Best zoom lens of 2020
2021 was a bad year for lots of things, but a very good year for new lenses. Within that category, some of the highest-performing optics of the year were zooms. Plenty of great new gear was released this year, and while we’ve reviewed a lot of it, we can’t get our hands on everything. And that’s where you come in.
Our editorial team has had its say already, in our annual DPReview Awards, but which of this year’s new zoom lenses was your favorite? This your chance to let us know. And if you think we missed something, please leave a comment.
Voting in three categories (cameras, prime and zoom lenses) runs through December 19th, 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. Look out for that one early in the new year.
Back when Canon came out with the RF mount, many of the lenses it immediately released were on the, well, high-end of the price and performance spectrum. While we expect this years’ lenses to still offer solid performance, they’re perhaps a bit more attainable and should attract a ton of users looking to dabble in wildlife or landscape shooting.
Up first is the RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM. Coming in as a sort of affordable companion to the RF 100-500 F4.5-7.1L, this 100-400mm model looks to serve as a spiritual sibling to the affordable 600mm and 800mm F11 primes. Adding to the 100-400mm’s versatility is an impressive 0.41x reproduction ratio, the ability to use Canon’s 1.4x and 2.0x RF teleconverters, and built-in optical stabilization, which will be great for users of the non-stabilized EOS R and RP cameras.
On the opposite end of the focal length spectrum is the RF 14-35mm F4L IS USM. Stepping in as the more affordable option to Canon’s 15-35mm F2.8L, the 14-35mm is nonetheless very capable optically. With its fast Nano USM focus motor, maximum magnification of 0.38x, and excellent yet compact build, we expect it to find its way into many an RF user’s camera bag.
Are either of these your top picks for zoom lens of the year? Then let it be known, and cast that vote.
Fujifilm released a pair of zoom lenses in 2021: A tele-zoom for the its APS-C format X lineup, and a ‘kit’ zoom for its GF medium format cameras. The compact GF 35-70mm F4.5-5.6 WR is a great companion for Fujifilm’s DSLR-sized GFX 100S and 50S II, offering a useful focal length range in a genuinely small and lightweight package.
The XF 70-300 F4-5.6 R LM OIS WR on the other hand is a more traditional lens, which offers X-mount shooters a high quality 105-450mm equivalent telephoto option for wildlife and sports shooting. Did either of these lenses take your fancy this year? Cast your vote and let us know.
This is a tricky one, since of the three zoom lenses that Nikon released in 2021, we’ve only used one, and none of them is currently available widely in stores. We have shot a fair amount on the Z 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 VR S on the new Z9 though, and we’re impressed by its performance and handling. If the forthcoming Z 24-120mm F4 S and Z DX 18-140mm F3.5-6.3 VR are even half as useful, we’ll be happy. Fortunately, this is a poll, not a scientific test. So what do you think? Do any of Nikon’s latest zoom lenses earn your vote?
- Nikon Nikkor Z 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 VR S
- Nikon Nikkor Z 24-120mm F4 S
- Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm F3.5-6.3 VR
OM Digital Solutions
2021 was the year that the Olympus camera division became ‘OM Digital Solutions’ under new ownership and inevitably, the newly reformulated company spent much of the last 12 months consolidating. The first lens under the new ‘OM System’ branding was released very recently, but before that came the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4 Pro, still sold under the old ‘Olympus’ brand (are you confused yet?)
The M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4 Pro is a really nice lens for Micro Four Thirds, offering a focal length range equivalent to 16-50mm, and the solid build quality and excellent weather-sealing that we’ve come to expect from optics in the ‘Pro’ line. Was it one of your favorite zoom lenses of the year? Let us know.
Panasonic came out with two zoom lenses this year, one for Micro Four Thirds and one for full-frame L-mount. The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 25-50mm F1.7 ASPH has become a fast favorite at DPReview for both video and stills, providing an equivalent focal length range of 50-100mm with a usefully fast maximum aperture and great sharpness. The S 70-300 F4.5-5.6 Macro OIS meanwhile gives full-frame L-mount shooters a versatile telezoom option for wildlife and casual sports shooting. Did either of these lenses catch your attention this year? Let us know!
Ricoh / Pentax
The HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW is a high-quality standard zoom lens for Ricoh’s Pentax-branded APS-C bodies. Built to a high standard, and sealed against dust and moisture, the 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW is a great companion to the K-3 III. Have you shot with it? Is it one of your favorite lenses of the year? Cast your vote and have your say.
Sigma had a strong year, releasing three really nice lenses – two for full-frame, and one for APS-C, but all ‘DN’ (digital neo) denoting that they were designed from scratch for mirrorless cameras, with native support for Sony E and L mounts. For full-frame, the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | S is set to become a firm favorite of wildlife photographers, and the 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN | C is an attractive and nicely balanced standard zoom for every day use. The Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC DN C meanwhile is that rarest of things – an affordable, but practical and high-quality third-party standard zoom for APS-C.
What did you make of them? Let us know.
Sony only released one zoom lens this year but it was a good one – the FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II updates the original 70-200mm f2.8 GM in just about every important way, offering better image quality, better ergonomics and improved build quality and sealing. As one of the most versatile lenses in the so-called ‘holy trinity’ of standard pro F2.8 zooms, this was an important lens for Sony to get right. So did they succeed? Cast your vote and let us know what you think.
Tamron is on a tear the past couple of years, and 2021 was no exception, with five zoom lenses being released for Sony E-mount mirrorless shooters. These range from versatile zooms for APS-C to high-performing specialist optics for full-frame. The 35-150mm F2-2.8 Di III VXD is a particularly good example of the latter type of lens – a fast zoom covering an uncommon but useful focal length, designed specifically for portraiture and event shooting. Meanwhile the 28-75mm F2.8 Di III VXD G2 has become one of our favorite fast standard zooms for everyday shooting.
Is one of these lenses glued to your camera? Cast your vote and let us know.
- Tamron 11-20mm F2.8 Di III-A RXD
- Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD
- Tamron 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD
- Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III VXD G2
- Tamron 35-150mm F2-2.8 Di III VXD
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