Holiday 2012: New Mirrorless Lenses 2012
2012 has seen an in increase in all things mirrorless, that being a bit of an umbrella term for compact interchangeable-lens cameras, their lenses and adapters. Canon, for example, released its first mirrorless camera system in 2012 and most major manufacturers have added new cameras to their mirrorless lineups. Of course, a growing list of lenses for these cameras—of all focal lengths—is now available, too. As we head into the gifting season, below are the highlights of many, but by no means all, lenses now available for the numerous brands and variations of mirrorless cameras.
Canon’s new EOS M camera with an APS-C sized sensor has been introduced with two M series lenses specifically designed for the EOS-M. The Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens is the standard zoom for this camera, and its 35mm equivalent focal range is 28-90mm, which is just right for most uses. This lens uses the Canon STM motor, which keeps its focusing action silent and smooth when used with the camera’s Movie Servo AF, making it ideal for shooting video. The lens has optical image stabilization to control the effects of camera shake and Dynamic Image Stabilization to keep a steady image when shooting video while moving. Three aspherical optical elements and a light, compact design make it a smart choice as an everyday lens to go with the EOS M. The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Lens is the prime lens offering for the EOS M camera. It is a small lens with a fast maximum aperture and a 35mm focal length equivalency of 35mm. It's a solid performer in low light with shallow depth of field and a very close minimum focus of 5.9" (15 cm). Like the 18-55mm, it runs on an STM motor which makes it great for HD video as its autofocus is smooth and virtually silent.
Likewise, Fujifilm offers one zoom lens—also an 18-55mm standard zoom—for its X series mirrorless cameras, which include the flagship X-Pro 1 and new XE-1. With a 27-84mm full-frame equivalent focal length, the Fujifilm 18-55mm f/2.8-4 XF OIS Zoom Lens is also a great first lens for the X series, providing you with a solid range of shooting options and aspherical and abnormal dispersion lens elements for quality and clarity. Optical image stabilization reduces the blurring effects of camera movement, and a linear motor-driven autofocus is precise and smooth for video. An f/2.8 maximum aperture in wide angle and f/4 maximum in telephoto offers fast shutter speed potential to capture quick-moving subjects and provide sharpness in low light situations.
Fujifilm currently has four prime lenses for the X series mirrorless cameras; the 14mm f/2.8 XF R Ultra Wide-Angle Lens is the widest with a 35mm equivalency of 21mm and an 89° angle of view. An aperture range of f/2.8-22 allows for fast shutter speeds, and light is evenly distributed from the center to the edge of the frame, retaining excellent contrast and high resolution with little fall-off or distortion. The 18mm f/2.0 XF R Lens is a compact “pancake” lens with a 27mm equivalency and a minimum focusing distance of 7.09" (18 cm). The very fast f/2.0 aperture, aspherical and ED elements and 7 rounded blades in the aperture add up to gorgeous imaging at fast speeds. Thanks to the X series mirrorless design, the all-metal lens barrel sits deep within the camera body, keeping the size portable and placing the lens elements close to the camera’s sensor for uniform light distribution.
The Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 XF R Lens is the “normal” lens for the X series, with its 53mm focal length equivalency and notably fast f/1.4 maximum aperture. Like the other XF lenses, it is has a metal barrel, aspheric and ED elements, Super EBC lens coating and an aperture design that helps create a circular bokeh effect. The Fujifilm 60mm f/2.4 XF Macro Lens is the dedicated fixed telephoto offering for the X series, and its crisp macro mode that focuses to 10.5”(26.7 cm) is its highlight. Equivalency is 90mm and magnification is 0.5x.
