Have your say: Best prime lens of 2016
It’s a great time to be a photographer. Based on reader interest and preferences, we’ve rounded up a total of twelve prime lenses that were released in 2016 for your consideration in this poll. They run the gamut in terms of lens mount, focal length, maximum aperture, and of course, use case.
Which of these prime lenses is most exciting to you? Which do you already have, or are looking to add, to your particular kit? Let us know by casting your vote in the poll at the end of the slideshow. For now, let’s dig in and take a look at this year’s contenders.
Please note that for the sake of a manageable list, we have excluded some of the more exotic manual focus primes from the likes of Zeiss, and several third-party MF options (Samyang/Rokinon etc). If you feel that a particular lens of this kind deserves consideration, feel free to leave a comment.
Canon EF-M 28mm F3.5 Macro IS STM
The announcement of Canon’s EOS M5 was largely welcome news, but came with a side of grumbling – the Canon EF-M lens lineup is still, for many, sorely lacking. This 28mm F3.5 Macro is looking to address that somewhat. Offering an equivalent focal length of 45mm, this lens won’t offer you much in the way of working distance, but with a 1.2x magnification super-macro mode and built-in LED lights, the EF-M 28mm Macro is a unique offering in the marketplace and comes with an affordable MSRP to boot.
Does this lens have you looking closer at the Canon M system more closely than before? Has the 1.2x magnification made a difference to your macro photography? Let us know by casting your vote for it in the poll.
Fujifilm XF 23mm F2 R WR
Fujifilm’s ever-growing lens lineup continues to impress us, and the XF 23mm F2 R WR is no exception. The company’s existing 23mm F1.4 is quite good, but also quite large and makes no mention of weather resistance – two aspects this newer design is meant to address. You lose a stop of light, but you also gain a noticeable speed boost when it comes to continuous autofocus (and you can save a few pennies with this model, too). Lastly, for X-Pro users, the barrel design is intended to keep the lens from intruding too far into the hybrid viewfinder when used in ‘optical’ mode.
Is this the game-changing 35mm equivalent lens you’ve been waiting for? Let us know by casting your vote in the poll at the end of the slideshow.
Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm F4E ED
This one’s been a long time coming. Nikon’s line of PC lenses, which stands for ‘perspective control,’ is all about offering tilt and shift capabilities for those that need it. As an example, it allows for correction of converging vertical lines if you’re photographing a tall building and must point your camera slightly up, and it also allows more control over your depth of field by allowing you to adjust the actual plane of focus. While this lens still isn’t as wide as Canon’s TS-E 17mm lens, it does offer Nikon users a focal length usefully wider than the existing 24mm PC lens – but being a specialized tool, it comes with a hefty price tag.
Is this lens enough to satisfy your needs for wide-angle tilt-shift photography? Does it allow you to get significant images you just couldn’t get before? Let us know by casting your vote in the poll at the end of the slideshow.
Nikon AF-S 105mm F1.4 E ED
Few lenses have created as much of a stir around the DPReview offices as Nikon’s 105mm F1.4 E ED when it was announced. As the first ever 105mm lens with this wide of an aperture, it’s a much-needed update (though some might argue, not a replacement) for Nikon’s older 105mm and 135mm F2 DC (defocus control) designs, which date back to the ’90s. It’s quite well-built, comes with some weather sealing and has been shown to have staggeringly good optics, even wide open.
Has Nikon created the ultimate bokeh-licious portrait lens? Let us know if this lens takes the cake by casting your vote in the poll at the end of the slideshow.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2
This lens is perhaps most significant in that it’s the first Olympus prime lens to carry the ‘Pro’ designation. Along with tank-like build quality, the ‘Pro’ label is a reliable indicator of overall optical quality, including sharpness and smooth out-of-focus character. That it’s also insanely fast to focus doesn’t hurt, either. It costs a pretty penny, but the 25mm F1.2 is one of our favorite pairings with Olympus’ new E-M1 Mark II. For those that want the fastest lens for their Micro 4/3 system that is also the toughest, it stands alone.
Is the 25mm F1.2 Pro the lens you’ve been waiting for within the Micro 4/3 universe? Let us know by casting your vote in the poll at the end of the slideshow.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 300mm F4 IS Pro
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 300mm F4 IS Pro is one of only two Olympus lenses at the time of this writing to offer built-in image stabilization – this is because most Olympus bodies already offer impressive in-body image stabilization, but with their newer models, these image stabilized lenses can work in tandem with the existing stabilizer to offer up to a claimed 6.5 stops of hand-holdability. Our favorite part? This is a figure Olympus says is limited by the rotation of the Earth. In any case, this 300mm lens is sharp wide-open, built like a tank, incredibly fast to focus and we’ve been able to get reliably sharp shots with shutter speeds as slow as 1/15 of a second when paired with the E-M1 II. No, that isn’t a typo.
