Miscellaneous Rambling Blog:

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Review

The Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens is a really cheap lens if purchased as part of a Canon DSLR kit. But the price is not the only cheap thing about this lens. The lens mount is plastic. In fact everything on the outside is plastic except for the glass on the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens. There are advantages to this construction - light weight (the 18-55 is extremely light) - and of course cost. There is no distance window on the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens. The tiny manual focusing ring is barely usable and is located on the end of the extending objective end of the lens. There is no USM focusing motor (on the kit model) which means there is no FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing. Even without USM, focusing is not slow or loud. It is not going to break any records, but it seems fine for its intended market. The Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens exhibits barrel distortion on the wide end of the focal length range. The distortion dissapears at around 28mm. The Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens has noticeable light fall-off with a wide open aperture - especially on the wide end of the focal length range. I would expect more vignetting from an EF-S mount lens than an EF mount lens mounted on the same 1.6x FOVCF body, and there is. However, the 18-55 performs better than the Canon EF-S 17-85mm Lens at the lower focal lengths in this regard. The Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens has reasonable center sharpness, especially when stopped down. Corners are very soft on the wide end of the focal length range. Even with the lens stopped down, corners are still soft. This lens performed especially well at short distance on the ISO 12233 chart. With narrow wide apertures and no IS (image stabilization), the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens is a slow lens for stopping motion (subject or camera). Expect to need good light or a bright flash for this purpose. It also does not easily create a blurred background

Source: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-S-18-55mm-f-3.5-5.6-Lens-Review.aspx

More Lenses Visit Canon online Store

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posted by admin @ 16:16, , links to this post

Bratz Magic Hair Jade Review

Girls can use their creativity to create hot new looks for their Bratz dolls - and themselves! Special Bratz memory hair allows them to crimp it, curl it and glitter it. They can even try out the color and glitter on their own hair. Includes a crimper tool, no-heat curling iron, color streaking tool, glitter hair mascara, hair color, glitter for girls' hair, hot hair accessories, a hairbrush and doll. Doll measures 13"tall. No batteries required.

Use your creativity to create hot new hair looks for your BRATZ and you! Special BRATZ memory hair allows you to crimp it, curl it, color it and glitter it! Next, try out the color & glitter on your own hair!

More Bratz Toys visit Bratz toy store online

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posted by admin @ 22:57, , links to this post

Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DiII LD Review

Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DiII LD Asp (IF) Macro Interchangeable Lens Review

The popularity of Superzooms continues and Tamron have thrown this enormous 13.8x optic into the mix. With a 20% increase in the long focal length capabilities than your average superzoom, we take a look at how the Tamron 18-250mm performs.
An 18-250mm is an incredible range, taking the SLR superzoom, into new territory. This extremely versatile range will give you coverage for almost all subjects apart from the real extremes. But how does it perform? We are about to find out.



Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Build and Handling

From the wide-angle end, the front element extends almost 80mm on a double trombone to reach the longest focal length but the front element does not rotate during the process, which is smooth in operation. The extension does not show too much play but enables a compact build that is surprisingly small for it’s capabilities. The move in focal length is achieved by a well torqued and wide zoom ring sporting a decently ribbed gripping surface and manual focus is controlled by a much narrower ring forward of the main zoom ring. The AF does need turning off to be over-ridden but the lens was accurate in the Autofocus mode with little hunting on most subjects.The autofocus is relatively quiet and reacts quickly enough for the type of lens, producing a slight low pitched whine and keeping up with slow flying birds, although it may struggle somewhat with fast moving sports or action.

The overall quality and feel of the lens is certainly an improvement on what we have come to expect from Tamron, who seem to be moving away from that plasticy look without loosing their identity.


Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Optical Quality

Tamron are certainly pushing hard at the optical boundaries with a near enough 14x zoom ratio but under the circumstances have done surprisingly well! Yes, there are compromises in the lens, but they have been well controlled during the optic’s optimisation. Resolution is better at the wide end of the range with good levels and doesn’t drop off to the extent that we have seen with some other lenses in the class, keeping to respectable figures at the long end despite the extra range. Conversely, chromatic aberration is at a peak at the short end when the aperture is wide open but, even here, just manages to stay inside acceptable parameters. The phenomenon reduces as the focal length extends, but never to the negligible extent and it would become a visible concern if you were trying to produce prints at A3 or above.
Distortion though does become the place where the extreme capabilities do show up and although the -1.4% barrel is not really noticeable at the longest focal length, the increase to –6% barrel at the wide end does mean that it becomes a problem if many straight lines are included in the image. Fortunately this is one of the easier anomalies to correct in post processing.

Despite this, the lens produces crisp images that show good colour rendition and decent contrast. Good technique is required though, as 250mm is getting on the long side for hand holding and lugging around a tripod somewhat defeats the idea of a lightweight lens for all occasions. At those lengths, the f/6.3 widest aperture needs decent light or higher ISO’s to achieve the shutter speeds required to get sharp images consistently.


Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Verdict

As an extra long do-it-all lens this optic has a lot going for it, including decent close focus ability. The advantages of a single lens doing all have the plus points of keeping dust on sensors down as well as the weight saving over multi-lens kits and you still get the better image quality given by an SLR. Travellers will like it too.

