The Fall Lens Scene: lenses are big-ticket, high-margin accessories that help build customer relationships, enhance your customer’s shooting experience and encourage repeat sales.
DSLRs and mirrorless system cameras continue to be the top choices among experienced and emerging enthusiasts and pros. That long-term trend and the increasing number of consumers that use photography as a means of personal expression have made lenses one of the most reliable niches in the imaging marketplace.
Camera makers and optical companies have responded by unleashing a barrage of innovative optics of all types. The glass is targeted mainly at serious enthusiasts and professionals who want to expand their creative horizons. Indeed, the pace of lenses coming onto the market has reached such a fever pitch that DIR is now running two Lens Scene articles every year to keep you up to speed!
In short, lenses are a key part of the creative process, putting a premium on high performance and distinctive imaging qualities and far less emphasis on price. The innovative lenses included here run the gamut from long-range, midrange, wide-angle, and fisheye zoom lenses to one spectacular ultrawide-angle prime and a macro.
Lenses are a high-value proposition for consumers. They never go out of style and retain their usefulness as shooters migrate to the next, more advanced camera body to take advantage of the latest technology.
We sure hope you enjoy reading about the 12 fascinating lenses we’ve selected. And we hope they inspire you to check out the myriad other optical options specifically aimed at your customer base. It’s no coincidence that most successful imaging retailers say lens sales are a top-tier priority in their business plans. There is simply no more steadfast revenue stream.
A Dozen High-Spec Lenses for the Fall Lens Scene
Sigma 24–70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM / Art
This constant-aperture, wide-to-moderate-telephoto zoom is for full-frame and APS-C-format cameras. It provides enhanced depth-of-field control in a very popular focal length range. Moreover, its built-in OS (optical image stabilizer) minimizes the effects of handheld shake. Its sophisticated optical design incorporates three SLD (special low dispersion) and four aspheric elements, with two aspheric elements to minimize chromatic aberration and field curvature. As a result, it delivers exceptional image quality over its entire range.
Also employed is Super Multilayer coating to reduce flare and ghosting. In addition, Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) components ensure stability at all temperatures. Other features include: a 1:4.8 maximum magnification ratio; a rounded, 9-blade diaphragm for artistic bokeh; a hypersonic motor (HSM) for fast, quiet autofocus (AF); dustproof/splashproof construction; and a solid brass bayonet mount. It covers a 36–105mm-equivalent range on APS-C-format cameras. In Nikon F (with electromagnetic aperture control), Canon EF and Sigma SA mounts, $1,299. sigmaphoto.com
Nikon AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8–15mm f/3.5–4.5E ED
This remarkable, full-frame (FX-format) fisheye zoom yields the classic circular fisheye coverage at its widest focal length. It gradually covers the full frame as it zooms to its longest focal length, affording maximum framing flexibility. To achieve outstanding image quality and crisp low-flare imaging over this ultrawide range, it incorporates three ED (extra-low dispersion) and two aspheric elements. Furthermore, it employs Nikon’s Nano Crystal and Super Integrated coatings to further reduce ghost and flare.
Other features include: an advanced silent wave motor AF system with full-time manual override; internal focusing; an electromagnetically controlled, 7-blade diaphragm; and a smudge-resistant, easy-to-clean fluorine coating on outer elements. Moreover, the lens provides a 12–22.5mm-equivalent range on DX-format DSLRs. $1,249.95. nikonusa.com
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12–100mm f/4 IS Pro
This ingenious, 24–200mm-equivalent telephoto lens for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras is a high-performing, universal zoom for critical shooters. In addition, its built-in 5-axis image stabilization (IS) system interfaces with the 5-axis stabilization system in the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II body to “calibrate and coordinate” for optimal performance. This combo is claimed to provide a 6.5-step anti-shake-effect advantage in handheld shooting—the highest in the industry.
The lens’s advanced optical design includes one double-sided aspheric element, three additional aspheric elements plus five ED lenses, two super HR (high refractive index) lenses and one HR lens to achieve outstanding optical correction and high image quality over its entire range.
