Photography News 81 WEB

Independent lenses

The longand the short of lenses Which lenses you buy depends on what you like to photograph. It can work the other way, too, and what you shoot is driven by which lenses you invest in. Join us for PN’s tour of what’s hot in the world of independent lenses Buyers’ guide


It seems rarely a month goes by without a new lens announcement from Laowa. Made by Venus Optics, a Chinese company formed in 2013 by a group of keen photographers and industry experts, Laowa lenses are created by designers who have years of experience and formerly worked with leading Japanese and German brands. On offer from Laowa are manual focus lenses for Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, full-frame, DSLR and mirrorless cameras, and a broad selection from wides to macro and portrait lenses, plus there is a fascinating selection of lens converters, too. The Magic Format Converters let you fit Canon or Nikon 35mm format lenses to medium format Fujifilm GFX cameras, and the Magic Shift Converters let you attach Canon or Nikon lenses to Sony E-mount cameras. Among its lens collection, the most eye-catching for many will be the selection of wide-angle and the macro lenses. The Laowa 60mm f/2.8 2:1 Ultra Macro at £369 offers twice life-size magnification for full-frame and, if you prefer more focal length, there’s a 100mm f/2.8 at £469 also giving 2:1 performance. If you need even more magnification, the 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X costs £399 and is available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax and Sony E fittings. If your seeing eye prefers the wider view, then Laowa has plenty of treats for you. For full-frame shooters, the 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D is £899, and if you want to mix wide views with macro, the 15mm f/4 1:1 gives that option and sells for £499. For Micro Four Thirds owners, there’s a 7.5mm f/2 ultra-wide lens at £499 and a 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D option at £499 for Fujifilm X and Canon EOS M owners.

EVERY PHOTOGRAPHER needs lenses. Some are perfectly happy with one or two, others like to have several in their armoury. Of course, much depends on what you like to shoot or how you visualise your images; there is no right or wrong here. The good news is that, with the camera makers and independent lens brands working hard, we’re seeing lenses that are wider, longer, get you in closer and focus faster than ever, so it’s a time of plenty for photographers. This month’s guide covers some of the latest independent optics.

Irix Irix lenses are designed in Switzerland and made in Korea, and formulated to deliver critically good performance using the latest high-resolution, full-frame DSLRs. Currently, Irix has a small but very select collection of manual focus lenses, with still and cine versions available. The latest arrival is the 45mm f/1.4, a solidly made fast aperture standard lens with Irix’s Dragonfly characteristics, which means the markings are engraved, the finish is

However, they have different build parameters so are priced differently. Blackstone lenses have a reinforced full-metal construction and feature engraved markings with UV reactive paint to aid focusing in very low light conditions. The 11mm f/4 Blackstone retails at £692 and the 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone at £670, while the 11mm f/4 Firefly is £545 and 15mm f/2.4 Firefly £479, available in Canon EF and Nikon F fits from UK distributor Swains.

scratch-resistant, the internal build is metal-based and it is sealed to repel dust and water. For wide-angle fans, Irix offers the choice between an 11mm f/4 and a 15mm f/2.4, both giving a rectilinear non-fisheye image. The two lenses are available in two variants, Blackstone and Firefly, which are optically identical and share features such as dust and water sealing. Both lenses also have an infinity lock, focus lock and a focus calibration window.

Issue 81 | Photography News 17

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