In the Field with Opteka Lenses

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Opteka, a Chinese optical manufacturer, has been producing manual-focus lenses and lens accessories for the consumer market since 2002. Like other lenses in this series, Opteka lenses are designed for photo enthusiasts who want to expand their lens choices without having to expand their credit line.

For this review we included two manual-focus Opteka lenses: the Opteka 50mm f/2 lens for Sony E-mount cameras, which has the FoV of a 75mm lens when used on an APS-C camera, and the wide-angle Opteka 12mm f/2.8 lens for Sony E-mount cameras, which has the equivalent FoV as an 18mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera. Both lenses feature metal-alloy construction, a 9-bladed aperture diaphragm, and HD Anti-Reflection coatings.

All photographs © Allan Weitz 2019

Once stopped down a few stops, Opteka’s 12mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/2 lenses for Sony APS-C format cameras prove to be quite a good deal for the money.

Opteka 12mm f/2.8

Opteka 50mm f/2 lens for Sony E-mount cameras
Opteka 50mm f/2 lens for Sony E-mount cameras

Featuring a single Super-Low Dispersion element and a 30° AoV when used on a Sony APS-C format camera, this 75mm equivalent lens exhibits moderately sharp detail toward the center of the frame, with increasingly softer detail toward the edges of the frame when shooting at maximum aperture. Wide open, the lens proved to be quite prone to flare when aimed anywhere in the direction of the sun. Once stopped down toward f/8, the resolving power of the Opteka 50mm f/2 improves to the sharpness levels of comparable 50mm OEM alternatives.

Sun stars and early morning shadows captured with an Opteka 50mm f/2 lens on a Sony a6500

They say you get what you pay for, and this holds true for lenses. Yes, when placed in knowing hands, both of these lenses are capable of capturing wonderful photographs. In the case of Opteka, the machining and finish of the lens mounts makes mixed dancing between the lens and camera body difficult. In my book, you should never have to wrestle a lens on or off a camera body. In the case of the 50mm lens, the aperture ring was click-less, and while that might make videographers giddy as a still shooter, I find click-less aperture rings to be annoying. At wide aperture, I also found fine focusing to be difficult due to the lack of contrast when using the lens at its maximum aperture (f/2).

In terms of image quality, Opteka’s 50mm f/2 is capable of capturing sharp photographs with high levels of color, contrast, and saturation.

Opteka 18mm f/2.8 for Sony E-mount Cameras (APS-C)

Opteka 18mm f/2.8 lens for Sony E-mount Cameras (APS)
Opteka 18mm f/2.8 lens for Sony E-mount Cameras (APS-C)

Of the two lenses I tested, the 12mm, which has the equivalent F0V of an 18mm lens on a full-frame 35, is definitely my favorite. Aside from the fact that I lean toward wide-angle lenses, Opteka’s 12mm f/2.8 focuses down to 3.94" as opposed to a not-so-close 2.13' for the 50mm f/2. The 12mm also features click stops on its aperture ring, which I greatly prefer over click-less aperture rings.

The bottom line is that if you shoot with a Sony APS-C format camera and you need a set of serviceable wide-angle and short telephoto lenses, for less than a few hundred dollars, you can own both of these lenses. As for taking good pictures—that’s your job.

When reviewing lenses in this price range, which in this case works out to less than a Benjamin (at press time) for the 50mm lens and less than 2 Benji’s (again, at press time) for the 12mm lens, you have to expect a certain degree of compromise. In the case of Opteka, the shortcomings tend to be in the machining of the components. As mentioned up front, mounting and unmounting the lenses required a bit of care since the lens mount did not engage smoothly with the camera. When shooting with digital cameras, dust on your sensor is par for the course. Metal shavings are another story. (No—I didn’t see evidence of metal filings on the camera sensor but, when you have to use effort to get a lens on or off the body, metal particles falling onto the camera sensor are not out of the question.

Complaints aside, I did manage to capture a fair share of esthetically and technically pleasing photographs while testing these lenses and, despite my gripes, I would still recommend these lenses for shooters looking to expand their photographic horizons without having to break the bank.

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