More Tamron lenses visit http://astore.amazon.com/tamron.lenses.for.nikon.-20/

Source: http://www.ephotozine.com/article/Tamron-AF-18-250mm-f35-63-DiII-LD-Asp-IF-Macro

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posted by admin @ 15:15, , links to this post

Canon EOS 50D Digital SLR Review

15.1 megapixels, a 6.3 frames per second burst rate, a high-resolution LCD screen, and Digic 4 processing top the list of improvements on a new top-of-the-line APS-C EOS SLR.

While Nikon and Sony have been swinging for the fences with full-frame pro-level SLRs, Canon just seems to be swinging for a solid hit with its new mid-level DSLR, the EOS 50D.
An upgrade of the
40D, this DSLR lands in early October with a body-only price of $1,399. Though Canon insists it doesn’t replace the 40D (which now drops to $1,099 street), the 50D has enough new imaging firepower to trim the 40D’s long-term prospects.
The chassis and body are familiar, but the
50D packs a new 15.1-megapixel APS-C format CMOS sensor (1.6x 35mm lens factor) as well as a next-generation Digic 4 processor and 14-bit A/D conversion.The implications are many. For starters, a w-i-d-e standard ISO range of 100 to 3200, along with expansion modes of ISO 6400 and 12,800. And, says Canon, despite the increase in megapixels, you can crank up the ISO and get less noise than you would with a 40D at a lower setting.

The large files don’t hinder the burst rate, either. Try 6.3 frames per second at up to 90 Large Fine JPEGs or 16 RAW files if you slip today’s fastest UDMA card into the CF slot. As faster cards come, expect this number to rise.

Shoot RAW? You’ll like new settings that let you choose from a large, medium, or small RAW file, expanding on the sRAW concept available in some current Canon models. And never fear, you can still set any of these for simultaeous RAW+JPEG capture.

Other new whiz-bang includes vignetting correction. Picked up from Canon’s Digital Photo Pro software, it uses an in-camera database to correct for aberrations in various Canon lenses.Fluorine coatings on the low-pass filter and the 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD mean less dust on the sensor and fewer smudges on the display, says Canon. Want an even bigger view of your photos? Plug a high-def TV into the mini-HDMI port.

While much of the 50D is pro-caliber, there’s a lot for the move-up amateur, too. For instance, face detection in the live view. And the new “Creative Auto” setting that’s a cross between full Automatic and Program. It’s smart, but it lets you make exposure, ISO, white-balance, and other decisions with easy-to-grasp on-screen slider controls and explanations.
The
50D will be packaged with a 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 EF IS lens that boosts the base price by just $200. But for more range, consider the new $699 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 EF IS lens that debuted with the camera. It isn’t offered in a kit (yet), but say Canonites, it promises sharpness far above typical kit glass.

Stay tuned to PopPhoto.com for our full tests of the new camera and lens. But in the meantime, there’s no doubt that Canon has swung and connected.

NEW & NOTEWORTHY

•15.1MP CMOS sensor
•Up to ISO 12,800 (really!)
•6.3-fps burst
•In-camera vignetting fix
CONSIDER THIS IF…
•You shoot sports (love that burst rate), are a RAW fan (and who isn’t these days?), or you’ve merely decided to get serious without the bulk of a full-frame DSLR.

More Canon DSLR Camera at Canon Online Store

Reviewed by: John Owens (
http://www.popphoto.com/photonews/5496/canon-eos-50d-first-look.html)
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posted by admin @ 09:39, , links to this post

Gibson Les Paul buyers guide

Whether you're a beginner learning to strum, or a professional looking to better his tone, choosing a Les Paul can be a challenge. There are close to 127 models that have been released under the Les Paul name since 1952. To make your decision easier it helps to remember that they are all derived from 3 basic models. There are currently about 13 or so variations on the basic Les Paul design around today. All models feature a 'Tune-o-matic' bridge and a stop bar tailpiece, and can be with or without a scratch guard. Apart from reissues, all Les Pauls now feature humbuckers. They are mostly mahogany, but there is now a series called 'SmartWood Exotics' which feature a number of exotic woods. There are a number of variations and reisues based on the above but slightly different, and they all feature Les Paul's signature on the headpiece.

If you're thinking of purchasing a
Gibson Les Paul, you may consider getting one online. Buying a Les Paul online will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. However, we strongly recommend that you pick an online retailer with an established reputation and credibility such as Musiciansfriend.com.










