The Best 10 Performing Lenses According to DXOMark (August 2020)

If you don’t want to make compromises when it comes to lenses, check out the glass DXOMark ranks as the best.

We’ve unlocked an achievement for reaching the end of August! Good job, everyone. Speaking of achievements, we’ve rounded up the ten best lenses (according to DXOMark) your hard-earned money can buy. Want a new lens that’s earned high optical performance marks? The ten listed after the break that DXOMark has declared the best of the best might interest you.

The way DXOMark performs their tests is completely different from ours here at The Phoblographer. DXOMark completes their tests in top-secret underground labs somewhere in Europe where they look at sharpness, light transmission, distortion, vignetting, and chromatic aberration. Testing lenses in controlled environments is great and the results are useful.

Captured with the Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Milvs

We conduct our tests out in the real-world–on city streets, in parks, on the subway, in coffee shops, and anywhere that sells sticky pastries and pizza! We do portrait tests, we use the lenses for landscapes, street, event, architectural and documentary work, and much more. We use and test the lenses in ways most normal people would use them. We aren’t afraid to get out into the snow and rain either so that we can test how durable weather-sealed lenses are. So, when you combine both sets of results from DXOMark and ourselves, you can get an excellent idea of just how good a lens is. Below are the 10 best lenses (listed in order) from DXOMark, along with the pros and cons from our full reviews.

Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art

dxomark

Pros

  • A bit of weather sealing, though not much
  • Superb sharpness
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Lots of micro-contrast

Cons

  • Massive
  • After working with Mirrorless cameras for so long, we don’t really want to carry something this ginormous around.

Check out our full review

Buy Now: $939.30

Zeiss 55mm f1.4 Otus

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Pros

  • The sharpest image quality we’ve seen with any lens at any aperture
  • Zeiss really has made one of the best lenses ever
  • Cinematic looking bokeh makes every single image look like a dream
  • Great feel in the hand
  • Handles skin tones very well
  • Pretty damned accurate depth of field scale–which is awesome for landscape and architectural photography
  • Not the typical Zeiss color rendering. Instead, it just takes everything from real life and saturates it a tad

Cons

  • Heavy, and when combined with the Nikon D800 it is pretty much as heavy as a medium format outfit
  • At this price point, Zeiss should have put in weather sealing and autofocus abilities. Though we understand why they didn’t
  • Focusing in low light is incredibly tough–even with Nikon’s excellent focusing system
  • The yellow text on the lens is something that you kind of need to get used to

Check out our full review

Buy Now: $3,543.69

Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Otus

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Pros

  • The sharpest 85mm f1.4 lens that we’ve tested in a while. In fact, it’s the sharpest 85mm that we’ve tested
  • Great build quality
  • Excellent colors
  • Most folks will get a wet dream over that bokeh
  • The rubber focusing ring is starting to grow on us
  • Working depth of field scale
  • Beautiful overall image quality

Cons

  • The tears you’ll be crying after you purchase one
  • Manual focus operation proves tough at this focal length when it comes to trying to keep a subject’s eye in focus
  • Heavy
  • For this price, there should have been weather sealing incorporated

Check out our full review

Buy Now: $3,814.99

Zeiss Milvus 85mm f1.4

dxomark

Pros

  • Only a hair less sharp than the 85mm f1.4 Otus
  • Weather sealing
  • Great feeling in the hand
  • Wonderful, wonderful colors though a bit too saturated for skin tones
  • Zero color fringing

Cons

  • Long focus throw makes focusing very precise, but manually focusing the lens while handheld isn’t so simple due to you actually moving and not staying still. It’s best done with a tripod

Check out our full review

Buy Now: $1,529

Sony 55mm f1.8 FE

Best Lenses

Pros

  • Sharp images
  • Creamy bokeh
  • Weather-sealed
  • The smooth and large focusing ring

Cons

  • Lens hood adds a good amount of length to the front
  • No depth of field scale

Check out our full review

Buy Now: $998

Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master

dxomark

Pros

  • 11 aperture blades are the most of any autofocus portrait lens made so far
  • Big, but very balanced with the Sony a7
  • Aperture control around the lens is nice
  • Fast autofocus performance
  • Nice color rendition for portraiture
  • The best bokeh of any 85mm lens I’ve tested
  • Weather sealing
  • Wonderful for skin tones

Cons

  • Expensive

Check out our full review

Buy now: $1,798

Zeiss 135mm f2 Milvus

zeiss milvus lenses 135mm f2

Pros

  • Incredibly sharp
  • Weather sealed
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Fairly close focusing distance
  • Great feeling in the hand
  • Seems like it was designed for portraits and nothing more

Cons

  • As with all manual focus telephoto lenses, you’ll do best using a tripod with this lens attached to a camera
  • Price tag, though it’s truthfully justified

Check out our full review

Buy Now: $1,629.95

Sigma 50mm f1.4 DG HSM Art

dxomark

Pros

  • Incredibly sharp lens
  • Great build quality and feel
  • Fast-focusing
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Nice saturation of colors

Cons

  • Everyone and their mother is going to sit here and compare it to the Zeiss 55mm f1.4 Otus. It’s not really a comparable lens since this isn’t fair due to the price point and the fact that if someone wants Zeiss glass, they’re going to go for it no matter what

Check out our full review here

Buy now: $698.30

Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC USD

dxomark

Pros

  • Super sharp image quality
  • No focusing issues with the Canon 6D or other Canon SLR cameras
  • Fast-focusing
  • Weather sealing
  • Nice feel in the hand
  • Vibration compensation built-in is a godsend
  • Fantastic color
  • A unique look that makes everything seem like it’s got quite a bit of clarity in Lightroom increased
  • Beautiful bokeh

Cons

  • Quite honestly, not a single thing is wrong with this lens

Check out our full review

Buy Now: $749

Sony 90mm f2.8 OSS FE

dxomark

Pros

  • Great image quality in most situations
  • Sharp performance, again in most situations
  • Optical stabilization
  • Fast-focusing performance
  • Very silent stabilization
  • Internal focusing design, and one that is pretty small for what it is. In fact, it’s about on par with a DSLR lens designed for the same purpose.
  • Push/pull focusing ring
  • Lightweight
  • At last, a focusing scale that actually works!

Cons

  • The colors just aren’t there compared to many of Sony’s other lenses. Perhaps this was done specifically for portraits, but you’re mostly going to rely on the capabilities of the Sony sensors–which are very good.

Check out our full review

Buy Now: Used from $999.99