It’s Wonderful! Fujifilm 18mm F1.4 R LM WR Lens Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

It’s easy to see why photographers keep making the switch to Fujifilm. The X-System brings nostalgic joy back to photography. Their film simulations let photographers be photographers again, and their lens roadmap keeps expanding. The new Fujifilm 18mm f1.4 LM WR lens provides the classic 28mm equivalent focal length paired with a fast aperture. It’s an ideal focal length and is speedy enough to take anywhere, making the system even more enticing.

Continue reading…

A Pleasant Surprise. Meyer Optik 58mm F1.9 II Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

I’ve tested several Meyer Optik lenses. And they’ve never been easy to work with. Meyer Optik has also made perplexing decisions, but the 58mm f1.9 II is mostly different. It’s easy to get it sharp wide open. It’s also got beautiful colors in addition to its bokeh. In many ways, it’s my favorite lens from Meyer Optik. But for the price point, I’d expect more. For example, why isn’t this lens weather resistant? And why aren’t there autofocus contacts?

Continue reading…

This 50 Is Both Tank and Treasure: Leica SL 50mm F2 Summicron Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

Leica lenses are known for a durable, all-metal build. But, of course, metal weighs more than plastic. The Leica SL 50mm f2 Summicron is designed to be a lighter, more compact alternative to the Leica SL 50mm f1.4 Summilux. Of course, the term lighter is relative; I wouldn’t call a metal lens a lightweight. Yet it’s still lighter than the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f1.4 and Leica’s f1.4, and feels almost perfectly balanced with the Panasonic S5 body.

Continue reading…

Get Lost in the Bokeh. Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III Review (Speedmaster)

For more stories like this, please subscribe to the Phoblographer.

Before you read our Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III review, I want to ground you and bring you to reality. Take all the hype you have about beautiful bokeh, the f0.95 aperture, and beautiful images. Now realize a very, very big fact of life: nothing comes without hard work, or smart work. Apply that to your hobby as a photographer. Let that sink in, because that’s the reality with the Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III. You’re going to work for the shot and each one you get perfectly will be that much more meaningful to you. This is a lens that you have to do everything manually with. And more than anything, it’s a great reminder about the challenges of life. 

Continue reading…

So Much Amazing Character. Leica 16-35mm F3.5-4.5 SL Review

We’re streaming daily on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsStitcherPocket Casts, and Spotify! You can also listen to it right here on The Phoblographer.

Wide-angle lenses are enjoyable! The team likes them because you get a much different perspective. And that’s the case with the Leica 16-35mm f3.5-4.5 SL lens. This lens initially confused us because we wondered why Leica didn’t just make an f2.8 lens? In contrast to the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 Art DG DN, it’s got a lot more character. It’s also lighter, better built, and can actually accept a front filter. But of course, it’s also pretty pricey. We spent some time with the Leica 16-35mm f3.5-4.5 SL and seriously enjoyed it.

Continue reading…

An Outstanding Portrait Lens! Leica 90mm F2 SL Review

We’re streaming daily on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsStitcherPocket Casts, and Spotify! You can also listen to it right here on The Phoblographer.

There aren’t many 90mm lenses on the market, but the Leica 90mm f2 SL is surely worth looking at. Leica doesn’t make an 85mm: they opt for a 75mm and a 90mm. The Leica 90mm f2 SL is small, lightweight, fast to focus, has a metal build, and produces beautiful image quality. Then there’s the autofocus, which is also damned good in most situations. It’s all a winning combo. But then you look at the near $6,000 price tag and wonder if it’s worth it. Is it expensive? Yes. However, it’s also one of the most perfect portrait lenses I’ve used. Years ago, Zeiss tried to make a no-compromise lens lineup called the Otus lenses. The Leica 90mm f2 SL is worthy of outdoing those lenses by far.

Continue reading…

The L Mount Really Needed This. Panasonic 85mm F1.8 Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

The Panasonic 85mm f1.8 is the lens the system really, really needed. The L-Mount alliance likes to tout that they’re the second full-frame mirrorless camera system to hit the market. But they’ve needed more lenses to fill in gaps. Yet, at the same time, the systems don’t need to step on each other’s toes. They have three 24-70mm f2.8 lenses. Sigma also has an 85mm f1.4 Art lens, but it’s larger than the 85mm f1.8. And at this point, I honestly trust Panasonic to make the better lens. As it turns out, I wasn’t disappointed.

