Prime Minister's reviews

  • Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro M.Zuiko Digital ED

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness, contrast, autofocus, weather sealing, construction, close focussing
    Size, weight

    There's really not much to say about this zoomlens. It's a great performer at all apertures and at every focal length. If you pixel peep, you'll find that it's a tad softer in the corners when zoomed past 25mm, but that's about it. I can't imagine this to be a problem in real life. If it is a problem, just set the aperture to f/4 to get photos that are evenly sharp from corner to corner. CA and distortion are both very low and the bokeh is okay for this type of lens. Most of the time it's not creamy smooth, but it's not harsh either.

    I thought the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 was good, and it is, but I like this Olympus even better. It has less distortion and CA and it's sharper on the wide end. It seems to me that this lens gives a more consistent output then the Panasonic f/2.8 zoom. The biggest surprise may be that it comes with a lens hood.

    Focussing is quick and silent. Zooming is smooth, but my copy does emit a strange faint rubbery squeaking sound when the camera (E-M5) is turned on. When the camera is powered down, the sound disappears. I have absolutely no idea what it can be. Maybe some small electronic motors that start moving while zooming the lens in and out. Anyway, it's no big deal.

    You can get really close with this lens. I think it's a very nice option to have and I can imagine that many photographers don't need an extra macro lens. This Olympus 12-40mm might very well be the only lens many people ever need. Especially when combined with the very efficient Olympus in body stabilization. It's a do it all kind of lens. And it does it well too.

    The build quality is really good. Just like the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8. The Olympus is bigger and slightly heavier though. For a 24-70 f/2.8 equivalent it's pretty small of course. This is a lens that really makes me wonder if I should keep the Olympus 12mm f/2. The prime is slightly sharper in the center, but I doubt it will be visible in real world photography. I'm under the impression that the zoom is sharper in the corners, impressive!

    I think the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro is a great lens and definitively worth it's somewhat hefty price tag. Anyway, in my opinion it lives up to its 'Pro' label.

    reviewed November 16th, 2013 (purchased for $1,200)
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small, sharp, fast focussing, cheap, decent build quality
    None

    I like this lens, I like it a lot. Sharpness is excellent at f/4 (and smaller) and that's often the minimum aperture I like to use for portraits with this lens. Images are really sharp! I find it very nice that this model is sharper then the new AF-S version. Saves me some money. Also, autofocus is faster with the AF-D. I've had no problems with autofocus accuracy or speed. I find the autofocus speed of the 50mm and 85mm AF-S models annoyingly slow. The AF-D has no ass gasket like the new AF-S version has, but then I don't care for that much. The focussing ring rotates during focussing, but the lens barrel is large enough to grip the lens without touching the ring. I like the build quality of this lens. The lens has a nice feel and weight to it. I prefer it to the build quality of the AF-S version. If you are looking for a prime in this range, I recommend this lens.

    reviewed May 4th, 2012 (purchased for $400)
  • Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 ASPH LEICA DG SUMMILUX

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very sharp, quick autofocus, accurate autofocus, good build quality, good grip
    Rather expensive, nervously clicking aperture blades

    This is not a pancake lens, so I don't mind the size and weight compared to the 20mm f/1.7. Sharpness and contrast are very good, straight from the maximum aperture. The autofocus system is quick enough for most work. It doesn't feel sluggish like the 20mm pancake and it's very quiet too.

    The relatively large barrel provides a good grip on small micro 4/3 camera bodies, and the wide focus ring moves smooth and precise. This lens gives you the classic 50mm field of view. The 20mm pancake really is significantly wider. This is a very important factor.

    Compared to other standard lenses, the price of this Panasonic is rather high. However, I feel that the image quality, build quality and autofocus speed reflect that price.

    Update: The aperture blades click nervously in high contrast situation. There's nothing you can do about it. I don't like it. It should not happen with a lens this expensive.

    If you have the money to spend and if you don't mind the larger size and more narrow field of view (and the clicking aperture blades), I can recommend this 25mm over the 20mm pancake. I think the Olympus 25mm is a nicer lens all together.

    reviewed January 24th, 2012 (purchased for $700)
  • Nikon 35mm f/2D AF Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp, lightweight, small, fast autofocus, fast apeture
    Soft corners

    It's personal preference of course, but I just love this lens on a full frame camera for people photography! The 35mm focal length is perfect for what I do most of the time. It's a focal length between a wide angle and a standard lens. It's also very small and lightweight so it doesn't get in the way and it's not intrusive. I think it's also very nice for documentary and street photography.

    I find the sharpness and contrast at f/2.8 good and at f/4 and smaller it's very good. Except for the corners, that always stay slightly soft. To me this is not a problem, since I don't use it for architecture or landscape photography and I do not place my subject that close to the edge of the frame.

    This lens focusses very close and enables you to make nice close-ups and still show some of the surroundings. Of course there is distortion since it's a moderate wide angle. I find it focuses fast and accurate too. In Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom the moderate distortion can be easily removed by using a lens profile.

    There is the f/1.4G behemoth version, but I just can't justify it's price when I compare the performance, size and weight of this lens with the compact f/2.0 version.

    Yes, this Nikon AF 35mm f/2.0 D is a great little lens and I would really recommend it if you like to keep it simple and if you often use the 35mm focal length.

    reviewed May 12th, 2011 (purchased for $200)
  • Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Extraordinary sharpness and contrast at every aperture, accurate autofocus
    Lens hood is screw in type

    Often I am slightly disappointed by third party lenses, but this one is a pleasant exception and definitely a keeper. Sharpness and contrast are outstanding at all apertures straight from f/2.8. Really, I can't find anything to whine about. The bokeh is nice and smooth. Auto focus is not lightning fast, but I don't find it too slow. It's accurate and that's important. The lens itself is not very big and heavy, but it does feel solid and well constructed. Not sure about the 'rubbery' coating on the lens barrel though. Apart from being a nice macro lens, it can serve as a high quality portrait lens as well. Some photographers probably start to feel depressed when I say this, but I think you can never have enough detail. You can always easily remove some of it later, but you can never get more. If you love sharpness and good contrast and don't need super fast action tracking auto focus, this surely is a winner.

    reviewed July 30th, 2011
  • Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 ASPH LUMIX G

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Light, small, affordable, very good image quality
    None

    Now this is a nice optical surprise in a small package! Images are nice and sharp and the autofocus is fast and almost completely silent. Also it's very, very compact and light weight. Even if you only plan to use it now and then, it's absolutely no problem to carry with you everywhere. It fits in a small corner or pocket of your coat or bag. Highly recommended!

    reviewed January 2nd, 2012 (purchased for $175)
  • Olympus 45mm f/1.8 ED M.Zuiko Digital

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small, light, sharp, silent, fast focussing, fast aperture, reasonably priced
    None

    This lens is a must for micro 4/3 users if it suits their way of photographing. If you are looking for a short tele prime and you don't need macro, look no further, this is the one to get.

