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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First Impressions: Fujifilm GFX GF50mm F3.5 R LM WR

Fujifilm FUJINON GF50mm

The Fujifilm GF50mm F3.5 R LM WR could be the perfect street, walk-about, and environmental portrait lens for the GFX series.

Fujifilm recently announced a new lens for their Medium Format cameras: the Fujifilm GF50mm f3.5 R LM WR. We were fortunate enough to get our hands on a pre-production version of the Fujifilm FUJINON GF50mm f3.5, and we got to spend a few hours with it out on some sunny streets. This normal/standard lens has an approximate equivalent focal length of 40mm, and an equivalent aperture of f2.8 if you were to compare it to 35mm Full Frame offerings. This lens should excite those who use GFX cameras for street photography and environmental portraiture. Join us after the break to see some sample images, and to read about our first impressions of this new lens. Continue reading…

Review: Sony 35mm F1.8 FE (This Is My Next Lens)

The new Sony 35mm f1.8 FE lens is real, and it’s the most perfect Sony lens I could ask for.

All I ever really wanted was a Sony 35mm f1.8 FE lens–and I never thought they’d make one. But when I received a call last week about testing a product not yet announced, I was quite shocked. The company has its 35mm f2.8 FE and a 35mm f1.4 FE lenses; both are quite good in their own respects. But what they needed was a middle ground option, and that’s where the Sony 35mm f1.8 FE is coming into play very strongly. It’s small and designed to be on par with the quality that the 55mm f1.8 and the 85mm f1.8 deliver. If you know anything about those lenses, you’ll understand that they’re incredible values. Sony considers their 28mm f2 to be on the same playing field, but I’ve got mixed thoughts on that opinion. What I know for sure though: the Sony 35mm f1.8 FE is a far better choice. With weather sealing, fast autofocus, incredibly sharp image quality, beautiful bokeh, and almost cinematic image quality to it, the Sony 35mm f1.8 FE is going to be my next lens.

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Review: IRIX 150mm F2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens (The Bokeh King)

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens, but it’s solid all around. 

When IRIX announced that their Dragonfly series of lenses would be a bit in between their Blackstone and their Firefly lenses, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Then I got to see it for a bit at Photo Plus East last year and my expectations were a more positive. But what really made me happy about the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens is how it performs on the Canon EOS R. This lens is weather sealed, sharp, has 11 aperture blades to render gorgeous bokeh, accurate focus due to a long focus throw and Canon’s absolutely fantastic rangefinder system, and overall is a very versatile lens. Though IRIX’s options are more for enthusiasts due to the low price and the manual focus, this lens is worthy of being in the bag of any working portrait photographer. It allows for close focusing distance and provides solid image quality. And for only $595, I’m shocked at what it can do.

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Review: Lensbaby 35mm f3.5 Edge and Composer Pro (Sony FE)

The Lensbaby 35mm f3.5 Edge promises a very fun time.

I’ve been a big fan of the stuff Lensbaby does for a long time, and with the Lensbaby 35mm f3.5 Edge I feel like they’re not doing anything particularly special aside from an update. That’s not to say this is a bad product. It’s fun, but for what it’s worth, the Lensbaby 35mm f3.5 Edge isn’t as fun or sharp as the company’s longer focal lengths. You’re sure to get that tilt-shift effect that people love to recreate using algorithms. However, when you use the Lensbaby 35mm f3.5 Edge you start to see that this lens has a lot of character. From the way it can deliver lens flares to the tiny sliver of semi-sharpness that it has in the center, the Lensbaby 35mm f3.5 Edge can proovide any photographer with lots of fun if you fully embrace it and throw all the conformities out the window.

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Review: Canon RF 35mm f1.8 USM IS (Almost Worthy of Being L Glass)

The Canon 35mm f1.8 USM IS RF has a very affordable price point and the image quality to exceed said price point.

When the Canon RF 35mm f1.8 USM IS was first announced, I was excited until I learned that it didn’t have weather sealing. For those of you who have been fans of the site for years, you’ll know that I’m big on weather sealing. I’m of firm belief that every camera and lens these days should have it. And I’m also a big fan of small lenses for mirrorless cameras. The Canon RF 35mm f1.8 USM IS is just that. It surely isn’t an L lens but this is a lens designed for fun and a little bit of serious work. Most importantly, it has image stabilization built in.

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Review: Rokinon 85mm F1.4 AF FE (This + Sony a7r III = Portra Colors)

e mount lenses Rokinon 85mm f1.4

The Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AF FE is a very good lens overall, but you may still want to stick with Sony’s options.

