Would anyone have believed, at the start of 2020, that there would be quite so many new lenses? They are not just from the big brands like Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic and Fujifilm, but from independent makers who, on the number of new lenses alone, are going from strength to strength.
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Sigma is extending its support for the growing L-mount systems from Panasonic, Leica and Sigma itself, while adding heavy support for Sony E-mount cameras – and may soon be producing Canon RF lenses, we hear.
Tamron has been busy too, especially with the Sony E-mount, where it's been steadily releasing good value, high-spec 'VXD' lenses alongside its compact and affordable 20mm, 24mm and 35mm f/2.8 primes.
As for Chinese lens maker Laowa – well, it's been hard to keep up. Laowa has a history of producing decent macro lenses, mind-bogglingly small ultra-wide primes, and we can't wait to try its new 15mm full frame shift lens.
Samyang continues to turn out new lenses, or new variants on old favorites, more and more of which have autofocus, while smaller makers like Viltrox, Pergear and Meike are challenging our ideas of affordability and, perhaps, making photography fun and experimental all over again.
We start our October recap with a leaked Canon 2021 RF lens roadmap (opens in new tab). Many makers now use roadmaps to tell consumers what they are going to make next, so it's a logical progression from leaked product launches to leaded roadmaps! This leak suggested the following lenses might arrive in 2021: Canon TS-R 14mm f/4L and Canon TS-R 24mm f/3.5L, the first Canon tilt-shift lenses for the RF mount, eight telephotos including a Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, Canon RF 135mm f/1.4L USM, Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-7.1 IS USM, Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM, Canon RF 500mm f/4L IS USM, Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM, Canon RF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM and Canon RF 1200mm f/8L IS USM, and finally, four wideangle lenses – a Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro, Canon RF 35mm f/1.2L USM, Canon RF 10-24mm f/4L USM and Canon RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM. It looks like 2021 could be even busier than 2020!
We didn't stop there. We also had rumor stories to two new professional RF super-telephoto lenses (opens in new tab) in 2021 (Canon RF 300mm f/2.8L and, possibly, Canon RF 500mm f/4L or even f/2.8L), a new Canon RF 35mm f/1.2L (opens in new tab), perhaps with a Focus Desmoothing variant, and even a Canon RF 8-15mm f/4 Fisheye (opens in new tab).
Fujifilm, meanwhile, released its own X-mount lens roadmap (opens in new tab), this time an official one. This included an interesting looking Fujinon XF 18mm F1.4 (available 2021) and a Fujinon XF 70-300mm F4-5.6 OIS telephoto zoom (also available in 2021).
More immediately interesting was the announcement of the new Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS WR (opens in new tab). This is a weather-resistant version of the existing 10-24mm lens, with a slimmer profile and improved image stabilisation. It's way cheaper and lighter than the pro 8-16mm f/2.8 lens, and has OIS.
Not to be outdone, Nikon brought out its own Nikon Z lens roadmap, and this has some interesting information on new 400mm and 600mm supertelephoto primes (opens in new tab), which we assume are aimed at getting the Z series a foothold in the pro sports/wildlife market. There will also be another 85mm prime, but there are no details at this point. Never mind, though, because we do get the existing Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S (opens in new tab) in for review this month.
And then we had a deluge of Samyang lenses in for review. Samyang is a very interesting player in the independent lens market now, though its mix of manual and AF lenses is starting to get a little confusing. This month we review the Samyang MF 14mm f/2.8 RF for Nikon Z (opens in new tab), the MF 85mm f/1.4 RF for Nikon Z (opens in new tab), the Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 (opens in new tab) and AF 14mm f/2.8 (opens in new tab) for Canon and Nikon DSLRs and – at last – we got hold of the elusive and amazing Samyang XP 10mm f/3.5 (opens in new tab) for Canon DSLRs only.
On the Sony front, we did get wind of a possible new Sony 16mm f/1.8 GM (opens in new tab) prime lens, and we got a Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD (opens in new tab) in for review. The Tamron lens is a much cheaper alternative to the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master, and is another lens in Tamron's expanding line of Sony-fit RXD lenses.
