First Impressions: Sigma 85mm F/1.4 Art

The big announcement from Sigma recently for the still imaging world was definitely the introduction of the long rumored and long awaited 85mm F/1.4 Art lens. We had a chance to take a look at Sigma’s new beastly portrait lens here at PhotoPlus 2016 and today we have our initial impressions for you.

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5 Irresistible Portrait Lenses for Nikon DSLR Photographers

Beyond Canon there probably isn’t a more well known photography brand than Nikon, the big two have been dukeing it out in this field for decades. We have already covered Canon’s portrait lenses, so today we take a look at Nikon and share our picks for some of our favorite portrait lenses in the Nikon F mount.

Before get started, I would like to note though that these lenses are not in any particular order, this isn’t a ranking or stat sheet, it’s just meant to provide some good direction for Nikon shooters who are looking into portrait options. So lets jump right into it, shall we?

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6 Spectacular Portrait Lenses for Sony Mirrorless Cameras

camera deals

It would be hard to argue that Sony does not have the attention of the photographic community, with their A7 series of full frame mirrorless cameras (somewhat surprisingly to be honest) still the only player in the game. While the A7 series may not have the autofocus to challenge DSLRs in action situations quite yet, for portrait photography the A7 series is more than capable.

In today’s roundup we have 6 amazing lenses for portrait photography on the Sony system. I would like to note though that these lenses are not in any particular order, this isn’t a ranking or stat sheet, it’s just meant to provide some good direction for Sony shooters or potential Sony shooters who are looking into portrait options with Sony. So lets jump right into it, shall we?

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New Report Points to Photokina Announcement For Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art Lens

Could this finally be the year? The year we get what has become Sigma fan’s unicorn, an 85mm F/1.4 Art lens? A new report from Canon Rumors pegs the long requested lens for an announcement at Photokina later this year–a move that would no doubt send the greater DSLR community into a frenzy.

But this is not the first time that we have heard of an 85mm F/1.4 art lens, so could this just be another false start? It’s always possible when dealing with potential announcements, but in this case the signs seem to point to this actually happening this year. One of the biggest excuses that Sigma always gave in regards to why they had not done an 85mm Art lens was that they already had a great 85mm lens. By all accounts it was/is a great lens too, but it just had the unfortunate problem of having been released just before the Global Vision changes and the introduction of the Art series.

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First Impressions: Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master Series (Sony FE)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master Lens (11 of 11)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 2.8

This is a lens that Sony FE lens mount users have been waiting for for years–and we’re finally getting it in March. The Sony 85mm f1.4 lens is the company’s latest addition to their FE lineup and lenses. It’s part of a new high end brand that they’re calling the G Master series. Like much of the company’s other lenses there is dust and splash protection built in. What’s really cool is the fully working aperture ring.

In the presentation on the lens, Sony said that their biggest priority was not only excellent resolution performance but also great bokeh. To that end, they gave this lens 11 aperture blades.

We got a bit of playtime with a final production unit today on the Sony A7r Mk II; and the quality is downright amazing.

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Sony Introduces the a6300 and Three New High End Lenses

a6300 3

Today at a major press conference, Sony introduced the long awaited and highly rumored successor to the Sony A6000. Not called the A6100, the new Sony a6300 is a camera that the company is touting to have even better performance than the previous one with faster shooting frame rates, further improved autofocus, etc.

But the even more exciting announcement involves the company’s newest lenses. Sony announced a 24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, and an 85mm f1.4 lens in the FE (full frame E) mount and also classified them as their own high end brand called the G Master series. This will essentially be like Canon’s L equivalent and is designated by the brushed metal G logo on the lenses.

More details and specs from the press releases are after the jump.

