Photography / Buying Guide

12 Most Innovative New Lenses for 2017 and Beyond

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Interchangeable-lens cameras are the hot ticket among serious photographers, ranging from emerging enthusiasts to seasoned pros. As a direct result, the world’s leading camera and lens makers have unleashed a raft of ingenious new lenses targeted at serious shooters, aimed at expanding their picture-taking possibilities. The innovative optics listed below, all prioritized to deliver high performance, also have distinctive imaging properties. They run the gamut, from long-range, mid-range, wide-angle, and fisheye zooms to fascinating high-spec primes. All of them are “keepers” that retain their value and usefulness as savvy shooters migrate to the next, more advanced camera bodies to take advantage of the latest technology.

1. Nikon AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED

This remarkable new full-frame (FX-format) fisheye zoom yields the classic circular fisheye coverage at 8mm, gradually covering the full frame as you zoom to 16mm, thus affording maximum framing flexibility. To achieve outstanding image quality and crisp low-flare imaging over this ultra-wide range, it incorporates three Extra-Low Dispersion, and two aspheric elements and employs Nano Crystal and Super Integrated coatings.

Nikon AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Lens

Other features: Advanced Silent Wave Motor AF with fulltime manual override, internal focusing, an electromagnetically controlled seven-bladed diaphragm, and a smudge-resistant, easy-to-clean fluorine coating on outer elements. The lens provides a 12-22.5mm equivalent focal-length range on DX-format Nikons.

2. Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH

This ingenious, high-performance ultra-wide-to-wide-angle zoom for Micro Four Thirds cameras provides 16-36mm equivalent coverage along with enhanced depth-of-field control. Its advanced optical design incorporates one Aspheric ED, one UHR (ultra-high refractive index), two regular ED, and three aspheric elements to achieve exceptional image quality at all settings.

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. Lens

Other features: a rounded, seven-bladed diaphragm for artistic bokeh, apertures to f/22, splash-, dust-, and freeze-proof construction, and a 240 fps AF drive for fast smooth, quiet, precise AF in still or video applications.

3. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM ART

This cool new high-performance, constant-aperture, wide-to-moderate-telephoto zoom for full-frame and APS-C-format cameras provides enhanced depth-of-field control and has built-in OS optical image stabilization to minimize the effects of handheld camera shake. Its advanced formula incorporates three Special Low Dispersion (SLD) and four aspheric elements, plus two aspheric elements to minimize spherical and axial chromatic aberration and field curvature, delivering exceptional image quality over its entire range. Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) components ensure dimensional stability at all temperatures.

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens for Canon EF

Other features: Maximum magnification ratio, 1:4.8, rounded nine-bladed diaphragm for artistic bokeh, Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for fast, quiet AF, and a durable precision solid brass bayonet mount. Available in Nikon F, Canon EF, and Sigma SA lens mounts.

4. Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm f/4 PRO

Covering an impressive 24-200mm equivalent focal-length range on Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format cameras, this high-performance constant-maximum-aperture zoom is aimed at critical shooters. Its built-in five-axis image stabilization system interfaces with the five-axis stabilization system in the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II body, a combo claimed to provide an amazing 6.5-step anti-shake-effect advantage in handheld shooting. Its advanced design includes one double-sided aspheric element and three additional aspheric elements to achieve outstanding image quality over its entire range. It has a seven-bladed diaphragm for artistic bokeh, and it’s weather- and dust-sealed.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO Lens

5. Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G

This high-performance ultra-wide-angle zoom for Sony E-Mount mirrorless cameras covers full-frame and APS-C formats and features a constant-aperture design incorporating one Super ED, three ED, and four aspheric elements to minimize aberrations and achieve outstanding image quality over its entire range. A Direct Drive Sonic Wave Motor delivers fast, precise, quiet AF in still or video applications, and a focus hold button and AF/MF switch enhance shooting flexibility.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens

Other features: a rounded seven-bladed diaphragm for smooth bokeh, and dust-and moisture-resistant construction.

6. Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM ART

This exceptional, new ultra-high-speed ultra-wide-angle prime lens for full-frame cameras incorporates three FLD (fluorite equivalent), four Special Low Dispersion (SLD) and four aspheric elements, including a large-diameter precision molded glass front element to achieve outstanding correction and sharpness, and extremely even illumination across the imaging field. It also incudes a fast, precise, quiet Hyper Sonic AF motor with full-time manual focus override, and a rounded nine-bladed diaphragm for attractive bokeh and enhanced depth-of-field control. The barrel is made of TSC material to maintain high performance over a wide temperature range, and its precision solid brass lens mount ensures perfect alignment and durability. The lens focuses down to 10.6 inches for compelling close-ups. Available in Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sigma SA lens mounts.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF

7. Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2

Tamron’s upgraded fast-constant-aperture wide-to-moderate-telephoto zoom for full-frame and APS-C-format cameras offers impressive optical performance, thanks to an advanced optical formula incorporating two XR (Extra Refractive), three LD (Low Dispersion), and four aspheric elements. It also includes Fluorine Coating for smudge resistance and easy cleaning, an Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) for fast, precise, virtually silent AF, built-in VC image stabilization providing a claimed five-stop anti-shake advantage in handheld shooting, moisture-resistant construction, and a rounded nine-bladed diaphragm for enhanced bokeh. An optional TAP-in console enables fine-tuning focus adjustments and firmware updates.

