Valdai21's reviews

  • Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Outstanding sharpness - Great colors - Almost no distortion - Small lens
    - Loose aperture ring - Not weather sealed

    This lens may seem less attractive than the famous 16mm f/1,4 but it's a little gem.
    Optically near perfect with outstanding sharpness even wide open, great colors and almost no distortion which is excellent for critical applications such as architecture.

    It's quite small, not weather sealed but well built. I never had any issue with mine. It shares the same hood and 58mm filters as the 18-55.

    The only thing I don't like about it is the aperture ring, way too loose and easy to turn by mistake.

    It's a bit of a specialized lens but a must have for landscape and architecture photographers. I don't think there are many wide angle options that good in other systems except maybe for much more money.

    reviewed September 18th, 2019 (purchased for $500)
  • Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T* 1.4/50

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Nice build quality - Buttery smooth focusing - Quite small and light (without it's big hood) - Unique rendering and pop - Very nice colors - Tack sharp when stopped down
    - Not very sharp at wide apertures especially at close distances wide open - Busy bokeh wide open - Sometimes difficult to focus - Visible chromatic aberrations

    I'm overall happy with this lens especially for the price I paid. It has a lot of character, maybe too much for some people. Don't buy it just because it's a Zeiss because the design may not suit everyone's tastes.

    Form factor is great, I found most of the other Zeiss lenses to be bulky and heavy. This one feels definitely nice, still not light but looks and handles very well even on a small DSLR. Focusing ring is buttery smooth, a joy to use.

    When stopped down, the lens is tack sharp across the frame so it's excellent for landscapes. Wide open it's a mixed bag: bokeh is bubbly and busy, sharpness depends on the subject distance but overall okay in the center at f/1,4, good from f/2. Corners are poor wide open and become good from f/2,8, everything is excellent at f/4. However rendering is unique and subject pops quite easily.
    For sharper results and smoother bokeh, better stop down to f/2.

    This lens is not very good on charts, not easy to use but it can produce very nice pictures, that's why I'm still practising with it. My Nikkor 50mm f/1,4 G is technically better and much more reliable especially wide open but the Zeiss has more soul for sure.

    reviewed April 7th, 2021 (purchased for $250)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Small and light - Fast to focus - Very good overall sharpness
    - Bokeh not as smooth as the f/1,4 G - Feels plasticky but not worse than the other lenses from the G lineup

    Mine is overall very sharp and even a hair sharper than my 50mm f/1,4 G for landscapes.

    Image quality is as good as the other f/1,8 G lenses and it's by far the most affordable of the bunch. There is nothing wrong about it if you get a good sample.

    I advise you to put a filter in front of it because front element extends inside the barrel, it helps protecting the lens against dust.

    reviewed April 7th, 2021 (purchased for $130)
  • Fujinon XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Outstanding sharpness and bokeh - Useful close focusing capabilities - Weather sealed
    - A bit long and heavy - No build in stabilization - Expensive if bought new - 7 straight aperture blades (bokeh balls not rounded when stopped down)

    This may be Fuji's best lens.
    Optically it's impressive, razor sharp from wide open with smooth bokeh. On the contrary to the 56mm f/1,2, this one is weather sealed and focuses quite close for it's focal lenght (about 60cm).

    I was a bit reluctant to buy it because of the 135mm equivalent but after a few months of use, I find it quite versatile. Only real downside except lenght, weight and price is the lack of stabilization. Not a big deal in daylight but it could have been nice to have in low light.