Continue reading…

Sturdy Workhorse, or One Trick Pony? Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

The 24-70mm f2.8 lens is a workhorse, but it’s a bit of a Clydesdale. The zoom mixed with the bright aperture creates a heavy lens that’s difficult to carry around all day. That’s why Sigma (gasp!) shaved four mm off the traditional workhorse wide-to-mid to craft the Sigma 28-70mm f2.8. The Sigma 28-70mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary is nearly half the weight of the Sony G Master and even Sigma’s own 24-70mm Art series lens. At 16.6 ounces and $900, the E-Mount lens has several advantages before you even take it out of the box.

Continue reading…

Beautiful, Sharp, And A Bit Boring. Sigma 35mm F1.4 Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

I remember when Sigma debuted their Art series of lenses to the world some odd years ago. One of my dearest friends rented the 35mm for Canon and invited me to come and play with it. I quickly made him laugh and snapped his portrait. It captured a fundamentally basic scene, yet something was inviting and intriguing. Granted, during this time, QA was subpar, and a number of lenses were lemons. Sigma has since worked hard to rectify the issue. In doing so, they’ve also removed a lot of other things in their newest mirrorless offerings. When testing out the Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG DN Art lens for Sony, I found myself wondering why they left “art” in the name.

Continue reading…

A Unique Option for GFX! Mitakon Speedmaster 65mm f1.4 Lens Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to the Phoblographer.

In a world where the quest for technical perfection has led to clinical staleness, the Mitakon Speedmaster 65mm f1.4 lens is a breath of fresh air. It arrived on my doorstep in a small, unassuming brown box. Inside was a surprising luxury feeling black box padded with foam which housed a very standard-looking manual focus lens. My first impression wasn’t great. It is heavy and lacks extreme sharpness at its widest aperture. The bokeh this lens produces can resemble something that was painted or added in post-production. However, like all worthwhile relationships, it was a slow burn. The Mitakon 65mm f1.4 makes you work for it, making it all the more satisfying when you nail the shot. The more I used it, the more its quirks grew on me.

Continue reading…

The Lens I’ve Wanted for So Long. Leica 50mm F2 Summicron-M Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M is a lens every manufacturer should pay attention to. There’s no contrast or micro-contrast trickery. There are no aspherical elements. This lens also doesn’t have apochromatic lens elements. What this lens has is a lot of sharpness and character. It’s small too! Not to mention that it’s also one of the most affordable in the Leica lineup. It has a classic design that newer photographers love. Best of all, you can adapt it to pretty much any camera system.

Continue reading…

This Massive, Unique 50 Is Imperfectly Beautiful: Zenit 50mm F0.95 Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

Modern lenses are becoming increasingly sharp, with an impressive ability to suppress flare and aberrations. The sharpness is impressive, but photographers have taken to foggy filters, prisms, and Photoshop to add character that this sharpness has dampened. Enter the new Zenit 50mm f0.95: a Sony E mount lens made from a Russian company that’s been around since the 1940s. The Zenit 50mm f0.95 is a freshly-released lens that looks like it time-traveled to get here. It sports an all-metal look that’s difficult to find outside of Leica or adapted film lenses. And the images? The lens flare will make those Photoshop brushes jealous.

Continue reading…

Surprising Travel Magic: Tamron 11-20mm F2.8 Di III-A RXD Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

Crop sensor cameras make telephoto easy — and ultra-wide insanely hard. The Tamron 11-20mm f2.8 Di III-A RXD is the widest f2.8 lens with zoom and autofocus for Sony’s crop-sensor, mirrorless cameras. Finding something close to Tamron’s new lens requires sacrificing zoom capabilities or opting for a narrower aperture: neither of which bodes well for versatility.

Continue reading…

Beautiful, Sharp, and Modern! Leica 75mm F2 APO ASPH Lens Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

The Leica M-mount system is often revered as a benchmark of aspiration and a defining line in the sand of having made it. For decades, M-mount lenses have been championed for their dreamy lens quality. However, as they have adapted to the general market demands of all things sharp, they have also been criticized for losing that romantic appeal that sets them apart and becoming desiccate. Enter the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens.

