Magazine review of Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

This months “Digital Photographer” magzine carries a few reviews including one for the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens which is fast gaining a well respected reputation.

The magazine concluded:

“Outstanding optical performance, excellent build and a competitive price makes this the most compelling lens of its type available today”.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Review Image

Well there’s not much else to say really? If you have a full frame camera and want a good general purpose genuine “fast” 35mm lens, why buy the expensive models from the big camera brands?

Mark Baynham (April 2013)




m4/3rd Lens Perfection: Olympus 75mm F1.8 ED

Do you have an Olympus or Panasonic m4/3rd body?

Do you crave a high quality “fast” mid range telephoto lens which would make a great portrait lens or even a good candid street lens?Well Olympus’s 75mm F1.8 ED lens (which would also work just as well on any Panasonic m4/3rd body) is fast gaining a highly regarded reputation.

(Seen above on a Panasonic GX1)

This lens which equated to 150mm in 35mm terms was tested by online lens test site photozone & here’s what they concluded:

“The Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 ED is, by quite a margin, the best micro-four-thirds lens that we have tested to date. It is ultra-sharp straight from f/1.8 and in fact, it is basically diffraction-limited so stopping down doesn’t really improve the image quality anymore. The amount of lateral CAs is also very low which contributes to the high sharpness perception. There’s a bit of vignetting at fully open aperture (more so in RAW mode) but usually this is nothing to worry about. Distortions are next to absent as well. The quality of the bokeh is also among the very best that we’ve seen so far – regardless of the system. That said you can spot some bokeh fringing at large aperture so there is still a slight space for improvement to optical perfection. Mechanically the lens is up to pro standards thanks to a tightly assembled metal body and a smooth focus ring. If you are nit-picky you may criticize the lack of weather sealing though. The AF is impressively fast and silent. Olympus claims that the AF is smooth enough for movies as well but more serious users will probably prefer to stick to manual focusing – which works quite nicely as well actually”.

My Take:

For a few months I’ve been trying to choose between buying this Olympus m4/3rd 75mm lens or getting Panasonic’s m4/3rd 25-35mm F2.8 zoom.The more reviews I read on the Olympus 75mm F1.8 ED the more an inclined towards it, its clearly a top notch optic and follows the path forged by the Olympus 45mm F1.8 and Olympus 12mm F2 lenses. With the likes of Panasonics 14mm F2 , 20mm F1.7 and 25mm F1.4 any micro 4/3rd user is really getting spoilt for choice.

Mark Baynham (April 2012)

Fuji XF 14mm F2.8 Lens Review

Dpreview have conducted laboratory and field test of the Fuji XF 14mm F2.8 wide prime lens designed to complement the Fuji X Pro1 & Fuji XE1.

Fujifilm XF 14mm F2.8 Lens

The XF14mm lens is quite an expensive optic so it really need to perform, not only to justify its price but also to do justice to the two cameras its designed to work with.

This is what Dpreview had to say:

Conclusion – Pros:

  • Extremely sharp across the frame at normal working apertures (F5.6 – F11)
  • Minimal distortion
  • Minimal chromatic aberration
  • Well-implemented manual focusing
  • Quiet autofocus
  • Solid construction

Conclusion – Cons:

  • Soft corners at F2.8
  • Moderately strong vignetting at F2.8 (corrected by camera’s JPEG processing)
  • Loose click-stops on aperture ring
  • No way of combining manual focus and autofocus
  • Slowish autofocus
  • Expensive

The XF 14mm F2.8 R is a relatively rare example of a genuinely wide-angle, high quality prime lens for any camera type other than full frame SLRs. The 14mm is a pretty expensive optic, so needs to perform well to justify its price. Thankfully, it does just that – in fact it turns out to be an exceptionally good lens.

The XF 14mm F2.8 R is a solid, well-made lens that sports traditional aperture and manual focus rings. It’s not bad at F2.8 and offers excellent image quality stopped down, where superb cross-frame sharpness and minimal distortion make it ideal for architectural and landscape work.

Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS lens review

Have you been lucky enough to have entered the growing full frame club recently  buying the new Canon EOS 6D?

Looking to find a suitable Canon standard zoom to accompany your new purchase?

Well how about the Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS lens.

Canon EF 24-105mm f4 L IS Lens

Here’s a review of that lens conducted by photozone:

“The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 USM L IS is surely one of the better standard zoom lenses for full format EOS DSLRs but it’s not perfect within this scope nonetheless. The resolution figures are generally very decent except for a pronounced border softness at 70mm @ f/4. Neither distortions nor vignetting are something to rave about at 24mm although these are no real issue at other focal lengths. Lateral CAs can be visible at times but the problem is generally well controlled (relative to other lenses in its class). The quality of the bokeh (@ 105mm) is very usable – within the limits of a lens with a moderate max. aperture. As to be expected from a modern Canon L lens the construction quality is up to pro standards. The AF is exceptionally fast, accurate and near silent. The image stabilizer works well within its specifications although some may miss a panning mode which is implemented in Canon’s IS L tele lenses. The EF 24-105mm is a pricey lens but also a substantial one”.

My Take:

I’ve used a EF 24-105mm F4, both on my own APS-C / cropped sensor EOS 7D & when I tested a Canon EOS 6D a few months back. I found the focal length great for general purpose photography, optical performance is very decent and build quality solid. Presently available for between £700- 750 the Canon EF 24-105mm IS lens is not badly priced either.

Mark Baynham (March 2013)

Nikon 16-85mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR DX lens

With the recent announcement of the power house that is the new  Nikon D7100 APS-C / Cropped DSLR, what would be a sensible general purpose zoom lens to go with a D7100 body? Well how about the Nikon 16 – 85mm F3.5-5.6 G zoom lens?

Nikon 16-85mm f3.5-5.6G VR ED AF-S DX Lens

Photozone have tested this very lens and here’s what they had to say:

“Despite some shortcomings the Nikkor AF-S 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR DX is still one of the best standard zooms available for Nikon crop cameras. It is very sharp throughout the range although there could be a little less field curvature (curved focus field) at 16mm. The level of distortion and lateral CAs is comparatively moderate for such a lens (still a bit high in absolute terms).

Vignetting is generally well controlled except at 16mm @ f/3.5. The rather slow max. aperture may be a bit unfortunate because the achievable bokeh is rather underdeveloped in conventional scenes. If you’re after a (relatively) shallow depth-of-field you should also stick to the 85mm setting – the bokeh is rather harsh at 50mm. The VR II (Vibration Reduction) can help to safe the day in low light situations (at cost of shutter speed) with a “gain” of ~3 f-stops in field conditions. The build quality is on a good level but don’t expect professional grade quality. Thanks to AF-S the autfocus is quite fast and virtually silent. All-in-all a very good lens but not flawless”.

My Take

Looking at the technical results, the Nikon 16-18mm F3.5- 5.6 G zoom lens puts in a rather commendable performance. Its reasonably priced and would form a very sensible and rewarding pairing when combined with the new Nikon D7100.

Mark Baynham (March 2013)