The Odd One. Sigma 65mm F2 DG DN Contemporary Review

The Sigma 65mm f2 DG DN Contemporary is a classically popular focal length with cinema but a bit odd with still photography.

Even after two calls with my Sigma rep talking about the Sigma 65mm f2 DG DN Contemporary, I still don’t totally understand it. It’s a weird focal length, which I genuinely love. I think it’s great that Sigma is trying brave things. It’s also incredibly sharp and has stellar image quality. But using this lens isn’t the easiest. Every time I think I’m going to use it like a 50mm, I need to adjust. And every time I think to use it like a 75mm, I had to step forward a bit. This is in an odd spot. But believe it or not, the best place the Sigma 65mm f2 DG DN Contemporary belongs is on a camera with a tripod.

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This Unusual Lens Is Oozing with Style: Leica Noctilux 50mm F1.2 Review

The Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.2 ASPH is a remake of a 1966 lens — and fans of the film look are going to want it.

Lenses are increasingly stamping out some of the most common technical issues. High-end, modern lenses push for sharpness all the way to the corners, eliminate aberration, and reduce vignetting. But as lenses become more technically correct, the optics also become more sterile. The new Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.2 ASPH is not one of those lenses. A remake of a film lens originally produced in 1966, the lens is nearly identical to the original except for a digital-friendly mount. Leica kept everything from the 16-blade aperture down to the aluminum build.

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The Best! Tamron 17-70mm F2.8 Di III-A VC RXD Review

The Tamron 17-70mm F2.8 Di III-A VC RXD could be the best lens for APS-C cameras ever made.

When the Tamron 17-70mm F2.8 Di III-A VC RXD was announced, I immediately questioned the name. Why would you have such a long name? No one will remember it! And it’s terrible for SEO! But that aside, it proved to be a fantastic lens. I’m inclined to call it the best lens Tamron or anyone has made for APS-C cameras. Inspired by their old 24-105mm f2.8 for DSLRs, this lens takes things further. In fact, I’d argue that it’s the only lens you need for APS-C Sony E mount cameras. And I really, really hope that can bring it to Fujifilm and others. Before you go on, know that this is the best lens you can get for APS-C cameras.

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Big, Slow, and Pricey: Hasselblad XH Converter 0.8 Review

The Hasselblad XH Converter is a nice idea, but it introduces some problems that many won’t want to deal with.

Over the years, Hasselblad has produced a nice collection of H mount lenses for their Medium Format cameras. However, with the introduction of the X1D, the X1D II, and the 907X, Hasselblad also introduced a new mount. Seasoned Hasselblad users who built up a solid H mount lens library might be put off the new cameras because of this. This is where the Hasselblad XH Converter 0.8 comes in. This focal reducer will adapt H mount lenses to Hasselblad X system cameras. The focal reducer will roughly give you the same field of view and aperture performance of H System (645 Medium Format) cameras. As a bonus, you’ll keep autofocus functionality. It sounds great in theory, but how does it perform in the real world? Find out in our full review.

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It’s Great: Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6 R LM OIS WR First impressions

The Fujifilm 70-300mm packs big performance into a compact body.

The Fujifilm 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 is a great lens. Still, when I was invested in the system, that lens always left me wanting just a little bit more. A little more reach. More sharpness. A little more, well, everything. I think many photographers felt the same way. Well, good news, people. Fujifilm has just announced the new Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6 R LM OIS WR. Yes, it has a mouthful of a name, but it also packs more reach, weather-sealing, image stabilization, and more. Over the last week, I’ve been able to put a pre-production version of the new lens to the test in multiple situations. Will it do enough to make hobbyist birders and wildlife photographers drop $799.95 on it when it launches in March? Read our first impressions and see if this could be the X mount telephoto lens for you.

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It’s For Art. Not Pixel Peeping. Lensbaby Spark 2.0 Review

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Lensbaby launched when founder Craig Strong literally took part of a shop vac hose to mount a vintage lens on his DSLR. The company’s first lens took on a similar look, with a plastic bumpy black tube creating a tiltable lens. The new Lensbaby Spark 2.0 mixes that heritage with a few modern updates, including mirrorless compatibility.

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This 1.4 Is Remarkably Light: Sony 35mm F1.4 GM Review

Don’t let the size fool you; the lightweight Sony 35mm f1.4 GM captures high-end images.