The new FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Standard Zoom and 85mm F1.4 GM Telephoto prime lenses will be available in March for about $2,200 and $1,800, respectively. In Canada, they will be sold for $2,900 CA and $2,400 CA, respectively. The new 70-200mm F2.8 GM Telephoto Zoom Lens and its compatible 1.4x and 2x Teleconverters will be available in May. Pricing is not yet available for these models. The new G Master Series of interchangeable lenses will be sold at a variety of Sony authorized dealers throughout North America.

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The 5 Best Cheap Lenses for Nikon DSLRs

Nikon Df GServo-20131231-0012

Yesterday, we featured five great cheap lenses for the Canon DSLR system; and today we’re taking a look at what Nikon has to offer. For years, photographers always said that you go to Canon for the lenses and you go to Nikon for the bodies. But in the most recent years, Nikon has been updating and putting out new lenses on a faster scale than Canon does. For starters, they’re determined to make loads of prime lenses at f1.8 and the company is also working on updating their other lenses that were otherwise left from the film days.

Over our years of testing lenses and cameras, we’ve rounded up some of the best and most affordable lenses that are available for the Nikon F mount DSLR system. So if you’re looking for the best cheap lenses for your Nikon DSLR, then look no further.

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Five Portrait Lenses That Complement Skin Well

Model: Erica Lourde

Model: Erica Lourde

Portrait lenses are an interesting topic due to the balance that’s needed with them. They need to be sharp, but if they’re too sharp, they can make skin look too detailed and not soft. Sure, this can be fixed in post-production but it’s often long and arduous work, and needs to be very exacting so that the images don’t look overdone or unnatural.

For that reason, we aren’t at all saying that sharp lenses aren’t good. In fact, they’re great! Many of them have won our Editor’s Choice awards. Instead, we’re saying that these lenses find a good balance between being very detailed with great image quality but not so detailed to the point where you’ll see way too much of the pores. When used in conjunction with modern image sensors, these lenses will make portrait shooting much easier.

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Field Test: Comparing an 85mm and 50mm Lens for Portraits

Sigma 85mm vs Sigma 50mm lens

We’ve had some heated debates recently on the site’s Facebook page when it comes to 85mm vs 50mm lenses. We tested it out ourselves a very long time ago, but recently another posting made readers wonder about it more themselves. To figure out which lens can render a better image when it comes to portraits, we tested two lenses from the same manufacturer to put an end to the debate once and for all.

So the real question is: Which lens is better for portraits? The 85mm vs 50mm Lens?

Editor’s Note: this is a formal comparison test not done in a lab, but instead in a real life situation. Real life situations simulate shooting subjects and not test charts. Frankly, if you’re purchasing a lens just to shoot charts all day you need to open a gallery of your test chart images and see someone’s reaction to them.

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Which One? Zeiss 85mm f1.4 vs Sigma 85mm f1.4 vs Rokinon 85mm f1.4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Rokinon Sigma 85mm f1.4 three way comparison (1 of 3)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 3.5

With Zeiss’s new 85mm f1.4 Otus reviewed, we took it upon ourselves to do an informal comparison of two of its biggest and closest competitors: the Rokinon 85mm f1.4 and the Sigma 85mm f1.4. Now granted, neither of these lenses are said to be targeted at the higher end photographer. But with Sigma’s offering being a couple of years old and Rokinon’s not being so old either, we decided that it would be great to see just how the three perform against one another.

Editor’s Note: Again we are saying that this is an informal comparison to see how the three stack up against one another. We’d like to remind our readers though that each offering is pretty darn solid, but if anything this is more of a measure of how the technology has progressed.

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Zeiss Announces New 85mm f1.4 Otus Lens

Newest Otus family member from ZEISS continues the success story Zuwachs in der Otus Familie von ZEISS setzt Erfolgsgeschichte fort

It was only a matter of time until Zeiss added a new lens to the Otus family: and today the company is announcing their 85mm f1.4 Otus lens. The company said on Facebook last year that they’d be releasing a new lens and indeed it’s on its way for Photokina 2014. Before we even get into it, the price is $4,490–way too much for many of us mere mortals. But the company has surely done a lot of work to make sure that the performance is the utmost top of the line. Indeed, we’ve been testing the lens for a couple of weeks now and it has been blowing our minds.

