Review: Rokinon 85mm F1.4 AF FE (This + Sony a7r III = Portra Colors)

The Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AF FE is a very good lens overall, but you may still want to stick with Sony’s options.

When testing the Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AF FE, I admittedly ran into problems with the autofocus performance that needed to be fixed. Luckily, I knew how to do it with a quick clean of the communication contacts. But the fact that I needed to have this knowledge is something that I’m not sure the average photographer has–at least those who would be attracted to the more affordable Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AF FE option. If you get beyond this, you start to realize it’s a fantastic lens for portraiture. On the Sony a7r III, it’s capable of focusing very accurately, albeit still slower than Sony’s options. But I’m positive in saying that if one looked at the images side-by-side from each lens without pixel peeping, no one would be able to tell the differences between them.

Continue reading…

Review: Canon 85mm F1.4 L IS USM (Works Well with Eye Autofocus)

We took our time with the Canon 85mm f1.4 L IS USM because we liked it that much.

If you’re a DSLR owner and wanted an update for your own really old 85mm f1.2 you’ll see that the Canon 85mm f1.4 L IS USM answers a lot of the problems the older version had. Indeed, the implementation of image stabilization is a huge upgrade when coupled with a significantly lighter body, faster autofocus, and overall sharper optics. To be fair, both the 85mm f1.2 and Canon’s f1.4 lenses were designed more for rendering a specific look on full frame and 35mm film bodies. Then you look at all the other great stuff the Canon 85mm f1.4 L IS USM has. It’s packed with weather sealing and when you attach it to Canon’s EOS R, you’ll reap the benefits of that.

Continue reading…

First Impressions: Sony 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS (FE Lens)

For a really affordable price point, the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS is going to satisfy the needs of many photographers.

I’m very shocked at how much I liked the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS after playing with it for a weekend. I’m not saying that because I doubt Sony’s ability to make a great lens, but because I found the lightweight, focal length range, relatively compact size, and image stabilization combined well together to create what could arguably be Sony’s most useful lens for photojournalism to date. Though it’s only of the G moniker and not a G Master, there is little holding me back from saying that any photographer would be unwise to pass up on this lens. At a $2,000 price point, every photographer will get several useful focal lengths along with image stabilization and small size. Plus, it’s got a solid image quality! Though despite all of this, I’m still a bit wary; the last time I used a G series lens, I had a bad experience with its build quality.

Continue reading…

Review: Sony 600mm F4 G Master OSS (A Bird Photographer’s Dream)

The Sony 600mm f4 G Master OSS took us by surprise when we heard about it, but it’s great.

When we were shown the Sony 600mm f4 G Master OSS, I was shocked to see it was coming. My first thought would have been another zoom lens for sports photographers, but it would be unlike Sony to just announce a zoom lens. Instead, the Sony 600mm f4 G Master OSS is an option for photographers that pulls out all the stops. You’re still going to need a monopod or tripod to shoot with it for long periods, but I’m it isn’t imperative. The lens works in combination with Sony’s IBIS system to give the photographer a lot of image stabilization when photographing sports and birds alike. Then, consider the weather sealing inside and the fact that this is the largest lens for a mirrorless camera system that we’ve seen yet. And despite this, we ultimately see the value in it.

Continue reading…

Review: Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis (A Lens for Sony FE Photojournalists)

The Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis is rugged and has good image quality, but it’s in an odd place.

The 40mm focal length is one that photojournalists can truly benefit from; and in the case of the Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis for Sony FE cameras photographers will be quite pleased with the results if they’re discerning about their look. Similar to what Sigma did, with their 40mm f1.4, the Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis has a muted color tone for the film look. It isn’t as sharp, but it is also slightly more affordable, smaller, lighter, etc. This lens also boasts weather sealing, fast autofocus, and the signature display window on top to give the photographer a ton of information that they need right then and there. The working photojournalist will surely find the Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis to be a good lens for their needs; but at the same time this doesn’t feel like a Zeiss offering. Further, I’m a bit befuzzled at why Zeiss didn’t make this an f1.4 lens.

Continue reading…

Review: Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon EF Mount)

The Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 incorporates a number of enhancements to the company’s already excellent flagship ultra-wide angle zoom lens

When Tamron released the original version of their SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD high-speed ultra-wide angle zoom back in 2015, we praised it for its sharpness, color rendition, and versatility, but felt that there were some areas that Tamron could improve on. Enter the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2, Tamron’s 2nd generation refresh of the same lens that we had reviewed some four years ago which incorporates a number of improvements upon the well-received original. A pair of MPUs (Micro-Processing Unit) along with a VC (Vibration Compensation) mechanism resides within the SP 15-30mm f2.8 G2 and work in tandem to ensure snappy autofocus performance while maintaining image stabilization.

