Home Buyer's Guide Lenses-2011
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Lenses

What you need to know to pick the perfect lenses for your digital camera

Labels: LensesGear

This Article Features Photo Zoom

A NEW LENS FOR EVERY NEED
Since we can’t possibly cover all of the terrific lens options from each manufacturer, here are some new lenses worth noting to give you an idea of what’s available.

SUPERWIDE PRIME
At the shortest end of the spectrum are lenses that provide superwide angles of view great for landscape and interior photography. The Zeiss Distagon T* 3.5/18 prime is a high-quality manual-focus lens available for Pentax, Nikon and now Canon mounts. The ƒ/3.5 lens is compact and light, making it a great choice for those who value portability and performance. The CPU included in ZF.2 and ZE versions for Nikon’s F and Canon’s EF mounts also enable communication between lens and camera for controlling aperture and transferring lens data in the EXIF file. Estimated Street Price: $1,395.

WIDE PRIME
For shooters who want a wide prime that’s not so extreme, consider the Pentax DA 15mm ED lens. How can a shorter lens have a narrower field of view? Because this ƒ/4 prime is made for smaller APS-C sensors—making it the equivalent of a 23mm lens. Machined from high-grade aluminum, this Pentax Limited Series lens fits the wide format prized by photojournalists for providing context in environmental portraits and documentary photography without perspective distortion. Estimated Street Price: $649.

ULTRAWIDE ZOOM
For a wide-angle lens with more built-in flexibility, consider a really wide zoom like Tokina’s newly announced AT-X 16-28mm PRO FX lens. The zoom is fast with a constant ƒ/2.8 maximum aperture, and on a full-frame camera, it’ll provide a superwide angle of view at the 16mm end. At the 28mm setting, the lens is ideal for Nikon and Canon shooters who want a wide view from a more “normal” perspective. List Price: $1,499.

WIDE-TO-NORMAL ZOOM
Sigma’s brand-new 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM zoom offers a fast, constant ƒ/2.8 maximum aperture. The speed, compact size and variable wide-to-normal focal range make it an ideal lens for those who want to carry only a single versatile lens, and advanced optical stabilization offers up to four stops of added handholding stability. Available in Sigma, Sony, Nikon, Canon and Pentax mounts, the lens is less expensive than many equally fast full-frame zooms. Estimated Street Price: $669.

EXTREME SUPERZOOM
The Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm is an extreme Olympus lens with a 10x zoom range. This superzoom was built for the Micro Four Thirds system, giving it an equivalent focal range of 28-300mm. A variable maximum aperture of ƒ/4-5.6 makes the lens lighter and more compact, so it’s a versatile and easy-to-carry compact lens for the PEN interchangeable-lens camera system. From wide-angle to long telephoto, this single versatile lens covers a huge focal range. Estimated Street Price: $599.

TELE-ZOOM
Sony Alpha shooters with a penchant for portraits will appreciate the long focal range of the 70-200mm G-series telephoto zoom. A really fast ƒ/2.8 maximum aperture remains constant, making it ideal for low-light shooting of action, as well. Smart features like focus-stop buttons on the barrel (which can be assigned to functions such as depth-of-field preview) improve usability. Built for full-frame cameras, the lens also can be used with the APS-C format on which it performs like a long 105-300mm telephoto. Estimated Street Price: $1,799.

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