It’s For Art. Not Pixel Peeping. Lensbaby Spark 2.0 Review

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Lensbaby launched when founder Craig Strong literally took part of a shop vac hose to mount a vintage lens on his DSLR. The company’s first lens took on a similar look, with a plastic bumpy black tube creating a tiltable lens. The new Lensbaby Spark 2.0 mixes that heritage with a few modern updates, including mirrorless compatibility.

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This 1.4 Is Remarkably Light: Sony 35mm F1.4 GM Review

Don’t let the size fool you; the lightweight Sony 35mm f1.4 GM captures high-end images.

Wide apertures create spectacular bokeh but cumbersome lenses. The newly launched Sony FE 35mm f1.4 GM defies the norm, weighing in at only a touch over a pound. A lens that just fits into the palm of my hand, the glass mixes an exceptionally bright aperture and near-perfect sharpness at a low distortion focal length. The result? Excellent images that capture a scene yet deliver the soft backgrounds typically reserved for longer lenses.

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A Reliable Workhorse. Leica SL 24-90mm F2.8-4 Review

I don’t like zoom lenses, but this is a good one.

For all intents and purposes, the Leica SL 24-90mm f2.8-4 demonstrates true innovation. That’s the case with Leica trying something new. The standard zoom is a 24-70mm f2.8 lens. The 70mm focal length always felt odd. As I’ve used them, I usually set the lens to certain focal lengths and work with those. I’ve always wondered why they couldn’t go to 85mm. Or why not create a 35-85mm f2.8 lens instead? Leica did something different with 24-90mm. This zoom contains much more usable focal lengths, in my opinion. Objectively speaking, this is a fantastic lens, but it failed to capture my heart and passion for this craft.

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Do You Love it? Fujifilm GF 30mm f3.5 R WR Review

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If you had the Fujifilm GF 30mm f3.5 R WR, would you love it? Would you even like it? That’s a question I was asking myself the entire time. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the GF format for a while. I’ve always felt they needed faster aperture lenses. And if they wanted to keep things small, I believe they should go collapsible. But this lens feels incredibly sterile and perfect. It’s not the Fujifilm that I’m very used to using. Personally speaking, I’m not sure I’m in love with it. But if you like clinical sterility, you might be.

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Fall in Love Again. Leica 35mm F2 Summicron SL APO Review

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I love the 35mm focal length, and the Leica 35mm f2 Summicron SL APO is no exception to that rule. Mount it to your camera and go! You’ll have fun! You’ll know it’s there to stick by you through and through. Like many lenses for the L mount alliance, you’ll appreciate the lens for what it is, but you’ll need to understand that the L mount is still a pretty flawed system. Once it sorts itself out, this lens will be all that much better. However, you’d better make this the only lens you’ll ever use because it’s expensive.

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Colors and Bokeh You’ll Fall in Love with: Fujifilm 50mm F1 R WR Review

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There’s no shortage of exceptional portrait lenses for Fujifilm cameras. You have the 56mm f1.2, the fantastic 90mm f2, and even the 23mm and 35mm f1.4 lenses, do a fine job. However, Fujifilm shooters have another portrait lens option in the premium Fujifilm 50mm f1 R WR. This ultra-fast, super rugged, weather-sealed prime promises to be the only portrait lens you’ll ever need, but is it worth the $1,499.95 asking price? Find out in our full review.

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Grinding for Quality. Samyang 100mm F2.8 Macro Review

The Samyang 100mm f2.8 Macro shows that some things change, but a lot of things stay the same with Samyang and Rokinon.

I’ll start this review by stating a significant fact: I seldom wanted to pick this lens up. Even for an experienced photographer and camera tester like me, the Samyang 100mm f2.8 Macro annoyed me. This version doesn’t have AF/AE contacts. So focus confirmation is a lot more complicated. And if you didn’t know so already, it’s a manual focus lens. You’ll work really hard for great photos. When you get them, you’ll be elated, but I’m really not sure it’s worth the grind.

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A Beautiful Lens in Every Way: Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 S Review

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We haven’t been blown away by a Nikon Z camera yet, but their Z lenses are a different story altogether. So far, Nikon has come up with some stunning lens options that are practical and affordable. While there’s already a wide-angle zoom on the platform in the Nikon Z 14-30mm f4, there was definitely space for a more pro-oriented wide-angle zoom. Nikon has now delivered it. We got to spend a few weeks with the new Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S. However, is this lens worth the nearly $1,100 premium over the NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f4? Find out in our full review.

