transiently's reviews

  • Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 ASPH LUMIX G

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness. Price. Usability.
    There is some sample variation.

    Good sharpness even side open over most of the image area, with some softness and fringing in the corners until you stop down around a stop and a half. At F4 and 5.6, you get very good sharpness across the frame which beats zooms. You can shoot confidently into the light with very few flare artifacts. Considering its reasonable price, there are few reasons not to get this lens, unless you never shoot in low light and never want to experiment with wide apertures for creative reasons.

    I have used two samples with my GX80, and one was a bit decentred. The much reported issue with focus shift when stopped down does not appear to me to be any kind of problem in varied use. I tested for it without finding significant evidence of anything that could bother me.

    reviewed January 23rd, 2021 (purchased for $125)
  • Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G VARIO

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Smooth and pleasant to use, with great focal length range and reasonable, if not tiny form factor. Excellent close-focus capability and performance. Slightly better optics than good samples of both versions of Panasonic 14-42 and 12-32 kit lenses, but
    For the most critical users, edge and, particularly corner resolution are never quite ideally good, even if for most users, most of the time, it probably matters little. Slightly better optics than good samples of both versions of Panasonic 14-42 and 1

    Overall, a mostly good enough lens with versatility and usability on its side, although I wouldn't dream of buying one at retail price.

    Sharpness is helped by even higher contrast than most other Panasonic kit lenses. Actual resolution is reliably high in the centre at all settings, but, when shooting at or near infinity, it falls away in the corners, and is also increasingly lost at the sides of the image from around 40mm.

    By 60mm, shooting scenic views at infinity, only the centre is even reasonably sharp, and the sides are poor. Every other M4/3 lens I've tried which covers 60mm does this very much better. By contrast, close-ups are surprisingly sharp, to the point where the lens can stand in for shooting frame-filling butterflies etc, for which it is more than acceptably sharp for this type of lens.

    My lens was bought used on a well-known auction site. Your lens may perform better or worse.

    I find I like mine very much and that it is my most-used lens for M4/3. But I use full frame for my most critical photography...and I didn't take long to learn how to work around this lens's weaknesses. If your lens performs like mine, you will probably end up learning to avoid using the long end for scenic photography...which is unfortunate given that Panasonic also makes a tiny and very cheap 12-32, a good sample of which gives comparable results to one of these.

    reviewed September 20th, 2020 (purchased for $125)
  • Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 ASPH LUMIX G

    4 out of 10 points and not recommended
    Small, fast to focus, and good in the centre.
    Weak at the sides and corners for scenic photography, for which it is definitely no stronger than the cheapest, oldest 14-42 II kit lens - I tested two samples.

    I was very disappointed with the optics of this lens compared with the 20/1.7, which I found was streets ahead. This one is nicer to use, though.

    It's small and nice to use but my samples didn't give me sharp sides, let alone corners, for scenic photography. For other types of photography, it could work OK.

    reviewed September 20th, 2020 (purchased for $190)
  • Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN Art

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Outstanding optics.
    There aren't any important ones, really, but I'll try. It doesn't focus extremely close, and you might or might not want this focal length on M4/3. There is some flare, and the supplied hood is far too short. And the mechanics...

    Flawless optical design. Ludicrously sharp across the board, even at maximum aperture. In terms of optics, this is the sharpest lens I've used on M4/3.

    The floating element design (like an IS lens without IS, but even more rattly) is odd, but hey, when something delivers the optical results like this one does, ultimately who cares, if it keeps doing it?

    Great for portraits.

    reviewed September 20th, 2020 (purchased for $160)
  • Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III

    5 out of 10 points and recommended
    Capable of solidly good sharpness on full frame between 75 and about 200 mm.
    Poor sharpness and contrast at 300mm, particularly when shot at distance, exacerbated by purple fringing and, on some samples, large AF inaccuracies . Large sample variation. Lots of flare. Don't buy for 1.6 crop cameras.

    Good sharpness across the frame when used as a 75-200mm with only modest stopping down, but the long end, where most people will probably want to use it mostly, performs poorly. One of my samples worked well at 300mm for subjects 1.5-2 meters away, where it was sharp when stopped down well to F10. Enormous sample variation at 300mm where one sample needed more than 20 AF microadjustment and still didn't perform adequately.

