The Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG APO OS HSM is interesting for its longer focal lengths, equivalent to a 180-600mm on a Nikon DX body (and slightly more on a Canon APS-C). On a full-frame camera, it achieved a respectable DxOMark score of 15.8 though it dropped to just 11 on a Nikon D7000 (a slightly higher than on a D300s). Highpoints, apart from the extra reach, include consistent resolution across the image field (the Acutance map above shows the lens at 400mm), as well as good control of chromatic aberration, while the disadvantage of vignetting at maximum aperture is really only an issue for FF bodies. While not as pricey as some, $1,000 is still a sizeable figure given the performance at 400mm.
Another intriguing offering in our database is the Canon EF70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM. It’s pricey at $1,270 but appealing as an ultra compact (if still relatively heavy at 720g) model, thanks to the adoption of the firm’s innovative Diffractive Optics (DO) technology. Although only introduced in 2004, the resolution at maximum focal length is poor accounting for the low DxOMark score of 12.6 when mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mk II and it’s correspondingly lower still on an EOS 7D (at 10 points).
At around $420, this relatively affordable, compact and lightweight (420g) full-frame zoom with an 11x range and minimum focus distance of 0.49m (19.3in) sounds like an appealing option. As for image quality, it’s a slightly different story. On the one hand, the Tamron has low levels of chromatic aberration but, on the other, the resolution is low from 100mm onwards. Vignetting is also an issue on full-frame cameras at maximum aperture (but that’s common, and easily corrected in post). For the record, the tiny Tamron averaged a DxOMark score of 9.8 on a Sony Alpha 900 and 8 on a 16-Mpix APS-C Alpha 580.
While this practically pocket-sized lens will only appeal to Panasonic and Olympus Micro 3/4 users, with an 35mm equivalent focal length of 200-600mm f/4-5.6, this lens may seem like an attractive option for wildlife photographers. In terms of image quality, the resolution is consistent across the image field while vignetting (lens shading) is well-controlled although the peak resolution is a bit low and acutance at 300mm (600mm equivalent) is, unsurprisingly, lower still. However, the sharpness at 150mm (300mm equivalent) is pretty good. Furthermore, at around $500, the price is relatively accessible.
Our final comparison, for the sake of objectivity, is the $1,400 Pentax smc DA Star 300mm f/44 ED IF SDM. On a Pentax DSLR this lens is the 35mm equivalent to a 450mm f/4 and besides the very good image quality (with a DxO Mark score of 15) it has some nice features including extreme weather resistance, ED glass, internal focusing and an built-in SDM type autofocus motor. In fact, the image quality is close to the Canon 300mm f/2.8 mounted on a EOS 7D.
Announced in September 2012, the Pentax Q10 is the second in the Pentax Q series and lays claim to being the smallest hybrid camera currently available, offering interchangeable lenses in a package barely larger than an advanced compact camera. However, is smaller really better, and how have Pentax progressed since the Pentax Q?
Announced in February 2012, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens Di VC USD is the latest full-frame, fast aperture standard zoom from the Saitama, Japan-based optical firm and is the first of its type to add VC (Vibration Control) image stabilization. Costing $1299 and available in Canon, Nikon and Sony fittings (the latter albeit without VC) and featuring USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) technology, it’s an obvious alternative to the pricier offerings from the top-names. Could this lens be a contender in the IQ stakes? Read on to find out.
The annual CP+, or Camera and Photo Imaging Show, takes place in Japan, the heartland of the photography hardware industry. With new lenses covering wide-angle through to extreme super-telephoto and options for all the different Interchangeable lens mounts and camera systems, this year’s show, seemed to be all about new glass for your cameras in 2013. We pick out and preview 11 lenses that caught our eye.
Introduced in November 2012 as the proposed ‘kit’ lens for the EOS 6D, the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens represents an interesting move for Canon – despite two well respected lenses in this category, the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM and the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM hopes to offer a compact, lightweight lens suitable for the newly created lightweight, full-frame camera segment. The red L-series band offers the promise of professional performance, but does it live up to the expectations?