Gibson Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar
List Price: $3,018 - $3,320
Online Price: $1,999 - $2,199

This is the contemporary version of the model that was introduced in '58-'59. It was reintroduced in 1976. This model has a smaller peg head, green push keys, and in bushing. The body and neck are solid mahogany while the fret board is made of maple and rosewood. All hardware is nickel. Thanks to the Burst bucker Pro pickups, the tone is tight and balanced with increased midrange. Up until 1957 they featured single coil soap bar pickups, after which they switched to Humbuckers. The hardware is chrome. In the 1960s Gibson introduced the 'slim-taper' neck, which changes in thickness only about a tenth of an inch from the first fret to the twelfth and maintains a precisely controlled width to thickness ratio, designed to promote speed while reducing player fatigue. The Standard is now available with or without the slim-taper neck.
Click here to buy the Gibson Les Paul Studio Electric Guitar









Gibson Les Paul Studio Electric Guitar
List Price: $1,649 - $2,018
Online Price: $1,199

Introduced in 1983. A more refined version of the guitar, with a thinner body and more advanced electronics designed by Les Paul himself. Low impedance electronics were used for an improved signal to noise ratio and a very clean tone. The thinner body changed the tonal qualities of the instrument somewhat, but the improved electrics allowed higher quality in recording situations. The same woods are used but there is no binding. This model is a watered down version of the Standard. It comes in a wide choice of finishes and has a sleek minimal look and features an optional plus top. The Les Paul Studio is intended to be played in a recording studio and is the favorite of guitarists who want a guitar that combines the Les Paul's classic performance with a modern edge.

Click here to buy the Gibson Les Paul Studio Electric Guitar

Gibson Les Paul Custom Electric guitar
List Price: $5,245
Online Price: $3,399











This is something of a piece de resistance in the
Les Paul stable, and is the most expensive model. Introduced in 1954, the Custom is perhaps the most beautiful Les Paul with its elegant colourings and gold hardware. It features multi-ply binding on a maple neck and mahogany back and top. Essentially it is the same as a Standard, but with slicker aesthetics. It's designed with a single piece mahogany neck and a carved maple top. Aesthetics include a warm mahogany finish and gold hardware. The 2 hum buckers ensure a warm quality to the tone, making this the perfect lead guitar. Other features include a tune-o-matic bridge and a stop bar tail piece.

Click here to buy the Gibson Les Paul Custom Electric guitar



Epiphone Les Paul Guitars
List Price: $1,035
Online Price: $429 - 449

Epiphone got its name from its founder, Epaminodas Stathopoulo, known as "Epi." and was one of Gibson closest competitors back in the archtop guitar market during the 40s and 50s. Gibson acquired Epiphone in 1957 and today Epiphone is a subsidary of Gibson, producing licensed "economy" versions of, among other models, the Les Paul. Click here to buy Epiphone Les Paul Guitars
Epiphone Les Pauls are competitively priced and offer extremely good value for a reasonably high quality guitar. However, here a few things to note while buying an Epiphone Gibson:- Gibsons are made in the US while Epiphones are made outside the country (usually Korea and China).- Gibson guitars come with an ultra light thin nitra cellulose coating that takes weeks to perfect. Epiphones comes with a less labor intensive polyurethane finish which doesn't take long to apply and is also more durable.- Gibson uses high quality woods like South American mahogany in its designs. Epiphone guitars use less expensive materials like a combination of alder and mahogany, making them more affordable than the upscale Gibson models.- Gibsons have a lighter tone overall in contrast to the Epiphones' darker tones.- The Pickups, electronics and internal wiring of Gibson Les Pauls is of substantially higher quality than their Epiphone counterparts.

Pricing
If you're watching your wallet, the
Epiphone Les Paul Junior or LP Special might be a safe bet. A little more expensive are the Epiphone Les Paul Custom and the Les Paul Classic. If you're in the mood to splurge then you can't go wrong with a Gibson les Paul Standard or Gibson Les Paul Custom.

For more Gibson Guitars please visit
Gibson Online Store

Source: The Gibson Les Paul (http://www.lespaulguide.com/les-paul-buyers-guide.php)


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posted by admin @ 21:50, , links to this post

Canon EOS 40D Full Review

The Canon EOS 40D is the newest addition to Canon's extensive range of digital SLR cameras. Canon splits its DSLRs into three separate ranges, identified by the number of digits in the model name. The EOS 400D is the ‘amateur’ model, the EOS 1D and 1Ds are the ‘pro’ models, but in between is a series of semi-pro SLRs which are designed to appeal to keen enthusiasts, combining more advanced features and better build quality than the amateur models but without the expense of the pro cameras. The Canon EOS 40D is the latest of these semi-pro models, following on from the 8 megapixel 30D. It’s not before time, either, because Canon’s beginner-orientated EOS 400D has been out for some time now and, during that time, the more expensive 30D has had a lower resolution sensor. The 10-megapixel sensor in the new EOS 40D puts that right, and as well as being more robust and better-made than the 400D, it offers a number of other significant advantages. These include the ability to shoot at 6.5 frames per second, and a new Live View mode which enables you to compose shots directly on the bigger 3.0-inch LCD. Canon also claims to have improved the sensor design and incorporated its latest DIGIC III processing system to improve the image quality. But are the Canon EOS 40D’s images really that much better than the 400D’s? We found out for you…