It also has a 7-blade diaphragm for enhanced bokeh and a fast, precise MSC (movie & still compatible) AF system with manual override. With Z Coating Nano to reduce flare and ghosting, the lens is weatherproof for shooting in adverse conditions. $1,299.99. olympusamerica.com
Fujifilm XF50–140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR
This high-speed, constant aperture X-mount telephoto zoom provides a 76–213mm-equivalent focal length range on APS-C-format Fujifilm cameras. It has a built-in OIS system as well as internal zoom and focusing controls to maintain constant length and balance at all settings.
An advanced optical design incorporates one super ED and five ED elements to achieve uniformly high performance. Moreover Nano-GI (gradient index) and HT-EBC (high transmittance electron beam coating) finishes enhance light transmission and minimize flare and ghosting.
Other features include: a rounded, 7-blade diaphragm to achieve beautiful bokeh; weather-sealed construction; and a Tri-Linear motor AF system for fast precise, nearly silent AF in still or video applications. The lens includes a removable tripod collar for optimum balance when using a tripod. $1,599. fujifilmusa.com
Sony FE 12–24mm f/4 G
This outstanding, ultrawide-angle zoom for Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras covers full-frame and APS-C formats. It features a constant-aperture design incorporating one super ED, three ED and four aspheric elements to minimize aberrations and achieve excellent image quality over its entire range.
Sony’s Nano AR coating enhances light transmission and clarity and reduces flare. Furthermore, a direct drive sonic wave motor delivers fast, precise, quiet autofocus in still or video applications. Moreover, a focus hold button and AF/MF switch enhance shooting flexibility.
It also features a rounded, 7-blade diaphragm for smooth bokeh as well as dust- and moisture-resistant construction for shooting in challenging environments. Built to offer dynamic perspectives for landscape, architecture and interior photography, it provides 18–36mm-equivalent coverage on APS-C-format cameras. $1,699.99. sony.com
Panasonic Lumix G Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8–18mm f/2.8–4 Asph
This innovative, ultrawide-to-wide-angle zoom is for Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras. The compact lens provides 16–36mm-equivalent coverage along with enhanced depth-of-field control. Its advanced optical design incorporates one aspheric ED, one UHR (ultrahigh refractive index), two ED and three aspherical elements. Plus Nano Surface coating aids in achieving exceptional image quality and clarity at all settings.
Other features include: a rounded, 7-blade diaphragm for enhanced bokeh; aperture settings to f/22; splash-, dust- and freezeproof construction; and a 240-frames-per-sec AF drive for fast, smooth, quiet, precise autofocus in still or video applications. $1,099.99. panasonic.com
Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM
Compact and lightweight, this is the widest-angle macro offering in Canon’s EF-S lens series. Designed to help both entry-level and advanced shooters discover macro photography, it is capable of capturing subjects just over an inch away with crisp detail. Moreover, a GMo (glass molded) aspheric element delivers outstanding image quality across the frame.
The 56mm-equivalent lens for APS-C-format EOS DSLRs is also the first in the series to feature built-in “macro lites.” Photographers can arrange macro lighting without special equipment using the LED lights on each side of the lens. They can create compelling shadows on either side of a subject or adjust intensity to give images dimension.
Moreover, a hybrid IS system provides four stops of shake correction. The lens also employs smooth movie servo AF with a lead screw-type STM (stepping motor) for quiet operation. Also featured are full-time manual focus capability and a rounded, 7-blade aperture. $349.99. usa.canon.com
Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
This constant-aperture, wide-to-moderate-telephoto zoom works with full-frame and APS-C-format cameras. Its impressive optical formula incorporates two XR (extra refractive index), three LD, three GM (glass-molded aspherical) and one hybrid aspheric element to minimize chromatic aberrations as well as spherical aberrations and distortion.
The lens utilizes dual MPUs (micro processing units) with digital signal processor blocks that are engineered to achieve quicker, more precise AF. Moreover, Tamron’s VC (vibration compensation) system employs an MPU dedicated to processing with an algorithm developed for more consistently powerful VC during low-light shooting. As a result it achieves 5 stops of stabilization.
