Loz Blain

Digital Cameras

​The Leica SL (type 601) – full frame, mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera

Leica has released details of its full-frame mirrorless, interchangeable system – the Leica SL. Using the same excellent 24-megapixel CMOS sensor as the Leica Q we reviewed in June, the SL debuts with a 24-90 mm f/2.8-4 zoom lens. It looks like a beast, but it’s going to sit in an awkward spot – it’ll struggle to compete with full-frame workhorse DSLRs for resolution, lens choices or autofocus speed, and it’s far too big to enjoy the portability advantages of other mirrorless full-frames like Sony’s A7R II. And the price? Put it this way: if you sold both your kidneys at the average Iranian black market rate, you’d still be short.Read More


Ultra-efficient SURE HOUSE wins the 2015 Solar Decathlon

The US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon has been run and won for 2015. It’s a nationwide contest between collegiate teams to see who can build the most attractive, cost-effective and efficient solar home. Fourteen teams duked it out for this year’s competition, and the winning team from the Stevens Institute of Technology drew inspiration from Hurricane Sandy to create a sustainable, solar coastal home that opens up for entertaining in summertime but locks down to resist severe weather damage in the winter – and uses some 90 percent less energy than a typical home.Read More


Gibbs high-speed amphibious motorcycles – ride straight into the lake and out again

Serial amphibian creator Alan Gibbs has used the American International Motorcycle expo in Florida to launch three new outrageous recreational vehicles. Not satisfied making ridiculously fun-looking amphibious quadbikes, cars and trucks, Gibbs has now built two-and three-wheeled motorcycles that you can ride straight down a boat ramp into the water. At the touch of a button they convert to jet skis, retracting wheels out of the way and switching to jet propulsion. There’s almost no delay – the switch from road mode to water mode is done in less than 5 seconds, so you barely even lose momentum as you ride in or out of the water.Read More


Zero motorcycles announces improved 2016 models

California-based Zero Motorcycles has unveiled its 2016 model lineup in preparation for the American International Motorcycle Expo in Orlando, Florida. If you were hoping to see a long-range Zero electric motorcycle with an aerodynamic fairing, 2016 is not your year. Instead, there’s an all-new motor and increased battery efficiency to improve range, thermal performance and battery capacities across the board, triple-speed charging with the new Charge Tank accessory, and a couple of new models – the DSR and FXS – to add to the family. Read More

Digital Cameras

16 cameras in one: Light promises smartphone size and DSLR image quality

Light is a new silicon valley startup that’s focused on the holy grail of photography. A camera the size of a smartphone, that takes photos the quality of a 52-megapixel DSLR, zooms optically between 35 and 150mm, shoots great images in low light, and lets you select focus and depth of field after you shoot. It sounds like more than one camera can handle – and that’s because it’s actually 16 cameras in one.Read More


Ponsse timber harvesters: The ruthlessly efficient modern lumberjack

Tree-choppin’ was once a man’s man’s game, an art so physically demanding that they still hold wood chopping competitions to this day. But no matter how buff and bearded the chopper, there’s no chance of out-logging one of these things. The modern lumberjack is a rugged all-terrain vehicle with a tree harvesting head that hugs a tree trunk like a koala, then executes it with extreme prejudice, strips off bark and branches, and sections it into logs of a pre-determined length in a matter of seconds. It’s mesmerizing to watch, and kind of terrifying, even if you’re not a tree.Read More


DARPA's fascinating self-healing body initiative – ElectRx

DARPA's ElectRx project envisions tiny devices, the width of a single nerve strand, that could be injected into the body to monitor certain conditions and then stimulate targeted nerves in response, harnessing the body’s own repair mechanisms to deal with a range of conditions like chronic pain, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and certain autoimmune diseases. DARPA sees the potential to create new treatments that automatically and continuously tune themselves to the needs of a specific patient.Read More

Motorcycles Review

First ride: 2015 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster, Dragster RR and Turismo Veloce

With a new range of 800cc 3-cylinder motorcycles that focus on real-world fun and road riding, it seems MV Agusta is ready to step down from its lofty historic perch, roll up the sleeves and get busy competing in a number of segments. At an Australian launch event, we had the chance to ride the bare-knuckle Dragster 800, the supermodel Dragster RR and the impressively practical Turismo Veloce.Read More


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