How to do a review ? Help guide: share your Tips and Tricks.

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ChibiM
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How to do a review ? Help guide: share your Tips and Tricks.

How to do a review?

I`ve been wondering if we could make a good "How to do a Review" thread on BLF for everybody to use as an

informational source with links, TIPS and TRICKS as how one can do a review and share their ideas with others.

Let`s share ideas on different ways of writing, what/how equipment to use, useful software, tips and tricks etc.

Some reviews are really really thorough, but not everybody has the right equipment, like a lightbox, or a lux meter.
So it would be nice to share your thoughts, or even a "review template" that people can start with.

my questions:

1.When you do a Battery Voltage graph, do you have your DMM continuously connected, while the light is turned ON? or do you stop the light, take of the tailcap and measure every 5 minutes or so?

2. What software do you use to make these graphs? Sometimes I use OpenOffice Writer to make a graph, but it doesnt really look that interesting nor professional.

3. Output is only measurable by a Lux meter?  any other ways to measure? (not only talking about actual Lumens output, but for example a graph with a 100% Output start, and where you can see in a time line when the output drops etc..)

4. What topics should a good review cover?

thanks.

 

To sum a few things up:

To each his own style!

A few things that people like to see, but are not necessary for every review:

 

Here is a topic about preferences for beam shots... It`s a good read to see what people like or not like about camera settings etc.. when taking beam shots.

How to add pictures to your review:

How to make a mouse-over:

Vectrex`s How-to-guide

 

Free photo editing software:

Software to resize your photos in 2 clicks, without opening any software.

Online Timer (if you want to measure output/draw manually every 5 minutes, This is THE tool)

Android lux APP (for doing runtime graphs)

How to calculate Candela, Lux and Throw

Edited by: ChibiM on 09/29/2018 - 01:56
djozz
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I am not sure 'official guidelines' (or even unofficial ones) would be a good idea here on BLF. I like it that the treshold for doing a review here is low and that there is not much reluctancy for people to start posting their own reviews, however basic, so we have all kinds of reviews to read.

That said, my own important rule for a review is that, however short or incomplete the review is, before I start I think about if what I am writing up is at least something that people want to know.  And it is of course nice if the reading is at least enjoyable. Oh, and I love good pictures Smile

link to djozz tests 

“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”   (Gus Speth)

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ChibiM wrote:
1.When you do a Battery Voltage graph, do you have your DMM continuously connected, while the light is turned ON? or do you stop the light, take of the tailcap and measure every 5 minutes or so?

You need to measure with the battery in the light and the light on, when you turn the light off the battery voltage will increase.

I uses a external power supply to do it, where I step the voltage each second (Everything is computer controlled).

This way I can make charts like this:

 

 

 

ChibiM wrote:
2. What software do you use to make these graphs? Sometimes I use OpenOffice Writer to make a graph, but it doesnt really look that interesting nor professional.

I have been using Excel, but now i am using my own software (Together with JFreeChart java library). This way I can better secure the same size and colors every time and it is also easier to automate.

ChibiM wrote:
3. Output is only measurable by a Lux meter?  any other ways to measure? (not only talking about actual Lumens output, but for example a graph with a 100% Output start, and where you can see in a time line when the output drops etc..)

A lux meter is a cheap way to measure the brightness but some people is using the exposure meter in a camera.

Measuring the total light output is much more difficult, because the real equipment for that is very expensive. There are lot of substitutes, mostly they do a decent job of estimating comparing outputs between lights.

ChibiM wrote:
4. What topics should a good review cover?

That depends on the style of review, some people does technical reviews, other focus more on actual usage.

I.e. a chapter describing how a light worked on a hike can be just as useful as a couple of runtime charts, this depends on the technical level of the reader and the planned usage of the light.

 

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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I like to see different types of reviews.
Generally, I prefer reviews that are not too long. I often find myself skipping all text, just browsing through the pictures and jump to the conclusion if its a long review.

Good pictures make a review much more enjoyable.
I also like a review that looks a bit on a light as a mod-host. What can be improved. I think several modders gives more fair ratings to lights. They use the whole scale more. Not only giving a light a 4-5 star rating despite that the light are outdated or mediocre in several obvious ways.

