Looking at 2017 and 2018

As the end of the year is approaching fast I would like to take a look back and then another one forward.

The Team

Without question the most important change is that David joined the team. When David wrote his first review I immediately knew that it was a good idea to ask him for it since he offered a very experienced view on it and the other lenses he has reviewed since. He also enriches our constant behind the scenes discussions, only limited by a time difference of 10 hours.

Bastian has been the most active author on this blog in 2017. Among his reviews the Laowa 2/15, the Canon EF 1.8/200, Olympus OM 2/180 and the exotic MS-Optics 2.4/135 stood out to me. He also explored the use of front filters with rangefinder lenses and did an epic 35mm comparison. He also made the interview with Mr. Li, the designer behind the Laowa 2/15 possible.

Jannik had less time because he had to care for his young son but his review of the GM 2.8/24-70, the a7II vs a6500 comparison and FE 1.8/85 review were among our most popular articles in 2017. Also mentioned should be his epic GM 1.4/85 vs FE 1.8/85 comparison. Lately he has invested in a Nikon DSLR kit to keep up with his young one after trying the Fuji X-T2.

These images do not have any relation to the text, they are just some of my favorites from 2017

Personally I graduated from uni so I had less time for the blog than before which is why I am very grateful that I have gathered a team which shares my passion for lenses and photography and which creates interesting content with very little input from myself. Of the articles I wrote my favorites were the one lens one month project I did in February, I was most impressed by the Voigtlander 2/65 APO and I enjoyed working together with the team on our FE-Lens guide. Writing our epic adapter guide wasn’t the most enjoyable experience but I think we came up with a good product.

Also mentioned should be the talented photographers which we featured in our manual photographers series. In January we featured sebboh who later also wrote a review of the Kolari Filter Stack mod. Next was Ronny Olsson followed by Helena Normark and Bob Israel.

Minolta MC 1.7/55 | f/1.7

The Blog

The number of views has nearly doubled in 2017 and we now have several hundred thousand views a month. I think that is testament to that our approach works well and also that the E-mount system is growing in popularity. It is really surreal that a project which I started to share my findings on legacy lenses now reaches tens of thousands of people every month.

This blog is a hobby project and I think that is one reason why it is successful. Since we don’t depend on the blog for income we are not driven by generating income but we can follow our curiosity. We make a few bucks with the affiliate links (many thanks for using them!) and we certainly appreciate the gear purchases this makes possible. But that is the only kind of monetization we do. We don’t run any ads and we don’t depend on any manufacturer for privileged access or direct sponsoring as some other sites do. I think that affords us a rare degree of independence and makes writing for the blog much more rewarding.

Our focus has always been on manual lenses and that didn’t change in 2017. If you look at our favorite lenses you see that most of them are manual. We still think that they can make the photographic process more pleasant and there are still many new and old lenses to review. That doesn’t mean though that we ignore modern AF lenses. As manual lenses they often are the best tool for the job so we will reviewed lenses like the FE 4/70-200 or FE 2.8/90 Macro.

What has changed is that the blog’s focus has shifted from more affordable legacy lenses to more expensive lenses. When I started the blog I was just another broke student and I had to be very conscious about where I spent my money. Legacy glass offered a great price/performance ratio so I started to explore it and wrote about my experience on the blog. Today I have a bit bigger budget so I am less willing to compromise on image quality to save money and I often prefer modern manual lenses like the CV 1.7/35 or 2/65 APO over more affordable legacy lenses. I still enjoy using older glass for some applications but since that accounts only for some of my shooting I write fewer reviews of legacy lenses. I think it is a similar story with the others who use legacy lenses for some of their shooting but often the modern lenses are a better choice if you aren’t too limited by your budget.

The FE System

Just 4 years after the a7 and a7r were released the FE-System has already grown up. I would say that the lens-lineup is superior to CaNikons lineup in the wider angles, competitive in the normal range and only inferior in the tele range. I think that is quite an achievement in just four years.

As far as cameras are concerned the first generation wasn’t very polished and had a few issues but they were good enough to get the system started. The second generation addressed most of the issues but there were still a few areas where they were lacking in comparison to the competing DSLRs. With the third generation a9 and a7rIII it seems that Sony has for the first time released very well hung cameras without any real disadvantages but all the benefits that come with a mirrorless system. The a7rIII has been named the camera of the year on many sites, David likes it a lot and I am pretty sure that it will be my next camera when prices come down a little in a year or so.

