Saal Digital Photo Book Review

Saal Digital is a name I've seen on social media a few times and when someone tagged me in a post of theirs to say they were looking for people to give their photo books a try I thought I'd reach out to them. 

They said they'd be thrilled to give me a code to create my own photo book and give my honest impressions so here they are...

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Calumet 7100 Tripod | Review

Let me start with a few of the stats about this tripod before we go any further. This is a £55, yes that's the legs and head. Other famous brands couldn't ever get near that price. 

With everything in life you get what you pay for, a £250,000 car is generally going to be faster, more luxurious than a £5,000. Take on board the price and not be let down. 

Introducing the Calumet 7100 Tripod, a three-way quick release tripod with a three-way pan and tilt head. 

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Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark ii 'Real Life' Review

The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark ii is the go to camera for a lot of vloggers and bloggers...but does it live up to the hype?

Coming on the back of the very popular G7 X, this was always going to peak the interest of vloggers and bloggers. At the price, this isn't aimed at entry-level but someone who wants high-quality photos but still pocket-size. 

Packing a powerful punch this will please many people. With a 20.1 MP sensor, good ISO range and a touchscreen this will allow people to pop it into Auto mode and get photos they're happy with. If however, you want more control you can shoot in full manual mode and switch to RAW files and I think you'll be impressed...the changing of Shutter Speed and Aperture might just take some getting used to, its all done using the screen. 

Even though the camera is fairly compact, it is quite heavy and feels sturdy. I don't fancy dropping it but I'd like to think it could take some wear and tear. It feels good in the hands and the shutter button is well placed when taking photos. The downside is when vlogging yourself the record button is in a really awkward position. I thought switching to video mode would mean the shutter button becomes the record button but this doesn't appear to be the case. 

The camera is equipped with things you'd expect even from the most basic of cameras. WiFi, SD card slot, HDMI, and USB ports are found on the side. The press of the connection button brings up different wireless options such as print, sent to a computer and other PowerShot cameras. 

The thing that is really missing would be an external mic port but if they included that there is no hot shoe to attach the mic too. Having recorded some video the built in mic is excellent so it's not a loss. I would recommend attaching a wind muffler just to help on windy days or if moving at speed. 

The Canon G7 X Mark ii doesn't have a built-in viewfinder so relies solely on the 3" touchscreen, for some people this might be a deal breaker but I didn't find I missed it. The screen is bright and the fact it is tiltable means the sunlight isn't too much of a problem. 

The screen is really responsive and I didn't find I was having to multi-touch or pressing the wrong thing. Many people who purchase this camera will be used to using the screen rather than a viewfinder. We live in a smartphone World so this will be second nature and people will be moving up from a smartphone rather than down from a dSLR. 

Alongside the screen, you have a number of function buttons such as playback, menu and a dial button. These buttons are small but you don't find yourself pressing the wrong ones. On the top of the camera, you have the pop-up flash, on/off button, the shutter, and a twin dial. One is to set the mode and the other is the exposure compensation dial which ranges from -3 to +3. 

In the hand the camera feels good, a metal construction with a few rubber grips on the body give you confidence and the flip screen is held on with metal hinges. As mentioned the layout is clean and simple and Canon makes full use of the area and gets the largest screen possible. 

The menu on this camera is very easy to navigate around and things can be easily found. For example, the camera when I got it had a beep every press of the button and I soon found out where to turn this off. Like most systems, you can build your own menu quickset. 

This will give you an idea of the layout of the camera and menu system. 

The G7X ii makes use of a 31-point AF system and I found the focus strong and worked well, it's good but not brilliant. It appears to work well in lower light conditions and better in video mode. Just don't expect it to shift focus super fast. If the lighting is good then there are no complaints with the AF in photo mode.  

I personally used this camera in RAW mode and the file that came out the camera was large and impressive, and the few I took by capturing JPG looked good and was easily useable and 99% of people would be happy sharing them. Noise didn't appear to be an issue and the colours were clean and accurate. It dealt with shadows well and I was able to get a lot of detail out of the RAW files. 

While I never pushed this camera to its limits rather just what the average person would be using it for. I wouldn't push this to its limits on ISO and the camera seemed happy enough on auto ISO. This is a compact camera and for landscape, family and product images this would satisfy most users. 

I used this camera on a pretty grey day at a local National Trust property and the images I think are ok. They have been edited in Lightroom and this is how they would be shared or delivered to a customer. 

