12 lenses of Christmas: October 2023 gave us a game-changing super-telephoto from Nikon

Nikon Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S
(Image credit: Nikon)

Well, that takes a weight off! Think 600mm super-telephoto prime lenses and you’re probably thinking of unwieldy beasts that have you literally crying out for a monopod. By sharp contrast (and it definitely has sharpness and contrast in spades), Nikon announced the Nikon Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S which thanks to Phase Fresnel optical elements and clever design, tips the scales at just 1,390g. Suffice it to say that handheld shooting is a breeze. Prefer a zoom? October also saw the announcement of a Nikon Z-mount edition of the Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD. It’s a quality lens that undercuts Nikon’s own-brand 180-600mm for price.

We were very much impressed when we reviewed the original Sony E-mount Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD, so the Nikon Z-mount edition came as good news. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Reining in the telephoto stretch to ‘’trinity’ proportions, there was also great news that the epic Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS Sports was going into production for Sony E-mount cameras. It’s a revamped and revitalized version of a lens that was originally designed for Canon and Nikon DSLRs, and one of our all-time favorite Sigma lenses.

Our only criticism of the original Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 Sports was that it was unusually heavy for its class, but the new ‘DN’ version sheds some weight. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

You might be thinking that October was the month of telephotos but there was exciting wide-angle news as well. Canon kicked things off with the Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS USM (also reviewed in October) billed as the world’s widest-angle rectilinear lens to feature autofocus. As an L-series lens bristling with features, it’s every bit as expensive as you might expect, but there were plenty of budget wide-angle options to hit the news. These included the even wider manual full-frame rectilinear 7Artisan 9mm F5.6 for Canon, Nikon, Sony and L-mount mirrorless cameras, the Viltrox AF 20mm F2.8 FE full-framer for Sony, the Laowa 8-16mm F3.5-5 Zoom CF zoom for a range of crop-sensor cameras.

For a full-frame compatible wide-angle prime, the Viltrox AF 20mm F2.8 FE is amazingly compact and lightweight, at just 157g, and supremely affordable. (Image credit: Viltrox)

In other news, a Canon patent application was unearthed for a motorized lens that could revolutionize handheld tilt & shift photography. Meanwhile, autofocus performance was ‘significantly’ improved in the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 Di III VXD and the Tamron 28-200mm F/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD, courtesy of a firmware update. And in really ‘new’ news, a brand new lens manufacturer by the name of Thypoch announced its first series of lenses, in Leica M-mount.

The first review of the month was of the spangly new Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM. We were impressed with its humungous field of views and overall performance. It’s undeniably pricey to buy, but still less expensive than the closest-matching EF predecessor for Canon DSLRs.

Making the most of Canon EOS R system full-frame bodies, the Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM boasts 5-stop optical image stabilization, rising to 6-stop effectiveness with cameras that feature IBIS.

In an utterly enjoyable revisit to medium format, we reviewed three Fujifilm GFX system lenses in October and loved them all. They comprised the Fujinon GF 20-35mm F4 R WR, Fujinon GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR and Fujinon GF 55mm F1.7 R WR.

The quality of all three Fujifilm medium format lenses on test proved exceptional. It’s hard to pick a favorite but if we had to choose just one, it would be the 55mm with its sublime bokeh. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Bringing up the rear, at least in October’s timeline of reviews, we were pretty impressed with the Samyang AF 35-150mm F2-2.8 full-frame zoom for Sony mirrorless cameras. It’s a versatile lens that’s well suited to wedding and event photography.

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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.