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

fall landscape photography sony

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)

e mount lenses

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)

sigma lenses

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)

concert photography

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 [amazon_textlink asin=’B0767NDXY5′ text=’45mm F1.2 PRO’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’43e1ee1e-fd6a-11e7-91a2-bb3a906db448′]. 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 [amazon_textlink asin=’B0767MMV1Q’ text=’Olympus 17mm F1.2 PRO’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’803798f3-fa34-11e7-9492-17a3b961c02e’], 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)

sony e mount

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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Review: Zeiss Loxia 25mm f2.4 (Sony E Mount, FE Bodies)

Perhaps my favorite of the lineup, the Zeiss Loxia 25mm f2.4 may be the first Loxia lens that many pick up

The Zeiss Loxia 25mm f2.4 is a lens that when you look at it, it seems to be very much like most of the other Loxia lenses on the market. And in accordance to design standards that just makes sense. The Zeiss Loxia 25mm f2.4 sports an all metal body, weather sealing throughout the lens, a manual aperture ring, and focusing ring, and is one of the first lenses from the Zeiss Loxia lineup that you’d genuinely consider at both the price point and the featureset. It’s targeted to street photographers, landscape photographers, architectural shooters, and more. I love it for candid shooting and when combined with a solid camera body like the Sony a7r III, there isn’t very much to complain about.

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Field Report: Using the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art Lens on the Sony a7r III

Or: Why I missed the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art Lens

When I used to use DSLRs a whole lot, my Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lens was my go to. To this day, I don’t consider it to be the sharpest 35mm lens out there but I surely consider it to be the best. It has a great balance of sharpness, bokeh, color, and just an overall gorgeous look and rendition to the scenes it shoots. I don’t want to say it looks like film; that would be absolutely foolish unless you know how to work with and develop medium format film in just the right way. But the reason why I missed it so much is that I’ve moved away from DSLRs for a number of reasons.

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Lens Review: Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR (Fujifilm GF Format)

Fans of the 24-70mm lens option will reach for the Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR 

Despite the fact that I have an eternal hatred of zoom lenses, I couldn’t stop reaching for the Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR lens during my review period with it. It’s versatile for sure, and despite its slow aperture it allows a photographer to have a whole lot of focal lengths with a constant aperture without needing to go back and forth to change lenses. As it is, most of the GF lenses are pretty slow, so I don’t feel as bad using a lens like this. With what is essentially a 24-50mm f3 lens, you’re getting an option that will surely give you comparable depth of field equivalency when you compare it to a 24-70mm lens; but not with the light gathering abilities. And for some odd reason, I keep wondering whether or not the engineers have been considering this. Medium format is really geared towards using the cameras and lenses with off-camera flash. I mean, look at the ads on this website–they’re for editorial work!

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Lens Review: Fujifilm GF 23mm F4 R WR (Fujifilm GF)

The Fujifilm GF 23mm F4 R WR is a really wide angle lens that can make so many scenes look fantastic.

There’s something about the Fujifilm GF 23mm F4 R WR that can only be described as majestic; it delivers a big, grand, wide view of the world but it also has a very classic documentary look and feel to it that I think is going to be valued by adventure and documentary photographers who choose the Fujifilm GF system. The combination of solid image quality and weather sealing will give this 18mm f3 full frame 35mm equivalent lens quite an edge when it comes to ensuring that all the elements of a story are there. Of course, this is a slow lens. So if you’re shooting images with it in a documentary setting you’re going to want to ensure that you’ve got enough lighting. To date, it’s the Fujifilm GF system’s chunkiest lens. But it’s also a prime option that feels great in the hand.

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Lens Review: Fujifilm GF 110mm F2 R WR (Fujifilm GF)

The Fujifilm GF 110mm F2 R WR is the medium format 85mm f1.4 option you’ve been waiting for!

My time with the Fujifilm GF 110mm F2 R WR can be characterized as a really interesting one. At the moment of publishing this post, it’s the fastest lens available for the GF lineup. And in terms of typical 645 medium format, it’s a fast lens. But the GF system is a smaller format than 645, and so it’s possible to go to f1.8 or even f1.4. That would really give us a medium format look and feel a full frame 35mm wouldn’t be capable of doing. Though with a lens like this, you’re getting the light gathering abilities of f2 but the depth of field of somewhere around f1.5. Then your focal length gives you the compression of a 110mm lens but the field of view of an 85mm equivalent lens. Couple all of this with weather sealing, solid build quality, and beautiful image quality and you’re getting a fantastic lens offering. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to not call this one of the best portrait lenses we’ve tested in the right situations.