As for the features of the lens, it sports an all metal exterior with the exception of the focusing ring–which is made of rubber just like the company’s Touit lenses. The reason for this is due to working in the cold weather with the lenses. It has 11 elements in 9 groups, a minimum aperture of f16, has an 86mm filter thread, comes in Canon EF and Nikon F mounts, and weights 1140g for the Nikon version with the Canon version coming in at 1200g.

The lens is obviously targeted at portrait photographers along with fashion photographers–but given our user experience with the 55mm f1.4 Otus lens we will probably think that manually focusing the optic without a tripod may tend to shake the camera up a bit to get accurate focusing consistently.

At this point though, the photo world is most likely drooling over this lens but looking at Sigma for an autofocus response.

More tech specs and images are after the jump.

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Review: Samsung 85mm f1.4 (NX)


We’ve been using Samsung’s 85mm f1.4 for a very long time, and it’s tough to not fall in love with it. Exhibiting some of the best color rendition that we’ve seen, fast focusing, and superb sharpness, we don’t see how many could complain. Seriously, what more could you want from a lens?

Introduced a couple of years ago, Samsung’s offering differs from many others through controls and mainly in the rendition of its colors. And if you pair it with the right camera, it may never fail to take your breath away.

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Samyang/Rokinon Retrofits a Bunch of Lenses to Full-Frame E-Mount

Samyang Full Frame E-Mount Lenses

When the Sony A7 and A7R full-frame E-mount cameras were first announced, the’re wasn’t really a huge number of lenses available for the system. Granted, both cameras work with E-mount APS-C lenses, but those don’t provide the large image circle needed for the full-frame sensor. So what many early adopters did was to adapt lenses from other systems to the A7 and A7R.

In order to address the lens shortage issue, Samyang/Rokinon, as one of the first manufacturers, has now come up with E-mount versions of some of its full-frame DSLR lenses. In order to make the lenses fit the A7 and A7R, Rokinon added extension to the lens barrels that make up for the difference in flange distance between the mirrorless E-mount and regular DSLR mounts. Hence why the lenses look like they’ve been mated to an adapter.

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All Will Be Well, It’s Just a Portrait: Enter to Win a Rokinon 85mm f1.4 Lens

Rokinon 85mm f1.4

Rokinon 85mm f1.4

You have definitely heard us say that everyone should have an 85mm lens. Well, now you have a chance to win one from Rokinon. The Phoblographer, in association with Rokinon, will be giving away an 85mm f1.4 in our, “All Will be Well, It’s Just a Portrait” contest. We want you to show us your best portrait. You can use any lens you like. Just be sure to capture a calm portrait of your subject in the best way possible.

This contest is open to everyone.

How To Enter:

-Join Rokinon’s brand new Flickr group 

-Each entry must be the original work of the entrant

-Entries must have the tag “Portrait lens”

-Entries are limited to one photo per person

-Keep all the photos safe for work (no nudity or anything like that)

-Minimum file size is 1024 x 768

-The contest ends on February 14, 2013; winners will be announced shortly after that

-The contest will be judged the staff of the Phoblographer and Rokinon

-The portraits will be judged on the originality, quality, and overall impact of the work.

– The Staff of the Phoblographer and Rokinon (“Sponsor”), and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies, and their immediate family members (spouse, parent, child and sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and/or those living in same household of each, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate or win. Sponsor reserves the right to verify all eligibility requirements. Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state and local law and regulations.

Best of luck! Get photographing.


Review: Sony A99


We’ve been working with the Sony A99 for around a month now after having played with it a lot during the Media Excursion out in California. Though our experiences are a little different than what they were before, the Sony A99 still represents the premium of what Sony currently has to offer for the professional and high end enthusiast. In many ways, the A99 is really quite an awesome camera and even almost made me switch systems. However, it still wasn’t quite there.