I don’t think anyone in the team feels any loyalty to Sony as a brand. To me Sony has never felt like a company driven by passion but like just another electronics manufacturer. I remember that in our discussions in early 2017 we agreed that we would look very closely at any potential FF mirrorless camera from Nikon (or Canon) since their cameras usually felt more refined and both companies certainly know how to make good lenses. I think that gap we saw back then has been closed by the a7rIII and I don’t really see how CaNikon could come up with a system that could make the headaches of a system change attractive to us. None the less I am certainly curious about how both companies deal with mirrorless in 2018.



As I said the system has grown up and I think the speed at which new lenses are released will slow down a little next year. Here is what I think are likely 2018 releases. I don’t have any background knowledge, these are just the more urgent gaps I see in the lineup.

  • GM 2/135 or 1.8/135
  • A more affordable Sony non G lens to compete with Sigma/Tamron’s 150-600mm lenses
  • A 300mm + GM lens for sport photography, maybe even a zoom to compete with the 4/200-400 lenses.
  • A more affordable 70-300

I have no idea what manual lenses to expect. I think a 28 mm Loxia and a 125 mm Voigtlander are somewhat likely but there isn’t any solid evidence just not very reliable rumors.

And here is what I would wish for (all manual, either CV or Loxia)

  • A 2.4/28 or 2.8/28
  • An E-mount version of the CV 1.7/35
  • A 1.5/50 similar to the CV 1.5/50 but better corners
  • 2.5/125 APO similar to the legendary CV
  • compact 3.4/135 APO similar to the Leica but with higher contrast
  • 4/180 APO similar to the CV or a 4/75-150 zoom
  • 3.4/35-70 similar to the C/Y

As far as lens manufacturers are concerned I am most curious about Voigtlander’s next lenses. The 2/65 APO and 1.2/40 were quite successful releases and I am pretty sure that sales numbers for both exceeded expectations quite a bit. Therefore I am optimistic that they will continue to invest in the system. A re-release of the 2.5/125 Macro would certainly be welcomed by many. Zeiss has been slower to bring out new Loxias and I would guess that the 85 wasn’t a commercial success so I expect only one new Loxia from them next year. Since they stuck to classic focal lengths so far I would think 28 mm most likely but that is nothing but speculation. Another company I will watch closely is Laowa. Their 2/15 is a very well balanced lens and if they can figure out how to get electronic contacts in their lenses and improve quality control a little I see a promising future for their lenses in E-mount.

One player which is hard to measure is Sigma. So far there is only one very vague announcement that they plan to release FE-mount lenses but they never gave any information on when and what they plan to release. I would really hope that they get on board rather sooner than later because they could drive Sony to moderate their pricing and I am still hoping for a smaller but fast 35 mm lens from them. We are known to be rather critical of Samyang lenses. Many of them are quite good optically but their very low price is usually explained at least in part by their low quality standards. We will have to see if they upped their game with their E-mount AF lenses. They certainly are exercising some pressure on Sony with their 35 mm lenses which deliver similar optical quality as the Sonys for half the price. Tokina has announced a range of AF lenses as well but I think their first E-mount lens, the Firin 2/20 never got any real traction. They are also known mostly for their wideangle lenses and there is already a large amount of lenses in that field so they are probably limiting the resources they put into the FE system. So much about my predictions of 2018. I would be surprised if half of them came true.

So, where is the blog headed? I will start in a new job and I am pretty sure that this will drastically reduce the time I find for working on the blog. This does not mean that I will reduce my activities here forever but for some time I will have to put my focus elsewhere. I am not worried about the blog though since I am sure that the team will produce interesting articles even if there is very little input from me.

I see no reason to change the direction of the blog. Our reviews will be based on careful testing and longer real world experience. The blog will remain an independent resource and articles will be driven by our own curiosity and photographic needs, not by the need to feed a family. I could well imagine to feature more video related information so if you who reads this has some experience in that field let us know because we don’t.

