Best New Prime Lenses
Chief among the challenges of working with super-telephoto primes is their size and weight, so when reductions can be made without compromising performance, it makes a real difference. The Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM is not only 1.9 pounds lighter than its predecessor at 6.73 pounds—over 20 percent lighter—but it also boasts an improved close focusing distance of 13.8 feet, a foot closer than the previous generation. The lens also incorporates an upgraded Optical Image Stabilizer system for up to 5 stops of correction. List price: $12,999. Contact: Canon, usa.canon.com.
For Nikon shooters, there’s also a lighter, smaller super-tele choice in 2018. The AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR incorporates a Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element, allowing a design that’s significantly lighter and smaller than the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR. The new lens is 9.3 inches long and weighs just 3.2 pounds—a reduction of nearly 6 inches in length and 3.6 pounds in weight compared to the 500mm f/4. And though it’s one stop slower, it’s also far more budget-friendly at $3,599 (versus $10,299). Contact: Nikon, nikonusa.com.
2018 was also an important year for Sony’s optical lineup, with the introduction of the first G Master tele prime for sports and wildlife photographers. The FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS is quite light and compact for a lens of this speed and reach: at 6.4 pounds and 14.25 inches in length, it compares favorably to similar lenses from Canon and Nikon. Multiple image stabilization modes include a new mode designed to improve performance when following moving subjects. The lens also features a drop-in filter slot for the optional VF-DCPL1 circular polarizer. List price: $11,999. Contact: Sony, sony.com.