    Sharpness (even wide open) is very, very good. It has beautiful bokeh and good contrast. Autofocus is smooth, fast, silent and accurate, really good. There is some CA, but it doesn't bother me much.

    There's a lot of plastic in it, but I don't find that problematic. Time will tell if it's build to last. The lens is very light and small, and to me that is one of the things I like so much about micro 4/3.

    Not very often I come accross a lens that's that good and that I have little or nothing to complain about. The optional lens hood I did not buy. Instead I bought a more affordable Chinese JCC copy. Apart from a tiny bit of a loose fit, it's just fine. Again, if this focal length is what you are looking for, I don't think that you'll be disappointed.

    reviewed December 13th, 2011 (purchased for $370)
  • Nikon 28mm f/2.8 AIS Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small, lightweight, sharp, good contrast, close focus, all metal, price
    Manual focus

    Feel free to use this lens wide open at f/2.8, because it's sharp and contrasty enough. Distortion is minimal. The build quality of this lens is excellent. It's made of metal and virtually indestructible. Old school quality. Focussing is smooth and precise and easy to do with the large rubberized ring.

    Most modern camera's have focus confirmation (dot) which makes focussing easy to do. Everything works fantastic. As a nice bonus, with this model you can focus up to 20cm and the image still remains sharp!

    You can find them relatively cheap these days (at the time of this review that is) and if you are looking for a professional Nikon prime in this range I can highly recommend it.

    reviewed February 18th, 2012 (purchased for $260)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp from f/2.8, good contrast, light weight, compact, cheap, recessed front element, quick focus
    Soft wide open

    Just look at the 'pros' section above. For the money, it's a great little lens and I think you can't go wrong with this one. For me it's sharp and contrasty enough from f/2.8. It focusses quick and accurate on a decent camera body. You don't need a lens hood, because the front element is recessed. If you are looking for a 50mm and don't need a wide aperture, get one of these.

    reviewed February 23rd, 2012 (purchased for $150)
  • Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 ASPH LUMIX G

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, small, fast aperture, sharp, good contrast
    AF a little slow, moving front element

    For the small pancake that it is, this lens is an excellent performer. Apart from the somewhat slow autofocus and the loose, moving front element, there's nothing I don't like about this lens. Images are sharp and crispy and they have good contrast. The autofocus is slowish but accurate.

    The front element moves in and out during focussing and it seems a little fragile to me. The 14mm f/2.5 for instance, has no external moving parts. Maybe Pansonic will build a new 20mm f/1.7 someday with a design like this 14mm.

    Images taken at f/1.7 are usable, but I think images taken at f/2 have better contrast and sharpness. It's a small lens and this helps to keep your micro 4/3 camera (and lens set) more 'micro'.

    Although I think the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 Summilux is a better lens, this 20mm pancake probably is good enough for most uses. It has the advantage of being smaller, lighter and less expensive. So, great image quality in a small package.

    Update 23/9/2013
    The new version (II) is optically and mechanically identical, but the lens now has a black metal barrel. I think it’s a nice touch. The front element is a little more recessed. That’s a good thing too. Unfortunately, being mechanically identical, the autofocus speed is still a little slower than the focus system in newer lenses. A missed opportunity? I don’t know, because the lens does deliver excellent results and it’s a micro 4/3 classic for a reason.

    The new kid on the block is the Olympus 17mm f/1.8. It focusses fast and silent, but I don’t find the image quality convincing. Sharpness and contrast are just not on par with the Panasonic. If you need focus speed or a slightly wider field of view, the Olympus 17mm might be good for you, but image quality wise it’s a step backwards.

    Update 24/4/2015
    Even after using almost every available alternative, I keep coming back to this little lens. It's the combination of the (to me) very versatile focal length, excellent image quality and the small size. An excellent lens, really (old and new version).

    reviewed March 16th, 2012 (purchased for $400)
  • Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G X VARIO

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Build quality, image quality, weight, grip, autofocus, zoom range, aperture
    Price

    Although my name is Prime Minister, I do appreciate a good zoom lens with a useful zoom range and a fixed fast aperture. Kit lenses of course can be a great alternative if your on a tight budget, but they can't beat a high quality zoom like this. The Panasonic 12-35mm certainly caught my attention. Given it's professional (high) price, my expectations were high. The lens did not disappoint.

    The build quality is very good. The lens has a good quality feel to it and everything works quick and accurate. I expected the zooming to be a little bit smoother, but it's really good as it is. Maybe it gets smoother over time. The lens extends a little when zooming in. I wish the extending lens tube was metal like the lens barrel. Also, I'm not a fan of the super shiny bling bling finish of the lens barrel. These are just trivial things of course.

    The 12-35mm has a nice weight, but I think the lens feels a bit too heavy on smaller micro 4/3 camera's like the olympus PEN Mini. On a camera like the Olympus OM-D it feels just right. It provides a good grip and it prevents camera shake. The plastic petal shaped lens hood locks on quickly and firmly without any play. The lens hood is relatively small when you compare it to the lens hood of a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. But then the whole lens is incredibly small and light for a 24-70mm (equivalent) f/2.8 lens with image stabilization. Amazing. The image stabilization works great and it permits at least a two to three stops slower shutter speed.

    The autofocus is quick, silent and accurate in most conditions. Continuous autofocus is not so great, but since I never use it, that's no problem for me. Also, this is probably not a shortcoming of the lens but of the camera autofocus system. The 12-35mm focusses rather close and that's something I always like. It gives the photographer the possibility to isolate a subject and zoom in on details.

    Okay, let's pixel peep. Sharpness in the center is excellent at all focal lengths straight from the widest aperture. The corners are a tad soft, but they sharpen up by stopping down one or two stops. At f/2.8 the image quality is very good. Set it to f/4 and you don't have to think about it at all.

    I see no problems with the contrast and colors either. There is some CA, but that can be removed easily. The image quality is not as good as some of the best primes, but to me it's more then acceptable. It comes very close. Really good performance and I expected no less.

    It depends on your style of photography (and budget) if this lens is interesting to you, but I think this is a very high quality zoom lens with a useful range and a fast(ish) f/2.8 aperture. It's very convenient to go from 24mm wide angle to 70mm short tele in a twist of the wrist without any serious compromise on image quality. All of this comes in compact, lightweight, weather sealed and high quality package. Great for journalistic/reportage photography or as an everyday do it all lens.

