Our guide to the best used cameras and associated lenses continues, with Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Olympus

Canon EOS 70D

* £444 excellent condition
Released into Canon’s double-digit lineup of DSLRs in 2013, the EOS 70D is the successor to the EOS 60D and predecessor of the EOS 80D, which was replaced by the EOS 90D in 2019. Aimed squarely at enthusiasts who’d like an intuitive layout of external controls, a vari-angle screen and a build-quality superior to Canon’s entry-level DSLR’s, it was also the first DSLR to showcase Canon’s revolutionary Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. It was released at body-only price of £1070. Today it’s possible to source a second-hand 70D in excellent condition with a shutter count under 5,000 frames for £444, which is a good amount of camera for the money. At its heart lies a 20.2-million-pixel APS-C sized sensor.

The small jump in resolution from the 60D went virtually unnoticed as all attention was drawn to the way it could perform on-sensor phase-detection focusing when using live view and shooting video to improve focus acquisition and response. The 70D’s sensor and DIGIC 5+ processor combine to offer a sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,800 (extendable to ISO 25,600), meanwhile it can shoot continuously at up to 7fps. The buffer permits 16 raw files or 65 JPEGs to be recorded at this speed before its capacity is reached, it has a single SD card slot at the side and its LP-E6 battery gets close to 920-shots on a single charge. Canon’s BG-E14 battery grip (£99 in mint used condition) can be attached for longer spells of shooting and improves the handling when shooting in portrait format.

The AF system is borrowed from Canon’s original EOS 7D and consists of 19 points, all of which are the sensitive cross-type. It doesn’t provide a joystick to easily nudge the AF point around the frame like the newer 90D, but users do get a dedicated button on the top plate to toggle through the AF modes. The 70D’s 3in, 1.04m-dot articulated touch screen is particularly useful when it comes to creative framing and above it is a pentaprism-style optical viewfinder that can display a small level indicator to avoid skewed shots. As is usually the case with more-advanced DSLRs, the 70D sports a small LCD display on the top of the camera providing a quick reference point to key camera settings. With regard to exposure modes, the 70D is served by the usual quartet of PASM modes, along with a fully automatic Auto mode and a range of specific Scene modes for less-experienced users.

An example of the rich colours you get from the 70D’s raw files Canon EOS 70D, EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Nano USM, 1/640sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

There’s built-in Wi-Fi, enabling image sharing and remote capture from a smartphone or tablet via Canon’s app, while video-recording abilities extend to 1080p Full HD capture up to 30fps. The design and layout will be familiar to Canon entry-level users who might like to upgrade and though its polycarbonate body isn’t as strong as a magnesium alloy, it’ll survive the odd knock here and there, plus it’s reassuring to know it is dust and moisture resistant. Though the 70D’s sensor is starting to get on a bit, you’re guaranteed well-exposed images, superb colours from the camera’s raw files, with high detail preserved up to ISO 3200. Some colour noise can be traced in dark shadowed regions of JPEGs though so we’d give precedence to shooting in Raw. For beginners starting out and amateurs looking to hone their skills, the 70D makes a compelling choice. There’s also no shortage of excellent second-hand EF/EF-S mount lenses to pair it with.

At a glance
* Sensor 20.2MP CMOS, 22.5 x 15mm
* Sensitivity ISO 100-12,800; ISO 100-25,600 (extended)
* Autofocus 19-point phase detection
* Continuous shooting 7fps
* Video Full HD up to 30p
* Rear display 3in, 1.04m-dot fully articulated touchscreen
* Viewfinder Optical, 98% coverage, 0.6x equivalent magnification

