Thursday, February 5, 2009

Designed For Digital Lenses

From fixed-focal-length prime lenses to wide-angle to telephoto zooms, modern lenses use a complex combination of high-end glass, unique materials and chemical cocktails capable of producing optics with incredible power.
By Dave Willis Published in Lenses
Designed For Digital Lenses
smc Pentax DA 55-300mm
ƒ/4-5.8 ED Zoom


Pentax’s DA lenses are designed specifically to match Pentax digital sensors in an efficient design at a good combination of price and performance. Using Extra-low Dispersion glass to compensate for chromatic aberration and other optical flaws, the 82.5-450mm (35mm equivalent) smc Pentax DA 55-300mm ƒ/4-5.8 ED zoom covers a versatile range for indoor shooting, portraiture, sports, landscape, wildlife and more. Pentax’s Super Protect (SP) coating repels dust, water and grease. Estimated Street Price: $325.

Sony DT SAL-18250
18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3


With the Sony APS-C-sized sub-full-frame sensor, the Sony DT SAL-18250 18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 lens becomes a 27-375mm equivalent, and if you have Sony’s full-frame model, the A900, the lens is still compatible thanks to an APS-C capture mode in-camera. With a 14x range, the SAL-18250 is Sony’s widest focal length champ, and the long telephoto uses an internal focusing system for faster focusing and weighted balance. The optics include Extra-low Dispersion glass for minimizing flare and reducing chromatic aberration and a 16-element, 13-group lens design for correcting visual aberration across the entire zoom range. Estimated Street Price: $549.


Independent lens manufacturers like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina are in a unique spot, as they have to design high-quality lenses in multiple iterations for the various sensor types. Thankfully, sub-full-frame digital camera sensors are close enough in size that the optics can be designed to produce an image circle adequate for sensors across brands. On the other hand, lenses need to be able to function with the individual characteristics of each system’s autofocus, TTL flash and other considerations, which is why a version of each lens must be released for each system separately.

Sigma 50mm ƒ/1.4


Available in models for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma and Sony, Sigma’s 50mm ƒ/1.4 EX DG HSM lens provides an 80mm equivalent on APS-C-sized image sensors and a 100mm on Four Thirds cameras. The DG lenses in the Sigma series have bright peripheral illumination for eliminating fall-off around the corners of the image, making them ideal for use with digital sensors, and thanks to the prime design, the aperture on the 50mm is an incredibly fast ƒ/1.4 for a tight depth of field and quick shooting. Estimated Street Price: $499.

Tamron AF18-270mm
ƒ/3.5-6.3 VC Di II LD
Aspherical (IF) Macro


Tamron’s Di II lenses feature a design exclusively tailored for sub-full-frame sensors, providing optimum angles of view all the way to the widest zoom setting. With an extreme 15x zoom, the AF18-270mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 VC Di II (28-419mm equivalent) is compatible with Canon and Nikon APS-C mounts. The lens also incorporates Tamron’s Vibration Compensation (VC) for stabilizing camera-shake and the viewfinder image. Estimated Street Price: $599.

Tokina AT-X 116 PRO
DX AF 11-16mm ƒ/2.8


The DX series from Tokina are carefully crafted for the image circle of sub-full-frame sensors. Available for Canon and Nikon APS-C mounts, the Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX AF 11-16mm ƒ/2.8 provides approximately a 16-24mm equivalence. The ultrawide zoom features a fast and constant aperture of ƒ/2.8 throughout the zoom range. The front element is Water Repellent (WR), and there’s a One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism for switching back and forth from manual to autofocus with your finger. Estimated Street Price: $569.


(800) OK-CANON,
(800) NIKON-US,
(888) 553-4448,
(800) 877-0155,
(800) 896-6858,
(877) 865-SONY,
Tamron USA
(631) 858-8400,
Tokina (THK Photo Products)
(800) 421-1141,

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