    Would I recommend this lens? Yes, go get one! And some primes.

    Update (12-2013): There is a new king of the hill: the Olympus 12-40mm and I like it better then this Panasonic. Read my review and find out why.

    reviewed August 30th, 2012
  • Nikon 35mm f/1.4G AF-S Nikkor

    6 out of 10 points and not recommended
    Sharpness, contrast, focus speed, build quality, speed
    Auto focus accuracy and speed, CA, price

    The image quality of this lens is great. Sharpness, contrast are very good straight from the maximim aperture. Bokeh is good too. Unfortunately there is rather a high amount of CA.

    The auto focus speed is fast enough, but not as fast as the 24-70mm f/2.8G. Personally I expected a better performance for this price. Also, it is a hit or miss in low light. Very disappointing and the main reason why I returned this lens.

    The build quality is fine. The lens feels sturdy and it has a nice weight to it. I’m not bothered by the 67mm filter thread, but I understand why it can be a nuisance for other photographers.

    I would not recommend this lens to photographers that need fast or accurate autofocus in low light. For all other use I think it's a fine lens.

    reviewed July 4th, 2012
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness, contrast, bokeh, price, silent
    None

    I've always been a huge fan of the older AF-D model, but it was only really usable from f/2.8. What a nice surprise this new AF-S version is! More then adequate sharpness and contrast n the center of the frame at f/1.8 and at smaller apertures it only gets better.

    Sharpness, contrast and bokeh are wonderful, almost no CA, the autofocus is reasonably fast and I found it to be very accurate too. Vignetting is kept well under control. I found no problems with under or over exposure.

    The build quality is very modern; big-size, lots of plastic, whimsy AF-S motors and no aperture ring. I wonder how long it will last. It does have an ass gasket to prevent dust and moisture getting into the camera and lens. The rear element does not move, nice detail.

    Personally, after trying this lens, I wouldn't bother with the f/1.4 offerings from Sigma or Nikon or the older AF-D versions. This lens is as good and often even better and costs less. Just buy one if you need a prime in this range. You won't regret it.

    Update: There is of course the relatively unknown Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro lens. And it is sharp!

    reviewed June 28th, 2012 (purchased for $500)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp, faster auto focus, small, light, affordable, recessed front lens
    Vignetting at f/1.8

    Like the AF-S 85mm f/1.8G, this AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is a nice surprise. And an affordable one too. Sharpness and contrast in the center are very good already at f/1.8 (really) and stopping down the whole image becomes nice and sharp at f/2.8. It's fun to have a lens which gives usable sharpness at f/1.8. None of the other AF 50mm lenses from Nikon are this sharp and contrasty at this aperture.

    CA is well under control and I find the bokeh of this lens soft and unobtrusive. It looks like the bokeh of the f/1.4G model. Vignetting is very evident at f/1.8 to f/2.8, but in most cases this can be corrected simply by applying a lens correction profile in your editing software.

    The f/1.8G focusses faster then the f/1.4G model (thankfully, because that is one very slow focussing lens). I've had no issues with accuracy so far. It doesn't seem to be any worse then the f/1.4G model anyway. It's reasonably silent. There's only a light whirring sound.

    The build quality is very modern; lots of plastic, whimsy AF-S motors and no aperture ring. I wonder how long it will last. It does have an ass gasket to prevent dust and moisture getting into the camera and lens. The front and rear elements move in and out. The lens hood is simple and good.

    This f/1.8G is both smaller and lighter then the f/1.4G version. It feels pleasantly light and compact on a full frame camera like the Nikon D800.

    If you're in the market for a 50mm Nikon prime, I recommend this lens over the more expensive f/1.4G version. Optically this f/1.8G is as good or better, but it's smaller, lighter, cheaper and it focusses faster too.

    reviewed July 3rd, 2012 (purchased for $200)
  • Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness, contrast, focus speed, build quality, speed
    None

    Sharpness and contrast at all focal lengths and all apertures is excellent for a zoom lens. Actually, the image quality surpasses that of many Nikon primes too. Really impressive. Image quality wise there’s no reason to get the nifty fifty out of the camera bag.

    Focussing is very fast, accurate and silent. The build quality of this lens is very good. It feels like it was made of a solid block of metal. One minor thing is the rubber on the zoom ring. It might come loose over time, but this can be fixed.

    Yes, this is a relatively large and heavy lens. However, the combined weight of i.e. a 24mm, 50mm and a 85mm prime comes close and you’d have to switch lenses. There’s distortion, but it’s relatively easy to fix. It’s not a problem for me.

    The supplied lens hood is sturdy and deep. It looks like an effective design, but it’s huge. Overall I think there’s little to fault with this lens.

    reviewed June 13th, 2012 (purchased for $1,500)
  • Nikon 28mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, AF-S, sharpness
    Vignetting, build quality, smell

    The image quality of this lens is good, but not excellent. Center sharpness is acceptable (for me) from f/2 and combined with the short focal length and a FX sensor it makes this lens very suitable for low light indoor photography.

    At f/1.8 the image is usable, but I feel it lacks a little sharpness and contrast. You'll need to do some post processing to compensate. I think it depends on the subject and of course your expectations. I'm not completely sure about this, but I think there might be some unevenness in sharpness throughout the image.

    I like this 28mm better then the AF35mm f/2D, which is soft at f/2. It's also better the the classic 28mm f/2.8 Ais version. It's substantially bigger though. The 28mm f/1.8G can be a really nice lens for photojournalistic work I think.

    There's a lot of vignetting going on at f/1.8 to f/2.8. When you shoot at wide apertures, you'll hardly need to vignette in post processing. It's relatively easy to remove and it can be an asset rather then a problem when you use it creatively.

    Auto focus is not completely silent, but not loud either. I think it sounds a little too scraping. You hear the same sort of sound when you turn the focus ring for manual focus. Speed is good and I've had no problems with accuracy yet. You can focus very close with this lens, nice!

    Bokeh is smooth for a wide angle. There is some distortion and I think it's of the moustache kind, but I haven't tested this. I think the lens is fairly resistant to flare.

    The lens is made of plastic and it feels a bit cheap. Especially considering it's 'professional' price, big box, gold band, nano diamond crystal super coating and other impressing stuff. Also, it smells bad. The smell transfers to my fingers. I think it's the rubber on the focussing ring. The lens has a metal bayonet with a rubber ass gasket but it has a cheap plastic filter ring.

    All in all I think I would definitely recommend this lens for portraiture and documentary photography. I'm not sure if it's suited for architecture and landscape photography (corner sharpness and distortion).