    Another little thing is that lens is nearly perfect but I don't understand why it has a 7 straight blades aperture. It has no incidence in most cases but you can notice polygonal bokeh balls when stopped down. Easiest thing to avoid this is to shoot wide open (the lens is already almost as sharp as it can get) but still a bit of a strange design choice for a portrait lens.

    reviewed June 29th, 2020 (purchased for $550)
  • Pentax 77mm f/1.8 Limited SMC P-FA

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Sharp - Smooth bokeh - Very nice rendering, definitely has some pixie dust - Small
    - Strong chromatic aberrations wide open - Manual focus ring is not very comfortable

    The main reason to buy this lens is it's incredible rendering. Colors and contrast are great, bokeh is smooth but still has character. I owned quite a lot of lenses and this one can definitely be recognised among many others when shot at bright apertures. It's much more interesting (and smaller) than a regular 85mm f/1,8 lens.
    When stopped down, it's perfectly sharp across the frame.

    The only downside is significant chromatic aberrations wide open. It's manageable when you nail focus but I didn't expected that. However, it still an exceptional performer, I'm not talking about chart tests but it's ability to produce beautiful true to life pictures. Worth the legend !

    I don't have any Pentax DSLR so I use the lens on various mirrorless cameras. It performs well but despite feeling well build, manual focus ring is not very comfortable to use. It feels way too smooth but the same can be said from most DSLR lenses with a mechanical focus ring.

    reviewed February 5th, 2021 (purchased for $600)
  • Olympus 25mm f/1.2 Pro M.Zuiko Digital ED

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Well build - Very sharp - Smooth bokeh especially wide open - Very nice rendering - Focuses quite close - Fast to focus
    - On the heavy side for a micro 4/3 lens - Expensive - Significant sample variations

    I tried this lens a few years ago and sent it back because it showed huge decentering until f/8, at an unacceptable level for a pro lens this price.

    I got my current sample second hand and it's much much better. While the 17 and 45mm are still sharper by a small margin, the 25mm is tack sharp across 95% of the frame wide open and almost doesn't need to be stopped down. f/2,8 looks the same as f/8 except for depth of field.

    What I really like about it is it's drawing especially wide open. It may be the most interesting of the three. Bokeh at f/1,2 is beautiful, soft and creamy, definitely the best rendering I've seen from a standard micro 4/3 lens. It's perfect for portraits and everyday life. Another thing I like is it's close focus ability. Paired with this great delicate blur, it's useful for artistic pictures of flowers and small objects.

    It's not a small lens but not bigger than most APS-C glass. It's the right size for my E-M1. I'm also very confident about Olympus build quality. It's an investment but it's one of the best lenses you can get for this system.

    reviewed February 5th, 2021 (purchased for $500)
  • Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Build quality - Form factor - Overall good image quality
    - Softer edges and corners than the f/1,4 version even stopped down

    This lens is well build and very nice to use. It fits well in the f/2 WR lineup. It's definitely a good choice if you don't need a bright aperture.

    Image quality is good to very good depending on your demand, but not outstanding for a Fuji lens. I mean the lens is perfectly usable even wide open with very sharp center but the very edges and corners are softer and they don't improve much when stopping down. Some people reported the same thing about the 23mm f/2. Mine should be a good sample because I don't think it's obvious.

    The 16mm f/2,8 lens is perfect for street photography, traveling and everyday use. If you are into more serious landscape photography, then the 16mm f/1,4 is worth the difference because it's sharper across the frame (I had both) and it gives truly flawless pictures, while the f/2,8 version is a touch softer in the corners. The 14mm f/2,8 is also superior in sharpness. Still the 16mm f/2,8 is very pleasant to use and sharper than the 18mm f/2. I like mine because it's unconspicious and reliable.

    reviewed June 14th, 2021 (purchased for $320)
  • Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN Contemporary

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Small and reliable - No noticeable distorsion - Almost a macro
    - Not very bright - Heavy vignetting

    This is what I expect from a full frame mirrorless lens: small size with few compromises.
    Build quality feels very nice except it's not truly weather sealed. The lens is sharp across the frame from wide open and focuses very close. It's great for landscapes, travel and almost macro wide angle pictures.

