The ultimate lens list, at Nov 2016 (part I)

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Following a couple of recent email exchanges I’ve had, I thought I’d tidy things up and publish them here for the benefit of the general readership. This is a list of what I consider to be the ultimate lenses, on their native systems (and irrespective of system, actually). Lenses also tend to have significantly greater longevity (especially if without electronics) especially compared to camera bodies; you could buy one set of Otuses and adapt it to just about everything now and to come. In that sense, whilst good glass is expensive – the long term cost of ownership is significantly less than cutting edge bodies, and given residuals are high, generally worth the investment.

Of course, what constitutes ‘ultimate’ is actually highly subjective; some value smooth drawing quality and tonal transitions over outright resolution; others require zero distortion or high color accuracy or secondary color correction. If anything, my personal preferences tend to lean towards resolution and microcontrast; I can accept some vignetting, distortion, secondary lateral CA (but not longitudinal) – because these are easy to fix in post. Field curvature, smearing, coma etc. are not. Not all lenses on this list are here because of technical perfection or MTF chart performance, either. On top of that, there are two lenses that are not system options, but included anyway because they deserve honourable mentions. There are probably also better lenses I’ve not used yet (and so obviously can’t include them). I’ve tried to give justifications where possible. With that in mind, and in no particular order, here we go.

**Items denoted with two stars are lenses I currently own. *One star, lenses I’ve owned. Links are to reviews or affiliate suppliers. Images shot with the respective lenses mentioned.

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Otus 85, D810

The Zeiss Otus series** – in particular, the 1.4/85 APO Planar (review B&H) and 1.4/55 APO Distagon (review B&H Amazon).
I can’t think of anything else that reaches this level of performance across such a wide envelope, from the extremely challenging zone of maximum aperture all the way up to where diffraction kicks in. The 1.4/28 APO Distagon (review B&H) is still the best wide angle there is, but it doesn’t quite reach the levels of its brother. To get an idea of what is possible when budget and size considerations are secondary, the Otuses are it. At the time of writing, they’re the only lenses that manage to out resolve every camera they’re mounted on – by a large amount.

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Zeiss 2/135 APO, F2 Titan, Delta 400 +2 push

The Zeiss 2/135 APO-Sonnar (B&H Amazon)
Another best in class: very difficult to focus because of the relatively short throw and abrupt transition, but oh boy – what a rendering! It manages to do this without any aspherical elements, which makes for very smooth out of focus areas and transitions – despite that apochromatic ‘bite’. For the bokeh fans, and those who need isolation at distance.

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Zeiss 2/28, D700

The Zeiss 2/28 Distagon* (review B&H Amazon)
Despite having used a huge number of 28mm lenses, my favourites remain this one (for rendering, color and three-dimensionality and separation due to field curvature); the Ricoh GR’s lens (for outright resolution) and the Leica Q’s for overall balance between the two. It’s not expensive, it’s small, but it’s tricky to focus at the edges because of aforementioned field curvature, and it doesn’t play nice on mirrorless because of edge ray angles. But the results are gorgeous…

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Voigtlander 180 APO Lanthar, A7RII

The Voigtlander 180/4 APO-Lanthar** (review)
When people ask ‘why small and slow?’ – this is the lens I cite. Barely 10cm long and with a 52mm front filter, it’s almost impossible to believe the focal length. Color correction is phenomenal, and whilst overall contrast is somewhat low compared to modern designs – it does make for very smooth tonal transitions. Micro contrast is excellent, but watch out for flare. Use of the hood is a must.

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Nikon 24 PCE, D810

The Nikon PC-E 24/3.5** (review B&H Amazon)
I think this is actually a very misunderstood (and consequently, misused) lens. The problem is that it suffers from a) field curvature b) focus shift c) a very, very sensitive focusing ring, especially near infinity, and d) a movement it doesn’t need, but can’t be zeroed out consistently. The trick is to use it wide open and focus with live view, only caring about your focus point; or at f11, and focus at the most distant thing you want in focus – the shift means everything in front will be sharp, too. Field curvature means the focal plane is like a dome over the lens, which is actually good for most urban situations. You don’t really need tilt on something this wide – by f11 everything from 1m away is critically sharp, even on a D810; all it does is not lock properly at zero, frequently resulting in softness due to unintended movement.

