Best prime lens of 2020
Ah, prime lenses. Historically lauded as being less expensive, less bulky and generally sharper than average zooms, there were more than a few primes released over the course of 2020 that will challenge some of those long-held assumptions.
We had our say already, in our annual DPReview Awards, but which lens was your favorite? This your chance to let us know. And if you think we missed something, please leave a comment. So get ready to zoom with your feet and cast your vote for the best prime lens of 2020.
Voting in three categories (cameras, prime and zoom lenses) runs through December 20th, and once the vote has closed we’ll run a fourth and final poll drawn from the winners of the first three to determine your choice for overall product of the year.
When Canon first introduced the RF mount, it did so with a bevy of ultra-fast, ultra-pricey prime lenses. But in 2020, we’ve seen a bit of a shift in strategy (or maybe just the evolution of one). There’s the return of the ‘nifty fifty,’ an affordable 50mm F1.8 that will be many users’ first-ever prime lens. Then there’s an 85mm F2 Macro, a reasonably affordable and portable staple for portrait and event shooters.
Lastly, Canon’s 600mm and 800mm F11 lenses, with their relatively affordable pricetags and modest size, open up a new world of super-telephoto shooting to many photographers who might otherwise have never experimented with it.
All of these lenses are welcome additions to the RF lineup, but the question is, are any of them a ‘must-have’ for you? Cast your vote and let us know.
- Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM
- Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM
- Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM
- Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM
Fujifilm already has offers of the most filled-out lens lineups for its APS-C cameras, but that didn’t stop it from releasing two interesting new options this year. The first, an XC 35mm F2, is basically the same optically as the XF 35mm F2 WR, only without weather-sealing or an aperture ring. It’s essentially the ‘nifty-fifty’ for their X-series photographers.
Fujifilm also released the XF 50mm F1.0 WR, which is a sort of halo lens for the system; huge, expensive, and with an exotic F1.0 maximum aperture, it’s a lovely lens for portraits.
Lastly, the GF 30mm F3.5 is a 24mm-equivalent prime for the company’s medium-format GFX system. As with all GF lenses, it’s optically superb and built like a tank. But is it the lens you’ve been waiting for? What about the XC 35mm or XF 50mm? Let us know by casting your vote.
The Hasselblad XCD 45mm F4 P is a 35mm-equivalent prime for the company’s mirrorless X1D cameras; it’s also the lightest and most compact lens available for the system, so the ‘P’ may as well stand for portable. Or maybe pancake, or maybe even ‘platt’ which (we just learned) is Swedish for ‘flat’. It’s lovely optically, and could be the perfect walk-around lens for anyone with a Hasselblad X1D. Is it your favorite lens of 2020? Well, cast that vote and let your voice be heard.
The Irix 45mm F1.4 is a solid lens for the manual focus purist. That’s ‘solid’ not just in terms of performance, but also in terms of build; it’s extensively sealed and its metal body is scratch-resistant. Helping you get critical focus is a long 140-degree focus throw, and its laser engravings and luminescent paint are designed to help with operation in low light. If it’s your favorite lens of 2020, cast your vote and let it be known.
With the Z 50mm F1.2 S, Nikon is offering users a bit more speed than the (already excellent) 50mm F1.8 S but without the bulk and manual-focus compromise of the 58mm F0.95 Noct. It should be a fantastic option for low-light portraits and event shooters. Honestly, the same is true of the Z 20mm F1.8 S; reasonably speedy and compact, the 20mm is going to be great for interiors shooting and video work, as well as night skies.
Do either of them hold a coveted spot in your camera bag? or is there a spot reserved? Let us know by casting your vote.
Panasonic continues to expand its L-mount lens lineup, and the Lumix S 85mm F1.8 fills a much needed role. It provides excellent image quality without breaking the bank (or your back), and balances really well on the company’s smaller S5 mirrorless camera. Is this the L-mount lens you’ve been waiting for?
Pentax also went the portrait prime route in 2020 with its FA* 85mm F1.4. The ‘*’ designation means this lens joins a capable cohort of lenses atop Pentax’s lens range. And, like almost all of the Pentax DSLRs for which it’s designed, the ‘AW’ designation means it’s extensively sealed against the elements, so you don’t have to stop shooting if the weather takes a turn. If it’s your favorite lens of 2020, cast your vote and let us know.
Samyang / Rokinon
Holy bologna, Samyang (or Rokinon depending on which B&H page you find yourself on) has been busy in 2020. Perhaps most significant is the arrival of one of the first third-party autofocus lenses for Canon’s RF mount, the AF 85mm F1.4. But we’ve also long been fans of Samyang’s affordable AF lenses for Sony’s E-mount, and the 35mm and 75mm F1.8’s look solid.
Are any of these lenses going to find their way into your gear collection? Cast your vote and let us know if one of them is your favorite lens of 2020.
- Samyang AF 35mm F1.8 FE / Rokinon AF 35mm F1.8 FE
- Samyang AF 75mm F1.8 FE / Rokinon AF 75mm F1.8 FE
- Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 RF / Rokinon AF 85mm F1.4 RF
- Samyang MF 14mm F2.8 Mk2 / Rokinon MF 14mm F2.8 II
- Samyang MF 85mm F1.4 Mk2 / Rokinon MF 85mm F1.4 II
The year 2020 saw Sigma bring its popular 16mm and 56mm F1.4 APS-C primes into new mounts, and meanwhile the 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art is a stellar offering with great optical quality in a smaller-than-you-might-expect package. The 105mm F2.8 Macro is likewise a really attractive option for many fans of portraits and close-up work alike.
Meanwhile, as 2020 drew to a close, Sigma released three all-new compact primes in the ‘Contemporary’ line, for Sony E-mount and Leica/Panasonic/Sigma L-mount shooters. Are any of these your favorite lens of 2020? If so, you know what to do. (Vote!)
- Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro
- Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN | C (L-mount)
- Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN | C
- Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art
- Sigma 24mm F3.5 DG DN
- Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN
- Sigma 65mm F2 DG DN
The Sony 20mm F1.8G is, simply, an extraordinarily good ultrawide lens. It’s also impressively compact, and compared to the competition, it’s not outrageously priced, either. For landscapers, architectural photographers, event and video shooters, it’s a great option. But is it your favorite lens of 2020?
Mirror lenses aren’t dead! Tokina’s 400mm F8 Reflex MF is a modern super telephoto lens that uses, well, mirrors, to get you 400mm of reach in a compact and very inexpensive package. It’s manual-focus only, so you’re probably not going to be shooting your local club matches with it, but for landscapes and not-so-fast-moving wildlife, it’s a neat option that we’re glad to see. Likewise, the atx-m 85mm F1.8 FE provides a solid portrait option for users of Sony E-mount cameras. Cast your vote if either of these makes the grade as your favorite lens of 2020.
Venus Optics makes weird, awesome lenses. It’s a fact. None of these is quite as bonkers as 2018’s 24mm F14 ‘Probe’ lens, but they are all likely to be optically excellent and we love that these lenses offer something truly outside the mainstream. But are any of them your favorite lens of 2020?
- Venus Laowa 14mm F4 FF RL Zero-D
- Venus Laowa 15mm F4.5 Zero-D Shift
- Venus Laowa 50mm F2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO
- Venus Laowa 65mm F2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO
- Venus Laowa 9mm F5.6 FF RL
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