    Flares easily into the light, but sometimes in quite an attractive way. A much better lens than Canon's 80-200 4.5-5.6 (poor sides and and edges with that one, at above about 80mm), but only useful for high quality photography if you have tested your sample and know what you are doing.

    I preferred it to the similar 70-300 offerings from Tamron and Sigma for its faster AF and reasonably solid performance as a 75-200. It actually beats Canon's venerable but good stopped-down 70-210/4 used wide open at these focal lengths.

    It's hard to know whether to recommend this or not. If you understand what it can and can't do well and don't over-pay, it makes quite a good budget 75-200 for your 6D or 5D. It's less good on 1.6 crop, but still very usable at shorter focal lengths. However the EF-S 55-250 IS is definitely superior, and makes more sense if you don't expect to buy a full-frame body.

    reviewed January 22nd, 2021
  • Panasonic 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH MEGA OIS LUMIX G VARIO

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Super-compactness and lightness. General optical competence.
    Sample variation. They fall apart when the glue which holds the control rings on ages.

    It's sharp enough centrally at all normal apertures. The sides of the image are generally sharp; the extreme corners tend not to look sharp when viewed closely. However for general and serious use, this is normally sharp enough, as long as you get a good one. It has a good balance of general optical properties, at least on Panasonic bodies. When I tried one on an Olympus, I got quite thick purple fringing in night shots, as I expected.

    I'd say it is very nearly as good as the Lumix 12-60 standard zoom at the focal lengths they share, which are the strongest parts for that longer zoom's performance.

    One of my samples was a bit decentred, and I've seen other results on the www which suggest much sample variation.

    The plastic-mounted version doesn't seem to perform any differently optically from the original metal-mount one. I don't know whether they fall apart as easily - definitely the metal mount version is prone to the control rings coming off the main body of the lens - it happened to me in a hothouse at Kew Gardens. I re-stuck them. Strange way to make a lens. But it is brilliantly small, light, and handy.

    reviewed January 23rd, 2021
  • Panasonic 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II ASPH MEGA OIS LUMIX G Vario

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very decent sharpness from a good one.
    Sample variation.

    I've owned three of these and shot them mainly with GX80, GX800 and GF6 cameras. Two of them were very competent and compact standard lenses; one was optically a little weaker. None of them were stunning for corner sharpness, the weak one was also more tending toward weak edges.

    They are good, but I personally decided to keep the 12-60 instead. I believe it is very slightly better for the first half of its zoom range, partly because, like the 12-32, it has a little extra contrast over this one. It is also a little smoother mechanically than this. I would pick this one over the original 14-42 every time, though.

    If I had to pick a Lumix standard lens for an Olympus camera, based on trying this with my old E-PM1, this is a better choice than the 12-32. Otherwise I personally would choose a 12-32.

    reviewed January 23rd, 2021
  • Panasonic 45-150mm f/4-5.6 ASPH MEGA OIS LUMIX G VARIO

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    A very competent lens optically and with nice mechanical feel.
    Don't buy it hoping that Panasonic's much- heralded DUAL IS feature will enable amazingly slow shutter speeds - if you are like me, it won't.

    I have no real complaints about the optics of this lens, which are nice and contrasty - except that I slightly prefer the look I get from the even-cheaper M.Zuiko 40-150 "plastic fantastic".

    I also find the Olympus focuses slightly faster and more securely, with less tendency to miss, than this one. Don't ask me why, but it's what I've found with my GX80.

    To elaborate on my DUAL IS comment above, for me, I was not able to shoot any slower speeds with success compared with the Olympus (which uses only the camera's IS), and I also had framing problems with this lens at slow speeds (due to sensor movement) which I do not with the Olympus. Dual IS sounds like a great idea, but with this lens/camera combination, it was not an advantage and introduced issues.

    However, that apart this is still a very good lens. I used it mainly on my GX800 once I saw what happened with the GX80. And then I sold it.

    Its control feel was quite nice, and made it much nicer to handle than the Olympus.

    reviewed January 23rd, 2021 (purchased for $145)
  • Panasonic 100-300mm f/4-5.6 II ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G VARIO

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellent as a 100-200.
    Results at higher focal lengths are a little disappointing. The lens appears to have identical optics to the original. Close focus is much longer than the M.Zuiko 75-300

    I enjoyed using this with my GX80, but ended up feeling that I would have preferred to have had its superb optics from 100-200, losing the top end of the zoom which disappointed me a bit, and making the whole thing more portable. Micro 4/3 is about size for me, though a better ling end would have justified the size of this for me.