Ease of use

The Canon EOS 40D is more expensive than most entry-level digital SLRs, but this is reflected in its build quality. Where cheaper cameras use plastics, the 40D has a magnesium alloy body which should make it more durable in the long term. The finish seems tough and resilient too, and the memory card and battery doors are dust and moisture resistant, making the 40D potentially better suited to hostile environments, whether they’re encountered on a photo shoot in the Himalayas or a trip to the seaside.
On basic SLRs, adjustments are made using a combination of buttons and a single control wheel. This is fine for novices, but awkward for experienced photographers who want to be able to adjust exposure, shutter speed or aperture quickly. Like other semi-pro cameras, the Canon EOS 40D offers two control wheels; one on the top of the handgrip, and a large, spinning dial on the back of the camera. This rear ‘quick control dial’ is characteristic of all high-end EOS cameras. It’s a bit of an acquired taste compared to more conventional control dials, but you quickly get used to them and they are easy to ‘spin’. The power switch has a third position which activates this dial, and you can then use it to apply rapid exposure adjustments. But this dial does take up the space where you’d normally expect to find a four-way controller. This means that for menu navigation Canon’s had to incorporate an additional small joystick on the back of the camera. It works well enough, but it’s not as positive or as easy to use as a conventional four-way controller, like that you find on the cheaper EOS 400D.
On top of the camera are three buttons, each of which has two functions. You press a button and then turn either the top dial or the rear dial to change the setting. It does take a little while to memorise which button does what, and which dial you need to turn. Having said that, the Canon EOS 40D is not an ‘occasional’ camera that’s going to be brought out only for special occasions or outings. A camera like this is likely to get heavy, frequent use, and its controls will soon become second nature, and the layout does make routine adjustments very straightforward.
There are two LCD displays on this camera; the 3-inch colour LCD on the rear and a smaller status panel on the top. On cheaper cameras, the LCD on the rear usually has to do both jobs, but on this model all the camera settings are visible from above on the smaller panel. This can make the Canon EOS 40D quicker to use, and it may also extend the battery life. It is also possible to show the camera info on the rear LCD, but the display will look surprisingly crude to those who’ve used the excellent interface on the 400D.



The same applies to the Canon EOS 40D’s menu system. It’s very clear, with large, easily-read characters, but it doesn’t look as smart as the 400D’s. Of course, the 40D is designed to work well and not just look ‘pretty’, but it’s still a mild disappointment. The documentation that comes with the 40D, though, is very good, as it is with all Canon cameras. You get a detailed manual in English throughout (as opposed to the fat paperbacks with some cameras which turn out to contain just a handful of pages in a dozen different languages), and you’ll find everything you need to know about the camera’s operation in here, without the need to go rummaging through the CDs for an ‘electronic’ manual.
The Canon EOS 40D’s software suite is very good, too. Admittedly, photographers who’ve graduated to a camera like this one will almost certainly have chosen image browsing and editing software already, so they won’t need the basic image browsing program included here, but there’s more than that. You also get Canon’s simple but effective PhotoStitch application for making panoramic shots, a utility for using the 40D remotely (while tethered to a PC) and Canon’s Digital Photo Professional application for converting RAW files. This is a big bonus, because other makers don’t always include RAW conversion software. With Nikon SLRs, for example, you have to pay extra to get Nikon Capture NX.
Digital Photo Professional isn’t the best RAW converter on the market, and Adobe Lightroom 1.2, for example (which already supports the 40D) does a much better job of recovering bright highlight detail, which is one of the main reasons for shooting RAW files in the first place. But what DPP can do is mimic the camera’s Picture Styles ‘retrospectively’. For example, the Landscape mode is great for deepening blue skies but it can be a bit over the top with other subjects. Instead of committing to this mode when shooting JPEGs, you can shoot RAW and change your mind later. The DPP application also produces slightly sharper results – this is discussed in more detail in the Image Quality section.
One advantage of Canon’s DIGIC III processor is the speed at which it can process images and save them to the memory card. This, and a heavy-duty shutter/mirror mechanism, allows the Canon EOS 40D to achieve its amazing 6.5fps continuous shooting speed, and to maintain it for 75 JPEG images or 17 RAW files. There are some pro cameras that can go faster than this and for longer, but they cost thousands – this is a camera that costs well under £1,000. In this respect that 40D completely obliterates its cheaper rivals, and if you’re at all interested in sports photography, it’s an excellent choice for this reason alone – the 3fps shooting of other cameras in this price band is just too slow, and you often miss the ‘peak’ of the action because it falls between frames.

The Canon EOS 40D’s high-speed shooting is backed up by fast, positive autofocus, which can track moving subject very well and which is also near-silent, even with the cheaper 18-55mm kit lens. In fact, there are three body/lens choices with this camera. If you’re upgrading from an older or cheaper digital EOS model and already have a lens or lenses, you can buy the 40D body-only. The next-cheapest option is to get it with the 18-55mm lens normally sold with the 400D. This doesn’t have a great reputation for quality, but it’s better than a lot of people think and the autofocus is very fast and quiet.
Perhaps the best option, though, is Canon’s 17-85mm IS lens. This offers a wider focal range and also built-in image-stabilisation, which should give you sharper hand-held shots in low light or at long zoom settings. It’s the more expensive choice, but in the long run it’s a better, more versatile lens which fully matches the quality of the 40D itself. Canon has shown no sign of developing a sensor-based anti-shake system like those employed by Sony, Pentax and Olympus, but then the company has invested heavily in image-stabilised (IS) lenses, so there would be a conflict.
However, Canon has embraced dust-removal technology, where the sensor is shaken briefly at high frequency to – hopefully – dislodge any dust particles from its surface. This could delay the need for manual sensor cleaning, perhaps indefinitely, but it won’t be able to remove ‘sticky’ deposits like salt spray, pollen or the smears left behind by careless sensor cleaning or the wrong kind of solvent.
In summary, the Canon EOS 40D is a hefty, well-made camera with controls aimed firmly at serious photographers. A green ‘Auto’ button offers a foolproof point-and-shoot mode where necessary, and a range of scene modes can help novices get better results, but essentially this is a camera for those who already know how to take good photos and want to be able to do it quickly and without fuss and gimmicks