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Review: Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary (Sony E Mount)

weather sealed primes

The Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary is one of the best APS-C lenses the company has produced.

When testing the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens, I realized that in many ways it’s a perfect lens for photographers who use Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras. It’s around a 24mm f1.8 field of view when shooting wide open, and can suit the needs of many photographers due to its versatility. Of course I’m talking about the focal length and how good it can be as a walkabout lens, but I’m also speaking to the autofocusing abilities, pure image quality, and the little bit of weather sealing the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary boasts. The f1.4 aperture gives it the ability to shoot in very low light and also get beautiful bokeh when photographing people or things. As I found out with the Sony a6000, it’s also pretty solid for video.

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Review: Fujifilm GF 45mm f2.8 R WR (Fujifilm GF)

With the Fujifilm GF 45mm f2.8 R WR, many photographers who love primes could have a favorite lens.

When Fujifilm announced the Fujifilm GF 45mm f2.8 R WR, I was incredibly excited. While most folks would think of this lens and something closer to the normal range, one needs to remember that this is medium format. It’s something closer to my beloved 35mm field of view. In the older days of medium format, lots of photographers reached for primes like this. With modern Fujifilm’s glass, coatings, and designs you can be sure the Fujifilm GF 45mm f2.8 R WR is quite a performer. This is a lens that will easily find its way in the hands of professional photographers. Then you consider the weather sealing, the 35mm f2 equivalency with the compression of a 45mm lens, the feel, the relatively small size, and the overall lightweight system that the Fujifilm GFX is and you get yourself a fantastic option.

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

This blog post originally appeared on Digital Photo Pro; part of the Madavor Network. It and the images here are being syndicated with exclusive permission. For more, be sure to check out their website.

At a media event in Oahu, Hawaii, Sony provided a small selection of media, including myself, a first look at the new E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS lens for Sony’s APS-C a6000/a6300/a6500 cameras. We took the lens out to shoot some local food markets to check out the image quality. With 12 groups and 16 elements, including an aspherical element, the $600 7.5x zoom lens is only 325 grams, teeny compared to the 400-500+ grams for competitor lenses, which the company says will make it perfect for travel use. High corner-to-corner resolution, even at the telephoto end and the MTF data (a chart describing the image sharpness at various focal lengths and moving away from the center of the lens) shows excellent edge sharpness relative to other compact travel lenses.

The lens has built-in optical image stabilization, which works in conjunction with the built-in stabilization in the camera for additional protection against blur caused by photographer motion. (Sony told us they don’t list the total effective f/stop stability.) It also features a completely silent motor, making it suitable for video capture.)

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Review: IRIX 11mm f4 Blackstone (Canon EF Mount)

The IRIX 11mm f4 Blackstone lens is a whole lot of fun to play with!

When the IRIX 11mm f4 Blackstone came in for review, I tried to figure out what I’d exactly do with a lens like this. It’s super wide and has full frame coverage. It’s too slow to really work effectively for astrophotography, but it is surely good enough to use for a day of fun walking about in Brooklyn. But in addition to that, it’s also got the quality from IRIX that I’ve come to respect. This company is a European based one that uses Korean optics along with their designs to create lenses that are much different from everything else that every other manufacturer is making at the moment. At the core, it’s still a lens; but the design is something that I haven’t seen from any other manufacturer out there. So if you’re not paying attention to IRIX just yet, maybe you should start.

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Review: Rokinon 12mm f2 (Fujifilm X Mount)

rokinon lenses

Combine the Rokinon 12mm f2 with the X Trans Sensor and you’ll get stunning photos.

Whenever wide angle lenses come in, I’m always super excited because a lens like the Rokinon 12mm f2 is bound to be fantastic but also really cool with the way it renders the world. Rokinon has consistently been known as a manufacturer that delivers stunning quality at a really affordable price point. Granted there are sometimes tradeoffs, like it being manual focus (which isn’t that bad if you know what you’re going for), and there have been a variety of reports on quality. But Rokinon has pledged that they’ve improved, and if you look at their higher end lineup of glass then that makes sense. In the case of the Rokinon 12mm f2, it’s a lens designed for APS-C cameras; and what better system to test it on than the Fujifilm X series?

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