    100-200 are really good, with very good sharpness and enough contrast. Definitely enough. A shorter close focus distance (like the one offered by Olympus) would have been useful to me when I tried to shoot butterflies with this.

    reviewed January 23rd, 2021 (purchased for $600)
  • Vivitar 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Series 1 AF

    5 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, small, good sharpness at centre and borders at 19mm at all apertures. Nice sunspots from the diaphragm.
    Corner sharpness is weak, and there is also a high level of corner CA against the light. In general it's also pretty weak at 28 and 35mm compared to the short end of a consumer grade zoom. Flare is poorly-controlled. There's the expected fairly high disto

    I used one of these nearly 20 years ago on a 6MP DSLR before 18-55 kit lenses were available. It was not at all bad, but these days these make way more sense on full frame.

    On my 6D I have tried two of them. They are good enough lenses considering their price, age, and size, as long as you don't pixel peep the corners...and as long as you don't overpay!

    Border sharpness is actually better than the Canon 20-35 3.5-4.5. Corners are undeniably weak with this 19-35 though. Mechanically, it feels pretty weak and cheap, but mine have seemed to work OK. One of them never gets the focal length read by the 6D as less than 24mm; I guess it's a chip issue.

    It actually seems to be pretty much as good at 19mm as it is at, say, 24. Above that, I wouldn't even bother using it as it is not as strong as most standard zooms. Colour is quite good.

    reviewed February 11th, 2021 (purchased for $65)
  • Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II M.Zuiko Digital

    5 out of 10 points and not recommended
    I liked the optics well enough, although there were sometimes purple fringes in contrasty lighting> It's small and light.
    It was poorly built and eventually broke and would only shoot at short focal lengths due to a break in an internal ribbon cable. The retracting design sometimes lost me shots.

    It's all in the pros/cons above. Mine was the MSC version. Its build wasn't confidence-inspiring and it broke after moderate use.

    reviewed November 10th, 2020
  • Olympus 45mm f/1.8 ED M.Zuiko Digital

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp, small, light.
    Construction seems barely adequately precise and many, including mine, get dust spots between the lenses.

    Most people know this is a sharp and useful lens. It has a rendering which is somehow nice and natural. Like my M.Zuiko 40-150 plastic fantastic, this a lens which over-performs optically for its price but which could be better made.

    Images sometimes have a slight softness to them at 1.8 but always look sharp by about 2.5.

    reviewed November 10th, 2020 (purchased for $250)
  • Olympus 40-150mm f/4-5.6 ED M.Zuiko Digital

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very good optics. Small and light. Works well with my 2 element Canon Close-up lens.
    Cheap construction gives a zoom control which lacks smoothness and consistency and doesn't inspire confidence for longevity.

    A handy little lens with surprisingly good optics. It is fully suitable for critical use at all its focal lengths. There is some reduction in contrast at 150mm. I don't particularly care about the plastic mount, but the construction feels nasty and the zoom doesn't turn smoothly.

    With my Lumix GX80 camera I compared it with the Lumix 45-150 OIS lens and had a slight preference for the optics of this one, which also - believe it or not - focused more consistently and with less hesitation than the Lumix, which was, however, smoother to operate.

    reviewed November 10th, 2020 (purchased for $120)
  • Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness
    Vignetting

    Very good sharpness, and in general capable of excellent results.

    I find the AF performance quite good, and that the lens gives a more pleasant shooting experience than the 50/1.8 lenses.

    If you shoot it on a 40D or older, or without a lens profile, you will probably notice the level of vignetting at maximum aperture as it's quite high.

    For butterflies I prefer a much longer lens as the working distance with this is extremely short at high image magnifications, but that's obvious, really.

    Seems to perform usably well on full frame on an extension tube, as well, at least for pictorial subjects - I tried it on my 6D once or twice.

    reviewed November 10th, 2020 (purchased for $300)
  • Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

    2 out of 10 points and not recommended
    Decently sharp and reasonably problem-free when used as a as a slow short telephoto. Ring USM AF, IS, useful zoom range.
    Very poor performance at shorter focal lengths - not just edge sharpness, but fringing, vignetting, linear distortion and flare are all worse than any other lens I've ever used. It's a little better at 35mm and higher and quite good at 85mm. A bit bulk

    My brother bought this lens new and spent a lot of money on it. He didn't like it enough to use it much, and I can see why.

