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Canon EOS 50D DSLR (Serial #0520327973)

On April 3, 2009 I did my part to stimulate the economy. I had been hoping that when I finally got around to replacing my first DSLR camera body that the technology would have progressed to the point that I could afford a full-sized sensor model, but the Canon EOS 5D Mark II - currently the lowest price EOS body with a full-frame sensor - is priced at $2699 MSRP, putting it still beyond the justification limit for me. However, after a recent frustrating shoot with my six year old EOS Digital Rebel, I felt the need to do something to give me better and more predictable results, so I took a look at the current Canon EOS lineup. Canon has been very busy updating their entry-level Rebel series of EOS bodies for some time, and the newest model in that series is the EOS Rebel T1i which will go for about $800 for the body. Not bad for a camera which boasts a 15.1 megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor, records video, and includes a host of other features which make the original Digital Rebel seem like a pinhole camera by comparison.

But while they've been increasing the capabilities of the Rebel line, Canon has also been shrinking the already rather smallish bodies of these cameras. For my hands the original Digital Rebel was just about as small as I would have wanted a DSLR body to be, and now they're even smaller. I had the opportunity to hold one of their newer models in my hands last year, and the controls just felt too crowded and non-ergonomic to me. I suppose they're fine for someone with small hands, but when you put a big lens on them - especially a non-EF-S lens that has some heft - they feel unbalanced and awkward. Let's face it - if you're a DSLR user, you don't really expect to be able to slip one of these cameras in your pocket, so I'm a bit confused with Canon's propensity for continually trying the shrink the camera body. I had been looking at the EOS 20D since it came out only a year after I had bought into the DSLR concept, and liked what Canon was doing with their intermediate-level bodies, which are bigger, sturdier, and include a more robust suite of features than their Rebel line. I'm glad I waited a few more years before upgrading, because Canon has been continually improving their xxD line of intermediate bodies as well, and the EOS 50D was well worth the wait. Introduced in October 2008 as the successor to the 40D, the EOS 50D is the current flagship of the Canon EOS intermediate-level line, with an MSRP of $1299 USD. For the detailed specs you can go directly to the Canon web site and have a look, and there are plenty of exhaustive and comprehensive reviews available on the web, too.

There are many things to like about this camera, and I've barely had the time to really get to know it yet, but here are some of the features that stand out to me as a new owner:

  • 15.1 megapixel sensor with gapless "micro-lenses" over each pixel for increased noise-reduction.
  • Incredibly sharp 640x480 three-inch LCD monitor screen, brightness adjustable.
  • Near-instantaneous power-up time a tiny fraction of a second.
  • Bright pentaprism viewfinder (as opposed to the pentamirror in the Rebel series).
  • High-speed continuous shooting up to 6.3 shots/second.
  • Self-cleaning sensor with dust-resistant flourine coating.
  • Magnesium body with a nice grippy exterior, plus numerous gaskets that protect against dust and moisture.
  • ISO range from 100 to 3200 in 1/3-stop increments (including auto-ISO), expandable to 12800 ISO.
  • Compatibility with UDMA CompactFlash memory allowing for high-speed burst shooting and image transfer rates.

The compatibility with my existing Canon EOS and Sigma lenses, the use of CompactFlash memory cards, and the use of the same Canon BP-511A battery were all additional factors in my decision to go with the EOS 50D, since I already had an inventory of those items. But one thing I hadn't considered was the advancement in CF memory card technology since the last time I bought any, and how this camera body takes advantage of that advancement. The CF cards I had for my EOS Digital Rebel were 2Gb 50X cards, and they do indeed work with the new 50D body, but in order to take full advantage of the high-speed capabilities of this camera you need something faster. So I bought a couple of 4Gb 266X CF cards from Sears, of all places, who had the best price on the PNY Optima Pro UDMA cards that I found on the web (about $35 each), each of which will hold approximately 744 4752x3168 images at the highest JPG resolution. The high-speed nature of these cards allow for the fastest continuous shooting rates and maximum number of images available to be recorded in a continuous burst a number for which is displayed in the viewfinder display. Also, the high-speed CF cards obviate the need for a separate card reader to transfer images to your computer, since the EOS 50D comes equipped with a USB 2.0 port, and a nice long USB cable. The new battery charger included is an improvement over the original, too, with the separate household line voltage cord being replaced with a simple flip-down plug on the charger unit, which holds the battery and plugs right into the wall, thus saving a little bulk and weight in your gear bag.

