Lens Comparison Website Aids In Lens Purchase Selection - Digital Photography School
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Lens Comparison Website Aids In Lens Purchase Selection

When shopping for new lenses it’s often hard to compare the differences between one lens and another online. Even in a store, the difference might not be noticeable unless you get a chance to take both lenses out and play with them.

DxOMark to the rescue! This site is run as a manufacturer independent test site which allows for the comparison on hundreds of lenses side by side with a wide range of parameters. What’s even better than being able to compare raw stats, perfect for tech geeks (an endearing term, mind you)? Being able to compare lenses on different camera models.  Let’s take a quick look through the site’s main features. (click to enlarge screenshots)

Besides the advertisements, the first thing to note on the site is the fairly easy layout. At first I was a bit confused (this is normal for me) but then learned to find the lenses I was looking for. You can either browse the 400+ lenses in the section below (slow) or simply search for the lenses you want. I’d suggest choosing the “Lenses Only” option in the Advanced section under Search. It’s important to note the search will show results with the given manufacturer name and focal length, whether it is a zoom or prime. Such as a search for “Canon 85mm” will bring up the primes as well as 18-85mm option, as it should.

Each lens notes the US price and has a Select button for adding it to the comparison.

Once lenses are selected, the main screen shifts to show the most vital of comparison stats, with the option to sort by what is important to you.

DxOMark offers up their overall score, as many sites will, for a quick yes or no decision. Beyond that, to the left are results for Resolution, Distortion, Vignetting, Transmission and Chromatic Aberration. Even further to the right (beyond the screen shot) are Price, Minimum f-stop, Maximum f-stop, Filter Size and other vital info for the tech geeks in the crowd. It is a full, easy to compare, snapshot of the the lenses you have in mind. Want to dig a little deeper? DxOMark allows that as well.

Click “Compare Measurements” and another screen, similar to the first, organizes the vitals again, but this time with the handy [?] you might have been wanting. The [?] offers a chance to get a quick pop-up describing what the tested parameter means, why it’s important and the meaning of the score. DxOMark has put a lot of effort into providing accurate data and test situations and it shows in their lengthy (sometimes dry) explanations.

All meters are arranged with “Poor” on the left and “Excellent” on the right, so the sliders are all relevant for those not wishing to dive into the numerical info. Beyond the first screen are tabs across the top, the most handy of which is the “Measurements” tab. There is truly a dizzying amount of data available in the next screens. I have limited this test to a request from a student looking to buy one of two prime lenses. Otherwise, with a zoom, the amount of comparisons greatly increases and is a delight for those wanting granular data. For instance, I selected Vignetting and got the below results:

The green and red scale again makes understanding simplified. At f/1.4 you can quickly see both lenses are not at their best, but improve as the f-stop number increases (as is expected). Just above the camera models are “Global map” “Profile” and “Field map” which provide more granular information to help compare at different f-stops and focal lengths (if the lens zooms).

Beyond the lens comparison tool, DxOMark allows for comparing lenses on various camera bodies so hopefully you can get an accurate respresentation of how the lens will work on your specific model. While not all models are available, the most popular ones show up in the drop down list for an individual lens (below).

It is important to note that lenses intended for cropped sensors (APS-C) will only show the appropriate cameras for their test, while lenses that work with full frame and APS-C will show more cameras.

Lastly, paging through the information on a zoom lens, like the popular Canon EF 16-35mm II, provides a wealth of color coded information for learning a lens’s prime use areas, such as this chart showing Vignetting at various focal length and aperture settings.

All in all, I found DxOMark.com a very useful site for data gathering and comparison for lenses. For those looking for camera sensor data (ISO performance between different manufacturers, etc.), it can drill down on those stats as well. While it does not contain every combination available, the wealth of information is a great help when trying to decide between different lens or camera choices. My main gripe about the site is the number and placement of ads. I understand all this information is coming free of charge and income needs to be gathered somehow to keep the site running, but the text ads detract a bit from the site. While handy for sharing, the Tweet and Share buttons only bring up the main page for the lens and not the individual data set I was viewing.

Little things, really, for a site with such an extensive, growing library of useful lens and camera selection data.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Peter West Carey is a world traveling photographer who now is spending a large amount of time going back through 6 years of travel photo and processing them like he should have to start with. He is also helping others learn about photography with the free series 31+ Days Of Photography Experiments which builds off of the 31+ Days To Better Photography series on his blog.

  • scottc

    Just in time, I’m in the market for a new lens.

    I’ve used another site before but it seems less comparison oriented than this one.

    Thanks

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5108211290/

  • http://ramblingsbybekah.blogspot.com Bekah

    Didn’t even know something like this existed. Thanks for the info!

  • Adam

    Thanks for the pointer, it looks like a very cool site!

    I don’t see why you’d apologize for the comments on the ads-here’s a site for people buying lenses, at the very least they could get ads from lens sellers, lens rental places, etc. Or they could just ask you to buy the lenses though them with an affiliate program.

    If the ads are annoying, it’s great to provide that feedback.

  • http://photos.rickscheibner.net Rick

    You mean, you’re not using Ad Block?

  • http://photos.rickscheibner.net Rick

    Also, by “enduring”, do you mean “endearing”?

  • Prasanna

    i use http://www.dpreview.com. See the drop-down menu “Lenses” on the top bar. It has some useful stuff like Lens Buying Guide, Popular Lenses, Side-by-Side Comparison and more. The comparison is only based on specs though (not reviews, pros/cons etc.). But this site is still a great resource for info. They also run challenges which are great to learn from, know what “clicks” to the viewers in a photograph.

