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All Reviews - 100 Results
Sony ICD-UX570 Voice Recorder
This is the Sony ICD-UX570, and is the successor to the UX560, which I reviewed a few months back. Will this one be an improvement? Let's see! So once again, I was amazed at how small this thing is! It is tiny! Weighing only 78g, it's both small enough AND light enough to carry with you at all times? The form factor is great and the whole device can be easily controlled with just one hand. And with most of the buttons being placed on the front of the device, controlling it feels very natural, like using your phone. But I will say that some of the buttons are very small, so those with larger hands might find it frustrating. The screen is bright and easy to read from all angles. The software is easy to navigate and the device overall is intuitive to use. You can literally be recording within 1 minute of turning it on for the first time, once you've set up the time and date, which again is easy to do. This device, like it's predecessor, had a built-in USB plug that can be popped out with the slider and plugged directly into your pc or laptop. I love this. It saves carrying a lead. And while plugged in, it charges itself too! Settings So there a load of settings and ways to configure this recorder. It gives you four options of sensitivity for the built-in mic; High, Medium, low, and there's also an Auto option here in case your recording on the fly and need it to adjust depending on the situation. You also have this setting available for External mics too! You also get to choose if you want the mic to pick up a wide area of sound or a focused area. This is for the built-in mics only though. Focused is obviously best for voice work, whereas Wide would be better or a ambience sound or if you're recording a meeting where there are people spread out around the room or table etc. There is also a Audio in option that you can use to record audio from an external device like an old tape player. There's even a sync option that means if recording an album from a tape,or example, the recorder will automatically stop and start recording between songs, and there for you can record a whole album and each song will be split into separate tracks for you! How cool is that?! Ok, stats for audio nerds time. So, the audio quality setting are as follows ... LPCM 44.1khz/16bit MP3 192kbps MP3 128kbps MP3 48kbps (MONO) Now, the built-in memory gives you a whopping 5 hours, 30 minutes of record time, and that's in LPCM lossless quality! A 64gb Micro SD card will allow for over 100 hours of record time in LPCM lossless quality! If using MP3, you'll get over 40 hours with the built in memory, and a mind blowing 738 hours with a 64gb card! And that's the MP3 192kbps mode, which is the top MP3 quality available. And what's more, you can use the Cross Memory function, this allows you to use the built in memory, and then when that gets full, it'll automatically switch to the SD card and continure recording! Wowsers! Now if you're using this to record meetings, as long and boring as some meetings are, they don't usually go on for 700 hours, so you should be good with this recorder! Plus it actually has a dedicated Meeting mode for ease of use! Other dedicated modes include Lecture, voice notes, interview plus different kinds of music too! The device also has a VOR (voice activated recording) feature. This makes it start recording automatically whenever it hears any sound. This is good for situation where you want to record yourself sleeping during the night to see if you sleep talk or snore. I tried it, and it turns out I snored around 936 times! It's no wonder I'm single!! Ok, so that's a run-down on the main features of this device as a Dictaphone. But what about if you wanted to use this for voice over work on youtube videos for example? Well it is possible to use this in conjunction with your camera. If your camera has a mic input, you can wire the headphone jack of the recorder into your cameras mic input, and use it that way. But you will have to either press record on the device for the sound to carry through, or press record and then record again to pause it. This lets the sound continue through the device and into your camera. There's also a noise cut and low cut filter built in. although I don't find this to be very good to be honest. You would get much better results just downloading software called 'Audacity', which is free, and using the noise reduction tool in there to process your audio. All in all a great little recorder which is a good improvement on the last model (UX560) and I would recommend this one no problem!
Audio / Visual
Posted on 26/07/2020 at 01:02pm
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Ansio Vertical Fan
Write up coming soon...
Home and Garden
Posted on 08/04/2020 at 02:37pm
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Panasonic Lumix G9 Mirrorless Camera
FOCUS Auto focus is nice and quick. Very quick! There are the usual suspects here “AFS, AFF“ for moving subjects, "AFC“ you'd mainly use this for video and MF. All work good enough. May not be a advanced as Sony's but no other camera manufacturers are, and it's certainly good enough. Face tracking is great. Also this camera has animal detection. This means it will recognize most animals you'll encounter and keep focus on it while tracking. The focus modes are: "Face/Eye Tracking“ Self explanatory, "Tracking“ This is where you aim at your subject, then half-press the shutter to set a lock on that object, "225-Area“ for un-centered subjects, "Custom Multi“ you can set the shape of your focus area! "1-Area“ this focuses on the subject that is in the auto-focus spot, you can touch focus to select it, "Pinpoint“ when you half press the shutter button, it'll enlarge the focus area to see more clearly. STILLS Colours are good. Skin tones are nice. Way better than SONY! People complain that the 'Shutter button WAY TOO SENSITIVE!' But I think this is to help eliminate CAMERA shake while taking stills, and it does do that. Keep in mind, this camera has a small sensor. So if you find you need to shoot with a shutter speed as low as 20-30 indoors, then having a sensitive release means you don't have to press it hard to take a shot. Therefore the camera doesn't move from the pressure of the press. Genius really, and you do get used to it quite quickly. So the sensor is 20.3 MP so not the biggest and bestest out there, but it's certainly enough for most users. There's really no point going bigger than that unless you plan on printing billboards. And even then you don't need to go higher as billboards are made to be seen from a distance. The pictures though are sharp (but of course that depends on the lens anyways) and give nice detail. There is a HDR mode that takes multiple shots at different exposures and combines them in-camera to create a high dinamic range image, and this works well. The most excitng thing about this camera though is the 80mp stills mode! You have to use a tripose for this though as it needs to be still. It uses the in body stabilizer to move the sensor while it takes multiple shots and then stitches them together to make one huge image. Keep in mind though the images it creates are MASSIVE in size. But they are awesome. And you'll have no problem printing billboards with this camera after all! So we also have a 4k and 6k photo mode. This is cooool. There's a few options with this but in short what this allows you to do is: when you press the shutter release, it'll start recording a 4 or 6k video. In 30 fps each frame will be 18 MP. You can then cycle through the frames and choose one (or more) so save as single images. This way you never miss a fast moving subject again. It can also be set to start recording images BEFORE you even press the shutter release. The images are just as good as stills too. It's pretty amazing really! VIDEO Has a lot of picture profiles, including 'CINELIKE' but no LOG profiles without paying extra – sucks! The G9 used to be mainly a photography camera, with few video features. Not anymore! After the November 2019 update we've seen an increase in video capability. The video options of this camera include: 4k 60p. 4k 50p. 4k 30p. 4k 25p. 4k 24p. FHD 60p. FHD 50p. FHD 30p. FHD 25p. All the above is recorded internally as 8bit 4:2:0. But you can also record externally in 10bit 4:2:2. And in FHD you can go as high as 180 FPS in high speed mode! Since the November update you can now record internally at 10bit with hybrid log gamma in 4k 24, 25, and 30fps in HEVC mode. There is IBS built in to this camera. This means that it used a mechanical stabilizer inside the body to counter move the sensor to eliminate shaky hand movements. And it is awesome! With the ninja walking technique you can achieve gimbal-like shots no problem. Use this with a lens that has Optical stabilization and you're golden! FUNCTION monitor and EVF awesome! They're both bright and clear and give you all the needed information including histograms, audio levels focus peaking, zebras etc. I don't like that it doesn't tell you on screen what your focal length is. Nor does it say in the playback mode. The only place you can get this info is in the meta data of the file, once you've transferred to PC. I find this very strange! So focal length marking on a lens is a must for this camera. Lots of customizable buttons. And as it has dedicated WB, ISO and EXP COMP buttons, you have more options for FN buttons. There are 3 FN buttons on the back and two unmarked custom buttons on the front. I love the placement of these. You also have an FN switch on the front too. FN switch is good to have, but could of easily worked as a button too. Don't know why they went with a switch design. It is a little stiff to use. Would of rathered a toggle button. Wi-fi connection to phone is A star. Works quickly and easily. The app is good. Allows you to control ISO, Shutter Speed, WB, F-Stop, Exposure Comp. Shooting