Another thing which I had not anticipated is the incompatibility with my existing wired remote shutter release and wireless IR remote shutter release. The former is essential for tripod-mounted exposures which are longer than you can steadily hold the camera I used mine for all my Carlsbad Cavern photos, for example, which approached 30-second exposure times; and the latter is essential for things like group shots where you want to be in the picture, too, or remote operation of the shutter for things like candid wildlife photography. My existing wired shutter release was incompatible because the EOS 50D uses a different on-camera jack, and my existing wireless IR remote was incompatible because the 50D does not have an IR receiver built into it. I think Canon dropped the ball on this one, because their wireless controller for the EOS 50D and other bodies in the class is priced at $430. The IR wireless remote for my Digital Rebel only cost $25. Even a simple wired remote switch for the EOS 50D costs $50, as opposed to the $25 that it cost on the same for the Digital Rebel.

So I did some research and found a third-party manufacturer in China YongNuo Digital who offer their YN-128 model wireless RF remote. There are two pieces one being the receiver unit, which plugs into the camera and can attach to the hot shoe mount, although there is no electrical connection there. It's merely a convenient place to put it if you're not using a hot shoe mounted flash unit. The other is the transmitter a tiny hand-held device with an extendible antenna. If all you need is the wired shutter release then the base unit will function even without its battery, and operates just like the two-stage shutter button on the camera itself halfway to focus, all the way to take the picture. For remote operation with the RF transmitter then you will have to turn on the receiver unit, and be within about 100 meters of the receiver to use the similar two-stage focus/release shutter button on the wireless remote. Both units include four DIP switches to select an appropriate interference-free frequency. And the best part $20 for the package, batteries and shipping included from Hong Kong. I got mine in less than two weeks from a vendor on Ebay.

But the question for the EOS 50D is whether or not it will take great pictures, and the answer is yes, indeed it will astoundingly good pictures, breathtaking in their clarity and color, depending upon the lenses that you have in your arsenal. The flexibility as to how you want to control the camera is built in and offers a huge range of functionality, from the range of fully automatic shooting modes which include full-auto, portrait, landscape, closeup, sports, and night portrait settings where the camera makes all of your critical decisions; to the creative modes which include program AE, shutter-priority, aperture-priority, auto depth-of-field, and fully manual; plus two user-programmable custom modes. The fully-automatic modes might come in handy if you're new to using a DSLR, or just in a hurry, but the creative modes where you are more in control are where you will make the most of the EOS 50D. This camera will easily point out to you the deficiencies in your own shooting style and thus force you to become a better photographer in the process.

For instance, in the past I tended to rely upon the multiple focus points available to make focusing decisions for me. No more, because too many great shots were destroyed by the camera's bad decisions. Although the Canon EOS 50D has nine cross-type focusing points, and its default setting will automatically select whichever ones it deems the most appropriate for a scene, I have opted to manually select the center focus point only for most of my shooting now, and I use it in combination with the shutter button to lock focus (index or middle finger), reframe, then lock AE (thumb) and take the picture, in order to produce images which are focused where I want them and exposed how I want them, far better than I have ever been able to in the past. It's a simple matter of giving a job to your right thumb, which is there anyway, to a button which is right underneath it. You just have to think about it and make it a reflex maneuver. Sometimes your metering spot is where your focus point is, and sometimes it's not. And if you need, for some reason, one of the other focus points, then that button is just to the right of the AE lock button, and with your index finger on the top command dial you can select whichever AF point you want (or all of them) for a particular scene.

Another thing I have discovered is that each lens has a sweet-spot in terms of its f-stop that produces its optimal combination of sharpness, contrast, and color rendition. Determining this for each of the lenses in your particular collection is something you will have to figure out based upon trial and error in various shooting conditions, but once you do so you will have a much better idea how to get a good result with each of your lenses. For example, I have determined that my Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 lens seems to produce its best results for color and sharpness at f/8 for daylight landscape photos. Of course that's not a solution for every situation, but it's a keystone point for me to remember whenever I'm using that particular lens. I tend to shoot in aperture-priority mode more often than any other setting, so finding a sweet-spot for each lens in my bag will become a priority.

The Canon EOS 50D is a remarkable, very flexible, and extremely high quality DSLR camera body for Canon EOS-compatible lenses which should easily provide at least several years of service until the full-frame sensor models finally become more affordable. Unless you like the smaller physical size of the Canon Rebel series, or can't live without the video recording capability, you would be well advised to consider the more professional capabilities of the EOS 50D to take you to a higher level of photographic excellence.

[Photos courtesy B&H Photo where I bought my EOS 50D]              

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is actually the first lens I bought to replace the cheap kit lens that came with my Canon film SLR years ago, and it's widely regarded as one of the best prime lenses that Canon has ever made. At f/1.4 it's an incredibly fast lens, so ideal for shooting in low-light situations, especially where flash is prohibited or inappropriate, and its optics are top notch. The ultrasonic focusing motor is fast and quiet, helping to make it even more unobtrusive, and its background blur is very pleasing, making it an ideal portrait lens. On the Canon EOS 300D it equates to a short telephoto of 80mm. It has a minimum focusing distance of 18 inches, and weighs in at 10.2 ounces, with a street price of about $300 USD. 

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Lens

Canon's EF 100mm f/2 USM lens is another terrific prime with their quiet and fast-focusing USM, and makes a truly great portrait lens, or a medium telephoto of 160mm equivalent on a DSLR with an APS-size sensor. That f/2 focal length means that you can get a subject's eyes in focus, while the tip of their nose and their ears will be softened, and the background will dissolve into a gorgeous blur. This is another lens I bought when using a film SLR, and its usefulness has declined to me with the 300D, but its a fine piece of glass and, like the 50mm, is worth hanging onto for when those DSLRs with full-size sensors come down enough in price to buy into. With a minimum focusing distance of 3 feet, it weighs in at 16 ounces, and goes for about $390 USD.

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens

The Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is the last lens I bought while still owning a film SLR, and easily the most useful and flexible for use as a walk-around lens when you don't want to haul your entire bag around with you. This is a remarkable lens with a great many fans, and for good reason - it simply rocks! Good color, terrific optics, the fast and quiet USM focusing motor, and a really useful zoom range are enough, but when you add to that the remarkable Image Stabilizer (IS), it all adds up to one monster of a great lens. The IS system is some kind of magic that involves a couple of tiny gyroscopes coupled to a pair of prisms within the optical path which, when engaged by flipping the switch on the side of the lens housing, compensate for movement of the lens. What this allows for is an additional one or two stops slower on your exposure time while still keeping the image in focus.

So when the light levels are getting low and camera shake would ordinarily be an issue that would make a blurred image a certainty, you can turn on the IS and actually take a sharp image down to about 1/15 second without reverting to using a tripod. Of course, that's dependent upon your subject remaining still at the same time, because the IS can't do anything to compensate for that. It is truly a weird experience the first time you turn on the IS and look through your viewfinder, and perhaps not recommended if you're prone to motion sickness, but this is some amazing technology and it really works. The IS does use a lot of battery power, though, so you should keep it turned off unless you really need it.

This is a fairly substantial lens from a physical standpoint. It weighs in at nearly 19 ounces, and when fitted with a hood and at its maximum focal length will extend over 7 inches from the camera body. The filter size is 72mm, which means you'll be paying a fairly high price for filters, too, and you may not have any other lenses that can share them. On an APS-size sensor equipped DSLR the zoom range equates to 45-216mm, which is still a useful range, though keep in mind that the IS usefulness diminishes as the focal length increases. Street price for one of these is about $400 USD.

Sigma 20-40mm f/2.8 EX DG Aspherical Lens

Sigma's 20-40mm f/2.8 EX DG Aspherical is one big, honking lens, and is the first new lens that I bought after ditching the 35mm SLR for the DSLR format a few years ago, mainly because with the focal length multiplier effect of the DSLR, I needed something with a wider low end. At the time, I considered the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM which has nearly the same focal length range, but when Canon adds that "L" to a lens description, and that little red stripe around it, it puts it out of the price range for most of us. The street price of the Canon lens is about $655 USD. The Sigma has an MSRP of $720 USD, but the street price is more like about $440 USD, which is a substantial savings, especially considering that it's a significantly faster lens.

