Reader Question: Which Lens Is Better?

A reader contacted us about lenses and wanted to know which is better.

We told the reader we’d make this into a full blog post because we’re aware many of you are wondering the same question in some way or another. So, let’s dive into this.

From the Reader

Hi Chris,

Went through the various reviews you have done (you have covered a large number of lenses!!!)
Just wanted your quick opinion on 2 selections
1) Fuji 14mm vs Zeiss 12mm Touit: Which is a better choice among the 2, sharpness and color-wise?  I believe Fuji has very little distortion but Zeiss is 3mm (35mm wise) wider.
2) Sigma 40mm f/1.4 vs Canon 40mm f/2.8: Few options in this focal length. Sigma should be very very good but is massive and very heavy. On the other hand, Canon is both cheap and very very light. Is the jump to f/1.4 lens worth that weight and size esp given the ISO quality on today’s cameras (keeping aside the DOF benefit of f/1.4)

Thanks a lot,
Ashish

From the Editor

Thanks for the question, Ashish. So, I’m going to answer you in reverse order.

To be honest with you, both the Sigma 40mm f1.4 and the Canon 40mm f2.8 have delivered great photos. I’ve never seen a really bad photo from either. The big differences are not only the price tag and the size, but your needs. Here are a few things based on our reviews;

  • Both lenses feel good in the hand. The Canon is super small, while the Sigma is super large.
  • The Sigma lens was developed as a cinema lens first and a photo lens second.
  • Sigma’s is weather sealed. Canon’s is not. Do you need weather sealing?
  • Canon’s will most likely focus faster. There’s less glass to move in a pancake lens than in a mammoth.
  • Sigma’s is sharper, has better bokeh, more cinematic color, and overall will last longer.
  • Canon’s isn’t as sharp and won’t have better bokeh. It will have its own unique colors. But, colors are something you can either get in-camera or you can create in post. Which is more important to you?
  • Hypothetically speaking, you can increase sharpness in post-production too. Bokeh is another story, and arguably more annoying to recreate.
  • Canon’s is far more affordable, at around $179 or so on Amazon. Sigma is over $1,000.

Which one would I go for? Truth be told; neither. If I really had to choose one I’d go for the Sigma simply because it’s weather-sealed and the type of work I do requires the best build quality. But, I’d almost never take it out of my camera bag. For leisure, I’d gladly take around the 40mm f2.8, but I’d be quite careful with it. It makes me wonder why there aren’t any other good, fast 40mm lenses made: it’s such a perfect focal length. Additionally, Pentax did the smart thing by making 43mm lenses. Why the industry doesn’t do this more often is beyond me, but 43mm is a perfect middle point IMHO.

And now for the second part of your question:

In my tests, I remember the Zeiss 12mm Touit lens being sharper than Fujifilm’s 14mm. I remember liking so much more about the Zeiss than I did the Fujifilm. But, this is a decision that has to be carefully made. Zeiss doesn’t seem keen on making more Touit lenses. They’re a company focusing on Sony optics and on optics for professional cameras now. The Fujifilm lineup of cameras has been used by professionals for years, but the stigma of APS drives a lot of people away. There’s an even bigger problem though; despite the Touit being a better lens, I imagine it won’t be as well optimized for future Fujifilm autofocus technologies. With that in mind, the Fujifilm 14mm is the better choice. If it were really up to me, I’d go for the Fujifilm 10-24mm f4 or the Fujifilm 8-16mm f2.8 R WR. The latter is one of my favorite lenses for the camera system.

I hope this helps!