Review: Sigma 40mm f1.4 DG HSM Art (Do YOU Even Lift, Bruh?)

The Sigma 40mm f1.4 DG HSM Art lens has some of the best image quality we’ve seen; but oh jeez is it heavy!

When I held the Sigma 40mm f1.4 DG HSM Art lens in my hands the first time around, I thought that it was massive. But it was only when it came in for the full review that I realized just how large it is. This lens is a special one from Sigma, it was designed first and foremost for cinema then photo second. As a result, the images from it are amongst some of the most muted that I’ve seen from a Sigma lens. In some ways, it reminds me of certain negative film stocks. Combine this with the weather sealing and fairly fast focusing abilities and you’ve got a winner, right? Well, if you don’t mind barely every pulling the lens out unless you need it because it’s so large and heavy, then sure.

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Review: Fujifilm 8-16mm f2.8 R LM WR (Fujifilm X Mount)

The wide angle zoom that many of us have always wanted for the X series system is here in the form of the Fujifilm 8-16mm f2.8 R WR.

When using the Fujifilm 8-16mm f2.8 R LM WR on the Fujifilm X-T3, I was both enthused and confused. In some ways, it feels like a massive prime lens as the zooming mechanic is almost completely internal. But at the same time, it’s big. At f2.8 and with a ton of weather sealing, I can understand why though. This lens is designed for the photographer who needs the ability to shoot super but also access some zoom capabilities. If you’re the type of photographer who prefers prime lenses then you’ll be perhaps more delighted with a lens like their very good 16mm f1.4 R WR. However, I must admit that the Fujifilm 8-16mm f2.8 R LM WR is an incredibly fun lens to use.

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Review: Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD (Canon EF)

The Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD is a lens that just didn’t do it for me.

When the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD was offered to us for review, I have to say that with all honesty I wasn’t all that excited. Zoom lenses are very useful, but primes are where my heart is. Tamron’s zoom lenses have traditionally been very good since their rework a few years ago to include the silver mount ring, but a zoom lens with a variable aperture and that isn’t a telephoto zoom lens to the nigh equivalent of going on a date with someone that you’re not all that excited about but do instead just to see if you can give it a shot. The first thing that you’re thinking is “Who the hell does that?”

And the answer: A reviewer whose job it is to review lenses. Like most of modern dating, it just seems like this isn’t the one for me despite just how good it really is.

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Review: Fujifilm XF 200mm F2 OIS WR (Fujifilm X Mount)

Wildlife photographers using the Fujifilm XF 200mm f2 OIS WR are bound to be very happy with the results.

The Fujifilm XF 200mm f2 OIS WR is currently the company’s longest telephoto prime lens and also, by far, their largest. Designed for wildlife photography (and sports to some degree), this lens is arguably best used in the hands of a wildlife photographer. Though we were sent the lens with the company’s teleconverter, we felt it better to test it without that so we could keep the test as pure as possible. With some amazingly close focusing distances, weather sealing, optical image stabilization, and the ability to use a film simulation of some of the world’s greatest emulsions, you’re going to get a product that is going to deliver jaw dropping photos.

But of course, you’re paying quite the price.

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First Impressions: Sigma 40mm f1.4 Art DG HSM (Sample Images)

The Sigma 40mm f1.4 Art DG HSM has to be one of the largest wide angle lenses that we’ve used in a long time.

I saw the Sigma 40mm f1.4 Art DG HSM originally at Photokina 2018 this year, held it, and thought to myself about just how massive it is. But it wasn’t until getting it back in for review that I truly embraced the idea. The Sigma 40mm f1.4 Art DG HSM is a special lens–it was designed first for cinema and then Sigma decided that they might as well create a stills version too. The company packed everything into here: good glass, color that has a specific look to it, weather sealing, etc. Considering that it is part of the Art lineup of lenses, then we really just have to assume that it’s going to be great. Pretty much every lens that we’ve tested thus far in the Art Lineup has been mostly flawless.

For the week or so that we’ve been using the Sigma 40mm f1.4 Art DG HSM, we’ve been embracing its very token color rendition and look.