    It's a fast mild wide angle with good sharpness and contrast and it packs all the latest Nikon bells and whistles.

    reviewed May 26th, 2012 (purchased for $700)
  • Olympus 75mm f/1.8 ED M.Zuiko Digital

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Build quality, auto focus, sharpness, contrast, size, weight, looks
    None, it's perfect

    Not much to say, this lens is perfect. Excellent image quality (noticeably better than the Olympus 45mm f/1.8), excellent build quality. Very compact and lightweight for a fast 135mm equivalent (field of view) lens.

    The all black version of this lens looks sexy on any camera. Get yourself an affordable JJC metal lens hood, it's every bit as good as the Olympus one.

    A high quality optic and a good investment. Besides a loan to finance it, there's nothing more you can wish for. A keeper for sure.

    reviewed December 8th, 2012
  • Olympus 60mm f/2.8 M.Zuiko Digital ED

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Image quality, size, weight, price, autofocus, weather sealing, silent
    None

    Even wide open at f/2.8, the image quality of this lens is excellent. Good contrast and an amazing amount of detail. I have no complaints at all about the image quality. This lens just delivers the goods.

    For normal portrait or landscape work the autofocus is silent, quick and accurate but it's also very usable when shooting macro. Of course manual focus is possible too. The large smooth turning focus ring works like a charm.

    The lens has a useful distance scale with a limiter switch on the side. I find this switch a bit difficult to turn though. But maybe if it had less resistance, it would be too easy to accidentally move it.

    I did not give ten points for the build quality of this lens, because it's not build like the 12mm f/2 or the 75mm f/1.8. If it was, the price tag would probably be double of what it costs now. The use of plastic does keep the weight down and of course that is one of the benefits of this micro 4/3 system. For the money, it's build quality is fine.

    If you need a macro lens for your micro 4/3 camera with this focal length, look no further.

    reviewed December 21st, 2012
  • Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small, light, fast and silent autofocus, build quality
    CA, soft corners

    The build quality of this little lens is very good. The lens barrel and bayonet are made of metal. There are no external moving parts and although the lens is very small, it has a nice weight. It feels and looks clean and sturdy.

    The ribbed ring provides good grip while attaching or removing the lens and when you are holding the camera. The chrome rib on the lens barrel is a useful help in attaching or removing the lens. I really like the design of this lens.

    Autofocus is fast, accurate and silent. In good light it's lightning quick but even in low light the lens locks on reasonably quick. The equivalent focal length of 27mm allows hand held shooting at low shutter speeds.

    Center sharpness and contrast are very good at f/2.8. At f/3.5 sharpness and contrast get a little better, but you really have to be pixel peeping. The corners are a little soft, but usable I think.

    Unfortunately there's some clearly visible CA and barrel distortion. Some of it can be removed in post processing. Overall the image quality is very decent for a small lens like this.

    If you like the Nikon 1 system, I think this lens is a vey nice addition. Together with the 18.5mm f/1.8 it forms an interesting set of primes.

    reviewed January 3rd, 2013
  • Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8 Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small, light, fast and silent autofocus, build quality
    CA

    The build quality of this little lens is very good. The lens barrel and bayonet are made of metal. There are no external moving parts and it weighs almost nothing. It feels and looks clean and sturdy though.

    The ribbed ring provides good grip while attaching or removing the lens and when you are holding the camera. The chrome rib on the lens barrel is a useful help in attaching or removing the lens. I really like the design of this lens.

    Autofocus is fast, accurate and silent. In good light it's lightning quick but even in low light the lens locks on reasonably quick. The large aperture allows hand held shooting at low shutter speeds.

    Center sharpness and contrast are very good at f/1.8. Totally usable, very nice. At f/2.8 sharpness and contrast get a little better, but you really have to be pixel peeping. This lens was made to use wide open.

    Unfortunately there's some clearly visible CA and some distortion. Some of it can be removed in post processing. Overall the image quality is very decent for a small lens like this.

    Personally, I like this focal length. If you like the Nikon 1 system, I think this lens is a vey nice addition. Together with the 10mm f/2.8 it forms an interesting set of primes.

    reviewed January 5th, 2013
  • Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 Nikkor VR

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small, light, fast and silent autofocus, build quality
    Slightly soft corners, small aperture

    The build quality of this little lens is very good. The lens barrel and bayonet are made of metal and the lens weighs almost nothing. It feels and looks clean and sturdy. I find the zoom ring a bit stiff.

    Autofocus is fast, accurate and silent. In good light it's lightning quick but even in low light the lens locks on reasonably quick. The image stabilization allows hand held shooting at low shutter speeds. It's quite effective.

    Center sharpness and contrast are very good wide open. Totally usable, very nice. The corners are a little soft though.

    Unfortunately there also is some visible CA and distortion. Some of it can be removed in post processing. Overall the image quality is very decent for a small lens like this.

    If you like the Nikon 1 system, I think this is a vey nice lens to have in your bag.

    reviewed January 10th, 2013
  • Olympus 17mm f/1.8 M.Zuiko Digital

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Build quality, autofocus, sharpness, contrast
    Slight corner softness at large apertures

    I decided to rewrite my review of this Olympus 17mm f/1.8 prime lens, because the optical quality of the first sample I had of this lens was really disappointing. Something was wrong with it. Luckily the sample I have now is much, much better.

    The build quality is great. The all metal design makes it sturdy with a nice weight. It looks and feels like an expensive precision instrument. I think it's well designed. I prefer the black version of this lens. It has a nice discreet black satin finish. A lens hood is not included. I think it's always wise to use one.

    Autofocus is really fast, silent and accurate. The field of view of approximately 35mm is very versatile and perfect for many types of photos. The snapshot focus system works great and it makes manual focus and pre focus easy, but I hardly use it. The autofocus is fast and accurate enough. It's a nice option to have though.

    My first copy of this lens was not very sharp. The center was acceptable, but sharpness quickly deteriorated towards the edges of the photo. Not so with my current sample. This lens is sharp wide open and only the corners of the frame are a little soft. Totally acceptable. There is some visible vignetting and CA wide open. Stopping down to f/2.8 makes things better and at f/4 the image is practically tack sharp with little CA. I'm happy with this performance.

    Bokeh is quite nice actually. I find it can be surprisingly soft and creamy at times. I don't know what it is, but this lens has a pleasant character/rendering. Images look vey natural.

