Photokina lens uberview

Photokina_dingusWhen it comes to sheer quantity, new lens releases seemed to dominate the just-concluded Photokina 2014.

lens_heroThere were over 40 new camera lenses announced, and we’ve collated (most of) them here, de-constructing the PR people’s purple prose and putting it back together in superlative-free English. We’ve attempted to provide local release dates and RRPs, but Canon and Nikon as a matter of policy don’t supply them (apparently its for your own good), and other companies hold off if the local release is a way off. We’ve supplied US pricing where we have been able to track it down to give local retailers an idea of price range.

Canon

Canon24mmCanon has announced a pancake lens for Canon APS-C cameras, the Canon 24mm f2.8 STM. It’s a wide-angle prime lens just under an inch thick (stodgy pancake that one!), and as such is the thinnest and lightest of the EF-S series. It offers a 38mm equivalent focal length, and combining that with the pancake design it’s probably most attractive to street photographers. No local pricing is available yet, but it’s US minimum advertsied price is a tasty US$150 online.

Other features include:
– A stepping motor (STM) to support the Canon EOS Movie Servo AF function for smooth and quiet continuous AF during video recording, as well as stills;
– Aspheric lens element for a high image quality ‘from the centre to the periphery’;
– Optimised lens arrangement and coating helps minimise ghosting and flare;
– Seven-blade circular aperture;
– Aperture mechanism uses micro-stepping drive control for quieter drive;
– Full-time manual focus allows manual focus adjustment while in One Shot AF Mode.

Canon is always looking to announce firsts, even if they are of a secondary nature. The Canon 24-105mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM lens boasts that it is the first standard zoom lens for Canon full frame cameras that includes a ‘lead screw-type stepping motor’. This lead screw apparently provides a ‘quick, smooth and near silent autofocus performance’. Again, no local pricing has surface but it’s US minimum advertised price is US$599.

Other features include:
– Compatibility with APS-C-sized sensors, with a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 38.4-168mm;
– As well as the lead screw, the focusing mechanism employs an inner focus lens and a stepping motor to support the Canon EOS Movie Servo AF function and provides smooth and quiet, continuous autofocus during video recording and photo shoots;
– Optical Image Stabiliser provides up to four shutter speed stops of correction;
– Seven-group zoom optics;
– Two aspheric lenses plus a UD lens for high-quality results for both still images and video;
– Seven-blade circular aperture;
– Optimised ‘lens cement’ and coatings;
– Inner focusing system, high-speed CPU and improved AF algorithm;
– Full-time manual focus allows manual focus adjustment while in AF Mode.

Finally from Canon is longest of its three new lenses – both in size and name. The thumping big Canon EF 400mm f4 DO IS II USM is a super telephoto prime lens designed for Canon full frame EOS DSLRs. This dust and water resistant model is an upgrade to the existing 400mm f/4 DO lens, ideal for sports and wildlife shooters who don’t mind lugging around 2.1kg of lens. Local price is an equally thumping $8625.

Other features include:
– Compatibility with APS-C-sized sensors, where it will provide an equivalent focal length of 640mm;
– Gapless dual-layer diffractive optics contribute to a reduction in chromatic and spherical aberrations;
– One large-diametre ground aspherical element and one Ultra Low Dispersion (UD) element minimise aberrations and distortions;
– Optimised lens coatings help to suppress lens flare and ghosting;
– An Optical Image Stabilizer to minimise the appearance of camera shake ‘by up to four shutter speed stops’;
– An Ultrasonic Motor (USM), along with an internal focusing system for fast, precise, and near-silent autofocus performance;
– AF stop buttons to stop the lens from auto focusing at any time;
– A Power Focus mode that produces measured focusing movement, well-suited to video applications;
– When working in the autofocus mode, full-time manual focus override can be used to instantly switch between auto and manual focusing methods;
– Nine rounded diaphragm blades.

Fujifilm

ifj50140xfFujifilm doesn’t want to put anyone off the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f2.8r OIS WR, which it says is perfect for portraiture, sports, wildlife and ‘general outdoor nature’ photography. But does it take selfies? The telephoto zoom lens is designed for X-series cameras and has focal lengths equivalent to 76mm – 213mm. Local pricing has this lens at $1970.

Other features include:
– Weather resistant finish that can handle temperatures as low as -10°C;
– 23 glass elements in 16 groups which feature five ED lens elements, and one Super ED lens element with low dispersion characteristics comparable to a fluorite lens, resulting in reduced chromatic aberrations and high resolving power capability;
– Triple Linear Motor for fast, quiet autofocusing;
– Image Stabilisation;
– Seven rounded aperture blades.