Canon were busy in 2012 releasing three wide-angle primes, the EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM, EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM and EF 35mm f/2 IS USM, on to the market. The latest launched in November 2012 was the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM as an updated version of the original that dates back to 1990. Featuring Image Stabilization, Canon’s USM Ultrasonic autofocus motor, a ‘fast’ f/2 maximum aperture and wide-angle focal length, it looks a great option for Canon shooters into landscape or architectural photography.
Often in technology new models of existing products are disappointing, being motivated by the possibility of integrating new features which may not be overly useful. So when a manufacturer updates a good piece of kit and comes out with something even better there is much cause for celebration. Nikon’s Coolpix P7700 is just such a piece of equipment, updating its Coolpix P7100 model in some style.
Alongside a successful line of Mirrorless Hybrid cameras Panasonic continue to refresh their lineup of fixed lens Bridge cameras. Launched in July 2012 the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ200 offers a 24x super zoom, 12fps continuous shooting and 1080 60p HD video. Upgraded from its predecessor, the Lumix DMC-FZ150, this latest model also boasts a fixed maximum aperture, higher resolution EVF, greater ISO and shutter speed ranges as well as a new HDR mode.
There is a very particular look available to photographers who have a ‘Super-Wide-angle’ lens in their gadget bag, a ‘look’ that puts a whole new perspective on things. To get it you really need something quite extreme. Nikon do it, Canon do it, indeed most of the camera makers do it, but so do some of the independent lens makers. Of these who does it best? And do you get what you pay for?
Introduced at Photokina in September 2012 alongside three other Micro Four Thirds lenses, the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro lens helps Olympus make good on its promise to deliver a full range of dedicated lenses and accessories for its PEN and O-MD lines of compact mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras.
Announced in September 2012 the Olympus 15mm 1:8.0 body cap lens is a pancake prime lens for the Micro Four Thirds lens mount. Costing just $49 and featuring an equivalent 30mm wide-angle focal length, fixed f/8 aperture and manual focus it’s a cheap and quirky alternative. Its tiny proportions also make an intriguing option for photographers looking to work discreetly, travel light and be ready to shoot at a moments notice.
Focus Numérique, the first French online magazine dedicated to professional and amateur digital photographers and digital imagery, has chosen to use DxOMark measurements so as to offer its readers the most complete and accurate lens test results on the market. This new partnership reinforces DxOMark’s position as the most reliable source of independent information about camera and lens image quality for the media and the most influential websites.
Introduced in February 2012, the EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is the long-awaited update to Canon’s pro-grade standard zoom and replaces the highly regarded EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM. Designed with the objective of improving image quality and providing greater durability for daily use with digital cameras, it has a completely revised optical design as well as an enhanced mechanical construction. As full-frame lens, it’s compatible with the firm’s full range of DSLRs including 1.6 (APS-C) and older APS-H (1.3x crop) DSLRs making it an attractive choice to a wide of range users. However, at around $2,500 it’s not likely to be a casual purchase.
Announced in February 2012 the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm f/1.8 is a ‘fast’ telephoto prime for the Micro Four Thirds Lens mount. With an equivalent 150mm focal length it’s a good option for portraiture or sports and the wide f/1.8 maximum aperture is great for low light, too. Costing $899 it’s an expensive option for serious amateurs or professionals alike, so if it’s a lens you’re considering read on to make sure it delivers the results you desire.
Launched in September 2012, the Tamron SP90mm f/2.8 Di Macro II VC USD lens aims to continue in the same vein as previous Tamron macro lenses by offering very high image quality in a well-priced package that rivals the offerings from the major camera manufacturers. A true macro lens, this model offers full 1:1 lifesize reproduction and includes Tamron’s Vibration Compensation (VC) mechanism to help achieve images free of camera shake even at longer shutter speeds. Also present is their USD, or Ultrasonic Silent Drive, AF motor for fast, quiet AF operation.
Launched in January 2012 the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G prime lens offers a great focal length for portraiture and a wide maximum aperture for low-light photography. Compatible with both Nikon FX and DX lens mounts this latest version of Nikon’s popular short telephoto prime also features a built in autofocus motor making it full functionality on all Nikon DSLR cameras. At $500 it boasts a great price too, so if you’re after a 85mm portrait lens this could be the one for you.