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Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time

  
 
hiepphotog
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


What are you top 3 lenses of all time, regardless of the mount. If you can provide a reason for your pick, it's even better. In this day and age when you can adapt pretty much any lens on the mirrorless, it might be cool what is great out there that might be able to be adapted.

1. Zeiss ZM 15/2.8: I loved this lens. It's probably among my most used lenses. Though the IQ is not optimal on any of the digital platform, its build quality (the best of any lens I've handled) and its ergonomics were just right for me. I was always excited to shoot with the lens and find an angle to make it worked. I sold it in hope Zeiss will release a Loxia 15 version of it soon.

River of Stars (N) by Hiep Phan, on Flickr


Starstruck Mind by Hiep Phan, on Flickr


Mesmerizing by Hiep Phan, on Flickr

2. Sony GM 24/1.4: I haven't had much chance to shoot with this lens, but I believe I will love what this lens can do. This small size, light weight and high IQ package really helped me get over my lust for adapting those Leica M lenses. It's really a hallmark lens in Sony land.

3. Contax 55/1.2 Jahre: Technically, it's a mediocre lens in today standard. Its bokeh wasn't even that great. It doesn't have the pop of the like of the Contax 35/1.4 or 100/2. It's big, heavy and the focus feel wasn't as great a the ZM 15. Yet, somehow I really liked its shape and tactile feel. It really made me getting out there to take pictures. It's way overpriced for what it is so I sold it. If I ever decide to rebuild a Contax collection, this will certainly be in that. I enjoy shooting with it more than the Contax 85/1.2


Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta by Hiep Phan, on Flickr


Nikhil and his Mustang by Hiep Phan, on Flickr


New Dawn by Hiep Phan, on Flickr

Runner up: Sony GM 135: This quickly becomes one of my favorite lenses of all time. It has extremely fast AF speed, extremely sharp, well corrected while being manageable. I am using it as a macro lens at the moment. I like its macro shots more than the shots I got from the Voigtlander 65.


Me and Mini Me by Hiep Phan, on Flickr


Travis Weber and Chris Bathgate Arts by Hiep Phan, on Flickr


Weber S by Hiep Phan, on Flickr



Jun 22, 2019 at 04:11 PM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


I don't think I can say any lenses I've used are for "all time" as they get replaced for a number of reasons; better options released, changes in systems, changes in formats. However I'll give it a go ...

21mm C/Y on Canon 1Ds bodies : My first really good lens wider than 24mm which had been my favorite WA lens for landscapes. I had a 17mm Tokina and used it quite a bit on film before I moved to MF and LF but it never seemed to do well with digital. I use the 21mm all the time, now replaced with the Loxia on Sony FF.

135mm Canon L : I love using this FL for landscapes, especially WO. I didn't always carry it and was a little frustrated as it was a touch soft WO, but I could clean that up somewhat with clarity. Now replaced with the 135mm Batis.

24mm Canon TSE (mk2) : While I have the 17mm as well, this one is probably still my most used and versatile WA lens for landscapes, citiscapes, industrial/urban using PC or tilt for extended DOF. I tried the mk1 and sold it as soon as I could. The mk 2 is much better but I'd buy an updated version in a heartbeat.

I have to add a 4th as 85/90mm is a must have FL for me. The one I still love but for it's loca is the OM 90mm Macro. I still have it and can repair the loca so may switch it out periodically, but it's been supplanted by the 85mm Loxia this year. I don't need macro from this lens but focusing closer than the Loxia can would be handy.

Mike



Jun 24, 2019 at 05:13 AM
Aztatlan
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


mcbroomf wrote:
I don't think I can say any lenses I've used are for "all time" as they get replaced for a number of reasons; better options released, changes in systems, changes in formats. However I'll give it a go ...


I'd echo this sentiment. "all time" is a big call.

That said, if I look back on the lenses I used when I shot Nikon, they got the job done sure but I had no real passion for most of them. Now that I shoot Sony, I've picked up a number of lenses (both modern and old) that I really love.