Last but not least I would like to thank you for visiting the blog. For for sharing it with other people and for using the affiliate links. For the many comments which provide different perspectives, additional information and often interesting questions. Our efforts only make sense because because we have found an audience and we are thankful for having you 🙂


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

73 thoughts on “Looking at 2017 and 2018”

  1. It was a great year with you – thanks a lot for all work you have done! All the best to all of you guys! Marry Christmas and Happy New Year! 8)

  2. I am a big fan of your work, I love vintage lenses too and I always enjoy reading your reviews and experiences. I hope that you will review more vintage lenses and complete lineups of labels, it will be very interesting to compare each of the most popular in general therms.
    Thanks for all your work, I hope that 2018 will be even better.

  3. “I think that is testament to that our approach works well and also that the E-mount system is growing in popularity.”

    Just one voice among the many, many readers you’ve picked up… it may come as a surprise that I have no interest in the Sony content. I’m here for the adapted lens reviews. They are outstanding, and give me some sense of direction with my work on the Fuji platform. I suspect that I’m not alone among the lurkers.

    Congratulations on a great year and building an outstanding team. I look forward to your continued success here next year.

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. We have been planning to to a reader’s survey for ages but I honestly wouldn’t have thought that there were many non Sony shooters so I will work towards including a question in that direction. If we ever manage to do the survey ;).


  4. Hello guys.
    Thank you for your blog, i’m one of the many (i guess) people who accidentally found you site and then ended the day having over 20 opened tabs because each link to other review/comparison is forth reading.

    You should make a donate option on your blog. I’m pretty sure there are many people who do not use affiliate links due to any reasons, but who still want to thank you with some small amount.

    1. I whole-heartedly agree, Aleksandr.

      It would be good to have the option to thank Phillip, Bastien, David and others for their contribution to the enhancement of the human condition (said in earnest).

  5. Hi Phillip
    I’d just like to thank you all of you for your hard work and interesting posts during 2017. I came to the site about 6 months ago and have been a regular ever since. The reviews are all incredibly useful. As a full time professional landscape shooter I have swapped to sony mirrorless (via fuji) from Canon in the last two years and your advice has been invaluable. The absence of adverts is nice – and reassuring of your impartiality too. I do think we would all be a bit sad, but would totally understand if you ever had to take some on to cover running costs. Have a great Christmas break. David Purdie

  6. Congratulations on a great couple of years. Besides your graduation and a new job, you certainly deserve congratulations for your approach, attention to detail, and carefully reasoned articles.

  7. Phillip and team, your blog is my most trusted source for information. Great work guys. Look forward to more great reviews from you all. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

  8. Thank your for your useful and enjoyable blog!
    One of my favorite photo-gear-blogs!
    Wish you the best for 2018, and Philipp a good start at work!
    (The Voigtländer 35 f1.4 Classic for e-mount is coming in february for sure – looking forward for your test…. smile!)
    Greetings Reinhard

    1. You are very welcome and thanks for the well wishes 🙂

      So far none of us has shown any interest in the CV35 Classic so I don’t think that we will have a review. If it was a modern lens we would be all over it but it seems to be more of a retro lens.

  9. One request: I know David has the batis 135. If possible, a comparison with the samyang 135 would be so nice (a german photo-magazine messured the samyang sharpest fixed lens on the A7rII, even sharper than the batis).
    Greetings, Reinhard

    1. Sorry not going to happen. I don’t have the Samyang, though did use it. And the guys in Germany don’t have the Batis.
      But I will say this: the Batis, and possibly the Samyang, are at the absolute limit of measurable sharpness differences. The Batis is pretty much diffraction limited from close to wide open, maybe even wide open over much of the field. So measurements purporting to show differences are just measuring diffraction, or experimental error, in my opinion. Possibly the Samyang is in the same boat. This means they are in the elite group of just a few lenses for the FF format where sharpness is not an issue. You should choose on haptics, rendering, flare, contrast and so on. If I were choosing between Samyang and Batis what would favour Batis would be AF, flare and contrast control, size, and build quality. What would favour Samyang would be speed, and price.