Continue reading…

We Love It! Leica 50mm F2 Summicron APO Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

Leica M-mount lenses are little works of art. They don’t try to reinvent the wheel from a design aspect and that is one of the things I respect them for the most. Instead, they find ways to enhance their products without departing from what works. That is precisely the case with the Leica 50mm f2 Summicron APO. The lens takes what is great about the original Leica Summicron-M 50mm and expounds upon it. And it is naturally reflected in the price accordingly.

Continue reading…

Wide Open Magic. Meyer Optik 30mm F3.5 II Lydith Review

The Meyer Optik 30mm F3.5 II Lydith is a reissued lens that deserves to be shot wide open.

If you hear the name Meyer Optik, you probably think about their soap bubble lenses. The Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith isn’t that. Instead, they describe it using the words watercolor and faithful reproduction. And in truth, that’s what it is. The Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith is a reissue of a vintage lens, but they’ve redone the housing. Overall, it’s a nice lens. However, it suffers from some usability issues that I’m not sure would make someone pull the trigger on the purchase.

Continue reading…

The Most Innovative Pinhole Yet. Lensbaby Obscura Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to the Phoblographer.

It’s an intriguing concept that Lensbaby deserves multitudes of praise for. A tilt-shift pinhole optic? Indeed, the Lensbaby Obscura is truly a first of a kind. When our team was first pitched about the idea of a pinhole, we were told that it would work with the Lensbaby Composer Pro II system. That’s where I raised my eyebrows. The idea is cool, and there is also a version that’s a straight plate for your camera. But if you know anything about pinhole photography, that doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Pinhole photography is shot at super narrow apertures. In fact, the aperture for the pinhole is f161. And though the Obscura can do a few other apertures beyond this, they’re honestly pretty useless.

Continue reading…

Pure Magic. Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G for Leica M Review

The Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is one of my favorite 35mm lenses ever made.

In 13 years, I never thought that the megapixel wars and the hunt for clinical perfection would create soulless images. But thankfully, the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is slapping that idea in the face. While all the other brands try to create clinical perfection, it takes the fun out of photography. It’s worse that it happens in two ways: in post-production and in-camera. Anyone that has told me to put lens character into an image using post-production hasn’t actually tried it. It’s hard. The truth is that it’s far easier to have a “flawed” lens and get rid of those “issues” in post-production. Every brand champions that they’re better than their competitors at it. The industry has been like this for the last 20 or so years. It’s created a monster, but I feel like the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is a rare gem among all that.

Continue reading…

Surprisingly Great. Fujifilm 70-300mm F4-5.6 R OIS WR Review

For more stories like this, subscribe to The Phoblographer.

The Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6 R OIS WR lens (say that three times fast!) is a very compact, versatile telephoto zoom lens. It is quick to focus in ideal shooting environments, comes equipped with image stabilization and weather sealing, and is comfortable enough to shoot with all day. We have spent the last two weeks in various conditions to see if it holds up to our first impression and is worth the $799.95 price. The short answer is yes. Keep reading to find out why.

Continue reading…

Beautiful and Small! Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM Review

Sacrificing aperture will get you a lot while only spending a little on the Canon RF 70-200mm f4 lens.

The 70-200mm lens is a workhorse, but the optics are also workhorse-sized. The Canon RF 70-200mm f4 L IS USM is the company’s shortest and lightest to hit the category. Tipping the scales at a pound and a half, the lens promises all the zoom range with none of the backaches that come with working with a lens like the three-pound EF 70-200mm f2.8 L USM.

Continue reading…

Remarkable Zoom, Handheld: Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III Review

With stabilization, a more compact design, and a reasonable price, the Tamron 150-500mm makes super telephoto more accessible.

The super-telephoto is one of the most difficult lenses to master both for the lens builder and the photographer attempting to wield such large glass. While no 500mm will be described as tiny, Tamron managed to shed some weight and length while still packing in a lot of zoom. The Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC VXD weighs 3.8 pounds and is roughly eight inches long. With image stabilization built in, the new telephoto is manageable enough to shoot handheld.

Continue reading…