12 lenses of Christmas: March 2023 was a third-party frenzy, with some Canon and Nikon home runs

Yongnuo 12-35mm f/2.8-4
(Image credit: Yongnuo)

Chinese manufacturer Yongnuo had been hitting headlines with its high-performance yet reasonably priced prime lenses for full-frame cameras. The Yongnuo YN12-35mm F/2.8-4 MFT AutoFocus landed on our news desk in March, packing aspherical, low dispersion, and high refractive index glass elements along with Nano Surface Coatings into a conveniently compact and lightweight package, at a very competitive price point.

The Yongnuo YN12-35mm F/2.8-4 MFT AutoFocus lens is an attractive option for MFT shooters, giving a classic effective zoom range of 24-70mm range in full-frame terms. (Image credit: Yongnuo)

And speaking of standard zooms, Canon hinted that it might be serving up yet another option for EOS R system users, in a world-first RF 24-105mm F2.8 lens. There were also rumours of two new Tilt & Shift lenses, namely the Canon TS-R 14mm f/4L and the Canon TS-R 24mm f/3.5L.

In the wide-angle camp, we brought news of two Venus Optics Laowa announcements. First up was the Laowa 28mm F1.2 for full-frame cameras, followed by an additional Leica M-mount version of the Laowa 15mm F2 Zero-D.

Tempting in quality, performance and competitive price, the Laowa 15mm F2 Zero-D has a bright aperture for a wide-angle lens and features a de-click switch for stepless aperture control during movie capture. (Image credit: Laowa)

March was a busy month in our lab, as we tested and reviewed a veritable barrage of lenses. The latest offerings included the dinky little Nikon Z 26mm f/2.8 – a true pancake lens that’s less than an inch thick, and a hands-on review of the much larger Canon RF 135mm F1.8L IS USM, a practically perfect portrait lens.

Not just for portraiture, the Canon RF 135mm works well for wide-ranging subjects including weddings, events, sports and wildlife. (Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

We were less impressed by the trio of Tokina SZ 300mmPRO Reflex F7.1 MF CF, Tokina SZ 600mmPRO Reflex F8 MF CF and Tokina SZ 900mmPRO Reflex F11 MF CF Reflex (or mirror) lenses. Sure they pack big telephoto reach into relatively small builds but image quality proved to be unsatisfying.

For a bit of nostalgia, we ran a review of the veteran Fujifilm Fujinon XF14mm F2.8 R and Fujifilm Fujinon XF55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lenses. Over in the Pentax camp, we tested the HD Pentax-DA Fisheye 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 ED, Pentax DA★ 55mm F1.4 SDM and HD Pentax-DA 70mm F2.4 Limited lenses.

Fisheye lenses are common enough, but a fisheye zoom like the HD Pentax-DA Fisheye 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 ED is actually quite rare. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

In a money-no-object moment, we reviewed the Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2 and found it to be a real gem. We also tested the more reasonably priced Lensbaby Double Glass II Optic, as reported in our previous month’s news.

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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.