1) Zeiss Loxia 21/2.8 - For landscape this lens is essentially perfect for me. Small, not too heavy, razor sharp.

2) CY35-70 - Paid $400 for a mint copy on eBay, and it has been a real workhorse. Many shortcomings (push/pull, rotating front element when focusing etc) but I've never felt the need to trade it in for a modern normal zoom a la 24-105/4 or 24/70/2.8.

3) Voigtlander 90/3.5 APO-Lanthar SLII. This is the only F-mount lens I carried across to Sony. I don't use it a ton anymore, since buying a CY100-300, but it still has a place in my kit. It's small (less small with adapter sadly), light (again less so with adapter) and very sharp. Back when I shot Nikon it's hard stop was also perfectly calibrated to infinity so it was zero effort to focus for landscape work; sadly my adapter is too thin so I actually need to check focus with it now as it's sweet spot is a little back from infinity when adapted to Sony.



Jun 24, 2019 at 06:05 AM
retrofocus
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


Top 3 lenses - I also have to choose according to my actual current usage.

Leica 35/2 Summicron-M, pre-ASPH version: I use this lens very often on my Leica M-film cameras and with adapter on my Sony A7R. Really like its small size and that it is very inconspicuous (I have the black lens version).

Hasselblad-Zeiss 50/4.0 CF T* lens: one of my most favorite medium-format lenses. I shoot more and more often with my Hasselblad 500 C/M theses days, and this lens is just fantastic.

Cosina-Voigtlander 21/1.8 M-lens: one of my favorite wide-angle lenses suitable to be used also with adapter on my A7R. I often use it for sceneries with some foreground to allow depth in the image.

mcbroomf wrote:
135mm Canon L : I love using this FL for landscapes, especially WO. I didn't always carry it and was a little frustrated as it was a touch soft WO, but I could clean that up somewhat with clarity. Now replaced with the 135mm Batis.

24mm Canon TSE (mk2) : While I have the 17mm as well, this one is probably still my most used and versatile WA lens for landscapes, citiscapes, industrial/urban using PC or tilt for extended DOF. I tried the mk1 and sold it as soon as I could. The mk 2 is much better but I'd buy
...Show more

I agree in regard to the Canon lenses mentioned - I have the same, but I rarely use them these days. I use the 135/2 L lens mostly for head shot portraits wider open. The lens has a lovely bokeh. The 24/3.5 TSE II is a big improvement compared to the predecessor version in regard to corner vignetting and sharpness. This is probably one reason why the version II is so big now. Not a big fan of the plastic buttons which always seem to be a bit flimsy. The older version had a nice metal housing and more trustworthy metal buttons. I have stopped vesting in Canon gear since several years, so I don't plan to upgrade any of my existing L lenses.



Jun 24, 2019 at 06:24 AM
fsiagian
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


Zm 50mm 1.5, cv 40mm 1.2 m, nikkor 105mm f2.5 ais.


Jun 24, 2019 at 07:49 AM
Steve Spencer
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


My favorite three that I have owned are:

1) Leica M 50 f/2 AA - wonderfully small, but packs a huge punch optically. I love the sharpness and the quick fall off from sharp to unsharp that is still smooth. Somehow handles highlights amazingly well, perhaps because even when highlights are brightest it controls CA very well. The first three pictures below are with it.

2) Hasselblad HC 100 f/2 - Just a lovely rendering with this lens. And on the Fuji GFX where I use it, it has lovely bokeh and the out of focus highlight stay round right to the edges. It has I believe the nicest bokeh of any of my lenses. So wonderful when you need the full aperture, but it also is quite sharp stopped down. The fourth and fifth images below are with this lens.

