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Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G review: small and mighty?
12:34 pm | May 3, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G: two-minute review

Cameras are getting smaller, but lenses – especially zoom lenses – appear to be getting bigger. It’s normal now to be shooting with a mirrorless camera with a compact body but a big, hefty standard zoom that makes it feel front-heavy and unbalanced. 

Sony, however, has started turning its attention to more compact lens designs, refusing to compromise on performance but instead sacrificing a little focal length or zoom range in exchange for smaller, lighter and perhaps cheaper optics.

The Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G is smaller than most ultra-wide zooms, especially those with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G is an excellent example. It has the same constant f/2.8 maximum aperture as Sony’s flagship FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master II lens, but in a smaller, lighter design that’s also little more than half the price. It doesn’t have that premium G Master label, but Sony’s regular ‘G’ lenses are now so advanced, both optically, physically and in AF technology, that it’s getting increasingly hard to see a difference.

The one compromise in the FE 16-25mm F2.8 G is its focal range. Most lenses in this category are 16-35mm zooms, but this lens stops at a maximum focal length of 25mm. It covers the same ultra-wide angles of view, but is less versatile if you need a more general semi-wide angle of view.

The Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G does have a limited zoom range, but does its size make up for that? (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Does this matter? On paper it gives the FE 16-25mm F2.8 G an almost laughably limited 1.6x zoom range, but in practice that may be all you need in an ultra-wide zoom. Whether it's landscapes, architecture or interiors, you're very often going to be shooting in this narrow focal range. If you’re also carrying a regular 24-70mm, 24-105mm or Sony’s new FE 24-50mm f/2.8 G lens, it just means you’ll swap to your standard zoom sooner. You’ll get the same overall focal range from a wide/standard lens combination, just with less overlap in focal lengths.

So is the size saving worth losing that extra focal range. Sort of. The FE 16-25mm F2.8 G is certainly smaller and lighter than a regular 16-35mm f/2.8 lens, but it’s still not exactly small. I tested it on a Sony A7C II, and it still felt pretty big on that. It would balance nicely on a regular A7 body, though.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G: price and release date

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

At the time of writing, the Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G is on pre-order, but with supplies expected around May 10th – so by the time you’re reading this, it’s probably available amongst the major resellers. The US price is around $1,198, in the UK it’s £1,249, while in Australia it's AU$2,189. You wouldn’t call it a cheap lens, but it’s way cheaper than Sony’s other constant f/2.8 ultra-wide G Master zooms. 

It looks very good value for an own-brand lens with a sophisticated optical construction, fast and silent dual linear AF motors and excellent external controls. It’s also weather-sealed with a fluorine-coated front element to repel oil, grease and water.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G: design

Sony certainly hasn’t stinted on build quality and controls. This lens uses ‘engineering plastics’ to keep the weight down, but there’s no harm in that and the finish is excellent. The aperture control ring is first rate too, with firm and positive clicks between each 1/3 aperture setting and an extra firm detent at f/22 to switch it to auto aperture control. 

If you’re shooting video and changing aperture/iris settings while filming, you can use a Click On/Off switch on the underside to enable stepless silent aperture adjustment.

The aperture ring has firm 1/3-stop clicks and can be 'declicked' for silent, stepless iris control while filming. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Focusing is so fast as to be practically instantaneous, and silent too. This is where you’re likely to notice most difference between Sony’s newer own-brand lenses and cheaper third-party alternatives. There’s a slightly stiff AF/MF switch on the barrel, and in manual focus mode the focus ring at the front of the lens feels a fraction light but offers progressive and accurate focus control.

This lens is compatible with Sony’s focus breathing compensation mode, depending on the camera you’re using. The focus breathing doesn’t seem particularly strong, though objects do appear to grow somewhat smaller as they go out of focus. 

There’s one other external feature worth highlighting – the FE 16-25mm F2.8 G has a very compact front element that doesn’t protrude, so it’s perfectly possible to attach regular filters and it has a pretty common 67mm filter thread, so you may not have to buy any outsize filters just for this lens.

The compact design includes a modestly-sized front element and takes 67mm filters. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Focusing is full internal, and while there is a change in the length as you zoom from one end of the range to the other, it’s only a few millimeters, so if you’re balancing a gimbal you probably only need to do it once and not keep changing it for different zoom settings.

The limitations of this lens's focal range are obvious, but its build quality, handling, features and performance are a pleasant surprise, and it certainly feels as if you're getting your money's worth.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G: sample images

As a walkaround lens, the Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G is pretty good, especially in tight spaces or for subjects crowded closely together. At 25mm, it has the same perspective and angle of view of a smartphone's main camera. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

At the 16mm minimum focal length, this lens's short minimum focus distance means you can get in really close for some strong perspective effects. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The longest focal length is 25mm, which is still fairly wide, but you can get more natural looking perspectives as well as good close-up shots. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G

The advantage of an ultra-wide zoom like this is that you can get in front of obstacles and spectators that would otherwise be in the way, and still get the whole of your subject in the frame. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The difference between 16mm (top) and 25mm (above) is not great, but enough to give you some shooting flexibility and perspective control indoors. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The background bokeh is not bad, but highlights are distinctly polygonal rather round – but then you don't get a lens like this for the bokeh. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The close-focusing capability of this lens is pretty remarkable, right across the zoom range. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Distortion correction is applied automatically in camera to JPEGs, and there's not a hint of corner shading either. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

At 16mm, the FE 16-25mm F2.8 G delivers really good center and edge sharpness even at f/2.8. The extreme corners are softer, though, right through the aperture range. Bear in mind that a close-up test like this is extra tough on wide-angle lenses because they are very close to a flat surface. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

This is what the previous test shot looks like without digital corrections. You can see there's strong barrel distortion at the 16mm end of the zoom range. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Here's a test shot taken at 25mm. The performance is even better, with sharp details right to the edges and quite good corner definition too, especially at f/8 and smaller apertures. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Here's an uncorrected version of our 25mm test shot. There is some barrel distortion but much less than at 16mm.  (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Should I buy the Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G?

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The weather was not kind during testing, so I mixed indoor and outdoor shots. The indoor shots were good for checking angles, of view, distortion and close focusing capability, while the outdoor shots were at a motorcycle meet that tested the practicality of this 16-25mm zoom range for this kind of walkaround shooting. I also did a brick wall test at both ends of the zoom range to check for optical quality across the aperture range.

I also paid attention to the autofocus performance, both for speed and silence, to see how effective Sony’s dual linear motor setup actually is, and I paid particular attention to the feel and operation of the external controls, as these are a significant selling point for this lens.

I also wanted to find out how the Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G handled on the smaller A7C series body (OK, as it happens), whether it was especially nose-heavy on a tripod and how easy it was to balance on a gimbal. My Ronin SC had a long enough camera plate and fore-aft adjustment to cope easily, and the very small lens extension when zooming meant no rebalancing was necessary.

  • First reviewed May 2024
Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR review: your one travel lens
2:10 pm | May 1, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR: Two-minute review

As photographers and videographers, sometimes we just want to pack one lens that can do it all, but this comes with a few drawbacks. Typically, the broader the focal range and faster the maximum aperture, the bigger, heavier and ultimately more expensive the lens. The good news for Nikon shooters is that the Nikkor Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens – which the manufacturer refers to as its ‘superzoom’ – is the lightest full-frame lens in its maker’s line-up while offering a maximum focal length of 400mm. As well as being useful for bringing the faraway closer, the telephoto end is also well suited to portraiture, for when we want to attractively throw the background out of focus and achieve attractive bokeh, while keeping our subject pin-sharp. 

With a minimum focus distance of 0.2m at its widest setting allowing for reasonable close-ups of flora and fauna, and a still-useful 1.2m at the telephoto end, those shooting handheld in more demanding lighting conditions are aided by Nikon’s built-in Vibration Reduction image stabilization, here providing equivalent to up to five stops. This is boosted to 5.5 stops when the lens is used with a Nikon camera, such as the Z f, that has a Synchro VR feature. This allows for image-stabilized camera bodies and image-stabilized lenses to work in tandem – an automatic process if the user has already activated it, the result being less pronounced blur caused by camera shake. For the record, other Nikon camera bodies with this feature aside from the Z f include its flagship Z 8 and Z 9 mirrorless models.

Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR specs

Type: Zoom
Sensor: Full-frame
Focal length: 28-400mm
Max aperture: f/4-8
Minimum focus: 7.88in / 0.2 m at 28 mm and 47.2in / 1.2 m at 400 mm
Filter size: 77mm
Dimensions: 3.4 x 5.6in / 84.5 x 141.5 mm
Weight: 25.5oz / 725g

At its widest 28mm setting this lens also proves perfectly suited for landscape and travel photography – it’s wide, without being so wide as to cause fisheye or barrel-like distortion – while nudge a bit further up the zoom range and it’s great for street photography and people watching. In short, yes, this is a single lens that can do it all.

It’s a contender for one of the best Nikon Z lenses, and of course you’ll need one of the best mirrorless cameras from Nikon to pair it with. I used the impressive retro-styled Nikon Z f for the duration of my test, which felt like something of a perfect marriage, in that the camera body and lens are almost identical in weight, so the combination doesn’t feel too ‘front-heavy’ in the hand.

Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens on a concrete surface

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)

Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR: price and availability

  • Costs $1,299.95 / £1,399 / AU$2,199
  • Available to buy now
  • Lens hood is supplied

The Nikkor Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR was announced on March 26 2024, and costs $1,299.95 / £1,399 / AU$2,199

While it’s not a cheap lens, having spent some time shooting with it the price feels fair (and it’s much better value for Nikon users in the US than in the UK).  That’s not just because of build quality and performance, but because it’s basically capable of replacing a whole bag full of prime lenses that would otherwise be necessary to cover anything approaching the broad focal range on offer here. 

On top of that, most of us don’t want to kart a lens the size and weight of a dedicated 400mm around with us for day-to-day shooting, on the off-chance that we might actually need it – even if Nikon claims its Nikkor Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S is the lightest lens in its class at 2.75lb / 1,245g. Similarly, at the other end of the scale, a 28mm focal length might not be quite what we always have in mind for the treatment of a particular subject.

A possible alternative to the Nikkor Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR is the Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR if you’re after a catch-all zoom for this specific mount. It starts out wider and only has half the reach of the 28-400mm, but it’s also less expensive at around $899.95 / £899 / AU$1,599.

Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens on a concrete surface

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)

Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR: design

  • 14.2x optical zoom
  • Extending barrel
  • Rubber-sealed and weather resistant

We get the equivalent of a generous 14.2x optical zoom, with common focal distances/framing options marked in millimeters at regular intervals on the barrel itself. Just behind these sits a control ring with a rougher feel and which is assigned to manual focus by default, although it can be assigned to adjust aperture, exposure compensation, or ISO. When set to manual focus, twisting the ring will momentarily override autofocus. 

The focus markings on the lens barrel start out at the maximum 28mm, progressing through 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 105mm, 200mm and 300mm before arriving at 400mm. At this point the almost comically fully extended lens barrel resembles a child’s kaleidoscope, and not just the look but also the feel of this lens reminded me of a ‘super-zoom’ bridge camera like the Nikon Coolpix P1000. The lens’s ridged rubberized surface enables a nice firm grip when holding or rotating the barrel to cycle through its broad focal range.

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Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens on a concrete surface

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens on a concrete surface

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)

The design of the Nikkor Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR is further practical in offering a degree of weather resistance, with Nikon helpfully providing sealing around the mount and its moving parts. I was testing the camera in the UK in April, a month that’s prone to sudden rain showers, and while I made sure that neither the lens nor the camera got too wet, a light drizzle didn’t stop me from continuing to shoot.

A lens hood is included to prevent instances of possible flare in brighter conditions, and this can be ‘worn’ in reverse/inverted on the lens for easier transportation without affecting lens use. There’s also a lens lock to prevent the barrel from being accidentally nudged and extending as you’re walking around with it, although I didn’t often feel the need to engage this.

Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR: Performance

  • Only 1.6lbs / 725g
  • Balances well with Nikon's smaller Z-mount cameras
  • Speedy autofocus

This lens is as much about portability and practicality as it is about performance, and Nikon has attempted to balance these attributes without too much obvious compromise. A good start is that the lens weighs a manageable 1.6lb / 725g, which makes it fairly evenly balanced when twinned with a body such as the 1.57lb / 710g Nikon Z f I tested it on. The pairing makes for a very solid and sturdy combination that gave me confidence from the off. I carried the camera with lens affixed around for the day without experiencing neck or shoulder ache, although it’s probably at the limit of what I’d feel comfortable traveling with or taking on holiday.

The beauty of this lens’s multi-purpose nature is that if you suddenly come across practically any image opportunity when out and about, you have the tool in your hands to be able to capture that image. Autofocus is both rapid and accurate, and unless there’s busy foreground detail getting in the way you have a high likelihood of achieving the shot you want, which is worth its weight in gold, creatively.

Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens on a concrete surface

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)

While to my eye results at maximum telephoto weren’t always quite as razor-sharp as from a dedicated 400mm prime lens married to a full frame sensor – and I occasionally got some slight image blur at maximum telephoto when shooting handheld – that’s to be expected. On the whole, I was more than satisfied, and I reckon that all but the most demanding of enthusiasts and amateurs will find detail both plentiful and sufficient for their needs.

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Historic building taken with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's telephoto setting

Wideangle 28mm setting (Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Telephoto image of a statue with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's telephoto setting

400mm telephoto setting (Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Wideangle photo of historic building with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's wide setting

Wideangle 28mm setting (Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Telephoto image of historic building with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's telephoto setting

400mm telephoto setting (Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)

Generally speaking, images are consistently sharp across the frame, whether shooting at maximum wide-angle, extreme telephoto, or pretty much any point in between. Where I occasionally got a softer frame, this was often down to the fact that I was shooting handheld, and simply reframing an image and trying again with my palm wide open and supporting the lens barrel yielded a sharper result. Throughout my test period I kept Vibration Reduction active.

While a lot of zoom lenses have photographers wishing for just that bit more poke at the telephoto end to get them that bit closer, I found the Nikkor’s 400mm maximum setting useful and versatile. For those who prefer shooting with autofocus, I’m pleased to report that the lens’s stepping motor is as quiet as Nikon claims – imperceptibly quiet in fact. I was able to take several shots of a nearby robin perching on a tree branch at eye-level without startling it.

Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR: sample images

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Bird on lake with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's telephoto setting

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Bird on lake with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's telephoto setting

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Bird on lake with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's telephoto setting

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Bird on lake with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's telephoto setting

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Dog with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's telephoto setting

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Horse by a fence with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's wideangle setting

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Large tree in front of historic building

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Closeup of the eye of a horse with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's telephoto setting

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Robin on a branch taken with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens's telephoto setting

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)
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Jars of sweets taken with the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR lens

(Image credit: Future | Gavin Stoker)

Should I buy the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR

  • A mixture of landscape, wildlife and portrait photography
  • Used in changeable weather

Nikon pitching the Nikkor Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR as a jack-of-all trades option, I tested it in a variety of shooting scenarios, and the lens generally proved to be a capable performer. Landscapes, wildlife, portraits – we shot them all, with consistently pleasing results. I was ‘blessed’ with changeable weather conditions during my testing period, allowing me to put it through its paces in less than ideal light, and it coped ably with a variety of conditions.

Nikon Z 40mm f/2 review: this cheap, modern ‘nifty forty’ has been my every day lens for over a year and it hasn’t let me down
10:00 am | April 23, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Nikon's Nikkor Z 40mm f/2 is one of two lightweight, inexpensive prime lenses for the Z-mount - the other being the wider 28mm f/2.8. 

At 40mm, it’s currently the closest match to the ‘nifty fifty’ lenses of old, aiming to provide a lightweight lens with a compact footprint, flexible focal length, and a relatively fast aperture. Above all, it’s cheap - really cheap for a proprietary lens sitting at just £259 / $289 /AU$310 new. Compared to the Nikon S 50mm f/1.8 or the S 35mm f/1.8, the 40mm comes in at under half the price while still offering some form of weather sealing and excellent performance.

Optically, this lens has a few idiosyncrasies - namely corner sharpness and coma - but the 40mm is innately usable in a wide range of situations. It’s wide enough for some landscapes and close enough for most portraits. Personally, I find the 40mm focal length more usable than 50mm for a walkabout lens - and f/2 is plenty outside of extreme situations.

Nikon Z 40mm f/2 specs

Type: Prime
Sensor: Full-frame
Focal length: 40mm (60mm APS-C)
Max aperture: f/2
Minimum focus: 11.8in / 30cm
Filter size: 52mm
Dimensions: 2.8 x 1.8in / 70 x 45.5mm
Weight: 6oz / 170g

I tested on a full-frame Nikon Z6 but the lens is also compatible with the 'DX' APS-C Nikon Z-mount cameras. In this case, the focal length becomes 60mm. It’s getting into portrait lens territory for APS-C here although it would also be a good choice for a shy street photographer who wants some distance from their subject.