I often find a short review just as likable as a various longer ones. Example of small review done quite nicely by djozz. I would rather read 2-3 good small reviews than 1 large review. When that is said, I have seen a few short reviews that are quite useless.

I really like the reviews Relic38 does!

Foy have his own style. Not always that technical, but lots of nice pictures combined with good and fun writing. I always enjoy his review style. It shows that if you have the writing skills combined with some good photograpy, you don’t need a bunch of graphs and various stuff.

I think people need to find their own style, and put in the effort they feel are reasonable. All reviews cant be the same style, that would be boring..

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ChibiM
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@ Djozz.. thanks for the second part of your post.. first part is not really helpful for this thread.

second part says: pictures.. so pictures are a must? what kind of pictures are useful?
Are pictures of O-rings/lens thickness/tailcap/led/threads/beamshots/white wall important?

@HKJ... as always very helpful insight.. also answering my questions...

thanks for pointing out, that I should keep the DMM connected at all times, and not turning the light off to measure the voltage.

@RaceR86... thanks for pointing out that you don`t prefer too long reviews.
And again, you mentioned pictures.. What kind of pictures?
And on the other side, what pictures don`t you like? (out of focus?, 10 pics that look actually the same?

What kind of short reviews do you think are useless? what was wrong with them?

I agree that everybody has his/her own style, but again, it would still be nice (for beginners) to see what people actually "want" to see/read in a review.

 

Keep the thoughts coming. Especially some hints and tips, for example taking pictures.. (links to ideas on the net are also welcome).

ChibiM
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Photography:

What do you need?

1. camera

2. tripod

3. pieces of white (colored) background

4. light

If I have time, I use my DSLR for taking pics. But my compact camera is usually closer at hand, and I can start shooting much faste, because with my DSLR I have to get it out of the shelves, change lens, check battery, get my strobe from another bag, check batteries again, get my Flash Remote triggers, and check batteries and working again... anyhow.

I like to have a white background for my pics. Originally I got myself 3 white plastic boards and put 1 down on a stable horizontal surface.
I try to put this in the corner of a room, so I can use the other 2 boards for standing against the wall. 

but it depends on the time of day.. if its still bright outside, you can probably use daylight, especially bouncing of a large white surface (cloth/plastic board etc)

For my DSLR; I usually use my flash for bouncing of the ceiling, so it has a widely spread, and pretty diffuse style of lighting.

For my compact camera; I take the tripod and set it about 30-50 cm from the object. I then change the shutter speed so that it takes a long exposure, and not changing the Aperture, so a lot of light comes into the lens, which would give enough light to over expose the white background, so there are no visible imperfections, and it doesnt turn gray, like it would with a Auto exposure.

For taking pictures, light is the most important factor.
For some pictures where I didnt want to use my DSLR because too time consuming, and I my room lights werent bright enough, I used my SRK and put it tailstanding, not too far away from the flashlight I wanted to photograph.
The camera should be on a tripod, or something stable.
I then use one of the white boards, and bounce the light onto the flashlight. This way it takes away harsh black shadows, and still enough light to take a good picture.

any other thoughts?

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The purpose of the light can vary, so having strict rules about the content of a review may be counter productive. For example if I'm reading about a thrower I want to know how well it throws, so kcd measurements and beam shots are very important. If a light is being reviewed as a potential mod host then good photos of the light's internal construction are very important, but kcd measurements and beam shots may be irrelevant or impractical.

Judging a photo is very subjective. I like photos that illustrate a point that the reviewer is making about a light. But I also enjoy artistic photos that show the bling factor. How to make these photos is a huge topic, but maybe some of BLF's more accomplished photographers can comment on that...

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I like all kinds of different reviews. Basically though I am just looking for a conclusion. Was the light a good buy is one thing I would like to see. Pictures are nice but if the site already has good pics then I don’t see a lot of need for them. Beam shots are nice if they can be done well and with comparisons to other common lights. I just keep mine simple because I’m a simple guy. The good, the bad and the average with a conclusion. I doubt I will ever get really technical it’s not me and not my style. If I do get to where I can take beamshots I will start including them. For now I’m going to keep it as simple as possible.