For their part, Nikon has recently introduced two new lenses for the Nikon 1 CX Format of mirrorless cameras. The 1 NIKKOR 18.5mm f/1.8 Lens for CX Format is available in black, white and silver. It is a compact lens with the 35mm format equivalency of a 50mm lens, which is often called a normal lens because it is similar to the human eye’s perspective. This lens has a particularly fast maximum aperture of f/1.8 and is therefore very effective for low light and hand-held shooting. A wide maximum aperture also produces a shallow depth of field for photos with tight focus on the subject and a softly blurred out-of-focus area. Its 8.4” (21.3 cm) minimum focusing distance allows you to get close to your subject and, combined with its shallow depth of field, offers much creative potential for close-up photography. The 1 NIKKOR 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens for CX Format is an internally focusing and incredibly compact zoom lens with a full-frame focal length equivalency of 30-74mm. This is a versatile shooting range that covers wide-angle to short telephoto, great for inclusive day-to-day and travel photography. A retractable lens mechanism keeps this lens short, at 1.22” (3.1 cm) when not in use, which maintains the portable advantage of the Nikon 1 cameras. One aspherical and one ED glass element reduce aberration for sharp imaging and accurate colors. It is available in black and white models.
Having opened up their mirrorless stables earlier than the other bigs, Olympus and Panasonic finish 2012 with a much larger and flexible system of lenses for their mirrorless Micro Four Thirds mount cameras. Olympus M.ZUIKO lenses and Panasonic Lumix G and DG series lenses provide a growing wealth of focal lengths and zooms for most any shooting possibility.
Starting with Panasonic prime lenses we have the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 ASPH. Lens, which weighs less than 2 ounces and really maintains the compact advantage of mirrorless design. Its 28mm focal length equivalency in a form less than an inch long offers smooth, silent Contrast Autofocus, quality multi-coated optics and three aspheric lens elements. Its maximum aperture is f/2.5 and minimum focus distance is 7” (18 cm). The Lumix 20mm f/1.7 Aspheric G Series Lens is a fast, versatile, 40mm equivalent “pancake” lens with a manual focusing ring that runs like an autofocus system. Turn the motorized focusing ring faster to obtain initial focus, then fine-tune the focus on the same ring with slower manual precision. The Lumix G 25mm f/1.4 LEICA DG SUMMILUX ASPH. Lens offers 50mm focal length equivalency with a faster aperture that ranges from f/1.4 to f/16. Aspheric and Ultra High Refractive Index Leica optics with nano-surface coating minimize distortion and reflections and provide clear imaging with this fast, standard lens. The Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. Lens is the 90mm equivalent macro lens for the Lumix line. Its maximum reproduction ratio is 1:1 and it focuses as close as 6” (15.24 cm). The aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/22, fast for a 90mm lens, and its optical image stabilization system adds to its ability to capture blur-free images in low light.
Numerous zoom lenses are available for the Panasonic Lumix DMC mirrorless cameras, including the Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH Lens, their ultra wide-angle zoom. Its 35mm equivalency of 14-28mm offers creative possibilities with perspective and its 114° maximum angle of view is ideal for tight interior spaces. Aspheric and ED lens elements and an advanced continuous Contrast autofocus system for photo and video are features of this lens, and it comes with a built-in petal style lens hood to deflect stray light. The Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH. Lens is equivalent to a 24-70mm lens. And with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout the zoom range, it is the type of wide-angle-to-standard zoom lens that is very popular with pro photographers. Versatile and fast even in telephoto, the lens is equipped with POWER O.I.S. Image Stabilization, Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion glass and nano-surface coating. Silent autofocus makes it a discreet shooter and ideal for video, and its metal mount and splash-proof and dustproof coatings make it durable for serious use.
Expanding the zoom range, the Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. Lens is an all-purpose zoom with a full-frame equivalency of 28-280mm. A solid kit lens loaded with potential, its inner focus direct-drive linear motor offers silent autofocus perfect for shooting HD video and its MEGA O.I.S. stabilization system compensates for camera shake, especially when utilizing telephoto lengths. This is a nice all-in-one lens for the Panasonic mirrorless cameras.