Wide apertures create spectacular bokeh but cumbersome lenses. The newly launched Sony FE 35mm f1.4 GM defies the norm, weighing in at only a touch over a pound. A lens that just fits into the palm of my hand, the glass mixes an exceptionally bright aperture and near-perfect sharpness at a low distortion focal length. The result? Excellent images that capture a scene yet deliver the soft backgrounds typically reserved for longer lenses.

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A Reliable Workhorse. Leica SL 24-90mm F2.8-4 Review

I don’t like zoom lenses, but this is a good one.

For all intents and purposes, the Leica SL 24-90mm f2.8-4 demonstrates true innovation. That’s the case with Leica trying something new. The standard zoom is a 24-70mm f2.8 lens. The 70mm focal length always felt odd. As I’ve used them, I usually set the lens to certain focal lengths and work with those. I’ve always wondered why they couldn’t go to 85mm. Or why not create a 35-85mm f2.8 lens instead? Leica did something different with 24-90mm. This zoom contains much more usable focal lengths, in my opinion. Objectively speaking, this is a fantastic lens, but it failed to capture my heart and passion for this craft.

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Do You Love it? Fujifilm GF 30mm f3.5 R WR Review

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If you had the Fujifilm GF 30mm f3.5 R WR, would you love it? Would you even like it? That’s a question I was asking myself the entire time. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the GF format for a while. I’ve always felt they needed faster aperture lenses. And if they wanted to keep things small, I believe they should go collapsible. But this lens feels incredibly sterile and perfect. It’s not the Fujifilm that I’m very used to using. Personally speaking, I’m not sure I’m in love with it. But if you like clinical sterility, you might be.

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Fall in Love Again. Leica 35mm F2 Summicron SL APO Review

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I love the 35mm focal length, and the Leica 35mm f2 Summicron SL APO is no exception to that rule. Mount it to your camera and go! You’ll have fun! You’ll know it’s there to stick by you through and through. Like many lenses for the L mount alliance, you’ll appreciate the lens for what it is, but you’ll need to understand that the L mount is still a pretty flawed system. Once it sorts itself out, this lens will be all that much better. However, you’d better make this the only lens you’ll ever use because it’s expensive.

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Colors and Bokeh You’ll Fall in Love with: Fujifilm 50mm F1 R WR Review

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There’s no shortage of exceptional portrait lenses for Fujifilm cameras. You have the 56mm f1.2, the fantastic 90mm f2, and even the 23mm and 35mm f1.4 lenses, do a fine job. However, Fujifilm shooters have another portrait lens option in the premium Fujifilm 50mm f1 R WR. This ultra-fast, super rugged, weather-sealed prime promises to be the only portrait lens you’ll ever need, but is it worth the $1,499.95 asking price? Find out in our full review.

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Grinding for Quality. Samyang 100mm F2.8 Macro Review

The Samyang 100mm f2.8 Macro shows that some things change, but a lot of things stay the same with Samyang and Rokinon.

I’ll start this review by stating a significant fact: I seldom wanted to pick this lens up. Even for an experienced photographer and camera tester like me, the Samyang 100mm f2.8 Macro annoyed me. This version doesn’t have AF/AE contacts. So focus confirmation is a lot more complicated. And if you didn’t know so already, it’s a manual focus lens. You’ll work really hard for great photos. When you get them, you’ll be elated, but I’m really not sure it’s worth the grind.

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A Beautiful Lens in Every Way: Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 S Review

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We haven’t been blown away by a Nikon Z camera yet, but their Z lenses are a different story altogether. So far, Nikon has come up with some stunning lens options that are practical and affordable. While there’s already a wide-angle zoom on the platform in the Nikon Z 14-30mm f4, there was definitely space for a more pro-oriented wide-angle zoom. Nikon has now delivered it. We got to spend a few weeks with the new Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 S. However, is this lens worth the nearly $1,100 premium over the NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f4? Find out in our full review.

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Bargain Bird Photography. Tamron 70-300mm F4.5-6.3 Di III RXD Review

The Tamron 70-300mm f4.5-6.3 Di III RXD will help keep you sane if you photograph birds.

Tamron’s lenses are usually some of my favorites. Admittedly though, I lean a lot more towards their primes and their constant aperture zooms. But the Tamron 70-300mm f4.5-6.3 Di III RXD is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The image quality could be better. But the reliability is fantastic. You’ll essentially be relying a lot on Sony’s fantastic image sensors to create stellar images. But no matter what, know that you can do them in pretty much any condition you throw at this lens.

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Sharp. Beautiful. Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro Art Review

The Sigma 105mm f2.8 DG DN Macro Art is super sharp, but you need to understand its flaws.