I’m a junky, I mod lights so I can sell lights so I can buy more light to mod so I can sell lights to buy more lights to mod.

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for me.. the good review is always end up with pictures of beamshot of the light with comparison to other popular lights.
so it can help you decide if you want to pull the trigger or not to buy that light.
any review with no pics of beamshot is just like believing a used car salesman’s word :Sp

The only way to do a great work is to love what you do.

ChibiM
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Thanks.

So it seems that a comparison between a few lights is appreciated.

And oh, I didn't say that there has to b  a set of rules to make a review,but  I think it's just good to know what the average BLF use is interested to see.

Which makes it easier for reviewers to decide what and how to do a review.

Me, for example have no woods or fields around my house, so I can't take beamshots in nature. I could only possibly do indoor beam shots.

So it seems that a conclusion at the end is also something what people want.

Keep them coming.

What I said, link  are welcome.

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A question was: why pictures? For me there are two reasons. First: a picture shows more than you can ever describe in words, it can make a review more clear and compact, second: it makes the reading more pleasant. But I agree that numerous pictures of almost the same makes a review boring (I even sometimes find the great reviews of master-reviewer Foy a bit too picture-crowded to my liking).

How do I make pictures for BLF? I do not claim to make great pictures, but I do try to pay some attention to them. There are many better ways to make pictures but this is how I do it:

I have a good quality compact camera, but for pictures that I post on BLF I always use my phone camera (at the monent that is a Sony Xperia Z, it has a nice camera). The reason is that the lens (and sensor) is much smaller, so that you can get close to your object to make easy macro-pictures with good depth of focus. If I want to zoom in more I use this small self-made loupe (I retrieved the lens from somewhere inside a disused spectrofotometer, the 17mm driver is for size reference, the loupe is really small). I clamp it with an elastic band in front of the camera lens like this:

   

For that really zoomed in enlarged picture I have a stereo microscope (one of my former hobbies has been collecting microscopes), this is the (famous) Olympus zoom. I make the pictures through one of the eye-pieces (that is easy with a phone camera and more difficult with larger-lens camera's):

The best pictures I make with daylight, the diffuse light from the sky makes the clearest pictures. Because work and familylife take up most of my daylight time my hobby is confined to late at night when everone else is sleeping, so mostly no daylight for me Frown.  Instead, I light my objects from two sides, one side is the desktop lamp (with a modern 2700K Philips led bulb in it Smile), the other side is a floody flashlight with a Nichia 219. It produces a typical kind of photo that I quite like, but it may not be the clearest way.

I always touch up the pictures a bit (with the simple photo editor in the Mac Preview application) and resize them, and I make make the picture as small as possible without loosing the essence of the picture. I then upload them to -in my case- flickr.com.

link to djozz tests 

“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”   (Gus Speth)

ChibiM
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Very helpful Djozz, thanks!

Especially your ideas concerning close up shots using your phone and a loupe.

Hope this will be helpful for others as well, that can start experimenting with taking pictures.

Your tips about using 2 lights, one at each side, is also really helpful, because that would eliminate the strong shadows on each side..

Still what I would suggest, is bouncing these side lights of a white board...keep forgetting the name of that stuff, that is used in boxes for shipping. It's very lightweight. What do you call that?

djozz
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ChibiM wrote:

Very helpful Djozz, thanks!

Especially your ideas concerning close up shots using your phone and a loupe.

Hope this will be helpful for others as well, that can start experimenting with taking pictures.

Your tips about using 2 lights, one at each side, is also really helpful, because that would eliminate the strong shadows on each side..

Still what I would suggest, is bouncing these side lights of a white board...keep forgetting the name of that stuff, that is used in boxes for shipping. It's very lightweight. What do you call that?

Do you mean styrofoam board? Yes, that would be a better way of lighting than with the two point-sources I use. I am usually too lazy to set-up a good lighting equipment, and I can't have a permanent set-up because when the family wakes up the hobby should be back in that one small corner of the computer desk Frown (well, it keeps me tidy, that's a good thing).

link to djozz tests 

“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”   (Gus Speth)

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I don’t know I prefer having textured backgrounds. Something that adds to the picture. I don’t find white backgrounds that interesting, but that’s just my opinion.

