Review: Nikon Z 85mm F1.8 (A Beautiful Lens in So Many Ways)

The Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 is an exceptional lens held back by only one problem.

Portrait photographers that work in a studio are going to adore the Nikon Z 85mm f1.8. I must admit, every time a Nikon unit came in for review, I sighed. We often get these great lenses that are stellar all around but limited by a questionably archaic and perplexing camera system. Why were we given only a single CFast card slot? Why did they make their lenses turn the opposite way on a camera than every other lens? Most importantly, why can’t the autofocus system be what it is with their DSLRs? At least with the Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 it won’t matter much if you’re using it for portraits. It exhibits exceptional image quality in every way imaginable. And, it has the build quality to back it up. So, while Nikon has worked incredibly hard on these nearly class-leading lenses, they can only go so far.

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Review: Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM (This Lens Will Grow on You)

The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM is the lens that will really help to make this camera system. 

Every camera system is made or broken by the quality of their 24-70mm lenses, and the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM convinces us that the RF system is a solid system. Not only will photojournalists appreciate the autofocus speed and image quality, but they’ll also admire the build quality. The point of mirrorless was to be smaller and lighter, and the Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM does just that. At the same time, portrait photographers will really like the quality it renders. The lens is sharp, but not sharp to the point where clients will be problematic with the quality of their faces or anything like that. Both types of photographers will like how durable the lens is. Beyond that, everyone will like the image stabilization it offers and its pretty fair price point.

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Review: Canon RF 28-70mm F2 L USM (One of the Best Zooms Around)

Though the Canon RF 28-70mm f2 L USM is a monster lens, it’s arguably the best full-frame zoom on the market.

When I first laid eyes on the Canon RF 28-70mm f2 L USM, I wrote it off in my head. It’s a monster in size, but when use it for a long time, you begin to realize that it’s manageable. There is no image stabilization, and that will be a problem for many newer photographers. However, the lens has a lot of strengths. Besides being built like Brock Lesner in his prime, it has some of the best sharpness we’ve ever seen from a zoom. Couple this with the f2 aperture throughout the entire range, and you’ve got something unique in the market. This is part of what Canon is doing to survive, and though everyone gives Canon a lot of grief for recycling older camera sensors, I believe their lenses are the best on the market. Of course, this is reflected in the price.

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Review: Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM (Canon RF Mount)

The Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM is a bulky, expensive lens, with superb image quality that more than justifies its price of admission.

One of Canon’s biggest strengths has always been its ability to create consistently excellent lenses targeted at professionals, and the Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM is no exception. With their RF Mount system, Canon has chosen to tackle the Full Frame Mirrorless market from the opposite direction of Sony. Instead of focusing on industry-leading cameras first and slowly building up a portfolio of lenses like Sony did, Canon has elected to introduce premium lenses out of the gate while they work on developing newer, more advanced Full Frame Mirrorless camera bodies. Only time will tell if their strategy will pay off, but one thing is for sure: the RF Mount lenses we’ve seen are some of the very best on the market. The Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM was designed with portrait photographers in mind, and boy does it create some truly stunning portraits. By virtue of being an f1.2 lens, the Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM is bulky and has the weight (and a US $2,699 price tag) to match. If you’ve got deep pockets and won’t settle for anything but the very best, the Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM will not disappoint.

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Review: Tamron 17-28mm F2.8 Di III RXD (Almost G Master Sharpness)

The Tamron 17-28mm F2.8 Di III RXD is lens that wide angle shooters may not want to remove from their Sony cameras.

When I was testing the Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD lens, I almost never wanted to take it off of my camera. Believe it or not, it wasn’t because of the image quality (although it’s good in and of itself), but it’s size. It felt like a lightweight prime that wasn’t overly mammoth. It was a nice reminder of what mirrorless cameras are supposed to be: smaller and lighter with the lenses to suit them. With an $899 price point, I think the photographers who go for the Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD are going to be very happy. Pros and enthusiasts alike will appreciate the fact that it can survive heavy rainfall and continue to pump out great images. Couple this with how quickly it focuses and how reliable the lens can be, and you’ve got a winner. If I’m getting your hopes up though, you should note that this isn’t a G Master lens.

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First Impressions: Tamron 35mm F2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Sony FE Mount)

The Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 is an affordable and lightweight lens many Sony Full Frame Mirrorless shooters will want to consider

Last week at the annual PhotoPlus Expo in New York City, Tamron unveiled a trio of compact and lightweight prime lenses designed from the ground up for Sony’s E Mount Full Frame Mirrorless cameras. One of the lenses in this prime trio is the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053). The newly announced Tamron 35mm f2.8 follows the same design philosophy of balancing a small footprint while maintaining portability that we’ve seen in the company’s excellent 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD and 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD zooms for Sony Full Frame Mirrorless. At just 7.4 oz, the Tamron 35mm f2.8 is remarkably lightweight. It’s also quite compact in size at only 2.5 inches in length (the 20mm and 24mm f2.8 primes also share the same exterior design and dimensions).