  • http://dsdphotography.co.za Dewan Demmer

    I been using snapsort.com for my camera comparisons, it does not give the same depth but uses the DXO Mark information and lays it out in a nice way … although I am liking the DXO site format.

  • armis

    I fully agree with this article. Whenever I’m in the market for a new lens, DXO Mark is my very first stop.

  • ZinhaEq

    DxOMark is testing all the lenses at a very specific lighting conditions, which can be almost impossible to meet in real life. So, IMO, I wouldn’t trust their site, but would surely check some others (there are many much better sites with lens tests than this one).

  • http://www.fuzzypig.com Fuzzypiggy

    DXO Labs software DXO-Optics is very highly rated and the demo I played with was very impressive, seems like they have used all the lens data they have collated over the last few years and offered a useful service and obviously an excuse to flog their flagship product!

    Useful place to remember.

  • http://www.kerstenbeck.com Erik Kerstenbeck

    Hi

    DXO looks like a good data point for decision making, thanks for sharing!

    When I purchases gear I rely on many different sources of information from the web, and most importantly from peers who have used the gear I am intrested in. Recently I purchased a Nikon 70-200 f2.8, besides being a great piece of optics, I was swayed by several pros who trumpetted its virtues. I recently tested it shooting surfers and was really happy.

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/2251/

  • http://2hphotography.ca Hagen

    I primarily use:

    the-digital-picture.com for test focus charts, descriptions (and not so helpful photos);
    fredandmiranda.com for a huge pile of reader input;
    http://www.pbase.com/lightrules/lenstests for a whole pile of really good photo comparisons

    Anyway, DXO is another tool.

  • Lauri

    I use http://www.the-digital-picture.com any time I’m looking at lens choices.

  • scb222

    i have been trying to decide which camera body to buy for weeks now. dxo seems to give the nod to the d7000 over the 7d, yet every review i read says the 7d is better. for example photoradar gives the d7000 a 3/5 whereas it gives 5/5 for the 7d. what should i believe?

  • Orlando

    for lenses is useful, for camera sensor it’s aberrant because some measures says very different thing from the reality, particularly for high ISO. I also suspect some licking to nikon.

Some older comments

  • Orlando

    September 3, 2011 06:23 am

    for lenses is useful, for camera sensor it's aberrant because some measures says very different thing from the reality, particularly for high ISO. I also suspect some licking to nikon.

  • scb222

    August 12, 2011 06:01 am

    i have been trying to decide which camera body to buy for weeks now. dxo seems to give the nod to the d7000 over the 7d, yet every review i read says the 7d is better. for example photoradar gives the d7000 a 3/5 whereas it gives 5/5 for the 7d. what should i believe?

  • Lauri

    August 12, 2011 01:30 am

    I use www.the-digital-picture.com any time I'm looking at lens choices.

  • Hagen

    August 11, 2011 02:01 am

    I primarily use:

    the-digital-picture.com for test focus charts, descriptions (and not so helpful photos);
    fredandmiranda.com for a huge pile of reader input;
    www.pbase.com/lightrules/lenstests for a whole pile of really good photo comparisons

    Anyway, DXO is another tool.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    August 11, 2011 12:51 am

    Hi

    DXO looks like a good data point for decision making, thanks for sharing!

    When I purchases gear I rely on many different sources of information from the web, and most importantly from peers who have used the gear I am intrested in. Recently I purchased a Nikon 70-200 f2.8, besides being a great piece of optics, I was swayed by several pros who trumpetted its virtues. I recently tested it shooting surfers and was really happy.

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/2251/

  • Fuzzypiggy

    August 10, 2011 10:09 pm

    DXO Labs software DXO-Optics is very highly rated and the demo I played with was very impressive, seems like they have used all the lens data they have collated over the last few years and offered a useful service and obviously an excuse to flog their flagship product!

    Useful place to remember.

  • ZinhaEq

    August 10, 2011 07:00 pm

    DxOMark is testing all the lenses at a very specific lighting conditions, which can be almost impossible to meet in real life. So, IMO, I wouldn't trust their site, but would surely check some others (there are many much better sites with lens tests than this one).

  • armis

    August 10, 2011 06:58 pm

    I fully agree with this article. Whenever I'm in the market for a new lens, DXO Mark is my very first stop.

  • Dewan Demmer

    August 10, 2011 05:21 pm

    I been using snapsort.com for my camera comparisons, it does not give the same depth but uses the DXO Mark information and lays it out in a nice way ... although I am liking the DXO site format.

  • Prasanna

    August 10, 2011 02:29 pm

    i use www.dpreview.com. See the drop-down menu "Lenses" on the top bar. It has some useful stuff like Lens Buying Guide, Popular Lenses, Side-by-Side Comparison and more. The comparison is only based on specs though (not reviews, pros/cons etc.). But this site is still a great resource for info. They also run challenges which are great to learn from, know what "clicks" to the viewers in a photograph.

  • Rick

    August 10, 2011 01:41 pm

    Also, by "enduring", do you mean "endearing"?

  • Rick

    August 10, 2011 01:40 pm

    You mean, you're not using Ad Block?

  • Adam

    August 10, 2011 11:22 am

    Thanks for the pointer, it looks like a very cool site!

    I don't see why you'd apologize for the comments on the ads-here's a site for people buying lenses, at the very least they could get ads from lens sellers, lens rental places, etc. Or they could just ask you to buy the lenses though them with an affiliate program.

    If the ads are annoying, it's great to provide that feedback.

  • Bekah

    August 10, 2011 09:42 am

    Didn't even know something like this existed. Thanks for the info!

  • scottc

    August 10, 2011 08:09 am

    Just in time, I'm in the market for a new lens.

    I've used another site before but it seems less comparison oriented than this one.

    Thanks

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5108211290/

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