We did one more lens review this month – the very interesting Panasonic LUMIX S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 (opens in new tab) standard zoom we remarked upon earlier in the year. This is a standard zoom that goes where other standard zooms don't – not longer, but wider.
Finishing off the lens news for October, TTartisan releases an APS-C mirrorless 35mm f/1.4 (opens in new tab) for just $73, there's a new Lensbaby Spark 2.0 which adds an adjustable aperture and other enhancements to this squeeze-action tilt-shift lens, and Irix adds four Canon RF, Nikon Z and L-mount lenses (opens in new tab) to its cinema lens line-up.
Lens reviews in October 2020
• Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S review (opens in new tab)
• Panasonic LUMIX S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 review (opens in new tab)
• Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD (opens in new tab)
• Samyang MF 14mm f/2.8 RF / Z review (opens in new tab)
• Samyang MF 85mm f/1.4 RF / Z review (opens in new tab)
• Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 review (opens in new tab)
• Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 review (opens in new tab)
• Samyang XP 10mm f/3.5 review (opens in new tab)
This time, we are NOT going to start with more Canon RF lens stories (but don't worry, they're coming...). Instead, let's start with Sony, because this month we reviewed four full frame Sony FE lenses – though only one of them actually comes from Sony.
Let's kick off with our Sony FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 review (opens in new tab). This is the kit lens for the new Sony A7C but will also be sold separately, and it's a very interesting proposition for other Sony A7 bodies because it's so small. It does have a restricted 2.1x zoom range, but it has a retracting mechanism which really saves on space. People have raved over the size of the Sony A7C, but in reality it's this lens that makes it small. Put this lens on an regular A7 body, and that becomes small too!
Tamron continues to build up its Sony FE lens range, and this month we review the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD (opens in new tab). Superzoom lenses aren't usually very good optically, but this one surprised us. It's an effective and versatile 'do it all' lens that's also weather resistant – though there's no image stabiliser, so you have to rely on the camera body's IBIS.
Sigma sent us a sample of its new Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art (opens in new tab) lens, and we weren't disappointed. Both its handling and its optical quality proved superb. We also got the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.8 FE (opens in new tab) in for review. This is a very interesting lens that offers a faster aperture, autofocus and a very affordable price. It's not as compact as the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, but it's a LOT cheaper.
OK, so back to Canon, and the revelation that the Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L (opens in new tab), first rumored earlier in the year, is now official, and the shortest and lightest 70-200mm f/4 in the world. At 119mm long when retracted, it's no bigger than a coke can!
Canon also announced the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM (opens in new tab) which was the subject of rumors earlier in the year. It's so compact, and so cheap, that it's almost a must-have buy for any EOS RP owner.
Back in the murky depths of patent applications, we hear there may be new Canon RF 15-35mm f/4L and RF 16-35mm f/4L (opens in new tab) lenses in the pipeline. These sound like affordable alternatives for enthusiasts, though the specs are so close this could yet prove to be just a single lens. Other patent gossip includes a Canon RF 24-70mm F4-6.3 or RF 20-70mm F4-6.3 (opens in new tab) retracting standard zoom and a Canon RF 400mm f/8 (opens in new tab), inspired by the previous 600mm f/11 and 800mm f/11 lenses.
We also brought you some concrete fact in November, with our Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM review (opens in new tab). This is a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty lens. It's not fast for a portrait lens and it doesn't offer true 1:1 macro capability. On the other hand, it's a really affordable and portable portrait lens that doubles up as a close up lens for food, jewellery and other details – the perfect lens for wedding and event photography, perhaps?
Just to remind us that other brands exist besides Sony and Canon, Panasonic announced the first of four new fast full-frame primes for its Lumix S system. The Pansonic Lumix S 85mm f/1.8 (opens in new tab) is only an f/1.8, not an f/1.4, but it looks pretty reasonably priced, and will be joined by 24mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses sharing the same look and feel and size, and the same f/1.8 maximum aperture.