When I showed images from this lens to our Pro Camera Reviews audience, they were stunned. Rightfully so! The Sigma 105mm f2.8 DG DN Macro Art is highly capable of being super sharp. Of course, the best and sharpest results come with an off-camera flash. And if you’re social distancing or staying inside, this lens can be incredibly fun to use! Better yet, it also makes for a great portrait lens. Best of all, it’s incredibly well built! And despite all this, it has a very affordable price. Part of me wishes that Sigma charged more and added image stabilization, for as steady as I am, it can still be a tad difficult to work with.

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Beautiful, Stunning Bokeh! Canon 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Review

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It shoots birds. In fact, the Canon RF 100-500mm f4.5-7.1 L IS USM does a great job of that. Make no mistake, this is a beastly lens. It’s large but not overly heavy. But if you’re birding, then it’s got exactly what you need if you’re using higher megapixel bodies. When we took it out birding, we were reminded why Canon’s lenses are so gorgeous. There isn’t anything major to complain about, but personally speaking, you may have your gripes. When you look at the image quality, build quality, and the competition, you’ll appreciate this lens a lot. What’s even more impressive is that you might not need to upgrade beyond the Canon EOS R.

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Budget Portrait Magic: Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM Review

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At the initial launch, the Canon RF mount had few budget-friendly options, but the Mirrorless lens line-up is quickly catching up. The Canon RF 85mm f2 Macro IS STM is one of those lenses. An ideal focal length for portraiture, Canon also tossed in .5x macro capabilities — the lens isn’t a one genre shooter. Priced at $600, the lens is easily the more accessible option than the $3,000 RF 85mm f1.2 L USM DS.

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The Most Beautiful Bokeh Ever! Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II Review

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It’s no secret that photographers get lots of pleasure from bokeh in photos. It’s gorgeous. Apple, Samsung, Google, and others spend lots of money and processing power, trying to replicate it with their phones. But it’s never going to become anything like what the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II has. This bokeh is absolutely stunning. And I’m a fan of the colors too. They remind me of older Zeiss Biotar lenses. The bokeh isn’t all you’ll drool over. You’ll also adore the colors. Now, we tested this lens on Sony camera bodies, but I’ve got a feeling it will be ideal on Leica bodies. Portrait photographers are going to love this lens. Believe it or not, it’s also a great lens for photo walking. It’s incredibly fun, and the character it has is truly unique.

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Look at These Colors! Samyang 14mm F2.8 II MF Review

The Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF is a step forward in the right direction.

By far, my favorite focal lengths to play with are super wide-angle lenses. The Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF is no exception to this. This is an update to a lens that the company had for many years, and it’s been improved many times over. Besides a bit of weather sealing, the optics are very sharp. The colors are also positively gorgeous–which translate to better landscapes. It also doesn’t feel as plasticky as the previous iteration. Of course, it’s still manual focus-only. So if you’re not a fan of focusing a lens yourself, then steer clear. But keep in mind that a manual focus lens makes you work harder and more carefully for better photos.

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The Classic Look You’ll Love. Rokinon 85mm F1.4 II MF Review

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I’ve had mixed feelings about the Rokinon 85mm f1.4 II MF. I’ve been told there are versions of this lens with autofocus contacts. And if you’re choosing this lens, then I recommend that version. I also have a few qualms with the way Samyang and Rokinon state their lenses are weather sealed. But if you can get beyond those things, you’ll have a beautiful lens. There’s something about it that feels both classic and modern. Portraits will have a 3D look to them. At the same time, it won’t be overly sharp the way some new lenses look. This is because it was designed for both cinema and still photo use. Unfortunately, that makes this review very complicated.

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Try Something New. Panasonic LUMIX S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 Review

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this; there’s something odd about the Panasonic LUMIX S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 lens. Designed for their full-frame L mount cameras, this lens is a wide to normal zoom. And I get the intent of that. You’re making the lens smaller, wider, and keeping the same aperture range. But it’s still odd. A zoom lens that went from 28-70mm would be far more useful. Admittedly, it’s a good lens. You can explore with it and shoot vast, wide scenes. You can even shoot portraits that are good enough at 60mm. But you’re never going to experience true telephoto. And that’s one of the reasons why you buy real cameras. All of the high-end phones these days have “telephoto” lenses, which are normal focal lengths. And you might be asking why I’m sitting here even bothering with this lens. Well, that’s because it’s a kit lens option.

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