    If you are even slightly critical about image quality, don't buy this lens. It's not impossible to take a good photo with it, but it introduces more difficulties than any other Canon lens I've tried. For example, the EF 75-300 lens is often cited as Canon's poorest. It's actually fully usable at most focal lengths. This 17-85 isn't. The 75-300 and similar cheap Canons are poorly-constructed - but I've never had an example of any of them that has the zoom creep of my brother's 17-85.

    Even the cheapest, oldest 18-55 kit lens doesn't perform as badly as this one at short focal lengths.

    reviewed October 23rd, 2020 (purchased for $400)
  • Canon EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM

    5 out of 10 points and recommended
    Decent as a 100-200. Nice ring-type USM AF and good build make it pleasant to shoot with if you get a lightly-used one without zoom creep.
    300 is for emergency use only. Soft, low-contrast and with purple fringing - almost as poor as the 75-300 and 90-300.

    I haven't used one of these on full-frame, but owned one in my early years as a 1.6 crop user, when I tested it against the 75-300 and 90-300. However I can safely say that it was less of an improvement on those lenses than I hoped - all three perform broadly similarly, with disappointing results at 300mm, although this one at least has great AF and is made less imprecisely than the other two, so I'd expect less sample variation.

    I could recommend it as a 100-200 for full frame if you see a good example going very cheaply, which you might well, but I imagine that most people would be better advised to spend a bit more on a 70-300 IS Mk1, which I haven't used myself but looks solidly better from what I've seen.

    reviewed January 22nd, 2021
  • Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Central sharpness is always good. Super-handy size for its great range.
    Corner sharpness is always weak. Sides/edges at wide/medium focal length are less good than expected until lens is stopped well down, with softness and some purple fringing.

    As tested on my 6D, this is a good but compromised lens. Compared with the also somewhat compromised but really very good 28-105ii, corner, edge and even side of frame performance is weaker than expected at wide and medium focal lengths, but when stopped well down, it is only the extreme corners of the full frame where the problem is observable. My impression is that I would prefer to shoot this lens at 24mm than the 20-35 3.5-4.5, which isn't a very strong lens. At 85mm I found this better than its reputation. Shooting near infinity, it is quite good across the frame even at its maximum aperture of 4.5.

    Interestingly, central sharpness at wide apertures is slightly better than the 28-105. It really shows that this lens was designed for APS cameras. Several years ago I had one of these in silver, before I had full frame digital but after I stopped shooting film. It was very good indeed on my 40D. I had wanted to try one ever since getting my 6D. This black example came in a package with a 10D. They usually sell on ebay UK for at least as much as they did when I last owned one, nine years ago. (100GBP).

    For me this lens complements my 28-105 and I will keep both. Colour balance is the same as my 28-105. Distortion is quite high at 24mm...but so is the 28-105 at 28mm. Vignetting is high at 24/3.5.

    Overall good for scenic photography whenever you can stop it down. Less good for eg street photography at wide apertures, where you will want better sharpness distribution across the frame than this lens can deliver.

    Tested sample is in good order and seems well centred.

    NB the site seems not to be showing the entire contents of the Pros/Cons sections at the top of my previous reviews, so I'm moving towards shortening them!

    reviewed January 20th, 2021
  • Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

    6 out of 10 points and not recommended
    Nearly as good wide open as stopped down. Light, nice to use.
    Very unsharp sides even when stopped down; presumably due to field curvature.

    I enjoyed using this lens on my 6D, and it was easy to carry. Ultra-wide zooms are much harder to design and make than most other lens types, but I found it much more compromised than most other Canon lenses. I really wanted to like it, but for critical use I have to point out that you can never really get different planes of the photo covered by depth of field even when you stop it down to F11 due to field curvature. The same problem tends to give unsharp sides if you focus in the centre, or a very unsharp right side if you focus on the left, etc...even when stopped well down to F11. I gave up with it.

    For occasional or non-critical use, it's a nice thing to have as long as you don't pay too much. Most of my comments refer to its performance at or near 20mm, since that's the main purpose of this lens.