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Nikon 85/1.8G, D4

The Nikon AFS 85/1.8 G** (review B&H Amazon)
An odd choice considering the others on this list; but I actually like the way it flares (extremely so). It’s useful for atmospheric images, cinematic feel, and isn’t harsh or distracting. If you ensure there are no point or bright sources in the frame, contrast and resolution are excellent. Note: it has not aspherical elements, which might have something to do with it. It’s also cheap, light, and small. You can put and not notice it’s there til you need it.

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Nikon 70-200/4VR, D800E

The Nikon AFS 70-200/4 VR* (review B&H Amazon)
Another one on the list because of size, weight, versatility and pure optical competence – at f4, it’s easy to make a truly outstanding lens, and it shows. I think it actually handles better than the 24-70, in my opinion. And the VR is excellent.

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Nikon 24-120VR, D800E

The Nikon AFS 24-120/4 VR** (review B&H Amazon)
With caveats: if you get a good copy, it should be very good everywhere at f4, and quite excellent by f8 post-correction (CA, distortion, vignetting) – even on a D810. It isn’t outstanding anywhere, but it doesn’t have any major flaws, either. Perhaps the ultimate Swiss Army Knife choice; ironically, pared with one of the D4 or D5 series bodies, there really isn’t anything you can’t shoot (and they’re also less demanding than the D810). I’ve shot far more with this than I care to admit…

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Nikon 45P, D750

The Nikon AI 45/2.8 P**
There’s something about the Tessar formula that renders rather nicely for portraits; it also helps that its small size doesn’t intimidate, and it’s easy to focus. Another one of those lenses that would make my small, lightweight kit – stop it down to f8 and it’s great; wide open it’s smooth. A bit of a chameleon; sadly no longer made but reasonably easy to find on the secondary market.

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Canon 40STM, 5DSR

The Canon EF 40/2.8 STM* (B&H Amazon)
Small, sharp, great bang for the buck – with a rendering style similar to the Nikon AI-P 45/2.8, but with autofocus. Think of it as a body cap that you can also use to take some very nice pictures. What’s not to like?

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Canon 70-300L, 5DSR

The Canon 70-300/4.5-5.6 L IS USM* (B&H Amazon)
For the kind of work I do, I preferred the added reach/versatility of the 70-300L over the speed of the 70-200; it’s just as usable handheld thanks to the great stabiliser and relatively small size; it’s also much easier to pack. The tripod collar is a bit weak, though, and you need to watch for vibration. If only Nikon or Hasselblad made something like this…

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45/1.8, E-M5

The Olympus 45/1.8 for M4/3* (review B&H Amazon)
Another one of those small, light bargains. I find it needs a little stopping down to have truly satisfying bite, but its character remains smooth throughout the aperture range rather than crisp. It has a very nice rendering style and would be great for video if it had mechanical manual focus, but at the price, I think we probably can’t complain.

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75/1.8, E-M5

The Olympus 75/1.8 for M4/3* (review B&H Amazon)
One of the best short teles I’ve use for any format. Performance wide open is already outstanding, including secondary color. There’s almost no longitudinal CA, which is surprising given the speed of the lens and my general avoidance of using a hood. Again, a shame you don’t get the proper AF/MF focus clutch at this price; it has a very nice rending for video, but pulling focus is nearly impossible…

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CY 100-300, 5DSR

The Contax Yashica Zeiss 4-5.6/100-300 Vario-Sonnar**
This zoom has a reputation for being better than the Zeiss’ own primes in that focal length and range – and it is. It’s tricky to use because it’s a push-pull design, but very, very smooth and a joy to pull focus on. An aftermarket tripod collar is a must – there is simply no way to get a sharp/stable image out of it otherwise. Overall contrast is low – like non-aspherical designs of that era – but relatively good micro contrast means you’ve still got a lot of information to work with. As with all tele zooms, performs better at the wide end.

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85/2.8 MMG, A7RII

The Contax Yashica Zeiss 2.8/85 Sonnar MMG**
Yet another one of the chameleons on this list: lower in contrast and bite wide open, rivalling the Otus 85 in resolving power and microcontrast when stopped down. I converted my version to Nikon F; it’s small size and fantastic performance have made this my choice of 85mm unless I need one of the specific special attributes of one of the other lenses. No aspherical elements in this design either, which makes for very smooth transitions and bokeh.

