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Z. Wagner RSS Feed (Albuquerque, NM USA)

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Samsung Electronics NX500 28 MP Wireless Smart Compact System Camera with Included Kit Lens (Black)
Samsung Electronics NX500 28 MP Wireless Smart Compact System Camera with Included Kit Lens (Black)
Price: Click here to see our price
22 used & new from $619.22

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Samsung brings the goods, May 9, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'll try to make this short. I don't want to go on and on here. But I did want to get my rating in here for this camera, and some general thoughts if it helps others.
First, if you are coming from another NX camera, or even more specifically an NX300, this camera will feel incredibly familiar. Basically the body is the NX300 body with some small tweaks to improve handling/feel. This is no bad thing. The 300 felt great in my hand, and the 500 feels better. The sloping panel for the shutter button is a nice improvement. Overall, if you like what Samsung is going for with their NX line, this will not disappoint and is surely their best iteration to date as far as handling. Buttons are laid out intuitively, the screen moves easily but stays in place; I'm sure a lot of people don't know want to admit it, but Samsung knows how to make a well-functioning camera that makes sense.
This continues into the menu system, which is easily one of the best mirrorless menu systems on the market. It blows Olympus and Panasonic away, and makes Sony look like sheer lunacy. It's even better than Fuji in this respect. Very easy, very intuitive, simplistic yet deep. Samsung owners will already know and appreciate what I'm saying, but newbies, I say this to you: this is one of the easiest cameras to use right from the outset with little to no knowledge.

The AF system. Yes, it is fast. Very fast. Is it faster than the latest micro four thirds cameras, the Sony A6000, and the Fuji X-T1? I think it depends. For moving subjects (speaking strictly of mirrorless systems), this is simply one of the best systems you can buy. I've not used the A6000, though I read that it is very good as well. I have used some of the latest micro four thirds gear, and the Fuji X-T1, and it is better than them. For single shot AF, really it's a toss-up. MFT is very fast at this point for single subject acquisition. I would say the latest MFT cams are probably faster overall in this arena but the lens you are using, and the lighting at the moment, etc, really has a lot to do with how any camera performs. While the Samsung AF is rated very well in dim light, I find it does struggle as the light goes away (but this really is true for all mirrorless systems). What I will say is this: for moving subjects this is one of the best mirrorless AF systems you can buy, and for single subject acquisition it is among the best. So really there's not much bad to say here. Could it be better? Of course. But we really are seeing now that mirrorless cameras are going to compete with the best DSLRS in the realm of continuous focusing, period. It's already happening to some extent.

The sensor. Is fantastic. If you believe DxO Mark, it's one of the best APS-C sensor cameras in existence. I've read some people saying that it should have been much better, with the BSI technology, etc. But I think for increasing the resolution as Samsung has while still besting basically everyone else with a similar sensor size, Samsung gets a gold star. Sony's a tough nut to crack sensor-wise these days, and Samsung is truly competing now; there really is nothing bad to say here.
In the real world, I've had fantastic results. I've seen great dynamic range capability, and really low noise, especially at low ISOs, which is commendable for the resolution increase. As you get up around 3200, things will start to even out and here Samsung pulls about even with a lot of APS-C competitors. But up to 3200, it really does best most everyone else. The haters can say what they like; Samsung is finally a player in sensor quality. Period.

The screen is beautiful, and the touch screen works pretty much as well as your modern smartphone. In fact, some touch implementations are genius, like the ability to touch for focus and then touch another area for exposure. In bright light you might have some trouble, but with the brightness up on the screen, it works pretty well for me; I haven't had many issues seeing the screen.
Wifi is fantastic, connects quickly, works intuitively, very good. I don't use it much, but I've liked what I've seen.

What sucks? Anything? Yes. The buffer. I'm sure this sounds like a broken record at this point from other reviewers, but it really does suck. Horrid. For raw I think I was getting about 6-7 shots before slow down. This is pathetic, and in many ways negates the fantastic continuous AF ability because why would you use it for sports/action when the buffer sucks so bad anyway? You really wouldn't. I'm hoping the buffer can be improved with a firmware update, but I think if we do see an increase it will likely be minimal. I don't really get the logic on this one either... makes very little sense to me.

No viewfinder. So what? Who cares? People who want a viewfinder simply won't buy this camera. I'm not one of those, so I did. It's a silly thing to complain about. You want a camera this size with a viewfinder? Great, there are other options. I personally love it. Would I be sad if it HAD a finder? It would depend on how the implementation changed the body, both in size and shape. But in general it's never bad to have more stuff! Am I going to slit my wrists because it's not there? Hardly.

