2020 – Year’s end review

This image was taken a little after sunrise on the day of the winter solstice 2020 and I feel that it is a fitting image for the whole situation at the moment. Most days here in Germany are dark but at times one is lucky enough to catch a few rays of sunlight. At the same time one can look forward to sunnier days ahead.

2020 took it’s toll on the team as well. We and our families are all healthy and we work in secure jobs which is a big privilege these days. The blog, which is our hobby, got a little less attention because of the whole situation though. But still we managed to publish or update about one article per week and I am grateful to Bastian, David, Juriaan and Jannik not only for the articles but for the constant exchange behind the scenes.

And now lets have a look at the teams most important articles of the year and also one important image from 2020 from each team member.


Bastian remained as productive as ever before and made sure that that there was a new article most weeks. A big thank you for your effort! To me among his many articles Bastian‘s “review” of the Leica M10 stood out because he is in the rare situation that he didn‘t have to justify to himself investing several monthly salaries  into the cam nor did he have to please Leica so they would continue to provide him with review loaners. Among his reviews the lenses that surprised me were the surprisingly capable Laowa 9mm f/5.6, the Sigma 5.6/180 APO Macro, the very well balanced TTartisan 1.4/50 and the tiny MS-Optics Aporia 2/24.

“I guess barely everyone will say 2020 was a great year and I totally agree here. Generally I like to travel a lot but this year this was hardly possible, even simple weekend getaways were often out of the question. Still, I can say I tried to make the best of it and when thinking of the year in retrospective and looking at the pictures I took it wasn’t that bad after all. Try to remember the good times, the additional time you got to spend with your loved ones, but maybe also the things you could do this year that you didn’t find the time to do before, like in my case selling the Pokemon Trading Card collection from my childhood on eBay.”


Jannik is the only one who had to care for a little kid in times when childcare was closed for longer periods so he reviewed only the not that exciting Tamron 2.8/35 Macro but behind the scenes he shared with us many exciting his bird photographs. I really hope that one day he will find some time to write about his experience photographing birds with the a9, a7rIV and the 200-600mm.

“After a few years without extensive traveling, 2020 should have been the opposite to me. Due to well known reasons, my flights to Lofoten and Hanoi got cancelled early in this year. My first frustration about the situation turned into motivation to discover the local nature around my home. I actually found a new hobby and got pretty obsessed about wildlife photography, especially birding. I learned a lot about this genre of photography and also about zoology, both important skills that will stay relevant for me after the current crisis. This image of a bearded reedling is a good example of my most loved and hated lens of 2020, the Sony FE 5.6-6.3/200-600 G OSS which needed a camera change from the Sony A7RIV to Sony A9 to work in a satisfying way.”


Juriaan reviewed two rather contrary tele lenses: The expensive, heavy and state of the art Sony GM 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 and the affordable and light Canon nFD 3.5/135 from 1979 and again he showed that a photographers skill is key to successful photographs, not deep pockets.

“Halfway September Covid-19 numbers started to increase in the western part of the Netherlands (we live more to the east), so we decided to go for one last trip when it still was possible. During this trip I captured my only milkyway core of the 2020 season and I collected most samples for my upcoming 1.8/50 Canon nFD review. The thunderstorm next to the milkyway makes this picture really symbolic for 2020, even during periods of ”clear skies” the next storm is not far away.”


David had an even worse start into 2020 when unprecedented wild fires destroyed much of nature around him and came a few hundred meters close to engulfing his house. Before all this happened though he finally took part in the manual photographers series and he finished the epic Guide to Classic Olympus OM Zuiko lenses on film and Sony Full Frame.

“After nine months it was at last legal to go on a holiday. Since we were working form home, we basically work all the time unless on holiday. So this image of the wonderful remote lighthouse we were privileged to stay in is a symbol of the huge relief of talking time out to walk and relax, and also of hope for all of us over the next year.”


Photographically 2020 has been a very good year for me. I got outside a lot more than the years before. One result of this was my article a Photography Ride through spring. Working as a teacher first teaching remotely under lockdown conditions, then under continually more concerning conditions in person demanded a lot of me, so that I had little passion left for getting and reviewing new gear so I mostly wrote stuff about my existing gear like Lenses in the field part 1: Out in nature with the Voigtländer 40mm F1.2 and the long-term review of the Voigtlander 2.5/110 Macro.