Similar in design to the 14-140mm lens is the LUMIX G Vario 45-150mm f/4.0-5.6 ASPH. Lens, which comes in a black model and a silver model. With equivalency of 90-300mm, this is a confident telephoto zoom lens that works well for both photo and video. MEGA O.I.S. reduces blur, and a stepping motor autofocus is smooth and silent. For a telephoto zoom, it is surprisingly compact, and 12 lens elements including 2 aspherical elements and one UHR (Ultra High Refractive) element provide superior optical quality. The LUMIX G X Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4.0-5.6 ASPH. Lens also is available in black and silver. In addition to Mega O.I.S., silent autofocus, aspheric and ED elements and nano surface coating, this 90-350mm equivalent telephoto zoom lens has a Multi-Actuator Floating Inner Focus System, which controls 3 lens groups separately and provides accurate focusing and high contrast and resolution throughout the zoom range, without extending the length of the lens. Like the other telephoto zooms mentioned above, the Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. Lens features optical image stabilization, extra-low dispersion elements and lens multicoating, but its full-frame focal length equivalency is 90-400mm. The largest of the Panasonic Lumix zoom lenses is the Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F/4.0-5.6 OIS Lens, which is an ultra-telephoto zoom with a powerful 35mm format equivalency of 200-600mm, making it the go-to lens for long-distance shooting with the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras. As with the other zooms, a stepping motor and inner focusing system equals smooth, accurate and silent autofocus, and the MEGA O.I.S. stabilization system and lightweight design means that you can shoot distant subjects without a tripod.
Olympus has the equally impressive M.ZUIKO line of lenses for their Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras. The Silver M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens has an all-metal body and fits 46mm filters. Its full-frame equivalency is 24mm, and its aperture range is f/2.0-f/22, making it a fast wide-angle lens able to create crisp shots with a shallow depth of field. Its MSC (Movie-Still-Compatible) mechanism offers quick and silent autofocus. It can focus as close as 7.9” (20 cm) and features a snap focus ring that lets you pan focus utilizing the distance indicator. This 12mm lens also comes as a black limited edition version, which includes a metallic lens hood, metallic lens cap and a 46mm protective filter. The M.ZUIKO Digital 17mm f/2.8 Lens is a compact “pancake” lens with a 34mm focal-length equivalency. Less than one inch long, this lens offers versatility and real portability when used with the Olympus PEN cameras. It is available in black and silver finishes. With a maximum aperture of f/1.8, the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm f/1.8 Lens is a particularly bright and fast lens, ideal for shallow depth of field portraiture and low light telephoto shooting; its full-frame equivalency is 90mm. The MSC mechanism provides smooth and silent autofocus in both still and HD video capture and two Extra-High Refractive lenses improve sharpness and reduce aberrations. Equally fast, also with MSC technology and not much bigger, is the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 Lens. Full-frame focal length equivalency of 150mm brings with it capable telephoto reach and ED optical elements with Extra-low Reflection Lens Coating provide quality imaging.
For macro shooting with Olympus mirrorless PEN cameras, the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens provides a 1:1 maximum reproduction ratio and can focus as close as 7.4" (18.8 cm). Maximum aperture of f/2.8 on this 120mm full-frame equivalent lens equals capable low-light imaging, and focus-limit switching and a shooting-distance indicator all improve macro shooting control and precision. MSC mechanism offers accurate and virtually silent autofocus, which is particularly beneficial when shooting video.
Olympus offers a handful of zoom lenses for their mirrorless Micro Four Thirds systems. The M.ZUIKO 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 MSC ED Lens is available in black and silver. Its full-frame equivalency of 24-100mm runs from undistorted wide-angle to standard telephoto, a range that's good for most shooting needs. Like its prime-lens counterparts, MSC design and a linear motor drive ensure quiet autofocus in photo and video and a new motor drive zoom allows for smooth zooming during video capture. Multi-coating on all lens surfaces, durable dust-proof, waterproof construction and macro focus to 7.87" (19.99 cm) round out the impressive features on this versatile wide-angle zoom lens. The more powerful M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 Zoom Lens offers the full frame equivalent focal range of 28-300mm and is only a bit heavier and wider around than the above 12-50mm. Virtually the same length, it can be comfortably kept on your camera, making your everyday lens a full-service zoom that includes everything from wide angle to full telephoto.