Even more exciting than that, we get to review the Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S (opens in new tab). It is, of course, stunning. But it's also massive, so we can't help wondering whether most folk might not be happier with the smaller and lighter 14-30mm f/4. lens.
Wider still is Laowa's latest optical bombshell, the Laowa 15mm f/4.5 Zero-D Shift (opens in new tab) perspective control lens. Not only is it insanely wide for a full frame shift lens, its image circle is large enough to work on medium format cameras too (albeit with slighly less shift movement). Amazing.
A new and improved version of the Tokina 17-35mm f/4 ATX-i (opens in new tab) ultra-wide zoom for Canon and Nikon DSLRs is due to arrive in December, and Voigtländer claims to have produced the worth's fastest production lens with the Super Nokton 29mm f/0.8 Aspherical (opens in new tab) for Micro Four Thirds cameras.
Last but not least, there's a new Pergear 12mm f/2 (opens in new tab) APS-C mirrorless lens which will sell for just $165, and we review the Lensbaby Spark 2.0 (opens in new tab).
Lens reviews in November 2020
• Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM review (opens in new tab)
• Lensbaby Spark 2.0 review (opens in new tab)
• Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S review (opens in new tab)
• Samyang AF 35mm f/1.8 FE review (opens in new tab)
• Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art review (opens in new tab)
• Sony FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 review (opens in new tab)
• Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD review (opens in new tab)
Christmas is nearly here and we're still writing our guide to all the lenses released in 2020. BUT THAT'S FINE. It just means we may not cover the last few days up until the end of December, assuming anyone is mad enough to launch any lenses at this time (Laowa, we are looking at you).
But first, bad news. The pint-sized Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L is delayed until March 2021 (opens in new tab). This is the lens we compared to a can of coke (in size, not in any other way). There is some good news, as Canon patents three new RF f/2.8 zoom lenses (opens in new tab). They are a Canon RF 35-135mm f/2.8, a Canon RF 40-150mm f/2.8 and a Canon RF 30-110mm f/2.8, so, suspicious as always, we suspect these might just be three possible candidates for a single lens. We also hear that Sigma might soon start producing RF lenses (opens in new tab), and we wax lyrical about the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 and what it means for the entire EOS system (opens in new tab). And we ought to know, because we got one in for testing, so you can also read our Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM review (opens in new tab).
Canon caused quite a stir with its f/1.2 RF prime lenses, of course, but now Nikon has jumped in with its own super-fast primes – and we were very pleased indeed to get a Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S in for review (opens in new tab). Is it any good? Of course it is! But how in heck does a 50mm lens get to be 150mm long and weigh over 1kg?
Talking of big lenses, we now hear that the Fujinon GF 80mm f/1.7 medium format lens (opens in new tab) will now arrive in early 2021, and just to clarify, this is an INSANE maximum aperture for a medium format lens. Normally, it's f/4 on a good day and f/2.8 is the exception.
Laowa had two more lens reveals in December, including the full frame (we think) Laowa Argus 35mm f/0.95 (opens in new tab), one of a new, super-fast Argus line, and a new Laowa 10mm f/2 Zero-D MFT lens (opens in new tab) for Olympus and Panasonic Lumix G cameras.
And just to close out the year, we've got news from lens maker Viltrox which, like Samyang, Laowa and others, offers affordable alternatives to own-brand lenses. First up is a trio of fast f/1.4 primes for Canon EF-M and Sony E mount APS-C cameras. These are the Viltrox 56mm f/1.4, 33mm f/1.4, and 23mm f/1.4 autofocus primes (opens in new tab) already introduced to the Fujifilm X system.
That's not all. We're also expecting the Viltrox AF 24mm f/1.8 FE, Viltrox AF 35mm f/1.8 FE and Viltrox AF 50mm f/1.8 (opens in new tab) for the Sony FE full frame mount to arrive on Christmas Day, no less, to be followed soon by a new Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 lens for Nikon Z (opens in new tab).
That's quite a way to end what has been a very busy year for lenses, but from the look of all the rumors, roadmaps and development announcements, 2021 will be bigger still. Happy New Year!