3) Zeiss Loxia 85 f/2.4 - Deciding on just one more was very hard, but I love the look of this lens and very much appreciate its small size. I wish it were a bit lighter, but that is a quibble. One reason I had a hard time picking this lens is that it is a very close call between it and the Leica M 90 f/2 AA, which is a half stop faster, lighter, and also excellent. The Loxia, however, IMO, is better at minimum focus distance which I use a lot with both lenses and I think I like the bokeh a bit more on the Loxia too. The sixth and seventh image below are with this lens.

Lots of honorable mentions. I didn't pick any macro lenses but three outstanding ones that I could have easily chosen are the Voigtlander 65 f/2 APO, the Voigtlander 110 f/2.5 APO, and the Contax 645 120 f/4 APO. I also came very close to picking the Zeiss 135 f/2 APO which I love on both FF 35mm and a 44 X 33 sensor. At the wide end the Loxia 21 f/2.8, the Zeiss 21 f/2.8, and the Loxia 25 f/2.4 all got very serious consideration. At a more normal point of view the Voigtlander 40 f/1.2 would have been a worthy choice as would have the Leica R 80 f/1.4 on the Fuji GFX (such a lovely combo). Finally at longer lengths I am really appreciating my Angenieux 180 f/2.3 APO, and my Hasselblad C 250 f/5.6 superachromat. And if I decided to not weight by size any of my Milvus and Otus lenses would be wonderful choices. So many good choices in lenses these days with mirrorless. It really does open up the lens choices and we are quite fortunate to be able to mix and match this way.




  ILCE-7RM2    ---- lens    1/6400s    100 ISO    +0.3 EV  






  ILCE-7RM2    ---- lens    1/4000s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10    Apo-Summicron-M 1:2/50 ASPH. lens    50mm    9s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  GFX 50S    H MOUNT ADAPTER G + HC 2,2/100MM lens    100mm    f/2.2    1/200s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  






  GFX 50S    H MOUNT ADAPTER G + HC 2,2/100MM lens    100mm    f/8.0    1/170s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  ILCE-7RM2    ZEISS Loxia 2.4/85 lens    85mm    f/2.4    1/500s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  ILCE-7RM2    ZEISS Loxia 2.4/85 lens    85mm    f/2.4    1/1000s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  




Jun 24, 2019 at 08:17 AM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


^ Steve, that leave in the water droplet is gorgeous!


Jun 24, 2019 at 11:00 AM
rw11
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


ok, I like my Hasselblad-Zeiss 50/4.0 CF T* lens too, but I have to pick:

Hubble



Jun 24, 2019 at 11:10 AM
adamdewilde
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


Good post, I'll refrain from adding anything to it for now as priorities have shifted and thus my choices are not what I would have said six months ago. Plus have a few new lenses that are well on there way to being favourites, but need more time with them.


Jun 24, 2019 at 11:31 AM
Steve Spencer
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


mcbroomf wrote:
^ Steve, that leave in the water droplet is gorgeous!


Thanks, that was a lucky find in a beautiful garden. I was at the Humble Ambassador's Garden in Suzhou China, just a bit North of Shanghai when I saw that leaf in the droplet on a lotus frond. I would highly recommend Suzhou if you ever get to China. The city is full of wonderful gardens, but that one in particular is spectacular.



Jun 24, 2019 at 11:51 AM
 


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hiepphotog
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


mcbroomf wrote:
I don't think I can say any lenses I've used are for "all time" as they get replaced for a number of reasons; better options released, changes in systems, changes in formats. However I'll give it a go ...

21mm C/Y on Canon 1Ds bodies : My first really good lens wider than 24mm which had been my favorite WA lens for landscapes. I had a 17mm Tokina and used it quite a bit on film before I moved to MF and LF but it never seemed to do well with digital. I use the 21mm all the time, now replaced
...Show more

My intention was more about the lenses that you thought about fondly even if you don't have it anymore. I sold 2 of my top 3 lenses for various reasons (mainly I feel there might be a more convenient and/or cheaper alternative coming out soon). I haven't had any lens for more than five years .



