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Full-frame mirrorless lens information 2021: Digital Pictures Assessment

Image of a Nikon lens
The transfer to mirrorless by a few of the trade’s greatest gamers places the give attention to their new lens lineups.

Up to date October 1 2021 | Initially revealed April 2020

On this article, we’re going to take a look at Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic/Leica/Sigma full-frame mirrorless methods to see what they provide and the place they may but go. In spite of everything, In our have a look at ~$2000 full body mirrorless cameras, we stated that selecting between them is as a lot about shopping for right into a lens system as the rest.

This text is not a query of ‘which vary is greatest,’ it is to assist present which lineups have the lenses you would possibly want to your pictures.

In addition to the lenses at the moment obtainable, we’ll contemplate the diploma of help offered by third-party lens makers and briefly talk about a few of the applied sciences concerned.

Notice: The lens charts on this article have been up to date and now mirror the high-end, autofocus lens choices for every system as of October 2021 with a focal size vary of 14-200mm. Decrease-end, variable aperture zooms similar to equipment lenses are omitted.

Sony E-mount

On the subject of full-frame lenses for mirrorless, Sony has the most important head begin. Sony launched its full-frame ‘FE’ vary alongside the unique a7, again in late 2013, and already had a number of years expertise of constructing APS-C E-mount lenses by that time.

Sony has additionally taken the weird transfer of permitting third-party lens makers entry to its lens mount specs and communication protocol. This has allowed firms similar to Sigma, Tamron and Zeiss to broaden the vary of accessible lenses for Sony photographers. Within the case of Sigma, these embrace current DSLR optical designs in addition to new, devoted optical formulations for mirrorless, denoted ‘DG DN’.

Diagram covers autofocus primes and high-end zooms within the 14-200mm vary. Lineups appropriate as of October 2021.

Along with overlaying most of those bases, Sony has had time so as to add specialist lenses, similar to 600mm F4, 400mm F2.8, 100-400mm and 200-600mm telephoto choices, equivalents to which are not at the moment obtainable for different methods.

Beginning earlier has given Sony time to supply a wider vary of lenses, together with much less apparent choices such because the 135mm F1.8 GM

Sony says that the years it is spent making giant lenses for mirrorless digicam has allowed it to develop experience within the varieties of motors finest fitted to full-frame mirrorless lenses (the necessity to drive lenses easily for video, in addition to rapidly means the necessities aren’t the identical as for DSLRs). Nonetheless, whereas it is true that Sony’s adoption of applied sciences similar to linear motors and piezoelectric drive offers its more moderen lenses with impressively quick, clean focusing, bear in mind that a few of the firm’s earlier lenses do not all the time present this identical efficiency.

Canon RF-mount

Canon’s RF lens lineup up to now has proven a definite give attention to the wants {of professional} customers, with lots of its first lenses belonging to the premium ‘L’ vary.

Canon hasn’t opened up its lens mount to different makers, so there’s little or no third-party help obtainable in the mean time. If the RF mount positive factors something like the recognition that the EF mount did, it is extraordinarily probably that different firms will discover a solution to supply autofocus lenses, however widespread third-party help for RF could also be some years away.

Diagram covers autofocus primes and high-end zooms within the 14-200mm vary. Lineups appropriate as of October 2021.

Along with these lenses (and the variable aperture ‘equipment’ and journey zooms you would possibly count on), Canon has additionally launched two fascinating and relatively reasonably priced F11 telephoto prime lenses overlaying 600mm and 800mm. These use diffractive optics to maintain the scale and weight down.

Canon at the moment makes use of a wide range of motors in its RF lenses: primarily utilizing the corporate’s quick, clean ‘Nano USM’ know-how or the ring-type USM motors that underpin most of its high-end DSLR lenses. The ring-type motors seem to work fairly nicely with Canon’s twin pixel AF system however aren’t all the time the smoothest or quickest, particularly provided that they are usually used within the lenses with giant, heavy lens components that have to be moved. We have been impressed by the Nano USM lenses, although.

The RF 35mm F1.8, in the meantime, makes use of a small stepper motor, which makes it noticeably slower and noisier to focus than the most effective of Canon’s different mirrorless lenses.

Nikon Z-mount

Like Canon, Nikon has not but opened up the Z-mount to third-parties, so that you’re primarily depending on Nikon’s priorities and launch schedules for now.

Nonetheless, Nikon’s preliminary build-out technique appears to be like very totally different from Canon’s: Moderately than beginning with exotica (handbook focus 58mm F0.95 aside), Nikon has developed a variety of comparatively reasonably priced/moveable F1.8 primes, alongside a set of F2.8 and F4 zooms.

Diagram covers autofocus primes and high-end zooms within the 14-200mm vary. Lineups appropriate as of October 2021.

By way of focus motors, Nikon appears to primarily be counting on using small stepper motors for its lenses up to now, which supply first rate efficiency however do not seem to match linear motors or Canon’s Nano USM applied sciences for both pace or smoothness. Twin focus teams assist to provide correct focus even close-up, in a few of Nikon’s zoom lenses, which may additionally enhance on the usually modest speeds of single-motor designs.