Four great lenses to consider

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM (£139)
If you’re after a compact wideangle zoom for your Canon APS-C DSLR, this is a fine example and one that pairs up well with mid-range DSLRs like the EOS 70D. Its Stepping Motor Technology (STM) helps keep focus operation inaudible and with four-stop image stabilisation it’s possible to shoot sharp handheld images with shutter speeds as slow as 1/5sec. It may have a plastic mount and electronic manual focus, but don’t let that put you off as it delivers very pleasing results for such a low price. As such, it’s hard to think of a reason not to include this in your lens collection if you’re looking to expand and fancy owning an optic that’s better suited to containing more of what’s around you in the frame. It’s great for landscapes, interiors and architecture.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (£209)
This is an appealing lens for Canon users who’d like a versatile zoom that covers a practical focal length range that is equivalent to 29-216mm. Not to be confused with the older EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, this lens is equipped with Canon’s stepping-motor technology (STM) to ensure quiet, smooth focus operation when capturing stills and shooting video. It’s a feature that works particularly well with the EOS 70D’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. In addition the lens features a dynamic image stabiliser that lets you shoot handheld shots up to four stops slower than is otherwise possible, whilst being able to focus as close as 39cm to a subject at any point in the zoom range. It has a construction of 16 elements in 12 groups, accepts 67mm filters and weighs 480g.

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM Macro (£199)
If you own a Canon APS-C DSLR and like the sound of photographing objects at true life-size (1:1), you’ll want to add a dedicated macro lens to your kit. Equivalent to 96mm mounted to an APS-C DSLR, this dedicated macro lens will enable you to capture stunning close-ups, thanks to its 20cm minimum focus distance. The inclusion of Canon’s Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) means it can focus silently on subjects, and with Super Spectra coatings to suppress ghosting and flare, in addition to full-time manual focus override, it’s not short of features for the price. What’s more, it doubles up as an effective portrait lens and creates beautiful background blur behind subjects when it’s used at its maximum aperture. All in all, it’s an excellent dual-purpose optic for Canon APS-C users who want a lens that’ll last a lifetime with due care.

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art (£259)
Equivalent to a 48mm prime coupled to an APS-C DSLR, this compact, wide-aperture prime provides a field of view extremely close to what we see with our eyes. It has an updated optical configuration over the older Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM, with 9 elements arranged in 8 groups. The lens features a double-sided aspherical lens element to minimise spherical distortion and its Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) delivers smooth and quiet autofocus. Fulltime manual focus is also supported. Firmware updates and focusing adjustments can be made via Sigma’s USB dock device and it’s a lens that can be relied on to produce striking images, with its nine-blade diaphragm producing very satisfying specular highlights – also known as bokeh. It’s not weather-sealed, but given the quality of the images it produces you can’t argue at the price.

Panasonic Lumix xG80

* £369
Released towards the end of 2016, the Lumix G80 is essentially Panasonic’s answer to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Indeed a glance through the spec sheets reveals that in terms of photographic ability, on paper the two cameras are practically identical. But there’s a major difference for those who are also interested in video, because the G80 is capable of recording in 4K, and with very creditable quality too.

There’s also a massive difference in terms of design. In contrast to the Olympus’s charismatic retro styling, the Lumix is built much more along the lines of a conventional DSLR, with a squat black weather-sealed body and prominent handgrip. It’s festooned with external controls, including a pair of large top-plate dials for changing exposure settings, a drive-mode dial on the top plate, and a focus-mode switch on the back.

As a result it’s easy to carry around one-handed, balances well with telephoto lenses, and in most respects is a pleasure to shoot with. Panasonic’s control set-up may not suit everyone, as both dials do the same thing by default (except in manual mode), and it relies on the touchscreen for positioning the focus point. But the good news is that the camera is highly configurable to suit the user. Viewing is via a large, clear 2.36m-dot OLED finder, while the rear screen is fully articulated for shooting at awkward angles.

Micro Four Thirds is great for telephoto reach Panasonic G80, 100-300mm, 1/80sec at f/5.6, ISO 3200

An excellent touch interface complements the physical controls nicely. The G80 was Panasonic’s first SLR-style model to include in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), and in general it works very well. When coupled with an optically stabilised lens, the two systems work together for increased effect, in a system Panasonic calls Dual IS. The caveat is that with some lenses the firmware will need updating, and with the very oldest ones, Dual IS won’t work at all.