Jun 24, 2019 at 11:52 AM
Bohemien
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


Steve Spencer wrote:
So many good choices in lenses these days with mirrorless. It really does open up the lens choices and we are quite fortunate to be able to mix and match this way.


I completely agree with this statement. I have loved shooting vintage Nikkor glass on my D600, but the Z6 has opened up a whole new world of possibilities in addition.

Great set with some outstanding shots! Could you share which lens the race car was shot with please? That photo has some serious "pop" to it.

Markus




Jun 24, 2019 at 01:48 PM
Steve Spencer
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


Bohemien wrote:
I completely agree with this statement. I have loved shooting vintage Nikkor glass on my D600, but the Z6 has opened up a whole new world of possibilities in addition.

Great set with some outstanding shots! Could you share which lens the race car was shot with please? That photo has some serious "pop" to it.

Markus



The car and the hood ornament below it were both shot with the Leica M 50 f/2 APO. I loved that lens, but sadly mine got stolen with a bunch of other Leica gear.



Jun 24, 2019 at 02:00 PM
Bohemien
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


It's really hard picking only 3... I'll choose lenses I actually own, and base my list on which lenses I have used most over the last years, or which have given me the most "wow" shots (in my own humble opinion).

1. Nikkor 50mm f/2 AI: This is definitely not the "best" lens in my bag, but every time I take it out for shooting (e.g. trekking in Morocco), it gives me great memories of the places I visited. Small, light and cheap enough to take along anywhere, not the sharpest one in my bag, but I really like it a lot. I also have the f/1.2 AI-S version, which has a very special rendering wide open and is tack sharp stopped down, but overall the f/2 wins, I just like the rendering a bit better.

2. Voigtländer 40mm f/1.2: Now it's a bit ridiculous to already put it in my "top 3 of all time" list, as I have only owned it for 3 weeks now, but it has been glued to my camera ever since and has already given me some shots I totally adore. This lens puts a smile on my face every time I use it and look at the results. Holiday season is coming up, I will use this one A LOT over summer.

3. Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G: My most used lens for portraits. It's a love-and-hate relationship as wide open, this is a tricky one to shoot, but the overall rendering, the swirly bokeh wide open and creamy backgrounds stopped down, plus a focal length that I consider just barely short enough to use it for general shooting make this one a real gem in my bag.

I might change this list completely in a year or two, but for the time being, I think I got my top 3 here. I'll add some samples below.

Markus

The 50mm f/2 Nikkor in Morocco (shot from the back of a swaying camel ):


Into the desert by Markus, on Flickr






Voigtländer 40mm f/1.2 (either f/1.2 or f/2)

  NIKON Z 6    0 mm f/-- lens    1/4000s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  







Nikkor 58G

  NIKON D600    58.0 mm f/1.4 lens    58mm    f/2.0    1/500s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  




Jun 24, 2019 at 02:11 PM
Bohemien
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


Steve Spencer wrote:
The car and the hood ornament below it were both shot with the Leica M 50 f/2 APO. I loved that lens, but sadly mine got stolen with a bunch of other Leica gear.


Thanks! Sorry for your loss.



Jun 24, 2019 at 02:13 PM
imagesfromobjects
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


I have the VM 40/1.2 and recently got a ZM 50/1.5 as part of a bundle with an M6. I have to flip the 50 to recoup some funds, but I used it just to test it out. WOW. Right up my alley with the "dual character" - wide open it's dreamy, stopped down to f/2 or so it's scary sharp with really nice falloff. Very similar to the 40/1.2 except for the size, f/1.2 and the subtle FOV difference. Are you saying that I should keep both??



fsiagian wrote:
Zm 50mm 1.5, cv 40mm 1.2 m, nikkor 105mm f2.5 ais.




Jun 24, 2019 at 03:00 PM
imagesfromobjects
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


As far as the original question, I seem to just love whatever lens I happen to be using at time, otherwise I just won't use it, so it's difficult to name all-time favorites.