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens

8. Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR

This new high-speed constant-aperture X-Mount telephoto zoom provides a 76-213mm equivalent focal-length range on APS-C-format Fujifilm cameras, and includes built-in OIS image stabilization, and internal zoom and focus controls to maintain a constant length, improving handheld balance. Its advanced design incorporates five ED and one Super ED elements to achieve uniformly high imaging performance

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens

Other features: a rounded seven-bladed diaphragm to enhance bokeh, weather-sealed construction, a Tri-Linear Motor AF system for fast precise, nearly silent AF, and a removable tripod collar.

9. Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR

Nikon’s cool new full-frame (FX-format) field telephoto stops down to f/32-40 (contingent on the zoom range), incorporates one Extra-Low Dispersion element to enhance chromatic aberration correction, and employs Super Integrated coating to enhance light transmission and minimize flare.

Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR Lens

Other features: built-in VR image stabilization rated for up to 4.5-stop anti-shake advantage, internal focus to maintain constant length and balance, a fast Pulse-Stepping Motor AF system with anytime manual-focus override, and a fast, precise electronic auto-diaphragm system with a rounded nine-bladed diaphragm for enhanced bokeh. The lens also features dust- and moisture-resistant construction.

10. Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS

Sony’s handy new pro-caliber G Master full-frame E-mount long telephoto zoom features one Super ED and two ED elements to deliver maximum resolution, sharpness, and clarity. It features a fast, precise Direct Drive Supersonic Motor (SSM) AF system, Optical SteadyShot (OSS) for enhanced handheld performance, and a Zoom Torque Adjustment and a Focus Range Limiter to accommodate a variety of shooting styles.

Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens

Other features: Internal focus with a floating-element design, moisture-resistant construction, and a rounded nine-bladed diaphragm for enhanced bokeh. The lens has an impressive maximum magnification ratio of 0.35x.

11. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Canon’s latest L-series long telephoto zoom for full-frame and APS-C-format Canons incorporates one Fluorite and one Super UD element to reduce aberrations and deliver pro-caliber image quality, and employs Air Sphere and fluorine coatings to increase light transmission, reduce flare, and resist smudging. Its IS II optical image stabilization system provides a claimed four-stop handheld anti-shake advantage, and provides three modes to accommodate a variety of shooting styles.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

Other features: internal focus to maintain constant balance, a rotating zoom ring and torque adjustment, a fast, precise Ultrasonic AF motor (USM), a removable rotating tripod collar, weather-sealed construction, and a rounded nine-bladed diaphragm for enhanced bokeh.

12. Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD

The latest iteration in Tamron’s signature series of extended-range all-in-one zooms for APS-C-format cameras, this ultra-long-ranger delivers an impressive 28.8-640mm-equivalent coverage and uses three LD and three aspheric elements to achieve consistently high image quality. Its built-in VC image stabilization system minimizes the effects of handheld camera shake, and its new compact high-low torque modulated drive (HLD) AF system delivers fast, responsive AF.

Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD Lens

Other features: a precise electromagnetic diaphragm, a rounded seven-bladed diaphragm for enhanced bokeh, and moisture resistant, all-weather construction.

What are your picks for the most innovative lenses of 2017? Leave your comments in the section provided, below.

2 Comments

Have Canon 17-40 which focuses verrrrrry close. Need similar close focus (not a macro) which is less wide. Does Canon or any Canon adaptable company make it? Thanks

Hi Mary - 

If we are talking about the same lens (Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens  B&H # CA17404LEF),  which has a  Minimum Focus Distance of 11.02" (28 cm), then consider this Tamron lens:

This Tamron Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Autofocus Lens for Canon EOS  lens is currently the most compact and lightest in the history of fast zoom lenses. Its compactness makes it look and feel like an ordinary standard zoom lens, yet provides the versatility that a fast constant maximum aperture offers and will definitely reshape photographic horizons.

Features like LD glass elements and Internal Focusing put this lens in the same category of professional lenses as much bigger and more expensive Tamron lenses.

Its Minimum Focus Distance of 12.08" (33 cm) is just a one inch more than your current Canon lens.

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