2020 DIYP Holiday Gift Guide – Lenses

Dec 9, 2020

John Aldred

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.

2020 DIYP Holiday Gift Guide – Lenses

Dec 9, 2020

John Aldred

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.

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With your new camera picked out, it’s time to get a lens. Or maybe you’re happy with your cameras, but you fancy trying a new lens. Whichever might apply to you, here are a few of our favourites that were either announced or released this year. A couple of the lenses in this list were announced before 2020, but it took a while for them to actually exist!

Lensbaby Velvet 28mm f/2.5 (Amazon / B&H) – $439

The Lensbaby Velvet 28 expands their velvet lens lineup with a nice, quite wide focal length for both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. It offers what Lensbaby describes as an “ethereal mood” to your shoots, with a soft glow effect to help combat both flat as well as harsh lighting conditions. It’s not to everybody’s tastes, but it definitely produces a very interesting look!

Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD (Amazon / B&H) – $849

As is the case with many new lenses over the last year or so, the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is designed specifically for mirrorless cameras. In this case, that means the Sony full-frame E Mount cameras. This lens was actually announced last year, but availability was virtually non-existent until after 2020 had started, so it counts.

Samyang 18mm f/2.8 FE (Amazon / B&H) – $299

Samyang’s 18mm f/2.8 FE is another lens designed solely for Sony E mount mirrorless cameras. Unlike most of Samyang’s earlier lenses, though, this one’s actually an autofocus lens. It’s also rather compact and light weight, too, for easy carrying around with a small mirrorless camera. It has a pretty low price tag to match its small stature, too.

Sigma Compact L & E Mount Primes (B&H) – $549-699

Sigma’s new I series compact prime lenses are, once again, designed for mirrorless. As they’re Sigma lenses, though, they’re not limited to Sony E mount. They’re also available in Leica L mount, too, as utilised by both Sigma and Panasonic’s full-frame mirrorless cameras. These, are small, light lenses designed for use with small light cameras like the Sigma fp or the Panasonic S5.

Viltrox AF EF-M Primes (Amazon / B&H) – $239-329

Taking the format down a little from full-frame to APS-C, Viltrox released a range of small and light fast f/1.4 aperture primes for Canon’s EOS M mirrorless system this year. These EF-M lenses come in 23mm, 33mm and 56mm focal lengths, with a matching compact price. You can pick up the entire set of three for less than $900, which isn’t bad for a trio of f/1.4 primes!

Vazen 65mm T2 1.8x Anamorphic (B&H) – $3,250

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Vazen recently announced their new 65mm T2 1.8x Anamorphic lens and boy is it a sexy looking lens. It joins their 40mm T2 and 28mm T2.2 to complete their trio of anamorphic cine lenses. They’re certainly not inexpensive l senses, especially when you consider they’re designed for Micro Four Thirds, but they are a lot cheaper than many of the anamorphic alternatives out there.

Sirui 35mm f/1.8 Anamorphic (AmazonB&H) – $799

Also amongst the talk of the anamorphic town this year has been Sirui’s 35mm f/1.8 1.33x Anamorphic lens. Despite being significantly less expensive than the Vazen lens listed above, it has a wider aperture and fits on Micro Four Thirds, Sony E, Canon EF-M and Nikon Z thanks to its large image projection circle. If you wanted to dip your toe into anamorphic waters, this is a fantastic lens with which to do it.

Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM (Amazon / B&H) – $1,599

This is so new it’s still technically on pre-order. Amazon says they start shipping tomorrow, but B&H doesn’t expect them until the end of January. Regardless, if you wanted to treat yourself or a loved EOS R shooter to some nice long (but relatively light) versatile glass, the Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM is one that shouldn’t disappoint.

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Art Macro (Amazon / B&H) – $799

It’s been a while since Sigma released a new 105mm f/2.8 Macro. And like most of the lenses in this list, it’s designed for full-frame mirrorless cameras. And like the other Sigma lenses above, that means Sony E and Leica L mounts. There are rumours that Nikon Z and Canon RF mount versions might be available in the future, but for now, if you shoot L or E mounts and you want a good macro, this one will definitely take some beating!

Pergear 35mm f/1.2 (Amazon) – $109

Pergear’s 35mm f/1.2 is a rather nice lens, especially for what it costs. At only $109, you can’t expect it to be the best lens in the world, and it is only manual focus, but it’s available for both Micro Four Thirds as well as APS-C systems including Nikon Z, Canon EF-M, Sony E and Fuji X. I’ve had one of these for a few months now, and I really love the look it offers, particularly for video.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM (Amazon / B&H) – $2,998

The Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is by no means an inexpensive lens. It costs significantly more than similar lenses from Sigma, Nikon and Canon for their various systems, but this one does go a little bit wider capping out at 12mm rather than the typical 14mm. Whether that extra 2mm is worth the premium for you is for you to decide, but from the images I’ve seen this one produce, there’s no compromise when it comes to image quality.

Pentax 85mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H) – $1,899

The Pentax 85mm f/1.4 (or HD PENTAX-D FA★85MM F1.4ED SDM AW, to give its complete title) is technically a new lens for 2020, although it’s been rumoured for years. But as Pentax so rarely sees new lenses these days and there are still a couple of Pentax shooters out there (come on, we all know one!), we felt this one was worth including in the list.

Overview

There have been a lot of great new lenses this year, especially for mirrorless (for obvious reasons). Sony’s still going strong building up its range, and Sigma is going pretty mad on the E and L mount front. But what’s really interesting to me are the number of MFT lenses that have been released this year from both low and high-end manufacturers. Hopefully, next year, we’ll start to see more Z and RF mount lenses coming!

What did we miss? What’s been your favourite lens, new or old, of 2020? What are you waiting for to still be announced?

So far we’ve covered cameras and now lenses. Keep an eye out for the rest of our guides coming soon covering lighting, tripods, sliders & gimbals and other accessories.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

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.

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