    If you're looking for a high quality compact allround lens, I definitively recommend this Olympus 17mm f/1.8. I prefer it over the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, because of the natural rendering (the Panasonic renders too harsh) and lightning fast autofocus.

    reviewed January 26th, 2013
  • Nikon 1 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very small and lightweight, sharp and contrasty
    Feels a bit cheap, some flare

    This Nikon 1 11-27.5mm lens performs better then I thought it would. I guess it's because of the new design with ED and aspherical glass elements.

    Zooming isn't very smooth but it isn't bad either. The lens feels a bit cheap. Maybe because it's so light and mostly made of plastic. It does have a metal mount though and it's not an expensive lens.

    It's very compact and about a centimeter shorter then the Nikon 1 VR 10-30mm lens. The rubber zoom ring provides an adequate grip. Obviously, this lens doesn't have VR. Autofocus is fast, silent and accurate.

    When this lens came out, I wondered how it would stack up to the 10-30mm (image quality wise). So, I tested it. I was surprised to find that the image quality of this 11-27.5mm was noticeably better then the 10-30mm.

    At all focal lengths with the largest possible aperture, the 11-27.5 delivers images with visibly higher sharpness and better contrast. It does suffer from flare when a bright light source is in or near the image. The 10-30mm less so. I think the 11-27.5mm delivers a lot of bang for the buck. I even wonder if you still need the 10mm f/2.8 pancake when you have this puppy.

    So, wich one to get then? Personally I would be willing to sacrifice the greater zoom range and VR of the 10-30mm for the higher image quality of the 11-27.5mm. As a bonus it's a more compact lens too. Of course your photographic needs might be different.

    reviewed March 29th, 2013
  • Nikon 1 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 Nikkor VR

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp center, small, lightweight, fast and silent autofocus, metal
    Soft corners, CA, distortion

    The Nikon 1 6.7-13mm is a compact lightweight lens that offers a versatile wide angle zoom range equivalent to approx. 18 to 35 mm in 35mm format.

    The zoom ring is nice and wide and the textured metal provides adequate grip. Zooming is a little stiff though. The plastic inner barrel doesn't extend much when you zoom in and out (approx. one centimeter). The lens feels sturdy but light.

    Nikon decided to go completely wild and provides a nice plastic petal shaped lens hood (HB-N105) with this lens. Thank you Nikon.

    Autofocus is quick, silent and accurate. The 6.7-13mm has image stabilization which in some situations can compensate for the relatively small maximum aperture. It's a nice option to have and it doesn't seem to make the lens too big.

    Sharpness and contrast are very good in the center of the image. Unfortunately, the corners are a little soft, especially at 6.7mm. The sample I tried was softer on the left side then on the right. The bottom left corner in particular was soft.

    Stopping down helped, but the corners never got really good. To be honest, I expected this, because most cheap(ish) ultra wide angels suffer from some corner softness. I also found some CA and vignetting and the lens suffers from distortion at all focal lengths.

    If your images need to be tack sharp from corner to corner without any distortion, you'll have to switch to another (bigger and/or more expensive) lens or use a different camera system all together.

    So, is this little wide angle zoom worth the money? I think it is, if you can live with the shortcomings and if you want to keep the size and weight of your Nikon 1 system down to an absolute minimum.

    reviewed April 6th, 2013
  • Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small, lightweight, super sharp
    None

    Although this lens doesn't appear to be very popular, I think it's a really nice photographic tool. It all starts with the focal length, and I have to admit that for me the field of view of a 40mm lens is the most versatile for all sorts of photography, especially street photography. It falls between a 35mm and a 50mm.

    The XF 27mm f/2.8 is a very compact and lightweight lens that feels right at home on any Fujifilm X-series body. The Fuji 27mm f2.8 is mostly anodised aluminum, but it has a plastic filter thread. Personally, I don't care that it's made in China and that it doesn't have an aperture ring. After all, it's a pancake lens.

    It focusses fast and accurate and almost completely silent. The front lens element moves in and out as the lens focusses.

    Image quality is great, especially for a pancake design. Images are really sharp and contrasty with realistic colours. The corrected files don't have much distortion. There's some softness in the extreme corners wide open, but the rest of the image is super sharp. I tried the new 35mm f/2, but I was slightly disappointed with the sharpness and returned it. The 27mm is that good.

    reviewed December 25th, 2015 (purchased for $250)
  • Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness, contrast, build quality, bokeh, character

    This is a beautiful, affordable and well-constructed piece of optical goodness in a sturdy and relatively compact shell. Although it's not tack sharp at f/1.4 (does such a lens even exist), sharpness wide open is still very impressive. There is a generous sweet spot that's totally useable. It's great fun shooting this lens wide open, because the results are very good.

    Towards the edges, the image gets a little softer. It's best not to place your subject there if you need it to be sharp. Contrast wide open is slightly lower too, but with a little work in post processing it can be enhanced.

    The bokeh looks great. Nice, soft, creamy, juicy etc. It has its own character. When you stop down a little the image gets even sharper with better contrast. There is some vignetting wide open, but it's not very much and it can be corrected in post processing. I haven't found any significant CA.

    You probably won't find a lens in this price range that's better optically than this Fuji 35mm.

    The build quality is great. The exterior, lens mount, and filter ring are made of metal and the lens has a nice look and feel. Focussing (on my X-E2) is quick and very accurate. The focus motor produces some noise, but I don't find it problematic. The aperture makes some noise too, but with firmware updates the 'clicking' sound was greatly reduced. Again, not a problem. I rarely use manual focus. The focus ring works, but I think it's faster and more accurate to pre focus using the AFL/AEL button.

    The Fuji 35mm f/1.4 comes with a black metal lens hood. I leave it in its box, because I like my camera stuff to be as compact as possible. Also, I don't think this lens flares easily.

    I think this lens is a 'classic' for the relatively young Fuji X system for many reasons. If you like the 50mm equivalent field of view, you can't go wrong with this lens. Outstanding image quality straight from the widest aperture, great character and the large maximum aperture enables you to make sharp photos in low light.

    reviewed July 30th, 2015 (purchased for $475)
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact, lightweight, decent build quality, sharp, good colors and contrast, cheap

    It's small, lightweight, has a decent build quality and stopped down a little the image quality is very good. It has a metal lens mount. Sharpness, contrast and colors are excellent from f/2.8. The lens focusses quickly and accurately, but it's not silent. It's a little soft wide open, but other than that I can't really fault it. The price tag is very attractive and you certainly get a lot of image quality for your money. Looking for a nifty fifty? Grab a copy of this little lens.

    reviewed July 4th, 2015 (purchased for $135)
  • Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellent image quality wide open, good build quality, looks good, image stabilization, fast autofocus, compact and lightweight.