It's easy to see why this camera is popular with vloggers and bloggers, powerful, compact and brilliant results. If you want a camera to set you up for years without going for a system camera then you won't go far wrong with this. 

You have to decide if the lack of a viewfinder is a problem or whether you need 4k. The 4k isn't a problem for me and most people won't be watching the videos in 4k on YouTube. 

The real stumbler for me is the price tag, £549 is a bit steep for me. If this was £399 then I'd say snap it up. But you won't be needing any lenses and if used right you'll get better images than Joe Bloggs who has all the gear but no idea. 

Questions??

John Roberts - What's the battery like? And low light? 

Firstly the battery is pretty solid, it'll last for around 260 shots and you can pick up a spare one for around £14. 

Low light is ok, nothing too special. I noticed some noise at around 6,400 ISO and needed to get rid of that in post processing. 

Alina Davies - What memory card to use, mine won't record for longer than 4 mins without stopping and showing 'busy' - I presume I need a better memory card but not sure which one.

My response is simple, buy the best you possibly can. I always use Lexar Professional 1000x 32GB ones. The best time to buy is when Amazon have their Prime days. 

Adele Brearley-Jennings - ...what is the best setting to use (how many shots) to get a nice time lapse video of clouds?

The G7x ii really isn't designed for time-lapse and I'd avoid it. For time lapse it's difficult to find an easier simpler system than an iPhone. 

Ash Fairbairn Can you use a remote button with this camera ... I've got it and don't know if you can?

I've searched high and low and all it seems to do is be able to connect to the Canon app and remote release like that. You can't connect any other sort of remote to it.  

I hired this camera from Hireacamera.com and wasn't paid or endorsed by anyone to write this review. All thoughts, opinions, and photos are my own. 

The BenQ PD2700Q 27" Monitor 'Real Life' Review

Being a photographer/vlogger/creator in 2017 isn't anything like it used to be. There's this whole other side of things that people often don't see, the editing of photos in Lightroom, the putting together videos in Final Cut Pro and other graphics in Photoshop. 

I normally run this all on my MacBook with a 13" screen, while this works well when travelling it can be a pain when in the office. Editing is often done late at night when the eyes get tired and you find yourself straining and that's not good...especially with my eyes. 

The team at BenQ got in touch and asked if I wanted to try out one of their new screens...namely the BenQ PD2700Q. Before we dive in too deep here's my preview/unboxing video. 

Firstly the stats on the PD2700Q are impressive; 2K QHD monitor with 10-bits of colour depth, Rec.709 and standard RGB colour space (sRGB), you’ll have more than 1 billion of colours to work with astonishing precision.

- 27 inch 2560x1440 QHD Resolution
- 100% Rec. 709 and sRGB with IPS Technology
- DualView Function and Darkroom Mode
- CAD/CAM, Animation Modes Enable the Detailed and Precise Design
- Display Pilot Software for Customized Monitor Settings

The colours on this screen are stunning and I edited a few HDR photos to really push it and they looked amazing. It really brought them to life and the finest of details were really enhanced. The monitor helped my eyes and I found I could work on this monitor for several hours and my eyes didn't feel fatigued or strained.  

I like to work on several things at once and when using a laptop this means having one thing on the screen at once while switching from tab to tab. When you'll looking for information this can prove to be a real waste of time. 

With a 27" monitor this really changes things, of course, you can have one giant thing showing but the way I worked it and got full use was when I had 4 things displayed at once. 

I'd have Lightroom running, while editing a video, with Spotify playing and writing on the blog or running Twitter. This was amazing and saved time where I could see things easily. You could make it work for you so email/web/pages/photoshop split into quarters and they would still look large on the screen. 

If you're looking for improve your editing skills then this is the way to go. You don't need to change your laptop or PC just connect this up via HDMI and away you go. This can also be wall mounted if you wish. 

For more information on the BenQ PD2700Q 27" Monitor have a look at their website and see just how it could improve your workflow.  At just under £370 this is an amazing price for something so impressive. 

I was loaned this for the purpose of this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

iPhone 7 Plus Camera 'Real Life' Review - Landscape + Portrait Mode

For me no cameraphone is going to replace my dSLR, that just isn't going to happen. With that said there are a few times when the only camera I have with me is my phone so ideally it's the best of the best. 

A few months ago I did a Real Life Review using the Huawei P9 which also has a dual lens and I was impressed with it. Will this iPhone 7 Plus be better than that? 

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