Noteworthy features include a really quiet, well-damped shutter, in-camera raw conversion, and up to 900 shots battery life when using the energy-saving Eco mode. The G80 doesn’t have quite the same high-end video credentials as its more expensive siblings, but 4K recording is available at 30fps and 100Mpbs, with Cinelike colour profiles available for easier post-production, and a built-in 3.5mm stereo microphone socket. Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode effectively allows 8MP still images to be captured at 30fps. As usual from Panasonic, the G80 relies on the firm’s Depth from Defocus technology for autofocus. It’s not quite as decisive as phase detection, but is quicker than simple contrast detection and better at dealing with moving subjects. Low ISO image quality is very good indeed, especially in sunlight, with attractive colours and easily enough detail to make a sharp A3 print. The metering tends to underexpose in dull light, but this is easy to correct.

The sensor continues to deliver decent image quality at up to ISO 6400, while built-in Wi-Fi connectivity makes it easy to transfer images to your smartphone for sharing on social media. Overall, while the G80 may not have the retro charm of its Olympus rival, it’s still an impressive camera that’s fully featured, a pleasure to use, and capable of great results for both stills and video.

At a glance
Sensor 16MP CMOS, 17.3x13mm
Sensitivity ISO 200-25,600; ISO 100-25,600 (extended)
Autofocus 49-point contrast detect
Continuous shooting 9fps with AFS, 6fps with AFC l Video 4K up to 30p
Rear display 3in, 1.04m-dot fully articulated LCD
Viewfinder 2.36m-dot electronic, 0.74x equivalent magnification

Four great lenses to consider

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS (£159)
This might look like just another small-aperture kit zoom, but in fact a couple of desirable characteristics make it stand out from the crowd. First is the unusually versatile 24-120mm equivalent zoom range, making it suitable for a broad range of subjects from landscapes to portraits. Secondly, the lens is weather-sealed to match the G80, making it the ideal choice for shooting outdoors in less than perfect conditions. It’s small and lightweight, at just 210g, while accepting 58mm filters and focusing as close as 25cm at the telephoto end. Sharpness is very respectable, with the best results seen around f/5.6-8, while integrated software compensation eliminates distortion and chromatic aberration. It’s a fine lightweight general-purpose zoom for everyday use.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F4-5.6 II OIS (£359)
One of the biggest advantages of Micro Four Thirds is the ability to get substantial telephoto reach without having to carry around massive lenses, and Panasonic’s 100-300mm f/4-5.6 is arguably the epitome of this. Smaller, lighter and much less expensive than the firm’s Leica DG 100-400mm F4-6.3 OIS, it delivers a 200-600mm equivalent zoom range in a remarkably portable package that weighs only 520g. It focuses quickly, provides excellent optical stabilisation, and gives very respectable images, although it benefits from being stopped down a little at 300mm. We’ve selected the ‘II’ version here, as it’s dust and splash-proof and fully supports Panasonic’s Dual IS system, which makes it a great match to the G80. However the original can also be found at an even more affordable price.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH OIS (£319)
If you’re interested in a weather-sealed all-in-one superzoom that’s ideal for both stills and video use, this optic fits the bill as an ideal partner to the G80. The ‘II’ suffix indicates that it’s an update of an older lens that lacks the dust and splash proofing, but is otherwise identical in design. As superzooms go, this 28-280mm equivalent optic is remarkably small, especially given the inclusion of Panasonic’s Power OIS optical stabilisation that’s designed to compensate for slow, large-amplitude movements that can otherwise spoil long exposures and videos, as well as more conventional shake. It measures 67mm in diameter by 75mm in length, and weighs 265g. For users on a tighter budget, the older non-weathersealed 14-140mm f/4-5.8 can be had for almost half the price.

Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH (£159)
Pancake lenses seem to have gone out of fashion these days, which is something of a shame as when done well, they can provide fine image quality in an incredibly compact size. The Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 is a case in point – it’s just 26mm long and weighs 100g, but is capable of producing really attractive photos. It’s very sharp in the centre of the frame wide open, while giving its best results overall between f/2.8 and f/5.6. As usual for Micro Four thirds, residual distortion and chromatic aberration is mopped up by software compensation, meaning that the user simply experiences pleasingly sharp, clean images. Its main disadvantage is sluggish autofocus, due to a design that moves the entire optical unit back and forth for focusing.