Nikon Z 40mm f/2: design

The Nikon Z 40mm f/2 features an entirely plastic build that feels well engineered and deceptively robust in the hand. Overall, it’s a solid and well put together lens but the plastic thread and mount do cheapen the overall feel somewhat. You’re never tricked into thinking this is a premium lens, even though its output is excellent. 

The Nikon Z 40mm f/2 is, however, extremely light - weighing just 6oz / 170g. Pairing this lens up with my Nikon Z6 results in a package that weighs just over 21oz / 600g, which rivals crop sensor setups for sheer portability. While I’d never call this pairing ‘pocketable’, it’s a featherweight combination for a full-frame system and perfect for every day shooting.

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Nikon Nikkor Z 40mm F/2

(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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Nikon Nikkor Z 40mm F/2

(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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Nikon Nikkor Z 40mm F/2

(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)

And, I have to say - the 40mm pairs nicely with the Z6’s relatively minimalist, being workmanlike in its design since there are no external AF switches, custom control rings, or any other kind of outward flare to speak of. I'd say it looks decent enough on one of Nikon’s more modern bodies. Is it boring? Maybe, but it doesn't look out of place. 

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Nikon Nikkor Z 40mm F/2

(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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Nikon Nikkor Z 40mm F/2

(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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Nikon Nikkor Z 40mm F/2

(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)

It’s worth noting here that the Nikon Z 40mm f/2 comes in two variations - the standard version that I tested and a more retro-themed ‘SE’ variant. If you're looking for a prime to pair up with the much more old-school-looking Nikon Zf or Nikon Zfc then you'll want to make sure you're checking out the SE for maximum retro effect.

Neither variant ships with a first-party lens hood but both are dust and drip-resistant, which is a major selling point for a lens this inexpensive. In recent years, third-party manufacturers (most notably Viltrox) have started to offer compelling budget alternatives to entry-level first-party lenses but weather sealing is one area where most are severely lacking. And, I can personally attest that the splash resistance of this lens is fantastic - having been soaked from head to toe on Dartmoor during field testing.

Nikon Z 40mm f/2: performance

Thanks to built-in lens corrections on Z-mount bodies, you'll get extremely good results out of camera with the 40mm. For the price, the lens is impressively sharp even at f/2 and exhibits minimal chromatic aberration or vignetting. Flare is also controlled - despite this lens likely not featuring Nikon’s higher-end coatings. 

I’ve shot thousands of images with the 40mm and I’ve come to appreciate how it renders a scene. I've read some describe this lens as 'classic' in character and while its sharpness is certainly more akin to a modern lens, colors certainly do pop under the right circumstances. Bokeh-wise, the 40mm is also relatively circular/puffy in the center but becomes less bloomier and more defined around the edges. 

As with most lenses, the sharpness sweet spot for the 40mm is around f/5 to f/8 but even at these optimal apertures the 40mm is notably sharpest in the centre. Depending on what you're shooting the 40mm will exhibit some softness at the extreme corners - as with this sample image of a dock leaf taken at f/5.6.

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Nikon Nikkor 40mm F/2 sample image of a dock leaf

Full image taken at f/5.6 (Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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Nikon Nikkor 40mm F/2 sample image of a dockleaf

Cropped image of bottom left corner (Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)

Despite having a minimum focus distance of 11.8in / 30cm the lens is also quite soft when close focusing. You can narrow down the aperture for more sharpness but you’ll miss out on that creamy DoF (depth of field) up close, which means the 40mm can suffer for specialized applications like floral photography. Just below you can see a specific example of a flower taken at around a foot distance, where the focus point was set directly on the central bud.

Nikon Nikkor 40mm F/2 sample image of a flower

The Nikon 40mm f/2 exhibits some softness up close, even central in the frame. (Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)

The 40mm also exhibits some coma, which can result in noticeably smeared lights during night photography towards the extreme edges of the frame. In real-life testing, I found this to be an incredibly minor issue that only cropped up on a few niche cases such as the attached scene just below. Astrophotographers will likely skip this lens over in favor of the wider (and similarly priced) 28mm but note that this lens does feature some astigmatism if you're deadset on edge-to-edge clarity. 

Nikon Nikkor 40mm F/2 sample image of a skylight

The Nikon 40mm f/2 renders some coma on the extreme edges of the frame. (Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)

That’s where my criticisms end, however. In practical use the 40mm performs admirably. Autofocus is extremely quick and minimal focus breathing means this is a versatile lens that can also handle video. Note, however, that my lens has a slight whirring sound when focusing - an absolute non-issue for me as a photographer but videographers may notice. I wouldn't rule out copy variation here since it's not a widely reported issue, though.

Nikon Z 40mm f/2: sample images

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(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)
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(Image credit: Future / Alex Whitelock)

Should I buy the Nikon Z 40mm f/2?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Nikon Z 40mm f/2

  • Regular use for over a year and counting
  • Used in fair and inclement weather
  • Day and nighttime use

I've had the Nikon Z 40mm f/2 in my kit for over a year now; in which time I've used it extensively for general purpose photography both home and abroad. Subsequently, I've been able to thoroughly test the lens in a variety of situations to determine its strengths and weaknesses.

Since Nikon openly advertises this lens as weather-sealed, I've made sure to test this lens in adverse conditions, particularly in rainy environments. I've also extensively tested this lens at night, making use of its wide aperture of f/2. 

Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM review – hidden depths
4:00 pm | February 29, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM is the only "official" macro lens in the Canon RF lens lineup. The brand does make some other macro-enabled primes, including the RF 24mm, RF 35mm and RF 85mm f/2 lenses, but these achieve a maximum magnification ratio of 0.5x, or half life size; so while this might be plenty close enough for many users, they're not true 1:1 macro lenses.

The RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM doesn’t stop at life size reproduction, however; it goes to a full 1.4x magnification. That means you can fill the frame with an object just 26mm wide. And that isn't its only interesting feature.

Half way along the barrel is an intriguing "SA", or Spherical Aberration, control ring. This shifts optical elements within the lens to adjust the appearance of bokeh, both in front of and behind your main subject, and can also introduce a soft-focus effect.

The SA (Spherical Aberration) adjustment is unlocked via a switch on the underside of the lens. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

It isn't immediately obvious how you're supposed to use this control, since it’s locked at its center position. In fact, there’s a switch on the underside of the lens to unlock it, which is easily missed. This is one lens where it's actually a good idea to read the manual!

This bokeh control is aimed more at portraiture and longer shooting distances; indeed, Canon does seem keen to push this as a "portrait" lens as well as a macro lens. It’s an interesting idea, but then it leaves you wondering whether the Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM might be better, being a stop faster and far cheaper, too. You might say the 100mm is a macro lens first and portrait lens second, while the 85mm is the other way around.

I only had the RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM for a short time, so I concentrated on its macro capabilities.

These are pretty formidable. It’s hard to make any sensible comments about edge sharpness wide-open with close-ups because it’s near-impossible to find a subject flat enough to test it on – and to get it perfectly perpendicular to the camera. Photographing a framed vintage "butterfly wing" picture reveals another macro photography issue: objects with layers of paint and textures, especially those under glass that may have dust or fibers on its surface, are actually three-dimensional.

Here's one of my test subjects, a very old "butterfly wing" picture just over 2-inches across. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

This is a magnified section close to the Canon RF 100's 1.4x maximum. At this magnification, even at an aperture of f/8, its hard to keep all the strata of this object in focus. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

This was taken at f/2.8, so the depth of field is extremely shallow – but this can suit many subjects. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

At f/16, much more of this narcissus is sharp; but if you want objects with depth to be properly sharp from front to back, you'll need to resort to focus stacking. Small apertures alone won't do it. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The engraving on this old cigarette case, and all the tiny blemishes and scratches around it, are resolved extremely crisply – although the lens was so close to the case at this point that I had to shoot at a slight angle to avoid shadows and reflections from the lens in the polished metal. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Only the most ambitious, bokeh-loving macro fan would want to shoot wide open at these distances. You’re more likely to want to shoot at f/11-f/22, and the RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM produced crystal-clear detail that was difficult to fault.

However, while you might think that a 100mm lens should offer plenty of working distance between yourself and your subject, that isn't the case here. At its closest shooting distances, the front of this lens is close enough to your subject to cast a shadow or give unwanted reflection on shiny surfaces. A skilled macro shooter could fix this easily enough with good lighting and choice of angles, but it was still a bit unexpected. 