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CY 35 PC Distagon, 5DSR

The Contax Yashica Zeiss 2.8/35 PC Distagon AEG**
An outright impressive performer all round – it outresolved the 50MP FX cameras wide open in the middle, and holds at the edges if you stop down a little. Very simple to use shift mechanism and rotation; it’s impossible to accidentally tilt because there’s simply no provision for it. A shame they didn’t make it 28mm, but honestly – it’s so good I force myself to make do with 35mm. Competitive even with the modern PCE and TSE designs, but sadly has the wide mount that’s not convertible to Nikon F.

Continued in part II.


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  1. Do you think Zeiss 135mm ZF.2 can cope with the small pixel pitch of the micro four third format? (EM5MKII, for instance)

  2. Jim Austin says:

    When perusing your list, especially part 1, I noticed a dearth of what most people (FF) would call normal lenses–then I read a comment (somewhere above I think) saying that the 35mm focal length doesn’t agree with you. Plenty in the 45-50 range and in the 24-28 range. So my question: As a walking-around lens–a street lens I guess–which direction do you usually go, longer or shorter, or does it just depend?

    • It depends on the place I’ll be visiting and the kind of work I want to do. It’s actually mostly the 35-90 zoom these days (28-65-e) or the 100.

  3. More Zeiss! 🙂

  4. where did you get your CY converted to nikon F. I’d love to get some of mine converted properly.

  5. Dear Ming! Your characterization of the Nikon PC-E 24/3.5 is spot on! I have a love/hate relationship with that lens, and your few sentences describe this lens better than any lenghty review ever could! Your condensed information (which is hard to find anywhere else) is all you have to know for serious work with this lens.
    The only point where I am of opposite opinion is the tilt movement. This is my workhorse lens for close range product photography and the ability to tilt the lens is absolutely essential and I could not live without it.
    Thank you very much for generously sharing all your insights and best regards from Austria!

    • Thanks. I never used it for product work because the perspective just wasn’t right – I prefer the 45PCE for that kind of thing. But I’m sure you’d still appreciate independently rotating and locking axes, regardless 🙂

  6. What would be your recommendation for a good M4/3 starter lens? The Oly 1.8 / 25?

    • Depends as always on what you want to do with it. As a swiss army knife I actually quite like the Panasonic 12-32 pancake. But the Oly 25/1.8 and 45/1.8 are excellent bang for the buck too.

  7. Philip Arthur Brindle says:

    I also own a Zeiss 2/135 APO and while it is not my most used lens, when the right opportunity arises, the results are amazing. The only way I ever get good sharp images though is using it in conjunction with a tripod. It’s not big deal though when you see what this beautiful piece of glass can deliver.

    • It’s a tricky lens to use handheld because of criticality of focusing and the somewhat longish FL…but yes, it makes magic when the conditions are right – one of those few truly transparent lenses.

  8. I never really liked technically perfect lenses. This aspherical elements makes the images boring (to my test obviously).
    Fuji 35 1.4 is another great gem. something like Hasselblad 110mm.
    I wish they made something like the 110 2.2 for their X1D. Actually all mounts should have a lens like that. Get rid of asphericals…

    • You can use the 100/2.2 on the X1D with an adaptor, and has no aspehericals either. Not sure if you’re confusing this with the 110/2 for the V system. Aspherical elements can add some strangeness in the out of focus transition areas especially with wider lenses – the 28 Otus is a good example of this. Whilst the resolving power is undeniable, the transition areas at moderate defocus levels aren’t pretty at all.

      Caveat: it’s much easier to make a good lens of longer focal length without asphericals; the tradeoffs are relatively small and only really at wide apertures (see performance differences between the 1.4/85 Milvus, 1.4/85 Otus and 2.8/85 CY MMG for example). The ZF.2 2/135 APO is also non- aspherical as far as I know – and one of the best lenses by any measure (resolution, drawing, CA, etc.). Both the 110 and 100 are similar in that respect.

      • Sorry that was a typo , yes I meant 100 f2.2. I meant an equivalent one for the X1D like 80 f2 to be a little smaller and lighter (since they have the 90 3.2 and the adapter as you mentioned I don’t think it is going to happen any time soon.)
        As you mentioned “Aspherical elements can add some strangeness in the out of focus transition areas” thats the whole problem with them. I have handled the Milvus 85. Absolutely lovely. The catch is its heavy. I think it would be nice for the industry that companies produce one or two lenses like hassi 100 f2 or the contax 85 2.8 on the wider side like 35mm or 50mm , a lot of people will appreciate that.

        p.s. I almost forgot. I strongly recommend you test the ziess zm 35 1.4. Its pure magic. I really believe that one’s artistic ability is the only important factor for creating a pleasing visual. But there are times you see something like the zm 35 1.4 and it makes you question your beliefs.

