benherrmann's reviews

  • Samsung 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 Power Zoom ED OIS NX

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact, Exceptionally sharp lens - excellent contrasts - gives the big boys a run for thier money
    No lens hood offered - I had to devise one using stepup rings and 3rd party generic lens hoods

    Look - I'm not easily impressed, but lately (among various brands), there have been a series of "kit lens" releases that have given some of the "big boys" a good run for their money.

    I purchased the first copy of this Samsung 16-50 PZ lens upon it's release and boy was I taken aback (in a most positive way) at the optical and image qualities of this lens. This lens has an almost "clinical" quality to it, yet without making the images look unnatural. Contrasts are great, and with my copy, I'm getting corner to corner sharpness across the board. Short of having a constant f2-2.8 aperture (like the many more expensive models have), this lens can give them all a run for their money within the 24-75 MM equivalent focal range.

    I'm very very impressed and I subsequently got a second one also. Have them both on the NX300 and NX500 - where they are both staying because of their superb IQ levels.

    I'd say that IMO, this is one of the finest PZ style of kit lenses out there, not to mention kit lenses in general. I think it does an injustice to even call it a kit lens because it's that good.

    IMO - Highly Recommended

    reviewed December 9th, 2015 (purchased for $349)
  • Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Exceptionally small, solid construction. Superb optical clarity, and price.
    F4 - 5.6 (wish it was a bit lower like 3.5-4.5 - but then it would obviously cost more. Doesn't come with a lens hood.

    This was the 2nd EF-M lens that I purchased once I elected to adopt the Canon EOS-M system a few years ago. I enjoyed the optical qualities of the EF-M 18-55 and I believed that for a kit lens, it really surpassed my expectations. When I saw the 11-22 available for only $349 (USD) at the time, I immediately pulled the trigger.

    But I was not prepared for the absolutely superb optical qualities that this lens exhibits - so much so, that it becomes easy to just leave this lens on the camera as an everyday optic. And when you think about it, we spend over 90% of our shooting anywhere from wide angle to 50 MM anyway - it was just a no-brainer.

    I was really surprised however, to see the radical superiority of this lens (read "clarity" here) when you compare the results between the 11-22 and the EF-M 18-55 kit lens. I had mentioned earlier that I felt the 18-55 was an outstanding kit lens - well constructed, smooth to operate, and the optical results were really nice. But hands down, this 11-22 bests it in the optical clarity department - almost like a good prime. I'd have to say this 11-22 is a must-have for landscape photographers, or for those who want to take excellent interior architectural shots. This is such a great lens that I may invest in a 2nd copy of this lens - it's that good.

    So if you're into the EOS-M system, this is a "must-have" lens and it definitely won't break the bank. You will not be disappointed and you'll be wondering why you held off this long to get this lens.

    reviewed October 14th, 2016 (purchased for $349)
  • Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very light - yet has what I would call "quality" construction for the genre. Optical quality is actually much better than I had originally assumed when it was released. And the price is outstanding also.
    All plastic construction, but that's par for the course now-a-days among many lenses being released at this price-point. In addition, I tend to forget to unlock the lens, causing me to have to go back to unlock it before you can shoot.

    This is the lens that came with the EOS-M10 which I purchased for my wife. I love the focal range, considering that most of us spend over 90% of our efforts within this area.

    So just for curiosity's sake, I took this lens off the M10 and tried in on the likes of the M, M2, and M3. And I've got to tell you, that for the most part, it is a stellar optic for the price and genre. Like most lenses in this price range, you'll get solid performance in the center and then that gradually erodes as you get to the sides. I'd say at f6.3 you get about the best you can get on the sides. Having a wider 25 MM equivalent focal area makes for great scenic and/or architectural photography.

    It is a small lens to be sure (similar to the 11-22), so it's not an optic that brings attention to itself with regards to size. My wife has captured some absolutely wonderful shots using her M10 and this lens combo - I'm actually jealous on some of them because they were so good.

    So don't let the price or focal range bother you. This lens will do quite well.

    reviewed October 14th, 2016 (purchased for $150)
  • Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G VARIO

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Well Constructed for the Price Point Weather proof Optically punches far above its weight Metal Lens Mount Can be purchased for varying inexpensive amounts on the likes of eBay (i.e. separated from the kit). Excellent focal range
    Considering its price point, none that I can identify.

    When you think of kit lenses, you often have images of optics with ranges of 28-82 or 24-70 MM equivalents. And then you know that optically, they will be just good enough - yet lacking in a number of areas. But you put up with them because they either came as part of your camera kit, or you didn't have the money to spend on more expensive lenses.

    Now enter the (what I consider to be) the wonderful Panasonic Lumix 12-60 f3.5-5.6 OIS zoom range with a superb 24-120 MM equivalent focal length. When I first saw this lens being introduced, I figured, "finally, a focal length we've been waiting for." I saw the list price ($499 USD) and then waited to see what the reviews would entail. However, even after a year, this lens was somehow overlooked by most reviewers - with just one or two popping up here and there. In averaging the reviews, all indicated it was a nice lens - with the typical kit lens qualities. So I figured, "hmmmmmnnn, should I still wait?"