Conclusion
Many people imagine that a better camera will help you take better pictures. That’s not quite true. In fact, a better camera simply helps you take pictures better… In other words, the picture quality is decided by the photographer, not the camera. But if the camera suits you better, your pictures will get better too. The fact is that the picture quality you get from the Canon EOS 40D is not significantly better than that you get from the EOS 400D or indeed any of the other 10-megapixel SLRs on the market right now. What you’re getting is a camera with more scope, more sophisticated controls and a better design and layout for those who already know one end of a camera from the other. For experienced photographers, many cheaper SLRs are awkward to use because the manual controls take second place to all the beginner-friendly auto modes. The EOS 40D, then, is for photographers who’ve outgrown their first SLR – or, indeed, for professional Canon SLR users who are looking for a low-cost ‘second’ body to pack in their kit-bags.
The high points are the tough, durable body, the control layout and that amazing 6.5fps shooting mode. Yes, it does soundly like a badly-muffled machine-gun, but it lets you grab action sequences that lesser cameras would miss. The speed of the AF system keeps moving subjects sharp, too. But perhaps the most striking thing about the Canon EOS 40D is its value. It’s true that it costs more than other 10-megapixel cameras, but it’s also much more professionally-orientated. Its nearest rival in the semi-pro market would be the newly-announced Nikon D300, but the list price is £1300 for the body only, and for that money you could get an EOS 40D and Canon’s 17-85mm image-stabilised lens and have change to spare. The Canon EOS 40D’s strength doesn’t lie in any great technological breakthrough but in its professional appeal and its sheer value for money.

For More Canon EOS Camera Visit
Canon Digital SLRs Store

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posted by admin @ 12:05, , links to this post

Nikon D40 6.1MP Digital SLR Camera Full Review

The 6 Megapixel Nikon D40 is targeted for those who want a relatively compact and light camera yet having most of the important SLR features. The D40 is priced reasonably (cheaper than D50/D80 and Canon Rebel XTi). In my opinion, if you are still considering whether to get a point and shoot camera or a DSLR, the D40 will be a better choice than any point and shoot camera, by far, even those with 8MP or 10MP. But if you are already deciding to get a DSLR or you want more control of the picture taking experience, then I would recommend you to also test the D50 and/or D80 first before deciding to buy the D40. I want you to make sure that you know what you will get (and not get) with the D40. Don’t get me wrong though, the D40 is an awesome camera, and I don’t think you will regret buying one. There are some limitation with the D40 which shouldn’t bother most people, for example, the D40 doesn’t have dedicated button to change picture quality, white balance or ISO settings (which generally only professional/enthusiast will care). Once you understand (and accept) its limitation, the D40 is a potent and exciting photography machine.Just like all its (DSLR) siblings, the D40 powers on instantly and take pictures with almost no shutter lag which are the major advantages of a DSLR over a point and shoot camera. In addition to the P,S,A,M mode, the picture quality of the auto settings (auto, child mode, landscape etc) are also very good. With 2.5 frames per second you can capture movement progress in sports like football, basketball, baseball etc. Also great to photograph your family or child (child mode). The D40 is a great all around camera.

Some notable new features:

1. Auto (no flash) mode. Without this mode the flash will pop-up (on all other pre-programmed mode) even when you don’t want to use flash (which can be annoying). The internal flash will not pop up automatically with the P,S,A,M settings.2. In camera editing capability such as black and white, sepia and some filter effects etc. While sounds gimmicky, these features are useful especially for those who doesn’t have Adobe Photoshop (or other image editing software).

To date, D40 is the smallest and lightest among all the Nikon DSLR (even smaller than the Canon Rebel XT/XTi, however the D40 is more ergonomics). I believe that choosing a camera that fits comfortably with your hands is important. Therefore, I recommend people to test the camera before buying (even if you want to buy online, please do go to a physical store and test the camera first whenever possible).


The D40 has only 3 (horizontal) autofocus point (5 for D50 and 11 for D80). If you know “The Rule of Thirds”, the additional AF points above and below the center focus point (available in D50 and D80) are handy to help create the horizontal third line. However, the 3 horizontal AF point in D40 is still helpful to create the vertical third line. Also one can focus with the middle AF point and after the focus is lock then move the frame upwards/downwards to create the horizontal third line. Just make sure the exposure level is still accurate when you move the frame after you lock the focus.