Sony Alpha 7

* £409
It’s easy to forget just how revolutionary the Sony Alpha 7 looked when it was launched back in 2013 alongside the 36MP Alpha 7R, as one of the world’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras. Now that we’re three generations down the line, with the Alpha 7 III being one of the most sophisticated and accomplished all-rounders on the market, it’s also easy to forget just how small, stripped-back and lightweight the camera felt compared to contemporary full-frame DSLRs.

At heart the Alpha 7 answers a very simple question, of how to squeeze a full-frame sensor into the smallest possible body while including an eye-level viewfinder. The resultant SLR-style design with its central EVF measures 127x94x48mm and weighs 474g, making it almost 200g lighter than the contemporary Canon EOS 6D, or 176g less than the current Alpha 7 III. Even now, the only full-frame model that’s lighter is the rather less practical Sigma fp. It still packs in a pretty decent set of specifications, as befits a camera that originally cost £1,300 body-only. The 24MP full-frame sensor offers sensitivities up to ISO 25,600, and you can rattle off shots at 5 frames per second, with a creditable 28-frame raw buffer. Autofocus uses a hybrid system, with 117 phase-detection points arranged in the central region of the frame, complemented by contrast detection that extends almost to the edges.

The Alpha 7 delivers full-frame image quality on a budget. Sony Alpha 7, 24-70mm f/4 at 24mm, 1/60sec at f/16, ISO 1000

With static subjects autofocus is pretty snappy, and inherently accurate, but C-AF performance lags some way behind Sony’s latest technology. One notable omission is in-body image stabilisation, which debuted on the second-generation model, but that’s the trade-off for the slimmer body. There’s no denying that, in certain aspects of its design, the Alpha 7 now feels decidedly clunky. Sony was still feeling its way into mirrorless, after all, having released its first APS-C bodies little more than three years previously. The shutter operates with a loud clack, and while the camera sports no fewer than four dials to set exposure, the control layout is frankly a bit of a mess. Battery life is unimpressive, but thankfully third-party spares are cheap and easy to find.

The Alpha 7 is compatible with a large range of full-frame E-mount lenses, not just from Sony but also third-party makers such as Samyang, Sigma, Tamron and Zeiss. Even better, it will also work with a vast array of old manual-focus lenses originally designed for 35mm film SLRs and rangefinders via mount adapters, making it a great way of reviving optics from long-dead systems. The electronic viewfinder previews exactly how your shot will turn out, in terms of brightness, colour and depth of field, and the tilting screen is handy for shooting at high or low angles. When shooting in raw, you can expect image quality that’s not all that far behind contemporary models, with excellent dynamic range at low ISOs, and very respectable high-ISO performance. JPEG quality isn’t so great, though, and has been much improved on subsequent generations.

The Alpha 7 was on sale new for a very long time, which means that it’s quite plentiful on the second-hand market, and relatively easy to find in good condition. If you can live with its quirks, it’s one of the best ways to get into shooting full-frame
on a budget.

At a glance
Sensor 24MP CMOS, 35.8×23.9mm
Sensitivity ISO 100-25,600
Autofocus Hybrid, 117-point phase detect, 25-point contrast detect
Continuous shooting 5fps
Video Full HD up to 60p
Rear display 3in, 1.23m-dot tilt
LCD Viewfinder 2.36m-dot electronic, 0.71x magnification

Four great lenses to consider

Sony FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS (£439)
Sony’s cheapest standard zoom is the FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS, which is available for less than £160 second-hand. But unless you’re really on a budget, we’d forgo this entry-level lens in favour of the Zeiss-branded 24-70mm F4, as a better way of realising the potential of the full-frame sensor. It provides a usefully wider view, along with higher-quality optics and a more robust all-metal barrel that’s sealed against dust and moisture. However it’s still relatively compact and lightweight, at 94.5mm in length and 426g, and uses 67mm filters. It also includes optical stabilisation to help keep your images sharp when shooting handheld at slower shutter speeds. Overall it’s the ideal everyday zoom for use on the Alpha 7.

