New lenses at Photokina 2014

The focus turns to lenses at this year's imaging fair

New lenses

We've already reported on the new cameras at Photokina 2014, but they weren't the only story. No fewer than 20 new lenses were announced in Cologne, so here's a guide to these new optics, their uses and the cameras they work with.

Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Pancake

Mount: Canon

Price: £179/US$149/AU$168

Canon 24mm

This tiny lens weighs just 125g and it's a fraction of the size of Canon's regular 18-55mm kit lens. It's designed for speed and travel photography, where 38mm equivalent focal length closely matches the natural angle of view of the human eye and the f/2.8 maximum aperture will allow hand-held shooting even in dim lighting conditions – though this lens does not feature Canon's IS image stabilizer system, so any advantage could be cancelled out by increased risk of camera shake.

What this lens does have, though, is Canon's STM stepper motor autofocus, which delivers smooth, near-silent focusing – ideal when shooting movies. The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 also has a minimum focus distance of just 0.16m.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

Mount: Canon

Price: £479/US$599/AU$675

Canon 24 105mm

Designed as a versatile standard zoom lens for Canon's full-frame cameras, the 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 can also be used on smaller APS-C Canons, where it will offer the equivalent of a 38-168mm focal range. It's equipped with Canon's STM (stepper motor) autofocus system, which Canon says delivers smooth and near-silent focusing. This is especially important for movies, where regular AF mechanisms could be audible in the video, and while short, sharp focus movements are fine for stills, movies need a slower, smoother focus action.

The IS in the name indicates the presence of Canons image stabilizer mechanism, which the company says will deliver a 4-stop advantage in shutter speed. Being a full-frame lens, it's no surprise it weighs in at 525g and takes 77mm filters.

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II

Mount: Canon

Price: £6,999/US$6,899/AU$7,774

Canon 400mm

Super-telephoto lenses are usually very large and heavy, but Canon has tackled both problems in this lens using DO (Diffractive Optics) technology. This uses diffraction gratings to alter the path of light rays, and combines with regular optical glass elements to create a high level of correction for chromatic aberration (colour fringing). Canon says its new lens is also highly resistant to flare. It comes with a 4-stop image stabilizer (IS) system, has weather sealing to protect it in tough outdoor shooting environments and has 'advanced' AF controls with full manual override.

The 400mm f/4 DO can also be used with Canon's EF 1.4X II and EF 2X II teleconverters to produce a 560mm f/5.6 or an 800mm f/8 respectively. If the new lens is used on an APS-C format Canon body, like the new EOS 7D Mark II, it effectively becomes a 640mm f/4. The 400mm f/4 DO weighs 2.1kg and takes 52mm drop-in filters. This is common practice on this type of lens because the front element is too large for regular screw-in filters.

Fuji XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR

Mount: Fuji X

Price: £1,250/US$1,599/AU$1802

Fuji 50 140mm

Fuji is extending its X-mount lens range to appeal to professional photographers, and the new Fuji XF 50-140mm f/2.8 will certainly do that. Fuji X-mount cameras use APS-C size sensors, so this lens is equivalent to a 76-213mm f/2.8 lens – the classic focal range for short-medium telephoto photography. The new lens uses Triple Linear Motor (LM) autofocus for fast, quiet focusing and has optical image stabilisation built in to further boost its low-light capabilities.

Chromatic aberration is often a problem with telephoto zooms, but Fuji says this has been 'substantially' reduced with the inclusion of five ED (extra-low dispersion) elements and one Super ED. The 50-140mm f/2.8 also features Fuji's new Nano-GI (Gradient Index) lens coatings. The barrel length remains constant during zooming – which keeps the lens balanced in your hands – and it's both weather and dust resistant, working down to a temperature of -10 degrees. The all-up weight is 995g and it takes 72mm filters.

Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 R APD and others

Mount: Fuji X

Price: £1,100/US$1,600/AU$1,803

Fuji 56mm

Fuji already makes a 56mm f/1.2 lens, but this one uses a special 'apodization' (APD) filter to further soften the edges of defocused details in the background. Fuji X-mount cameras use APS-C sensors, so this lens is actually equivalent to an 84mm f/1.2. It's the classic focal length for a portrait lens, and the unsually fast f/1.2 maximum aperture makes it perfect for isolating your subject against a blurred background.

Fuji has a number of other lenses on its roadmap for 2015, including a constant aperture 18-55mm f/2.8 R WR standard zoom, a 16mm f/1.4 R, 90mm f/2 R and a 'super-telephoto' zoom lens thought to be a 140-400mm f/4.5-5.6. If this is confirmed, this would be Fuji's longest X-mount telephoto lens yet, and equivalent to a 210-600mm f/4-5.6. This would take Fuji's X-mount system right into sports and wildlife territory.