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Review: Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art (The Colors Are a Dream)

No, the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art isn’t the same lens as the DSLR version.

If you were to spring for one wide-angle zoom lens with a fast aperture on the market, chances are you’d go for the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art. Sigma is arguably the best lens maker of our time even if you need to lift weights to use them. And with the case of the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art, you’re going to get fantastic image quality. The cityscape, landscape, event, and travel photographers who use this lens will appreciate that it can more or less stay mated to your camera while providing a lot of versatility. It’s not a portrait lens, so if you’re the type of photographer who avoids photographing people, then the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art is probably your choice.

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First Impressions: Tamron 24mm F2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Sony FE Mount)

The Tamron 24mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 is a reliable option for Sony Full Frame Mirrorless shooters in search of an affordable, lightweight ultra-wide angle.

Tamron’s philosophy of designing practical, lightweight, and compact lenses for Sony E Mount Full Frame Mirrorless lenses has proven to be extremely popular, as is the case with their 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD and 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD zooms. The Japanese lens manufacturer is now turning their attention toward prime lenses, unveiling a trio of primes designed from the ground up for Sony E Mount at the annual PhotoPlus Expo in New York City last week. The Tamron 24mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 joins the 20mm and 35mm as part of Tamron’s Full Frame E Mount prime lens lineup, which follows the same design philosophy of balancing a small footprint while maintaining portability. The Tamron 24mm f2.8 is exceptionally lightweight, weighing less than half a pound. At just 2.5 inches in length, it also won’t take up much room in your camera bag either. The 20mm and 35mm f2.8 primes weigh less than half a pound as well and share the same exterior dimensions as the 24mm.

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Review: Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary (Almost a Leica)

Using the Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary is close to being the most perfect walkaround lens. 

When I got the Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary in for review, I was pretty shocked at how small it is. I knew and accepted the drawbacks of the lens not being fully weather-sealed and not a faster aperture. But at the same time, I tend to look at review units as what I wanted and what is actually in front of me. After all, that’s the customer experience. To that end, the folks who should go for the Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary are those that want and need something super affordable for their L mount or E mount cameras. Sony a7 III users will probably really like it. But at the same time, Sony has its own lineup of small prime lenses that are very affordable. And to be honest, I’m not sure that the person that this lens exists for even has a real camera option at the moment. Pretty much everything that’s L mount is pricey with the exception of Sigma’s FP.

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Review: Fujifilm GF 50mm F3.5 R LM WR (The Perfect Walk Around Lens)

If you’ve been looking for the perfect pancake lens for your Fujifilm GFX camera, the Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 is for you.

Fujifilm’s Medium Format platform has come on in leaps and bounds since the GFX 50S was introduced. The platform now has three excellent cameras to its name, and thanks to the Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR lens, photographers who use the platform have nine first-party lenses to choose from. What makes this lens different from primes that have come before it on the platform? The GF 50mm f3.5 is a 40mm f2.8 equivalent pancake lens that should please street photographers, photo walkers, documentarians, and many more to no end. In July, we got to spend a day with a pre-production model of the lens. We have been eager to see if anything has changed in the full retail version. Check out our full review after the break. Continue reading…

Review: 7Artisans 28mm f1.4 (This Lens Belong on a Film Camera)

The 7Artisans 28mm f1.4 is a reminder that cheap lenses are just an impulse buy for photographers.

If you look around on Instagram and at reviews of the 7Artisans 28mm f1.4 on the web, I’m very positive that the reviewers got a free copy of the lens and hyped it up. I’m even convinced that they’ve done excess editing to the images. But I bought mine with my own money. This has to be one of the most disappointing lenses that I’ve bought from 7Artisans. I purchased the company’s 50mm f1.1 and was given the 35mm f2 for free. Both of those lenses were pretty good. But the 7Artisans 28mm f1.4 is disappointing when shooting with it wide open and adapted to Sony. It only starts to become really worth anything when stopped down past f2.8. However, I’ll state that it has a look–and that look is best achieved on a Leica. It’s nothing compared to a proper Leica lens, and I doubt that the optics are even designed in the same way. But this purchase was a reminder to me that cheap lenses are often an impulse buy. Was I expecting Leica quality? Heck no. I wasn’t even expecting Voigtlander quality. But I was expecting the lens to be better than others on the market when adapted to Sony. Yet somehow or another, this lens absolutely sung to the heavens on Leica bodies.