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Review: Sony 24mm F1.4 G Master (Sony FE Mount)

The Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master combines affordability with versatility in a lightweight, compact package

Announced back in September of this year, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is the latest entry joining Sony’s premium G Master lens lineup. At press time, it also happens to be the lightest and most compact G Master lens as well, barely tipping the scales at a mere 15.7 oz (445 g). Exceptionally sharp from corner to corner even when shooting wide open thanks to a pair of extreme aspherical glass elements, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master is also capable of producing some truly dreamy bokeh courtesy of its circular aperture design that incorporates 11 blades. This combination makes this lens one of the most versatile, wide angle, native lenses available for Sony E mount, with lots to love for landscape shooters, astrophotographers, street shooters, and environmental portraitists alike. Since we only got to spend a few hours with the 24mm G Master in San Francisco back when it was first unveiled during a behind closed doors media briefing, we were excited to finally get our review unit in so that we can put the lens through more exhaustive testing on our own terms.

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Review: Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM (Canon RF)

The Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM is the quintessential walkaround lens for Canon EOS R owners.

As a former Canon DSLR owner, I’ve always had a complicated relationship with lenses like the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM; but this latest version has proven itself to be useful in many situations. The first version of this lens for their DSLRs had a slew of problems that were improved on with the second version. And with this version for their RF lineup of cameras, photographers are treated to some fantastic image stabilization and an industry standard size. For those that want a walkaround lens, it’s hard to beat this one and it even comes close to Sony’s in terms of sharpness and image rendition. And when the situation calls for it, the image stabilization is what I’d call class leading.

At the same time that I’m giving this lens all the praise in the world, I genuinely still feel like Canon could have and should have pushed harder.

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First Impressions: IRIX 150mm F2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens (Nikon F)

The IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens takes the best of their high end Blackstone options and makes it more affordable.

At Photokina, the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens was announced amongst the sea of other things, and if you don’t know a whole lot about IRIX it would be easy to miss them. They’re a company based in Europe and, according to the last I heard, their lenses are made in Korea. They create manual focus lenses that are high quality, have weather sealing, and include features in them many other folks don’t incorporate. And with their new IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens, they’ve included 11 aperture blades for super creamy bokeh.

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First Impressions: Viltrox PFU RBMH 20mm f1.8 ASPH (Sony FE)

Chinese photography accessories maker Viltrox is expanding their portfolio with brand new camera lenses

When Viltrox extended an invitation for us to check out their brand new line of lenses at this year’s Photo Plus Expo, our interest was certainly piqued. Up until this point, China-based Viltrox’s focus has been on the manufacturing of photography accessories like lens mount adapters, external monitors, speedlights, and LED lighting. We were quite eager to see how they fared with their first foray into lens manufacturing. As of right now, all of the lenses that Viltrox is working on are designed for Fujifilm and Sony mirrorless camera systems, which includes the Viltrox PFU RBMH 20mm f1.8 ASPH (Sony FE, manual only), Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 (Sony FE, manual only), and the Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 STM (Fuji X and Sony FE, autofocus).

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First Impressions: Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm F1.8 (Sony FE)

Chinese photography accessories maker Viltrox is expanding their portfolio with brand new camera lenses.

When Viltrox extended an invitation for us to check out their brand new line of lenses at this year’s Photo Plus Expo, our interest was certainly piqued. Up until this point, China-based Viltrox’s focus has been on the manufacturing of photography accessories like lens mount adapters, external monitors, speedlights, and LED lighting. We were quite eager to see how they fared with their first foray into lens manufacturing. As of right now, all of the lenses Viltrox is working on are designed for Fujifilm and Sony mirrorless camera systems, which includes the Viltrox PFU RBMH 20mm f1.8 ASPH (Sony FE, manual only), Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 (Sony FE, manual only), and the Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 STM (Fuji X and Sony FE, autofocus). At their booth at Photo Plus, Viltrox had both the 20mm and 85mm Sony FE manual lenses as well as the Fuji X mount version of the autofocus 85mm STM lens on display, with the manual lenses being the only functional prototypes.

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Review: Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art “Bokeh Master” (Nikon F Mount)

Portrait photographers will love the Sigma 105mm f1.4 DG HSM Art lens, and not just for the bokeh!

Marketed by Sigma as the “Bokeh Master,” the Sigma 105mm f1.4 DG HSM Art lens is one the latest additions to the Japanese optics manufacturer’s Art series of lenses. The ninth lens in Sigma’s Art series to feature a wide aperture of f1.4 (six for Full Frame, three for APS-C), it is also the longest focal length currently available in the series. Bokeh addicts will sing songs of praise about the Sigma 105mm f1.4 DG HSM Art lens, provided that they’ve got the adequate arm strength to wield it.

So with that said, start doing those arm curls–because you’re gonna need it.

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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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