Sony FE 50mm F1.8 (£129)
For a certain generation of photographer, the 50mm f/1.8 is simply the classic lens for use with full frame, having been near-universally supplied with manual-focus 35mm film SLRs. Sony’s version updates the venerable double-Gauss optical formula by the use of an aspherical element in its 6-element, 5-group design, with the aim of reducing peripheral aberrations to give sharper images at large apertures. The diaphragm employs seven curved blades to deliver attractive bokeh, and filters can be used via a 49mm filter thread. At just 186g the lens is distinctly lightweight, although at 60mm in length, it’s longer than classic SLR 50mm primes. In real-world use it provides sharp images with minimal distortion or chromatic aberration, but users may find its sluggish autofocus to be frustrating.

Sony FE 85mm F1.8 (£409)
One of the main pictorial advantages of full-frame over smaller sensor formats is its increased ability to achieve shallow depth of field when shooting at large apertures, which is considered to be particularly desirable when photographing people. Sony’s FE 85mm F1.8 is a classic short-telephoto portrait prime that delivers sharp images with a good degree of background blur, but without breaking the bank. To match it on APS-C you’d need a 56mm f/1.2; only Fujifilm makes such a thing, and it’s considerably more expensive. Rapid internal focusing is provided, with full support for Sony’s Real-Time Eye AF on more recent cameras. At 371g and 82mm in length, this f/1.8 optic is also considerably more manageable than Sony’s huge FE 85mm F1.4 GM, which weighs more than twice as much.

Samyang AF 35mm F2.8 FE (£169)
Pretty much the smallest and lightest ‘proper’ autofocus lens that you can get for Sony’s full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras, this is a great option for when you want to travel super-light. It’s also extremely affordable when compared to its Sony equivalent. Despite its compact dimensions – just 33mm long and a featherweight 85g – Samyang has managed to fit in an optical system that includes 7 elements in 6 groups, including two aspherical elements and one made of high-refractive index (HR) glass. In addition, its internal focus design delivers reasonably snappy AF. Images are pretty good at f/2.8, with the sweet spot of maximum sharpness being two stops down at f/5.6. It’s a compelling option for photographers who want full-frame image quality in the smallest possible package.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II


While the future of Olympus’s imaging business may be uncertain, there’s no denying the quality of the cameras and lenses that it’s made in the recent past. The key promise of the Micro Four Thirds system – small, high-performance cameras and lenses – aligns perfectly with what the company has always done best, and arguably, no camera represents that better than the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. This compact, charismatic SLR-style model sold for £900 body-only when it launched in early 2015, but can be bought for well under half that price second-hand, even in as-new condition.

The E-M5 II’s main attractions remain much the same as when it was new, as few other cameras are this small, yet fully featured and robust. It measures just 123.7x85x44.5mm and weighs in at 469g, yet sports a weather-sealed magnesium-alloy body and a good range of well-placed external controls.

Its 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder provides a large, sharp view, while the fully articulated rear touchscreen facilities shooting at creative angles, in both portrait and landscape formats. Not surprisingly some of the core specifications now look a little dated, particularly the 16MP Four-Thirds sensor that technically can’t match larger formats for raw image quality. Also as the autofocus is based purely on contrast detection, it’s really not happy trying to track fast-moving subjects, meaning this is far from the best choice for shooting sports or action. Likewise video is limited to Full HD at 60fps.

Like all Olympus cameras, the E-M5 Mark II gives lovely colours. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II, 12-40mm f/2.8 at 15mm 1/800 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200

But in other respects, you get a whole lot of camera for your money. Olympus’s 5-axis in-body stabilisation works with every lens you can use, often allowing you to shoot at slower shutter speeds and hence lower ISOs, offsetting the image-quality disadvantage of the smaller sensor. There’s also a 40MP high-resolution multi-shot mode, although it requires the camera to be set on a tripod and the subject to be completely static, which limits its usefulness. The mechanical shutter, which provides speeds up to 1/8000sec, is extremely quiet and discreet for stealthy shooting.