    This is a sweet little lens. Compact, lightweight and with quick and silent autofocus. It delivers excellent contrast and sharpness at its widest aperture and it even gets a little better when you stop it down. The bokeh looks fine to me and I dont mind the vignetting. There's nothing more I could ask for in a lens in this price range. Just check out the still life shot here on Imaging Resource.

    It beats the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and as an added bonus you get image stabilization and a lens hood. The Panasonic 42.5mm can focus pretty close too. I think this is a very versatile and desirable lens and thats why it has replaced my Olympus 45mm f/1.8. There is of course the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2, which is even better. Its also much bigger, heavier and very expensive.

    reviewed January 17th, 2017 (purchased for $225)
  • Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very compact, lightweight, fast-ish, sharp, good contrast
    None

    I like this little pancake. It produces images that are sharp and contrasty straight from the widest aperture. And that's on a full frame camera. Autofocus is fairly silent, accurate and fast enough for most situations. Build quality is decent and it has a metal lens mount. If you like the focal length, this is a no brainer. For the money, I can't fault it. I just have to give it a ten out of ten.

    reviewed June 2nd, 2015 (purchased for $167)
  • Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp, compact, lightweight, stabilization, build quality
    Somewhat expensive

    Unlike Nikon, Canon decided not to drastically change the optical design of their budget prime lenses (24mm, 28mm, 50mm). This resulted in a series of lightweight and compact lenses with a classic feel. Personally, I think these primes have just the right size and shouldn't be any bigger.

    Build quality is fine. The stippled texture looks great, the lens feels sturdy and nothing moves when focussing. The lens mount is metal. I never buy a lens with a plastic lens mount. The AF/MF and IS switches are small, but they don't feel particularly fragile. I don't use them that often anyway.

    Autofocus is quick, accurate and virtually silent. I don't know if it's suitable for video. I think you will hear the focusing motor. The image stabilization is nice for video. The focus ring feels nice and makes focussing manually easy.

    Optically, this Canon 28mm f/2.8 USM IS doesn't disappoint me. Yes, the corners are a little soft (full frame), there's a significant amount of vignetting wide open and there's visible chromatic aberration, but I don't really mind. Stop it down a little and the results certainly look good enough for me. It might not be the best companion for a 50 megapixel sensor, but on a 22 megapixel sensor it works fine.

    Some people think that image stabilization on a wide angle lens is totally unnecessary, but I think it's a useful option to have. You can shoot this lens handheld under moonlight. Great for photos at night or indoors. I can see myself using the IS in museums, churches and on the street. Combined with the excellent high ISO performance of the Canon 6D, the IS can help me make detailed photos in situations I normally needed a tripod.

    The image quality is good enough for most of us, the price is reasonable, it doen't weigh much and it doesn't take up much space in your camera bag. To me this new USM IS version is a big upgrade from the previous cheap plastic version.

    So, would I recommend this lens? Yes, if you're not someone who demands the absolute best image quality. If you need that, you will have to spend more money. Prepare to carry more weight and you might need a bigger bag.

    reviewed June 6th, 2015 (purchased for $415)
  • Panasonic 35-100mm f/4-5.6 MEGA OIS LUMIX G X VARIO

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Incredibly compact and lightweight, sharpness, contrast, stabilisation, build quality

    From the day this lens was announced, I was interested in it. I read some reviews and I saw the product photos online of course, but when I opened the small box and took the petite lens out of its plastic packaging, I was totally amazed by how small and lightweight this lens really is. The small box even seems slightly large for this lens. The first thing that came to my mind, was that if this lens delivered good image quality, it would be the perfect carry everywhere short telezoom. I haven't seen anything this compact ever, except for the Nikon 1, but that system uses a much smaller sensor.

    The build quality seems very good. The rear element doesn't move in or out and the front doesn't rotate. The barrel, zoom ring, focus ring, filter thread and lens mount are all made of metal. The inner tube is plastic. The lens certainly doesn't feel cheap (and it isn't). Zooming in and out feels slightly rough but it's precise enough. The front element has the fairly standard 46mm filter thread, excellent. You don't have to push a button or lever to extend the lens, just turn the focus ring and you're good to go. It clicks nicely into place.

    Autofocus is fast, silent and accurate. The optical image stabilisation works very well and I think it will give you two to three stops extra. I haven't used it extensively, but I didn't find it annoying or jumpy at all. Stabilisation seemed smooth and calm and it did its job well.

    The image quality is surprisingly good. Now I know this is not a fast lens, but for normal daytime photography (or on a tripod) this lens shines. Photos made with this lens have good contrast and excellent detail. It's a little softer towards the edges, but nothing to worry about. There is some vignetting, but it's very minor. A few clicks in post processing fixes this. I haven't found any CA at all. If it's there, it's probably very little. Really good optical results for such a small lens. I mean, we're talking about a 70-200mm equivalent zoom lens that's hardly any bigger than the small Olympus 45mm f/1.8.

    Nothing is perfect and I noticed that this lens suffers from shutter vibrations when used on a Panasonic GX7 and mostly from 70-100mm. However, that's only when you use the mechanical shutter. Images made with the electronic shutter are tack sharp at all settings. It's probably be the camera. The GX7 is known for its shutter shock issues. No problems at all on the GM5 body.

    This lens stays in my collection. I definitely recommend it if you are looking for the smallest and lightest (slow) zoom possible without sacrificing image quality. It punches above its weight.

    Update: After owning it a little longer, I grew even more fond of this lens. It's a really nice lens. Good reach, lots of detail and it's so lightweight and compact. I can see why this lens, the 12-32mm, a fast prime and a tiny camera body like the Panasonic GM5 is a perfect walk around camera kit.

    reviewed December 19th, 2014 (purchased for $430)
  • Panasonic 15mm f/1.7 ASPH LEICA DG SUMMILUX

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Speed, sharpness, contrast, build quality, size, weight, ergonomics, look and feel
    Vignetting, distortion

    When I first heard about this lens, I hoped for better optical performance than the current Micro Four Thirds autofocus prime lenses like the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 and the Olympus 17mm f/1.8. The Panasonic 15mm f/1.7 lens doesn't disappoint.

    The lens is compact and lightweight, but it feels solid and well build. The lens barrel, rings and the lens mount are all made of lightweight metal. I think it looks beautiful too. It's a good match for any MFT camera. It has a fairly common 46mm filter thread, which is nice. Maybe it's just my sample, but I find it slightly difficult to attach the 15mm to my Olympus camera. It's a very tight fit and there's not much to grab onto (except for the AF/MF switch, but you don't want to use that).

