June 2018 update of highest rated lenses on B+H and Amazon
Another update of this list ... some changes here.
1. Sigma 16mm f/1.4 climbs further to number 3 on the list, with the highest average rating (B+H and Amazon) for any E/FE lens with at least 50 ratings.
2. The new 18-135mm APS-C zoom is at number 28 on the list, easily the highest rated APS-C zoom lens.
3. The even newer Tamron 28-75 appears on the list, but very few ratings so far. Watch for it again in a few months.
4. The Samyang AF lenses have tended to be rated relatively poorly so it will be interesting to see how the new compact 24mm f/2.8 goes, which seems to have very attractive specs and performance in a part of the FL range where there have been limited options.
5. The ultracheap Meike 35/1.7 sits at number 35 on the list. The 7artisans 25/1.8 got even higher in the past but has since fallen back with more ratings.
I sometimes put up a list of all E/FE lenses with various stats. You can find the latest list here.
That list is ordered in terms of focal length, but below is a list of E/FE lenses, ordered by their ratings (out of 5) on B+H and Amazon. I've updated a lot of the ratings recently.
The list is ordered in terms of a bayesian average, which is how a lot of websites rank things (e.g. IMDB top 250 films and boardgamegeek ). It works such that a lens with a single rating of 5 does not shoot to the top. Instead, it finds the balance between having a high rating and a good number of ratings. It is a reasonable (but far from perfect) estimate of where a rating will eventually settle. Lenses with few ratings will tend to the middle of the list (there is not enough information), and tend to move higher (or lower) as the number of ratings increase.
The number in parentheses is just the number of ratings from each website. I've split the list into three 'pictures' because one long picture is difficult to see on the screen.
This is a ranking of the best rated lenses on two websites. It is NOT necessarily a list of the ranking of the best lenses. You can probably come up with lots of reasons why the B+H and Amazon ratings are somehow flawed - I can too (e.g. low rating because of Amazon delivery service etc etc etc). Don't get too hung up that your BFF lens is ranked only at number 11 or whatever rather than number 1 where it really deserved to be. Its just a list for general interest. The ranking for lenses with very few ratings (e.g. 100mm STF and the Loxia 85mm) will obviously change as more ratings come in.
That said, the rankings unsurprisingly do line up pretty well with what 'general opinion' seems to be. My rough impression of what people are basing their rating on is that it is a combination of absolute quality and value for money, probably around 60/40 or 70/30 I reckon. There is a good mix of expensive and cheaper lenses in all parts of the list. In a few cases something else is a significant factor - the obvious one being the GM 85mm f/1.4, which got a lot of low ratings because of noisy AF.
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