Review: Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art (Canon EF)

The Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens is surprising good!

The 70mm focal length has always weirded me out, so when the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art came in, I was a scratching my head for sure. Macro work is fun, but it gets monotonous after some time. The 70mm focal length is odd for portraiture, but the right photographer can make it work. So with Sigma’s latest addition to the Art lineup of lenses, I tried to figure out how I would test the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art in a way that could do it justice. I came up with a few tests that were much different than anything else I’ve done. What I ended up creating are the favorite photos of a few folks who follow me on Instagram.

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Review: Lensbaby Sol 45 (45mm f3.5 Sony E Mount, FE)

The Lensbaby Sol 45 takes the best of their composer series and blends it with some unique bokeh.

We’ve been testing the new Lensbaby Sol 45 for a few months, and with its unique features this lens could be a favorite of many photographers who love their bokeh. But for photographers who want to use it for something more serious, the Lensbaby Sol 45 could present an inherent and sometimes annoying challenge. For starters, it’s a fixed f3.5 aperture lens. While it’s capable of rendering sharp images, I can’t get behind the lack of interchangeable apertures. However, what you do get instead is the ability to change the shape of the bokeh ever so slightly with Lensbaby’s token shifting abilities.

We’ve been using it on the Sony a7r III and the Sony a7. And there is a lot about it that we like despite a few qualms.

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Review: Panasonic 12-60mm F2.8-4 Power OIS (Micro Four Thirds)

The Panasonic 12-60mm f2.8-4 Power OIS lens is a pretty good option, but is it a professional one?

When the Panasonic 12-60mm f2.8-4 Power OIS was announced with a number of other variable aperture lenses, I was very confused. Why would Panasonic make a lineup of lenses with variable apertures and target them at professional photographers? Many pros want constant aperture lenses. Granted, these lenses are a bit longer than most professional zoom lenses, and as I saw over a period of time, the performance is also really up there. The Panasonic 12-60mm f2.8-4 Power OIS is weather sealed, sharp, fast to focus, provides quite a bit of extra (and much needed) stabilization, and feels great in the hand. When it comes to working with Micro Four Thirds, it also means you generally never need to stop the lenses down due to depth of field.

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Review: Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD (Canon EF)

The Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD is in some ways fantastic; in other ways a let down.

When testing the Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD, I had a whole lot of hope. The company’s lenses have been stellar and they’ve been winning many awards. But when it came to working with this lens, things were just off. The quality of the optics is fantastic as always. But where I saw issues was with performance–not only on the Canon 6D Mk II but with a Sony a7r III and a Metabones adapter. It could do the job, but with varying success that other lenses of similar types and focal lengths could do. The Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD isn’t a bad lens–it’s just one that I’d probably relegate just to studio work and sports with lots of bright light.

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Review: Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD (Sony FE)

Spending time with the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD was a real pleasure

Generally speaking, I’m not one to like zoom lenses; but when I considered what the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD is then I didn’t mind it all that much. The talk about autofocus issues are, in my opinion, highly over-exaggerated as I personally didn’t see them with my unit. In fact, it didn’t suffer from any real autofocus issues at all. To that end, the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD focused better on the Sony a7r III than their lenses have focused on Canon DSLRs in my years of testing Tamron’s newest lenses. These lenses have been emphasizing a new philosophy within Tamron that gives each unit a silver ring around the mount, weather sealing, a new finish, and a number of major enhancements. While the world talks of Sigma this and Sigma that, I often like to remind folks that Tamron also isn’t doing a bad job.

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Review: 7Artisans 35mm f2 (Leica M Mount, Used on Sony FE)

The 7Artisans 35mm f2 lens isn’t as sharp and doesn’t have better bokeh than a Leica, but it’s still very pleasing

Let me get this right out of the way, the 7Artisans 35mm f2 lens isn’t as good as Leica’s. Leica’s outperforms in sharpness, detail, and bokeh in pretty much every way and at every aperture. But the 7Artisans 35mm f2 isn’t at all bad; and it can still render very gorgeous images. Being a Chinese lens, there are surely folks out there who may doubt how capable it is. But I can assure you that unless you had other lenses side by side or were very familiar with other optics, you wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference between the 7Artisans 35mm f2 and other offerings when it comes to image quality. But when it comes to the ergonomics, there are surely differences.