“I took this image on a small detour of my daily 19 km commute to work by bike. It shows how my intensified passion for cycling can enable my passion for photography. This moment was one of the highlights and I am not only riding on forest paths through idyllic landscapes in great weather conditions. But just being outside, being active, observing nature and taking a snap here and there is a great counterbalance to the everyday stress these times bring with it.”


As a team we put a lot of effort into our Guide to the best 50mm Lenses for full frame Sony E-mount cameras, we updated our Guide to best 35mm Lenses as well as the Sony FE-Guide. We also asked for reader submissions and each processed the same image according to our own taste.

Also mentioned should be Nehemiah’s update of the Pentax SMC FA 31mm f1.8 Limited review which is now super in-depth.


And finally a big thank you to you as our readers who visit the blog regularly, who add to our articles with your comments and who recommend it to others!








The following two tabs change content below.
I have two hobbies: Photography and photographic gear. Both are related only to a small degree.

Latest posts by Phillip Reeve (see all)

37 thoughts on “2020 – Year’s end review”

  1. Thank you for the great reviews you do and share your precision time with !! Love your articles as always and looking forward to your articles definitely help through what was a tough 2021 !!

    Compliments of the season to the team and to your loved ones and a very happy new year 2021 in advance with hopes that 2020 and the pandemic is soon behind us all !! Good tidings!!

  2. Thank you for the great reviews you do and share your precision time with !! Love your articles as always and looking forward to your articles definitely help through what was a tough 2020 !!

    Compliments of the season to the team and to your loved ones and a very happy new year 2021 in advance with hopes that 2020 and the pandemic is soon behind us all !! Good tidings!!

  3. Hi Philip,

    I’m curious to know what equipment you carry on your cycle ride and also what bag / system you use to carry it in? I’m considering getting an Evoc Hip Capture 7L as I don’t like riding with a backpack. Thanks!

  4. Long time reader first time commenter here. Thanks for all the effort you guys put in the articles! The articles are always very well made, and at least for me provide all the information I am after.

    These articles and the “database” about available lenses for Sony FE system was one of the key effects why I made the jump to Sony from Fuji.

    Happy new year 2021 for you guys!

  5. I want to wholeheartedly thank Phillip and the team for wonderful and inspirational photography and articles.

    Here’s to many more to come.

    Best wishes, and stay safe!

  6. Compliments and a big thank you from my side also, I really like what you’re doing. Basically, I am trusting your experiences a lot more than those of all the influencers and reviewers photographing white bookshelves.

    That said, I do not like everything to the same amount, some of the articles, devices and opinions sound ever so slightly snottily to me over time. I know that Leica-bashing is a cool attitude these days, but instead praising a 1200 $ lens with more field curvature than lines/mm, akwardly to operate, seems a bit strange to me. (But admittedly it may be a strength to bring also such oddities and rarities more into the public. And at least the Aporia has a distinct look and design and does not simply steal the design of Leica and other brands like 7artisans and others do.)

    Still, I would long for a bit more mainstream topics, for instance I am convinced that it would be of MUCH importance for a LOT of your loyal followers to report about the difficulties of the combination 7RIV and FE 200-600, which you friends briefly mention on some occasions but don’t explain.

    With great pleasure I have read the remarks from Phillip and Jannik, as in my case I had similar experiences. Like Phillip, I have been cycling a lot, carrying with me a Sony RX10 IV quite often, and like Jannik, I have taken more and more acceptable photos staying in my home region. Even with the bridge camera.
    Stay active, stay healthy, and let’s hope for an even better 2021! And in my case, let’s hope for a super sharp FE (or Sigma) 5.0/500, weighing around 2 kg and focussing down to 2 m. An elderly nature photographers dream.

    1. The smallest Leica lens I am aware of currently seems to be the 28mm 5.6 Summaron.
      Also 6 elements, also lots of field curvature. Maximum F-stop f/5.6, higher vignetting, 165g.
      Asking price: 2200€
      Generally it is hard to find a single Leica M-mount lens that is priced below $1200. Maybe one of the Summarit lenses on a discount?
      Defending the brand that puts this on the street and at the same time complaining about covering a 2/24 with actually unique features for $1200 seems to be a bit of a mood point.
      And generally, I review lenses I am personally interested in or that there can be found little to no information on online.
      If I cared more about the money from affiliate links you would be reading how great the latest dinky Samyang or Tamron lenses are.
      When writing articles we are no fanboys of any brand. Sometimes we are fans of a product, but that may also change fast if something better comes along.
      If Leica made an M-mount lens that actually appealed to me I would gladly buy it, but they seem to be busy rereleasing half-century old
      designs at ridiculous prices (Summaron/Thambar), creating showcase pieces for the wealthiest with little to no value to actual photographers (1.5/90, 1.25/75)
      or throwing out one special edition after the other with some celebrity’s name and a 100% premium on it.