As it turns out, this is also a great lens, certainly almost in the same class as the Canon "L" series. The biggest drawback is its focusing motor, which is slow and quite noisy, and seems to want to hunt a lot while focusing which only adds to its distracting sound. However, it produces some great images, although its chromatic aberration could be better, and this is the lens I used the most on my Southwestern Adventure 2005 photo expedition.

It is one hefty lens, though, weighing in at 21 ounces, which will make you want to cradle it in your hand as you walk around with it attached to your camera body, rather than letting it bounce against you with each step, but that's only a small inconvenience. Also, this lens requires huge 82mm filters, so even something as basic as a circular polarizer will set you back over a hundred bucks. One really nice thing about Sigma, though, in addition to the quality of this lens, is that it came with a lens hood as standard equipment. Canon always make you lay out an additional twenty or so dollars for this essential piece of plastic. And this particular lens comes with a really well-made, heavy-duty, padded, zippered lens case with a handy belt loop.

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro Lens

Before my next trip to the Southwest, I really wanted to see about an even better, or at least another, walk-around lens for my Canon 300D. The combination of the Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM and the Sigma 20-40mm f/2.8 EX DG above worked quite well, but I was interested in checking out the possible advantages of a lens specifically designed for the APS-C sensor DSLRs, and both Canon and Sigma had since introduced several lenses that interested me for their compactness and very useful zoom ranges.

Canon's offering in their EF-S series - those lenses specifically designed for use with APS-C sized sensor DSLRs - were actually three lenses. First, their EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 USM is essentially a cheap kit lens with a plastic mount and sub-standard optics, despite its USM focusing motor which must be getting cheaper for Canon to manufacture now. Next, their EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM has a very nice zoom range and the incredible Image Stabilizer system, but at f/4 on the low end is kind of slow, but not necessarily when you take the IS into consideration. They're going for about $515 USD on the street now. Then there was the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, which might as well have an "L" in the description and a red stripe around the lens barrel, because it goes for about $1000 USD street price, and the zoom range isn't exactly as wide on the high end as what I was hoping for. It's supposed to be a really nice lens, though, although I don't think I would spend that much for a lens tied to a sensor format that's likely to disappear in a few years.

So I went back and looked at what my friends at Sigma had to offer, and came up with this very nice lens, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro, with a street price of around $390 at the time of this writing. It has a good zoom range, equating to about 27-112mm, is lightweight at only 16 ounces, very compact at only 3.1x3.2 inches without a hood (which it comes with by the way because that's how Sigma does things), fast focusing without as much noise as its bigger brother above, good color and sharpness.

I got it about a month before leaving for the Southwest again, tested it out in my apartment briefly, and was very impressed with the results, so I made it my primary lens when I visited Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, which was a huge leap in confidence, but it did a wonderful job. That story along with plenty of sample photos can be found here.

This is probably the only lens that I will buy intended specifically for the APS-C sized sensor DSLR, because, as I said, the price will likely be coming down on full-size sensor DSLRs in the next few years, and I don't want to invest too heavily into lenses which are only temporary in their compatibility. But this is a truly fine lens in the meantime.

Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM

The Sigma 18-250mm f3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM lens is the latest acquisition in my Canon EOS compatible lens lineup. A so-called "super-zoom" lens because of its huge range of focal lengths, it is one of a number of lenses introduced in recent years by Canon, Sigma, and Tamron to address the needs of photographers who want, for whatever reason, to unburden themselves from the necessity of hauling around numerous lenses when that might not be practical. Similar lenses include the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, and Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD. They all have problems because of the challenges involved in developing and manufacturing such a wide range of optical possibilities into such a relatively small package. Each of them suffer from varying degrees of chromatic aberration, barrel and pincushion distortion, and lack of focal clarity at various stages in their range.

My main reason for wanting one of these super-zoom lenses is that I am planning to attend the inaugural running of the IZOD IndyCar Baltimore Grand Prix during Labor Day weekend in 2011, and I didn't want to have to haul around my big camera bag while wandering around downtown Baltimore and the Inner Harbor where the temporary street course is going to be located. I'll be moving around a lot, between the VIP area on the Light Street Terrace which I bought a weekend pass for, the IndyCar Paddock in the Baltimore Convention Center, and the top row of Grandstand #8 where I have an additional ticket for the main event on Sunday, September 4 the IndyCar race itself.