Fast, smooth and silent autofocus and a compact design make the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R Lens a great telephoto zoom choice for both photo and video. Smaller and lighter than the two lenses above, with an 80-300mm equivalency, it’s a great standard-to-telephoto zoom to go with a smaller zoom or prime lens. An updated design and optimized optics add to its virtues. It’s also available with a silver finish.
Also available in black or silver finish is Olympus’s ultra-telephoto zoom for Micro Four Thirds cameras, the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 Lens. Like the 40-150mm, it is compact and lightweight for its focal range and designed specifically for digital mirrorless cameras. It sits deep in the camera body and offers uniform light coverage on the sensor. Fast to focus, and with a silent autofocus mechanism, it’s effective for photo and especially video. Its full-frame focal length equivalency is an impressive 150-600mm.
Having talked a bit about Panasonic and Olympus lenses, let’s mention a lens built specifically for Micro Four Thirds mount cameras. The Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Micro Four Thirds Lens is like no other lens on this list; in fact, there are few lenses like it available for any mount. Unique for its ultra-fast maximum aperture and minimum focus distance of 6.7mm (17 cm), it is an all-metal barrel, manual focus, manual-aperture lens with a full frame focal length equivalency of 50mm. It can produce very sharp focus and extremely shallow depth of field. The f/0.95 aperture allows for unparalleled low-light photography and tested against other fast lenses costing thousands of dollars more, its image quality holds its own.
Three Samsung lenses for their NX line of mirrorless cameras exemplify the range and quality they offer. The 30mm f/2.0 EX-S30NB Pancake Lens is only 0.85” (21.5 mm) long and weighs just 3.0 oz (85 g). It offers a fast f/2.0 maximum aperture for its fixed focal length equivalency of 46mm, which makes it fast when needed, sharp in low light and able to shoot gorgeous shallow depth of field photos. The 60mm f/2.8 Macro ED OIS SSA Lens can shoot telephoto (92.4mm equivalency) close-ups with fast shutter speeds and macro at a 1:1 reproduction ratio with focusing as close as 7.24”(18.39 cm). A built-in optical image stabilizer helps to keep telephoto shots crisp even in low light, and being an i-Function lens, it works with your NX camera to apply the correct settings for every shot—and also offers aperture, shutter speed and ISO control right on the lens! SSA stands for supersonic actuator, and this is the mechanism that provides precise and silent autofocus in photo and video modes. Internal focusing keeps the lens barrel at the same length when focusing, and manual focusing in autofocus mode allows for precise control when shooting macro. The 50-200mm f/4.0-5.6 ED OIS II Lens is the classic telephoto zoom lens (with 77-308mm full-frame equivalency) for the NX series. It, too, offers internal focusing, optical image stabilization and i-Function settings.
The Sony E-mount NEX mirrorless cameras also offer numerous and varied lenses. The 16mm f/2.8 Alpha E-mount Lens is Sony’s “pancake” lens that provides a 24mm equivalent wide-angle focal length while maintaining the camera’s portability (ie: put-in-your-pocket-ability). Like the other brands, this 16mm pancake is less than one inch long and weighs only 2.5 oz (70 g). Its f/2.8 maximum aperture provides speed to shoot fast subjects, and in low light, and an 83-degree angle of view gives it the versatility to shoot almost any subject. Its internal stepping motor and rear-focusing design offer smooth, quiet autofocus essential for high-quality movie capture, and direct manual focus on the lens ring allows for precise focus after and even during autofocus. The 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens for Alpha NEX Cameras offers a 1:1 macro ratio at all apertures and a maximum aperture of f/3.5. Multi-coated lenses and aspheric and ED optics provide sharp imaging without ghosting and, like the 16mm, this lens has an internal stepping motor and rear-focusing design for smooth quiet autofocus and manual-focus precision. The 50mm f/1.8 Telephoto Lens offers a full-frame equivalency of 75mm. Its aluminum barrel is lightweight and sturdy and its fast f/1.8 maximum aperture is flexible and crisp, even in low light. Smooth in aperture steps and focusing, it is a good video lens. Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization further enhances its low-light capabilities and the Direct Manual Focus keeps precise focus in your hands.