I feel sometimes I’m too verbose with my reviews. I often skip to the end of some reviews and read the pictures. Sometimes the graphs are hard for me top interpret. I like nice easy pictures.

I often wish I had better equipment. Like a nice DSLR, and something to measure lumens… but I don’t buy near as many lights as most of the people here so I don’t know how often I’d use an integrating sphere.

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Djozz brings up a good point, resizing the photo to a small enough size that still shows good detail. I do this with 95% of my photos in my PhotoBucket account. I find that simply opening the original camera download photo and then clicking Save (to overwrite) is often enough to drop the file size 50%.  A good free photo editor is Irfanview and it supports batch processing of multiple files. I dislike reviews that take forever to load the photos (though that could be the host too). 

-Garry

My Bike Lights Thread, Optics (TIR) Comparison Beamshots, Diffusion Techniques


NOTE: Moving my photos from PhotoBucket to Flickr. PM me or post in the thread if you can’t see my images and need me to fix or send a gallery link. PhotoBucket images should remain visible until November 2018.
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Yep, Gary. I post a smaller version. Flickr gives you many many size options. I used to post much larger pictures but I find that, that was probably irritating.

ChibiM
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@ Djozz, yes, thats what I meant... Styrofoam... the good thing is that its not shiny, and therefore diffuses the light.

ChibiM
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Resize your pictures in only 2 clicks!

Install Photoresize and set it up with your desired settings.

Once you`ve installed it, you can go to any pic and click Right mouse button, and choose Resize picture...

that`s it..

This saves upload time, and eventually saving time to through different options in Flickr etc before you get your desired size.

 

Not going into details of how this program works, please read the website.
Any computer will be able to use it.
Once you set it up, you can resize any pic in 2 clicks.

leaftye
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I'm working at this too.  I have two reviews in progress, and I'm trying to create a sort of template to follow with additional reviews.  

 

The picture thing is still messing me up.  I don't have enough windows to take good pictures inside.  I tried going outside a few times, but it's so breezy that it's blowing my lightbox around.  So I'm trying to get the lighting and exposure right for indoor photography.  Photo editing is another big thing, especially since I rarely get anywhere near perfect shots straight out of the camera.  I need to use RAW more so there's more color information to allow me to shift white balance and such in the editing software and still have a good picture.  When I use a white background, I want the background to disappear.  This is proving difficult.  It'll probably be easier to use textured backgrounds.

 

Measurements will be something I'll be working on for a very long time.  I need to acquire both the skills and the tools.  I'll probably go back and update reviews over time.

 

As others said, the type of review you do depends on how you use your flashlight.  I use mine primarily for hiking.  

 

I can start off with the first impression type of review that flashlights always get, and then I can come back and add extra measurements and a long term review.

The low mode should be lower.

Reviews: Efan IMR18350 700mAh 10.5A, <a href="http://

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garrybunk wrote:

...A good free photo editor is Irfanview and it supports batch processing of multiple files. I dislike reviews that take forever to load the photos (though that could be the host too). 

-Garry

+1   8)

leaftye
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XnView is awesome for batch conversions too.  That's what I use for batch editing when I prepare scanned books for OCR.  I prefer Gimp when I can focus on one file at a time.  Both are free.

The low mode should be lower.

Reviews: Efan IMR18350 700mAh 10.5A, <a href="http://

ChibiM
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How about PWM?

I usually find it interesting to know how fast/slow the PWM is.

I set up my camera on a tripod, and set the shutter speed to 1sec. plus a 2 seconds timer.

I quickly move the light in front of the camera.

This way you can see if it has a high PWM or not. It can be pretty useful to compare it with other well known lights.

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leaftye wrote:

I’m working at this too.  I have two reviews in progress, and I’m trying to create a sort of template to follow with additional reviews.  

 

The picture thing is still messing me up.  I don’t have enough windows to take good pictures inside.  I tried going outside a few times, but it’s so breezy that it’s blowing my lightbox around.  So I’m trying to get the lighting and exposure right for indoor photography.  Photo editing is another big thing, especially since I rarely get anywhere near perfect shots straight out of the camera.  I need to use RAW more so there’s more color information to allow me to shift white balance and such in the editing software and still have a good picture.  When I use a white background, I want the background to disappear.  This is proving difficult.  It’ll probably be easier to use textured backgrounds.