The kit lens. Is fine. It's nice and compact, which is great. Build quality is fine, but not fantastic. I love the iFunction buttons on Samsung lenses. For a kit lens it's relatively sharp, and certainly has a usable range. I think it's a good starting/walk-around lens. But I only used it for a little while before I sold it and picked up a prime. But for a kit lens, it's certainly a worthy offering.

Sorry, I'm not much of a video guy. If I was, I'd be pretty saddened by the crop when shooting 4k, for sure. So perhaps that's an issue for you. And maybe there are other issues as well. Sorry I can't speak better to this aspect.

In the end, I could probably go with a 4.5 for this camera, because of the asinine buffer. But I'll give it the 5 instead of the 4 just because the sheer enjoyment of using the camera helps push it back up there. Obviously this camera/manufacturer isn't for everyone, but Samsung truly has done a fantastic job 'catching up' to the competition and in some ways surpassing them, which is really great to see. It's never a bad thing to have more options, and Samsung is finally a worthy option; in fact a great one. The lens line needs work, but they are addressing this as well with new pro lenses. It's a great time to be a photographer, it truly is. So many manufacturers are making fantastic products that you really can't lose with any system at this point.

Happy shooting!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 9, 2015 7:15 PM PDT


Lizard Skins Clear Downtube Protector
Lizard Skins Clear Downtube Protector
Offered by Cycling Pros
Price: $12.00
26 used & new from $11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Very thin, May 9, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Super thin. Yes, I should have known this before purchase, but the product description doesn't really say much. I would have preferred something twice as thick.


Race Face Crank Boot Protector, Black
Race Face Crank Boot Protector, Black
Price: Click here to see our price
26 used & new from $8.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Should be on all your mountain bikes, May 9, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
What can I say? These do their job, and do it well. I don't worry about banging my crank arms anymore, and that's a huge deal. It allows me to really get after it without worrying about one more thing that might break on my bike. Of course an impact could still break the arm, but it's unlikely and these protect well in all other circumstances. A must have for the serious mountain biker.


Topeak F66 Fixer for Phone Pack, Tool Bags & Moonshine 3H/HID Battery Mount
Topeak F66 Fixer for Phone Pack, Tool Bags & Moonshine 3H/HID Battery Mount
Price: $7.47
20 used & new from $5.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Better to replace this than my bag..., May 9, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Okay, so this thing is very simple, and doesn't require a lengthy review. I'm a little torn about my feelings on this guy, because as others have mentioned, it's plastic, so it breaks quite easily. I've been using it for maybe 4 weeks and I've already broken 3 of them. So why the 4 stars then? Well, it's really easy to attach, it's cheap, and it works really well with the Topeak phone dry bag that I have. I ride some really rough trails on my mountain bike and this thing has never released my bag (obviously this has to do with the clip on the bag as well), except when I make the occasional crazy move and slam it with my knee and then it breaks.
Now, yes, it's frustrating when it breaks. But here's the real question I keep asking myself: if it were metal and therefore when things happen that would otherwise cause it to break didn't cause it to break, would it then break my phone bag clip? The phone bag was more expensive than this attachment. So would I rather keep buying these or my phone bag? I could try another system (and did think about a handlebar clip that might move it a little more out of harm's way), but I like where it sits. It allows my bluetooth headphones to function flawlessly and I can see who's calling and if I need to receive a work call or can simply avoid it altogether. It's a very handy location, and I really don't want to mount it anywhere else.

So, while I would have given this 3 stars, because I think that the breakages could merit the 3 star rating, I also feel like the fact that it's cheap and easily replaceable and doesn't break my more expensive phone bag helps to even out the score somewhat. I also don't think it's necessarily made to withstand serious mountain biking situations. The one on my road bike has never broken, and probably never will, unless I truly make a stupid move or have a serious accident.

So I think 4 stars is appropriate. I don't think it's trying to be something it's not, and I think think for what it is, it performs as well as can be expected.


SRAM XX1 1 x 11-Speed Chainring
SRAM XX1 1 x 11-Speed Chainring
Price: $65.00 - $140.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1x11 Beautiful System, but 28-32t rings wear VERY quickly, February 10, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have been using Sram 1x11 now for probably 6-8 months. I love the shifting, love the simplicity, and overall, it's an incredible system that just plain works, and works well.
These chainrings are beautifully crafted, lovely to look at and attach easily. I have no problem swapping out chainrings (besides having to shorten or lengthen the chain), and I have yet to drop a chain on this system (and if raging through New Mexico rock gardens won't do it, I feel pretty confident it's a good system).

