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.

Photokina Recap Part 1: Viltrox E-mount lenses

Until a couple of days ago I knew Viltrox only as a manufacturer of more affordable electronic adapters. But then I came across this post on SAR announcing that they will release three new lenses, two of them in E-mount. So before I met Bastian I had to check them out.

Viltrox 85mm F1.8

  • The manual focus 1.8/85 has electrical contacts and you control the aperture with the camera.
  • The focus ring felt really nice: no play and just the right amount of resistance. Built quality in general left a positive impression.
  • I was told it would be released in about a month for $299 which is $100 more than SAR reports.
  • I took a few images which showed no obvious weaknesses but they are cropped to APS-C. I guess the lens reported as an APS-C lens so the camera cropped automatically.

So my first impression was quite positive. I think it could become an attractive budget alternative to the lighter Sony FE 1.8/85 if they manage to release it without issues and move the price down a little.

Compared to CV 1.2/40

Viltrox 20mm F1.8 ASPH

  • Again my pricing info differed from the one on SAR: I was told it would be $489.
  • Sceduled release: 1 month from now
  • No electrical contacts on this one.

You don’t see any pictures of this lens because their prototype was stolen. At that price it isn’t very far away from the (almost as fast)Tokina 2/20 which has exifs and a known manufacturer, so I think it won’t be an easy entry to the market.

Viltrox 85mm F1.8 STM

  • This AF version will only come in Fuji X-mount.
  • I tested it with their own Fuji X-H1 and relied on their setup but AF felt pretty slow to me.
  • I was told it would be released in about 3 months for $379.


A new player in the field is certainly good news, and I am really pleased that they have some electronics expertise so they can provide EXIF. A few minutes at their booth is not enough info to judge their products, but my first impression was positive enough that I would consider reviewing some of their lenses once they are released.

10 golden rules to buy the wrong lens

Usually we try to give you good advice. In this article we do our best to give you bad advice. So here are 9 golden rules to make sure that you buy the wrong lens.

1. Sharpness is all that matters

You should discard any but the very sharpest lenses and put the sharpness high above any other aspects. Only inspecting your über-large prints with a loupe will impress your neighbor more than the super heavy $5000 lens you took that picture with.

2. Buy Bob’s favorite lens

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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.

Continue reading The Team’s favorite lenses – May 2018 Edition