The Fujinon XF 56mm f1.2 R APD is a fast (scrub that, bloody fast) and purportedly almost silent lens, compatible with all Fujifilm interchangeable lens cameras. It has a maximum aperture that Fujifilm claims makes it the world’s ‘brightest’ autofocus lens for cameras with an APS-C sensor, but we’ll let the reviewers decide that one. This lens is a development of the existing XF 56mm f1.2 R. How is it different you may ask? Well, the ‘APD’ stands for Apodisation filter, which apparently ‘smoothes the bokeh’s outlines’. You can find this locally for around $1788 (US minimum price is US$1599 plus shipping, so a nice low price differential.)

Other features include:
– HT-EBC multi-layer coating to minimise ghosting and flare;
– 11 glass elements in eight groups, with one aspherical glass molded lens element and two extra low dispersion lens elements;
– Enhanced resolving power at all apertures when used with an X-series camera that incorporates a Lens Modulation Optimizer (LMO) function;
– Seven-rounded aperture blades for smooth, circular bokeh (with smooth outlines!);
– Inner focusing system that moves small elements in the middle or at the rear of the lens, while keeping the large, front elements stationery for high-speed AF.

Nikon

nk2018uNikon made only one lens announcement at Photokina, the Nikkor 20mm f1.8G ED AF-S ultra-wide prime lens. This lens is compatible with full-frame Nikon DSLRs (ditch the ‘FX’, Nikon – the world has enough obscure acronyms already!) and APS-C format Nikons (ditto DX). Could be a nice compact atch for the new D750. This lens has no local pricing as yet. US Minimum advertised price is US$799.

Other features include:
– 35mm (approx) focal range with DX sensors;
– Silent Wave Motor for smooth, quiet autofocusing;
– 13 elements in 11 groups, two aspherical, two ED elements;
– Nano Crystal Anti-reflective coating;
– Seven-rounded diaphragm blades.

Olympus

Olympus_PROOlympus announced the M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO, the second ‘industrial strength’ lens under the M.Zuiko banner. (See separate product story.) Designed (obviously) for M43 systems, this lens is pitched toward professional photographers chasing ‘depiction power and mobility’ – which is, well, just about all of them! It has an 80-300mm equivalent focal range in 35mm format and will be on shop shelves some time in November. Local price from DCW is $1607, which compares well to the US minimum price of US$1500.

Other features include:
– Dual VCM drive motor for fast AF speed;
– 16 elements in 10 groups design, super ED, ED Aspherical and ED, HD high performance lens elements;
– Olympus Zero coating;
– Nine-blade circular aperture;
– Manual focus clutch;
– 72mm filter size;
– Detachable swivelling tripod base for vertical and horizontal framing;
– Dust and splash proof/

Panasonic

If the Canon 24mm f2.8 mentioned earlier is a ‘pancake’, then this lens is a crepe! While not really new, the Lumix G 14mm f2.5 wide-angle lens by Panasonic has been redesigned for the tiniest M43 cameras, specifically the GM1 and GM5 – which are so small that regular lenses are typically larger than the camera body. Measuring just over 2cm thick and weighing 55 grams, it could (but not recommended) fit snugly in a photographer’s pocket. We have this one clocked between $537 and $565 locally, with a US minimum price of US$400.

Other features include:
– 28mm Wide Angle equivalent;
– Autofocus;
– Six elements in five groups (three aspherical elements);
-Seven blade aperture;
– 46mm filter ring.

The features Contrast AF

The Vario 35-100mm features high-speed Contrast AF.

The next model is also light on; the Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f4-5.6 is a medium telephoto lens, weighing just 135 grams, but managing that popular 70-200mm equivalent focal length. It also fits the Lumix GM series without any excessive overhang. No local pricing available, US minimum is US$400

Other features include:
– (Not just ordinary, but) MEGA Optical Image Stabilisation;
– 12 elements in nine groups, one Aspherical & two ED Lens Elements;
– Stepping motor;
– High Speed Contrast AF;
– Seven-blade circular aperture diaphragm;
– 46mm filter ring.

Samsung

Along with the announcement of the NX1 (which seems to have caught Samsung Australia by surprise – no release date, no pricing, no nothing), Samsung has released a 50-150mm f2.8 ED OIS medium telephoto lens for the NX-series mirrorless interchangeables. This lens may be best suited for portrait, sport and wildlife photographers with a 77-231mm focal length range. Once again, no pricing, but will probably be released here eventually. US retailers are offering October availability with a minimum price of US$1600.