About the 18-55mm II AF-S kit lens: A good lens producing sharp photos (though not a very fast lens). Also decent for close-up/macro photography. Lens uses internal focus technology and focusing operation is silent. A very decent kit lens.
Lens compatibility: Notice that with D40, autofocus function will not work for non AF-S/AF-I lens. If you already have non AF-S/AF-I Nikon lenses and want a backup or replacement camera, you will be better off buying D50, D70s or D80. If you buy the D40, it will be convenient to stick with AF-S and AF-I type lenses. I’m not sure why Nikon choose this route for the D40 (whether to enable smaller size camera or from now on Nikon will only make AF-S lens compatible camera). There are a lot of good Nikon AF-S lenses (price range added: low, medium, high) that are fully compatible with the D40 such as:


- Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED IF AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S DX VR (M)
- Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED AF-S DX VR (L)
- Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR (M)
- Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED IF AF-S DX (M)
- Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S (H)
- Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX (H)
- Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S (H)
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR (H)
- Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro (M)
- And several other expensive prime tele/zoom lens like 200-400mm, 300m, 400mm, 500mm, 600mm.

High priced lens ($1000+) are usually pro level lens which usually have better construction, faster (f-stop), and produce better quality picture. However, often times, lower price lens will serve your needs just fine. I think it is important to know what you want to use the camera for before deciding which camera and lens to buy.
Image quality of the D40 is very good which is #1 factor that I look for in a digital camera.
Here are the pros and cons of the D40 in my opinion:


Pros:
1. Nice out of the camera result picture quality
2. Affordable price
3. Compact size and light weight
4. Large and bright 2.5 inch LCD
5. 2.5 frames per second
6. B/W, Sepia, several more in-camera editing features.
7. Instant power on, fast autofocus and no shutter lag
8. Noise is acceptable at high ISO settings. Auto ISO settings available.
9. Great 18-55mm II AF-S kit lens.
10. Great battery life (400+ on a single charge. 1000+ if flash is not used).
11. Auto (flash off) mode available
12. 1/500 flash sync

Cons:
1. No direct button to change QUAL, WB and ISO settings
2. Grip comfortably but might be a bit too small for some people
3. No top LCD and no front command dial
4. Autofocus will not work with non AF-S or non AF-I lenses (such as the 70-300m G and 50mm f/1.8D lens)
5. No AF/MF switch (have to use the switch on the lens)
6. Only 3 autofocus point
7. 6 Megapixel (More Megapixel needed to print larger than 12 X 18 at 300 dpi)
8. No night landscape mode in pre-programmed settings
9. No in camera image stabilization (like Sony and Pentax) but Nikon has lenses with it (VR).
10. No depth-of-field preview button
In conclusion, the D40 is perfect for those who want high quality pictures, more control (than a point and shoot camera), and have a DSLR experience (instant power on and no shutter lag), without having to carry a bulky camera. And unless you are shooting sports/actions professionaly (which faster focusing processor, faster frames per second and larger memory buffer might be needed), the D40 is pretty much all you will need.

More DSLR Camera visit Camera Store

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IPEVO Free.2 Skype Phone Review

We‘ve recently started using Skype hardware by little-known vendor IPEVO. SOLO models for the desktop (pictured) and FREE.2 USB handsets for the road. The SOLO plugs straight into your ethernet network, and also functions as a tiny ethernet switch, providing a port for your computer if you only have one RJ-45 jack at your desk. It took me less than 5 minutes to get running with no “Quick Start Guide” crap or drivers required. Since I already had a fully juiced Skype account, the SOLO logged in flawlessly with no hassle. Happiness ensued.
The full-color screen is easy to read and the angle can be adjusted. Unlike more “enterprisey” phones, there is no excess buttonage, and the unit in general is very easy to figure out and use. Despite a couple minor nitpicky items (could be easier to access voicemail, not enough speed-dial stuff, needs conferencing built in), the SOLO is a solid practical phone at less than $200 (USD) per seat.


If you are familiar with the free-1 then you’ll feel right at home with the free-1, it has the same clean layout and slick design as it’s predecessor with a few added tricks. First of all IPEVO have added a small LCD screen that allows you to view your Skype contact list direct from the phone. This is a big plus as it makes the phone a lot more independent, even though it must remain connected to a computer via USB. The second addition to the free-2 is the record button, a feature that lets you easily record your Skype calls.I’m less fond of the FREE.2. I suppose it works well for what it is, but I don’t like having to think about starting special software to take advantage of all the features. Everything should Just Work without having to worry about additional moving parts. (Oh, and everything should integrate flawlessly with Address Book too.) The hardware itself seems to work well enough, but until the software side is more streamlined and polished I’ll likely stick to headphones and the MacBook Pros built-in microphone.
IPEVO also offers a dedicated conference unit named
XING which we may pick up in the future, but have not played with so far.

For more IPEVO Products please visit IPEVO Store

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Western Digital My Book Essential Edition 500GB hard drive Review


The Western Digital MyBook Essential Edition is a pared-down version of the MyBook Premium Edition that we reviewed. Available in sizes from 80GB to 500GB, this external hard drive features the same exterior design as the Premium Edition. It also uses the same 7,200rpm hard disk drive, so we expect the performance to be on a par with that of the Premium Edition. The Essential Edition drive has only a USB 2.0 connection (the Premium Edition can also connect via FireWire) and doesn't come with the EMC Dantz Retrospect software that ships on the Premium Edition. Also, the capacity meter on the "spine" of the drive glows green instead of blue.