So far this lens has not disappointed me, but of course the true test will come on race weekend. I have been a fan of Sigma lenses for some years now, and this is my third. Their build quality is outstanding, and after comparing reviews of the three competing lenses in this class, I felt that this would do the trick for me. Canon's EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS goes for $600. Tamron's AF18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD goes for $650. The Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM goes for $480, and like all Sigma lenses, includes the all-important lens hood. All three lenses also offer their respective manufacturer's version of image stabilization, which becomes especially important in telephoto mode and low-light settings. Cost was not the most important factor for me, although it was definitely a factor since I had already spent over $500 for my race weekend tickets, another $180 for the Canon BG-E2N battery pack / vertical grip, $55 for a new Tamrac holster pack and another $20 for an accessory pouch to hold my Speedlite, and $24 for a Canon E1 hand strap. I seem to be rather heavily invested in this race weekend, so I'm kind of glad I can walk to it, that my VIP pass includes food, and that I didn't have to buy my lens hood separately! Another factor in my decision was the Sigma's 72mm filter size, since I already own several filters in that size.

The Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) focusing on this Sigma lens works fast and quietly, though the latter will not be a consideration for the Baltimore Grand Prix, with IndyCar racers screaming down Pratt Street at 180mph. The Sigma optical stabilizer system also seems to work well, too, and doesn't seem to draw an excessive amount of additional power. I had heard complaints of lens creep about this lens that when walking around the lens wants to extend itself under its own weight but have not experienced that at all. Besides, if that becomes a problem eventually as the lens loosens up with use, there is always a lens lock switch on the side to keep it from happening. The zoom ring is big and grippy, and zoom action is smooth with just the right amount of resistance. Weighing in at 22.2 ounces, and measuring 3.1" wide x 4" long fully compacted without the lens hood attached (7" fully extended w/o hood), it's not as big and heavy as you might expect. In fact it balances quite nicely with my Canon 50D with the battery grip attached, and doesn't seem tiring at all to hold for long periods. With a lighter camera body and no battery grip you might run into some balance issues, but not with my setup.

The true test, of course, will come on race weekend in Baltimore, where I'll be shooting both indoors and out, with flash and without, at all focal lengths, and likely with servo AI focusing on during the actual races. I'll be sure and post an extensive portfolio and update my thoughts on this lens after that. Maybe I'll see you at the races!  

Canon Speedlite 420EX

Don't fool yourself into thinking that you can take successful flash photographs with the built-in pop-up flash units incorporated into the design of a Canon DSLR like the 300D or any other models that include this useless feature. You will be mightily disappointed with the results. First of all, the pop-up flash is still located too close to the lens, which will result in red-eye despite the so-called red eye reduction lamp on the camera, which is no more than a gimmick. Secondly, the built in flash doesn't have anywhere near the power required to sufficiently illuminate a scene beyond about 12 feet, at which point its illumination falls off quickly to around zero. Thirdly, the Canon EOS 300D, and perhaps other models which have superseded it (I haven't done the research here), have a most annoying method for focusing with the built-in flash engaged - they strobe the flash, which is enough to make any of your photographic subjects run for the nearest exit. And lastly, if you're using a big lens, especially in a wide-angle mode, you will get a big, dark, semicircular shadow in the bottom of your photograph.

They shouldn't even bother with incorporating built-in pop-up flash units into SLR or DSLR cameras, and in the case of the 300D they could probably have better used the money in putting an actual penta-prism into the viewfinder system instead of the penta-mirror they settled on to save costs, which only serves to make the viewfinder dimmer. There's a hot-shoe on top of that camera for a reason, and that reason is to enable you to provide the proper flash or other lighting cues for any given situation, whether it be attaching a Speedlite like the Canon 420EX, or a trigger for your studio system, which can be as elaborate as you need and can afford.

