First Impressions: Tokina 50mm F1.4 Opera (Canon EF)

The Tokina 50mm f1.4 Opera thus far seems to be the best bang for your buck 50mm f1.4 lens on the market.

One of my biggest criticisms of Tokina was their lack of weather sealed glass, but the new Tokina 50mm f1.4 Opera offers it and a number of other great things. Tokina and Hoya, who provide the literal glass in the lenses for most of the industry, are very experienced lens makers and when you look at what the Tokina 50mm f1.4 Opera really is, you start to realize that the ‘bigger is better’ trend is really imperative to creating better lenses. But in comparison to many others on the market, the Tokina 50mm f1.4 Opera offers not only weather sealing but gorgeous bokeh, sharp optics, and an autofocus fast enough to track moving subjects in low light (tested on a Canon 5D Mk IV) for under $1,000.

Seriously, what’s not to like?

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Lens Review: Tokina 20mm F2 FiRIN AF (Sony FE)

The Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF takes the great qualities of the manual focus version and adds autofocus.

When the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF was announced, I was a tad confused as to why they’d create it. I mean, the manual focus version was and still is great. They essentially just took it, gave it autofocus, and didn’t do any other major upgrades, not even weather sealing! So as I went through my review process, I kept all of this in mind. The way I see it, I really want to understand why they didn’t just go for the autofocus version to begin with. To me, that didn’t make sense. Essentially, the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF is the same lens as the manual focus version. It is still a lens with sharp optics. Still at f2. Still fairly small and lightweight; and at the same time this lens is still relatively affordable. But I’m still scratching my head.

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Review: IRIX 15mm F2.4 FireFly (Canon EF, Used on Sony FE)

The IRIX 15mm f2.4 FireFly has lots of the benefits of its bigger brother with very few drawbacks.

Earlier on, we reviewed the IRIX 15mm f2.4 BlackStone, which is considered to be the higher end option to the IRIX 15mm f2.4 FireFly. That lens was great, and in our findings we recently found the IRIX 15mm f2.4 FireFly to be pretty much just as great. Both lenses have weather sealing, both are manual focus, both can lock their focus and they have innovative features compared to many other options on the market. Of course, they both have fantastic optics. The major advantage of the Blackstone? A metal body, slightly better image quality (though noticeable), and a special, black light-illuminated material in the ink on the lens. But if you don’t care for any of that, the IRIX 15mm f2.4 FireFly survived with us through rainstorms.

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Lens Review: Rokinon 21mm F1.4 (Fujifilm X Mount)

Affordable manual focus lenses like the Rokinon 21mm f1.4 are a great way for a photographer to try out a new focal length, or to add capabilities to their kit without breaking the bank.

The Rokinon 21mm f1.4 is a fast, wide angle (30mm FF equivalent) lens capable of being used in a wide variety of purposes from travel, street, portraiture, and even landscapes. But is this lens worthy of investing in, or is it just worth it to save a little longer in order to purchase a native Fujifilm lens like the 23mm f2 or the 23mm f1.4? Let’s have a look…

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Review: Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM (Canon RF Mount)

The Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM is one of the reasons why I’m going back to the system.

I genuinely didn’t expect to Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM to be a reason to come back to Canon, but I’m glad to say that via Adorama, I’ve made the purchase of the new lens along with a new body. With a very medium format look to it, the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM proves that Canon really did put lenses first when they created this camera system. While the Canon EOS R in and of itself is a bit lackluster in comparison to its competitors, this lens is really make it stand out. Maybe I’m smitten with the way that the sharpness is just there at f1.2 or the colors, the way it makes people look, or just the beauty of how it renders scenes. But as it is, I’m pretty safe guarded against the bokeh bug. And in my testing, I’ve found the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM to be really, really incredible.

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First Impressions: Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master (Sony FE)

The Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is the lightest and most compact G Master lens yet.

Earlier this week, Sony invited members of the photography press to an event in San Francisco where they unveiled the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master lens, making it the 30th Full Frame lens for Sony’s E mount overall and the 8th lens within the G Master series. Weighing in at only 445 grams, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is currently the lightest and most compact lens in the G Master lineup. With excellent corner to corner sharpness and a wide focal length, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is a lens that will suit the needs of photographers specializing in astrophotography, environmental portraiture, landscape photography, and travel photography alike.

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Review: Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di VC USD (Canon EF)

Using the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is nice, but I’ve seen and used better.

When the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is mounted to something like the Canon 6D Mk II, the hobbyist photographer is bound to get a great lens for capturing wildlife. Tamron’s record for creating stellar lenses over the years continues in many ways with the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD, but it also still isn’t a perfect lens. There are a lot of wonderful things about it though such as the weather sealing, relatively light weight of the lens, smallish size when it comes to being stuffed into your camera bag, and of course the image quality. But to be honest, I’ve seen and used better lenses.

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Review: Canon 70-200mm F4 L IS USM II (Canon EF)

With the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II, photographers have a great option for travel photography.

When the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II was announced, I thought it would make for a fantastic travel photography lens; one that will appeal to enthusiasts quite a bit. Canon, after all, decided to do a revamp of the lens rather than the most minimal amount of effort they put into their f2.8 option. Though I’ve given Canon quite a bit of heat over the years, this new Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II is where I’ll concede to them; they created a fantastic lens that is lighter than lots of telephoto prime lenses out there. With some solid autofocusing abilities, great image stabilization of over four stops, light weight, and good optics, I need to give Canon a lot of credit for the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II.

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Review: Rokinon 14mm F2.8 AF (Canon EF)

The Rokinon 14mm f2.8 AF lens is one that travel photographers are bound to enjoy.

When I heard about the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 AF lens, I was a tad shocked. I mean, a new autofocus lens for Canon DSLRs? Really? Why not just continue to focus on mirrorless cameras instead of going for a dying format? Alas, Rokinon has created this lens for DSLR shooters; specifically those that use Canon EF mount cameras. It isn’t their highest-end offering, but it has features that make it almost so. For starters, the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 AF has autofocus in it. That’s a big one for Rokinon who traditionally has been a manual focus lens maker. Then there is weather sealing. Yup; when I first started working with this lens, I didn’t think that there was. It wasn’t until I removed it from the camera that I felt and saw the rubber ring on the back of the lens.

And at $698, there isn’t much to complain about.

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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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