This lens is weather-sealed and has a fluorine-coated front element, so you won't have to worry too much about wet outdoor conditions. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

If you shoot wide open at f/2.8 then you can achieve good subject separation and background blur – although, with this subject we could have got just as close with one of Canon's regular "macro" primes. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

You can also use this lens outdoors on a range of subjects, where its weatherproofed design and fluorine-coated front element should shrug off rain and dew. The lens also has image stabilization built in – although, as Canon admits, the effectiveness diminishes the closer you focus. 

This isn't necessarily a fault with the stabilization, but an issue with handheld macro photography. If you can’t keep the camera perfectly steady, even the tiniest fore-and-aft "drift" will throw your subject out of focus between half-pressing and fully pressing the shutter release (switching to Servo AF mode can be an effective solution!).

The RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM’s Dual Nano USM autofocus seemed pretty quick at normal shooting distances, doing a reasonable job of tracking the eyes of our pet Dachshund. However, on occasion it got a bit lost switching to ultra-close subjects. It has a focus limiter to help with this, and you can also use manual focus to get it in the right ballpark first. In fact, manual focus works especially well here. The focus ring is smooth and precise, and there’s a real focus "snap" in the viewfinder to show you when the focus is correct. 

Canon says this lens has suppressed focus breathing, which should be especially useful for filming where you want to use focus pulls.

The Dual Nano ISM autofocus kept up pretty well with our canine subject, and the combination of a long focal length and f/2.8 aperture produced good background blur and separation. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

This is a nice lens to use, if rather long. The SA control seems a slightly odd choice for macro work; I guess it's designed more for portraits and larger product shots. It’s good to have a single lens that can do a few jobs, so it’s easy to see how the RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM could create a kind of "product" lens category of its own.

Best of all, it isn't hugely expensive for an own-brand macro lens, especially one that can focus closer than rivals and has IS built in.

Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM Price and release date

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM was announced in April 2021 and is now widely available. It typically costs around $1,099 in the US and £1,369 in the UK. However, if you don’t mind manual focus – and you’re not interested in the SA bokeh control – then you can get the Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO lens for around half that, and with even higher 2x magnification.

Should I buy the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM?

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

How I tested the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM

I tried out the RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM in a variety of situations to test its performance, handling and image quality. One session was spent shooting a family pet to see how well the Nano USM autofocus could keep up with my EOS R8’s excellent AI subject tracking, while another was spent out on the coast, shooting a variety of subjects from driftwood to sea spurge.

I also spent some time testing this lens with typical close-up subjects including a challenging "butterfly wing" picture, some just-open narcissi, and the engravings on a vintage WW1 cigarette case. These were taken using a tripod, the 12-second timer on the camera, and electronic shutter mode.

Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM review – the ultimate ultrawide
5:00 pm | February 24, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

If you were expecting Canon's breathtaking 10-20mm zoom to be HUGE, then you're in for a surprise. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

From the outside, there isn't much to suggest that this is one of the world’s most extraordinary wide-angle lenses. It has the characteristically elegant, smooth, matte finish of Canon’s RF lenses – and, apart from the bulbous front element (which is standard for lenses this wide), this is a slim, neat optic that’s easy to handle and won't consume too much space in your camera bag.

It’s surprisingly light: at 570g, it’s less than half the weight of Canon’s EF 11-24mm f4L USM DSLR lens. Nevertheless, it has IS optical stabilization built in – alongside Canon’s Peripheral Coordinated Control IS to control the wobbling of objects at the edges of the frame when you’re moving and filming. This is a particular issue for ultra-wide lenses and could be a big help to filmmakers using creative camera movements in interiors. 

The RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM also has a selection of exotic optical elements, glass moulded aspherical elements, UD and Super-UD glass, and advanced optical coatings. The STM AF actuators deliver fast and near-silent autofocus, too.

As usual with Canon RF lenses you get a focus ring, custom control ring and a zoom ring – and on this lens, a function button, too. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

On the outside you get the usual Canon RF lens features including a zoom ring, focus ring, customizable control ring (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance or exposure compensation) and a programmable function button.

But when you put the camera to your eye, your world changes. The 20mm maximum focal length isn't out of the ordinary, but when you turn the zoom ring to the 10mm settings, your eyes will widen along with the scene in the viewfinder.

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

These two shots, taken from the same position, give you an idea of the RF 10-20mm's zoom range. The top image was shot at 20mm; the lower image at 10mm. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

This lens relies heavily on digital corrections. This JPEG has in-camera corrections and is dead straight – any irregularities are in the wall, not the lens's rendering. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

But this is the same image uncorrected, showing extremely strong barrel distortion and corner cropping. In almost all practical circumstances, though, you won't be seeing uncorrected images. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Your first test is likely to be to check sharpness at corners. This is usually the first casualty in ultra-wide lens designs, but the Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM is pretty exceptional in this respect, even at 20mm. The corner sharpness does start to fall away a little, but you have to zoom in a long way to check. At regular print and display sizes, this lens is sharp from edge to edge.

Like many modern mirrorless lenses, especially those with extreme specifications, there’s a lot of digital correction going on here. However, chances are, you won’t ever see it. If you shoot JPEGs then it will be corrected in-camera, and if you shoot raw then Lightroom will automatically apply a correction profile of its own. So will Capture One, although the Capture One profile will leave behind some light fall-off towards the edges that you'll need to correct manually – or just keep as a creative "look".

Interior shots such as this quickly reveal the difficulty of controlling convergence in lenses this wide. The camera was kept dead level for this to keep the verticals straight. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

But tilting the camera upwards to show more of the ceiling produces extreme convergence. It's fine as a creative effect, but hard work to control if you don't. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Unlike other makers, though, Canon doesn't embed a fall-back "manufacturer" correction profile in its raw files, so if you’re using software that doesn’t have a matching profile of its own, then you could be in trouble.

This lens also does take some skill to use – not because of any defect or quirk of the lens, but its sheer angle of view. Shooting handheld, it’s extremely difficult to avoid any convergence in vertical or horizontal lines. That’s fine if a dizzying perspective effect is what you’re looking for, but if you want dead-straight architectural or interior shots, they'll be a lot easier to achieve with a tripod and a geared head. Otherwise, the slightest shift in your position or the camera’s angle can radically alter the perspective.

You might imagine that focal lengths this short would produce practically unlimited depth of field, but that isn't the case. At 10mm, the angle of view is so wide that you can get really close to foreground subjects, way beyond the limits of depth of field. So that here, the background is blurred, even at f/7.1. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

That doesn’t take anything away from the Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM, as it simply goes with the territory. The fact is that it's a triumph in specifications, performance and handling. It’s amazing that anyone can make a zoom this wide for a full-frame camera – and given that, its optical performance is also fantastic, whether or not it uses digital corrections to achieve that. To have all of this packed into such a compact, light and great-handling lens is just the icing on the cake.

All that’s left is to start saving the cash to buy one.

Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM: Price and release date

Predictably, the RF 10-20mm isn't cheap; but it isn't ruinously expensive for an L-series lens, either. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM was officially announced back in October 2023 and is now widely available. It’s on sale for around $2,299 in the US and £2,579 in the UK. The price reflects its angle of view, specifications and performance – so while it certainly isn't a cheap option, neither is it especially expensive by Canon L-series standards.

Should I buy the Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM?

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

How I tested the Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM

You can get striking compositions just by pointing the camera upwards, because objects from both sides of you converge. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

I used the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM on a Canon EOS R8, testing it across its focal range, but mostly at the widest (most interesting) end. I checked out performance both wide open and stopped down. In addition, I evaluated corrected in-camera JPEGs against Lightroom-corrected raw files and uncorrected originals (in Lightroom with the correction profile disabled).

For subject matter, I shot a series of landscapes, mixing close-ups with wider shots, and also some city architecture, including interiors. My aim was to replicate as far as possible the kind of uses this lens would be put to.

I ran some quick handheld tests to check the IS effectiveness and found it reliable down to about 1/8sec, but not really beyond that. Real-world tests seldom match official CIPA figures, which are typically a "best case" measurement.

Sony FE 24-50mm F/2.8 G review: the right fit
10:09 pm | February 23, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Sony has added yet another 'FE' lens primarily designed for its full-frame mirrorless cameras – the FE 24-50mm F2.8 G. It's a slight twist on the classic standard zoom, compromising the telephoto reach of 24-70mm zooms in order to wear the crown of Sony’s lightest and smallest ever full-frame zoom lens with f/2.8 aperture.

