Two Weeks With The Fujifilm X-E2 Camera

Two weeks ago I sold my Sony NEX-6 and various lenses and purchased a Fujifilm X-E2. I won’t go over the reasons why again as you can read them in this post. The camera came with the 18-55mm f2.8-4 zoom lens. I also picked up the 35mm f1.4 and 27mm f2.8 thanks to Fujifilm’s current very generous cashback offer that made the 27mm almost free.

Having shot with the new camera for a couple of weeks I’ve some insight to share about the shift over to Fujifilm from the Sony NEX system. Much of my experience is positive, though there are some negative points too. Overall my experience with the X-E2 is very positive so far and my issues with the system are relatively minor. Given Fujifilm’s commitment to offer regular firmware updates for its cameras these issues are also less important than they would be on a Sony system.

The area I’ve struggled most with isn’t software related but one of handling. The NEX-6 felt great in the hand, even more so than the three different Canon DSLRs I’ve owned. The X-E2 is less comfortable due to its rangefinder layout. There’s less to get hold of in the right hand than a DSLR or NEX camera. There is an official grip available but the price is rather obscene. There are some inexpensive unofficial grips available from China on ebay and I may pick one of those up.

My other issue with the handling is the eyecup. It’s just not deep enough to block strong sunlight coming from the right hand side. Switching to using my left eye with the viewfinder solves this but that is my weaker eye so isn’t preferable. I may have to bite the bullet and wear a peaked cap when I go shooting.

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Lazy Town Fit Fruits & Super Squash Review

Don’t worry, I’ve not become a mummy blagger – I’ve not sold my soul for some Duplo or a free holiday. But I have been given a ton of free drinks to experiment on my children with and tell you if they survived, went mental for a bit, or were merely hydrated in a fruity manner.

The Gerber juice company has launched a range of fruit drinks and squashes with Lazy Town branding. Lazy Town, but that’s not on CBeebies these days? Well perhaps it’s on one of those channels that the lower orders use to babysit their children while having a fag, I suppose it breaks up the monotony of Ben10 episodes and adverts for cheap plastic tat.

Some of you may be wondering what Lazy Town is? It’s an Icelandic blend of puppets, preaching, homo eroticism, jail bait and thinly veiled propaganda for the fruit production industry.

But are the drinks any good?

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Laney Ironheart IRT60H Review

Laney makes great guitar and bass amplifiers and has done since the 60s. Lyndon Laney began as a teenage tinkerer making amps in his shed for friends such as Tony Iommi and grew from there. The company’s range includes hand-built in the UK amps and less expensive products built for the company in the far east. While not as famous a British brand as Marshall, thanks to bands such Black Sabbath and Opeth Laney has a reputation for making great amps for metal players. So when Laney launches a new amp with metal players in mind we should all sit up and notice.

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The Spider Valve MKII

I really like tinkering. I also like computers. I’m no cork-sniffing guitarist that is only happy when playing through 1950s technology full of glorified lightbulbs. Yes I do have an all-tube amp, but I’ve also owned several modelling amps and I regularly using software such as Guitar Rig and PodFarm.

So when looking for a more heavy-rock orientated amp to complement my Bugera V22 I was happy to look in the direction of the new modelling amps such as the Marshall JMD:1, Peavey Tube Vypyr and Line6 Spider Valve MKII. I dropped the Vypyr from the list due to lack of decent recording outputs and no effects loop – a shame as I loved the digital version I used to have.

In the end reviews won me over – and although I was searching for the Marshall sound – I believed the Spider Valve MKII would give me some better Plexi-like tones than Marshall’s own modelling amp. Yesterday I took delivery of a Line6 Spider Valve MKII 112 combo. And what an enormous beast it is. Getting it up the stairs made me realise that the 212 version would have damn near killed me.

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Bugera V22 Review

Judging by all the chat online the Bugera V22 has become a very hot talking point. That’s no surprise given what it offers for the price – so you’d think there would be plenty of reviews knocking around. Alas the big names – magazines like Guitarist – don’t seem to cover Bugera gear. One expects this is either due to pressure from manufacturers of rival gear or a misguided belief that Bugera clones gear in a way you’d never see from Marshall, PRS, Blackstar et al. It would be sad if either of things are true.

