A great year for glass! Here are the best camera lenses of 2018, as chosen by the Wex team
Ultimately, a camera can only be as good as the lens attached to it. Luckily for all us photographers and videographers out there, the choice of lenses has never been broader, with manufacturers practically queuing up to offer fantastic lens models with pin-sharp optics, nice wide apertures and loads of additional features.
Whatever your brand of camera, there are great lenses out there for you. Here are a few of our top picks released in 2018...
1. Fujifilm XF 200mm f/2 R LM OIS
Fujifilm’s X-series cameras are known for pairing style with sophistication, and the lenses more than match this reputation. A recent and welcome addition to the line-up has been the XF 200mm f/2 R LM OIS. This feature-rich telephoto optic boasts a construction that features nineteen lenses in fourteen groups, including three ED (extra-low-dispersion elements) and a hefty five stops of intelligent image stabilisation, which is able to recognise different shooting conditions and adjust accordingly. The maximum aperture of f/2 means it has impressive light-gathering capabilities, making for a lens that’s useful in a huge range of shooting situations.
2. Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 G Master
We’re huge fans of Sony’s G Master lenses, and this wide-angle prime from the series is a superb achievement in optical engineering. With 13 optical elements, two XA elements, and ED glass and Nano AR coating, the lens provides outstanding quality even with high-resolution cameras like the A7R. It also produces vivid bokeh in the defocused areas of an image, thanks to its wide f/1.4 aperture. The lens also promises limited sagittal flare at the edges of its frame – which makes it useful for astrophotography – and comes sporting a Direct Drive Super Sonic Motor (DDSSM focus drive) for fast and accurate autofocus. Despite all this, it’s extremely compact, measuring just 75.4mm x 92.4mm and weighing only 445g, meaning it’ll balance well with Sony’s light mirrorless cameras.
3. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM
Canon refined the ever-popular workhorse 70-200mm lens by adding Air Sphere Coating (ASC) anti-reflection technology to this Mark III version, which significantly reduces flare and ghosting. Like all L-series lenses, this model is robust and well-built, able to handle the rough-and-tumble day to day of an outdoor working photographer. With 3.5 stops of image stabilisation, a 9-bladed diaphragm and a close focusing distance of 1.2m, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM is one of the best all-rounders in the business.
4. Lensbaby Sol 45
Admit it, sometimes you do want style over sharpness. The Lensbaby Sol 45mm fulfils this brief and more, with its tilting design allowing the easy creation of images with dramatic blur surrounding a pin-sharp area of focus. A generous 8.5 degrees of tilt allows for a lot of creative freedom when creating your image – whether you’re shooting on a full-frame or APS-C camera – and once you’ve got it sorted, a twist-activated centre-locking system allows you to keep it in place. It’s worth remembering that photography isn’t just about getting the most technically perfect images possible – it’s good to let your creativity run wild too, and the Lensbaby Sol 45mm is the ideal tool for the job.
5. Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD
Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD Lens for Canon EF
This ultra-wide zoom for full-frame DSLRs manages to be incredibly compact, in addition to offering superb optical performance, making it a fantastic choice for those who focus on shooting subjects like landscapes or architecture. Its advanced coating technology and proprietary ghosting analysis simulation technology enable sophisticated backlighting control, while there’s also fluorine coating on the outside to protect the front element of the lens. Tamron proudly boasts that the lens' minimum object distance for focusing is a scant 0.28m across the entire zoom range, meaning it’s as capable at close-up work as it is with those wide landscapes.
6. Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Everyone loves a high-quality prime with a wide aperture, and the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a superb example of the genre. It’s the longest lens in the high-quality Art range, and is perfect for portraiture work and low-light photography, thanks to that generous f/1.4 maximum aperture that enables the creation of smooth bokeh. It promises top-notch optical quality too, allowing you to make the most of even high-resolution sensors.
7. Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8
Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 S Lens
Could Nikon’s new Z mount be the future of photography? The lenses that have been announced and released for the system have all provided compelling evidence in favour of the case. One of our favourites has been the Z 35mm f/1.8, a nippy little prime offering razor-sharp edge-to-edge clarity, comprehensive artefact suppression, super-speedy autofocus and a weather-sealed construction that’s built to last. With lenses of this quality, Nikon’s Z system is sure to go from strength to strength in 2019 and beyond!
Thanks for reading, and here’s hoping for even more fantastic lenses in 2019!