The Mark II edition of this lens isn’t just a minor tweak, but a completely redesigned product . It adds two extra elements over its predecessor, taking the total number from 11 to 13, and its more rounded aperture is based on eight rather than seven diaphragm blades.
As one of Canon’s L-series (Luxury) lenses, it has professional-grade build quality and comes complete with weather seals. High-class glass includes two aspherical elements to guard against spherical aberrations (common in wide-aperture lenses) and two Super UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) elements to correct lateral chromatic aberrations.
While a wide f/1.4 aperture is great to have, image quality is unimpressive at this setting. Vignetting is pronounced, and there’s a distinct lack of sharpness towards the edges and corners of the frame.
See it here: http://bit.ly/1LH8seM
2. Fujifilm Fujinon XF18mm f/2 R
The latest in X-series cameras’ 1.5x crop factor, this 18mm lens has an effective focal length of 27mm, along with a reasonably fast widest aperture of f/2. The retro styling of the lens is a perfect match for cameras like the Fujifilm X-T1.
As a ‘pancake’ lens, it is physically short at 41mm and comes with an aperture ring that’s calibrated in 1/3-click stops. Build quality is impressive. The lens has a solid metal barrel and mounting plate, even though it is not weather-sealed.
Focusing isn’t internal and the lens extends physically through the focus range but the front element doesn’t rotate, easing the use of filters like circular polarisers and ND grads. Although there’s no focus distance scale or depth of field markings on the lens itself, this information is presented in the shooting display of the X-T1, which we used for testing.
There is impressively little vignetting, even when shooting wide open. Autofocus is accurate and fairly speedy, and the image quality is good overall. However, the image corners could be a bit sharper at any given aperture. They also suffer a little from colour fringing at medium-to-narrow apertures.
Pro build quality includes a magnesium barrel and weather-sealed mounting plate. The design uses one less element than the Canon, and the diaphragm has nine blades rather than eight. Aspherical and ED (Extra low Dispersion) elements are utilised.
As a 24mm f/1.4 lens with full-frame compatibility, it is fast, has near-silent ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and a neat focus scale positioned beneath a viewing window on the top of the lens barrel. Focusing is completely internal but the lens features a depth of field scale.
Centre-sharpness is excellent, even at very wide apertures and levels of sharpness are maintained well, even into the extreme corners of the image frame. Colour fringing is also better controlled, throughout the aperture range.
All in all, it’s a very pricey lens, but what you pay for is certainly value for money.
See it here: http://bit.ly/1ICqHxi
This lens is two-thirds of a stop slower than the Nikon 24mm lens. But it costs just one third of the price, making it a much more affordable proposition.
Along with the reduced wide-aperture ability, there’s a reduction in the angle of view. Even so, the 28mm focal length gives a viewing angle of 75 degrees (measured on the diagonal) when used on a full-frame camera, compared with the 84 degrees of a 24mm lens. As such, it is still a usefully wide lens for indoor and outdoor shooting alike, but loses out to the more generous wide-angle abilities of a typical 24–70mm standard zoom lens.
Barrel construction is based on high-quality plastics rather than magnesium alloy. There are two aspherical elements, plus the application of Nano Crystal Coat and a weather-sealed mounting plate, but there are no ED (Extra low Dispersion) elements.
Nikon’s ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system is every bit as fast here as in the company’s more exotic 24mm lens and, as usual, it comes complete with full-time manual override. The manual focus ring is even larger than on the Nikon 24mm and equally smooth and precise in operation. Vignetting is more noticeable at the widest available aperture and sharpness isn’t quite as impressive but overall image quality is very good.
See it here: http://bit.ly/1hQgLeL
5. Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm
Typical of Olympus-made Micro Four Thirds lenses, this one is physically quite small but nicely engineered. Its from the Premium range of Olympus lenses and is available in silver or black, featuring a stylish but tough metal barrel that plays host to 11 elements. Dedicated elements include one aspherical, one DSA (Dual Super Aspherical), one ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and one Super HR (High Refractive).
