Holiday 2012: Fast Glass

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The number of fast, wide aperture prime optics we carry at B&H has grown over the past year, and in a market that has become increasingly populated by slower, variable-aperture zooms, this is encouraging news. What’s equally interesting is that in an industry increasingly defined by cutting-edge electronic technologies, many of the newest additions to our year-end listing of “Fast Glass” are manual-focus lenses, which itself is a noteworthy anomaly.

With the exception of a pair of f/2.0 Four Third format zooms from Olympus and a Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom designed for use with DSLRs from Nikon, Sony and Canon, all of the lenses in this roundup are fixed focal length optics. Almost all of these select speed demons also boast a maximum aperture range of f/2.0 to f/1.4, depending on the focal length of the lens. Also included in our roundup are a couple of lenses with maximum apertures of f/1.2 and f/1.1, not to mention a super-fast f/0.95. We’ve also included a few lenses with slower maximum apertures of f/2.8, which for normal and wide-angle lenses can be considered average, but in the case of 200mm and 300mm telephoto optics, can certainly qualify as impressively fast glass.

In addition to clearer, easier viewing and focusing through brighter viewfinders, wider-aperture optics enable you to use faster shutter speeds, which in turn greatly reduces the possibility of motion or camera-related image blur in your stills as well as the degree of sharpness of your video clips.

Wider-aperture optics also allow for greater control of selective focus, in which the depth of focus of your photos can be restricted to a narrow band of sharpness, complemented by out-of-focus foreground and background detail. A technique commonly practiced by fashion, beauty and portrait photographers, selective focus is a subtle and seductively effective creative tool that can add a great measure of impact to one’s photographic efforts, regardless of the subject matter. When used wide open at their closest focusing distances, fast telephotos can produce particularly powerful stills and video.

The advent of HDSLRs has most certainly added to the interest in fast glass. Effective as selective focus can be in creating eye-catching stills it can be utilized even more effectively when used in motion-picture applications. As an example, a line of static objects can come alive when locking down the camera angle, opening the lens wide and racking the focus from the closest point to the furthest point of focus (or vice versa). The resulting imagery appears to be animated, even though the entire scene is essentially static from start to finish.

Lastly, using fast wider-aperture optics enables you to capture sharper images under the lowest lighting conditions. When combined with three-to-four stop advantage image stabilization and the high ISO sensitivity levels common to many cameras over the past two to three years, fast, wider-aperture optics enable you to shoot successful images under previously unimaginable lighting conditions.

