12 Hot New Lenses for 2018 and Beyond

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Serious shooters, a broad category ranging from emerging enthusiasts to full-time pros, generally opt for DSLRs and mirrorless ILCs (interchangeable lens cameras) for most of their work. That’s because these cameras are unsurpassed when it comes to optical versatility, technical and subjective image quality, and creative control. During the past year, the world’s leading optical manufacturers have responded to the upsurge in new DSLRs and full-frame mirrorless models by launching a barrage of ingenious new, faster, wider, longer, and more visually expressive lenses, all aimed at expanding your creative horizons and elevating your picture-taking experience. The most active area of optical innovation: premium glass—high-performance lenses that allow savvy enthusiasts and pros to express their personal shooting style, differentiate their work, and make their images stand out.

The optical explosion includes wide-aperture prime and macro lenses, a profusion of fast new zooms that can capture compelling images with shallow depth of field, and specialty lenses ranging from wide-aperture short zooms to super-telephotos. Today’s top optical designers also placed a high priority on beautiful bokeh, creating lenses that deliver smooth natural transitions from sharp to soft areas of the image. And most of the latest lenses employ a greater number of rounded aperture blades to enhance the natural look of out-of-focus image areas. We hope you enjoy reading about the hottest new lenses described below, but there are lots more out there well worth checking out, and they’re all detailed and user-reviewed on the acclaimed B&H website.

1. Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S

Designed for Nikon’s recently released Nikon Z6 and Z7 full-frame mirrorless cameras, this fast wide-angle, FX-format prime lens is based on an advanced optical design incorporating 2 ED (extra-low dispersion) and 3 aspheric elements to minimize all aberrations and distortion, resulting in outstanding image quality across the field at all settings. Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings on all glass surfaces increase light transmission and clarity, and a stepping AF motor enables quick, quiet, precise autofocus action and offers a full-time manual-focus override option. A Programmable Control Ring provides instant access to manual focus, aperture, and exposure compensation settings, a rounded 9-bladed diaphragm enhances its inherently smooth, pleasing bokeh, and a specially developed electromagnetic aperture mechanism provides greater stability and control when shooting rapid sequences and video.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S Lens

2. Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports

This outstanding new high-speed, high-performance, full-frame format tele-zoom in Sigma’s Sports line employs no less than nine FLD (fluorite equivalent) elements and one SLD (Super Low Dispersion) element to achieve exceptional color correction and clarity at all apertures, and Super Multi-Layer Coating to enhance light transmission and minimize flare. A built-in Intelligent OS (optical stabilization) system minimizes the effects of handheld camera shake, and a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) delivers quick, quiet precise AF and provides full-time manual focus override. Other features include fully sealed weatherproof construction, precision solid brass lens mount, a rounded 11-bladed diaphragm to maintain its smooth, natural bokeh, and a removable Arca-type tripod foot. The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 is perfect for shooting sports, events, and portraits—even in low light—and offers exceptional depth of field control. It’s compatible with the Sigma USB Dock for fine-tuning and firmware updates, as well as with Sigma 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports Lens for Sigma SA

3. Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 CF

This brilliant new “short normal” full-frame prime from Zeiss is based on an innovative close-focusing (CF) Distagon formula incorporating 4 low-dispersion glass elements, 3 aspheric elements, and a floating element design to maintain consistent sharpness and illumination over its entire focusing range. The new Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 focuses down to 9.4 inches, achieving an impressive maximum magnification of 1:3.3, employs a linear motor that delivers quick, smooth, quiet AF, and features a unique OLED display that highlights the focus distance and depth-of-field range, thereby enhancing control. Other features: Zeiss T* Anti-Reflective Coating on all elements to enhance light transmission and minimize flare, and dust- and moisture-sealed construction. The lens can also be used as a 60mm equivalent “long normal” on APS-C-format cameras.

