The famed photographer Yousuf Karsh said that the “heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” Unfortunately, those tend to be a bit difficult to upgrade. Getting the latest precision ground glass with optical coatings, tiny motors and microcircuits, however, is pretty straightforward. No matter what camera you shoot with, you’re spoiled for choice. We’ve highlighted some recent intros along with some old favorites below; for full-size images, see the photo gallery above.
Olympus M.ZUIKO ED 14–150mm f/4–5.6 II
With a 28–300mm full-frame equivalent focal length, this 10.7X lens
boasts a dust- and splashproof construction to match the durable build of Olympus’ OM-D series of Micro Four Thirds cameras. It updates a 2010 lens with the use of ZUIKO Extra-low Reflection Optical Coating on the surface of the lens to eliminate scratches as well as reduce ghosting and lens flare. A versatile zoom, it can focus on subjects up to approximately 13 inches from the end of the lens.
Panasonic Lumix G Macro 30mm f/2.8
The Lumix Macro G 30mm f/2.8
lets Micro Four Thirds shooters get close, with a focusing distance starting at 4.13 inches from the glass. The lens features a maximum aperture of f/2.8 with a 1:1 magnification. The lens has an aspherical element to reduce chromatic aberration, a coating to prevent flare and ghosting and offers a 240-frames-per-second Drive AF system and optical image stabilization.
Samsung 50–150mm f/2.8 S ED OIS
The second lens in Samsung’s premium S series, the 50–150mm
offers a full-frame equivalent focal length of 77–231mm and an aperture range of f/2.8–22. It employs an Ultra-Precise Stepping Motor (UPSM) that Samsung claims is three times more precise in acquiring and controlling focus than a conventional stepping motor. Multi-axis image stabilization keeps blur to a minimum. The lens is also dust- and water-resistant.
Sony Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm f/2.8
This new zoom lens
for Sony’s A-mount cameras updates the previous all-purpose zoom by improving the performance and durability. Among the enhancements are dust and moisture resistance and improved AF tracking with the use of a new Supersonic Wave Motor and lens processing LSI chip. The lens’ AF system was built to exploit the 4D focusing system being rolled out in new Sony bodies, including the A77 II. The 24–70mm f/2.8 features Zeiss’ T* coating to reduce flare and ghosting when shooting in bright sunlight.
Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4R WR
The compact new Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4R WR
delivers a 24mm full-frame equivalent fixed focal length with a maximum aperture of f/1.4. You can focus on a subject as close as 6 inches away from the lens. Weather-resistant, the XF 16mm boasts nine sealing points in eight different areas of the lens, so it can withstand the same tempests as Fujifilm’s X-T1. It supports high-speed autofocus and has depth-of-field markings to guide you while you shoot.
Voigtländer Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95
This unique prime lens
for Micro Four Thirds cameras has a super-wide aperture with a Selective Aperture Control System that allows users to alternate between clicked stops for still shooting and de-clicked operation when shooting video. It offers a 21mm equivalent focal length and weighs in at 1.3 pounds. The aperture stops down to f/16, and you can focus on objects as close as 6.7 inches from the lens, too.
DSLR & Rangefinder
Canon EF 11–24mm f/4L USM
Canon went back to the drawing board for its ultra wide angle 11–24mm
, incorporating a new optical design to deliver straighter lines and fewer curves despite the space-swallowing focal length. It boasts a minimum focusing distance of just 11 inches from the lens (at 24mm) and uses an internal focusing mechanism to maintain a consistent size during operation.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 FL ED VR
For sports or wildlife photographers who require range at any cost (and we do mean any cost),Nikon’s recently refreshed 400mm f/2.8
is worth a look. While it’s still a beast in the size department, Nikon has managed to shave almost two pounds of weight from the original design. It offers Nikon’s Vibration Reduction to deliver up to four stops of image stabilization per CIPA standards. VR is available in a new sports mode that recognizes panning, preserving intended motion blur while keeping camera shake at bay. An electromagnetic diaphragm helps keep the lens stable during high-speed shooting.
Zeiss Distagon T* 1.4/35 ZM
With a maximum aperture of f/1.4, the Zeiss 1.4/35 ZM
is the fastest member of the company’s M-mount, rangefinder lens family. This manual focus 35mm prime delivers shallow depth-of-field for portraiture or low-light environments, like city streets when the sun dips below the horizon. Its all-metal barrel should hold up to years of use. It stops down to f/16 in 1/3-stop increments, and has a minimum focusing distance of 28 inches. The glass elements are coated in the company’s T* anti-reflective coating to minimize flare.