Other features include:
– 20 elements in 13 groups, four ED, one XHR elements;
– Blade rounded diaphragm;
– Coating to protect against water, dust, fingerprints and smears;
-Ultra-Precise Stepping Motor that allegedly offers three times the precision in its ability to focus on subjects than conventional stepping motors;
– Optical image stabilisation.

Samyang

Samyang's full-frame 12mm f1.5.

Samyang’s full-frame 50mm f1.5.

Two new lenses were announced by Samyang (aka Rokinon/Vivitar/Polar/Bower/Opteka/Falcon). The 12mm f2.8 AS NCS fish-eye lens and the Samyang 50mm f1.5 AS UMC. While Samyang hasn’t developed a huge reputation as yet, professional photographers who have acquainted themselves with the Samyang optics praise their high image quality at remarkably good prices. Definitely an alternative worth looking into.

The 12mm fish-eye is this Korean manufacturer’s widest lens yet for full-frame cameras, offering a 180° diagonal angle of view. It features 12 lens elements arranged in eight groups (three low ED glass, two aspherical), making it ‘one of the most advanced fish-eye lenses’ according to Samyang. It’s worth noting that Samyang still lenses do not have auto focus.

The 50mm f1.5 lens is designed for stills and videographers. The lens will cover a full frame sensor, and is built in 10 mount alternatives – covering all the major bodies. It has nine elements in six groups (one aspherical, hybrid aspherical), and eight blade irises.

No local pricing or availability has been revealed for either Samyang lenses – but they are well-known for their affordability. For instance the f1.5 full frame 50mm model is being offered for US$550. Hell, we’re not even sure who distributes the brand locally! An opportunity for someone?

Sigma

SigmaSigma revealed two, make that three, new lenses, starting with the 18-300mm f3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM zoom lens. This lens is an ‘all-in-one’ for APS-C cameras, offering wide-angle to telephoto versatility (28.8-480mm focal length) according to Sigma, and can be converted to Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Sony mounts (although without image stabilisation on the Pentax and Sony). Availability is expected between November and December, priced at under $700 from local online retailers – about the same price as an offshore purchase with shipping included.

Other features include:
– One SLD and Four FLD Elements;
– Super Multi-Layer Coating;
– Hyper Sonic Motor AF System;
– Optical Stabilisation.

Three lenses were actually announced, but two are quite similar despite targeting different photographers. The Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports and Contemporary are both super telephoto zoom lenses for full frame cameras, with ‘Sports’ targeting professionals with ‘greater durability’ and optics, whereas ‘Contemporary’ is smaller, lighter and better suited for enthusiasts. Both lenses join Tamron’s 150-600mm f5-6.3 as having the longest focal range available for full-frame SLRs, and are available for Sigma, Canon and Nikon mounts. The Sports lens is currently available for pre-order at selected local retailers at around $2090 (DCW pre-order price – US minimum is US$1999!). The lighter Contemporary model will be a few hundred dollars cheaper – probably going head-to-head on price with the Tamron monster zoom.

Other features include:
– Autofocus (in-lens focus motor), internal focus;
– Sports: 24 elements in 16 groups, 2 SLD, 3 FLD elements;
– Contemporary: 20 elements in 14 groups, 2 SLD, 1 FLD elements;
– Optical lens stabilization (two mode OS);
– 9-blade aperture diaphragm;
– dust and splash proof, hydrophobic (‘water-hating’?)coating on front/rear elements;
– 2.8 kgs

Sony

Sony introduced the Zeiss 16-35mm f4 wide-angle zoom lens for E-mount interchangeable cameras, as well as APS-C models. Standing as the fifth full frame zoom for the A7 series and described as a ‘natural match’, this zoom lens includes Zeiss signature T* coating on its optical surfaces to ‘minimise flaring and ghosting, and boosts contrasts. No local pricing, US minimum price is US$1350

Other features include:
– 12 elements in 10 groups, five aspherical, three ED elements;
– 63° to 107° angle of view;
– Apertures to f22, 7-blade rounded diaphragm;
– Image stabilisation;
– Weighs 518 grams.

From wide-angle to telephoto lens perspectives, the Sony 28-135mm f4 G OSS FE PZ is designed for ‘serious film makers’. Sony says it is best paired with an a7S full frame, but it is compatible with all E-mount cameras and camcorders. The lens features Sony’s ‘Smooth Motion Optics’, which allegedly tackles three issues of concern to film makers: ‘change in angle of view while focusing, focus shifts during zoom and movement of the optical axis during zoom’. No pricing is available, but the lens will be available soon from local stockists. US minimum pricing is US$2500.