More Western Digital Hard Drive visit Western Store

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Crysis Warhead Complete review

Crysis Warhead Complete Review


All of the claims you may have heard that Crysis
could only run on nuclear-powered supermachines were greatly exaggerated. But if for some reason you worry that this stand-alone companion to the ultragorgeous first-person shooter will bring your PC to its knees, you should know that it's highly scalable and ran smoothly on a number of machines during our testing. It also looks better, with clear attention given to the game's artistic sensibilities and the lusher, denser environments. But rest assured, developer Crytek has enhanced more than just the graphics engine. Vehicles are more fun to drive, firefights are more intense and focused, and aliens do more than just float around you. More emphasis on the open-ended environments would have been welcome, but a more exciting (though shorter) campaign, a new multiplayer mode, and a whole bunch of new maps make Crysis Warhead an excellent expansion to one of last year's best shooters

If you didn't play Crysis, Warhead's story may be initially confusing, given that you hit the ground running with little exposition. You play as Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, the brash Brit who was a bit player in the original game. Psycho tends to play by his own rules, always willing to ignore orders and jump into the fray if that's what the situation requires. The story runs parallel to the events of Crysis, though his strident attitude--and a dramatic cutscene near the end of the game--definitely make this Psycho's tale, even if the actual plot remains the same. In any case, you and your US Special Forces team are investigating a tropical island besieged by North Korean invaders. However, your greatest menace comes in the form of aggressive aliens that turn the luxuriant jungles and glowing beaches into a frozen wasteland. You and your teammates, clad in nanosuits that grant you special abilities such as super strength, temporary cloaking, super speed, and additional armor, confront both threats across a variety of large environments.

Psycho's brazen confidence does more than just establish a gutsy protagonist: It sets the stage for a more focused and intense series of battles that keep the pace moving more smoothly than before. Warhead still offers some of the same kind of sandbox levels, but thoughtful enemy placement and map bottlenecks keep downtime to a minimum. You can approach assaults on beachfronts and Korean encampments in a number of ways, so if you're a stealth enthusiast, you can employ your suit's cloak setting and sneak in, or attach a silencer to your sniper rifle and take out your human foes from a distance. If you would rather employ hit-and-run tactics, you can jump into the heat of battle, cause a ruckus, and use your suit's speed function to zoom away. However, Warhead is clearly focused on the guns-blazing approach, gently nudging you into full-on encounters with its mission objectives, character dialogue, and level design. When you reach primary and secondary destinations, you'll get besieged by large numbers of enemies, both human and (later on) alien. Given that human foes also don nanosuits, they're not necessarily quick to fall; as a result, these sequences are exciting and challenging, and you'll need to use your suit abilities and cover opportunities to your advantage. The easily triggered explosions of enemy vehicles and hazardous barrels further intensify these pockets of activity.

A number of set-piece battles confirm this slight shift toward action-packed mayhem. Your first encounter with a hulking alien war machine may not have the same impact as a similar one in Crysis, but it happens earlier than you'd expect, and it establishes the alien presence with adrenaline-fueled drama. That battle is a wonder, as is a later defensive mission that has you fending off a series of aliens, and requires you to shift focus frequently and use every weapon in your inventory. Another great sequence is a train level that, at first, seems much like similar sequences in a number of other shooters. You can stay on the train and use turrets to gun down the opposition, as expected--but you can also jump off and engage the opposition at any time, giving even this near-cliche sequence plenty of replay value. A linear journey through an underground mine is the obvious misstep in regard to level design, given that it never so much as hints at the open-ended action that makes Warhead a superb shooter.

If you played only that level, you also wouldn't see the host of improvements that power the action, particularly the improvements to alien artificial intelligence. The general design means that these robotic rivals will occasionally still be floating around above you, but they have more obvious smarts now, and they find ways to pummel you with ice pellets while remaining just out of sight, staying on the move, and using cover more often. Human enemies also seem more aware of their surroundings, flank you more often, and activate their nanosuits' armor to minimize damage. They also use the limited visibility that the jungle affords them quite well, hiding in brush to stay just out of sight. There are some remaining problems, particularly if you take potshots from a distance. Occasionally, the AI won't react when you snipe at an enemy, and foes using turrets will sometimes let you walk right up behind them. On the whole, however, Warhead makes clear improvements over the original in this regard, which in turn makes for better combat overall.
Vehicles feel sturdy, which is just as well, because you'll be driving them often, either to cover ground more quickly, or just to take pleasure in mowing down enemies with your mounted weapons. You can have a good deal of fun blazing a trail through the jungle while showering your foes with steel death, and the destructible environments further exaggerate the devastation. A scene in which you speed across the tundra in a hovercraft is done particularly well, offering a good sense of speed but pushing you into enemy hotbeds, giving you the chance to stop and fight or zip away with a quick glimpse of Koreans riddling aliens with bullets.


The improved vehicle handling is also noticeable on one of the new multiplayer maps, on which two teams battle in--and out of--the tanks and helicopters scattered about. This is good stuff, and it showcases Warhead's new Team Instant Action mode, a mode noticeably missing from the original Crysis. It's just good old Team Deathmatch, but it's done well, and the maps are improvements on those of the original. Snipers are still a threat, but the size of the maps are better suited to deathmatch battles, and more thought and care seem to have gone into small but important factors, such as weapon-cache placements and player spawns. The Instant Action and Power Struggle modes are still accounted for, and many of the original maps return, offering a large suite of online options that make online Warhead combat more appealing than its predecessor. Note that unlike Crysis, the expansion requires the online component to be installed separately, and isn't accessible from the single-player game.

