the Nikon is poor and weak; it's only weak on the Canon. Both cameras have a hot-shoe for speedlite flashguns. My Canon 580 Mk II is twice the bulk of the G9, which doesn't improve handling.
I was struck by the sharp and vibrant colours of the Canon. In normal photo formats, chromatic aberration (colour fringing) and distortion were not noticeable - they can be corrected afterwards, if necessary. Neither offers an impressive zoom range, but the Canon's wide angle is a bare 30 mm (full-frame equivalent).

Video quality on the G9, I am told, is excellent.

After image quality and relative speed, the best feature on the G9 for me is the RAW format function. This is a godsend and one not offered by the Nikon, but even without it, the Canon G9 is simply a better camera.
Compacts don't really deserve their bad reputation. Trying to please everybody inevitably lowers overall quality, but the G9 tries hardest to achieve such an impossible goal. Does its wide range of features and improvement in image quality over other compacts justify the high price tag? If you're unfamiliar with the terms `white balance' and `RAW', then the answer is definitely no. If you're looking for the next step down from a DSLR, I would say yes.


McAfee Internet Security 2005
McAfee Internet Security 2005

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great until the first big problem, 24 May 2005
Lovely installation (a few clicks and you're done), lean with a discreetly friendly red M on the bottom right and lots of easily adjustable controls... For a former Norton user tired of its little foibles with Office 2003, McAfee makes a refreshing change. You have more control, see more of what's happening and your computer seems to work more efficiently.
And then things start to go wrong... McAfee patently dislikes MS Outlook and can't cater to it. (The plethora of spam in Russian just sails through its spam killer.) My first problem resulted in a serious crash 24 hours after a full install. Related support forums abound in messages promising fixes and upgrades, but technical support is weak, tending to negligent (the 'chat with an on-line techician' was eerily reminiscent of talking to Elisa...). In the end, _I_ fixed my crash.
McAfee does appear to free up more resources than Norton and definitely gives you more control and better protection on the whole, but only if you know what you're doing and can repair its inevitable bugs yourself or know someone who can. If you're a mainstream user with some knowledge of PC's you're better off using McAfee, especially if you don't use Outlook. Otherwise, stick to Norton or find a better solution.


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