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First Impressions: Fujifilm 16-80mm F4 R WR OIS (A Great Zoom Lens!)

The Fujifilm 16-80mm f4 R WR OIS is already receiving a lot of hype as a walkabout lens!

I never thought that a lens like the Fujifilm 16-80mm f4 R WR OIS would be made. But in retrospect, it’s one of the most sensical lens options for the company. This lens is small enough that a photographer would enjoy photo walking with it. But it’s also convenient enough to give a professional a fair working range. At f4 on an APS-C sensor, I’d argue that this lens should have been made with a faster aperture. Combined with one of Fujifilm’s camera options with image stabilization on the sensor, the Fujifilm 16-80mm f4 R WR OIS will do very well. But even on the older Fujifilm X-T2 that we used, the Fujifilm 16-80mm f4 R WR OIS produced beautiful results.

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Lens Review: Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F2.8 S (Nikon Z Mount)

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f2.8 S is the fast, multi-purpose workhorse Nikon Z series shooters have been waiting for.

When it comes to zoom lenses, the 24-70mm focal range is considered by many working photographers to be one of the “holy trinity” focal ranges. Professional photographers considering Nikon’s Z mount mirrorless system will likely debate the purchase of the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f2.8 S. They are often the first zoom lens many purchase due to their versatility in a variety of subject matters ranging from landscapes, real estate, street, to solo and group portraiture, and so much more. Nikon released a 24-70mm zoom to complement their Full Frame Z mount mirrorless cameras at launch, but that particular lens had a maximum aperture of just f4. Many photographers interested in the Z mount cameras wanted a faster alternative.

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Review: Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F4 Macro OIS

The Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f4 Macro OIS currently acts as the standard lens available for the system–and it’s not too bad!

While I’m usually not a fan of lenses like the Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f4 Macro OIS, I have to admit that this one grew on me. Many years ago, a 24-105mm f4 was my bread and butter lens, and many folks have something like it for general shooting. But for the type of photography and shooting I do now, I found that this lens isn’t versatile enough. This is a problem I find inherent in all 24-105mm lenses: it’s either not as long as Nikon’s 24-120mm or the aperture is too slow. When it comes to shooting in very low light situations, the image stabilization from the sensor and the lens sometimes falls short of what a faster aperture can give you. The Panasonic S1R is perhaps the best camera to combine this lens with. It is designed for high resolution shooting that therefore lends itself to better color editing and much more. The Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f4 Macro OIS is fittingly large to accommodate the Panasonic Lumix Pro series of cameras, and a lens that I’m not sure every photographer would want or need.

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Review: Sigma 35mm F1.2 Art DG DN (All of the Bokeh, and Weight)

The Sigma 35mm f1.2 Art DG DN is a fantastic lens, but very heavy.

I’m not sure from where Sigma got the memo that making the Sigma 35mm f1.2 Art DG DN into a mammoth was a great idea. The last time I knew, mirrorless camera lenses were supposed to be small. However, I have to admit that it seems like only Olympus, Fujifilm, and Sony have been sticking to that philosophy. The tradeoff here is a lens that delivers a look unlike anything else on the market. The Sigma 35mm f1.2 Art DG DN is a lens that really chooses to do things differently. It can be used with a click or de-click, has an f1.2 aperture while providing autofocus, adds weather sealing, and is meant to last. With a price tag that will accordingly leave a lasting hole in your wallet, I pondered whether the Sigma 35mm f1.2 Art DG DN is worth purchasing. For the duration of my review, I had a lot of second thoughts. But in this case, I don’t think that it’s Sigma’s fault.

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Lens Review: Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-30mm F4 S (Nikon Z Mount)

nikon z mount lenses 14-30mm

If you are in the market for an ultra-wide angle for your Nikon Z6 or Z7, the 14-30mm f4 S may well be at the top of your wish list.

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f4 S is an ultra-wide angle zoom designed for Nikon’s mirrorless Z mount cameras. It is both lightweight and compact and, at press time, the 14-30mm f4 is the widest autofocus Nikon Z mount lens available on the market. The Nikon Z 14-30mm f4 S is a welcome addition to the nascent Z mount lens lineup, which is about to celebrate its first birthday. One of the lens’ biggest selling points is its ability to accommodate threaded filters up front. This feature is extremely rare to find on an ultra-wide lens which typically includes bulbous front elements and thus requires the use of specialty filter mounting brackets. We got to spend some time with the 14-30mm earlier this year in Las Vegas during WPPI and were eager to get our review unit so we could put it through its paces and thoroughly test it in the wild. Head on after the jump to see if the Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f4 S is the right lens for you.

