Most underrated lenses?

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
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HFAhmad New Member • Posts: 7
Most underrated lenses?
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Just a general question. Noticed that some of my favorite lenses are largely unheralded by the photography industry press, or don't get the same treatment by vintage camera enthusiasts (in the case of older lenses). I'm sure you've had the same experience, and would love to hear which lenses you adore, but feel like you're the only one in the world who feels that way about them. Or maybe your favorites have been reviewed, but not as much or not as positively as you feel warranted. Would love to see how many favorite underrated lenses are shared my multiple people on the forum.

Here's my list in no particular order:

Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM: Fabulously sharp, great contrast, great color, metal and tiny. All around a wonderful lens that was rarely removed from my EOS M. Alas, it's stuck in a weird system, released alongside a camera body that was a massive disappointment in the market (though I am a fan of the EOS M), and as such its brilliance was completely overlooked.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 (I): The Mark II version gets all the hype, but I snagged a great condition used model Mark I for well under $100 bucks and was blown away. It was sharp, for sure, but it had that a certain "something" -- call it rendition, call it character -- that made me ignore the slow AF speed, noisy AF motor, even noisier MF and lack of video AF on my E-M1. It has proved sharper, with better color and contrast than the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm f2.8 PRO that I "upgraded" to eventually.

Olympus Zuiko Auto-T 85mm f2: The lens that demonstrated for me why people love vintage glass. Shot on my OM-4 film body or adapted to mirrorless, this lens is a beast. The out of focus areas are beautifully rendered and sharpness is remarkable around f2.8-4. When used with a speed booster adapter to MFT, out of focus areas take on a swirl pattern like a Petzval lens. Very cool and perfect for portraits or details.

Tamron SP 70-300mm f4-5.6 Di VC USD: This is the most surprising lens I've ever owned. Long story short, while regularly shooting indoor events with a 20D, 60D and 5D, this plastic Tamron consistently outperformed the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM that it shared a shelf with. Sharper (this was almost unbelievable), less distortion, less chromatic aberration - you name it. Apart from what you can read or quantify on a spec sheet, this lens beat the white Canon L hollow. I even owned two copies of the Tamron, and they both performed similarly.

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO: The sharpest lens I've ever owned, hands down (but perhaps to a fault). Few zoom (or prime) lenses from any manufacturer hold a candle to the sharpness and detail of this lens. Yes, the L series lenses are contrast champions, but the 40-150mm PRO is no slouch here either. Maybe because of the system or maybe because the Canon and Nikon equivalents have a halo around them, but the lack of attention paid to such a stellar performer for a popular system (this is not some Pentax Q toy lens we're talking about here) is hard for me to fathom.

Would love to hear about your favorite underrated glass!

 HFAhmad's gear list:HFAhmad's gear list
Canon EOS M Olympus PEN E-P5 Olympus E-M5 II Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54mm 1:2.8-3.5 Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH +6 more
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