  10. Happy end of year to the entire team. The best thing I can say is that during 2017 you inspired me. Inspired me to check out the Minolta 55 prime, the Bokina, Canon FD 50/1.4, Pentax Takumar 35/2.8 and more. next year for me will be about either an Ultron or Nokton 35mm or maybe the Summikron, who knows. Then sticking with it and learning to be a better photographer! Again thanks to my favorite camera place on line.

  11. I purchased three lenses last year (using your links of course) based upon your reviews and I was not disappointed. Thanks for all your work!

  12. Thanks for your exzellent work over many years now. Also for your focus on manual lenses. I think I first got to your blog in January 2015. Since then I never missed an articel or posting. I still use my A7 as my main camera but I’m looking now for the A7RIII. The A7 brought me back fun and passion in my personal photographic work as an advanced „amateur“. Before I was a Canon user (A1, T90, EOS620, EOS350D) since the late seventies but didn‘t improve any more and lost passion. Manual lenses combined with magnifying possibilities, zone focusing or focus peaking on mirrorless gear leaded me 2013 to Sony FF. These assets make taking photos so much easier and give you even more control on the results. But you and your Blog-mates brought up the right questions and treated them very well. Your blog stayed serious and reliable through all the years. Thank you for every impact and your still living passion.

  13. Thanks for another excelllent year of reviews! The articles really offer me very pleasant reading materials and help me make my purchase decisions. Wish you guys a merry Christmas.
    Some words on the Samyang 35/1.4 AF as you mentioned it. I have good initial impressions for it. Generally it’s very similar to the Sigma 35A: very good aberation corrections but large and heavy. The build quality and AF motor is a big step up from their earlier releases.

      1. But it is reeeeeally long and heavy (more like a 135mm lens) and not at all a joy to carry around. I doubt it will suit you guys’ taste 😛

  14. (I still wonder what did Sony think when they chose the thick glass on the sensor.)

    Merry Christmas to the team. Best wishes to all of you in 2018.
    Thank you

  15. Can I suggest an article? You could write about inverse manual lenses for macro photography?

    I use a inverse Olympus 28mm f2.8 and I can get really cool macro photos. It would be really cool if you guys wrote about that!

    1. We write about the stuff we use and where we have experience. I think David is the only one who is a bit more serious about macro work and he doesn’t use inverted lenses so there is only a very small chance.

  16. Thank you for all the hard work! I have enjoyed all of your articles and will continue to look forward to your excellent contents to come.

    BTW are there any thoughts on writing about film photography and vintage film camera reviews? Given your emphasis on manual and vintage lenses I thought that might be a reasonable extension.

    Happy holidays!

    1. You are welcome 🙂

      Not really. I exposed two films this February and I think the others didn’t expose any film. I liked the results but digitizing them was quite a bit of hassle so I don’t see myself using enough film to gain enough experience to write about it.

  17. Hi Phillip and all the team, your blog is fantastic and since i had the chance to discover it, i check it 2,3 times a week for new review. Thank you very much for your honorable work!
    Reading your last publication, i am a little bit disappointed about what you said about vintage lenses. On one hand i understand that now you are more comfortable at buying new lens and it’s nice to have such a blog where vintage and modern lenses are tested but on the other hand, using vintage lenses is not only a cheap way to start taking photography. For me it’s also character (i know, everyone repeat this) but mostly a way to be as close as possible to the roots of photography in a modern era where everyone looking for perfection at the cost imperfection, the true nature of living beings. Just wanted to share my pov and feeling. Thanks for reading and again thanks to all the team for bringing me so much pleasure reading your publications.
    Merry Christmas!
    Best regards,

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I don’t think there is a right or wrong approach here and I just follow my own preferences.

      At times I like “character” lenses but more often I prefer lenses with as few aberrations as possible. It depends also on the application, especially for landscapes “character” lenses don’t work well for me. For portraits they can work well.

      1. Do you still use your rokkor 58? It would be interesting to know what vintage lenses you think are still relevant in the modern era.

        1. Will be one of the very last lenses I sell and I still use it occasionally (I am very overstocked on normal lenses).

          I don’t think vintage lenses are less relevant. Just less relevant to me since I am not too deep into the look thing and there are some very interesting modern lenses.