Kudos where it's due, Sony is more active in the lens department than most of its rivals. It's committed to its mirrorless camera system and users are spoilt for choice for what glass to whack on their Sony camera – but is there actually a need for this lens when there are already similar alternatives available? I think it's a sensible addition that will serve creatives well, especially those that shoot a lot of video in addition to photography.

At only 15.5oz / 440g and measuring 3.63 inches /92.3mm in length, it's virtually the same size and weight as the Sony FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, while giving that extra stop of light with its constant f/2.8 aperture, albeit at a much higher price.

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)

Compared to the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 G OSS II, meanwhile, it's much smaller, around 50% lighter and significantly cheaper. At a little over $1,000 / £1,150 it's priced somewhere down the middle of those two 24-70mm zooms, but lacks the 70mm reach.

Let's not forget the FE 20-70mm F4 G, which is the most versatile off all Sony's standard zooms, but with an f/4 aperture. So there is some distinction between models, and for many people the new lens will be the most compelling of the four.

Sure, you sacrifice the telephoto 70mm of other standard zooms, but the 24-50mm range still covers four popular lens focal lengths; 24mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm. (Sony has a couple of cheap fixed lens alternatives including the FE 35mm F2.8.) I think it's a sensible focal length compromise instead of, say, making a 28-70mm f/2.8, especially because it caters for Sony's typical customer in 2024; a photo and video creator. 

Most video users will appreciate being able to go wider rather than zooming in more; it might not sound like it, but 24mm is much wider than 28mm and versatile for run-and-gun and selfie videos. 

You can do a little test if you already own another lens that covers this zoom range; check the metadata of your images to see which focal lengths you use the most often. We photographers often shoot the two extremes of what a lens offers, but if you rarely use 70mm then this 24-50mm is an obvious choice. 

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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G: price and release date

The Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G costs $1,100 / £1,150 / AU$1,999, which means it sits between the 24-70mm F2.8 G II ($2,299 / £1,999 / AU$2,899) and the 24-70mm F4 ($899 / £749 / AU$1,209). 

It's a similar price to the FE 20-70mm F4 G ($1,099 / £1,299 / AU$1,449) depending on your region, as price cuts have been handed out. Shipping is from April 2024. 

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G: design

I had the new 24-50mm F2.8 G with a Sony A9 III for this review and it proved a perfect size match. It's the right fit for Sony's more compact mirrorless cameras – they feel made for each other. Even with a smaller travel camera such as the A7C II there would be good balance, and it makes for a great everyday lens. 

That physical synergy is extended to the design and features of the lens. An aperture ring which can be clicked or de-clicked is in easy reach, while twin linear motors give fast and quiet internal autofocus, plus focus breathing compensation. Truly, it's made for 2024's hybrid cameras. 

Other features include a dust and moisture-resistant build – again complementing the ruggedness of Sony's enthusiast and pro-level cameras – and a minimum 0.3m focus distance with maximum 0.3x magnification at 50mm; that’s decent close-focusing capabilities. 

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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)

One design quirk that I discovered quickly regards the extension of the lens barrel as you move through the zoom range. When retracted, the lens is actually in its zoomed-in 50mm setting, and as you zoom out to the wide end, the barrel extends. That's the opposite of almost every other lens that I have used – when you fire up the camera the lens is usually wide and you twist the barrel to zoom in. The reverse feels counterintuitive in the 24-50mm and it takes a little getting used to. 

There's little else to say about the lens build, besides that it takes 67mm threaded lens filters, a common a low-cost size, and that it comes supplied with a petal-shaped lens hood.

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G: performance

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Trees with expansive vista

Bokeh is pronounced when shooting at 24mm and f/2.8 (Image credit: Future)
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Trees with expansive vista

Bokeh is mostly gone by f/8 at any focal length (Image credit: Future)
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Sunstar effect in dappled tree light

Shooting into the light at f/2.8 (Image credit: Future)
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Sunstar effect in dappled tree light

Shooting into the light at f/16 makes a lovely sunstar effect (Image credit: Future)
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Traditional church building in the sun

Detail at f/5.6 is super sharp (Image credit: Future)
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Landscape at dusk

I probably would have like the option to zoom in further to explore this vista more intimately (Image credit: Future)

During the few weeks I had the 24-50mm with the Sony A9 III, I've taken portrait photos, landscapes, video clips and more. I've found the lens able to support the high performance of the A9 III camera, providing fast and quiet autofocus, plus reliable and accurate subject detection autofocus. It's still worth mentioning these things in a lens review – I've been relaxed in knowing that the camera and lens combination is able to focus sharply, so I have one less thing to worry about. 

On the whole, the 24-50mm is optically excellent. It's super sharp even at f/2.8, though it's at its sharpest between f/4 and f/11. Once you've stopped aperture down to f/16, details get a fraction softer – that's typical of most camera lenses, and I expect most users won't be interested in performance at f/16 in any case. But overall detail is as sharp as I'd hope a Sony 'G' lens would be.

GIF that cycles through the aperture settings of Sony 24-50mm lens to illustrate vignetting

This GIF cycles through (pun intended) the aperture settings to illustrate vignetting at 50mm, from f/11, f/8, f/5.6, f/4 and finishing with f/2.8. (Image credit: Future)

With all in-camera lens corrections turned off, I have taken sequences of identical images cycling through the different lens apertures, at both 24mm and 50mm, and then compared those image to check for vignetting. It's sharply present in the corners at 24mm and f/2.8, plus it's present at 50mm and f/2.8 in a more graduated way. Stop down to f/4 and I would describe vignetting as minor, and it's basically gone by f/8. For video you won't really notice vignetting because the very corners of the image sensor aren't in the frame. 

Chromatic aberration at any focal length is virtually absent – that's super impressive, as is the lens' control of flare. I shot towards the sun at various angles with it in the shot and just outside the frame and didn't experience much lens flare at all. 

While doing those shooting-towards-the-light tests I moved to dappled tree light, framed the sun in the picture and shot at f/16 and f/22 to pronounce the sunstar effect, where a crisp and tidy 22-point sunstar appeared – lovely stuff.

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Portrait with bokeh

Bokeh is good at f/2.8 (Image credit: Future)
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Guinea pig from ground level on a grass lawn with shallow depth of field

You can count on the lens and a Sony camera from 2024 to get sharp focus on your subject. (Image credit: Future)
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Portrait with bokeh

Close focusing is 0.3m so you can do selfies at 50mm, where you'll also get shallow depth of field. (Image credit: Future)

The 11-blade aperture is able to make fairly circular bokeh at f/2.8, although there's pronounced cat's eye bokeh towards the corners of the frame that changes in shape a little depending on if you are shooting at 24mm or 50mm. I've noticed this bokeh characteristic before in other Sony lenses like the 70-200mm F4 G OSS II

Whether or not cat's eye bokeh is an issue is frankly down to personal taste; I don't mind it, particularly. Fortunately, there's no obvious vignetting going on in the bokeh and it's smooth enough – but I've seen much silkier bokeh in a specialist lens such as the Nikon Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena. Overall, bokeh is decent without being spectacular – dare I say it for a f/2.8 lens, it's plain. 

Overall, from design to handling and optical quality, the Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G is highly competent and is a decent everyday lens for video and photography. It's hard to get massively excited about the lens and it does have that length compromise compared to a 24-70mm, but it could be the most sensible Sony lens for users looking for a high-quality standard zoom lens. It's a surefire addition to our best Sony lenses buying guide.

Should I buy the Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G lens?

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G lens

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)

Sony sent me the 24-50mm F2.8 G lens with a Sony A9 III for several weeks, during which time I was able to shoot a lot of photo and video, including portraits and landscapes. 

I turned off all in-camera lens corrections, shot photos in both raw and JPEG to then compare corrected and uncorrected files to see what, if any, lens distortions were present. Please note there is little reason to do this in the real world, but these tests are designed to see how hard the camera is pushing files to correct them.

I've made sets of identical images taken at all aperture settings, at each extreme focal length of 24mm and 50mm, for further optical quality comparisons. I've shot action sequences and utilized the A9 III's superb subject detection and tracking autofocus to gain quick and sharp focus with the 24-50mm lens' dual linear motors, plus played with manual focus in both photo and video. 

First reviewed February 2024

Nikon Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S review: the lightest telephoto prime lens of its kind
4:20 pm | December 6, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Prime lenses are, for the most part, optically superior to zoom lenses despite the often excellent optical performance of the latter. The trade-off with a zoom is the convenience of being able to change focal length without changing the lens, but beyond that prime lenses win hands down. 

The Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S is the lightest 600mm lens in the f/6.3 class at just 3lbs 3.9oz / 1,470g with the tripod collar attached. Just to put that into perspective, that’s only a whisker heavier than the Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S, which is impressive, and alongside excellent image quality it makes the 600mm f/6.3 one of the best Nikon Z lenses available.

You’d certainly hope so, too, because this is a lens that comes with a hefty professional price tag. At $4,800 / £4,999 / AU$8,299, this is one of those lenses that costs more than many of the camera bodies it will find itself attached to, which means it will unfortunately be out of reach for many enthusiast photographers. But it’s not all bad news if you’re on a slightly tighter budget, because the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR comes in at a more affordable $1,697 / £1,799 / AU$2,999, and it’s a great lens for the price.

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Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S  attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a frosty wooden table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S  attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a frosty wooden table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S  attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a frosty wooden table

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Despite its low weight considering the focal length, the Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S is still a largish lens compared to a medium zoom at 4.2 x 11 inches / 106.5 x 278mm. The front element and filter thread is 95mm, so a protective UV filter won’t be cheap, but it’s certainly not a necessity, because the included lens hood provides ample protection alongside helping to reduce or eliminate flare. But once again, in the grand scheme of things, this lens is still pretty compact for what it is; it’s comfortable to use handheld for long periods, and the tripod collar provides a balanced method of attaching the camera and lens to a tripod when required.

This is a premium lens, and the build quality is excellent, with the look and feel alone exuding quality. But it’s certainly not perfect, and the area in which it doesn’t quite live up to expectations may surprise you, given the situations the lens is likely to be used in. The 600mm features rubber gaskets to keep dust, dirt and moisture out of the lens, but Nikon doesn’t say anywhere that the lens is weatherproof. 

It can likely handle some use in wet weather, but Nikon also stresses in the small print that the lens isn’t guaranteed to be dust and drip-resistant in all situations and under all conditions. Sure, no camera or lens could be claimed to be 100% weatherproof, but this does leave a question or two hanging in the air, and more clarity here would be useful so that users aren't left to guess how weatherproof the lens might be.

A lens like this is primarily aimed at sports and wildlife photography, and the Vibration Reduction / image stabilization is excellent. During testing, and with an extremely steady hand, I was able to shoot sharp images at shutter speeds as slow as 1/30 sec. This is amazing, and useful for panning slower-moving subjects. The 600mm provides up to six stops of stabilization, but there’s a slight caveat here; this requires Z-series camera bodies that support Synchro VR, which is only available in the latest full-frame models like the Z9. For camera bodies that don’t support this, the 600mm still provides 5.5 stops of image stabilization, so no great loss here.

On the lens itself, there’s a customizable L-Fn button, four customizable L-Fn2 buttons, a focus limiter switch, a manual/AF switch and a memory set button. There’s unfortunately no VR switch or VR mode switch, which would be useful, but this option can be easily accessed via the camera. Alongside the manual focus rings, there’s also a customizable control ring that can be set to adjust focus, aperture, ISO or exposure compensation; this is set to aperture by default, and it's extremely useful.

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Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S  attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a frosty wooden table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S  attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a frosty wooden table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S  attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a frosty wooden table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S  attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a frosty wooden table

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The optical design of the Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S comprises 21 elements in 14 groups, which include two ED elements, one SR element, one PF element, elements with a Nano Crystal coat, and a fluorine-coated front lens element to repel moisture and dirt. That's a lot of glass, but the construction, including the Phase Frensel (PF) lens, helps to keep the lens small and lightweight as well as enabling the excellent image quality. A maximum aperture of f/4 would undoubtedly be more impressive, but this would mean the lens would have to be larger and heavier; f/6.3 still produces pleasing bokeh thanks to the nine-blade aperture, and it's a good aperture to shoot at to ensure enough subject depth-of-field in sports and wildlife photography.

Image quality is excellent, and autofocus is fast and silent. This is the type of lens where you’re unlikely to stop down to more than f/11, and will probably shoot wide open at f/6.3 most of the time. It's where the Nikon Z-mount excels especially in this lens – you won't notice a drop in overall sharpness at f/6.3. Stop the lens down to f/32 and diffraction naturally shows. 

As you'd expect, the centre of the frame is the sharpest, but edge sharpness is still more than respectable and you can confidentally compose subjects off-center knowing they will be sharp. During testing in bright conditions, no chromatic aberration was visible along high-contrast edges, and lens corrections applied using the lens profile in Lightroom made only a small adjustment.

Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S photo samples

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Close-up of a gull's head taken with a Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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photo of a gull on water taken with a Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a pigeon on a wall taken with a Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a duck on a river taken with a Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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photo of a cormorant at the top of a tree taken with a Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S is an excellent lens overall, and one that any Nikon shooter will be happy with if they can justify the cost. It’s primarily targeted towards full-frame Z-series cameras, but works just as well with APS-C Z-series cameras to provide an effective focal length of 900mm. You can increase the focal length on full-frame Z-series cameras by shooting in DX mode, and during testing we employed DX mode on the the Z 7 II, which still provides a useful and usable 20MP image. You can also use the lens with teleconverters to increase the effective focal length, but this does reduce the maximum aperture to varying degrees depending on the strength of the teleconverter.

Photo of the moon taken with a Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S with the camera in DX mode

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Should I buy the Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S?

Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S  attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a frosty wooden table

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Nikon Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S: Also consider

How I tested the Nikon Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S

The Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S was tested over several shoots, including handheld use to assess the size and weight of the lens. Photos were taken at different aperture settings in both FX and DX modes to test handling, sharpness and distortion, while Vibration Reduction was put through its paces by shooting at slower shutter speeds than normal. I shot both static and moving subjects to test autofocus performance.

Most images were shot simply to see how the lens performed in different situations, while others were shot specifically to compare the results. This provides the ability to test all aspects of the lens in a real-world environment that’s closer to how photographers will use the lens, rather than relying on statistics and lens charts.

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve covered almost every conceivable subject and used many of the cameras and lenses that have been released in that time. As a working photographer, I’m also aware of the factors that are most important to photographers, and aim to test cameras and lenses in a way that reflects this. 

First reviewed December 2023

Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM review: mega reach, decent price
7:00 am | November 2, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

The new Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM is the world’s first full-frame zoom lens that goes up to 800mm. That's like your phone having a 30x zoom setting with no perceivable loss in image quality.  

What’s more, the RF 200-800mm is compatible with Canon’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, meaning a potential unprecedented reach of up to 1600mm (though I’d avoid this setup and I’ll explain why, later). 

It’s a competitively-priced lens and a winning combo for hobbyist wildlife and sports photography with Canon's flagship APS-C mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS R7, with which its maximum reach extends to an effective 1200mm thanks to the sensor format’s 1.5x crop. 

I can also see the RF 200-800mm being popular with the full-frame Canon EOS R8, or even with EOS R5 owners for whom sports and wildlife is more of a side hustle or passionate hobby. It’s the EOS R5 that I paired the lens with for a short review period ahead of the worldwide announcement.

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Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens on a table at its 200mm setting, mounted to a Canon EOS R5

Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens on a table at its 200mm setting, mounted to a Canon EOS R5 (Image credit: Future)
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Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens on a table at its 800mm setting, mounted to a Canon EOS R5

Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens on a table at its 800mm setting, mounted to a Canon EOS R5 (Image credit: Future)
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Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens in the hand set to 200mm, mounted to a Canon EOS R5

Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens in the hand set to 200mm, mounted to a Canon EOS R5 (Image credit: Future)
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Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens in the hand set to 800mm, mounted to a Canon EOS R5

Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens in the hand set to 800mm, mounted to a Canon EOS R5 (Image credit: Future)

The lens, which weighs 72.3 oz / 2,050 g and measures 12.36in / 314 mm in length, has a lovely and well-balanced feel to it when paired with Canon’s DSLR-style mirrorless cameras like the EOS R5. Its heaviest elements are at the rear, rather than at the front, which was a trait of front-heavy Canon DSLR lenses.

As you move through the zoom range the lens physically extends in length, and I’d advise keeping the sizable lens hood (supplied) attached to reduce lens flare. As such, at 800mm this is a chunky lens, although it still feels good in use and can easily be carried by hand for extended periods. 

I really like the additional function of a ‘smooth’ or ‘tight’ response for refined or quick zoom adjustments, made via a dedicated control ring. In fact, all of the control rings and buttons have a lovely feel to them, while the build quality in this weather-sealed, weather-resistant lens feels top drawer, despite it not donning the pro grade L-series nomenclature.

Such a long lens, of course, requires image stabilization, and Canon says the RF 200-800mm is equipped with 5.5-stops of optical stabilization, that goes up to 7.5-stops when paired with the sensor-based stabilization on board enthusiast and professional cameras such as the EOS R7 and EOS R5. 

