SIRUI Sniper lens review – SIRUI’s first autofocus set

Nov 22, 2023

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

News Editor

Sagiv Gilburd is an Israel-based commercial photographer and videographer with extensive expertise in studio work, event photography, and managing large-scale photography projects.

SIRUI Sniper lens review – SIRUI’s first autofocus set

Nov 22, 2023

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

News Editor

Sagiv Gilburd is an Israel-based commercial photographer and videographer with extensive expertise in studio work, event photography, and managing large-scale photography projects.

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SIRUI just announced their first autofocus lens ever – the SIRUI Sniper. The Sniper is a set of three lenses for APS-C sensors. We took the set for a ride, and they are a great pick for the price. Once you read the review, there is a good chance you’d wanna grab them. They are now pre-selling on Indiegogo for $299 a lens.

For a super deep drill down on the set, hit the jump.

There are three autofocus lenses in the SIRUI Sniper lineup: 23, 33, and 56mm. They are all T/1.2 lenses. Each of the lenses retails for $349. But, during the campaign, you can get them for $299 a pop as an early backer. And I gotta say, for under $1,000, this really tempting if you are looking to build a fast set without breaking the bank.

I guess there were some tradeoffs that SIRUI made to meet this attractive price point. The biggest one is the plastic housing. But again, they “sit” very comfortably in the price range.

Sirui Sniper Set front view filter thread

All the lenses in the SIRUI Sniper set are the same size, have the same filter size, and have focus wheels in the exact same location. They have no aperture ring, nor do they have an AF/MF switch. The only control you have on the lens is a focus wheel.

General impressions of the SIRUI sniper line

If you are not familiar with crop sensor math, the focal lengths may seem weird to you. But once you take the crop sensor size in, you get a rather complete cover of focal lengths:

  • 23mm (around 35mm equivalent in full frame)
  • 33mm (around 50mm equivalent in full frame)
  • 56mm (around 85mm equivalent in full frame)

Each of the lenses weighs about 400 grams and shares the same physical properties: they are 92.2mm in length, with a filter thread of 58mm. Overall, they are quite compact, especially when compared to other T/1.2 or F/1.2 lenses.

The nice thing about lenses designed for crop sensors, Sniper line included, is that they are small. Imagine a full-frame F/1.2 lens on a tiny crop sensor camera, and you see what I mean. On the same note, the size and weight work perfectly well for gimbal work. They are incredibly easy to work with, even with smaller gimbals like the DJI RS3 mini.

SIRUI Sniper lens with an Sony a6400 on an RS3 mini

The 35mm and 50mm come with a petal hood, and the 75mm comes with a cylindrical hood. Neat. Oh, and there is also a nice case. Neat again.

SIRUI Sniper – it’s nice to be T/1.2

The SIRUI Sniper set is a great choice if you’re into night photography. T/1.2 allows plenty of light for both focusing and exposure. When I tested them on photowalk at night, they blew me away. It was very easy to focus, and I could keep the shutter speed relatively high. Strangely, they were a little brighter than Sirui’s other crop T/1.2 series, the SIRUI Nightwalker.

Bokeh was a charming surprise as well. Sure, this is a wide-aperture lens, so you’d expect a lot of background blur. But it’s not just that with the Sniper set. The bokeh was creamy and smooth, delivering some great photos.

If nothing else, the creamy bokeh and the small minimal focus distance make this set almost an option for macro photography as well.

Optical performance

Even at T/1.2, the set is rather sharp in the center of the frame, with the corners a bit softer. Stopping down to t/5.6 gives good sharpness all across the frame. Not bad! Sharpness is usually the first sacrifice in budget lenses, so I’m glad to see this is not an issue with the Snipers.

Aside from sharpness, looking at the overall image, performances are better than most budget lenses. Both chromatic aberration and vignetting are manageable. And stopping down to T/5.6 removes the vignetting altogether.