Continue reading…

Review: Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary (Sony E Mount)

If you’re a portrait photographer shooting with Sony Crop Sensor cameras, the Sigma 56mm f1.4 is going to give you a severe case of G.A.S.

Up until Sony announced the A6400 in January of this year, some have speculated that the Japanese Mirrorless camera manufacturer had abandoned their Crop Sensor line to focus on their ever popular Full Frame cameras. Coupled with the fact that the last time Sony released an APS-C lens was almost exactly a year before the A6400’s announcement when the company introduced the variable aperture 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS zoom lens, it’s not hard to see why people were concerned for the life of Sony’s APS-C camera line. With the lineup being alive and well, at least for the immediate future, it’s good to see third-party lens manufacturers continuing their support for the system as well, such as with the case of the Sigma 56mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens. This is sigma’s third lens designed with Sony’s Crop Sensor E Mount cameras in mind. They previously released a 16mm f1.4 and a 30mm f1.4, both under the Contemporary line and now marketed as a trio of sorts. The Sigma 56mm f1.4 has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 84mm when factoring in the 1.5x crop factor that Sony’s E Mount APS-C cameras have. For those keeping track, Sigma basically designed this lens with portrait photographers in mind, as many tend to gravitate towards the 85mm focal length. A Micro Four-Thirds version of this lens is also available for photographers shooting with M43 cameras.

Continue reading…

Review: Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 (Sony FE)

The Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 is an aggressively priced manual focus portrait lens for Sony Full Frame Mirrorless Cameras

During last year’s PhotoPlus Expo, Viltrox announced that they have begun designing and manufacturing their own camera lenses. Up until that point, the Chinese company was known principally as a manufacturer of photography accessories as well as lens adapters. As we had already reviewed the ultrawide Viltrox PFU RBMH 20mm f1.8 ASPH lens previously, the focus of this review will instead be on the other lens that Viltrox announced during PPE: the portrait-centric Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 for Sony FE Mount. Housed within a brass body, the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 feels sturdily built in hand. While you can adjust the aperture of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 using your camera’s aperture dial, focusing is a completely manual affair. Aggressively priced at just under US$300, the Viltrox  PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 for Sony Full Frame Mirrorless is certainly worthy of consideration for any portrait photographers on a budget. Read on to find out how well the freshman lens maker fared.

Continue reading…

Review: Tokina 16-28mm F2.8 OPERA (Canon EF)

The Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 OPERA is an affordable, constant aperture, zoom lens that can render gorgeous bokeh in the right situation.

Reviewing the Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 OPERA lens was a bit of an odd thing; it goes against much of what I really want in a modern lens these days. While the focal lengths are limited in their range, the price point is kept below $1,000. It was disheartening that I couldn’t take it into very rainy situations due to the lack of weather sealing, but this comes with a lower price point. Though it may seem like a way of cheaping-out the customer, they’re not. The Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 OPERA has beautiful image quality that will satisfy many photographers. With some very sharp optics inside this lens, I was pleased to see it deliver images with pleasing bokeh. At the same time, I really wish Tokina didn’t hold back at all.

Continue reading…

Review: Fujifilm 16mm F2.8 R WR (The Adventurer’s Lens)

The Fujifilm 16mm f2.8 R WR is a pretty great lens, but I still prefer the f1.4 version.

The Fujifilm 16mm f2.8 R WR lens is something I wasn’t expecting from the company; they already had a very good 16mm f1.4 R WR lens. However, considering the company’s philosophy of bringing things down to a more elementary audience in a more affordable, weather sealed form, it played out into being right in line with what they do. This is a lens that isn’t all that bad, but if you own the Fujifilm 16mm f1.4 R WR, you don’t need this. I’ll preface the review that way, but also note the very affordable price point of this lens.

Continue reading…

Review: Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f1.8 S (Nikon Z Mount)

The Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 S is a compact, weather sealed lens that performs really well for the price.