ZEISS Batis 40mm f/2 CF Lens for Sony E

4. Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH

Aimed at Lumix shooters, this great new high-speed, high-performance telephoto zoom in Micro Four Thirds (MFT) mount provides 100-400mm-equivalent coverage at apertures from f/2.8 to f/16, and incorporates a POWER Optical Image Stabilizer (O.I.S.) with Dual I.S. and Dual I.S 2.0 for an enhanced anti-shake-effect in handheld shooting. To achieve excellent performance at all apertures over its 4x zoom range, it employs 2 UED elements, 2 ED elements, one UHR element, and one aspheric element in its construction. Other key features include a 240 fps AF motor for fast, precise, quiet AF when shooting stills or video, Nano Surface Coating for enhanced light transmission and clarity, and splash-, dust-, and freeze-proof construction.

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. Lens

5. Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM

Just released, Sony’s exciting new full-frame E-mount super-speed wide-angle is a versatile lens in a focal length that can be pressed into service for everything from landscapes to nature, and is perfect for low-light street photography, night shots, and depth-of-field control, thanks to its wide f/1.4 aperture. Its advanced optical design employs 3 extra-low dispersion (ED) elements and 2 extreme aspheric (XA) elements to achieve excellent control of spherical aberrations, yielding images of extreme sharpness and clarity. Nano AR coating on all elements virtually eliminates flare and ghosting, and enhances contrast and color fidelity. Fluorine coating on the front element repels contaminants and facilitates cleaning. Other features include internal focusing design with Direct Drive Super Sonic Wave AF motor to ensure quick, quiet, precise AF; a convenient AF/MF switch and a focus hold button; physical aperture ring with de-click switch for silent aperture changing when shooting video; rounded 11-bladed diaphragm that enhances beautiful, natural bokeh; and dust- and moisture-resistant construction allowing all-weather use.

Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens

6. Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD

Now available in Sony full-frame E-mount, this high-performance wide-to-moderate telephoto zoom provides a wide f/2.8 aperture over its entire zoom range, and delivers outstanding imaging performance, thanks to an advanced design incorporating one XLD and one LD element, 3 aspheric elements, and high-transmission BBAR and protective fluorine coatings. Its exclusive RXD Stepping AF Motor delivers fast, precise, quiet AF, its rounded 9-bladed diaphragm enhances its artistic bokeh, and its moisture-resistant construction facilitates its use under adverse conditions. Its minimum focusing distance of 7.5 inches (1:2.9 at 75mm) enables compelling close-ups, and the E-mount version is compatible with Sony’s Direct Manual Focus and other Sony camera-based functions.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens for Sony E

7. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR

Nikon just unveiled an impressive new pro super-telephoto designed for handheld or tripod use. The new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR for FX-mount Nikons features built-in vibration reduction (VR) and an electromagnetic diaphragm. What makes this release significant is the use of a Phase Fresnel element to dramatically shrink the size of this super tele to 4.2 x 9.3" and to a weight of just 3.2 lb, unheard of for lenses of this focal length. It joins the 300mm PF in this club of compact tele primes and promises to deliver stunning images with three ED elements, Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings, and a Fluorine-coating front element for protection. For capturing fast subjects, the lens is equipped with a Silent Wave Motor AF System.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR Lens

8. Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Sigma’s newly designed, high-performance, full-frame, internal-focusing f/1.4 wide angle has a very versatile use profile. It’s particularly suited for available-light photography in low light, and at night, and for isolating subjects using limited depth of field at its widest apertures. To achieve an extremely high level of aberration correction and sharpness at all apertures, it employs 2 FLD (fluorite equivalent) elements, 3 SLD (special low dispersion) elements, 3 aspheric elements, and glass surfaces are Super Multi-Layer Coated for maximum light transmission and clarity. Other features include a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) that provides fast, quiet, precise AF with full-time manual focus override; sealed weather-resistant construction; rounded 9-bladed diaphragm to enhance its inherently beautiful bokeh; weather-sealed precision solid brass lens mount; and a water/oil-resistant protective coating on the front element.

Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon F

9. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro

This acclaimed pro-caliber Micro Four Thirds (MFT-mount) super-speed medium telephoto provides a 90mm equivalent focal length on MFT System cameras. It’s perfect for portraiture and enhanced depth of field control, thanks to its extremely wide f/1.2 maximum aperture, and it delivers outstanding sharpness and clarity, thanks to its advanced design incorporating one ED (extra-low dispersion) element, one aspheric element, and 4 high refractive index elements. Z Coating Nano applied to individual elements dramatically reduces internal reflections, resulting in enhanced contrast and color neutrality. Other features include a Movie & Still Compatible (MSC) AF system that provides smooth, quiet, fast AF; internal focusing design with manual focus clutch for quick switching to MF mode, a rounded 9-bladed diaphragm that enhances its pleasing bokeh, and weather-sealed construction that facilitates use in inclement weather.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO Lens

10. Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art

Acclaimed as one of the sharpest lenses in its class, this outstanding, moderately fast telephoto has just been released in full-frame Sony E-mount. To achieve extremely high correction and definition over its entire range, it incorporates 2 FLD (fluorite-equivalent) elements, 2 Special Low Dispersion (SLD) elements, additional LD and aspheric elements, and Super Multi-Layer Coating. Its wide f/2.8 aperture facilitates artistic portrait and pictorial effects using limited depth of field, and it has a rounded 9-bladed diaphragm to enhance its inherently smooth, natural bokeh. The lens focuses down to 1:1 (life-size on sensor) with a minimum focusing distance of 10.2 inches for capturing compelling close-ups, and it features an advanced Coreless DC AF Motor with full-time manual override that provides fast, precise, quiet autofocus and excellent tracking performance when shooting stills and video. The lens has comprehensive weather sealing, and a durable precision brass lens mount.

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens for Canon EF

11. Fujifilm XF 200mm f/2 R LM OIS WR

This amazing new super-speed, high-performance telephoto for Fujifilm’s popular X-mount (APS-C format) mirrorless line provides an impressive 305mm equivalent focal length and an ultra-wide f/2.0 aperture that vastly expands its shooting range in low light, and facilitates the creative use of shallow depth of field. It employs one large-diameter super ED element and two large-diameter ED elements to minimize chromatic aberration, and special High-precision Polishing Technology to achieve outstanding imaging performance and beautiful bokeh. The lens also features a new Focus Preset function, a built-in Optical Image Stabilization system (OIS) that provides a 5-stop anti-shake-effect advantage in handheld shooting, and a Linear AF Motor to ensure fast, quiet, decisive autofocus. The Fujifilm XF 200mm f/2 has a rounded 9-bladed diaphragm to enhance its attractive bokeh, features weather-sealed construction, and has a smudge-resistant easy-to-clean fluorine coating on its front surface. It’s offered as a kit with a matched XF 1.4x TC F2 WR Teleconverter that transforms it into a sharp 427mm f/2.8!

Fujifilm XF 200mm f/2 OIS WR Lens with XF 1.4x TC F2 WR Teleconverter Kit

12. Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM

The first macro lens designed specifically for Canon’s exciting new full-frame mirrorless Canon EOS R, this just-released, high-speed, wide-angle macro focuses down to 6.7 inches, which corresponds to 1:2 (half life-size on sensor), and its built-in image stabilization system (IS) delivers an impressive 5-stop anti-shake advantage in handheld shooting. An STM Stepping AF Motor provides very quiet, smooth, precise autofocus plus full-time manual focus override, and a Configurable Control Ring lets you adjust aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation settings via the lens. Other features include a Super Spectra Coating to minimize flare and enhance image clarity, and a rounded 9-bladed diaphragm for more pleasing bokeh.

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM Lens

Did any of these lenses make your wish list? Are there any you think deserve a mention? Make sure to leave a comment with your thoughts below!

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