Other features include:
– Supports 4K cine shooting;
– 18 elements in 12 groups, five aspherical, three ED elements;
– Power Zoom for cinema productions;
– Super Sonic Wave Motor Drive for precision and quiet operation;
– Nano AR Coating technology designed to effectively suppress reflections that can cause flare and ghosting;
– Three control rings (for zoom, focus, iris) offer manual control;
– Optical SteadyShot (OSS) image stabilisation.

Tamron

Tamron has expanded its range of interchangeable lenses for full frame DSLR cameras by announcing the ultra wide-angle SP 15-30mm F2.8 DI VC USD zoom lens, with Nikon, Canon or Sony mounts. According to Tamron, and based on its own research, the Vibration Compensation (VC) is a world’s first for full-frame cameras.

Other features include:
– 18 elements in 13 groups, inclusive of XGM element placed at the front group, and several low dispersion glass elements in the system;
– Tamron’s Broad-Band Anti-Reflection coating and eBand coating to ‘eliminate’ ghosting and flare typical from wide-angle lenses;
– Fluorine coating applied to front element to ‘repel water or… dirt’;
– Nine-blade circular aperture;
– Further improvement to autofocus speed and accuracy.

Voigtlander

Voigtlander has rather quietly released four new lenses over the Photokina period, supplying not much more than a spec sheet for each. The Nokton10mm f0.95 is a high-speed super-wide lens designed for M43 cameras. It has a 21mm focal range, and is constructed with 13 elements in 10 groups. No pricing or availability is available, but Mainline Photographics is the local distributor.

Other features include:
– 93° angle of view;
– 10 aperture blades;
– Weighs 586 grams;
– 72mm filter size.

For brevity of this article, the three other Leica-mount Voigtlander lenses, the Heliar 15mm f4.5; Ultron 35mm f.17; Heliar 40mm f2.8, will be skipped. But they exist!

Zeiss

The Zeiss Distagon 35mm f1.4 is a manual focus, wide-angle lens built for M-mount rangefnder cameras (Zeiss, Leica M, Voigtlander M). While this lens isn’t boasting any ‘world’s first’ features, with 120 years one would imagine Zeiss has lens production down to a fine art. It is, however, available in silver. No local pricing or availability has been listed.

Other features include:
– Optimized for digital sensors;
– Flat image field;
– 10-blade rounded diaphragm;
– Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating;
– Almost circular aperture enables a bokeh in out-of-focus areas;
– Metal body

The Zeiss Loxia 35mm f2 Biogon is a prime wide-angle lens for full frame E-mount mirrorless cameras – but can be used with APS-C sized E-mounts (providing a focal length of 52.5mm). Again, this lens features a traditional-style manual focus but has been designed for electronic viewfinders. No pricing or availability has been provided.

Other features include:
– One element made from anomalous partial dispersion glass helps to suppress chromatic aberrations;
– Biogon optical concept, which has nine elements in six groups that are arranged in a near symmetrical design to reduce size and minimise distortion;
– Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating applied to lens surface;
– Knurled metal focusing ring to accentuate manual focusing, 180 degree focus ring rotational angle;
– Aperture ring has half stop clicks throughout the f2 to f22 aperture range. De-click tool allows for smooth, silent rotation throughout aperture range for video applications;
– All metal body;
– Nine blade rounded aperture

Zeiss announced a new prime lens, the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f2 Planar, for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras – it can also provide 75mm equivalent focal length when fitted with a APS-C sized E-mount. Like all the Zeiss lenses mentioned here, this one has manual focus only,  Zeiss T* coating, a manual aperture ring and a nine blade rounded aperture that can be ‘de-clicked’.

Other features include:
– Planar optical design consisting of six elements in four groups to reduce distortion and chromatic aberrations;
– Lens mount fitted with an electronic interface that conveys all lens EXIF data to the camera;
– Weighs 320 grams

OtusFinally from Zeiss is the genuinely superlative 85mm f1.4 Otus APO-Planar lens, available for both Nikon F-mounts and Canon EF-mounts. This lens’ large aperture will isolate subjects from backgrounds, making it ideal for portraiture photographers. It’s manual focus, has Zeiss T* coating, a nine blade rounded aperture, and an all metal body. No local pricing or availability has been revealed, but it’s a Zeiss prime lens, so we are talking thousands, not hundreds. It’s US$4500 ‘over there’.

Other features include:
– One aspherical element and six elements made from anomalous partial dispersion glass help to suppress chromatic aberrations;
– Planar optical concept that ‘virtually eliminates both chromatic and spherical aberrations’ to reduce colour fringing and colour artefacts in front of and behind the plane of focus;
– A floating element design;
– Rubberised focusing ring, 261 degrees focus ring rotational angle;
– Internal focusing mechanism


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