During our testing with the Nikon z series of cameras, perhaps our favorite lens was the Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S. It can be argued that a camera system is only as good as the lenses available, and this is especially true when launching a brand new camera system–as is the case with the Nikon Z Mount series. One of three lenses that were announced at the launch of Nikon’s brand new Z Mount, the Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 S covers a popular focal length used by many photographers–suitable for street, landscapes, portraits, and a lot of other genres. Nikon was kind enough to send us a copy of the lens along with the brand new Z6 and Z7 cameras, and we put it through an exhaustive numbers of tests to see how well the lens performed.

Continue reading…

Review: Sony 135mm F1.8 G Master (Sony FE Mount)

The Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master is the prime lens many portrait photographers shooting with Sony mirrorless cameras have been waiting for.

Announced at the end of February, the Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master is the 9th lens to join the ranks of Sony’s premium G Master lineup. Sony created the 135mm f1.8 G Master with portrait photographers in mind first and foremost; many portrait photographers gravitate toward the 135mm focal length due to the fact that subjects appear true to life with little to no discernible distortion. Since we only got to spend a few hours with the lens during the top-secret media launch (which took place on a particularly snowy February afternoon), we were excited to get our review unit in so that we can put the 135mm G Master through its paces in typical Phoblographer manner.

Continue reading…

Review: Tokina Opera 50mm F1.4 Lens (Nikon F Mount)

If it’s bokeh and sharpness you’re after, the Tokina Opera 50mm f1.4 has you covered.

The Tokina Opera 50mm f1.4 is the first lens that the Japanese lens manufacturer is launching as part of their newly introduced Opera premium lens lineup. These lenses are designed for high res, full frame DSLRs. During last year’s Photokina, we had the opportunity to spend some time with the Canon EF mount version of the lens and came away quite impressed. In some respects, what Tokina has created with the Opera line feels like a direct response to Sigma’s highly regarded Art series, both in terms of performance as well as pricing. Tokina was kind enough to send over a review unit of the Opera 50mm, this time in Nikon F mount, for us to evaluate in the independent and exhaustive manner that The Phoblographer is known for.

So how’d it do?

Continue reading…

Review: Viltrox PFU RBMH 20mm f1.8 ASPH (Sony FE)

The Viltrox PFU RBMH 20mm f1.8 ASPH is an affordable ultra-wide angle lens for Sony E Mount.

Up until now, Viltrox was known primarily for their camera accessories and lens adapters, so our interests were piqued when we were first introduced to the Viltrox PFU RBMH 20mm f1.8 ASPH lens during PhotoPlus last year. After spending some brief time with the fully manual ultra-wide angle lens on the convention floor, we came away intrigued and were eager to get a review sample in for testing. With their 20mm f1.8, Viltrox is offering Sony mirrorless shooters a value proposition in the form of an affordable ultra-wide housed within a metal body that is both well built and produces excellent images. Read on to find out how well the freshman lens maker fared.

Continue reading…

First Impressions: Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f4 S (with Sample Images!)

Nikon’s Nikkor Z 14-30 f4 S is an ultra-wide angle zoom lens for Nikon mirrorless cameras that features built-in filter threads.

While in Las Vegas for WPPI this year, we got the exclusive opportunity to spend some hands-on time photographing with Nikon’s brand new Nikkor Z 14-30 f4 S prototype lens. Designed for Nikon’s mirrorless Z Mount, the Nikkor Z 14-30 f4 S is a compact, lightweight, ultra-wide-angle lens with a maximum constant aperture of f4 throughout the zoom range. It features built-in filter threads up front, allowing photographers to attach lens filters without the need to rely on expensive and often clunky, third-party filter systems. With a lens design consisting of 14 elements in 12 groups, the Nikkor Z 14-30 f4 S includes 4 ED glass and 4 aspherical lens elements to take full advantage of the high resolving power of the Nikon Z7, while the Nano Crystal Coated elements help reduce ghosting and flaring when compositions include light sources within the frame. The front lens element is also fluorine-coated, making it water and oil repellent.

Continue reading…

First Impressions: Tamron 35-150mm f2.8-4 Di VC OSD (Canon EF)

We got to spend some hands-on time with Tamron’s 35-150mm f2.8-4 Di VC OSD prototype in Las Vegas last week while we were at WPPI.

