Product review: Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D Lens

January 2018 issue Tech

How wide is wide enough for you? If you love shooting with wide-angle lenses, the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D from Venus Optics is special. It gives an ultra-wide angle on either APS-C or full-frame format cameras. On a 24x36mm sensor at infinity it takes in a 122-degree diagonal (67.67x101.51 degree) field of view. Despite the short focal length, this is a rectilinear, not a fisheye, lens so it doesn’t have the extreme barrel distortion inherent in a fisheye. Plus it comes in mounts for Canon,... Continue Reading >

Camera lens review: Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC USD G2

November 2017 issue Tech

The new golden age of photography continues with an updated lens from Tamron. Packed with high-end glass, a fast and quiet autofocus system, second-generation vibration stabilization with three modes, and a solid mechanical feel, the SP 70-200mm f/2.8 lens Di USD VC G2 boasts one additional feature that’s immensely attractive: a highly competitive price.© Ellis Vener In this close-up you can see the extraordinary depth captured by the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. HOW IT... Continue Reading >

In praise of great glass: AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E

October 2017 issue Tech

If you use Nikon cameras and want to step up your portrait and events game, the AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E ED is right up your alley. It’s a superb short telephoto lens on an FX-series Nikon and a slightly longer telephoto on DX-format Nikons. Images made with this lens have crisp definition, and the autofocus is swift, sure, and nearly silent. Nikon users will be hard pressed to find a better lens for portraits or low-light photography.Nikon has a history of making fine 105mm lenses, but the... Continue Reading >

Better and better: AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens review

July 2017 issue Tech

When it comes to camera lenses, fast and accurate matter, but usability is key. Nikon’s new AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR zoom lens is better than its predecessor in both regards. Still, is it worth the investment to upgrade? I’ll highlight a number of features and changes to help you evaluate the improvements and decide whether upgrading lenses makes sense for you.Even though Nikon didn’t label this lens the VR III, it’s the third generation of the VR 70-200mm lens. At 7.9... Continue Reading >

Product review: Sirui filters prove analog still beats digital

June 2017 issue Tech

While digital methods have supplanted many analog techniques of the past, some things are still best left analog. One is the use of filters on a camera lens.There are digital filters designed to mimic analog polarizing and graduated neutral density filters, but they never quite get it right. And there’s no digital substitute for a protective UV-reducing filter or 10-stop neutral density (ND) filter. Sirui has a new product line of filters that includes a screw-in UV, circular polarizer, and... Continue Reading >

Product review: Sigma Sport camera lens is super glass

March 2017 issue Tech

Advances in the design of super-telephoto prime and zoom lenses mean that sports, wildlife, and bird photographers have never had a better selection of glass to choose from. Sigma Corp. released its 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports lens a year ago, and I was excited to receive it for review recently so I could compare its performance to that of the AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR and the AF-S Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II (“Big, Heavy, Awesome,” July 2015).Sigma Sports lenses are... Continue Reading >

One lens, two diaphrams

December 2016 issue Tech

Why would a lens have two diaphragms with one marked in f-stops and the other in T-stops? And what’s the difference?Whether it’s marked or not, every lens has a T-stop value. The formula used to calculate f-stop values is f-stop = focal length ÷ diameter. It treats the lens as a simple hollow tube and doesn’t account for the lens elements inside.A lens element’s shape and composition control the way it refracts and bends light, as do the groups in which elements are arranged, the... Continue Reading >

Velvety Smooth Trans Focus lens

December 2016 issue Tech

And now for something truly different: The Venus Optics Laowa 105mm f/2 Smooth Trans Focus Lens has two diaphragms, one marked in traditional f-stops and the other in T-stops. It differs from most modern lenses in its lack of mechanical and electrical connections between the camera body and lens, which means that not only is it manual focus, but the camera body and lens exchange no electronic information about aperture or focus distance settings. It even lacks automatic aperture return, the... Continue Reading >

New creative optics for mirrorless cameras

10.5.2016 Tech

Lensbaby has announced another new lens, the Trio 28, specifically designed for mirroless cameras to give the photographer three selective focus optics in one compact lens.By rotating a dial you can access Lensbaby’s most popular optical effects: Twist, Velvet, or Sweet. Twist gives you a large sharp central area of focus surrounded by twisty, swirling bokeh. Velvet has a sharp central area of focus with a delicate glow from edge-to-edge. Sweet creates a sharp central sweet spot of focus... Continue Reading >