mode, focusing mode - basically everything except manual focusing. It is low latency, meaning there isn't much lag between action in front of the camera, and the display on your phone screen, so can be used for video too! I don't like that it doesn't tell you on screen what your focal length is. Nor does it say in the playback mode. The only place you can get this info is in the meta data of the file, once you've transferred to PC. I find this very strange! So focal length marking on a lens is a must for this camera. ERGONOMICS/ DESIGN Camera ergonomics is OK but I find it is a little on the large side. I have smallish hands though so may not be a problem for you. If you use an L bracket for mounting to tripod, the side articulating monitor will not rotate all the way around as L bracket prevents this. Personally I'd rather the monitor rotate upwards like the Sony A6400, but I know a lot of people wouldn't agree with me as the hot shoe will be an issue. But I have no problems using a cold shoe bracket to solve this. I don't like the placement of the playback button. You need to use your other hand to press it as the camera is too big to reach with thumb of your right hand. Also in order to zoom in on image just taken, you have to press playback button each time, even though the photo is on screen for review after shot. Unless you set the review time to have no set time. This is a pain! Weather sealing seems OK. I used in light rain, and no problems. weight lens (Leica 12-60mm) with camera: 1031g weight of camera: 657g weight of lens (Leica 12-60mm): 374g
Photography / Videography
Posted on 27/03/2020 at 06:16pm
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Sigma 30mm f1.4 Lens
The Sigma 1.4 30mm lens. This one I bought with the Sony E mount for my a6300. Construction is solid. It's mostly metal construction and comes with a lens hood which is a nice looking matte plastic. Ok let's get to the important stuff. The focus range on this lens is 0.3m or 0.98ft right up to infinity. It's weight is [265g]. length [78cm] and width [63cm]. It feels great in the hand and looks really nice once attached to the camera. It suits the Sony look quite well. STILLS The lens seems to be nice and sharp in stills. It focuses just as good as the Sony lenses, locking on pretty quick. The photos it produces seem nice and sharp and the colors are generally decent. I have noticed quite a lot of chromatic aberration though. If you have the right software though, this is removable for the most part so may not be a bother to you. VIDEO For video I found it hunts a little bit more than a Sony, but is still good. The focus motor seems quiet and I haven't noticed any noise coming from it in video. As it's not a heavy lens. And as the a6300 is a light small camera, you can comfortably hold it while vlogging or doing general filming without too much pain. This lens is focus by wire but so are most lenses these days. It does allow smooth slow focus pulls though and I haven't found it hard to gain focus manually at all. Especially considering most mirror-less cameras offer such features as focus peaking and magnification, which makes focusing a breeze.
Photography / Videography
Posted on 25/01/2020 at 05:37pm
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Olympus 25 mm 1.8 lens
I'm gonna keep this short. Alright so the first thing to note is how small and light-weight this lens it! ITS TINY! Great for travelling and maybe vlogging as it adds barely any weight to the camera (152g). Build quality seems OK. Plastic exterior but seems a solid and tight construction. The focus ring isn't rubber, but rather matte plastic. But has small teeth all around it for grip and actually feels nice to the touch and is smooth to operate. There is no manual aperture ring as this is controlled electronically through the camera. It comes with a lens hood which is always nice. But there is a thin plastic ring you have to remove from the lens before you can attach it. This is strange as I don't see what the use for this ring is. You're better off removing it when you un-box the lens, and keeping it in the lens box as you're never going to need it again and will probably lose it like I almost did, twice. The lens fits nice and snug to my Panasonic G9 as it shares the same MFT mount. It also communicates well electronically. The sharpness is pretty nice. I always add sharpening in post any ways and I haven't noticed much difference to other lenses. The auto-focus works well for stills but doesn't seem to lock-on as quickly as the Leica lens I'm currently using. For video it works well and focuses pretty nicely but there is bad news here. If you're using the built in microphone on your camera, you will hear the focus motor noise. And its quite loud and annoying. A constant ticking noise. It's OK when using an external mic as long as it's positioned away from the camera body, but if not, then it's going to bother you, even in non-professional home movie clips. All in all it's a great little lens and would be best suited for photography, especially if travelling light. I wouldn't bother for video unless your using an external mic not mounted on the camera body or cage.