    Well, while perusing the Panny 12-60's on eBay, I had noticed quite a few of them separated from the kit - either by owners or by vendors - and they were priced anywhere from $249 to $349 USD. So I pulled the trigger and obtained one. It was shipped quickly and I received it within 3 days.

    Once I began using this zoom lens (I put the initial one on my Olympus E-M5), I was not prepared to like it as much as I did. All of my so-so expectations were completely thrown out the window. Here was a superb performer with excellent optical performance across the frame. Granted, the center of the frame was the sharpest (which lens isn't?}, and even the corners were quite good for the genre beginning at around f4. The contrasts were superb, and most of all, it was an absolute delight to have a 24-120 MM equivalent. Suffice it to say, this is the lens that you can leave on your camera most of the time.

    I enjoyed this lens so much, that I wound up purchasing two more of them (again off of eBay) - and I have to report the other two that I acquired are just as good as the initial one I ordered. So now I keep them on the likes of the Olympus E-M5, the Panasonic GH3, and the older (yet awesome) little Panasonic GF1 - and that's where they will stay. Need I say more?

    Now reality dictates that you get what you pay for - and obviously, we'd all love to own the near $1000 USD standard zoom lenses that feature either a constant f2.8 or an f2.8 - 4 minimum aperture range. But many of us cannot afford those models and we're looking to get the best bang for the buck. I've always been impressed with most Panasonic standard zoom kit lenses as most of them do quite well for the price range (read the Panny 14-45, 14-42, 12-32, and now the 12-60 here). Now I must add the caveat that reality dictates that copy-to-copy variations do exist with most lens ranges.

    So if you're considering this lens, all i can say is that for the genre - in particular, the price point - you should consider the price vs. performance factor. And in this regard, this newer Panny 12-60 f3.5-5.6 OIS punches far above it's weight. For me - considering the prices you can get this lens at (on eBay, that is - not the full retail at various stores), this lens comes highly recommended by me.

    reviewed August 17th, 2017 (purchased for $349)
  • Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small footprint Exceptionally sharp optics for the genre Distinctively wider field of view - equivalent to 22.5 MM
    Initially may throw users with the power zoom function which feels like it belongs on an enthusiast camera.

    Let's face it, each brand has a series of kit lenses designed to allow new photographers to get started rather quickly. These kit lenses run the gamut from $199 to $399 depending on brand and model. And with each brand there are winners - that is, lenses that seemingly punch far above their weight.

    The Fujifilm XC 15-45 is such a lens. I first ordered it because I was intrigued with the 22.5 equivalent wide angle field of view - which makes a huge difference with regards to capturing scenics, architectural, and large group portrait photography. When it arrived, I noticed that there wasn't much writing (or numbers) on the lens at all - it seemed rather generic (bare, if you will). OK, I thought, let's attach it to a camera and take it for spin. I placed it on the X-A3 because I like how Fuji does the Bayer sensor.

    I was not prepared to enjoy this lens as much as I anticipated. I always had good copies of Fuji kit lenses in the past (i.e. XC 16-50 and XF 18-55), but this new 15-45 is almost clinical without all of the negative connotations that this term implies. Images are sharp - from corner to corner (at least on my copy - that's key). Now as an aside, do keep in mind that with many kit lenses, copy-to-copy variations in optical qualities can be frustrating at best. If you get a good copy of a lens, you're smiling from ear to ear, however, if you get a bad copy, you'll spend a good deal of time trashing the lens on various forums.

    As for me, my copy has been stellar. As I mentioned, it is an optic that punches far above its weight. Another intriguing aspect about this lens is the fact that it broke the mold for wide angle perspectives on a kit lens. Most kit lenses are either 28 or 24 MM. With the 15-45, it's wide angle focal reach is the equivalent of 22.5 - which really puts it almost into a wide angle zoom lens category.

    When you first receive the lens, be advised that it will initially throw you for a loop due to the fact that when you turn on the camera, the lens pops out, and likewise, when you turn the camera off, the lens retracts - just like a zoom lens on an all-in-one enthusiast camera. Additionally, when you go to zoom, it feels the same way as if you were using an enthusiast camera - just what the Power Zoom (PZ) implies. Once you get accustomed to this (remember, it is a different baby), you can then focus on its IQ qualities, and this where the 15-45 shines.

    In shooting various scenarios - whether they be scenics, indoor architectural scenarios, and large group portrait photography, I have (at least up to this point) never desired for a wider angle zoom. This 15-45 had acquitted itself quite well.

    As for perspective distortions, they are easy to correct using the various tools available in Lightroom, ACR, DXO Viewpoint, etc. As for purple fringing, it's about average for a lens of this genre and it is easily removable in post processing.

    In fact, I can honestly recommend using this lens as a low cost, yet high quality general kit lens that you can put on any Fuji X camera and wind up being quite pleased with the results. I plan on getting another one real soon. I initially purchased the silver version to put on my X-A3. The next one will be a black one. However, since Fuji is getting ready to release the new X-T100 (which will have the 15-45 kit lens attached), I may just purchase that new camera/lens setup instead.

    Highly Recommended!!!

    Ben Herrmann
    Master Gunnery Sergeant
    US Marine Corps (Retired)
    Fuquay Varina, North Carolina
    Certified International Camera Slut and Avid Photographer

    reviewed May 22nd, 2018 (purchased for $299)