Both online and off, Warhead is a beauty. As mentioned before, the game looks better than Crysis, and it runs better too. A test machine that struggled a bit to run the original at high settings ran Warhead smoothly with the same settings. Yet as much as you may have heard about Crysis' technical prowess, you'll still be impressed when you feast your eyes on the swaying vegetation, surging water, and expressive animations. Don't overlook the improved art design, though, which surpasses the original's oft-sterile look thanks to several striking vistas, such as one featuring an icy naval vessel stranded in the frozen tundra. The audio is almost as terrific. Various creaks and groans make heading down a narrow glacial pathway all the more harrowing, and weapons sound appropriately powerful. The voice acting is strong, and the understated soundtrack sets the right tone without ever getting in the way.

Warhead's single-player campaign should take you no more than six hours or so to complete, but not only does it invite multiple play-throughs, it costs only $30--and doesn't require you to own the original. In other words, there is no reason why anyone with a capable PC shouldn't play Crysis Warhead. It's more focused, it's more intense, and though it doesn't provide as much of the sandbox feel as Crysis veterans would wish for, it still delivers on every other front.

Review by: Kevin VanOrd, GameSpot

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Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD VC For Nikon Review

The fourth version of Tamron's popular 10.7X superzoom since 1999, this 28-300mm ($600, street) is the first Tamron to offer image stabilization. Called "VC" for "Vibration Compensation," the system is the industry's first to use a three-coil design (up from the usual two) that theoretically can compensate for vertical, horizontal, and diagonal shake.
A full-frame lens that scales up to a 43-465mm on most DSLRs, it has been internally coated to suppress ghosting and flare off digital sensors. Like most superzooms, it's targeted toward amateurs, so we tested it on both the
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi, with an APS-sized sensor, and the full-frame EOS 5D. Packed with specialized optics, the lens has hybrid and molded glass aspheric elements, plus low- and anomalous-dispersion glass to control chromatic aberration. All this helped Tamron make the lightest, closest focusing, and most favorably priced superzoom in its class

HANDS ON: Despite the 5 ounces and 0.75 inches added (we suppose) by the VC mechanism, this lens is surprisingly light and compact for a high-ratio zoom. It's so trim that it casts no shadow at any focal length when used with the Rebel XTi's built-in flash.
Its attractive, matte-black barrel is made of polycarbonate material; the lensmount, metal; and the generously sized and well-placed zoom and focusing collars are rubberized. The manual-focusing action is well-damped across a conveniently tight turning radius, but it produces a scratchy sound. Zooming action is slightly stiff, with an uneven drag.
The well-marked barrel houses three easily operated switches to activate VC, achieve autofocus, and lock the lens in its 28mm, retracted position. One disappointment: Autofocusing on both test bodies was noisy and slow.


IN THE LAB: SQF tests of the lens when used on the Rebel XTi found sharpness and contrast in the Excellent range at all tested focal lengths. Typical of high-zoom-ratio lenses, though, full-frame SQF numbers started at Excellent at 28mm and 70mm, then went to to Very Good at 200mm and Good at 300mm. (See the full-frame SQF charts at www.PopPhoto.com/february2008.)
Distortion tested on the Rebel XTi was amazingly well controlled, as measured by DxO Analyzer 2 tests, with Visible barrel distortion at 28mm (0.35%), and Slight pincushioning at 70mm (0.12%), 200mm (0.11%), and 300mm (also 0.11%). To compare, in 2002 a Tamron 28-300mm showed distortion in the Very Visible range (1.40-2.73%) at four focal lengths.
As for vignetting, the new lens produced no measurable light falloff at any focal length when used on the Rebel XTi. As a full-frame optic, light falloff left the corners by f/8 at 200mm and 300mm, and by f/6.3 at 70mm. At 28mm, the lens vignetted at all apertures.
Its macro performance carries on the tradition of Tamron's earlier 28-300mm zooms -- top notch. At the uniform close-focusing distance of approximately 16 inches (tested), maximum magnification ratios ranged from 1:10.36 at 28mm to 1:2.33 at 300mm -- significantly more power than Tamron's 1:3 published spec.
With VC engaged, the lens showed a 2- to 3-stop handholding advantage in tests by four different users -- a welcome and valuable addition to the Tamron toolkit. Unlike some camera-based IS systems, Tamron's lens-based VC provides a visibly steady viewfinder image.

CONCLUSIONS: This is not the lens for fast-breaking or active subjects, due to its sluggish AF, nor for full-frame shooters worried about light falloff at wide settings. But this new VC superzoom should reward everyone else -- macro shooters and DSLR users of all persuasions -- with its excellent distortion control and remarkable sharpness, even in low light, across a one-size-fits-all zoom range. And all in a conveniently compact, affordable package.
Review by: Julia Silber
Source: www.popphoto.com
For more Tamron Len visit Tamron Lens Store

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