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Lens Review: Leica 28mm f1.4 Summilux (M Mount)

I didn’t think I’d fall in love with the Leica 28mm f1.4 Summilux like I did

The Leica 28mm f1.4 Summilux was offered to me to test after requesting it a long time ago. I’d probably never buy it brand new as I prefer my lenses and cameras to have what we Americans love to call “Patina” to them, and even as it is I’m pretty well set on the M mount lenses I currently own. The Leica 28mm f1.4 Summilux is quite possibly the ultimate photojournalist’s lens. It has a fast aperture, a solid build quality, and is surprisingly sharp at every single aperture. But even that isn’t the secret sauce to what makes this lens so incredibly special.

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Review: Lomography Neptune Lenses (Canon EF Mount Adapted to Sony FE)

Everywhere I went, folks were curious about the unconventional look of the Lomography Neptune Lenses.

When the Lomography Neptune Lenses were announced, I was sort of confused. They are simultaneously some of the weirdest lenses that I’ve ever used and amongst the most beautiful lenses that I’ve ever used. In some ways, I want to liken them to something like Zeiss lenses–except that they’re not as sharp (but you wouldn’t be able to tell unless you pixel peeped), have less contrast, more lens flare that I crave, none of the weather sealing, and they aren’t as fast. But if you really use the Neptune Lenses and simply just incorporate them into the way that you naturally work, you’ll be rewarded with image quality that is incredibly unique, versatile, and that you’re probably going to just get anyway if you sit there and apply some VSCO or RNI film presets to your images. But in this case, you won’t necessarily need to.

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Review: Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE (Sony E Mount, Full Frame)

A great lens at an affordable price with gorgeous bokeh

When I started using the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE, I didn’t think I and readers who I share images with on Instagram would adore the image quality this much. Don’t get me wrong, I knew Rokinon lenses are great, but this one seemed to create absolute magic. Photographers who likes bokeh are bound to be astounded by the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE, and those who enjoy contrasty images and very saturated photos will also find they’ll adore this lens. On top of that, you can guarantee it’s going to be sharp. The autofocus isn’t Sony’s but it’s still not at all that terrible. During my time with this lens, I was genuinely shocked because I hate the 50mm focal length. But over time, it started to change me. I still prefer the 35mm focal length, but the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE is an almost perfect lens.

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Review: Sony 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS (Sony E Mount)

The Sony 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS isn’t our favorite option, but it also isn’t that awful

If you’re a user of the Sony a6000 series cameras, then you can probably imagine yourself using a lens like the Sony 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS. It is targeted squarely at photographers who travel and for those who want a lens designed for a hobbyist. Want to photograph your kids? What about candid moments? The way I see it, the folks who would buy the Sony 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS would probably take their Sony a6500 or a6300 and set it on auto or some sort of scene mode to shoot. Now that’s not to say that those are the only people who may use it, but that’s who I imagine most of the buyers will be. With the variable apertures, image stabilization and a range of focal lengths, I can’t say that I blame them. In fact, I clearly see the Sony 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS being offered as a kit zoom of some sort. That’s where this lens probably belongs.

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Review: Sony 16-35mm f2.8 G Master FE (Sony E Mount, Full Frame)

The Sony 16-35mm f2.8 G Master FE completes the Sony trinity of professional zoom lenses

Though the decision to make the Sony 16-35mm f2.8 G Master FE still sort of baffles me, I can’t deny it’s a very good lens for professional photography. When I think about wide angle f2.8 full frame zoom lenses I think of both the 16-35mm and the 14-24mm. And for the life of me, I’m not exactly sure why Sony chose 16-35mm. Could it be because they’re going after Canon? At this point, I’m not sure they need to. A 14-24mm would have rounded out their options very well. Nonetheless, Sony’s decision is their own, and the company made a lens that is very well worth being ranked amongst some of the best zoom lenses out there. With weather sealing and sharpness as paramount features here, the Sony 16-35mm f2.8 G Master FE is a fantastic lens for the professional photographer.