 

Measurements will be something I’ll be working on for a very long time.  I need to acquire both the skills and the tools.  I’ll probably go back and update reviews over time.

 

As others said, the type of review you do depends on how you use your flashlight.  I use mine primarily for hiking.  

 

I can start off with the first impression type of review that flashlights always get, and then I can come back and add extra measurements and a long term review.

Raw is overrated! Ok maybe it’s not, but I’ve found that you can tweak the color just about anyway you want in photoshop even if it’s not in raw. And I literally adjust the color and detail on every single photograph I upload, and I have a crappy point and shoot.

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I like that everyone has their own review style. I don’t enjoy reviews that feel like there is no personality speaking to me. I like some diversity too, I like to hear about various user experiences and applications. I also like some comparative data.

My own experience reviewing here; I tried using the template but found it too limiting for my style. I try to make nice, clear photos.

I have noticed a trend in tech reviews lately to shoot dark things like black flashlights and knives in front of a black background. Please don’t do this (unless the object is very light and doesn’t show well against a white background)! >.<

I used to be more fussy about photos and would Photoshop things before uploading but now I just try to shoot as best I can and just upload. I am lucky with my window positioning that it gets good usable light pretty much all day.

I prefer to shoot with a white background for good contrast and sense of space. I set custom white balance with a white background and upload to Google Picasa. There, it automatically resizes and compresses, but I still can download the original large JPEG file if I ever need it.

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I`m gonna upload a review soon.. not finished yet.. but concentrated most on pictures Wink

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I’m more of a “touchy feely” reviewer, not much tech stuff(amp, voltage, etc.).
A lot more “How would this perform in the real world”? Big Smile
Here I dropped a flashlight on a tiled floor and dropped it in a bowl of water:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BfxHYkhzLM

In this review, I rode my bike for almost 4 hours in the rain:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLeZhBw3cjI

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Thanks guys for all the suggestions and ideas.

I`m looking for a link/picture.

I want to measure the Amps. on a flashlight while the battery is installed, to see how many amps the light draws from the battery.
Do you guys just put magnets on the negative of the battery and the negative wire from the DMM?

and then let the light run, and write down the amps every 5 mintues or so?

or is there something that you can connect to your computer so that it will make a graph on its own?

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ChibiM wrote:
I want to measure the Amps. on a flashlight while the battery is installed, to see how many amps the light draws from the battery.

Do you guys just put magnets on the negative of the battery and the negative wire from the DMM?

and then let the light run, and write down the amps every 5 mintues or so?

or is there something that you can connect to your computer so that it will make a graph on its own?

You can get DMM's with computer connection, this makes it considerable easier to log the data (Just sit back and let the computer do the work).

But there is another problem, that is getting a low enough voltage drop through the test leads and the DMM.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

mhanlen
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ChibiM wrote:

Thanks guys for all the suggestions and ideas.

I`m looking for a link/picture.

I want to measure the Amps. on a flashlight while the battery is installed, to see how many amps the light draws from the battery.
Do you guys just put magnets on the negative of the battery and the negative wire from the DMM?

and then let the light run, and write down the amps every 5 mintues or so?

or is there something that you can connect to your computer so that it will make a graph on its own?

Check your DMM specs, some of them say they can only read amp currents for 15 seconds. Can’t help you on how to do this though. I think some of the people who do this have the PC connectable, graphing, high-end multimeters. Unfortunately a $35 meter was all I could afford.

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mhanlen wrote:
Check your DMM specs, some of them say they can only read amp currents for 15 seconds. Can't help you on how to do this though. I think some of the people who do this have the PC connectable, graphing, high-end multimeters. Unfortunately a $35 meter was all I could afford.

The time limited current is usual something like above 10A for 15 seconds, i.e. you measure 9A for considerable longer.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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Posts: 5832
Location: Holland/Japan

I also paid $30 for dmm, it was second hand... Fluke 77III... but without any special connections.

so that won`t work for me, and most other people I believe.

how do you do it HKJ if I may ask? (making graphs on current drawing)

can`t read your picture Chrysler.. Kreisler.. link please

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