Dumbing Down the D7200 – What Nikon Doesn’t Get About Wildlife Photography

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With the introduction of the D7200, Nikon yet again ignored the desires of wildlife photographers. They didn’t shrink the buffer like they did with the D7100 (in fact they gave it a welcome increase), but they retained the 17% frame rate slashing that started with the D7100 (in comparison to its predecessor the D7000).  Folks hoping Nikon would answer Canon’s release of the 10fps 7D Mark II are certainly disappointed. There are two things Nikon doesn’t seem to get about wildlife photography. First, wildlife photographers don’t want to pick either a DX or FX body to shoot with, we want one of each that will work together as a system – an FX body for great low-light capability and a DX option when we need extra reach. Both circumstances come up on an almost daily basis for the wildlife photographer. The second thing Nikon doesn’t get is that wildlife photography is no longer a pursuit reserved only for rich hobbyists.

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Zeiss Loxia 35mm and 50mm – Superb Performers

Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2

One of the biggest complaints the Sony full-frame mirrorless system has been receiving, is lack of good lens choices. With the launch of the Sony FE mount, Sony introduced only two high quality prime lenses in collaboration with Zeiss, the FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA and the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA, both of which have been designed specifically for the short flange distance of the Sony A7 series cameras and have stellar optical characteristics. In September of 2014, Zeiss introduced two additional high quality primes for the Sony FE mount. Dubbed “Loxia”, these lenses are quite different from the Sony versions in a number of ways. First, they are both engineered and made by Zeiss, which means higher quality build and construction. Second, similar to many other Zeiss lenses, the Loxia line is manual focus only – and it is designed to be so. Third, they are also optimized for videographers, with a “DeClick” feature, which allows for smooth adjustment of aperture right on the lens. A number of our readers expressed interest in the Loxia lenses, so after having an opportunity to shoot with these gems, I was able to measure their optical performance in my lab. In this article, I would like to provide some information on the optical characteristics of the two Loxia lenses. Let’s start with the Loxia 35mm f/2:

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Does Fuji Cheat with its Sensors?

Fuji X-T1 ISO 3200 +0.85 EV

When testing cameras, it is not unusual to see a situation when one camera can produce results a bit darker or brighter than another. In some cases, lenses are to blame for this variance, since most lenses cannot ideally transmit all of the incoming light. What this means, is that a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 could potentially transmit less light, which could be equivalent to say f/3.5 in terms of brightness. The latter number is what is often referred to as a “T-stop”, or Transmission-stop, which is basically an adjusted f-stop that takes into account this light loss. In other cases, the camera itself can be the source of brightness variance. Although manufacturers are supposed to adhere to an ISO standard that guides the process of determining the right brightness level for each ISO, there is usually still some variance between not only brands, but also between specific camera models. We won’t get into the question of why there are such variances. Instead, we will concentrate on implications of such variances to camera sensor comparisons and ratings. Particularly, we will be looking at exposure variances in Fuji cameras, such as the Fuji X-T1. Many photographers, including myself, have been fond of the way Fuji sensors render images, outputting very clean and pleasant-looking images, even at high ISOs. But are those ISOs real? And is Fuji doing something shady to make its images look better? Let’s take a closer look…

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Upcoming Reviews

Nikon D5500

I will be traveling out of country in April and before I leave, I have a few days to try to work on some reviews. Whether I will manage to produce a lot of content before my departure or not, I am planning to finish up the task upon my return. Lots of gear came out during the last year and having started my Sony mirrorless camera reviews, I intend to complete a few of those as well. Below is the list of gear that I currently have, which I am planning to review as soon as possible:

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Is There Really Anything ‘Wrong’ with Digital Camera Sales Volumes?

