2019 DIYP Holiday Gift Guide – Lenses
Yesterday, we kicked off our 2019 gift guide with cameras. Today it’s time for the lenses. We had a think about some of our new favourites we’ve tried this year, some of the very cool new ones that have been released as well as a couple of classics that just always remain popular and useful.
Sigma’s 70-200mm DG OS HSM Sports lens was released at the beginning of this year to complete their “Big Three” holy trinity lineup, joining the 14-24mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H) and 24-70mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H) Art series lenses. I had the opportunity to take the trio for a spin around Arizona for a couple of weeks shortly after the 70-200mm was released and for what it costs, it’s one of the best value 70-200mm lenses on the market.
The Laowa 100mm f/2.8 Macro is a lens that immediately impressed us here at DIYP, and you can see our review here. Aside from being just a great lens, one of the great things about this lens is that it’s available for a range of mounts in Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E with Nikon Z and Canon RF mount versions on the way. Hopefully, we’ll see an L mount version at some point, too.
The Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 lens comes in at around half the price (or less) of the Nikon F, Canon EF and Sony alternatives, but is available in all three of those mount options. It also regularly seems to be on sale, too, depending on the mount you need and the brand you choose to go for. Samyang and Rokinon are the same brand, just different names for different customers in different parts of the world. Often you’ll find that one brand is slightly less expensive than the other in your area, despite being identical lenses.
Time for another macro lens. This time it’s the fairly long Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro. It’s a manual focus lens offering a nice long working distance of around 34.5cm. It’s available in both Nikon F and Canon EF mounts, but it’s also one of the few new lens choices available to Pentax photographers, too.
This is one of those lenses that makes it onto to the list almost every year. If you’re a vlogger, or know somebody who vlogs with Canon, then this is pretty much the ideal lens. It’s an APS-C lens, designed for Canon’s crop DSLRs. But even with some of Canon’s recent mirrorless bodies like the EOS RP and the EF to RF adapter, you’ll get that APS-C field of view when shooting 4K video.
Canon’s most recent revision to the 70-300mm lens is an interesting one. It features a built-in LCD to show lens information showing focus distance, focal length and the amount of stabilisation currently being applied. It’s one of the first lenses (aside from a “Nifty Fifty”) that most Canon photographers buy for their cameras, but this one is compatible with both full-frame and APS-C bodies.
Mitakon 85mm f/2.8 1-5x Super Macro – $499 (B&H)
This is the third macro to make the list this year, although this one isn’t quite available just yet, although you can pre-order. It will become available for Nikon F, Canon EF, Pentax K and Sony A mounts. It’s a little shorter than the Laowa or Irix macro lenses above, but offers up to a 5:1 magnification, with working distances of 10.7″ (at 1:1) to 3.9″ (at 5:1). You don’t get infinity focus with this one, but I don’t think this is a lens where you’d need it.
Vazen 40mm T2 1.8x Anamorphic – $3,250 (B&H)
This is the only cinema lens on the list for 2019. It’s not that there haven’t been other good cinema lenses released, but this one is quite special. It’s the Vazen 40mm T2 1.8x Anamorphic lens for Micro Four Thirds. Anamorphic lenses are nothing new – in fact, they’re something old that’s seeing a resurgence – but what makes it special is the price. While still not exactly pocket change, it’s substantially cheaper than many of the anamorphic alternatives out there.
Metabones Pocket 4K speedboosters – $479-719 (B&H)
Technically, no, these aren’t lenses, but they do allow you to mount your lenses to a camera for which they were not originally designed and they do contain glass elements. In this case, that camera is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. Metabones has made MFT adapters for a while, but these ones are specifically optimised for the BMPCC 4K. Adapters are available for mounting Canon EF, Nikon F and Arri PL mount lenses to the Pocket 4K with a 0.71x or 0.64x speed boost.
Nikon 58mm f/0.95 Noct – $7,996 (B&H)
If you get this lens for Christmas, you’ve definitely made it to Santa’s “Nice” list. It’s the kind of gift you’re only going to get somebody that you really like, or perhaps only for yourself, and probably only if you’ve had a lottery win. I had the opportunity to play with one of these briefly at NAB earlier this year, and it is an extremely sexy lens.
The pace at which new lenses are being released these days just feels ridiculous. Perhaps it’s the amount of new camera systems coming out and hitting the mainstream. What’s interesting, though, is that many of them are for Nikon F and Canon EF, when it’s Leica’s L mount, Nikon’s Z mount and Canon’s RF mount that are all facing a big lens deficit. More Z and RF mount lenses have been announced recently, though, so perhaps we’ll start to see more of those coming in 2020.
What did we miss? What’s been your favourite lens, new or old, of 2019? Are you using an underrepresented lens mount? What are you waiting for to be announced?
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.