But what of the Bugera V22 itself? At first glance it certainly looks familiar. The styling is clearly influenced – if not downright copied – from Matchless. The control layout and options owe quite a bit to Peavey’s Classic 30. Yet in terms of tone the Bugera V22 is clearly its own beast. As Behringer’s Australian sales manager Gary Compson explains, “[The Bugera V22] has a clean channel, a distortion channel, a reverb control and not much else to distract you from getting to the business of making music. It’s not a clone either. It has it’s own sound, which is somewhere between a Fender Deluxe and a Vox AC30 – and that’s a pretty good place to be.”

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IronGear Pickup Review

For the guitarist keen on replacing pickups on their electric guitar there are a wealth of choices. Well known names such as Seymour Duncan and EMG are hugely popular with musicians looking to improve their instruments.

However many of this pickups can be very expensive and if you’re working on a budget, or trying to improve a cheap stock guitar these pups can seem like overkill. Is it really worth putting £200 of active pickups in a £100 guitar?

What’s needed in cases such as these is a range of pickups that vastly improve on the tone of cheap stock pickups yet at the same time doesn’t break the bank. Such pickups do exist and some of the best are made by IronGear.

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Peavey Sanpera II Vypyr Controller Review

In my review of the Peavey Vypyr 75 I pointed out that to get the full functionality of the amplifier you would need one of the two Sanpera pedals. The larger and more feature rich version – the Sanpera II – is the feature of this review.

The pedal board is housed in a sturdy metal chassis that feels like it could cope with some hard gigging. The two expression pedals also feel tough and all the foot switches are solid. It certainly seems a sturdier system than one might imagine at this pricepoint and the build belies the slight silliness of the design.

While the Vypyr allows you to store and recall 12 presets, adding the Sanpera II opens that up to 400 presets. The Sanpera also opens up the functionality of the looper and gies you pedal control over volume, pitch shift and wah.

The looper functionality is somewhat disappointing but Peavey has promised to address this in the next firmware update for the amp. The problem is that the loop always play back too loud, even almost muting it via the volume pedal while recording is not ideal. This isn’t an actual problem with the Sanpera II though, and the pedal controls for recording/play and stop/reset work perfectly well.

So to do the other pedals which allow you to change the delay tap tempo, move memory banks up and down, and choose from one to four presets in each bank. Pushing forward on the volume pedal allows you to enter tuner mode. The other pedal is initially inactive but pressing down on it enables the wah, or pitch shifter if that’s what you’ve selected via the amp effects section.

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Peavey Vypyr 75 Review

Modelling amplifiers are becoming an increasingly common option at the less expensive end of the guitar amplification market. Previously if you wanted to emulate more expensive amps you would have to buy some kind of effects unit and footpedal that you would connect to your amplifier.

Now companies such as Line6 with its Spider amps and Peavey with the Vypyr series are offering all in one solutions that aim to provide guitarists on a budget with a selection of tones they could only previously dream of.

The Peavey Vypyr 75 combo modelling guitar amplifier is an interesting beast. Though it does not feature vacuum tubes it is not a wholly digital device, distortion sounds are created in an analog fashion via Peavey’s transtube solid state technology. The practical upshot being that the distortion and overdrive on offer sounds much more warm and natural than many rival digital-only offerings.

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Fiio E5 Headphone Amplifier Review

This isn’t my Cowon S9 32GB review. You’ve probably noticed that from the title. It was meant to be though. I just haven’t finished that yet. Along the way though I picked up Fiio’s wonderful little E5 headphone amplifier and I thought I’d post this mini review to tell you all about it.

But first, why on earth would you need an amplifier for your MP31 player?

There are several reasons. Firstly the headphone amp in many personal music players is cheap, nasty and the last thing on the mind of the designers of what might be otherwise an excellent quality PMP. Some lack power, meaning that even on small headphones you have to crank up the volume to hear in a noisy location but the result is distorted sound. Also small rechargeable personal music players – even the very good ones – aren’t designed to be able to power massive audiophile headphones with an impedance of 300ohms.

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