So why the 3 star rating? Well, the 1x11 system seems to have a flaw that makes owning it very expensive (mainly for users of the 28-32t rings). That flaw is that the rings wear incredibly fast. Apparently it's due to the chain line, though in my voracious devouring of forums on the subject, I came across people who had adjusted the chain line with spacers and it was still an issue.
At any rate, after a couple hundred miles (yes, only a couple hundred miles, and sometimes even sooner), I began to notice a grinding noise when in the lowest two gears (the largest cogs on the cassette), mainly when under duress (pushing hard up a steep incline, etc). I immediately began to worry, took it to a mechanic, they couldn't find an issue.
Since they convinced me everything was okay, I continued to ride it as such, and inevitably the grinding began to get worse. This eventually prompted me to go internet-a-googling. What I found was a massive amount of people on forums complaining about the same thing. Turns out it's mainly an issue with the smallest chainrings (28-32t), which seem to be greater affected by the chain line of the 1x11 system.
The reasons this really sucks are:
#1- The grinding is awful. It's obnoxious because you can hear it AND feel it. After a while it gets so bad that you simply can't deal with it anymore. Not only this, but,
#2- It's unhealthy for your drivetrain. Obviously when something like this is going on, parts wear quicker, and you are more likely to say, break a chain (which is really fun when you're way out in the boonies, and yes, even when you carry a chain breaker and extra chain parts like me), and,
#3- And perhaps this is the worst offender... it's incredibly EXPENSIVE. These rings aren't cheap. If you have to buy a new one every 200-400 miles, well that can turn into a ton of money for some of us. Also with the chain wearing quicker, not to mention the ridiculously expensive cassette, yearly upkeep costs for a 1x11 system start to pile on very quickly.

In the end, it's a massively frustrating bummer in what would otherwise be an absolutely glowing review. Perhaps this isn't the place to post a review like this, but there's not really a 'Sram XX1 1x11 drivetrain' item. And this is where we are likely to spend most of our money anyway. Chainrings. I could see some people leaving the system simply because of this, and have read a few forums stating that they are going back to 2x10 once their 1x11's wear out, specifically because of the associated costs of upkeep. That's really too bad, because the system really is incredible otherwise.

As for me? Well, I'm still trying to figure out what it's worth to me. I think I'll stay simply because I'm so addicted to 1x11 now, but it isn't going to make it any easier on the finances, that's for sure...


Look S-Track MTB Pedal Black
Look S-Track MTB Pedal Black
Offered by Koo Bikes UK
Price: $75.28
35 used & new from $75.28

3.0 out of 5 stars Pedals live up to hype... if you can get clipped in, January 22, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Look Cycle S-Track Pedals (Sports)
Went to this pedals after using egg beaters for years. I read a review about the wider platform and got curious. Well it's true: the platform is large and stable. While clipped in, these pedals feel better than any pedal I've used. While I can't give any long-term wear sort of review, while I was using them they felt fantastic. So why am I not still using them?

Well, because they are a nightmare to clip in. Clipping out is not that big a deal; stiffer than most for sure, but I never felt they truly hindered me in this regard. But getting in was another animal. I thought at first that they would be okay; they were stiff but I could get clipped in with some effort. But while out on the trail, hopping back on the bike after a stop was simply more effort than it needed to be, and in techy areas it became quite annoying.
And then it snowed. I went out a couple of days later, and the trail was a mix of soft and hard mud. Adding the mud/loose, wet sand into the clipping in equation exacerbated the problem to a level of frustration I've never had with another set of pedals.

It's really too bad because I wanted to love these pedals. And in some ways, they are certainly worthy of love. They really feel great when you're clipped in, really great. But I just couldn't deal with the clip in issues. To be fair, I never tried the 'easy' clip cleats that Look offers. I simply went back to Shimano, which is what I started on, and they are just as solid and reliable as ever.


Stan's NoTubes ZTR Crest Mountain Bicycle Rear Wheel (Black - 29 Rear x 12x142)
Stan's NoTubes ZTR Crest Mountain Bicycle Rear Wheel (Black - 29 Rear x 12x142)

5.0 out of 5 stars They are also pretty stiff. Another bonus to the set is that ..., July 8, 2014
I've been running the Stan's Crest wheelsets on multiple bikes for almost 2 years now. I weigh 200lbs. Despite being over the suggested weight limit, these wheels stay true very, very well. I ride all-mountain trails, most of which are comprised of tons of rock gardens and small to medium-sized drops. The wheels spin up very, very fast and are extremely reasonably priced for the weight. They are also pretty stiff.
Another bonus to the set is that tubeless tires are insanely easy to mount on these rims. No problems mounting up tires with my floor pump at home.
They are also easy to convert to front and rear dedicated axles, and it is easy to change the freehub body to the new Sram xD driver standard.

I really have a hard time finding fault with this wheelset. Highly recommended.