The reality is that it’s possible to get sharp handheld shots at the 800mm telephoto setting almost every time with shutter speeds as slow as 1/30sec – an impressive feat, although your subjects will need to be stationary at such slow shutter speeds or else you’ll get motion softness and blur. 

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Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens on a table, mounted to a Canon EOS R5

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens on a table from above, mounted to a Canon EOS R5

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens front element

(Image credit: Future)

And the lens isn’t all about getting close to distant subjects because its close focusing distance at 200mm is a mere 0.8m from the camera sensor (that's less than 0.5m from the front end of the lens), resulting in a generous magnification ratio. In a picture I took of tiny, cold season berries (see gallery, below), you can appreciate how close the lens can get when set to its minimum focusing distance.

The elephant in the room is the modest maximum f/6.3-9 aperture. I have no problem with these aperture settings regarding depth of field – believe me, you can acquire a lovely shallow depth of field with an 800mm lens at f/9 (see the pictures of ducks at 800mm in the gallery below). No, it’s the impact on what shutter speed is possible at f/9 to freeze fast-moving action that's the issue. 

For photographing birds, you’ll ideally use a shutter speed of around 1/1000s to get sharp detail. Pair that with the f/9 aperture and you’ll need bright sunlight to get the right exposure in your action photos. That’s why using a 2x teleconverter with the RF 200-800mm is unrealistic, because the maximum aperture at 1600mm becomes f/18. However, with such a long reach already, the teleconverter is a bit overkill anyway.

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Ducks in a sunlit pond taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its 800mm setting

Ducks in a sunlit pond taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its 800mm setting (Image credit: Future)
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Ducks in a sunlit pond taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its 800mm setting

Ducks in a sunlit pond taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its 800mm setting (Image credit: Future)
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Ducks in a sunlit pond taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its 200mm setting

Ducks in a sunlit pond taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its 200mm setting (Image credit: Future)
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Closeup of a duck in a pond, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its 800mm setting

Closeup of a duck in a pond, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its 800mm setting (Image credit: Future)
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Closeup of a duck in a pond, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its 800mm setting

Closeup of a duck in a pond, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its 800mm setting (Image credit: Future)

I tested the 200-800mm lens over the course of a bright afternoon with intermittent sun and cloud, which proved ideal conditions for this lens. It’s in low light that the maximum f/9 aperture becomes tricky; you’ll really be pushing your Canon camera’s high ISO performance.

However, that modest maximum aperture is the sacrifice you pay to gain a relatively lightweight full-frame lens with such a decent zoom range and long reach at the telephoto end. 

Image quality at the wide 200mm setting is really sharp, while at 800mm you lose a little clarity, something I’d expect from a lens with such a wide zoom range. If you're only ever needing the telephoto end, it could be worth looking at the RF 800mm f/11 IS STM instead.

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Closeup of berries, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its minimum 0.8m close focusing distance

Closeup of berries, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its minimum 0.8m close focusing distance (Image credit: Future)
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Backlit tree leaves and shallow depth of field and bokeh, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its telephoto setting

Backlit tree leaves and shallow depth of field and bokeh, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its telephoto setting (Image credit: Future)
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Backlit tree leaves and shallow depth of field and bokeh, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its telephoto setting

Backlit tree leaves and shallow depth of field and bokeh, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its telephoto setting (Image credit: Future)
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Backlit tree leaves and shallow depth of field and bokeh, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its telephoto setting

Backlit tree leaves and shallow depth of field and bokeh, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its telephoto setting (Image credit: Future)
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Backlit tree leaves and shallow depth of field and bokeh, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its telephoto setting

Backlit tree leaves and shallow depth of field and bokeh, taken with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens at its telephoto setting (Image credit: Future)

When the sun was out, I tested the lens’ ability to control flare by shooting towards light, dappled through a willow tree. This same test allowed me to see what bokeh (the quality of out-of-focus light) looks like.

Smooth and circular bokeh is seen as the holy grail of out-of-focus light, but in the corners the RF 200-800mm’s bokeh has a pronounced cat’s eye effect. I don’t personally mind cat’s eye bokeh. More importantly, I didn’t see much evidence of chromatic aberration or onion ring distortion in the RF 200-800mm’s bokeh – it looks decently smooth. Overall, image image quality is surprisingly good. 

After a short time with the lens and getting a feel for its zoom range, handling and overall image quality, I think it makes a compelling choice especially with the EOS R7 for safari, shooting grassroots sports from the sidelines, and especially for birdlife, in fair weather. 

Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM: Price and availability

The Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM list price is $1,899 / £2,299.99 / AU$3,499 and the sales start date is December 2023. It's a decent price considering the features on offer, and the pricing certainly favors those in the US.

A decent quality lens hood comes in the box, along with the usual front and rear lens caps. 

Should I buy the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM?

Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 lens in the hand, mounted to a Canon EOS R5

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM

I had the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM lens for an afternoon outdoors in fairly bright weather, photographing birds and closeup subjects. 

During this short review period, I was able to take pictures across the 200-800mm zoom range, of distant subjects and of close subjects at the minimum focus distance, plus around and towards bright light to test how well the lens can control flare. 

Using the various aperture settings has allowed me to check the quality of bokeh, and how sharp image detail is.

First reviewed November 2023

Nikon Z 70-180mm f/2.8 review: one of the great mid-range zooms
2:15 pm | October 19, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

The medium telephoto zoom is one of the most versatile lenses on the planet; capable of fulfilling the needs of almost every type of photographer from wildlife to weddings, landscapes to sports, and far beyond. The 70-200mm focal range is most common, but the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 bucks that trend, slightly, to provide a Z-series lens with a much more palatable price tag than the Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S. 

The 70-180mm costs $1,250 / £1,299 / AU £2,099, so it’s considerably less expensive than the 70-200mm f/2.8. This makes it a great option for enthusiasts and those on a budget who would like a constant f/2.8 aperture and a weight of just 1lb 12.1oz / 795g. It’s also fairly compact at 3.3 x 6in / 83.5 x 151mm, making it a versatile ‘carry around’ lens if you don’t require a wide-angle focal length. 

While slightly reduced from the norm, the focal range doesn’t hinder shooting in real-world situations since there’s only a loss of 20mm at the long end. And although image quality isn’t on par with the 70-200mm f/2.8 (we’ll cover that in more detail later), it remains an impressive performer. 

The Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 is part of a trio of Z-series lenses from Nikon, along with the Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 and Nikkor Z 28-75mm f/2.8. All three lenses provide a constant f/2.8 aperture alongside full-frame focal lengths ranging from a wide-angle 17mm up to 180mm. All three lenses also have the same 67mm filter thread, which will be most useful to photographers and videographers using screw-in filters since a single set of filters will cover all three lenses.

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Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a wooden outdoor table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a wooden outdoor table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a wooden outdoor table

(Image credit: James Abbott)

When I first picked up the 70-180mm, I was immediately struck by the slightly lower build quality than the professional spec 70-200mm f/2.8. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well built, looks good and feels solid in the hand, but it naturally doesn’t exude the premium look and feel of the more expensive professional model. However, the smaller size and lighter weight meant that it was comfortable to carry around attached to a Nikon Z 7II for long periods - a huge plus point. 

Controls are virtually non-existent on the lens. There's just a zoom lock to hold the lens at 70mm and avoid zoom creep when walking around, but it’s a useful feature. Unfortunately, the 70-180mm doesn’t feature optical Vibration Reduction (VR) / Image Stabilization (IS), so you can only take advantage of IS if you’re using a full-frame body with In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS). APS-C Z-series cameras do not offer IBIS, so there’s no option for VR here. 

The 70-180mm is constructed of 19 elements in 14 groups, which include five ED elements, one super-ED element and three aspherical elements, with a nine-blade circular aperture providing pleasing bokeh. Focusing is internal, so the front element doesn’t rotate during focusing. This is great when using filters, although the lens barrel does extend when the zoom ring is rotated. The zoom ring itself, sitting towards the front of the lens, is large and comfortable to use. The narrow focus ring sits behind and offers a comfortable amount of resistance when turned to manually focus.

The minimum focusing distance of the 70-180mm is impressive at 70mm with a distance of just 0.89ft / 27cm and 2.79ft / 85cm at 180mm. This is on a sliding scale as you increase focal length, but at 70mm, you can get pretty close to small subjects, which further increases the usefulness of the lens. The 70-180mm can be used with the Nikon Z 1.4x and 2x teleconverters to increase the focal range at the expense of the maximum aperture and can also be used with APS-C Z series models where the focal range extends from 105-270mm with the f/2.8 remaining effective.