When buying second-hand, make sure you’ll get the handy FL-LM3 flash; it slides onto the hot shoe, is powered from the camera, and sports an articulated head for bounce flash. In terms of operation the E-M5 II works pretty well out of the box, with two large tactile dials under your forefinger and thumb for changing exposure settings. It’s also highly configurable, and we’d recommend remapping the top-plate HDR button to change ISO and white balance, and perhaps setting the rear switch to engage manual focus.

As usual Olympus’s JPEG processing is excellent, delivering attractive, punchy colour, aided by near-perfect auto white balance. Built-in Wi-Fi makes it easy to transfer images to your phone for sharing, using the well-designed OI Share app. One of the biggest attractions of Micro Four Thirds is the large range of small, high-quality lenses available. With its diminutive size the E-M5 II is really most at home wearing relatively small, lightweight zooms, or Olympus’s tiny but sharp f/1.8 primes. If you’d like to use it with larger telephoto lenses, you may find it helpful to add either the HLD-8 two-part grip that also takes a second battery, or the rare ECG-2 handgrip.

At a glance
Sensor 16MP CMOS, 17.3x13mm
Sensitivity ISO 200-25,600; ISO 100-25,600 (extended)
Autofocus 81-point contrast detect
Continuous shooting 10fps with S-AF; 5fps with C-AF
Video Full HD up to 60p
Rear display 3in, 1.04m-dot fully articulated LCD
Viewfinder 2.36m-dot electronic, 0.74x equivalent magnification

Four great lenses to consider

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro (£439)
It may seem odd to recommend a standard zoom that’s more expensive than the camera, but the 12-40mm f/2.8 is quite simply the perfect complement to the E-M5 Mark II. Indeed, more than any other lens in Olympus’s line-up, aside perhaps from the recently launched 12-45mm f/4, it best realises the concept of the high-quality, lightweight, weather-sealed system. Optically it’s fantastic, delivering excellent image quality at any focal length even when shot wide open, while also being capable of superb close-ups down to just 20cm, where it delivers 0.6x equivalent magnification. Operationally it boasts a dual-mode focus ring that can be snapped back towards the camera to engage manual focus, revealing a distance scale in the process. There’s also a programmable L.Fn button.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital  17mm F1.8 (£249)
Small primes complement Olympus’s compact OM-D bodies really nicely, allowing you to shoot in low light without having to hike the ISO too far, and to achieve a degree of background blur. The 17mm f/1.8 is a particularly fine choice when you want to travel really light and work discreetly, as it weighs in at just 120g, while measuring a mere 36mm in length. It still finds space for two aspherical elements and one made from high refractive index (HR) glass to suppress aberrations, along with a fast, silent internal-focus mechanism. It even has a snap-back focus ring for switching to manual focus, complete with distance and depth-of-field scales. It’s perhaps not the sharpest lens Olympus makes, but it’s one of the nicest.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F4-5.6 R (£99)
In Olympus’s Micro Four Thirds lens line-up, there’s often no middle ground between inexpensive kit zooms and the firm’s high-end, but large and expensive Pro-series lenses. This is very much the case with telephoto zooms, where there’s a yawning chasm between the 40-150mm f/2.8 and its f/4-5.6 sibling. Thankfully, though, this lightweight and inexpensive optic is still a very decent performer, thanks in part to the use of an extra-low dispersion (ED) glass element to combat chromatic aberration. It weighs less than 200g, is just 8.6cm long and employs 58mm filters, and yet provides an 80-300mm equivalent range. Autofocus is rapid and practically silent, with the minimum focus distance being less than a metre. Just be aware that the lens isn’t weather-sealed for use in inclement conditions.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 (£139)
We regularly sing the praises of this fine little short-telephoto prime, and with good reason. Quite simply, it’s a fantastic budget portrait lens. Just like its 17mm sibling it’s extremely small and light, at 46mm long and 116g, but it focuses snappily and delivers lovely-looking images. Wide open it combines just a little flattering softness with attractive background blur; stop down to f/2.8 and it sharpens up very nicely. Its main weakness optically is when shooting directly into the light, where it’s very prone to flare. However for the next step up in optical quality, but also size and weight, you have to go to the excellent Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN, which will set you back at least twice the price.