        • The adaptors will come in January, I’m told. You can’t make something smaller and lighter without bumping into the rules of optics: you still need a certain amount of glass for a given aperture and field coverage etc. It might be a bit smaller, but not that much (and they still have to fit the leaf shutter unit in there, too).

          The Milvus 85 is the same weight as the Otus!

          Smaller, faster: I’ve been telling Zeiss this for ages, but they’ve said people don’t buy or want them (apparently). Preaching to the converted, here 🙂

          I’ve used the Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 and agree; the 35mm FOV just doesn’t agree with me.

  9. John Walton says:


  10. Thanks Ming, interesting read. You write that the Zeiss 28mm f2 Distagon doesn’t play nice on mirrorless because of edge ray angles. Could you explain this please, why it is worse on mirrorless than on a DSLR? I mean, if you use e.g. the ZF.2 mount on a mirrorless body using an adapter, I would assume the edge ray angles to be the same on the mirrorless body as on a DSLR? Or are the issues caused by the presumably thicker filter stack covering the mirrorless sensor?

    • A lot of the mirrorless sensors have both different filters and different microlens arrays to DSLRs. The microlenses are optimised for their native lenses, which have a short back flange distance and may need another common element (the microlenses) to correct for telecentricity. In short: for native optics, the filter pack and microlenses are both part of the overall optical formula. SLR lenses – and older legacy lenses – are definitely NOT designed to take this into account.

  11. Thanks a lot, Ming, for this very interesting list. It actually contains quite a number of lenses I didn’t expect.
    Considering the standards you specified in the beginnig I wonder, however, how the Nikon AFS 85/1.8 G got onto your list. Yes, it is sharp, but at least my copy of it shows some considerable amount of longitudinal chromatic abberation. In some situations it is unusable, for example with out of focus dark leaves against a bright sky in the background. In some situations the color fringing can even be used as a “focusing aid”.
    I returned two copies because of decentering, now my third one is quite uniformly sharp. Unfortunately, though, I did not test for LOCA.

    • It may be sample variation – remember, the 85G is a really cheap lens and mostly plastic; your experience with decentering supports this. I tested about half a dozen myself and found some degree (but not as much as you) of variation. That, and: bang for the buck. By f4 it’s a razor. 🙂

  12. Interesting selections! Particularly agree with the Zeiss 2/28. There is something magically cinematic about that lens that not even the Q has (which I thought would render my 2/28 redundant when I got it, but it has a different look). Looking forward to Part II.

  13. I couldn’t agree more about the Zeiss Otus lenses, of which I have all of them plus the 135mm APO. The 55mm is incredible, and although it gets short shrift, the Otus 28mm for landscape work is just wonderful. I hear that the next Otus will be 100mm, and not sure I need that, unless it is a macro. My first of this group was the 135mm APO, which blew my mind. And I use the 55mm and 135mm for close-up work. I also love the Voigtlander 180mm APO, but also the 125mm APO-Lanthar and the first version of the 90mm APO in that series.

    • I must have tried a dud 125 APO – it wasn’t anywhere near what I’d expected based on reputation. A little better than the 2/100MP, but with some strange low contrast hazing that really wasn’t very nice. Could just be a Voigtlander thing as I notice a similar rendering style on their 50/1.1 and the 90 APO too – I didn’t like it much for the same reason.

      • Must have been a dud. I have had four of them, three on Nikon and one on Pentax, and they were wonderful and clear.

        I tried posting the following, but it did not get through. I have the Hasselblad X1D on order and imagine that it will arrive at some point… someday. I also have the three lenses for it, but have this question. As a close-up photographer, I like to shoot, well, close-up. Is there any or do you think there will be any very short extension tubes that will fit the new X1D lenses? How would I find one. I have ordered the adapter for the older Hasselblad lenses, and already own older Hasselblad 120mm macro lens, which is heavy as a pipe, etc. I would like something like the Nikon K1 ring, which is 5.8mm in size. It could get me closer, without damaging the image… too much, I hope.

