Review: Irix 15mm f2.4 Blackstone (Nikon F Mount)

If you were to look at the lenses coming from Korea in the past couples of years, you’d be shocked; and that’s where the Irix 15mm f2.4 Blackstone lens is manufactured. We took a previous look at the company’s Blackstone lenses at Photo Plus last year and were very blown away by some of the features and innovation that Irix has been putting into the glass to make it different from many of the others out there. For starters, besides the metal build, there is text on the lens that can be illuminated to glow when a blacklight is shone on it. Then there’s the fact that the lens clicks into place when the focusing hits infinity. While these features sound infinitesimal, they’re important to the manual focus shooter when it comes to working with a precise manual focus optic in various lighting scenarios.

Then you consider other features such as weather sealing, the image quality, and the feeling of the lens in your hand–and then it just gets put over the top in many ways.

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Review: Rokinon 85mm f1.2 SP (Canon EF Mount)

Relatively speaking, I’m sort of over the idea of super fast aperture lenses simply because most folks won’t be able to tell the difference with the photos–and that’s the case with the Rokinon 85mm f1.2 SP lens. But at the same time, I can’t argue with the fact that it’s quite a mystical marketing technique combined with the fact that so many lenses are really fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re shooting with an APS-C sensor camera then having super fast glass makes sense. But for full frame cameras, it doesn’t really matter. Most people can’t tell the difference between f1.2 and f1.4. Plus high ISO output these days is so crazy good that you arguably don’t need the extra stop. 

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Review: Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP Lens (Canon EF)

The Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP isn’t the fastest wide angle lens on the market these days, but Rokinon is touting it to be one of the company’s very best. The lens is part of the SP lineup, which Rokinon is branding as the creme de la creme of their lens lineup. These lenses are designed to take on the likes of Zeiss. That’s a bold statement, especially as Zeiss has been a premium lens maker for far longer. But Rokinon also isn’t charging Zeiss prices. When you consider that, the Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP seems to be a very attractive option. With a metal exterior body and a giant rubber focusing ring, the Korean lens manufacturer seems to be doing what I’d like to believe is a great job. Then I took some time to really try the lens–and I’ve seen just how far Rokinon has come.

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Review: Sony 12-24mm f4 G FE (Sony E Mount, Full Frame)

The Sony 12-24mm f4 G FE was announced earlier this year hot on the heels of Sigma’s own lens–and for the photographer who loves to shoot wide this lens could be the only lens you’ll care to travel with. The Sony 12-24mm f4 G FE was designed with weather resistance and is being touted as a G lens, not to be mistaken with the company’s G Master offerings. Like many of Sony’s higher end lenses, it’s a pretty pricy offering but we need to expect that from a wide angle lens. Lenses like the Sony 12-24mm f4 G FE are most suited for travel photography, landscapes, astrophotography, architecture and to some degree extreme sports. It’s also fun at parties if you’re looking to get a unique perspective. But photographers may have a tough choice between the Sony 12-24mm f4 G FE and the 16-35mm f2.8.

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Review: Nikon 28mm f1.4 E ED (Nikon F Mount)

When the Nikon 28mm f1.4 came in for review and was announced, I was a bit hesitant. Why? Well, while I was excited about the lens for sure, I’m still not a person that believes that DSLRs are necessarily the future despite the fact that I acknowledge how good they are. And to that end, I believe that if Nikon has a full frame mirrorless camera system and made this lens for it, it would be an even bigger winner than it really is. But the current Nikon 28mm f1.4 is a dream lens in so many ways. If you’re a street photographer, portrait photographer, or a photojournalist then you may really enjoy what this lens offers.

In fact, this is hands down my favorite Nikon prime lens with the exception of the company’s 105mm f1.4.

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Review: Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II (Canon EF Mount)

Canon has always been a company that is a bit slower to change things, and so when the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II was announced, I was pleased to see that they did a number to fix many issues with the previous lens. With that said though, years have passed now and the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II more or less looks like every other option on the market. Some of the new welcome additions are the prevention of lens creep incorporated into the design, a lock to keep the lens locked in at 24mm, better weather sealing, faster autofocus, and less issues with image quality. For years, the previous version of the lens was my bread and butter option. While many photographers reach for the 24-70mm f2.8 lenses, I tend to go for the longer focal range option.

For only $1,099 you’re getting one of the best bang for your buck L lenses that Canon offers. At a more expensive price point than Sigma’s 24-105mm f4 DG OS HSM, you’re paying for weather sealing and the ability to lock the lens at 24mm to prevent it from extending when in your camera bag. that and less contrast in the images. But the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II’s main strength is in the versatility it offers the photographer.

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Review: Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE (Sony FE Full Frame E Mount)

The Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE comes in at a significantly more affordable price point than what Sony’s offering is–and the only major difference is its lack of weather sealing vs it’s Sony counterpart. In fact, that’s the only difference most people may consider besides marginally slower autofocus performance. The lenses even look alike in some ways in that they’re pretty much the same size but with different casings. But Rokinon has brought out autofocus abilities with the Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE–making this the company’s first autofocusing lens for the Sony full frame E mount system. Indeed, it fills a niche of the photography market that is not really saturated: a place for good, affordable lenses of the Sony FE camera space.

So if you’re one of those folks that doesn’t need weather sealing, then the Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE could just be a lens that you’ll want.

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Review: MS Optics 28mm f2 Pancake Lens (Leica M Mount)

The MS Optics 28mm f2 Pancake lens offering is a lens that should be permanently glued to a Leica CL if you have one. Now, don’t go doing that for real now, but more to the point, this is a lens that really should be glued on. Why? It’s incredibly small. The MS Optics 28mm f2 is one of the smallest lens offerings for the Leica M mount, with perhaps only Lomography’s Minitar 32mm f2.8 lens rivaling it. In fact, both of those lenses have unique image qualities to them as well as drastically different price points. Their operation is quite similar though due to their being this small.

One thing is for absolutely certain: mate the MS Optics 28mm f2 to your Leica M mount (or any M mount camera) and the package will be that much lighter and smaller than nearly any other lens you use with your camera.

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