Lens Format Min Focus Max Magnif. Ratio   Filter Size Weight
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 9.84" (0.25 m) 1:6.25 77mm 1.4 lb (650 g)
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 9.8" (0.25 m) 1:5.6 58mm 0.68 lb (310 g)
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 1' (0.3 m) 1:5.5 72mm 1.28 lb (580 g)
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 1.5' (0.45 m) 1:6.6 58mm 0.64 lb (290 g)
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 1.5' (0.45 m) 1:6.6 52mm 0.29 lb (130 g)
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 1.5' (0.45 m) 1:6.6 72mm 1.2 lb (545 g)
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 3.2' (0.95 m) 1:9.1 72mm 2.26 lb (1025 g)
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 2.8' (0.85 m) 1:7.7 58mm 14.9oz (422 g)
Canon EF 100mm f/2.0 USM Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 3.0' (0.91 m) 1:7.1 58mm 1.0 lb (460 g)
Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L USM Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 3' (0.91 m) 1:5.3 72mm 1.7 lb (750 g)
Canon EF 200mm f/2.0L IS USM Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 6.23' (1.9 m) 1:8.3 52mm Drop-in 5.6 lb (2520 g)
Carl Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 Distagon T* (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 6.7” (0.17 m) 1:2.3 58mm 1.06 lb (480 g)
Carl Zeiss 28mm f/2.0 Distagon T* (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 9.5" (0.24 m) 1:5 58mm 1.16 lb (530 g)
Carl Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon T* (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 11.8" (0.3 m) 1:5 72mm 1.87 lb (850 g)
Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T* (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-H, APS-C 1.48' (45 cm) 1:6.6 58mm 12.35 oz (350 g)
Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C 3.28' (1 m) 1:10 72mm 21.16 oz (600g) 
Carl Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro Planar T* (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C 1.4' (0.44 m) 1:2 67mm 24 oz (680 g)
Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 XF R APS-C 11.02” (28 cm) 0.17x 52mm 6.6 oz (187 g)
Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R APS-C 7.09” (18 cm) 0.14x 52mm 4.09 oz (116 g)
Leica 24mm f/1.4 Summilux-M Aspherical (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C 2.3’ (0.7 m) 1:25 72mm 1.1 lb (500 g)
Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M Aspherical (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C 2.3’ (0.7 m) 1:17.4 46mm 11.2 oz (320 g)
Leica 35mm f/2.0 Summicron-M Aspherical (Manual Focus, 6-Bit) Full frame, APS-C 2.3’ (0.7 m) 1:17.5 39mm 9 oz (255 g)
Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M (For Leica M cameras only) Full frame, APS-C 3.3' (1.0 m) 1:17 60mm 1.54 lb (700 g)
Leica 50mm f/2.0 APO-Summicron-M Aspherical Full frame, APS-C 2.3’ (0.7 m) 1:11.3 39mm 10.6 oz (299 g)
Leica 50mm f/2.0 Summicron M (Manual Focus, 6-Bit) Full frame, APS-C 2.3’ (0.7 m) 1:11.5 39mm 8.5 oz (240 g)
Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED Full frame, APS-C 0.82' (0.25 m) 1:5.58 77mm 21.9 oz (620 g)
Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G Full frame, APS-C 0.82’ (0.25 m) 0.22x 67mm 11.6 oz (330 g)
Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G Full frame, APS-C 0.98' (0.29 m) 0.2x 67mm 21.2 oz (600 g)
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G APS-C 1' (0.3 m) 1:6.25 52mm 7oz (200 g)
Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AI-S  (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C 1' (0.3 m) 1:5.5 52mm 14.6 oz (399 g)
Nikon 50mm f/1.2 AI-S  (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C 1.7' (0.5 m) 1:7.9 52mm 12.7 oz (360 g)
Nikon AF 50mm f/1.4D Full frame, APS-C 1.5' (0.45 m) 1:6.6 52mm 8.1 oz (230 g)
Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G Full frame, APS-C 1.5' (0.45 m) 1:6.6 58mm 9.9 oz (280 g)
Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8D Full frame, APS-C 1.5' (0.45 m) 1:6.6 52mm 5.5 oz (156 g)
Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Full frame, APS-C 1.5' (0.45 m) 1:6.6 58mm 6.6 oz (187 g)
Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G Full frame, APS-C 3' (0.91 m) 1:8.3 77mm 20.8 oz (591 g)
Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G Full frame, APS-C 2.62' (0.8 m) 1:8.1 67mm 12.4 oz (350 g)
Nikon AF 85mm f/1.8D Full frame, APS-C 3' (0.91 m) 1:9.1 62mm 13.4 oz (380 g)
Nikon AF-DC 105mm f/2.0D Full frame, APS-C 3' (0.91 m) 1:7.7 72mm 1.4 lb (640 g)
Nikon AF-DC 135mm f/2.0D Full frame, APS-C 3.6' (1.1 m) 1:7.1 72mm 1.78 lb (807 g)
Nikon AF Nikkor 180mm f/2.8D IF-ED Full frame, APS-C 5' (1.52 m) 1:6.6 72mm 1.7 lb (771 g)
Nikon AF-S 200mm f/2.0 G ED VR II Full frame, APS-C 6.2' (1.9 m) 1:8.3 52mm Drop-in 6.45 lb (2930g)
Olympus 14-35mm f/2.0 ED SWD Four Thirds  1.1' (0.35 m) 1:8.3 77mm 2 lb (900 g)
Olympus 35-100mm f/2.0 ED Four Thirds 4.6' (1.4 m) 1:11 77mm 58.2 oz (1650g)
Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Digital ED Micro Four Thirds 1.64’ (0.5 m) 0.11x 37mm 4.09 oz (116 g)
Olympus 50mm f/2.0 Macro ED Four Thirds, Micro Four Thirds 9.45" (0.24 m) 1:2 52mm 10.6 oz (300 g)
Olympus 75mm f/1.8 Digital ED Micro Four Thirds 33.07” (0.84 m) 0.10x 58mm 10.76 oz (305 g)
Olympus 300mm f/2.8 ED Four Thirds 7.9' (2 m) 1:6.6 43mm Rear 7.24 lb (3.28 kg)
Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 Aspheric G Four Thirds, Micro Four Thirds 0.66' (0.2 m) 1:7.69 46mm 3.5 oz (100 g)
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 ASPH Four Thirds, Micro Four Thirds 7.09" (0.179 m) 0.10x 46mm 1.94 oz (55 g)
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25 mm f/1.4 Lens Four Thirds 0.98’' (0.3m) 0.11x 46mm 7.05 oz (200 g)
Pentax smc FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Full Frame APS-C 1' (0.3 m) 1:6.25 58mm 12.2 oz (345 g)
Pentax smc FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited Full Frame APS-C  1.5' (0.45 m) 1:8.3 49mm 5.5 oz (156 g)
Pentax 50mm f/1.4 K AF Full frame, APS-C 18" (0.45m) 1:6.6 49mm 7.8 oz (221 g)
Pentax smc DA* 55mm f/1.4 APS-C 1.5' (0.45 m) 1:5.7 58mm 13.2 oz (375 g)
Pentax smc FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited Full Frame APS-C 2.3' (0.7 m) 1:7.14 49mm 9.5 oz (270 g)
Samsung 16mm f/2.4 Ultra Wide Pancake APS-C 7.28” (0.19 m) 1:8.3 43mm 2.64 oz (75 g)
Samsung 30mm f/2.0 Pancake APS-C 9.84” (0.25 m) 1:6.2 43mm 3.00 oz (85 g)
Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA APS-C 32.28” (0.82 m) 1:7.7 67mm 1.53 lb (696 g)
Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX ASPH DG DF RF Full frame, APS-C 7.9" (0.2 m) 1:4 82mm 1.15 lb (522 g)
Sigma 24mm f/1.8 EX ASPH DG DF Macro Full frame, APS-C 7.1" (0.18 m) 1:2.7 77mm 1.07 lb (17 oz)
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM APS-C 15.7" (0.4 m) 1:10 62mm 15.1 oz (430 g)
Sigma 28mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro Full frame, APS-C 7.9" (0.2 m) 1:2.9  77mm 1.06 lb (481 g)
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Full frame, APS-C 1.48" (0.45 m) 1:7.4 77mm 1 lb (505 g)
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Full frame, APS-C 33.5" (0.85 m) 1:8.6 77mm 25.6 oz (725 g)
Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX DG OS APO HSM Full frame, APS-C 4.9' (1.49 m) 1:8.1 105mm 6.50 lb (2.95 kg)
Sigma 300mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Full frame, APS-C 8.20' (2.50 m) 1:7.5 46mm Rear 5.28 lb (2.39 kg)
Sony 16mm f/2.8 Alpha E-mount APS-C 9.4” (24 cm) 0.073x 49mm 2.5 oz (70 g)
Sony 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar (Carl Zeiss) APS-C 6.2” (15.75 cm) 0.25x 49mm 7.9 oz (224 g)
Sony 24mm f/2 Distagon T* (Carl Zeiss) Full frame, APS-C 7.5" (0.19 m) 0.29x 72mm 19.58 oz  (555g)
Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Full frame, APS-C 1' (0.3 m) 1:5 55mm 1.1 lb (510 g)
Sony DT 35mm f/1.8 SAM APS-C 9.05" (0.23 m) 1:4 55mm 6 oz (170 g)
Sony SAL 50mm f/1.4 Full frame, APS-C 1.6' (0.45 m) 0.15x 55mm 8 oz (220 g)
Sony 50mm f/1.8 APS-C 15.5” (0.39 m) 0.16x 49mm 7.25 oz (202 g)
Sony Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZA Full frame, APS-C 2.8' (0.85 m) 1:7.7 72mm 1.43 lb (650 g)
Sony Sonnar T* 135mm f/1.8 ZA Full frame, APS-C 2.5' (0.72 m) 1:4 77mm 2lb 3oz (985 g)
Sony SAL-300mm f/2.8 APOG SSM Full frame, APS-C 6.7' (2.0 m) 1:5.5 42mm Rear 5.07 lb (2.3 kg)
Vivitar 85mm f/1.4 Series 1 (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C 1.0' (30.48 cm) 1:12.5 72mm 1.2 lb (544 g)
Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 MFT Micro Four Thirds 5.9” (0.15 m) 1:4 58mm 19.05 oz (540 g)
Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 MFT Micro Four Thirds 6.7” (0.17 m) NSM 52mm 14.5 oz (410 g)
Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 US UMC ASPH (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C 1.0' (30.48 cm) 1:5.5 77mm 14.7 oz (416.75 g)
Rokinon  85mm f/1.4 ASPH (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C, Four Thirds 3.3' (1.01 m) NSM 72mm 1.4 lb (635 g)
Bower 35mm f/1.4 (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C, Four Thirds 1.0' (30.48 cm) 1:5.5 77mm 14.7 oz (416.75 g)
Bower 85mm f/1.4 (Manual Focus) Full frame, APS-C 3.28' (1 m) NA 72mm 1.15 lb (520 g)