          Vintage lenses I use currently are plain MD 2.8/24, Pentax K 3.5/28, MD 2.8/35, C/Y 1.7/50, MC 1.7/55, MC 1.2/58, MD 2.5/100, MD 2.8/135, MC 4/200, FD 4/300 L. But again that has a lot to do with my personal taste.

  18. What I like about this site is the honesty and clarity of the commentaries you offer about lenses and photography generally.

    I’ve been (slowly) doing more with mirrorless photography during the past three years, thanks to Sony’s rapidly developing suite of mirrorless ILCs. I started with the A6000 and several e-mount lenses (they were all relatively cheap). I decided earlier this year however that, despite the attractive features of the APS-C system, I wanted to make the leap into full-frame.


    After getting my A7Rii (it was never in doubt, once my mind was made up), it took me months to figure out what sort of telephoto would work for me. Of course, I could still shoot APS-C tele with my 70-210 Sony, but in the end I decided that a high-quality telephoto prime (the Batis 135) was what I wanted (because of its IQ and r-e-l-a-t-i-v-e-l-y compact size and weight).

    I doubt that I would have jumped in so enthusiastically had it not been for David Braddon-Mitchell and the “real-world” advice he offered about the Batis tele, garnered from weeks of work and accompanied by some neat comparison photos that sealed it for me.


    I’m happy to report that I often carry that lens around town (not at all painful) when taking photographs. So, well-done David.


    As for what to do about wide angle photography, the work you did was also crucial. After splurging so much on the Batis (and having worked with the extreme views offered by Samyang’s APS-C e-mount 12mm NCS), Philip’s review of the Sony FE 28mm F2 helped me to opt for this lens. As he noted, the lens is “a very good performer” and “remarkable” for its small size and good IQ-to-price ratio.

    (See https://phillipreeve.net/blog/sony-fe-28mm-f2-review/)


    Another high point for me is the consideration all of you have given to vintage lenses–and the awareness that many of us really want to be shown alternatives to “the best”. Of course, you offer more than that–the profiles of the interesting photographers you’ve featured here are also of great interest.

    Thank you for all that… and best wishes to you in 2018 and beyond.

  19. Your blog is one of the more interesting ones (and really informative) in recent years, for the E mount system. Thank you for all the work that you guys have put in. I look forward to more of the same.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  20. Great site! I don’t write (still) write here, but I am a passionate follower and reader, and I love the all the old but great lenses.
    So I hope you will continue with your interesting articles in the next year.
    Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah and שנה טובה! 🙂

  21. Nice to find this blog. For Christmas, I just received a Church Sale, complete Minolta SRT 201 kit with Minolta 50 2.0, Vivitar
    28 2.6, and Vivitar 80-200mm1:4.5. Lazy amateur/enthusiast, current level, a Sony A100, with Minolta 50 1.7, Sony kit 18-70, Minolta 100- 200, Tamron 90-210, and Minolta 24-105.

  22. My thanks to this team! You have contributed not only to my awareness of lenses, but to my aesthetic in using them. Your team has expanded my palette by quite a bit. I appreciate all your methodical hard work and also the curiosity and joy you bring to the effort.

  23. Great read. Enjoyed the pictures just as much as the predictions! I first stumbled to it from a link or mention on SAR if I recall. When I first started out with Sony FE- it was A mount glass, Minolta MD’s, then Loxia and now mostly Voigtlander (thanks much in part to reviews on here). Thanks for the great content and have a Happy New Years!

  24. Thanks Phillip! I have thoroughly enjoyed this blog and all the insights offered by you and your partners. I was also happy to play a small part as a featured photographer. Good luck with the new job and if there’s anything I can personally contribute to help keep the blog going strong, you need only ask. Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!

  25. Dear Phillip and other authors of this blog.
    I am a loyal reader of your website. I have a strong bond with my old Minolta XD7 camera. With this camera I traveled four continents. I never had any interest in autofocus. When I noticed the interest in traditional cameras was decreasing, I bought a lot of Minolta Rokkor MD lenses from 16mm to 1600mm! In the beginning just to built a collection. After Sony came out with the A7 I could finally use many of those lenses. And I do that with pleasure. Yet I do not feel connected to the Sony bodies. I look forward to the new year: I expect that Nikon and Canon will release new mirrorless cameras. With new bayonets with short flange distance allowing new adapters for my old Minolta lenses.
    May be those new bodies will give me better haptics and user experience than the Sony A7. I look forward to your messages and experiences from the new generation of mirrorless cameras in combination with our old manual focus lenses.
    I thank you for all the valuable information that you have shared with the readers of this blog.
    I wish each of you a lot of personal success in the coming year.
    Warm regards from the Netherlands.