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Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a wooden outdoor table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a wooden outdoor table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a wooden outdoor table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a wooden outdoor table

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a wooden outdoor table

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The lens is least sharp at the extreme ends of the f/2.8 to f/22 aperture range at all focal lengths, with the sharpest results between f/5.6 and f/11. F/2.8 and f/4 are more than sharp enough to use, but at f/16 and f/22 diffraction, or a loss of overall sharpness, is most noticeable. 

Edge sharpness is also at its lowest with the aperture wide open and increases as the lens is stopped down to the middle settings, but this is common with most lenses. There’s also some vignetting at f/2.8 which reduces significantly at f/4 and is gone once you stop down to f/5.6. Optical distortion is also minimal, which is impressive for a medium-range lens like this. 

Overall, the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 is a solid performer and provides photographers with a cost-effective medium telephoto zoom with that all-important constant maximum aperture. Plus, the relatively light weight, compact size and decent image quality make it a lens well worth considering, whatever subjects you shoot.

Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 photo samples

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Close-up photo of pink flowers taken with the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Close-up photo of a dandelion seed head taken with a Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of backlit leaves taken with the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a crow on a wall taken with the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a fairground ride character taken with the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Street photo taken with the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a natural harbour taken with the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Should I buy the Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8?

Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 attached to a Nikon Z 7II on a wooden outdoor table

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Nikkor Z 70-180 f/2.8

The Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 was tested over several shoots to determine how comfortable the lens is to use handheld for several hours. Photos were taken at different aperture settings and focal lengths to test handling, sharpness, and distortion. Static and moving subjects were shot to test autofocus performance.

Most images were shot simply to see how the lens performed in different situations, while others were shot specifically to compare the results. This allowed me to test all aspects of the lens in a real-world environment that’s closer to how photographers will use the lens themselves, rather than relying on statistics and lens charts.

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve covered almost every conceivable subject and used many of the cameras and lenses that have been released in that time. As a working photographer, I’m also aware of the factors that are most important to photographers and aim to test cameras and lenses in a way that reflects this.

 

First reviewed October 2023

Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR review
6:00 pm | October 8, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Long telephoto zoom lenses have generally become less expensive and therefore more accessible over the past 10 years or so. The 150-600mm focal range has become something of a benchmark in this area, often sitting within what you might call an affordable price range considering how expensive professional telephoto lenses can be.

The Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR delivers a similarly versatile focal range, making it ideal for wildlife and sports photography in the main, and comes in at a reasonable $1,697 / £1,799 / AU$2,999. Sure, the 180-600mm isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s far more affordable than professional telephoto lenses, offering enthusiasts who shoot with Nikon Z-series cameras the longer reach they’ve been craving.

The arrival of this lens couldn’t come at a better time for Z-series camera owners, who have been lacking a native Z-mount lens with this focal range. Although the Nikon FTZ and FTZ II adapters are fantastic for allowing you to use F-mount lenses with Z-series cameras, their performance is never on a par with a native lens; and the adapter mount adds additional length, albeit small, to any attached lens.

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Close up photos of the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR mounted on a tripod with foliage in the background

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Close up photos of the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR mounted on a tripod with foliage in the background

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Close up photos of the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR mounted on a tripod with foliage in the background

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The 180-600mm is a fairly large and indeed long lens at 12.5 x 4.4 in / 315.5 x 110mm. And with the tripod collar included, the weight of the lens is 4lb 11.5oz / 2,140g, so there's certainly some heft to it. That said, it isn't the heaviest telephoto zoom available, and during a four-hour handheld shoot while walking around a country park, the 180-600mm attached to a Nikon Z 7II remained comfortable to carry.

In order to deliver the wide focal range on offer, the Nikkor's weight is a result of the size and construction of the lens. It’s made up of 25 elements in 17 groups, which include six ED elements, one aspherical element, and a fluorine-coated front element. The maximum aperture is variable between f/5.6-6.3 depending on the focal length selected, which still results in a large 95mm front element.

Enthusiast lenses can sometimes be lacking in the build quality department, but that’ certainly isn't the case here. The 180-600mm looks and feels solidly made, with smooth focus and zoom rings alongside internal zoom and focusing, which means the lens doesn’t extend when zooming and the front element doesn’t rotate when the lens is focused.

The Zoom ring also provides a short rotation, which allows you to quickly and comfortably change the zoom factor without having to reposition your hand to maintain the zoom. Although the lens does have dust and drip sealings, Nikon doesn’t claim that it’s a weatherproof model, so shooting in torrential rain – for instance – could be problematic. Full weatherproofing would be the natural choice for a lens of this type and, unfortunately, it isn’t included here.

Controls on the lens are minimal, with just a manual focus/autofocus switch and an autofocus range limiter switch towards the rear end of the lens. There are also four customizable L-Fn buttons, which allow you to map several functions to the buttons that are conveniently positioned towards the front end of the lens. Unfortunately, there are no vibration reduction / image stabilization controls here, which means you'll have to delve into the camera menus to adjust these settings. This isn't a deal breaker, but a dedicated set of controls would have been extremely useful.

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Close up photos of the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR mounted on a tripod with foliage in the background

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Close up photos of the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR mounted on a tripod with foliage in the background

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Close up photos of the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR mounted on a tripod with foliage in the background

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Close up photos of the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR mounted on a tripod with foliage in the background

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The lens balances well with Z-series bodies, although the Z 7II used for testing is comedically small in comparison to the lens. And if you find the lens too cumbersome for prolonged handheld use, the tripod collar and quick-release foot allow you to move between handheld shooting and a tripod or monopod quickly and easily.

The 180-600mm also works with the Nikon Z 1.4x and 2x tele converters, enabling you to  extend the focal range further if required. However, this does mean a reduction in the maximum aperture. One way around this is to use the lens with an APS-C camera to increase the effective focal range from 270mm to 900mm, retaining the f/5.6-6.3 maximum aperture.

When it comes to overall performance, autofocus is fast and near-silent, locking onto static and moving subjects, and tracking them seemingly effortlessly. It’s just what you want from a lens that’s designed for shooting often fast-moving and distant subjects. This speed and near-silence are thanks to the fast stepping motor that also makes the lens useful for video using autofocus when tracking moving subjects, although videographers typically use manual focus in the majority of situations.

Close focusing isn’t mind-blowing, with a sliding scale of distances depending on the zoom factor; but looking at the extremes of the zoom range, the minimum focus distance at 180mm is 4.27 ft/ 1.3m, while at 600mm it almost doubles to 7.88ft / 2.4m. This does allow for capturing small subjects closeup, but what’s achievable is far from a macro reproduction ratio.

Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR photo samples

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Photo of a grebe taken with the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a coot taken with the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a robin taken with the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a heron taken with the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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woodland photo taken with the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Woodland photo taken with the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Close up photo of bracken taken with the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Moving beyond autofocus, another feature that’s also highly effective is the 5.5-stop vibration reduction / image stabilization. During testing, I was shooting below 1/100 sec at 600mm in some situations, and although some did exhibit camera shake, many were perfectly sharp. Of course, a steady hand is still required when using image stabilization to get the best from the feature; but the 180-600mm is a fantastic performer in this area.

In terms of image quality, which is one of the most important aspects of any lens, images are captured well between the maximum aperture and f/11 throughout the focal range. They’re certainly not as sharp as more expensive lenses, but overall sharpness is beyond adequate. A small amount of chromatic aberration is visible along high-contrast subject edges in some situations, but this is minor, and can be removed effectively in Lightroom or other Raw processing software. If you shoot in JPEG, you can switch on in-camera corrections to deal with this.

Should I buy the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR?

Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR mounted on a tripod

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3

The Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 was tested over several shoots, including a four-hour session to determine how comfortable the lens is to use handheld over several hours. Photos were taken at different aperture settings and focal lengths to test handling, sharpness and distortion, while vibration reduction was put through its paces by shooting at slower shutter speeds than normal. Subjects covered also included static and moving subjects to test autofocus performance.

Most images were shot simply to see how the lens performed in different situations, while others were shot specifically to compare the results. This provides the ability to test all aspects of the lens in a real-world environment that’s closer to how photographers will use the lens themselves, rather than relying on statistics and lens charts.

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve covered almost every conceivable subject and used many of the cameras and lenses that have been released in that time. As a working photographer, I’m also aware of the factors that are most important to photographers and aim to test cameras and lenses in a way that reflects this.

First reviewed October 2023

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