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Like your link does not work and there are no lenses in your report!!!!!!!

Nice chart, works well for me on my ipad. Obviously some of the lenses are relabelled versions of the same lens.

Hi John,

Not sure what you mean.

Can you explain...

As an example, a line of static objects can come alive when ?locking down the camera angle?, opening the lens wide and ?racking the focus?from the closest point to the furthest point of focus (or vice versa).

What do you mean, how to do?
1. ?locking down the camera angle?
2. ?racking the focus?

Sorry, I only understand English.

While Gunnar did a very good job answering your question I would like to add to it.
Rack focusing is very familiar to me in my career as a movie camera assistant. Often for the sake of the story, we use the technique. Usually this is between actors in the scene and most of the time it is very subtle. An example is when one actor stops talking, another starts and I adjust or "rack" the lens focus to the other actor. This looks like a natural action as with your own eyes and is seamless on screen.
Other times it is very specific and obvious. An example is an actor walks into a room, turns and look to an out of focus shape in the foreground of the frame. At that moment the rack is done, the actor goes soft, and the foreground object, perhaps another actor or maybe a ringing telephone, becomes sharp. Done quickly, this adds excitement and drama.
And often while doing this, the camera and its attendant viewing angle is “locked down.” “Locked down” or “locked off” are common movie set terms meaning the camera does not move since the cameras tripod head locks are engaged during the shot.

Why are no Tamron lenses included in your list of fast glass?

Thanks for asking about Tamron lenses. We recently published an article on macro lenses called "Holiday 2012: Using Macro Lenses" in which we covered a number of Tamron lenses, including two with maximum apertures of F/2.8 or faster. Here is the link:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/indepth/photography/hands-reviews/using-macr...
Thank You