  26. this blog is so authentic, love the approach to photography. I was dragged in by the recommendations to A7 lens, and then I read a little more and is has so much depth, generosity, kindness and knowledge.
    I use to follow a website (photo.net) like 15 years ago and it was so good ( not as good as this blog) then everything changed, not sure what did, but my guess is that they focused so much on the money that they lost track of the essence. kind of like when business worry about “numbers” but they forget that people make numbers not the other way around.

    In behalf of million of thankful followers like myself, we thank you and wish you lots of health, love and wealth in wisdom for 2018.

  27. Thanks guys for all your work on this site, it’s certainly helped – together with A7 mirrorless – to rekindle my pleasure in photography. One suggestion: your individual budgets may have grown, as have mine, but don’t forget about the affordable manual lenses. I bet it’s one of the major attractions of the site. A unique selling point or Alleinstellungsmerkmal, if you will. In a world that’s driven by money and number of views it’s just SO rare to find a website that’s in it just for the fun of photography and cool old gear – as well as the new. Thanks again & all the best in 2018!

    1. Hi Carl,
      we won’t forget affordable manual lenses. It is just that our focus has shifted to more modern lenses but I am sure that we will continue to review more affordable lenses, just at a slower pace.

  28. My best wishes to the whole team for 2018. A really great site where ignorants like myself learn a lot. Both thorough yet accessible. Keep on the great work

  29. I will second the comments by Bernard above, comparing photo.net, which I very rarely read any more, and your site, which I read at least once a week for its evident passion and authenticity, and lack of commercial bent. And I often go back to older articles. Many of your photos, especially Phillip’s, are motivating me to get out in the early light of the day. Hoping you can keep up the good work. All the best from Ottawa, Canada!

  30. All the best for 2018, and thanks for all the work.
    One piece of information that might be worth including here, (David did introduce it in his Pt1 “review”) is how differently FBW lenses now work on the new A7RIII, to quote from FM, “lenses that were horrible with FBW are now a completely different MF experience. Open aperture MF, even while stopped down. The mechanical MF advantage is greatly diminished with the newer R3.”
    Might be worth an investigation in itself, could make all those horrible FBW experiences a thing of the past. That’s if you have €3,500 to spend on an R3! If only!

  31. Hello Phillip and Team,
    I have a Minolta x700 with some lenses sitting around and am following this blog for more rhan 1,5 years now. Today I made it happen and bought the A7II kit for 1500 at amazon planning to get the 200 cashback from Sony on top. 1300 sounded a reasonsble price finally. You guys here made me want the camera so badly. Soon I will be able to actively follow your tips and tricks!

  32. It must be a sheer joy for you that you have achieved this much of the vlog whilst keeping independent.

    I understand how you feel towards Sony as a company for photography. Unlike Canon, Nikon, etc. Sony established itself as an electric/audio equipment manufacturer like radio and tape recorder. Perhaps, such a relatively short history as a photographic camera/lens provider is making Sony look as if they were shoving anything nice into white appliances. If I were asked the same question, it would never be Sony which is driven by passion, but it would be Panasonic, whose products look snazzy but do not feel driven by passion as a company.

    Sony is planning to release 400mm F2.8 G Master towards this summer. They must be keen on anything to beef up the lineup to suit sport photography in advance of 2019 Rugy Worldcup and 2020 Olympics hosted in Japan. Personally, I would love to have a 45mm F2.8 G Master as a superior version of CONTAX Zeiss Tessar 2.8/45mm pancake.

    It is roughly two years since I started to visit your web site. I had lots of tries and errors in selecting lens for my taste, but I think I eventually learnt “how to select items I want without too many buy and sell” through regularly reading your reviews. I sincerely thank you for this.

    I hope you had a good Christmas and wish you all a happy new year 2018.

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