Photography / Videography
Posted on 18/01/2020 at 06:07pm
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Saramonics SR-XM1 Microphone
This little mic has a unique design. It looks like a miniature version of the Rode Video Micro, except it plugs directly into your cameras 3.5mm jack without any cables. The mic has a small footprint sticking out the side of the camera instead of sitting on the top with a cold shoe suspension mount. You can also bend it forwards or backwards to suit your needs. It comes with a foam pop filter cover and it performs well enough although offers no help with wind noise. The audio quality isn't very impressive to be totally honest. It's OK at best but if your planning to use it for production use, like YouTube videos, then I'd give it a miss. It can be made a little better in post but if you have a ear for good audio then it'll bother you. That said, the sound is decent for the price point. It would be fine for home videos or if you get the TRRS version then it will definitely improve videos recorded on your smartphone, if that is your thing? I've returned mine and decided to stick with the Olympus ME51SW, as that one is stereo and has a cable and clip to be used as a lavaliere.
Audio / Visual
Posted on 01/12/2019 at 07:33pm
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Falcon Eyes F7 LED Video Light
I have been using the Zecti LED Light for a few years now. And although I love it, it is a bit larger in size and more bulky in weight once the battery is added. So I saw this and thought it would be better as it was smaller and has a built in battery. Well I wasn't wrong. The Falcon Eyes F7 is an awesome little light that all video makers should have in their kit. Weighing in at only 330g, compared to the Zecti (with battery) at 558g, this thing is nearly half the weight and bulk. But does that mean it isn't as bright? Nope! Put it this way, when I'm using this as lighting for YT videos, I have to set the brightness to just 5%. That's not a typo either - 5%! Any higher and my face would be blown out (too bright). OK, so lets have a look at the features... So this light can be brightness adjusted from 0% to 100% and goes up in increments of 1. So you have perfect accurate control. The 'Temp' can be adjusted from 2500k (warm glow), right up to 9000k (blueish tint). The sweet spot for brilliant white being around 4000-5000k. The RGB mode can give you any color under the sun. On the back of the F7 you will find a color wheel that has markings on it in the form of degrees. 0/360 being Red, 80 being Yellow, 120 being Green, 180 - Blue, 240 - Purple, 300 - Pink, then back to 360 Red. All values in between are the colors being mixed together seamlessly. The color changes are smooth and not in noticeable steps so that's good too! There is also 'Effects Mode'. This has 20 different lighting effects - all you'll ever need. To name just a few there are; Police lights, Ambulance Lights, Fire Engine Lights, Lightning Flashes x2, TV Mode, Paparazzi Camera Flashes, Candle Light Flickers, Party Lights etc. There is also a sticker in the box with a guide showing which number is which effect. But oddly this only lists 18 effects. There are 2 more on the device which, I'm guessing, were added on later models made after the stickers were produced. Another great feature I love is there are magnets inside the housing of the F7. One along the top and one along the bottom. So you can easily mount this to anything metal (I'm thinking camera cage, radiator etc). Anyway, if you're a content creator, you need this light in your life! There is also a more expensive package that includes a light diffuser and honeycomb grill. But this one that I bought doesn't include those but it's really not a problem. You can use tracing paper as a diffuser as LED lights don't tend to produce much heat. Or I'm even looking at ordering a small piece of 3mm thick Frosted Acrylic made to order. There's a website called cutmyplastic that'll do it for just a few quid. If you do decide to do this too then the size you need to cover the LED front panel is 145mm x 73mm. Anyway if I do go ahead with the Acrylic, I'll update this post and let you guys know. Recommended? It's a no brainer - YES!
Photography / Videography
Posted on 25/11/2019 at 08:31pm
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Criacr LED Strip Light 1m
This is the first set of LED light strips I've purchased. It comes on a reel and has a USB connector for power. The LED section itself measures 1 meter and the cord leading to the USB plug is 67cm. Along this 67cm stretch is the remote receiver which is small and pretty thin so won't affect anything wherever you place it. The remote control works well and is using RF (Radio Frequency) to work the lights rather than IR (Infra Red). This means that it doesn't work from line-of-sight so you don't have to point it to the lights for it to work, it will just work as long as you're within 10 meters. There are various modes you can select from by using the remote. By default, or by pressing the 'Green' button on the remote, it is on a solid green color. You can change the brightness by using the brightness controls or change the color by using the color controls. You also have the 'Mode' button where you can have the lights change color by themselves as it cycles through them all in various ways (Blink, Fade, Blend). The LED strip itself is protected by a clear silicone and has a waterproof rating of IP65. I think this means that it can be used outside but no submerged in water (but you might want to check that out for yourself with a Google search). Either way it protects the LED's form dust etc. All in all I'm happy with this light strip and would recommend them to you.
