All posts by Phillip Reeve

I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

The Team’s favorite lenses – May 2018 Edition

Half a year has passed and much has changed, not only in our camera bags. This is our second “Team’s Favourites” since David from Australia joined us. How time flies!

David’s favorites

In deciding what to mention this time, I have gone partly by usage. The ones that have made the most pictures I like since last time, for whatever reason. And where there’s a tie, I’ll favour something I didn’t list last time to provide more variety for you! So don’t think that I don’t still love the three lenses in last year’s edition!

Voigtländer Nokton 1.2/40

This is a lens with a slightly mixed reputation. Many people are raving about it: the best standard lens you can get. Others are complaining about some issues (axial colour, field curvature, focus shift as you stop down) and don’t like it at all. I love the lens, but it’s unrealistic to imagine that an f1.2 lens of this size – tiny by f1.2 standards – could be flawless. It would be bigger than an Otus if were! After all Otuses are only f1.4.

So what do you get? Excellent performance stopped down, with lovely sunstars and good contrast and flare resistance (the last amazing given it’s f1.2). You get decent central performance wide open at distances more than a metre or so, much better than classic f1.2 lenses. You get the thinnest available DOF for a lens of this angle of view: which is very nice, because it’s a focal length which repays thin DOF in images, and one where it’s hard to achieve thin DOF technically. So you get multiple lenses in one. If you can be bothered using a two element achromatic close up lens, you can massively enhance the wide open close distance quality. You need to focus at f4 for f4 and smaller apertures, and you need to pay a bit of attention to field curvature.You also need to watch out for situations in which the corner bokeh can get a little nervous  (but in many situations the bokeh is glorious). But if you are happy with all that, you get an wonderful lens, capable of many different and interesting looks.

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Long-term Review: Minolta MC Rokkor 1:1.2 58mm

The Minolta MC 1.2/58 is probably Minolta’s most famous lens and a personal favorite of mine. In this in-depth review I have a close look at the Minolta’s qualities and also at its weaknesses.

Image Samples

You can find most images shown in the review in full resolution in this Minolta MC 1.2/58 flickr album.

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Best Sony FE Landscape Lenses for the poor Student

User Characterization: You are a Sony a7 series user enthusiastic about landscape photography but you work on a very limited budget. You look for lenses with a great bang for the buck ratio and good characteristics for landscape photography.

In this post I give you my top picks and a few alternatives for affordable landscape lenses. These where my criteria for this list:

  • Very good across the frame sharpness at smaller apertures like f/8 or f/11.
  • High contrast and good flare resistance.
  • Lenses should be less than $200.
  • I see manual focus lenses as preferable for landscape photography.
  • I would like to have nice sunstars but at this budget this is quite difficult if not impossible.
  • Small size is a bonus.

This is the fourth part of a series on the best landscape lenses for the Sony a7/a9 series in which we explore sets of landscape lenses for different user types.

Part 1: “Only the best is good enough”
Part 2: The light traveler and hiker
Part 3: The casual landscape photographer 

All links marked with * are affiliate links. If you buy a lens through them we will earn a small commission on your purchase without any additional cost to you. Thanks for your support 🙂


Top pick: Pentax K 3.5/28 | 261 g + adapter | $80-120

The very affordable Pentax is as sharp as good modern lenses at f/8 or f/11 and it maintains high contrast with good flare resistance which is rare for a legacy wide angle lens. Stopped down to f/14 it even draws a pleasant sunstar. But of course there is a catch: the Pentax is pretty rare and not easy to find. The best alternative I see is the more expensive Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 which isn’t better but more easily available.

Check availability on* |* | KEH* | adapter guide

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