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Review: Tokina 100mm F2.8 Macro FiRIN (Sony FE)

The Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro FiRIN delivers great image quality at the expense of sounding like a cordless, handheld drill.

When the Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro FiRIN was announced, I was overjoyed at the fact that the company was working to create a different focal length than current options on the market. While Sony has its own f2.8 STF lens, I’m pretty sure most journalists and photographers can take it or leave it. But with the Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro FiRIN, the company is providing another focal length at a more affordable price point. Tokina’s glass has always been solid–in fact their parent company, Hoya, makes the optics for many lenses that you’re probably using. But they’ve always been a tad quirky. Sometimes I’ve encountered tactile issues, while in the case of the Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro FiRIN I found my ears consistently meeting the unpleasing sound of a loud motor–a thing that I believed to be buried in the past. If you tend to be a bit more tone-deaf or have worked on construction sites, you’ll probably be able to get over it.

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First Impressions: Sony E 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS (Sony E, APS-C)

A weather-sealed super-telephoto lens designed specifically for Sony’s APS-C mirrorless cameras.

Earlier this week, Sony announced their 70-350mm f4.5-6.3 G OSS lens, alongside the A6100 and A6600 crop sensor mirrorless cameras, and the 16-55mm f2.8 G lens. The Sony E 70-350mm f4.5-6.3 G OSS is the company’s first super-telephoto designed specifically for their crop sensor mirrorless cameras, with a 35mm Full Frame equivalent focal range of 105–525 mm. When shooting at such extreme focal lengths, the built-in optical image stabilization helps keep motion blur to a minimum. The 70-350mm f4.5-6.3 G OSS features an optical design consisting of an aspherical element along with three extra-low dispersion glass elements, and is dust and moisture resistant. Sony managed to pack these features into a compact package that weighs in at just 625g. We got a chance to shoot with the Sony 70-350mm f4.5-6.3 G OSS in a variety of shooting conditions using both the A6100 and A6600. Head on after the jump to check out our first impressions on this super-telephoto. Continue reading…

First Impressions: Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM (A Portrait Dream Lens)

The Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM helps the Canon EOS R deliver a bit of extra magic for portraiture.

When portrait photographers pick up the Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM, they’ll start to realize the absolute magic it’s capable of when rendering a portrait subject. Canon’s lenses haven’t always been about scoring high on DXOMark tests: they’re instead designed for the character. Canon’s RF 50mm f1.2 L USM delivers an almost medium format look that’s only possible with an 80mm f2 on a 645 body and the Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM isn’t anything different. Even when shooting wide open with a flash, the look you get is far unlike anything else. That’s not to say that everything else isn’t capable of delivering beautiful images, but a long focal length at f1.2 is something to really behold.

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First Impressions: Sony E 16-55mm F2.8 G (Sony E Mount, APS-C)

The Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G is a lightweight and compact zoom lens with weather-sealing that’s designed for crop sensor E mount cameras

Sony has been releasing new mirrorless APS-C cameras regularly for the last few years. A common complaint has been the lack of new lenses that are designed specifically for crop sensor E mount cameras. With the introduction of the Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G lens, those shooting with Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras finally have a first-party standard zoom option. This is Sony’s first 16-55mm zoom explicitly designed for crop sensor E mount cameras, with a 35mm Full Frame equivalent focal length of 24-82.5mm and a constant aperture of f2.8. 24-70mm f2.8 zooms are the workhorse lenses for many working photographers, and this 16-55mm is essentially the APS-C version of that, albeit much lighter and more compact. The Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G features an optical design consisting of two AA lenses, two aspherical elements, and three ED glasses, and is driven by an XD Linear Motor allowing the lens to focus quickly, accurately, and quietly. Being a G lens, the 16-55mm is also dust and moisture resistant.

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First Impressions: Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm F2.8 (Super Sharp!)

The Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 is arguably the best zoom we’ve used for the system so far.

The results of Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 will mean a lot for the company. In my opinion, it’s one of three lenses that will determine the success of the L mount alliance in its early stages. Along with the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 and the Sigma 35mm f1.2, these lenses are some of the options most targeted to professional photographers. Leica has an excellent selection of glass, but let’s be honest: it also comes at a premium. We’re not sure how many professional photographers will reach for Leica lenses. But, they’ll reach for Sigma and Panasonic due to the price and performance they offer. If Panasonic can fix its autofocus algorithms, the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 will make their cameras an excellent contender vs the rest of the options on the market.

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