NoTubes Crest 29er Front QR Wheel, 15mm
NoTubes Crest 29er Front QR Wheel, 15mm

5.0 out of 5 stars Haven't found better for the price, July 8, 2014
I've been running the Stan's Crest wheelsets on multiple bikes for almost 2 years now. I weigh 200lbs. Despite being over the suggested weight limit, these wheels stay true very, very well. I ride all-mountain trails, most of which are comprised of tons of rock gardens and small to medium-sized drops. The wheels spin up very, very fast and are extremely reasonably priced for the weight. They are also pretty stiff.
Another bonus to the set is that tubeless tires are insanely easy to mount on these rims. No problems mounting up tires with my floor pump at home.
They are also easy to convert to front and rear dedicated axles, and it is easy to change the freehub body to the new Sram xD driver standard.

I really have a hard time finding fault with this wheelset. Highly recommended.


No Title Available

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like its bro the Nobby Nic, this thing rocks, April 28, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been using Racing Ralphs on my bikes for the last couple of years. They were the first tire I ever used from Schwalbe, and I went for them because of the incredibly light weight and very low rolling resistance. They are basically race day tires for cross country-ers, but I use them all. the. time.
I have had 29ers in the past with RR's on the front and rear, basically to save as much weight as possible. However I have since changed things up just a bit, and my last 9er and current 27.5er both sport (or sported for the 9er) an RR in the rear, 2.25", and a Nobby Nic up front, 2.35". Both Snakeskin. If you're buying tires at this level, there is absolutely no reason to not go Snakeskin. It adds a minor amount of weight, and will vastly improve your puncture resistance (at least in my experience).

One thing I'll say up front: again, this is a race day tire. I use it all the time because I like the lightest rubber I can get on my bikes. You simply cannot expect a tire in this category to have the durability of a beefier tire. Snakeskin or no. You want to make sure you'll never get a flat? Run Armadillos or something, and enjoy the feeling of mashing on the pedals to spin those tons of bricks up the trail.

Now that's said, these things are fast. FAST. VERY low rolling resistance without completely giving up all grip, and they are one of the lightest tires you can buy. The low rolling resistance + low weight = speed. Plain and simple. On the hard pack and loose over hard pack, these do extremely well. They spin up like nothing else, and will roll for days. Are they the best for corners? Nope. And when you get into the super loose climbing, you will spin out. It will happen. But if you look at the tread on this tire compared to other knobbier, heavier (read: slower) tires, then it should be pretty obvious what this tire is for. And it performs that task very well.
For being what it is, the RR still corners pretty well as long as it's not too crazy loose, and still climbs like a maniac, again, unless it's super, super loose. This tire has single handedly improved my Strava times by quite a bit. The combo of this + Nobby Nic up front has become my go-to setup 99% of the time, and it is an incredibly fast setup.
While I have used this tire in front and behind at the same time, I would definitely recommend it more for the rear. At least for myself, I have come to appreciate something with bigger knobs and more grip up front so I can corner a little harder and have a little more confidence in general.

Last thing I'll say is just know what you're buying. Don't be that guy who buys the lightest tire, then rides rock gardens all day on it, rips a sidewall and is surprised and pissed off and then suddenly it's a terrible tire. It's the price we pay for speed, guys. Lighter weight means wimpier. Nothing to be done about it.

If you know your application and what you're buying, I find it hard to believe anyone would be disappointed with this tire.

Cheers!


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light, fast, knobby goodness, April 28, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've had the pleasure of using this tire on the last two bikes I've owned. Last one was a 29er, and my current bike is a 27.5 (650b) monster.
In both cases I found this tire made an excellent front tire. On the rear I like something just a little faster and skinnier.
The trails where I live (New Mexican desert) are generally dry as a bone, rocky, often loose and at times wickedly sandy. In the deep sand, really no tire will do you any good; this one does about as well as can be expected of any tire realistically. In the loose rockiness, this tire performs extremely well. It's one of the lighter tires you can get that still has not only decent fast-rolling capabilities, but also good-sized knobs on the sides for gripping in many different situations. It holds corners well, even in the loose, and makes short work of rock gardens, inspiring confidence with every turn.
I would never buy anything but the Snakeskin versions of any Schwalbe tire for the conditions I'm in; those loose, jagged rocks love to rip sidewalls. But I have to say that I've yet to rip a sidewall, and have been using this tire for some months.
Yes, as the other reviewer states, this tire seems to wear a little quicker, but there's really no way you're going to get a tire this light to last as long as another tire with a greater weight allowance and harder rubber. So I can't really fault the tire for this, as I don't really feel it's an issue. It's what we mountain bikers have to accept when we want the fastest, baddest tires on the planet.
You can pay less for a tire that lasts longer, sure, but you won't beat me up the trail. ;)

So all in all, a great tire. Though I stated previously that I don't like this as much for a rear tire, I think it would work fine, depending on your preference. Would even be grippier than the Racing Ralph I have on the back of my bike... but it wouldn't be *quite* as fast... just sayin'...


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