For my purposes, the Canon Speedlite 420EX has been a good, middle-of-the-road solution, providing a greater distance between the lens and the flash, far greater power of illumination, and it comes equipped with a totally unobtrusive infrared focusing beam that won't scare your subjects away. The translucent piece of white plastic you see attached to its head in the photograph above is another essential, standard piece of equipment which does not come with it. That's a Sto-Fen omni-bounce flash diffuser for which you will pay $17 USD and be glad that you did, because it's impossible to live without, and you will wonder why this little hunk of plastic costs $17 but try not to dwell upon it. Just buy one.

The Sto-Fen diffuser will allow your Canon Speedlite to act as a "diffuse bare-bulb" which will give you greater and more even flash coverage across your scene, eliminating harsh shadows. Take a look at CNN the next time you see a press conference and all the photographers are holding their DSLRs high in the air snapping away, and you will see these little diffusers attached to virtually all the flash units in the crowd.

Canon's Speedlite 420EX has been superseded by the 430EX model, which goes for about $240 USD, and is powered by 4 AA batteries.

Yong Nuo YN-128 Wireless Shutter Release

Yong Nuo is a photographic equipment company located in Hong Kong engaged in the product development, manufacturing and retailing of professional photographic equipment compatible with Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and Panasonic products. I discovered them after researching a wired or wireless shutter release for my Canon D50 DSLR, and being taken aback by the jaw-dropping price of an actual Canon product to perform this fairly routine task. Canon's own solution is their LC-5 wireless controller with an MSRP of $680 (available for a street price of a mere $480). I hate to sound like I'm complaining, because I love Canon photographic gear, but I think they have lost their corporate mind on this particular issue. I don't know whether the Canon LC-5 is engineered to withstand the detonation of a nearby thermonuclear weapon, but I kind of doubt it, and regardless, that's not the kind of robust architecture the average photographer needs in a simple wired or wireless remote shutter control anyway. Perhaps the Department of Defense was their intended market for the LC-5. You know the people who buy $500 toilet seats and hammers. Is my cynicism dripping enough for you? Why should a wireless remote shutter release for my Canon D50 DSLR, with an MSRP of $1299, cost more than half the price of the camera body for which it is designed?

The Yong Nuo YN-128 does essentially the same thing as the Canon LC-5 for a tiny fraction of the cost. I paid $20 for the Yong Nuo YN-128 from a vendor in Hong Kong, which included its batteries one in the base unit and one in the remote unit and that price included shipping to my door within a week. And what's even better is that it actually works.

There are two components to the YN-128 a base unit which connects to the camera via a three-pronged plug located under one of the left-side port covers on the Canon D50, and a remote transmitter with extendible antenna. The base unit functions either as a wired shutter release for the camera when it is not powered on, or as a a receiver for the remote wireless shutter release when it is turned on. The base unit can be mounted on the hot shoe of the camera for convenience when using it in remote operation, but there are no electrical connections between it and the hot shoe. There are two buttons on the base unit, the larger of which is the two-stage shutter release halfway to focus, all the way to release the shutter. The smaller button turns the unit on to receive a signal from the remote unit, which has a range of 300 feet. The remote unit has a similar two-stage shutter release button, and a slide switch to select between instantaneous or timed release modes. The two units communicate via UHF radio signals, so no clear line-of-sight is required (you can use it through brick walls, for instance), and DIP switches on both units must be synchronized so that they are sending and receiving on the same frequencies.

Not only that, but if you buy the Yong Nuo unit instead of the Canon, you get the entertainment value of its packaging, which proclaims it to be "unlimited wonderful" wonderful, perhaps, but you still have a 300 foot range, so it's not exactly unlimited. The instructional sheet that comes with it is chock-full of similarly wonderful Chinese translations that sound like they ran it all through Babel Fish, like "will use the new micro electron anti-jamming technology" (does the DOD know about this, I wonder?), and "it has the decoration function modern modeling, facile exquisite" which I am sure we will all agree it certainly does. I'm sorry I hate to poke fun like that, but it's just so funny sometimes. I'm sure they have similar laughs in China when the translation tables are turned.

Listen, for $20 how can you go wrong? If I have to replace this thing every year, it would take 34 years for me to have spent as much as one Canon LC-5 at their current MSRP. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will have moved on to other technology long before then.    

       

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Copyright 2015 by Rich Lauver - Baltimore - Maryland - USA