In terms of zoom lenses, the Sony NEX system offers five. The Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Alpha E-mount Retractable Zoom Lens, with a full frame focal range equivalency of 24-75mm, is notable because its lens retracts when powered down so that the system remains portable despite its wide-angle to standard zoom capability. The OSS designation stands for Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization, which reduces the effects of camera motion on your images, and an internal stepping motor offers smooth, quiet and precise lens movement. Four aspherical lens surfaces and a circular aperture bring sharp images with little distortion and rounded bokeh. The 10-18mm f/4 OSS Alpha E-mount Wide-Angle Zoom Lens is an ultra-wide-angle lens with full-frame equivalency of 15-27mm and an aperture range from f/4-22. The maximum aperture of f/4 runs throughout the zoom range. It, too, offers OSS stabilization with an internal focusing system. Lens quality is paramount with three aspherical elements and Super Extra-low Dispersion Glass.
The Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Zoom Lens for NEX Camera has a 35mm equivalency of 27-300mm, making it quite a versatile wide-angle-to-telephoto zoom. Compact design, Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization, quiet internal focusing system and aspherical and ED lens elements highlight its features. It is also available in a Limited Edition black version. The 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 Telephoto Zoom Lens is telephoto all the way, with a full-frame equivalency of 82-315mm. It has smooth, quiet internal autofocus ideal for video capture, Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization and Extra-low Dispersion elements for reduced chromatic aberration.
Tamron makes a wide-angle zoom lens to fit the Sony E-mount cameras. Available in black and silver, the 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Lens for Sony E Mount Cameras has the 35mm focal length equivalency of a 27-300mm lens which gives it the ability to shoot from true wide angle all the way to ultra telephoto. This is a very versatile set of focal lengths in which to incorporate almost all of your shooting needs. The lens is equipped with a stepping motor for Sony’s contrast-detection autofocus system which gives it a smooth, silent action ideal for both photo and video, in which the camera’s microphone would otherwise pick up the sound of the AF motor. In addition, the lens has three-coil Vibration Compensation system offering effective image stabilization in a more compact form. This lightweight but powerful 18-200mm lens is designed specifically for E-mount cameras with their APS-C sized sensor.
Numerous manufacturers make lenses to fit the various mirrorless camera mounts. Sigma offers two nice prime lenses built for the Sony E-mount and for the Olympus/Panasonic Micro Four Thirds mount. The first is the 30mm f/2.8 EX DN Lens for Sony E-Mount Cameras. Very similar to the Sony 30mm, the Sigma is more affordable and offers a faster f/2.8 maximum aperture. Its Linear AF Motor provides smooth and quiet autofocus; aspheric lens elements and super multi-coating mean sharp imaging and uniform light transmission. The full-frame equivalency on this Sigma-for-Sony NEX lens is 45mm with a 50.7° angle of view. Sigma also makes a 30mm f/2.8 EX DN Lens for Panasonic/Olympus Micro Four Thirds Cameras. It is identical to the above 30mm, but because the sensor size on the Micro Four Thirds is smaller than that on the Sony E-mount, the full-frame equivalency of this lens is 60mm and its angle of view is 39.6°. Sigma also offers the 19mm f/2.8 EX DN Lens for Sony E-Mount Cameras. The DN stands for Digital Neo and it denotes a lens designed for mirrorless cameras. Ideal for photo and video with its linear motor AF and ED optical elements, the full-frame equivalency of this lens is 28.5mm. On the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN Lens for Olympus/ Panasonic Micro Four Thirds Cameras, the full-frame equivalency is 38mm pushing it out of the wide-angle category and more toward a standard prime lens.
