Talk about a golden age of lenses! Fast, long, superwide, fisheye, macro, you name it—camera manufacturers and independents continue to add to their optical arsenals. So, whether you plan to acquire new lenses, or just get the most out of your present optics, we offer this guided tour of today’s hottest glass.
Looking over our lab and field tests of lenses from the past year, several trends clearly emerged—some expected (lots more wide-range zooms) and some unexpected (manual focus!). The lens choices available today are near-dizzying in their variety, so we thought we’d divide the menu into digestible chunks, tell you the pros and cons of the various classes of lenses, and provide some side dishes of technical info.
For more on all things lenses, be sure to take a look at our Glass Glossary
Tech Talk: While high-speed lenses can speed up autofocus, your camera’s AF, paradoxically, may not be focusing with the precision needed. Lenses of f/2.8 and faster generally need high-speed AF sensors, and these are usually limited in number in the AF array. (The center AF sensor in most DSLRs has high-speed capability.) Even with a high-speed sensor, though, AF may be slightly off. Kits such as the SpyderLensCal allow you to check the precision of your camera’s AF, and many mid- to high-level DSLRs let you microadjust the AF accordingly. Consult spyder.datacolor.com for more info.