Flare management is the other area where we see a price-performance tradeoff. There is some milking with direct light, especially on the 56mm. I mean, you can get a flare-perfect lens, but probably not for this price. You don’t get G-master performance, but you are also not paying G-master prices.

SIRUI Sniper autofocus performance

The autofocus on the Snipers is consistent and decently fast, so if you are shooting anything that does not need “artsy” focus racking, you can rely on the system. The Snipers do have a focus ring, so you can also focus manually. You can switch between manual and autofocus simply by starting to rotate the focus ring.

If, instead, you were looking to use more manual focus than auto, consider looking at the existing SIRUI Nightwalker lineup. They have nice focus rings made specifically to work with follow-focus systems.

If you are concerned with focus breathing, I’m happy to report the Snipers barely have any. This makes the set quite tempting for video work, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. All the SIRUI lenses we have tested so far were great for video work.

Is the SIRUI Sniper a good fit for you?

The Sniper set fits those who are looking for consistent looks and good low-light performance. If you tend to shoot at night or even just indoors when the lighting is bad, a fast set is good to have. Cameras with smaller sensors tend to struggle in low-light situations. Having a large aperture of T/1.2 really makes a difference. And the SIRUI Sniper is a great example of that.

Not to mention, such an open aperture, together with good autofocus, makes them appealing for portrait photography as well. The shallow depth of field of the Snipers is great for making your subject “pop” in the frame. This is typically not easy to do with smaller sensors, especially at this price range.

SIRUI Sniper specs

ModelSIRUI 23mm Tl.2SIRUI 33mm Tl .2SIRUI 56mm Tl.2
Focal Length23mm33mm56mm
FrameAPS-C/S35APS-C/S35APS-C/S35
ApertureTl .2-T16Tl .2-T16Tl .2-T16
Lens Structure12 Elements in 11 Groups11 Elements in 10 Groups11 Elements in 10 Groups
Aperture Blade111111
Minimum Focus Distance0.3m0.4m0.6m
Filter SpecM58*O.75M58*O.75M58*O.75
Rotation Angle of the Focus Ring360360360
MountE/X/ZE/X/ZE/X/Z
Length (mm/inches)E: 92.5/ 3.6E: 92.5/ 3.6E: 92.5/ 3.6
x: 92.2 / 3.6x: 92.2 / 3.6x: 92.2 / 3.6
z: 94.2 / 3.7z: 94.2 / 3.7z: 94.2 / 3.7
Weight (g/lbs)E: 381 / 0.8E: 400 / 0.9E: 422/ 0.9
x: 380 / 0.8x: 398 / 0.9x: 419/ 0.9
z: 386 / 0.9z: 404 / 0.9z: 427/ 0.9

SIRUI Sniper price and availability

SIRUI launched an IndieGoGo campaign for the lens on November 20, and has already raised axlose to a quarter of a million dollars. This is the 17th crowdfunding campaign from SIRUI, so they have quite an established record. If you want to grab them while they’re at their discounted price of $299 a piece, you better grab them soon.

The campaign ends on December 21, 2024. Then, the retail price will be $349 a piece or $999 for the entire set. (Compared to the $849 IndieGoGo set price).

Conclusion

There are many options for budget lenses in today’s market, but the SIRUI Sniper set gives a real bang for the buck. They are well-positioned in the third-party lens market and are significantly more budget-friendly than first-party lenses.

If you look at the set as a whole, the minimal focus distance, wide aperture, and autofocus performance easily trump the plastic build. SIRUI really did a good job with their first autofocus set.

Disclaimer: We only share crowdfunded projects we believe are legitimate. However, most of those projects are not in a delivery state. Make sure you look into the project and make an informed purchasing decision. While some projects may offer amazing rewards, others unfortunately may not deliver on their promises.

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Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd is an Israel-based commercial photographer and videographer with extensive expertise in studio work, event photography, and managing large-scale photography projects.

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One response to “SIRUI Sniper lens review – SIRUI’s first autofocus set”

  1. Carter Tune Avatar
    Carter Tune

    “Sniper” at 23, 33, and 56mm?