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Bargain Bird Photography. Tamron 70-300mm F4.5-6.3 Di III RXD Review

The Tamron 70-300mm f4.5-6.3 Di III RXD will help keep you sane if you photograph birds.

Tamron’s lenses are usually some of my favorites. Admittedly though, I lean a lot more towards their primes and their constant aperture zooms. But the Tamron 70-300mm f4.5-6.3 Di III RXD is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The image quality could be better. But the reliability is fantastic. You’ll essentially be relying a lot on Sony’s fantastic image sensors to create stellar images. But no matter what, know that you can do them in pretty much any condition you throw at this lens.

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Sharp. Beautiful. Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro Art Review

The Sigma 105mm f2.8 DG DN Macro Art is super sharp, but you need to understand its flaws.

When I showed images from this lens to our Pro Camera Reviews audience, they were stunned. Rightfully so! The Sigma 105mm f2.8 DG DN Macro Art is highly capable of being super sharp. Of course, the best and sharpest results come with an off-camera flash. And if you’re social distancing or staying inside, this lens can be incredibly fun to use! Better yet, it also makes for a great portrait lens. Best of all, it’s incredibly well built! And despite all this, it has a very affordable price. Part of me wishes that Sigma charged more and added image stabilization, for as steady as I am, it can still be a tad difficult to work with.

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Beautiful, Stunning Bokeh! Canon 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Review

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It shoots birds. In fact, the Canon RF 100-500mm f4.5-7.1 L IS USM does a great job of that. Make no mistake, this is a beastly lens. It’s large but not overly heavy. But if you’re birding, then it’s got exactly what you need if you’re using higher megapixel bodies. When we took it out birding, we were reminded why Canon’s lenses are so gorgeous. There isn’t anything major to complain about, but personally speaking, you may have your gripes. When you look at the image quality, build quality, and the competition, you’ll appreciate this lens a lot. What’s even more impressive is that you might not need to upgrade beyond the Canon EOS R.

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Budget Portrait Magic: Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM Review

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At the initial launch, the Canon RF mount had few budget-friendly options, but the Mirrorless lens line-up is quickly catching up. The Canon RF 85mm f2 Macro IS STM is one of those lenses. An ideal focal length for portraiture, Canon also tossed in .5x macro capabilities — the lens isn’t a one genre shooter. Priced at $600, the lens is easily the more accessible option than the $3,000 RF 85mm f1.2 L USM DS.

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The Most Beautiful Bokeh Ever! Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II Review

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It’s no secret that photographers get lots of pleasure from bokeh in photos. It’s gorgeous. Apple, Samsung, Google, and others spend lots of money and processing power, trying to replicate it with their phones. But it’s never going to become anything like what the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II has. This bokeh is absolutely stunning. And I’m a fan of the colors too. They remind me of older Zeiss Biotar lenses. The bokeh isn’t all you’ll drool over. You’ll also adore the colors. Now, we tested this lens on Sony camera bodies, but I’ve got a feeling it will be ideal on Leica bodies. Portrait photographers are going to love this lens. Believe it or not, it’s also a great lens for photo walking. It’s incredibly fun, and the character it has is truly unique.

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Look at These Colors! Samyang 14mm F2.8 II MF Review

The Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF is a step forward in the right direction.

By far, my favorite focal lengths to play with are super wide-angle lenses. The Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF is no exception to this. This is an update to a lens that the company had for many years, and it’s been improved many times over. Besides a bit of weather sealing, the optics are very sharp. The colors are also positively gorgeous–which translate to better landscapes. It also doesn’t feel as plasticky as the previous iteration. Of course, it’s still manual focus-only. So if you’re not a fan of focusing a lens yourself, then steer clear. But keep in mind that a manual focus lens makes you work harder and more carefully for better photos.

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The Classic Look You’ll Love. Rokinon 85mm F1.4 II MF Review

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I’ve had mixed feelings about the Rokinon 85mm f1.4 II MF. I’ve been told there are versions of this lens with autofocus contacts. And if you’re choosing this lens, then I recommend that version. I also have a few qualms with the way Samyang and Rokinon state their lenses are weather sealed. But if you can get beyond those things, you’ll have a beautiful lens. There’s something about it that feels both classic and modern. Portraits will have a 3D look to them. At the same time, it won’t be overly sharp the way some new lenses look. This is because it was designed for both cinema and still photo use. Unfortunately, that makes this review very complicated.

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Try Something New. Panasonic LUMIX S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 Review

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this; there’s something odd about the Panasonic LUMIX S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 lens. Designed for their full-frame L mount cameras, this lens is a wide to normal zoom. And I get the intent of that. You’re making the lens smaller, wider, and keeping the same aperture range. But it’s still odd. A zoom lens that went from 28-70mm would be far more useful. Admittedly, it’s a good lens. You can explore with it and shoot vast, wide scenes. You can even shoot portraits that are good enough at 60mm. But you’re never going to experience true telephoto. And that’s one of the reasons why you buy real cameras. All of the high-end phones these days have “telephoto” lenses, which are normal focal lengths. And you might be asking why I’m sitting here even bothering with this lens. Well, that’s because it’s a kit lens option.

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Why Didn’t Canon Make This? Samyang 85mm F1.4 RF Review

The Samyang 85mm f1.4 RF is an affordable option for Canon RF shooters and has everything you want.

This is the lens so many have been asking for. Canon currently has two main 85mm lens options. There’s the 85mm f1.2 RF, which we adore, and the Canon RF 85mm f2. The Samyang 85mm f1.4 RF sits right between both of these. For many, it’s perfectly positioned. There’s no image stabilization, but it has a bit of weather sealing, and it also focuses quickly. And best of all, this lens has its own character to it. It could very well be the option you’re looking for if you’re a portrait photographer.

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Endless Fun! Solid Quality! Samyang XP 10mm f3.5 Review

The Samyang XP 10mm f3.5 is a fantastic lens in so many different ways.

At first, I thought that the Samyang XP 10mm f3.5 would be very difficult to use. But then I went about photo walking–and it became second nature. The world suddenly became a bit more magical. Good cameras and lenses fo that for you. And the Samyang XP 10mm f3.5 really did that for me. It also helps when I put it on the camera that unicorns appear to vomit out truck tons of free money. I’m kidding–it just makes things look larger than they really are at times. Nonetheless, ultra-wide-angle primes are amongst the funniest to use.

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The Fujifilm 10-24mm F4 R OIS WR Has Stunning Color

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The good news is that it feels like a prime lens. Yes, that’s right. The prototype Fujifilm 10-24mm f4 R OIS WR we’ve been playing with is incredible. It gives Fujifilm users everything they want for the most part. Landscape photographers, city dwellers, and even travelers will call this lens their soulmate. Well, not really, but we really do like this lens just that much. As an update to the previous version, this new lens boasts solid enhancements. It’s weather sealed for starters, which is incredibly important these days. Plus, it’s a lighter lens. What’s more, it’s almost a fully internal zooming lens. For what it is, Fuji is hitting the ball out of the park. But personally speaking, I think they can go even further.

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Affordable Superzoom: Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS Review

The Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 is an affordable superzoom lens for photographers shooting E Mount or L Mount mirrorless cameras.

Many sports and wildlife photographers rely on super-telephotos. Of course, there are compromises for their versatility. The Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary is no exception. It was designed specifically for mirrorless cameras. At the cost of a brighter aperture, Sigma kept the weight and size down. Its direct competitor, the Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 G Master, has a similar tradeoff. However, the Sigma is more than 60% cheaper ($949 USD). We’ve been testing the lens for the last few weeks in Sony E Mount, but it’s available for L Mount mirrorless cameras too.

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Hobbyist Birders Will Love It: Canon 600mm F11 IS STM Review

The Canon 600mm f11 IS STM is a super-telephoto that’s easy to use and wallet-friendly.

We recently reviewed the Canon 800mm f11, and now it’s time to take a look at its smaller brother, the Canon RF 600mm f11 IS STM. Canon broke the mold when they launched these lenses, and many photographers are interested in their performance, especially because of the fixed f11 aperture. So, the biggest question is whether the 600mm version of this lens performs better than the 800mm version. Is it worth your time? Let’s find out in our full review.

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