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Monday, 19 December 2016


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An 85mm f1.8, is that not a very well understood lens? Something that many camera companies have been doing well for years? Oh yes, there may be outstanding ones, but even the 'Dogs' don't bark too loud. [Yes, that's right. --Mike] You would think a more difficult to design focal length would, if exceptional, be named over some mundane angle of view.

Seems like an awfully long list at 17. Are there usually that many or was 2015 a banner year?

In primes, I like (in an "ear to the ground" sense) the Nikkor 105/1.4 and the Sigma 30/1.4 DC (and then too many to pick a third choice). For zooms, the new Nikkor 70-200 sounds fantastic, and the Sigma 50-100/1.8 is a killer lens (even if it's big, heavy and has an odd zoom range).

[Private to Dennis, who made a great catch and saved me from an error--big thanks! --Mike]

I rarely buy lenses the same year they get introduced, either because I have no perceived need at the time, or I want to know more about any weaknesses before I part with my money. This year I made an exception, and got the Olympus 25mm f/1.2 Pro, (which is on this year's Prime list). The reasons being, that I can use a great 50mm equivalent, and all the 'hidden' signs seemed to indicate this would indeed be such a lens: intended as a premium lens, made by a company that has a reputation for great lenses, not an exotic focal length, etc. So far I'm impressed, but I'm slow at this so when you post your selection for next year, I will suggest this could be the best candidate.

Would be interesting to see what kind of correlation there is between the 'best advertising budget' and 'best product' categories.

I'm always fascinated by fast, short telephotos. I had the opportunity to try out two new examples of that species this year — the Sony G 85mm f1.4 and the Nikon 105mm f1.4. While I didn't have the opportunity to "get to know them," I had enough time with each to know that they're both truly remarkable lenses. Neither has convinced me to replace my trusty old 85mm f1.4D, though. While it can't hang with the new uber-optics, it's a lens that I really do know. I know its strengths and weaknesses and it's sufficient for what I need a fast, short telephoto for. And I really like the photos that I can get from it.

The only recent contender that I've tried that might make me give up the "Cream Machine" is the Fuji 56mm f1.2 APD. I'm almost afraid to spend more time with that one because I found myself smitten during the first two hours that I played with it. I don't really want to switch camera systems at the moment, so I've avoided any further contact with it for the time being. It seems like a truly lovely lens, though. Much like everything showing up in Fuji-land lately.

My 2016 lens purchases were all oldies, thanks to joining Pentax-land. One that has really pleased me recently is a 28 3.5 K. It's surprisingly sharp across the frame on the K1. It's definitely an example of a slow but good lens. Maybe next year there will be one or two new Pentax primes to make the "best" list.

Modern uberlenses, such as the Batis 85, are highly regarded by users who value wide open sharpness and correction of aberrations above all else. Unfortunately, many of those same lenses render images in a way that has been described as "clinical" or "digital." Such was my experience with the Batis 85 when I compared it to the Contax/Yashica 85/2.8 in a portrait shootout. The Batis images were razor sharp but flat as a pancake, while the C/Y images were very sharp and also very 3D. There was nothing I could do in post-processing to make the Batis portraits as lifelike and satisfying as the C/Y portraits.

The point I'm trying to make is that many photographers seem to have lost sight of the fact that lens performance is about more than pure sharpness and correction of aberrations. Or perhaps they really prefer technical perfection over lifelike 3D rendering. Different strokes, as the saying goes.

If the "best" camera is the one that you have with you, is the "best" lens the one that's on your phone?

No .....as I always leave my phone at home unless I have have have have to have it. Too many years on call as a physician! No in retirement not having an iphone is one of my indulgences!
Firstly you have to have a camera. Secondly you have to find your own restaurants ...thus finding different ones ...admittedly some good ...some bad.
Without a phone life returns to being pleasantly haphazard. I would strongly recommend it.

I'll swear by my Summilux-R 80/1.4 (used on a Leica SL). To see why, consider:


Yes, I know it's just a cat pic but taken at f/2.0 and the 0.5 m closest approach.

BTW, I have noticed that of my recent pictures, some of the most satisfying were taken with an X-Pro2 and the 35/2.0 (50 mm-equivalent) using the optical viewfinder setting and the close-fitting lens shade. It's a real M-killer.


[That *is* a nice lens. --Mike]

I must be a rebel. Neither the prime or zoom that I would have voted for even made the list.


Strange . . .

What is clearly the best zoom of 2016, the PLeica 100-400, 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 FL range. It allows the photographer to do things that couldn't be done before. Hand held 800 mm eq. anyone?

How can it not even be in the running with, yawn, yet more 16-35, 24-70, 70-200 lenses. I can see why Tammy's FF 150-600 is exciting to FF folks, but it's not a new lens, but an updated model. And it's not a new range to me, either, being eq, to the Oly µ4/3 75-300 I've had for years.
I pre-ordered the Oly 12-100 the moment it became possible, and just received it 14 days ago. That's hardly time to have any sort of opinion about its overall quality, at least not enough to vote it best.

Yes, in resolution, it's better than the 12-50, the Panny 12-60 and 14-140 (Which is also better than the 12-60!) Yes, it's better than 14/2.5 & 20/1.7, as good as 25/1.8 and 45/1.8 and darn close to the 75/1.8.

But how will I like what I get with it out in the field?

Haven't even had time to check C-U, which is critical to me. I'd be ready to vote next year, if I really like it, but it will already be too old by then.

But then, they say there are lenses on the list that aren't even shipping yet. Should there be a Best Vaporware category?

Over at Robin Wong's blog he's claiming to get sharp, handheld shots at up to 5 seconds (not a typo!) using the image stabilization in the Oly 12-100 in conjunction with the EM1-mk2.

Just sayin, now that everyone's caught up with everyone else on all the other features, maybe this is a new differentiator.

I think I just read someone's got a wide angle 2:1 macro out too. Truly an age of miracles and wonders.

I've got the Sigma 120-400, there's a Canon 100-400, a Nikon 80-400 and a 200-400...I don't quite see this range as totally groundbreaking the way some people seem to. Also it's too slow.

Well, 'dpreview' should have been renamed into 'dpadvertising' quite some time ago.
It's not about 'consumer advice' and reviews with them. It's about making people want to buy gear (or make them feel like they need to buy).
Ideally at amazon of course...
Grumpy rant over :-)

My favourite is a lovely Zeiss 35mm f/2 that comes with a free full frame 42Mp compact camera attached to it made by Sony.

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