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Review: Sony 24-105mm f4 G OSS (Sony E, Full Frame)

The Sony 24-105mm f4 G OSS lens has to be one of the system’s best walkaround lenses.

If you were to compare the Sony 24-105mm f4 G OSS to the company’s G Master lenses, then I’d feel like you’re doing it an injustice in some ways. Nevertheless, this is a comparison that will be made simply because every other manufacturer has an offering that rates it amongst their best lenses. Indeed, the Sony 24-105mm f4 G OSS is quite a great lens for the travel photographer, but it’s on G glass. It has weather sealing, but isn’t as sealed as some of the company’s other offerings. It has a great range, but maxes out at f4. For some photographers this will be a problem, but for photographers who travel, this is perhaps one of the best lenses you can get for your Sony camera.

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Review: Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 Art DG (Canon EF, Tested on Sony FE)

The Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 Art DG is no exception to the company’s lineup of excellent optics

When the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 Art DG came in for review, I saw the review going something like this, “It’s great. Get it.” That’s not me being biased: Sigma’s Art lineup of lenses have consistently been stellar and there isn’t a whole lot of argument about that. With the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 Art DG you’re getting the same great Sigma optics you always get in addition to weather resistance. The fact that they took the route of tackling a 14-24mm f2.8 optic instead of a 16-35mm also means you’ve got even more range of coverage when you use their lenses. Of course, not every photographer will really need something like this: 14-24mm is typically used by architecture, environmental, landscape, and photojournalistic photographers. Not many folks need to go beyond 24mm and many even think it to be too wide.

But one thing is for sure, the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 Art DG is a fantastic lens.

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Review: Sigma 500mm f4 DG OS HSM Sports (Canon EF Mount, Adapted to Sony FE)

TheSigma 500mm f4 DG OS HSM Sports is a massive lens that’s not too bad for wildlife

I rarely review lenses as big as the Sigma 500mm f4 DG OS HSM Sports, but they’re an important part of the sports and wildlife photography world. And surprisingly, the Sigma 500mm f4 DG OS HSM can be handheld and shot if you’ve got the right settings. As a prime, fixed focal length lens without as fast of an aperture as many of the others out there, photographers who shoot outdoors are still bound to value it for its relatively compact size for a lens of this type and its fairly lightweight nature. You’ll also be glad to know this lens has a dust-proof and splash-proof design. So if you’re like me, then you’ll want to adapt it to a Metabones adapter that has weather sealing built into it and mount it onto a camera like the Sony a7r III.

And believe it or not, that’s exactly what I did.

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REVIEW: Fujifilm 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro (Fujifilm X)

Macro photography is important for everything from wedding details to food and beverage advertisements; so is Fujifilm’s new 80mm F2.8 the new go-to option for X-Series macro enthusiasts?

Macro photography is one of those interesting niches of photography that can sort of bleed over into almost every other niche. You have wedding photographers needing macro detail shots of the wedding rings and reception details. You have food and beverage photographers needing 1:1 images of the items they are shooting. Heck, you also have true macro enthusiasts shooting insane shots of insects and other tiny objects.

But for all of these things, one needs a specialized macro lens. You’ve got a lot of lenses these days sell themselves as almost macro lenses with 1:2 reproduction and a very close focusing distance. This is good enough for many photographers. But for anyone needing true macro capabilities those quasi-macro lenses will not suffice, and a dedicated macro lens with a least 1:1 reproduction is a necessity. Continue reading…

Review: Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f2.8 Compact Dreamer (Sony E Mount)

The Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f2.8 Compact Dreamer is quite the weird lens, but it’s the wide angle option Sony needs.

If you attach the new Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f2.8 Compact Dreamer to a Sony a6500 camera, then you’ll see that while it’s a weird lens it’s also a lens that Sony really needs for their system. It’s billed as a lens with really low distortion–and it indeed doesn’t have a whole lot of it except around the corners. Designed for APS-C sensors, I also feel like this lens isn’t necessarily a big winner for Venus Optics. Many of their lenses have this beautiful character to them, but this one feels flat in many ways and that means you’re going to surely rely more on what the sensor is capable of doing. That’s fine, but I’ve never been so lukewarm about a lens from Venus Optics.