Computing
Posted on 23/11/2019 at 07:44pm
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Olympus ME-51S Stereo Microphone
I've been using a Sony ECM-CS3 tie-clip microphone for my YT videos for a few years now. I like the way it sounds. The audio is always nice quality and it is reliable. But I've been wanting a small mic that I can plug into my camera without any cables if I choose not have the tie pin on, so I tried the Rode Video Micro and a similar Comica mic. Both were OK but they are both large mics that sit on top of the camera on a suspension mount. I wanted something small that could just plug into the side of the camera and not add too much weight or size to the camera body. This way I could run and gun with it without taking too much time setting it up on the hot shoe mount. I saw this and was wowed by it's design. This mic would give me the best of both worlds... I could use it as a tie clip when needed, but also use it directly into the camera body by taking off the cable when I just want to capture ambient audio from the room/location. I also could save room in my camera bag by only carrying this one mic and cable! I quickly threw my money at Amazon and said 'gimme gimme gimme!'. So the mic turned up the next day in a neat little package. Opened it up and plugged it in and pressed record (all while shooting a YT video for it). Now, on reviewing the recorded samples I was a little disappointed at first. The audio seemed to be lacking the bass that I was used to with the Sony mic. I sounded 'tinny' and I didn't like it much. Of course this can be fixed in post production by adding some bass but I didn't want any more editing that I already had. After a while though I realized that I already decrease bass from the Sony in post (as it is always set in my editing template, i forgot about it). So it's not a big deal if I do switch to this mic permanently. I just have to increase the bass instead and - job done! So I'm going to play more with it to see if I can make the switch permanently.
Audio / Visual
Posted on 12/11/2019 at 07:30pm
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Neewer G2 4k Action Camera
Ok so here we have the Neewer G2 action cam 4K! Neewer's 3nd action cam offering following the G0 and G1. With a price less than £70 does this camera stand up on it's own in the action cam market? Lets take a look... In the basic package you get various mounts for car window mounting, bicycle handle bars and others. You get a micro USB charging lead. But you don't get a micro HDMI lead. But to be honest as it records to SD card you don't really need one. You also get a waterproof case as standard! Even a remote control! Basically everything you need to get started is right in the box – bar a memory card! You will need to supply your own card as with all cameras, and this will ideally need to be a class 10 card. I bought the 'SanDisk Extreme 64 GB microSDXC Card' Amazon UK | 'SanDisk Extreme 64 GB microSDXC Card' Amazon US, which only set me back £12. And this gives me the speed to record 4K without a problem. More on this later. The camera itself is small and very lightweight! It has a nice rebberized coating so is easy to hold and grip. I'd imagine it shares the same dimensions as a GoPro and most mounting accessories would also share the same design. I have never used a GoPro though, so I can't be positive on that but all these action cams tend to lend themselves to each other quite nicely from what i've read and seen. To turn it on you press and hold the 'Mode' button, and it starts up very quickly indeed, albeit with a quite annoying start-up sound. The camera is ready to start recording straight away which is very convenient for catching action as it happens. In the settings you can also select which mode the camera starts up in. For example, if you're only using this camera as a dachcam, then you'll select the 'car looping' option. This way whenever you start the device up, not only is it in dashcam mode, but it automatically starts recording video! Awesome! Let's have a look at some of the modes. So 'Normal Video' is exactly what it sounds like. You press 'OK' to start recording, and press again to stop. Video recording is available in a few resolutions as follows: 4K(3840*2160)30FPS 2.7K(2560* 1440)30FPS 1440P(1920*1080)30FPS/60FPS 1080P(1920*1080)30FPS/60FPS 720P(1280*720)30FPS/60FPS/120FPS Time lapse photo mode: 1s/2s/5s/10s/30s/60s Slow motion video: This is cool but there's no option to set the speed. My guess is it records at 120fps and then automatically slows it down for playback. Normal Photo Mode: Self explanatory. You can choose to take shots in 12M/8M/5M/3M resolution. Auto Photo Mode: from what I can work