What’s In My Bag: Thomas Stirr

Over the past few months I’ve had a number of readers contact me at my office or via email and inquire about the Nikon 1 gear that I use and why I selected various components. I thought that providing a list of my gear may be of interest and benefit to some readers so here is a “What’s in my bag” article as it pertains to my Nikon 1 gear.

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Mystery Camera – Can You Guess What It Is?

I have been recently invited to review a piece of gear that I cannot yet talk about (info coming soon), a.k.a. the mystery camera, so I decided to post a couple of images from it that I captured recently from around the Denver area. I will give you a few hints and hopefully it will be easier to figure out what the mystery camera is. It should be a fun exercise, because it will get you to pixel-peep, something you probably have not done in a while :)

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Beginning Photography Equipment

Buying photography equipment for the first time is a daunting task. Useful guides exist to help beginners choose a good camera, but few newcomers realize that the camera itself is only the first of many pieces of equipment necessary to create a full setup for photography. In this guide, I will suggest a complete kit — everything from lens cloths to computer monitors — that will provide a beginner with high quality images (and room to grow) for a price of around 2000 US dollars.

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Sony A7R Review

Sony unleashed the Sony A7 and the A7R in October of 2013. With the Sony A7 aimed for general use sporting a 24 MP sensor and hybrid autofocus, the A7R differs primarily with its 36 MP sensor, therefore making the A7R more suitable for specific types of photography that need high resolution such as landscape, architecture, studio and product photography. I had an opportunity to test both cameras in 2014, however, I did not have a chance to write detailed reviews for a number of different reasons. Hence, this is more of a catch-up type of a review showcasing some images from my recent trips, along with the usual analysis.

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Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Review

Zeiss has been pretty active lately, releasing a number of solid and much needed prime lenses for the Sony FE mount. The first Loxia line is comprised of two manual focus lenses, the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 and Loxia 50mm f/2 and the second Batis line is even more exciting, with the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and Batis 85mm f/1.8 lenses, with full autofocus capabilities. While both lines of lenses are superb in quality and build, the Loxia line is designed to be similar to other traditional Zeiss lenses, with manual aperture control and compact size. I had the pleasure of shooting with both Loxia lenses for the past few months using a number of different Sony A7 cameras and I decided to start off my reviews with the 35mm f/2 lens, which I happened to use a bit more than the 50mm f/2 due to the type of photography I have been primarily engaged in.

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Nikon D7200 Review

The Nikon D7200 is Nikon’s newly released top-of-the-DX-line DSLR. With the D7200, Nikon is holding firm in their conviction that their flagship DX model should cost $1200, the same price as the D7100 at its introduction. Compared to the D7100, the D7200 has nearly three times the buffer, an improved AF-system, the latest EXPEED 4 processor and a bunch of other nice features, especially for video shooters. Let’s check some specs, but first a warning – Nikon released the D7200 right at prime mating season in Arizona. Birds and bees were being birds and bees.  This could be our sexiest review yet.

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IBIS High Resolution Mode – Amazing Technology

Olympus definitely deserves high praises for its in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system in its OM-D E-M5 II mirrorless camera to shift its sensor in order to create multiple images, then merge them together to create one super high-resolution image. Thanks to this technology, the OM-D E-M5 II, which has a native resolution of 16 MP can shoot large 40 MP images. At first, this may sound like a marketing gimmick, but if you take a close look at how Olympus accomplishes this, you will be amazed by the technology. Being able to shift the sensor opens up a lot of opportunities, and if DSLR manufacturers implement this technology (which Pentax already has, with its K-3 II) and find ways to do it quickly and smoothly, it can seriously change the way we look at resolution. Let’s take a look at this technology in a little more detail and see its advantages and disadvantages.

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Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8 Review

Since Fujifilm kicked off its X-series mirrorless cameras in 2012, it has been releasing a number of superb prime and zoom lenses to attract both enthusiasts and professionals to its camera system. Although until recently the Fuji lens line-up included a number of great zoom lenses, there was no professional-grade 24-70mm equivalent (in full-frame) choice available. Fuji changed that by introducing the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR in early 2015 – a high-quality, weather resistant lens with superb optical characteristics and tough construction for the most demanding photographers. Combined with a weather-sealed camera like the Fuji X-T1, the new generation Fujinon lenses like the 16-55mm f/2.8 are the top choices for landscape and architecture photographers who often face challenging weather conditions. I had the pleasure of using the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 lens for several months after it was launched and I was able to take it with me on several projects and assignments, so this review is primarily based on my field experience. Let’s take a look at the lens in more detail.

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

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

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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