    Colour/contrast are as nice as most Canons, and it has a nice-feeling zoom and great accurate ring-USM. Distortion is about as high as you'd expect at 20mm. I can recommend it as long as you understand what you are getting and look at lots of images people have taken with it first. Otherwise the Cosina-made 19-35 actually offers better sharpness at the image sides, even if its corners are weaker than this lens.

    reviewed January 20th, 2021 (purchased for $100)
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness is very good even at maximum aperture, at all focal lengths, as are almost all optical characteristics.
    By my standards, it is a large and obtrusive lens. The white finish screams "photographer" which I find unhelpful. The designers allowed higher levels of linear distortion than I expected, so I've had a few bendy horizons.

    It is a real luxury knowing I can shoot fast-moving subjects at maximum aperture and get superb sharpness - this is what really distinguishes its optical performance from lesser lenses.

    AF works well. Zoom control has great feel.

    I find more linear distortion than I would like, but you wouldn't normally notice, and otherwise it's wonderful optically. I have no other complaints. I would use it much more if it was lighter, and not big and white, but it's still great. And other Canon L telephoto zooms are even bigger and heavier!

    reviewed January 20th, 2021 (purchased for $500)
  • Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Size, weight, build. Optical consistency across the aperture range. AF consistency, with my 6D is superior to that I get from the 50/1.8 STM, particularly at night where my 50mm STM often misfocuses slightly.
    On my 6D I get just a little unsharpness in extreme corners, with purple fringing added to it when shooting against the light. It isn't normally a nightmare, and many people might never notice it, but as this is my review, I'm mentioning it.

    A handy and recommendable lens, which is capable of consistently very good results. You can use it at maximum aperture with confidence. Extreme corners are pictorially insignificant for 95%+ of pictorial photography. This is a lens to enjoy, and to always carry!

    reviewed December 19th, 2020 (purchased for $110)
  • Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Good enough overall if you can stop it down enough (aim for F11).
    A bit weak, particularly in corners, if you don't stop it down several stops

    Not an optical marvel, but you can use it to take great photographs. I stop it down to F11 when possible. You don't always need F11 and it depends on your subject and framing. It's much sharper than the 20-35 3.5-4.5 but I doubt it would beat a better, newer zoom. In fact I'm sure it wouldn't. Flare and distortion are present but not too bad; flare is actually better than I expected, but you will see greeny/purply/reddy blobs when shooting into bright sun.

    I'm not an expensive lenses kind of guy, for several reasons, and I quite like this lens, but you will be disappointed if you buy it expecting something you can shoot at 2.8 and love. And you will be disappointed if you pay several hundred pounds/Euros/Dollars for it. The reviewer below me (correctly) highlights its field curvature, but this is nothing compared to the amount you get with the 20-35 3.5-4.5!

    Mine has a defunct AF motor (bothers me very little for what I shoot with it) and a little haze inside it. I bought it as part of a kit the year before last and won't be getting rid of it.

    Reviewed on my 6D body.

    reviewed January 20th, 2021
  • Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness on full frame. Bokeh at 105mm is quite nice.
    Sample variation. Distortion at 28mm. Not particularly sharp or contrasty on crop sensor.

    Sharpness, contrast and colour are excellent on my 6D. Benefits from being stopped down, but a good one is already very good by 5.6 or 6.3 and won't be unusable at maximum aperture. Other samples I tried were less consistent. Extreme corners aren't usually perfect but this is a much better lens on full frame than its current reputation. Duocam construction wobbles slightly and doesn't inspire confidence, but makes the lens smaller than it would be.

    reviewed December 19th, 2020 (purchased for $100)
  • Canon EF 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II USM

    3 out of 10 points and not recommended
    Reasonable at short and medium telephoto focal lengths when stopped down a bit.
    Poor at anything like 200mm. Low contrast. Very poor construction.

    I tried one on my 6D. It wasn't a great experience. The one I tried was not in my view a significant improvement on the poor, but not necessarily unusable 80-200/4.5-5.6. There is extra sample variation in these very cheap lenses, and I have seen some results online which indicate that they may not all be as bad as this example. But I'm not likely to try again. Small and light, but less so than the above-mentioned 80-200.

    If you have a 1.6 crop camera, just buy a 55-250 IS instead.

    reviewed January 22nd, 2021 (purchased for $50)