ZERO (Zuiko Extra‑low Reflection Optical) coatings reduce ghosting and flare. Autofocus comes courtesy of a Movie Stills Compatible system that is smooth and silent in operation.
Akin to many Tokina lenses, the manual focus ring has a push-pull clutch or ‘snapshot’ mechanism, as Olympus calls it, which enables you to pull back the focus ring to switch from autofocus to manual focus.This action also reveals a focus distance scale printed on the barrel that ties in with a depth of field scale, listing apertures between f/5.6 and f/22.
Autofocus is rapid for stills and enables smooth focus transitions during video capture. The electronic ‘fly-by-wire’ manual focusing mechanism operates with precision. Sharpness is both good and even across the whole image frame, right into the corners, even at the widest aperture of f/2. Vignetting is noticeable at this aperture, but becomes less of an issue at f/2.8.
6. Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 ASPH II
Assuming a truly thin profile of just 0.8″-thick, the Panasonic LUMIX G 14mm f/2.5 ASPH II Lens is a sleek wide-angle prime designed for Micro Four Thirds system cameras.
Offering a 28mm-equivalent focal length, this lens takes on a wider-than-normal perspective to benefit its use in a broad variety of shooting situations. A stepping motor provides quick, quiet autofocus performance that is beneficial to both movie and still recording and an inner focusing system maintains the overall lens length during operation for greater responsiveness. This compact and versatile lens is an ideal option for everyday use.
The optical design comprises six elements in five groups, which includes three aspherical elements to minimise chromatic aberrations and distortions for greater image clarity and reduction in colour fringing. Additionally, a multi-coating has been applied to the lens elements to minimise surface reflections, flare, and ghosting for increased contrast and colour neutrality. A rounded seven-blade diaphragm contributes to a pleasing out-of-focus quality when using selective focus techniques and an all-metal lens mount offers enhanced durability and mounting precision.
The pancake lens profile of the lens measures 0.8″ thick and weighs just under 2oz, making it an ideal travel lens for a broad array of shooting situations.
7. Pentax HD DA 15mm f/4 ED AL Limited
The black HD Pentax DA 15mm f/4 ED AL Limited Lens from Pentax is a compact prime wide-angle lens providing a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 23mm. The lens’ optical design includes features extra-low dispersion glass and one hybrid aspherical elements to minimise chromatic aberrations and limit distortion in order to enable a natural-looking expansive angle of view that is well-suited to both indoor and outdoor scenes.
A high-grade multi-layer HD coating has been applied to lens elements to help minimise flare and ghosting for enhanced contrast, clarity, and colour fidelity and a rounded seven-blade diaphragm contributes to an aesthetic out-of-focus quality to benefit shallow depth of field imagery. Additionally, an SP Protect coating has also been applied to the front lens element to effectively protect it from dirt, oil, and finger prints. Built-in pull-out type lens hood helps to protect the front lens element from stray light as well as scratching or accidental drops.
The compact form-factor of this lens integrates Pentax’s Quick-Shift Focus System, which allows manual focus control over the lens at any time, even in AF mode, for precise handling over the focal plane.
8. Sony E mount Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS IF UMC
The Sony E mount Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS IF UMC Lens is a prime wide-angle lens designed for both full-frame and APS-C sized sensors. When used with an APS-C sensor the 35mm-equivalent focal length is 36mm.
As a standard wide-angle focal length, this lens is well-suited to working in a variety of situations ranging from landscape to street photography. Its fast f/1.4 maximum aperture is further beneficial to working in low-light conditions and for greater control over selective focus and shallow depth of field effects.
Two aspherical elements have been incorporated into the optical design to minimise chromatic aberrations in order to produce sharper images. A UMC coating has also been applied to lens elements to reduce surface reflections and prevent lens flare and ghosting for improved light transmission and more contrast-rich imagery.
Additionally, the lens’ manual focus design incorporates an inner-focusing mechanism to maintain the overall lens length when changing focus.Inner-focusing mechanism maintains overall lens length while focusing and helps to prevent dust from entering the lens barrel.
Eight rounded aperture blades help to produce an aesthetic out-of-focus quality to benefit selective focus and shallow depth of field imagery.