Despite what has been a challenging year for everyone around the globe, lens makers have managed to introduce some tremendous pro lenses—particularly for the growing ranks of full-frame mirrorless cameras. The following selection of new lenses for 2020 includes features such as fast apertures, impressive image stabilization and fantastically sharp, high-resolution optics. Pro performance doesn’t come cheap, but these lenses are the kind of equipment investment a photographer can count on for years to come.
Sony FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM
Sony touts one of the extreme aspherical (XA) elements in its new FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM ultrawide zoom as the largest ever made. Along with an innovative optical design aimed at increasing sharpness edge to edge, that amounts to an extremely wide angle of view in a fast and constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, which makes the lens great in low light and for photographers who want wide angle with a shallower depth of field. The lens barrel features a focus mode switch and hold button, which can also be assigned to trigger other functions on Alpha camera bodies. The lens is designed with a fluorine coating on the front element and dust- and moisture-resistance, so hard-working pros won’t have to treat the lens with kid gloves. List price: $2,999. Contact: sony.com.
Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S
Nikon’s beloved AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED for DSLRs gained a reputation for being one of the best ultra-wide zooms out there, so there are high expectations for the company’s new NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S for its Z series mirrorless cameras. The new lens is about 35 percent lighter than the venerable F mount version, and Nikon was able to achieve a flatter front element due to the larger opening of the Z mount. This, in turn, allowed Nikon to design an innovative hood for the lens with integrated threads to accommodate a 112mm front filter. This hood and a standard hood are both included with the lens. There’s also a rear filter slot for gel filters. List price: $2,399. Contact: Nikon, nikonusa.com.
Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM
Users of Canon’s DSLR system have long known the company’s L lenses denote the highest quality for professional photographers. Lighter and more compact than their EF mount counterparts, the new RF line of lenses brings that same red-line quality to the mirrorless EOS R full-frame system. The RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM recreates one of the most versatile and popular zooms on any platform. Its fast, constant ƒ/2.8 maximum aperture works well in low light, and the focal range from wide to medium-telephoto makes the lens a one-stop-shop for travel photographers or anyone who wants to shoot landscape, street photography, documentary and portraits all without changing lenses. Built-in image stabilization provides up to five stops of correction when used with the EOS R, and the Nano USM (ultrasonic motor) system delivers fast, smooth and nearly silent autofocus operation for stills and video. List price: $2,199. Contact: usa.canon.com.
Fujifilm FUJINON XF50mm F1.0 R WR
The crop factor of Fujfilm’s APS-C format sensors turns this ultra-fast 50mm into the equivalent of a 76mm lens—the perfect medium telephoto for portraits and street photography. Fujifilm calls it “the one” with good reason, owing to its impressive ƒ/1.0 maximum aperture. Photographers love fast portrait lenses, and the new FUJINON XF50mm F1.0 R WR is capable of incredibly shallow depth of field to isolate subjects against an out-of-focus background. It features a nine-bladed aperture for smooth bokeh. Extra-low dispersion (ELD) elements reduce fringing and chromatic aberration, while the aspherical element provides sharper focus edge to edge. The rugged design is sealed against dust and moisture and is freeze-proof down to 14° Fahrenheit. List price: $1,499. Contact: fujifilm-x.com.
Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art
Available for Sony E-mount cameras and the Leica/Panasonic/Sigma L-mount, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art lens is a fast, compact prime made for portraits. Its 11 rounded aperture blades produce smooth, attractive bokeh. Five special low-dispersion (SLD) elements and one aspherical element correct for chromatic aberration minimize ghosting and produce sharp, high-fidelity images even when shooting wide open or in challenging backlighting situations. Lens barrel features include a programmable focus lock button, AF/MF switch, an iris ring lock to prevent inadvertently altering the aperture during shooting, and an iris ring click switch for smooth operation while recording video. List price: $1,199. Contact: sigmaphoto.com.
Panasonic S PRO 70-200 F2.8 OIS
Much like a 24-70mm zoom sets the standard for mid-range zooms, the 70-200mm focal range is the principal telephoto zoom. It’s such a versatile format for everything from portraits to sports photography, providing traveling photographers an easy way to cover a wide range of telephoto focal lengths in a single lens. The problem with some inexpensive telephoto zooms is they’re slow to focus and not very bright. But Panasonic has alleviated those issues with the LUMIX S PRO 70-200mm F2.8 OIS lens, an L-mount telephoto zoom built for LUMIX S full-frame mirrorless cameras. The fast f/2.8 maximum aperture remains constant across the focal range, making it a versatile lens even in low light. Chromatic and spherical aberration are minimized with aspherical and low-dispersion elements, and a unique double focus system combines a linear motor and a stepping motor for fast focusing with precision. The focus clutch makes switching from auto to manual instantaneous, and built-in optical image stabilization delivers a whopping 7 stops of added stability. List price: $2,599. Contact: shop.panasonic.com.
Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS
Sports shooters and wildlife photographers want one thing: long lenses. In order to capture a center fielder diving for a ball 350 feet away or fill the frame with a tiny bird, a lens must be capable of covering great distances, and that’s done with great focal lengths. But the challenge with extremely long zooms is they’re often big, heavy and expensive. Olympus has solved that problem with the M.Zuiko ED 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS, which uses a variable maximum aperture to deliver a compact extreme zoom just over 8 inches long and weighing only 2.5 pounds. Its size makes it ideal for traveling photographers who want a compact lens for their Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras, on which it provides an incredible focal range equivalent to 200-800mm. Optical image stabilization provides 3 stops of added stability, and the lens’ ability to focus as close as just 4.3 feet makes it great for closeup work as well. Its reasonable price won’t break the bank, either. List price: $1,499. Contact: getolympus.com.