When testing the Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AF FE, I admittedly ran into problems with the autofocus performance that needed to be fixed. Luckily, I knew how to do it with a quick clean of the communication contacts. But the fact that I needed to have this knowledge is something that I’m not sure the average photographer has–at least those who would be attracted to the more affordable Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AF FE option. If you get beyond this, you start to realize it’s a fantastic lens for portraiture. On the Sony a7r III, it’s capable of focusing very accurately, albeit still slower than Sony’s options. But I’m positive in saying that if one looked at the images side-by-side from each lens without pixel peeping, no one would be able to tell the differences between them.

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Review: Canon 85mm F1.4 L IS USM (Works Well with Eye Autofocus)

We took our time with the Canon 85mm f1.4 L IS USM because we liked it that much.

If you’re a DSLR owner and wanted an update for your own really old 85mm f1.2 you’ll see that the Canon 85mm f1.4 L IS USM answers a lot of the problems the older version had. Indeed, the implementation of image stabilization is a huge upgrade when coupled with a significantly lighter body, faster autofocus, and overall sharper optics. To be fair, both the 85mm f1.2 and Canon’s f1.4 lenses were designed more for rendering a specific look on full frame and 35mm film bodies. Then you look at all the other great stuff the Canon 85mm f1.4 L IS USM has. It’s packed with weather sealing and when you attach it to Canon’s EOS R, you’ll reap the benefits of that.

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First Impressions: Sony 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS (FE Lens)

For a really affordable price point, the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS is going to satisfy the needs of many photographers.

I’m very shocked at how much I liked the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS after playing with it for a weekend. I’m not saying that because I doubt Sony’s ability to make a great lens, but because I found the lightweight, focal length range, relatively compact size, and image stabilization combined well together to create what could arguably be Sony’s most useful lens for photojournalism to date. Though it’s only of the G moniker and not a G Master, there is little holding me back from saying that any photographer would be unwise to pass up on this lens. At a $2,000 price point, every photographer will get several useful focal lengths along with image stabilization and small size. Plus, it’s got a solid image quality! Though despite all of this, I’m still a bit wary; the last time I used a G series lens, I had a bad experience with its build quality.

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Review: Sony 600mm F4 G Master OSS (A Bird Photographer’s Dream)

The Sony 600mm f4 G Master OSS took us by surprise when we heard about it, but it’s great.

When we were shown the Sony 600mm f4 G Master OSS, I was shocked to see it was coming. My first thought would have been another zoom lens for sports photographers, but it would be unlike Sony to just announce a zoom lens. Instead, the Sony 600mm f4 G Master OSS is an option for photographers that pulls out all the stops. You’re still going to need a monopod or tripod to shoot with it for long periods, but I’m it isn’t imperative. The lens works in combination with Sony’s IBIS system to give the photographer a lot of image stabilization when photographing sports and birds alike. Then, consider the weather sealing inside and the fact that this is the largest lens for a mirrorless camera system that we’ve seen yet. And despite this, we ultimately see the value in it.

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Review: Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis (A Lens for Sony FE Photojournalists)

The Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis is rugged and has good image quality, but it’s in an odd place.

The 40mm focal length is one that photojournalists can truly benefit from; and in the case of the Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis for Sony FE cameras photographers will be quite pleased with the results if they’re discerning about their look. Similar to what Sigma did, with their 40mm f1.4, the Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis has a muted color tone for the film look. It isn’t as sharp, but it is also slightly more affordable, smaller, lighter, etc. This lens also boasts weather sealing, fast autofocus, and the signature display window on top to give the photographer a ton of information that they need right then and there. The working photojournalist will surely find the Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis to be a good lens for their needs; but at the same time this doesn’t feel like a Zeiss offering. Further, I’m a bit befuzzled at why Zeiss didn’t make this an f1.4 lens.

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Review: Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon EF Mount)

The Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 incorporates a number of enhancements to the company’s already excellent flagship ultra-wide angle zoom lens

When Tamron released the original version of their SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD high-speed ultra-wide angle zoom back in 2015, we praised it for its sharpness, color rendition, and versatility, but felt that there were some areas that Tamron could improve on. Enter the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2, Tamron’s 2nd generation refresh of the same lens that we had reviewed some four years ago which incorporates a number of improvements upon the well-received original. A pair of MPUs (Micro-Processing Unit) along with a VC (Vibration Compensation) mechanism resides within the SP 15-30mm f2.8 G2 and work in tandem to ensure snappy autofocus performance while maintaining image stabilization.

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