7 Lenses That Really Changed the Photography Game this Year

Lens innovation over the past few years has mostly focused on pure image quality. But it’s obvious that we’re at a point where both cameras and lenses these days are so good it doesn’t matter. So lens manufacturers have needed to do something else to make them all much better. With that said, new innovations have produced better lenses, and allowed photographers to have even more creative freedom when working with them.

We went through our reviews and found a bunch that have come up this year.

Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master lens product images. (6 of 8)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 2.5

So what makes the Sony G Master so great? The return of 11 aperture blades to an autofocus lens. Nothing has done it in a while, but because of this, the lens is designed to give off some of the best bokeh on the market, and arguably the best of any 85mm lens out there.

In our review, we state:

“Consider the following: Sony has without a doubt created the best 85mm lens out there. It’s tack sharp, it’s got weather sealing, it focuses significantly faster than that sloth-like Canon 85mm f1.2 L series lens that so many people drool over, 11 aperture blades help to give it the best bokeh I’ve seen from an 85mm lens, and not only does it have fantastic color but it’s also great with skin tones. In fact, I can’t make a single complaint about the images that this lens can produce.

But to be fair, no one is making a single bad 85mm lens out there–some are just better than others.”

Buy Now $1,798: Amazon

Olympus 12-100mm f4 PRO IS

Olympus 12-100mm F/4 IS PRO

The Olympus 12-100mm f4 PRO lens takes the list because it’s essentially a lens you never need to stop down and that maintains the f4 aperture through the entire range. It’s a perfect travel lens due to the fact that it pretty much has the depth of field of f8 through and through.

In our first impressions, we state:

“The build quality of this lens is exactly what you would expect for a professional level lens from Olympus. It is incredibly solid and feels like a substantial lens, you can tell that there is a lot of glass in there.”

Buy Now $1,299: Amazon

Nikon 105mm f1.4

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Perhaps the single lens that I’m most excited about on this list is the Nikon 105mm f1.4. This is the longest telephoto lens to offer an f1.4 aperture. And it’s gorgeous.

In our review, we state:

“This is by far the beefiest prime portrait focal length that I’ve held. 135mm lens offerings can also be beefy, but this one takes the cake! The lens has weather sealing built in, but I never had the chance to take it into a rain storm.

Still though, I honestly believe that this lens should be regulated to studio use. With that said, it’s going to surely survive the dust that you may have gathering around.”

Buy Now $2,196.95: Amazon

Venus Optics Laowa 105mm f2 Smooth Focus

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Laowa 105mm f2 lens review product images (10 of 10)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

The Laowa 105mm f2 Smooth Focus lens has a filter built in to give it better colors, but as a result has less light gathering abilities. Overall though, it’s a beautiful option for many photographers.

In our review, we state:

“The offering from Venus Optics is focused manually. You’ll need to move the focusing ring left or right to ensure that you’ve got your subject in focus. Manually focusing makes you pay more attention to the image that you’re about to create and makes you put full intent into it. You’ll end up shooting less because of it–though every image you take will be that much better because of your extra effort.”

Buy Now $699: Amazon

Lensbaby Twist 60mm f2.5

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The Lensbaby Twist takes the look of Petzval lenses and puts it in a smaller option. Lomography has also done this, but nowhere as small. Lensbaby’s option doesn’t give you as much swirl as Lomo’s does though.

In our review, we state:

“This lens is manual focus only optic; you need to be very accurate which is harder to do in low light, especially if your vision isn’t perfect (as mine is not). The lens and viewfinder darkens as you stop the lens down, which helps you see the DOF better in day light. But all around, be prepared to take your time getting the focus right, which must be in the center.”

Buy Now: Amazon

Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC USD

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC review product images (2 of 8)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

For the life of me, I never understood why no one ever made an image stabilized 85mm lens offering. But Tamron did, and it won our Editor’s Choice award on this list.

In our review, we state:

“So here’s the section that you’re going to care about the most. For years now, I’ve been a Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens owner. Despite the fact that it’s starting to show it’s age in terms of sharpness when looking very closely, I’m still not at all dissatisfied with it. The lens is highly capable and still helps me create beautiful images in the same way that all the super antiquated Canon glass does but that people still drool over.

For what it’s worth, the Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC USD wipes the floor with everyone else’s lenses except for the newest offerings from Zeiss. It doesn’t have micro contrast but instead it has a couple of things that have made me change my editing workflow. I generally don’t need to do anywhere as much of a clarity increase and instead what I tend to do when working with this lens is work with the shadows and the individual color channels.”

Buy Now $749: Amazon

Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM

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While Canon has been making rectilinear zoom lenses, Sigma is doing them at a more affordable price while maintaining a high quality. We’re going to need to test it a bit more though to make our final decision.

In our first impressions, we state:

“Towards the back of the lens what you’ll find is a bit of weather sealing. This is a rubber ring that helps to keep dust and moisture out. There is also one towards the front of the lens. However, this isn’t as much weather sealing as Canon, Nikon, Zeiss, and Tamron offer. Overall, that makes Sigma look a bit behind on the game here.”

Buy Now $1,599: Amazon