It’s always exciting when we get to spend some hands-on time with lenses that are still under development, and we got to do just that when we met with Tamron last week at WPPI. One of the three new lenses that Tamron showed off at WPPI, the Tamron 35-150mm f2.8-4 Di VC OSD was the only one of the trio with a functional prototype available. The Tamron 35-150mm f2.8-4 is a lightweight and compact variable aperture zoom lens that covers most of the focal lengths popular for portraiture work. In fact, these focal lengths (35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm, 135mm, and 150mm) are clearly marked on the lens barrel itself, giving you an idea as to who Tamron’s intended market for the lens is.  Continue reading…

First Impressions: Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f2.8 S Lens (Nikon Z Mount)

Nikon’s Nikkor Z 24-70mm f2.8 S is a premium upgrade over the existing f4 version that came out last year,

When Nikon first introduced the Z mount last year, one of the lenses that launched alongside the Z6 and Z7 was the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f4 S zoom lens. While it was compact and weather sealed, a maximum constant aperture of f4 just doesn’t let in enough light. This is where the brand new Nikkor Z 24-70mm f2.8 S comes in. The 24-70mm f2.8 S was amongst the lenses on display at Nikon’s booth at this year’s WPPI, so we jumped at the chance to play with it while we were on the show floor. With a lens design consisting of 17 elements in 15 groups (the f4 consisted of 14 elements in 11 groups by comparison), the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f2.8 S is understandably larger than its predecessor. Everything you need to know about the Nikkor Z 24-70 f2.8 S, including sample images shot with the lens along with our First Impressions, can be found after the jump.

Continue reading…

Sample Image Gallery: Portraits Shot on the Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master

The brand new Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master is one hell of a portrait lens.

Hey folks,

The Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master was just announced at the end of last month, and in case you missed it, you can read all about the lens in our First Impressions article where we got to test it out in a variety of situations. A production review unit of the 135mm G Master is en route to us, so please stay tuned for our upcoming full review. While we were in Las Vegas for WPPI last week, we got to spend some more time with the brand new Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master lens (mated to a Sony A7RIII). Here are some of the images that we captured using the lens while we were on the WPPI show floor.
Continue reading…

Review: Fujifilm GF 100-200mm F5.6 R LM OIS WR (Fujifilm GF)

The Fujifilm GF 100-200mm f5.6 R LM OIS WR is a well built, versatile lens that will please Fujifilm GFX users.

Fujifilm are continuing to flesh out the lens lineup for their impressive GFX50S and the GFX50R Medium Format cameras, and the latest lens to join the GF family is the Fujifilm GF 100-200mm f5.6 R LM OIS WR. I’ve spent the last three and a half weeks with the lens and have been able to put it through its paces. The lens has the equivalent focal range of a 79-158mm lens on a 35mm format camera, which really is quite unique. The lens lends itself well to portrait photography, but can also be used for landscape, wildlife photography, documentary photography and photojournalism too.  Continue reading…

Review: Nikon 50mm f1.8 Z S (Nikon Z Mount)

The Nikon 50mm f1.8 Z S is a compact and weather sealed lens that costs more than its F Mount Predecessors

Almost every photographer has had a “Nifty Fifty” in their arsenal at some point during their career–and with the Nikon 50mm f1.8 Z S photographers are getting a higher end version of this lens. Due to the popularity of the versatile 50mm focal length, it made all the sense in the world that the Nikon 50mm f1.8 Z S was one of the three lenses that Nikon introduced during their launch of the brand new Z Mount camera system. It is suitable for portraiture, landscapes, street, and many other genres of photography. Right out of the gate, Nikon did it right by giving the lens weather sealing and a pretty compact body. Then there is the pretty great image quality. We really liked the Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f1.8 S as it is properly called–and we just wish that the camera system were only able to be truly worthy of the optics in this lens.

Continue reading…

First Impressions: Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master (Sony FE)

The Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master FE is the 9th lens in Sony’s Premium G Master lineup

On a particularly snowy New York City day last week, Sony debuted their latest Full Frame E Mount lens in a top secret media briefing: the Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master FE. The Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master FE is the 31st lens overall in Sony’s first party Full Frame E Mount lens lineup, and the 9th one to join the elite ranks of Sony’s Premium G Master line.  Featuring dust and moisture resistant construction, lightweight magnesium alloy body, an optics design that includes Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion), ED, and XA (Extreme Aspherical) lens elements paired with an 11 blade circular aperture, the Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master FE promises to be a beast of a lens that’s not only suitable for portraiture work, but macro and sports as well. We got to spend a few hours with the Sony 135mm G Master, our First Impressions, Tech Specs, as well as a whole lot of image samples can be found after the jump.

Continue reading…