The problem with such polls, of course, is that they are popularity/status contests, not real data; but hopefully everyone understands that and just accepts the spirit of fun. Mostly, people would just vote for whichever lens they either know, or just want.
I haven't gotten to know all the lenses on the list. I doubt anyone has, even people who work at DPReview. Even people who have tried all the lenses haven't gotten to know them all (it's a different thing).
But I fancy I've acquired a pretty acute "ear to the ground" sense over many years of writing and editing commentary about photo equipment. Jerry Seinfeld talks about how a comedian learns to "sense" an opinion that the audience has about a certain joke—that is, there's no overt sign or communication, but the comedian intuits the reaction. I know what he means. If I read enough discussions and hear enough comments about a product, I start to get a picture—which I believe would be valid even if I'd never used the product or seen any results from it. It's the same thing we all do when researching a product, but with stakes, because I'll get punished to some degree if I turn out to be wrong.
Such a sense might be subject, of course, to various sampling and perception errors; granted. And my method takes longer—I'm usually a little bit behind the news.
Still, I can provisionally get behind the winner of last year's poll, the Zeiss Batis 85mm. In that case I've seen a lot of results from it, albeit only online. But I've also heard a lot about it from users, and the praise it gets seems genuine. As good as the greats from the past.
Which lens would be your pick?
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Mark Muse: "I have the Batis 85mm. And the Zeiss 85mm ƒ/2.8 Sonnar Contax/Yashica, and a Zeiss 90mm ƒ/2.8 Sonnar G. I did a bake-off recently. To my surprise the rendering of all three was almost identical. The 90 G was slightly the sharpest and a bit more contrasty than the others. The Batis has the most CA. This on the Sony A7r2. I bought the Batis for shooting people in motion, for which it excels because of the excellent autofocus. The 90 G is my landscape lens at this focal length.
"The kind of poll you are writing about is pretty useless for me unless it includes an accurate description of the lens imaging characteristics, from which I can determine if it fills a niche for me. Popularity is meaningless unless one is concerned about resale on down the road. Even that is fickle."
Moose (partial comment): "Strange...what is clearly the best zoom of 2016, the Panasonic-Leica 100–400mm, isn't even available to vote for. I have thousands of shots with that lens, and it's spectacular. Beyond that, it's actually new ground, not a new version of an old focal-length range. It allows the photographer to do things that couldn't be done before. Handheld 800mm-e, anyone?"
Mike replies: Bingo! There's the Lens of the Year right there. A good choice.