Rokinon makes a 7.5mm f/3.5 Ultra Wide-Angle Fisheye Lens for Micro Four Thirds Cameras in both silver and black. The full-frame equivalency is 15mm and the angle of view is 180° with exaggerated perspective. The lens is manual focusing and can focus as close as 4.0” (10.16 cm). With hybrid aspherical lens elements, images are sharp, and with multi-layer lens coating and a built-in lens hood, flaring, ghosting and reflections are minimized. Rokinon also has a manual focus 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fish-Eye Lens for Sony E-mount cameras in both black and silver, and also for the Samsung NX cameras in black and silver. For the Fujifilm X-mount cameras, they offer the 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye in black only. Like the 7.5mm lens, the angle of view on these lenses is 180° and its full frame focal length equivalency is 12mm. The image it creates is a non-circular fish-eye perspective and, thanks to its aspherical lens elements and multi-coated optics, the image is sharp and free of aberrations. Rokinon also offers a nice 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Wide-Angle Lens for Samsung NX cameras. It is a fast lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.4 that runs to a minimum of f/22. On an APS-C sized sensor, the full-frame equivalent focal range is 36mm, which makes this a bright, wide-angle lens at an affordable price. Its aspherical elements and UMC coating offer quality imaging and its wide and smooth-moving manual focus ring is great for shooting video.
The Tokina 300mm f/6.3 Reflex Telephoto Macro Lens for Micro Four-Thirds Mount is a unique lens. An ultra telephoto lens kept compact by its catadioptric (mirror) lens design, it is equivalent to a 600mm focal length lens in 35mm format. It’s a smooth manual-focusing lens with a fixed f/6.3 aperture and can capture distant subjects without taking up much space in your kit bag. Ideal for nature and wildlife shooting, its all-metal barrel will provide durability along many trips into the woods.
One of the advantages of mirrorless cameras is their ability to use a wide variety of lenses. With the appropriate adapter, almost any lens, from any manufacturer, can work on your mirrorless camera. Canon, for example, now offers only two lenses specifically designed for their EOS M camera, but add one affordable adapter and you can use the whole line of Canon EF- and EF-S lenses on your mirrorless EOS M. Now, certain automatic adapters provide all of the electronic functions that travel between camera and lens, such as auto-exposure and autofocus, whereas manual adapters simply offer the ability to mount one lens brand on the camera of another manufacturer, compelling you to shoot in manual modes.
The Bower Canon EOS Lens to Micro Four Thirds Camera Adapter connects Canon EF and EF-S lenses to any Micro Four Thirds mount cameras. With this manual adapter, you can use one of the many Canon lenses on the Olympus E-PM2 camera, for example. The adapter is manual so you will have to focus manually and set the exposure on the adapter’s aperture ring, but in return for that little effort, your compact Olympus camera can now utilize the full line of Canon high-quality optics. The Novoflex Adapter for Leica M Lens to Sony NEX Camera offers the possibility of using the great Leica M series lenses on Sony’s NEX line of compact mirrorless cameras. Again, this is a manual adapter that does not transfer functions like autofocus from camera to lens, but automatic exposure metering (stop-down metering/aperture priority) is possible—a small price to pay to use some of the most refined optics available on your affordable Sony camera.
Automatic adapters like the Sony A-Mount Lens to NEX Camera Mount Adapter allow for the use of the automatic functions that are normally only possible between camera and dedicated lens. In this case, Sony A-mount lenses can be used on their NEX line of E-mount cameras with total auto control, including Phase Detect Autofocus and Sony's exclusive Translucent Mirror Technology. Your NEX E-mount Sony camera can now benefit from high speed and precise TTL autofocus in photo and video modes, as well as auto exposure and metering, with the complete range of high-quality, A-mount lenses.