  14. Michael Jardeen says:

    A great substitute for the Contax 28 is Yashica YUS 28mm. The performance is very similar and it uses the C/Y mount. I use a lot of older MF glass. The Konica 57mm ƒ1.4 and 50mm ƒ1.7 are great lenses. The Olympus OM 100mm ƒ2 is another beauty. The Canon FD glass is also a great cheap alternative along with older Minolta, Nikon, and Pentax glass.

    Have you ever shot with the Jupiter 9 85mm ƒ2. I love that lens.

    • “Have you ever shot with the Jupiter 9 85mm ƒ2”
      No, sorry. Would there be a good reason to do so with the Otus 85 and CY 85/2.8 already in the garage, though?

      • Michael Jardeen says:

        The reason is the bokeh of the lens . The lens has 15 blades so circular bokeh at all ƒ-stops. I do a lot of shallow DOF work and that lens is lovely in the regard without the more ‘artsy’ quality that what I call the “Specialty Bokeh’ lenses that seem all the rage lately. It doesn’t fit your personal style, but one of the things that changed for me when I went Sony is that I have tested a lot of different lenses. I am now in the process of paring down my stable of lenses to a much smaller kit. I do agree with you on the C/Y lenses — great stuff.

        • Makes sense. The CY lens bokeh can be ugly because of those odd diaphragms…

        • Michael,

          The Jupiter also reminds me of the Helios 40-2 85/1.5 and the Petzval. For acutance with bokeh qualities of the lenses mentioned, I find the Kodak Aero Ektar 178/2.5 is the king! Too bad it’s more designed for a Speed Graphics large format cameras.

  15. Michael Jardeen says:

    I realize you have a very complicated relationship with Sony but that means some amazing lenses that are ignored by this list.

    There is a huge Zeiss connection to Sony that has infused their lenses.

    Zeiss Loxia 21mm (the whole Loxia line is pretty remarkable)
    Zeiss Batis 25mm (same as Loxia, the Batis line is fantastic)
    Sony Zeiss 35mm ƒ1.4
    Sony Zeiss 55mm ƒ1.8
    Sony Zeiss 50mm ƒ1.4
    Sony 90mm ƒ2.8

    I loved my Canon 70-200mm ƒ4 L, and I have to say that when I use it, the Sony is pretty sweet.

    • It’s not complicated. It’s simple: they make an unreliable product and there’s no local support. This might work if photography is a hobby and your income does not depend on your equipment working and you being able to deliver images to clients. ‘Battery not recognised’, random lockups, inconsistent shutter lag – all of this spells disaster. And I never found the image quality advantage over reliable equipment (D810, for instance) to justify the headaches and risk.

      Those lenses:

      The Loxia 21 is in part II.
      Batis 25: I have not tested a sample I was happy with, to be honest.
      Sony Zeiss 35: serious sample variation and decentering; Lloyd Chambers has reported on this and we also tested several samples at Zeiss HQ on their MTF measuring machine which supported this.
      Sony Zeiss 55: Same problem with sample variation.
      Sony Zeiss 50, 90: not available at time of writing and me owning the A7RII

      • John Giolas says:

        Couldn’t agree more, Ming.

      • Michael Jardeen says:

        I think the reliability issue is something I have seen improve. The Borrow lens test have also seen a marked improvement in the sample variation.

        • That may well be true. I don’t have any easy way to test this, though – given how few lenses there are to begin with, not to mention the amount of work required to confirm something that will only be of interest to a very small number of people…

  16. Hi Ming, thank you for this nice compilation. I’m fortunate to own some of the lenses you listed above, so I can relate to your comments about those. But I am a little surprised by the lenses that are not on the list, since you said “ultimate lenses, on their native systems (and irrespective of system, actually).”

    So I’m curious why some lenses did not make your list, e.g., Leica 50mm APO Summicron-M, the Zeiss Loxia 21 and 85 lenses, the new Nikon 105mm f/1.4, the Leica 28-90mm Vario Elmarit-R, Leica 35-70 Vario Elmar-R, Leica 180mm APO Elmarit-R, Leica 280mm f/4 APO TELYT-R, Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO Macro Lanthar, Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon-ZM, … to name a few. As well as some of the Leica S lenses (24, 100, 120 and 180, in particular), and the Pentax 90/2.8 for the 645.

    • I can’t comment on what I don’t own or haven’t tested: hence why the list was never claimed to be exhaustive!