    It's not a bright lens but I think it's acceptable for a 24mm and not too limiting thanks to the effective Panasonic bodies stabilization. Even the bokeh is quite nice, you can definitely get some smooth backgrounds when close to your subject.
    The only think that bothers me sometimes is the strong vignetting, even stopped down. I usually correct it with +40 when post processing.
    If you are fine with vignetting and f/3,5, then just buy it, it's a great tiny lens.

    reviewed May 8th, 2022 (purchased for $450)
  • Tokina 100mm f/2.8 ATX-i FF Macro

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Good build quality - Very good sharpness - Nice bokeh - Accurate focusing - Affordable - Real manual aperture ring
    - No internal focusing, a bit noisy - No stabilisation - Real maximum aperture varies depending on focusing distance

    This is a solid lens, especially for the price. Sharpness is very good, it focuses accurately and has nice bokeh. Build quality feels quite good, not high end but this is definitely the kind of lens that can last for decades.

    It has a real aperture ring which is great if you want to adapt it on mirrorless. Manual focusing feels good thanks to the clutch. The lens is f/2,8 at infinity, brighter aperture available slightly decreases when focusing closer on Nikon DSLR but many macro lenses do that. Not a big deal on full frame. I think this behaviour is not possible when adapted because it's the camera body that tells focusing distance to the lens, if you use a fully manual adapter then the chip becomes useless.

    Overall very satisfying. If you want to do some macro on almost every camera body without spending too much, then it's worth purchasing.

    reviewed May 22nd, 2022 (purchased for $380)
  • Olympus 12mm f/2 ED M.Zuiko Digital

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Very small - Excellent build quality - Nice colors
    - Rear element moves when cleaning - Not the sharpest 12mm option for mft - Some field curvature - Maybe some sample variation

    I really enjoyed the form factor of this lens: so small and excellent build quality. Even if not weather sealed, I took it into the rain several times and never had any issue.

    I did not kept it because I found it tricky to use. There was a kind of field curvature I didn't understand, or maybe my sample was decentered even if my decentering tests seemed okay.

    My thought is it could be a great lens but not very useful if you already own a zoom, unless the size is the most important for you. I suspect some sample variation as it seems to be quite common with micro 4/3 lenses. If you find a good one, then it can be a great tool especially for low light photography on a stabilized body.

    reviewed May 22nd, 2022
  • Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    - Good build quality, not too heavy for it's size - Weather sealed - Takes standard 77mm filters - Very sharp at medium apertures across the frame - Very little barrel extension when changing lenght
    - Needed huge calibration - No stabilization

    I don't use any zooms except this one. It became one of my most used lens, and probably my most useful one. Build quality is good, the lens doesn't feel too heavy despite not beeing small. I really like how little the barrel extends between the lenghts, it makes it less fragile and less vulnerable to dust.

    I use it mostly daylight between f/5,6 and f/11 and sharpness is very good. I took some pictures wide open indoors and it's quite good too. I did not do any extensive comparison versus my f/1,8 primes but the Tamron is perfectly fine. 17-35mm covers 17-20-24-28-35mm, a very useful range for travel and architecture pictures. I usually take the 17-35 as my wide angle and complete with a 50 or a 85mm lens.

    Only downside is I had to buy the tap in console because my first pictures were out of focus even stopped down. I had to correct about - 15 but it was worth it. Given the size and price of the Nikon version I'm very happy with the Tamron. If you are looking for a good quality wide angle without spending too much, just buy it !

    This is my second sample, the first one had very noticeable decentering at 35mm, about 1/4 of the picture blurry. Sent back to Tamron for repair but came back with focusing issues, then sent back to the seller for refund. As usual with third party lenses, better try the one you want to buy on your camera body. Otherwise great lens.

    EDIT: After two years of moderate use, I notice the left side of my pictures was quite blurry. I first thought it was broken but after multiple tries with the tap in console, I corrected for front focusing instead of back focusing and it's now very sharp across the frame. Never seen such a thing but still very happy with it.

    reviewed May 22nd, 2022 (purchased for $280)