Has the Olympus 300mm F4 Pro changed the way you shoot Micro Four Thirds? Let us know by casting your vote in the poll at the end of the slideshow.
Panasonic Lumix G Leica DG Summilux 12mm F1.4 ASPH
In addition to having the longest name in this group, this Panaleica 12mm F1.4 has the distinction of being the fastest wide-angle autofocus lens in the Micro Four Thirds universe. And with ‘Leica’ in the name, you’re going to pay for it – but for those heavily invested in the system, it’s worth it (and it’s weather-sealed, at least). I’s great for some subject isolation at wide apertures and also for shooting in available light, but it also produces gorgeous sunstars, and predictably, is very sharp.
Has this lens become your go-to for available light Micro Four Thirds shooting? Let us know by casting your vote in the poll at the end of the slideshow.
Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN | C (E-Mount / M43 Mount)
Sigma has been on a roll over the past several years, with its revamped Art, Contemporary and Sports lineups. With the 30mm F1.4 Contemporary, they’ve continued this roll, offering absolutely excellent performance on Sony’s E-Mount (and for a fraction of the price of any first-party competitor), and above average performance on Micro Four Thirds. The length of the lens might look a little awkward on smaller bodies, but the lightweight build ensures a good balance without feeling cheap at all.
Is this the fast, standard prime you’ve been waiting for? Let us know by casting your vote in the poll at the end of the slideshow.
Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
The Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art is, unquestionably, a beast – but appropriately, it offers beastly optical performance as well. It’s a bargain compared to first-party equivalents, and though (as always) you’ll want to watch out for copy variation, it’ll give those more expensive competitors a run for their money when used wide open. If you’re in the market for a fast-aperture lens for reportage or some shallow depth-of-field for portrait isolation, the Sigma 85mm Art deserves a look.
Are you a Sigma Art convert? Did you save a ton of money over first-party options by picking one up for yourself? Let us know if this prime lens is your pick for the best of 2016 by casting your vote in the poll at the end of the slideshow.
Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM
The Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM continues 2016’s tradition of ‘bigger and better.’ It’s not quite the behemoth that is the Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art, but it’s close – and for good reason. Sony has said that it’s designed the G Master lenses, including the 85mm, to ‘last forever’ – they’re over-engineered when it comes to sharpness, and rely on optical corrections for characteristics like lateral chromatic aberration, as opposed to relying on software. The rounded aperture blades provide circular out-of-focus highlights even as you stop down, and the lens offers environmental sealing as well.
Are you an E-mount shooter that’s finally found your perfect portrait lens? Let us know by casting your vote for the Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM in the poll at the end of the slideshow.
Tamron SP 85mm F1.8 Di VC USD
Noticing a pattern yet? This is the third 85mm lens in a row in this category, but it does plenty to differentiate itself from its Sigma and Sony counterparts. First, yes, the Tamron does offer a slower maximum aperture. It makes up for that somewhat, though, by being the only stabilized 85mm prime lens on the market. It’s fully weather-sealed, something that is universal to Tamron’s SP line, and universally absent from Sigma’s Art line. It’s also the smallest of this year’s newly announced 85mm lenses, and impressively sharp wide-open.
Has Tamron’s 85mm F1.8 VC tempted you away from other first-and-third party lens options? Let us know by casting your vote for it in the poll at the end of the slideshow.
Tamron SP 90mm F2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro
Tamron has been making 90mm F2.8 macro lenses for decades, but its latest redesign is more than just slapping the same old optical formula into a shiny new design. They’ve added their trademark Vibration Compensation technology as well as increasing the speed of autofocus. A new fluorine coating on the front element will repel dust, water and fingerprints more effectively, and as with all members of Tamron’s revamped SP line, is fully dust-and-moisture sealed. Not everyone needs a macro lens, but the Tamron has also proven to be a solid portrait lens as well.
Did you update to the new SP Macro from an older Tamron model, or even a first-party macro lens? Let us know by casting your vote in the poll on the next slide.
Have your say
Canon EF-M 28mm F3.5 Macro
Fujifilm XF 23mm F2
Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm F4E
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 105mm F1.4E
Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 Pro
Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm F4 Pro
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm F1.4
Sigma 30mm F1.4 C
Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art
Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM
Tamron SP 85mm F1.8
Tamron SP 90mm F2.8
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