    Straight from the widest aperture sharpness and contrast are very good. The center of the image is sharp and contrasty and totally usable. The edges are very good, the corners are softer, but nowhere near as soft as the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 and better than the Olympus 17mm f/1.8. Apparently it's difficult to design and build a (moderate) wide angle lens for the Micro Four Thirds system that's both compact and optically excellent. Oh well, at this moment it's the best option and I'm happy with it.

    The Panasonic 15mm focuses real close. From f/2.8 everything is nice and crisp close-up, but at f/1.7 a large portion of the frame is already decently sharp.

    There is some CA, but most of it can be easily removed in post processing and it's not that much. Unfortunately, vignetting is strong at larger apertures. Distortion is rather high for a prime too. However, when I look at the end results, I'd say this is a lens that you can shoot wide open without reservation. And that's precisely why I prefer fast high quality prime lenses to a slower zoom (plus the size and weight advantage of course). On stopping down the sharpness gets better and contrast is slightly higher too.

    The first thing I noticed was the typical rendering of this lens. The lens renders like the other Panasonic primes. A different look than Olympus lenses. Higher contrast, very good micro contrast and sharpness. I think it's nice look for a 30mm equivalent lens. It makes photos 'pop'. It helps bring out detail better. Not sure if I would like this look for a short (portrait) tele like the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2. Personal preference of course.

    Autofocus works flawlessly. It's fast, silent and very accurate. When I first tried the lens, I thought the autofocus mechanism was broken. I forgot about the AF/MF switch on the lens barrel. It was set to manual focus. The switch works on Olympus camera bodies too. Manual focus is electronic and there are and no hard stops at either end. Nothing new, it works fine.

    A feature that sets the Panasonic 15mm slightly apart from many other lenses is the lovely little aperture ring. It allows you to set the aperture manually in 1/3 click stops. You can also set it to automatic. You can then set the aperture via the camera body. It feels very nice. So good in fact, that I find it hard not to play with it, even if it doesn't work (firmware update please) on my Olympus camera body. Weird, isn't it? Maybe it's because I haven't touched a real aperture ring on a high quality lens in a long time. I think it's a very nice feature on a small camera body with limited controls like the Panasonic GM1. On other camera bodies it might be redundant. Well, you can always play with it or just look at it.

    Highly recommended lens if you're looking for a 30-35mm equivalent prime. If you have the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5, this is a nice upgrade (apart from the size of course). If you have the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 this Panasonic has slightly better image quality and better build quality. It might be worth upgrading. I did.

    reviewed October 9th, 2014
  • Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* SEL55F18Z

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact, lightweight, silent, fast, sharpness, contrast, bokeh

    I like the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, but I absolutely love this Zeiss 55mm f/1.8. The build quality is good. The lens is lightweight, compact and it feels sturdy. I like the understated clean minimalistic design. Personally, I have no need for bells and whistles like an aperture ring, a lot of rubber and fancy coloured decoration rings.

    The included plastic lens hood is relatively large and it shields the front element of the lens from stray light perfectly. Autofocus is fast, silent and accurate. Of course autofocus performance also depends on which camera you use.

    There is some CA and vignetting at large apertures. Most of this can be corrected in post processing. I think the bokeh of this lens looks very good, especially for a relatively short 55mm f/1.8.

    Sharpness is excellent, even wide open at f/1.8 photos are totally usable. Sharpness and contrast get better as you stop down. At f/2.8 the image looks terrific. Sharp from edge to edge and with good contrast. There's practically no distortion, perfect. This is one of the best lenses I ever used.

    The price of this lens is relatively high, but you get what you pay for. This Zeiss defeats most of the other fast standard lenses from Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Pentax and Sony. It's a good match for the Sony 36 megapixel sensor (without AA filter) and it wouldn't surprise me if this lens also shines on an even higher resolution sensor. Seems like a good investment. Excellent lens.

    reviewed August 12th, 2014
  • Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

    6 out of 10 points and recommended
    Wide aperture, super sharp, fast autofocus, good build quality
    Behemoth

    This is one sharp and contrasty lens! Even wide open the central portion of the image is totally usable. Stop the lens down to f/2 and most of the frame is super sharp. From f/2.8 it's tack sharp from corner to corner. Colour and contrast are excellent too. There's really nothing more to say about the image quality of this lens, it's just excellent.

    The build quality seems to be very good. Everything feels sturdy and works smoothly. Autofocus is fast, silent and accurate.

    All in all an excellent performer. Unfortunately it's extremely big and heavy for a 50mm lens. It's not a standard lens I like to carry with me. Also, I find the 50mm field of view not very exciting and often not wide enough.

    If you are willing to carry this behemoth and if you like the 50mm field of view, there's nothing out there at the moment that beats it. Be sure to check the specifications, you might also need to buy a bigger camera bag.

    reviewed June 9th, 2014
  • Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED AF-S Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact, lightweight, nice handling, sharpness, contrast, silent autofocus
    Could be a little sharper at 35mm

    I tried this lens as a replacement for my Nikon AF 24mm f/2.8 D and I was pleasantly surprised. It's sharper and it has better contrast than the 24mm. It's also very lightweight and compact for a full frame wide angle zoom. I like how this lens handles/feels on a Nikon camera body. Ergonomics are great.

    Sharpness, color, and contrast are very good. This lens renders like my other AF-S lenses (28mm f/1.8, 35mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8). When you look in the corners at 100% magnification on your high resolution screen, you'll find some softness, but in real use this is hardly noticeable. Only real pixel peepers worry about this. Stopped down to f/5.6 this lens really shines. CA is very low and the lens doesn't flare easily. Optically it beats most (if not all) older lenses like the AF20mm, AF24mm, AF-S17-35mm and the AF20-35mm. It's also more comfortable to carry than the older behemoth zooms.

    Autofocus is reasonably fast, silent and very accurate. Zooming is smooth and easy and the focal lengths are well spaced on the zooming ring. I don't know if it's the low weight or the design (probably both), but this lens just feels right on my D610 and D800.

    Some people say that the Nikon 16-35mm VR is a better lens, but I don't believe that to be true. Not only is it significantly more expensive, it's also noticeably bigger and heavier. It does have VR but it's just a very different kind of lens. I seriously doubt there's a real life difference in image quality.

    If you've got the money and if you don't mind the extra weight and bulk and if you got shaky hands, get the 16-35mm. For everybody else this 18-35mm really is perfectly fine. Just get one if you're looking for a wide angle for your full frame Nikon. You will not regret it.

    reviewed June 13th, 2014
  • Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact, lightweight, sharp, contrasty, fast, silent, acurate

    It's sharper and it has better contrast than the AF 35mm f/2D. I'm not sure if it's as good as the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art, but it's definitively more compact and lightweight. I like how this lens handles/feels on a Nikon camera body. Ergonomics are great.