CIPA Data

There have been some interesting debates lately about what’s ‘wrong’ with the digital camera market as people try to understand the rather dramatic decline in unit sales that has been happening over the past 4 or 5 years, with volumes down by half from their peak. I let my old, porous brain muse on this for a while and have some perspectives to share. One way to look at this situation is to simply accept that there is nothing fundamentally ‘wrong’ with the camera market at all in terms of sales volumes. From a macro-economic perspective we could view the digital camera market as functioning exactly as every other market has done when a breakthrough technology burst onto its stage. If we look at the history of various product markets the basic rise and fall of market volumes are predictable when they have been impacted by fundamental technological shifts – in the case of cameras it was of seismic proportions going from film to digital. When any kind of ‘game changing’ technology takes hold in any market there are initial and dramatic volume surges as consumers leave their current technology and adopt the new one. That huge upward spike in initial demand then declines quickly as soon as the initial ‘change-over’ market demand for the new technology has been met. Product life-cycle planning is based on these fundamentals.

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How Mirrorless Cameras Could Save the Photo Industry (But Probably Won’t)

DSLR vs Mirrorless Sales

If you haven’t noticed, camera sales are down. I mean, they’re way down. Unsurprisingly, everyone’s scrambling to find a reason why. There’s a video floating around from Mayflower Concepts that, at the very least, explains what is not the cause for the camera sales drop. If you don’t have 50 minutes to watch it for yourself, here’s the “TL;DR” version: It’s not due to the rise of phones with cameras – at least, not in the way you think. It’s not because the economy is in the tank, as most camera manufacturers claim on their financial reports. There’s simply no strong correlation between any of the global financial crises, or the simple existence of cameras on phones, to have any reason to believe either is the cause for a huge drop in sales.

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What does a 24-2000mm zoom range actually look like?

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When Nikon announced the new 24-2000mm equivalent Coolpix P900 it took the world of superzooms and put it into hyperzoom. Or is that hype-zoom? I’ll have the comprehensive review of this intriguing camera done soon, but to whet your appetite until then, wrap your mind around these shots of Grand Canyon’s Desert View Watchtower all taken from the same spot at Lipan Point, 1.8 miles away.

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Fuji 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS WR Initial Impressions

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I’m Paolo and I have been a Fuji user for a little over a year now. Just like everyone else I was a DSLR shooter before but the weight got to me and I thought of trying unconventional brands. Started with the awesome but slow to “everything” X100 – that is before the firmware updates that made the X100 what it was supposed to be like, now. Anyway, that’s where my love and hate relationship with Fuji started. Well not really hate, it is such a strong word, more of frustrations which I have already gotten over with. I got my hands on a Fuji XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR this February in time to shoot the famous Cebu City’s Sinulog Festival “Pit Senor!”. Thank you Marie Dela Cruz of Fuji Philippines for letting me try one!

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Best and Worst Sony FE Lenses for A7 Cameras

Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS

While reviewing the Sony A7 II, I had a chance to test and play with every Sony FE lens made as of April of 2015. The list includes the following lenses: Sony FE 35mm f/2.8, Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2, Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2, Sony FE 55mm f/1.8, Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS, Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS, Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS and Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 OSS. Since I also simultaneously had the Sony A7R and A7S bodies (reviews to follow soon), I decided to measure MTF performance of each lens using Imatest and see how they perform individually. While I am planning to review all of these lenses in detail within the next few months, I thought putting together some data for our readers might be helpful, perhaps for those of our readers who either already own the A7 system, or those who are planning to invest in it. The below numbers are based on two different samples of each lens (I always do my best to test at least two due to sample variation) and the numbers I present are for the lens that showed the best results. Unfortunately, due to the shutter shock issue of the Sony A7R camera, I was not able to reliably test the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 OSS lens, particularly at anything longer than 100mm. I will have to retest that lens when Sony adds electronic front curtain shutter feature to the A7R, or releases a newer 36 MP+ body with built-in EFCS (yes, the shutter shock on the A7R is pretty significant). I have not yet tested the newly announced Sony FE lenses, so I will test those separately as soon as I get my hands on them.

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