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Lens Review: 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 (Leica M Mount and Used on Sony FE)

The 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 is a lens with character and beauty

I’ll fully admit that I’ve become incredibly smitten with Leica M mount lenses from various manufacturers and the 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 is no exception here. Though I’m not always in love with crazy super shallow depth of field necessarily, I’ll admit that when it has both super creamy out of focus areas, lens flare, and it isn’t overly sharp, that I’m pretty head over heels. Call it perfection in the imperfections, hipster, or that analogue look (which isn’t really true); but the 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 is highly capable. It looks just like most other Leica lenses in almost every way but the true differences only come out when you start to hold it. It’s not a truly massive lens, but it is surely well built in many regards and with a few exceptions.

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REVIEW: Olympus 45mm F1.2 PRO (Micro Four Thirds)

Is the Olympus 45mm F1.2 PRO the ultimate portrait lens for the micro four thirds system? Maybe.

Probably the most common form of photography practiced by the general public is portraiture, people wanting to take pictures of their kids, family, etc. But everyone is looking for that shallow depth of field, that ‘professional look’ and in the micro four thirds ecosystem, it takes some extreme lenses in order to achieve that. But knowing this, Olympus has really stepped up their game lately with the addition of many F1.2 PRO lenses, and while not cheap, these lenses do their best to compensate for the differences between the micro four thirds system and its larger competition.

It started with the 25mm F1.2 PRO, has continued with the latest 17mm F1.2 PRO, and the topic of this review, the 45mm F1.2 Pro. Of all three of these lenses, probably the aptest for that coveted pro portrait look is the 45mm F1.2 PRO. So, let’s have a look and see how it stacks up.

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First Impressions: Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art

Sigma finally adds weather sealing to an Art Series lens!

For the longest time, it has been a bit of a pain for photographers wanting that unicorn-esq combination of fast aperture and ultrawide field of view. Their only real options were in the form of extremely expensive lenses from Canon or Nikon, or third party options that offered questionable image quality, build quality, or had some sort of usability issues that made them not ideal choices. Well, as Sigma has been known to do, they want to blow that dynamic up, and they are doing so in a big way with their new 14-24mm F2.8 Art.

This is a lens that offers that now legendary Sigma Art lens aesthetic that combines excellent image quality with great build quality in an affordable package. But Sigma has also upped the ante with this lens, adding weather sealing on par with their Sports designated lenses making this lens an excellent choice for those looking to shoot outdoors in less than ideal conditions.

We had a chance for some quick hands-on time with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 Art at WPPI 2018 in Las Vegas and today we have some initial hands-on impressions for you. So let’s get to it… Continue reading…

REVIEW: Olympus 17mm F1.2 PRO (Micro Four Thirds)

F1.2 is an aperture that turns heads, and thats exactly what the Olympus 17mm F1.2 PRO does. But is it worth it?

There are a lot of really impressive things about the Olympus 17mm F1.2 PRO, one of them being obvious – that f1.2 aperture. It is something not many OEM brands are doing these days – breaking that F1.4 barrier. In the case of Olympus it’s likely more about necessity than actually wanting to do it (in order to compete with the look of larger sensor cameras Olympus must push their optics to the extreme).

But is the Olympus 17mm F1.2 PRO simply a gimmick to grab the headlines in hopes of bringing in more business, or is this lens one that stands on its own merit and deserves to be in the kit of serious Micro Four Thirds photographers? Let’s get into the review and you can see for yourself.

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Review: Lensbaby Burnside 35mm F2.8 (Sony FE)

The Lensbaby Burnside 35mm F2.8 has vignetting control. And that’s really cool!

To say the Lensbaby Burnside 35mm F2.8 lens is an unusual lens would be an understatement. In an age where many photographers focus heavily on the speed at which the latest cameras and lenses can track and maintain focus on a subject, and whether or not the images produced are tack sharp from corner to corner, it’s nice to be reminded of the joys and challenges that come with photographing with manual equipment. This has always been what made Lensbaby lenses so interesting to use. While some photographers may find shooting with manual lenses challenging, it has never been easier to photograph using manual glass when it is paired with the latest camera bodies with advanced image stabilization capabilities built in.

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