L-mount: Panasonic, Leica and Sigma

Panasonic, together with Sigma, has aligned itself with Leica by adopting the ‘L’ mount for its full-frame mirrorless cameras. This immediately provides it entry to a longtime lens vary (although, like Sony’s, one that’s constructed round a mount initially targeted on APS-C). Sigma’s inclusion within the alliance ought to guarantee a variety of third-party L-mount lenses grow to be obtainable: it is constructed L-mount variations of lots of its designed-for-DSLR primes and can be introducing ‘DG DN’ lenses designed particularly for full-frame mirrorless cameras.

All Panasonic cameras up to now have been primarily based across the firm’s Depth-from-Defocus (DFD) AF system and Leica makes use of a system whose description sounds remarkably related. We’re advised all of the lenses within the L-mount are suitable with DFD however that they don’t seem to be all essentially optimized for it, by way of AF drive or how rapidly the lenses talk with digicam our bodies. For now we would not count on the identical consistency throughout native L-mount lenses that we have seen from the single-maker methods, however we would count on the three companions to be working to maximise compatibility.

Diagram covers autofocus primes and high-end zooms within the 14-200mm vary. Lineups appropriate as of October 2021.

Panasonic’s lenses primarily make use of linear focus motors, however use a mixture of linear and stepping motors for lenses such because the 50mm F1.4 and its 70-200s that require extra glass to be moved round. Sigma’s lenses differ, and we would count on higher efficiency from its made-for-mirrorless DG DN lenses than from the older DSLR optics.

DSLR lens help

In the event you already personal a choice of DSLR-mount lenses, then you definately’ll discover that with the appropriate equipment, you’ll be able to mount them on any of those digicam our bodies. For the reason that mirrorless mounts are all shallower, this leaves loads of room to place an adapter between the lens and physique. The efficiency you get will differ, although.

Canon regularly bundles certainly one of its EF-to-RF adaptors with its RF-mount cameras, and it makes three variants (a easy pass-through tube, one other with a management ring round it and a 3rd that allows you to drop a selection of filter between the lens and the digicam). The twin pixel AF system, mixed with Canon’s information of its communication protocol means EF lens customers will get in all probability the most effective tailored lens expertise when utilizing Canon RF-mount our bodies. Normally we have had roughly DSLR-level efficiency from the EF lenses we have tailored nevertheless it’s not essentially true for each lens.

Unsurprisingly, you are inclined to get the most effective tailored efficiency in the event you use DSLR lenses on the identical manufacturers’ mirrorless our bodies. Do not assume you will all the time get DSLR ranges of efficiency, although.

Numerous firms additionally make EF-to-E adaptors, permitting EF-mount lenses for use on Sony our bodies. And, whereas not fairly as constant as Canon-on-Canon pairings, we have had good experiences with this mix, although typically solely with shorter focal lengths. In the meantime, Sigma makes the MC-21 adapter for utilizing EF lenses with L-mount our bodies however, with out part detection AF in most of these cameras, steady AF shouldn’t be obtainable.

Nikon additionally affords kits that embrace its ‘FTZ’ F-to-Z mount adaptor with a few of its digicam our bodies. This offers a good degree of help for current lenses however doesn’t comprise a spotlight drive motor, so can solely autofocus lenses with their very own motors (AF-S, AF-P and AF-I lenses and their third-party equivalents). F-to-E adapters can be found, however efficiency can differ, lens-to-lens, making it extra of of venture.

Sony additionally makes a number of adapters for utilizing A-mount lenses on E-mount cameras. The most recent, LA-EA5 adapter features a focus motor to focus older lenses designed to be pushed from the digicam physique, however this perform solely works with choose high-end Sony cameras.

As you’d in all probability count on, then, older lenses are inclined to work most reliably with the cameras made by the identical model. Nonetheless, they can be utilized on different methods, so relying on how in depth your current lens assortment is, it’s possible you’ll discover you can also make do with lowered efficiency, slightly than having to sell-up and begin once more, in the event you do not need to stay certain to the whims of the maker of your DSLR.


As you’d count on, Sony’s almost five-year head begin and openness in direction of third-party makers has let it construct up a major benefit over its rivals, however all 4 mounts are already beginning to see key holes of their respective lineups being stuffed.

In the long term, it is probably that each one 4 methods will likely be prolonged to supply a variety of mid-range, in addition to high-end primes and zooms, nevertheless it’s fairly clear that originally, Nikon and Canon are specializing in totally different units of customers.

Third-party help offers extra choices in younger lens methods. There’s much more to be gained when makers of cameras and lenses grow to be companions in a system, as has occurred with the L-mount.

Nikon and Canon’s choices to maintain their mounts closed to opponents means they will management the consistency of expertise for his or her customers (with much less threat of a third-party lens providing sub-standard AF pace or smoothness, for example), however with the draw back that you simply’re extremely depending on that firm’s improvement priorities and pricing, except you are blissful to take your possibilities with easy handbook focus or reverse-engineered choices.

It is the third-party makers and their capacity and willingness to supply fully-compatible lenses that will likely be fascinating to look at. The adoption price of Sony E-mount cameras and the provision of the lens protocols is more likely to imply most future third-party lenses will likely be designed round this mount. However with Sigma already becoming a member of the L-mount Alliance, different methods are beginning to profit from additional enter.

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