      Leica 50 APO: major flare issues.
      Zeiss Loxia 21: In part II.
      Zeiss Loxia 85: Not available at the time of writing, and won’t be tested, because I’m not wasting time and money with Sony again.
      Nikon 105/1.4: Not tested, wasn’t available at time of writing.
      Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon-ZM: Not tested at time of writing
      Leica 28-90mm Vario Elmarit-R, Leica 35-70 Vario Elmar-R, Leica 180mm APO Elmarit-R, Leica 280mm f/4 APO TELYT-R: Not tested because I have no access to these lenses, nor do I have anything to mount them on.
      Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO Macro Lanthar: Wasn’t impressed with the one copy I was able to use; could be bad sample variation. Can’t give it a place on the list by reputation without results.
      Leica S lenses: It can’t be an ultimate lens if the focus gearing strips itself and renders it unusable because of mechanics 🙂
      Pentax 645 90/2.8: Would have made the list if a) it didn’t turn out that there were significantly better performers and b) I hadn’t encountered three broken ones due to shoddy internal construction (very short screws holding major barrel parts together, non-functional IS etc.)

      • John Giolas says:

        The Leica 28-90MM, a lens with which I have extensive experience, is merely very good. It falls well short of the Sony G-Master 24-70. In any event, the Leica SL is unusable for Pro work because massive and bizarre color accuracy problems, especially when any attempt to use the Leica native profile in LR. The Sony, while debatable as a pro tool, and a ergonomic train wreck for me (recognizing that UIs are a very personal choice) has much better color accuracy, and the G Master lenses are extremely good.

        • Roy Prasad says:

          Interesting, thanks for the info re. the Leica 28-90 vs. Sony 24-70 G-Master. Funny, I own them both, but it never occurred to me to compare them! OK, I’ll take some test shots and see how my copies compare.

        • I think we’re in agreement, then.

      • Roy Prasad says:

        Interesting, thank you. Three follow up questions, if I may:

        First, I had read that the first version of the Leica 50 APO had flare issues, but I thought they fixed it in a revision, which is what they sell now. No?! In general, I avoid shooting at the sun or bright light, so I haven’t really tested my 50 APO for flare, but now I’ll take some test shots and see what my copy does.

        Second, with the Leica S lenses: apparently, the first batches of S lenses had a design problem. I had to send three of my S lenses back to Leica for warranty repair, because the lenses stopped working – when I turned on the camera, it would make a whirring sound for about 30 seconds, then go quiet, with the camera not recognizing the lens. After the fix, I’ve had no further issues. Is that the problem you mentioned, or did you mention a different problem?

        Third, I have the Otus 85 and 55, but not the 28. I love your 28mm street photographs, especially with the Leica Q, and I buy into your concept that 28mm adds more drama than 35mm, without being an ultra wide angle. But the Otus is just too big to lug around connected to my Sony A7R-II. I was thinking of the 2/28 Distagon, but saw you mentioned ray angle issues at the edge. Did you have any issues using this with a Sony A7x? Have you tested the Leica 28 Summilux-M with a Sony A7x? Any other 28mm lens that you could recommend for using with a Sony A7x camera?

        TIA for any insights, and best regards.

        • 50 APO: I’ve used both first and second versions. Didn’t see any meaningful difference.

          S lenses: you’re describing an electronic issue. What I’m referring to is a number of plastic gears inside the lens that get stripped slowly over time because of the weight/resistance of helicoids and glass – lots of noise of this of late as it’s a longevity issue that definitely occurs outside the warranty period.

          Otuses: I like the 28 optically, but I agree: I almost never use it because of the size and weight.

          Stick to the native wide options for Sony.

  17. Junaid Rahim says:

    I think you’ve always had lens GAS Ming probably more so than body/system 😉

    Though I wonder after the ‘blad and Otus has anything really caught your eye or have you reached some contentment?

    • Agreed – the best bodies/systems are useless without the right lenses 🙂

      In an odd way, the Olympus 12-100/4 almost makes the list; but not having seen uncorrected raw files yet, I can’t say for sure. I also recently received another sample of the Hassy 35-90, and it’s a completely different animal to the first one – I really can leave the primes in the same range at home now. Perhaps that Nikon 19/4 PCE might be worth a look, but it’s no wider than the Hassy 24mm and HTS on the H6-100 (and has less movement).

      • You didn’t try to shoot 12-100 on an E-M1.1 bodies you still have? Or you wanted to evaluate it at 20MP?

      • Oh, and what about Olympus 12-40/2.8? 🙂

      • Junaid Rahim says:

        That 35-90 must be a beast….