out this just takes photos constantly until you press stop. Not the same as burst photo though and it only seems to take a shot every few seconds. Not sure what you'd use this for exactly. Timing Photo This is a self timer with options of 3/5/10/30 seconds. Car Looping Mode This is the dashcam feature. Works well and resolution is clear enough to see number plates etc. Video + Photo mode This records video while also taking photos simultaneously. I've noticed it's around 18 photos per minute. And finally Burst Shot mode This takes burst shots at around 10 shots per second. You press the 'OK' button once and it takes the shots automatically so you don't have to keep it pressed. Ok so the video resolution is really good for the price but don't expect awesome! It works well as a dashcam and action camera but if you're looking for a small vlogging camera I'd pay the extra and go with a GoPro. It has nowhere near the quality of the GoPro but then again the price is nowhere near it either. The 4K is pretty good and if you freeze frame the footage you can see you get some good detail. I do feel though the shutter speed may not be fast enough as you can see when it pans the footage looks a bit choppy rather than silky smooth. But then again, at this price point I can't complain at all! Low light handling is acceptable. Especially if using as a dashcam as I am. You can see things clearly enough so no gripes there. A feature I like is the built in stabilizer. You do get a light crop with this but it's worth it for handheld shots. and if using as a vlog camera then it'll help massively. A note on SD cards. As I mentioned earlier, you will need a fast card for this camera, as you would on any camera, especially a 4K camera. At first I used a normal micro SD card which although it will work, the video will freeze every few frames. Each freeze lasts for around 5 frames. This of course brings problems as besides being very annoying to watch back, something critical could happen during those frames if using as a dashcam. So make sure to get a decent card. Again, here's the one I got 'SanDisk Extreme 64 GB microSDXC Card' Amazon UK | 'SanDisk Extreme 64 GB microSDXC Card' Amazon US. The camera comes with a number of mounts. Most of which are wasted on me as I'm not a sporty kind of guy but these will probably sort out most of your action cam needs. Most of them, I must be honest, I don't even know what they're for. It does come with 2 sticky back mounts for securing to the windscreen of your car. One of them even has a 3/4” screw hole. There is two spares in the pack too! Another cool feature is the remote control. It comes equipt with a Velcro strap to put it on your wrist or bike handlebar etc. that way you can take photos and even start and stop video with a press of a button. I keep mine strapped to my handbrake. This way I can start or stop the video before I set off, and when I park up. Also if you are using it as a dashcam, go into the settings and toggle the inversion switch. This flips the screen upside down as you will have to mount the camera upside down. So this means the video will record the right way up when you watch it back on your PC or TV! The battery is removable. So you could get yourself some spares by contacting Neewer as I can't seem to find them sold online anywhere. Also included is a waterproof case. This has a mount already attached for quickly securing into the car window mount. They even included a spare door for the case! WATERPROOF CASE Water proof casing seems to work well. It's rated for 98ft /30meters but I'm not testing that for you! But this will allow for some cool and creative filming. I tested it out on the kitchen sink (that's as adventurous as I get!) and it worked very well. All the buttons are easily accessible while in the case except for the touch screen of course. But you can use the up and down arrow buttons on the side to navigate the menus while in the case. All in all this camera is a good buy if you're on a budget and want a decent all round action cam for your hobbies, or even your kids activities. At this price you don't have to worry too much about loss or damage. If you're looking for a dashcam I highly recommend it! It will definitely meet your needs in that area. I think this would make an awesome xmas present for your kids too and may take them away form the consoles (stranger things have happened!) and inspire them to be and think creatively. I'd of loved one of these when I was young as I was a big camera fan even back then! Anyway I'm out. If you have any questions or comments leave them below.
Photography / Videography
Posted on 29/10/2019 at 08:23pm
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