Other features include: eBand and BBAR coatings to minimize flare and increase light transmission; a fluorine coating for smudge resistance; an ultrasonic silent drive (USD) for fast, nearly noiseless AF; moisture resistance; and a rounded, 9-blade diaphragm. $1,199. tamron-usa.com
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM / Art
This exceptional, ultrahigh-speed ultrawide-angle prime lens for full-frame cameras incorporates three FLD (fluorite equivalent), four SLD and four aspheric elements. Plus, a large diameter, precision-molded glass front element offers outstanding correction and sharpness, and superb evenness of illumination across the imaging field.
The lens also benefits from Super Multilayer coating to suppress flare and ghosting as well as a fast, precise, quiet hypersonic AF motor with full-time manual focus override. Its rounded, 9-blade diaphragm enhances its already impressive bokeh and depth-of-field control. In addition, the barrel is made of TSC material to maintain high performance over a wide temperature range. And a solid brass lens mount ensures perfect alignment and durability.
Furthermore, the dust- and splashproof lens focuses down to 10.6 inches and provides a 21mm-equivalent focal length with APS-C-format cameras. In Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sigma SA mount, $1,599. sigmaphoto.com
Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70–300mm f/4.5–5.6E ED VR
Nikon’s impressive, full-frame (FX-format) field telephoto zoom stops down to f/32–40. It incorporates one ED element to enhance chromatic aberration correction, while Super Integrated coating enhances light transmission and clarity as well as minimizes flare.
Other key features include: built-in VR image stabilization rated for up to 4.5 stops of anti-shake protection; internal focus to maintain constant length and balance; as well as a fast, pulse-stepping motor AF system with anytime manual focus override.
The compact lens additionally has a precise, electronic auto-diaphragm system with a rounded, 9-blade diaphragm for beautiful bokeh. It also has dust- and moisture-resistant construction, so it can be used in challenging weather. From portraiture to nature photography, the lens provides a 105–450mm focal length range on DX-format DSLRs. $749.95. nikonusa.com
Sony FE 100–400mm f/4.5–5.6 GM OSS
This new G Master, full-frame, E-mount long telephoto zoom is relatively compact. It uses one super ED and two ED elements to deliver maximum resolution and sharpness with minimal aberrations. Moreover, the pro caliber glass uses a fast, precise direct drive supersonic motor AF system and Optical SteadyShot (OSS) technology for outstanding handheld performance.
In addition, it is the first lens to include a zoom torque adjuster that provides mechanical control of the zoom ring torque. It also has a focus range limiter to accommodate various shooting styles. Other features include: internal focus; antireflective Nano AR coating; a dirt- and fingerprint-resistant fluorine coating; as well as dust- and moisture-resistant construction. It also boasts a rounded, 9-blade diaphragm for artistic bokeh. While geared for sports and wildlife photos, the lens focuses down to 3.22 feet for an impressive 0.35x max magnification ratio. $2,499.99. sony.com
Tamron 18–400mm f/3.5–6.3 Di II VC HLD
This is the latest iteration in Tamron’s long-running series of extended-range, all-in-one zooms for APS-C-format cameras. The 22.2x ultra-telephoto zoom delivers an impressive 28.8–620mm-equivalent range. The perfect travel lens, it uses one molded glass aspherical element, three LD and a hybrid aspheric element to maintain high image quality. In addition, measuring just 4.8 inches, an all-new barrel design uses three cams for compactness and smooth extensions.
Tamron’s built-in VC system minimizes the effects of handheld camera shake. Also, a space-saving, high-low torque modulated drive (HLD) AF system delivers fast, responsive autofocus. Other features include: an electromagnetic diaphragm for precise exposures; a rounded, 7-blade diaphragm for artistic bokeh; a 1:2.9 max magnification ratio for tele-macro photography; and also all-weather construction. In Nikon F and Canon EF mounts, $649. tamron-usa.com