        For myself listening to you has saved me some money – 70-200 f4 and the 85 f1.8 have become my go to lenses along with the 50 art and the gr. So people, listening to Ming can save you money…sometimes 😉

        • It’s larger and heavier than most 70-200/2.8 FF lenses.

          As for saving money: if you go straight to Otus, then you don’t waste money buying all the steps in between 🙂

          • Junaid Rahim says:

            Hehe despite seeing how amazing the output can be, thankfully I’m aware of how unnecessary they are to me! Besides unemployment has its upsides – can’t buy anything now 😉

  18. An interesting selection of lenses, Ming!
    IMHO, since you include the Olympus 75 f/1.8, may I suggest the equally superb Fujinon 90 f/2. It’s super sharp, built like a tank, and has excellent image stabilization as well. The detail rendering is truly amazing. Thank you.

    • May well be as good – I can however of course only comment on lenses I’ve shot with 🙂

      • Makes perfect sense, Ming. With respect to your comments about the QC issues of Sony products, I had actually strongly considered the Sony mirrorless system, and especially the renowned Sony-Zeiss 55, because I’m an admitted “sharpness fanatic” when it comes to subject detail in my landscape and product images. However, after comparing several criteria between Sony and Fujifilm, including mainly the overall image and build quality of each lens system, (and admittedly, cost), I opted for the Fujifilm X-System. And judging from the image quality (sharpness, dynamic range, color, tonal range, etc.) I see from 24×30 inch poster prints, I think I made a good choice. Regarding decentrring and sample variation issues, I feel that any manufacturer can have problems (being in Quality Assurance as well). Fortunately though, it’s been my experience that Fujifilm may be a more “tightly controlled ship”, as every body and lens I’ve had the opportunity to use, seems to be within spec. Thank you.

        • I owned several iterations before giving up, wasting a whole lot of time, money and missed images in the process – not to mention enduring bricks thrown by fanboys who don’t actually use their cameras for photography.

          Sample variation: every manufacturer suffers to this to some degree; some are worse than others either because of QC, cost targets, design decisions or overambitious design spec. It’s also true that the closer you get to the bleeding edge – whether it’s in lens performance, reach, aperture etc. – the exponentially tighter QC must be for the lens to ‘make spec’. Even worse when the difference between good/average and exceptional is already small; take a 50/1.8 vs a 55 Otus for example…

    • Which lens are you referring to? Because the Fuji 90 f/2 doesn’t have OIS. Hence it needs 1/250 to get critically sharp results a good majority of the time. The Fuji 50-140 has OIS but has less than pleasing bokeh.

      • jypfoto,
        I think your statement is a bit misleading. True, the Fuji 90 has no OIS, but as a 95% tripod user (for optimum sharpness), I really don’t miss it. And FYI, using good technique, I’ve gotten critically sharp images at ANY shutter speed! Thank you.

  19. Certainly agree with you on the Nikon Zeiss lenses. Tried the 2/135 and was generally pleased. Seemed as sharp as my Otus but my copy produced moire’ in some surprising places and the focal length didn’t really work for me so I returned it.
    As to the 4/70-200, it’s pretty much lives on the D810 – and I had always been a prime guy!

  20. I love the 100-300 as well. I have the Ebay tripod collar, but it truncates the range significantly. What collar are you using?

  21. It’s kind of scary how many of those lenses I’ve had or still have. Not sure I’m looking forward to part 2 to remind me of my profligate spending … 🙂 I’m glad you spoke out for the 24 PC-E: it’s underrated by almost everyone, and takes a bit of patience to figure out how to use well. It’s my favorite landscape 24mm by far.

    • The 24PCE is a much better lens than initial impressions suggest; you’ve just got to get around the strange field curvature and focus shift behaviour, and make sure your tilt is really locked at zero. I wonder if the 19 will make that pantheon too…

  22. Is your issue with the 100-300 because of the adapter or because of the unbalance? Have you tested?

    I’ve run comparisons with the Reiyi foot on my 100-300 versus simply attaching to the body versus the body on a rail that lets me balance the camera over the tripod… there’s no difference in stiffness between any of them when I test by tapping on the lens while viewing 10x magnification live view on a crop body.

    I usually use the rail instead of the foot because I like the 100-125mm range a lot and the foot blocks that range.

    • Good question: it appears to be the body to rail connection; I don’t use the bottom end of the range so much so I’m happy using the foot 🙂

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