Here's a few contenders -
Fuji: 35/1.4 and 18/2. If I could just get past my hangups about af lenses, I could get by with just them and be all set. Also loved using a Canon FDn 24/2.8, 50/1.4 and CZJ Flektogon on the Fuji. Oh, and the Takumars.
Sony: Laowa 15/2, CV21/3.5 and 40/1.2.
Recently been in love with the Elmarit 28/2.8 ASPH and really digging the ZM Biogon 35/2.8 for the way they handle and draw.

If I had to pick just one, CV 40/1.2.



Jun 24, 2019 at 03:09 PM
hiepphotog
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


Steve Spencer wrote:
My favorite three that I have owned are:

1) Leica M 50 f/2 AA - wonderfully small, but packs a huge punch optically. I love the sharpness and the quick fall off from sharp to unsharp that is still smooth. Somehow handles highlights amazingly well, perhaps because even when highlights are brightest it controls CA very well. The first three pictures below are with it.

2) Hasselblad HC 100 f/2 - Just a lovely rendering with this lens. And on the Fuji GFX where I use it, it has lovely bokeh and the out of focus highlight stay round right to
...Show more
Those Blad shots reminded me a lot of the GM 85. Very nice bokeh indeed. For the longer end, I'm always intrigued by the Blad superachromat. Is it as clean as the modern CV APO?



Jun 24, 2019 at 03:50 PM
Steve Spencer
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


hiepphotog wrote:
Those Blad shots reminded me a lot of the GM 85. Very nice bokeh indeed. For the longer end, I'm always intrigued by the Blad superachromat. Is it as clean as the modern CV APO?


Yes, the Hassy 100 f/2.2 does have a bit of the look of the GM 85 f/1.4. I hadn't thought of that before. And yes, the Hassy V 250 f/5.6 SuperAchromat is totally clean regarding CA as much as a model CV APO.



Jun 24, 2019 at 04:01 PM
nehemiahphoto
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Your Top 3 Lenses of All Time


Top 3:
Leica 80/75 Summilux - Files are simply magical. Colors are spectacularly delicate and rich without being gaudy. Highlight fall off and the way the midtones are handled is just fabulous, making it a great b/w lens. Subjects are both very vibrant and gentle at the same time. Compact size, perfect build lovely MF experience. I prefer 75mm to 85mm as it couples better with 35mm. It's the best portrait lens I've ever used, absolutely terrific character lens. One of the only, if not the only Leica lens I am willing to pay for.


RX1 Sonnar - my favorite (but atypical) focal length. This lens is so good at everything. Good at any distance, anywhere in the frame, any aperture and nearly every type of photography--astro, portrait, landscape, urban, travel and good close correction with a handy MFD. The smoothness of transitions and bokeh are something else for a fast wide angle. Combine all this with the contrast and sharpness modern Zeiss and it's lens that has wonderful character, which I feel a lot of modern lenses lack.

Contax 35 1.4 - Apex Zeiss colors, strong spacial separation ("3-D" for some) with dramatic fall off. Sharp centrally at near and portrait distance with a pinch of glow to soften the feel. I find it to be one of the best, if not absolute best environmental, portrait lens I'v shot. Because of the colors, speed and MF, I enjoy shooting urban scenes with it.


Honorable mentions:
Contax G 21 2.8 -- my most used landscape lens. Dinky, wonderful rendering, very sharp, perfect focal length. Lots of separation for a 21 2.8. Files are very crisp without being clinical. This contends with the CY 35/1.4 on my top 3.
Pentax 31 1.8
ZM 50 1.5
Minolta 85 1.4 limited
Contax 100 f2
Minolta 58 1.2







CY 35 1.4







75 Lux







Rx1 Sonnar







Contax 35 1.4







Sonnar Rx1







80 Lux







CY 35 1.4







CY 34 1.4



Edited on Jun 25, 2019 at 06:29 PM · View previous versions



Jun 24, 2019 at 05:01 PM
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