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Quick Informal Lens Comparison: Canon 35mm f1.4 L vs Sigma 35mm f1.4

I recently wrote about selling all of my Canon glass and going all Sigma. One of the biggest reasons: Canon has been letting me down as of late and one of the best and most affordable ways to take advantage of what my 5D Mk II can do is to use newer glass. As it is, Sigma’s 50mm f1.4 is better than the Canon 50mm f1.4 and Canon’s 85mm f1.2 L USM II is only a bit better than Sigma’s 85mm f1.4, but the latter beats Canon’s 85mm f1.8 USM.

That left one lens in the bag: the 35mm f1.4. Initial tests have come out testing the lens. Here’s a super quick and very informal comparison of the two; and this will be the first of a couple.

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I’m Selling All My Canon Glass, and Going All Sigma

I’ve stuck to three lenses for a very long time: The Canon 35mm f1.4 L, 50mm f1.4, and 85mm f1.8. And I’ve loved them. They were great wide open, great stopped down, and overall have never failed me. But it’s time that I upgrade. In my personal opinion, Canon has been dragging their feet a bit and I haven’t been absolutely truly stunned by any of the lenses that they’ve made in the past year. With that said, I’ve decided to go all Sigma and replace each lens with its Sigma variant. Why Sigma? Though I’ve ripped into some of their zoom lenses in previous reviews here, I’ve absolutely loved their 85mm f1.4 and 50mm f1.4. I’ve been waiting for a very long time for a 35mm f1.4, and now it’s here. All of those lenses are all very well worth their weight in gold; and for my type of work (portraits and studio) I don’t really need to upgrade cameras. All of these lenses will be coupled with my 5D Mk II, and will take great advantage of the already excellent sensor. They all autofocus perfectly fine with the camera as well.

So why a full post dedicated to this? Because as I’ve stated in previous posts this year, I believe that Sigma needs to be congratulated on overcoming the myth of the third party manufacturer. To be honest, I never thought I’d see the day that happened. Their glass is wonderful, it autofocuses well, its affordable, and they have improved their quality control methods. In the end, it’s all the photographer who creates the images; but I’m at the point where I want more from my lenses. And at the moment, Sigma is doing that for me.

And now to be totally selfish, I’m selling each lens on eBay if you’re interested. You can check out the 35mm f1.4 L, 50mm f1.4, and 85mm f1.8 at the according links.

Sunday Boredom: Ask Us Anything About the Sony A99

Hey readers, we just got the Sony A99, 135mm f1.8, 85mm f1.4 (yes the Zeiss ones) 50mm f1.4 and HVL-F60M all in for review and we’ve been playing with them quite a bit so far. We understand that there is a ton of interest about the camera and the system overall. To help you guys out, we’d love to answer any questions you have about the camera, lenses, flash, and system.

But before you fire away, take a look at our studio tests with the A99, high ISO test sample, our landscape tests, and our first impressions. Plus, be sure to check out exactly which lenses will take full advantage of Sony’s new AF-D mode. If you’re in the market for a Sony DSLR, also be sure to take a look at which lenses we recommend for the system at the budget level.

Leave us a comment down below in the post. I’ve got nothing to do until tonight and will be happy to answer your questions.

Very Quick Test: Sigma 85mm f1.4 vs Canon 85mm f1.2 L (First Impressions)

Canon 85mm f1.2 ISO 800 f2.2 1/160th


Not long ago, Sigma’s reps called me up to ask about my comparison of the Sigma 85mm f1.4 vs the Canon 85mm f1.8. While they thought the comparison to be fair and informative, they were curious to know why I didn’t compare it against the Canon 85mm f1.2; a lens that it is often compared to. After some talks, I decided to go ahead and do it.

This post is the first of a two part series and was conducted very quickly using my friend Katie in Midtown Manhattan.

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