Leica Summarit-M 75mm f/2.4
Late in 2014, Leica refreshed its Summarit-M lineup by introducing redesigned models that were lighter and better-performing than their predecessors. The new Summarit-M 75mm f/2.4
now delivers a focusing distance of 27.5 inches. The 75mm—along with the other lenses in the revamped series—is now sold in either a black or silver anodized finish. The 75mm is assembled by hand in a process Leica describes as “painstaking” so you can rest assured you’re not the only one suffering for your art.
Pentax DA 16–85mm f/3.5–5.6 ED DC WR
A 5.3X zoom for Pentax K-mount cameras, the DA 16–85mm f/3.5–5.6
covers a full-frame equivalent focal range of 24.5–130mm, making it a nice general-purpose zoom. HD coating reduces flare and ghosting and the lens boasts 11 seals for defense against the weather. Autofocus is driven by a quiet DC motor, and the lens uses Ricoh’s “quick-shift” system to switch seamlessly from AF to manual focusing when the camera is set to AF.
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
The new 24mm f/1.4 Art lens
is designed for full-frame DSLRs. It features nine rounded aperture blades and a maximum magnification of 1:5.3. The minimum focusing distance is 9.8 inches. The lens incorporates both “F” Low Dispersion (FLD) glass and Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass in 15 elements in 11 groups. According to Sigma, this construction minimizes chromatic aberration during magnification especially in the edge of the image field. By placing aspherical elements in the rear of the lens, Sigma said it was able to improve performance when shooting wide open, keeping distortion, flare and chromatic aberration to a minimum. A full-time manual focusing mechanism lets you switch into manual focusing during autofocus by rotating the lens ring. It’s sold in Canon (EF) and Nikon (F) mounts.
Tamron 28–300mm f/3.5–6.3 Di VC PZD
Targeted at owners of Canon, Nikon and Sony full-frame cameras, Tamron’s new 28–300mm lens
features a smaller design than its predecessor, plus optical image stabilization for Canon and Nikon cameras (Sony handles that in-camera). Focus is driven by a standing-wave ultrasonic motor system and you can override autofocus any time you want to manually tweak your composition. The lens is moisture resistant and uses Tamron’s Broad-Band Anti-Reflection coatings to minimize flare and ghosting.
For Medium Format
Phase One Alpa HR 5.6/70mm
Phase One and Swiss lens maker Alpa paired up in late 2014; soon after, they announced the first fruits from their partnership, Phase One’s A-series
. The series mates Alpa’s lenses with Phase One’s new IQ2 A-series digital camera back. The big difference from the existing IQ back is that the three Alpa lenses for the system have been specially calibrated and profiled for the back. After the lens is attached and selected in the back’s menu, lens corrections are automatically processed when importing photos into Capture One Pro 8.1/2. The 70mm Alpa HR delivers an aperture range from f/5.6–32 and can focus on objects as close as 31.5 inches from the lens.
Hasselblad 80mm f/2.8
The backbone of the company’s medium-format H system, the 80mm f/2.8 lens
offers a minimum focusing distance of 2.3 feet. The lens stops down to a minimum aperture of f/32, and the lens has depth-of-field scale markings plus a distance scale on the exterior to aid focusing.
Rokinon Cine DS 50mm T1.5 AS UMC
This manual-focus prime lens for full-frame cameras
is capable of focusing on objects as close as 17.7-inches away. It features a de-clicked aperture for smooth operation during filming. The aperture is calibrated in the more accurate t-stops—not f-stops—as is standard with cinema lenses. You’ll enjoy an aperture range from T1.5 wide open down to T22. All lenses in the Cine DS family are color-matched by Rokinon so they’ll provide consistent color reproduction across focal lengths. They also share a common design with the focus and aperture rings in identical positions so you won’t have to reposition a follow focus when changing lenses. The aperture and lens rings have industry standard gearings to fit follow-focus accessories and focus distance and t-stop scale markings are duplicated on either side of the barrel. It’s sold in Canon EF and Nikon F mounts, as well as Sony A and E mounts.
Schneider Xenon FF-Prime 25mm T2.1
Available for Canon and Nikon full-frame DSLRs as well as PL- mount camera bodies, the Xenon FF Prime 25mm T2.1
sports focus markings on both sides of the lens. As on the other lenses in the company’s Xenon FF line, the focus and iris gearing are unified for easy interchange with follow-focus gearings. The lens boasts a 14-blade diaphragm for circular bokeh when shooting at a shallow depth of field and anti-reflection coatings to reduce sun glare. The lens can stop down to T22.
Tokina Cinema AT-X 50–135mm T3.0
Tokina’s Cinema AT-X 50–135mm T3.0
sports a de-clicked aperture calibrated in t-stops, and an industry-standard 114mm front barrel for matte boxes and a 112mm filter thread. It uses a parfocal design for keeping accurate focus during zoom. You’ll enjoy a constant aperture throughout the zoom range. Zoom, iris and focus markings appear on either side of the lens barrel. It’s sold in either PL or Canon EF mounts.