    Sharpness, color, and contrast are very good. This lens renders like my other AF-S lenses (28mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8). When you look in the corners at 100% magnification on your high resolution screen, you'll find softness wide open, but when you stop down it gets sharper. CA is very low and the lens doesn't flare easily. Autofocus is reasonably fast, silent and very accurate.

    If you are looking for a compact and lightweight walk around lens, this is a very nice option. I think it's a good upgrade from the older AF-D version and it's so much more comfortable to carry around than the large, heavy and expensive f/1.4 alternatives from Nikon and Sigma.

    reviewed June 17th, 2014
  • Olympus 25mm f/1.8 M.Zuiko Digital

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact, lightweight, sharp, good contrast, fast AF, wide aperture

    For me this is the fast and compact standard prime that was missing in the Micro Four Thirds lens lineup.

    There is of course the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 and optically it's a very good lens. However, the Panasonic is relatively large and heavy (even more so with the large lens hood), it costs more and it does have some optical flaws like soft corners and visible CA.

    I hoped that the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 would be a good performer and luckily it is. Wide open at f/1.8 a large central portion of the image is very sharp. Contrast is good too. There is some vignetting and CA, but it's not excessive. I don't see any serious distortion either.

    In short, I don't feel the need to stop the lens down for better image quality. When you do stop it down one or two notches, sharpness and contrast get slightly better. Again, I think it's perfectly fine at f/1.8.

    Autofocus is swift, silent and dead on. Noting moves externally and I think it's nice that the lens shares a 46mm filter thread with some other lenses for the system.

    The build quality is like the Olympus 45mm f/1.8. A large ribbed focus ring, a metal lens mount and a lot of plastic. It doesn't feel fragile and because it's heavier then the 45mm, it feels quite substantial for a lens this size. A plastic lens hood is included.

    For me this Olympus 25mm f/1.8 is a very welcome addition to the system. I like it more than the Panasonic 25mm, because it's cheaper, smaller, lighter and the aperture doesn't rattle. In real life image quality is about the same. Highly recommend standard lens!

    reviewed March 29th, 2014
  • Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* SEL35F28Z

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact, lightweight, good image quality, compact lens hood
    'Sun dots' and concentric colored rings

    This Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 looks and feels very nice. It's very light, relatively compact and it feels sturdy. The design is simple and clean. The outer parts of the lens are made of metal.

    Even the lens hood is largely made of metal. I like the fact that the lens hood can be fitted over a filter. It's a dome type lens hood, so it's very small and it doesn't add much to the length of the lens.

    It seems ideal as an all-round compact walk around lens. There are some manual alternatives from Zeiss, Voigtländer and Leica, but this Zeiss has autofocus and was made specifically for the new Sony FE mount. I think it's a perfect match for the A7(R).

    It's not a fast lens, but at f/2.8 it produces photos that are plenty sharp and contrasty. I use this lens on the A7R full frame camera. There is some vignetting going on but I did not find any notable CA. The extreme corners are a little soft, eve stopped down to f/5.6. As far as I can tell this lens focusses fast, silent and accurate. Closing the aperture a little improves the image quality. The bokeh is fairly good for a f/2.8 35mm.

    Although I think overall this lens is a stellar performer, there are some strange things I want to mention. Some weird 'dots' can be visible when the sun is in the frame. Also, sometimes the lens seems to invoke colored concentric rings. I'm not sure if it's the lens or the lens-sensor combination that causes these defects.

    Anyway, if you have an A7(R) and if you like prime lenses, this Zeiss should probably be high on your wish list.

    reviewed January 20th, 2014
  • Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN Art

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Size, weight, excellent image quality, fast silent autofocus, metal barrel, outrageously low price
    None

    Updated: 2014/10/22

    Excellent lens for the price! It's super sharp with great contrast, the bokeh is good, CA is low, it doesn't flare easily, it focuses fast and accurate, the build quality is great and the price is outrageous. Sigma even included a lens hood and a sturdy pouch.

    With the camera turned off, a lens element moves freely inside the barrel. This makes a soft clunking sound. That's normal and part of the design. It's not broken. As soon as you turn on your camera, the element stays in place.

    There are some things that I don't like about this lens and that's the smooth shiny metal barrel. It attracts fingerprints, it looks stupid and it provides almost no grip. Also, the aperture rattles on my camera like the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 and the AF system is slightly nervous and constantly (but softly) audible.

    If you don't need the special Olympus 75mm f/1.8 or the 60mm f/2.8 macro, this is the lens to get. It really is as sharp and contrasty, you won't miss out on anything. It's also sharper than the Olympus 45mm f/1.8. Again, this is amazing at this low price point. You should be able to find a like new second hand 60mm for about 120 dollars. That's a steal!

    I never liked the Sigma 19mm and 30mm (the new and old versions are optically identical). This 60mm definitely is something else! A gem and highly recommended.

    reviewed September 13th, 2013 (purchased for $120)
  • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Build quality, image quality, design
    It's big and heavy

    Short version:
    This is an awesome lens, just get one!*

    Longer version:
    Despite the use of some plastic the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG feels sturdy and durable. It's somewhat big and heavy though. Because of the size and weight of the lens, I think it pairs nicely with a camera body like the Nikon D600, D700 or D800. On a lighter body it probably feels a little front heavy.

    The lens hood fits like a glove. I really like the black semi gloss minimalistic design. The zoom ring doesn't rotate super smooth, but it's good enough and it provides good grip. I don't really need a manual zoom ring on this lens, so I don't care.

    Autofocus is fast, silent and accurate. However there are reports of focus errors on some cameras. Specifically on the D800. I often only use the center focus point of my camera (D700 and D600), and that seems to work just fine.

    The optical quality of this Sigma 35mm is excellent. Wide open at f/1.4 the center is totally usable and it gets better if you stop down. At f/2.8 most of the frame is nice and crisp and peak performance is at f/4 - f/5.6. This is a super sharp lens. Contrast and colors are perfect.

    The out of focus area looks good to me. Some people say the bokeh is a little busy. It depends on the subject, the distance and the light I guess.

    I think this lens beats all the alternatives from Nikon and Canon and also the manual focus Samyang. Try one, you'll be smiling about the results.

    *Update!

    Although the image quality of this lens is excellent, it does have some issues with focussing on a Nikon D800. It seems to randomly front and back focus. I can’t find a pattern in this behaviour. Other lenses work fine on my camera. I’ve found more messages on the internet about this focus issue. It surely makes the lens less desirable. Hopefully Sigma finds a solution for this problem.

    reviewed May 28th, 2013