      Here the sad part is: I actually like the brand, I like the look of the M-cameras.
      I like what they are doing with the Leica Academy and the small exhibitions in the Leica shops.
      But that doesn’t take away from the often disastrous value and the shortcomings of their products.

  7. Great article, guys. A very nice summary to what has been a very unusual year; the content this site has produced despite trying conditions has been impressive.

    Here’s hoping for a more “normal” 2021. Thanks for all of the effort you gents put in to this website, it’s a really amazing resource.

  8. Dear team, a big thank you for your dedication and for sharing your excellent reviews. Your site is a constant source of insight and inspiration – not only on lenses but on photography overall. Keep up the good work and may 2021 bring only the best to you and your families.

  9. Thank you all for the good work you put into this site, I too would love to hear the details of Jannik’s birding trips and what he has learned to get good pics.

    I’ve been running an a7II for over 4 years and 2021 is probably the year I upgrade and I would like to know what features add the most value for birding

  10. You lads and your blog was certainly a bright point in an otherwise hellish 2020 for me. 2021 won’t start any better (far worse, in fact) but hopefully things will turn around at some point. Cheers, happy holidays

  11. A Happy Hogmanay to all at phillipreeve.net

    It’s always good to read honest appraisals of gear and even better to see the day to day examples of images using those lenses.

    Another site which specialises in a variety of categories, including landscapes, now has many daily “pretty” shots and I’m beginning to wonder if their contributors have now pushed and squeezed prettiness way past reality. Salads of colour.

    Looking forward to travelling again, although I can’t complain; a friend and ‘neighbour’ has 4 million acres to wander on and the weather for most of this year has been great.

  12. One of the best sites on the whole www. (biased Sony user…) If you ever do a subscription for this, I’m in.
    Wishing you all continued good health in 2021.

  13. Jannik wrote: “the Sony FE 5.6-6.3/200-600 G OSS which needed a camera change from the Sony A7RIV to Sony A9 to work in a satisfying way.”

    In what way didn’t A7RIV work together with the 200-600?
    Would be interesting to here Your experience there since I was thinking of buying the 4, and yes I have the 200-600 and it works ok together with my A7R3 when it comes to bird photography. However I use it almost all the time it in crop mode… You can never get to close:)


  14. Following your site now for many, many months, now it’s time to give you a feedback. You are giving us a unique look on lenses with your excellent reviews. I like especially the fact, that they are not based too much on parameters and numbers but on experiences. It’s very valuable for me to see, what you can do with a specific lens.
    This leeds me to the most important aspect. Your sample images not only show, what’s possible when an experienced photographer uses that lens, but they are giving me inspiration. That’s for me one of the main reasons to come back to your site every week.

    I deeply thank you all for that work and the knowledge you’re sharing. I learned a lot from it.

    Keep your work going …

    Best wishes to you for the upcoming year

  15. Hey guys! I had a proposal. I have a couple lenses that I’ve used a lot that have not been reviewed much at all. They are:

    1. Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4 SL (best lens i’ve ever used.)

    2. Asahi Tele-Takumar 200mm f5.6

    I was wondering if you would consider reading and maybe publishing a review or two if I wrote them up. I’ve never formally written any lens reviews before but I informally discuss and compare them *a lot* and have used / bought and sold many lenses that I could compare them to. If you were interested, I would be happy to give it shot even without the guarantee of publication. Let me know!


    1. Hi Scott,
      thanks for the offer!

      To be honest mentoring a first time guest review is in my experience not a whole lot less work for me, than writing it myself. So I have become rather hesitant about saying yes to guest reviews. Maybe you could publish your review on a forum, see if you like the process of writing a review. If you do you can send me a link and I will see how much work it would be for the both of us to make it fit for the blog.


  16. Enhorabuena muy buenos artículos , un cordial saludo para todo el equipo y feliz año, desde Talavera de la Reina (Toledo) España👍 Y viva la fotografía y la belleza.

  17. Thankyou Phillips for a wonderful journey of 2020.
    Let’s keep forward, and hope that this year will be more adventurous.
    Best regards from Indonesia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *