What Old DSLR Lenses Do You Want to See Revamped?

What Old DSLR Lenses Do You Want to See Revamped?

Aside from the common zoom lens trinities and primes, which old lenses would you like to see revamped and redesigned?

It has certainly been an exciting week for Canon R system users with the announcement of two new EOS R cameras and a handful of new lenses. In recent years, along with the development of these seemingly impressive new cameras that are about to hit the market, Canon has been building their RF lens lineup from the framework of the tried and tested EF lens system. As expected, the brand first focused on their zoom lens trinities, mainstay prime lenses like the 50mm and 85mm, along with some interesting variations.

Now this doesn’t just apply to Canon, of course. Sony has just released an f/2.8 GM version of their 12-24mm lens which is quite exciting for me as a landscape and architecture photographer. At the same time, Sony has come up with interesting lenses lately like the 20mm f/1.8 G which is quite compelling for its design and price point. I wouldn’t dare say much for Fujifilm and Nikon at this point simply because I’m not as immersed into their lens ecosystem. That said, this question applies to any photographer of any camera brand. What old DSLR lenses would you like to see revamped for the mirrorless cameras? I have a few in mind.

The Canon 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 L IS USM

This lens is always at the top of my list simply because I love extended range lenses. You may have read about that in my recent article about walkaround lenses. I did mention that I still consider this lens as a walkaround lens due to the range that it offers but a fair and interesting point from one of the comments said that simply because of its weight of 1.6Kg, it wouldn’t be a good walkaround lens. Of course, I would agree. Which is why I thought that maybe it is due time for Canon or even any other manufacturer to come up with such a lens for the newer camera systems and probably make it better and lighter. One can say that a close contender would be Tamron’s new 28-200mm for Sony mirrorless cameras but that difference of 100mm is quite significant if you ask me. Sony also has a 24-240mm lens that comes close but has been said to be lacking in image quality. A valid contender would have to be Canon’s RF 24-240mm.

A Canon EOS M6 mark II with an old Canon 28-300mm

What was good about this lens was that aside from its flexible focal range, it had really good optics for its time. Even now that I’ve migrated over to the Sony mirrorless system, I still use this old but reliable lens on my a7R mark III with a Sigma MC11 adapter. If it were up to me, I would love to see this lens reborn either as a new lens for the full frame mirrorless system, or maybe even as a 2nd version for DSLR cameras. I wouldn’t mind having a Sony equivalent, of course but ultimately, I’d love to see it in the form of Tamron’s lightweight 70-180mm f/2.8 lens. Having it in a much lighter form, even with cheaper and lighter materials, would really be a game changer in the lineup for photographers like myself who like having extended range zoom lenses.

The Canon EF 17mm f/4 TSE

This is definitely out of a biased perspective since I’m an architectural photographer. This 17mm Tilt-shift lens is basically one of those end-game lenses for photographers like me and though the current version of this lens is still very much viable in the year 2020. It would be a delight to see a newer version of this lens. Maybe even a bit wider at 15mm if that’s not too much to ask.

image from usa.canon.com

More than anything, having a native full-frame mirrorless version of this lens is definitely something I’m looking forward to. Sony hasn’t even hinted about any tilt-shift lens in development so as of now, the only choices we have are either the Canon 17mm TSE on an adapter or the Laowa 12mm zero-D on a Laowa Magic Shift Converter. The latter produces the same 17mm focal length after the crop factor.

The Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

This lens was a favorite of mine before I gave up my Canon DSLR. I used the first generation of the Tamron SP 15-30mm for over 5 years and never even thought of letting it go until I started to transition into mirrorless. While there are similar lenses like the Sony 12-24mm f/4 and f/2.8 GM, this lens was definitely not as expensive and it may very well be due to the extra 3 millimeters on the wide end.

Tamron has, of course, produced the 17-28mm as the ultra-wide angle lens for their full frame mirrorless zoom lens trinity but I’ve always said this about Tamron’s current lenses: I know there’s more coming. Just by looking at what Tamron has released for the Sony full frame mirrorless system, I believe they’re developing or at least are planning to develop premium glass versions of what they have now. Don’t get me wrong, their lenses are a favoring among many Sony a7 camera users but after first hand experience with their SP lenses, I know that the brand can and will produce more premium stuff and definitely ones with vibration compensation this time around.

Basically Any of the Full Frame Fisheye Lenses

Lenses have been going wider and wider and with even less distortion than what we’re used to. In the recent weeks, I’ve reviewed Laowa’s 10-18mm and 9mm for full frame mirrorless cameras and they are quite impressive. However, there are still many photographers who love the effect of fisheye lenses for that extra dash of creativity. Right now, the only available options for mirrorless cameras are the old DSLR lenses mounted with an adapter. Now, maybe it’s time to see some newer and maybe even lighter fisheye lenses to mount directly on the mirrorless cameras. If we’re lucky they might come automatically with rear filter slots or drop-in filter slots to make things easier for us.

Shot quite a few years back with a Canon 15mm on a 6D body

Now it’s your turn. Don’t think of the cost if it limits you. Don’t think of the limitation in lens engineering. Which lenses would you like to see updated for the newer cameras? Leave your answers in the comments. We don’t really know if any of the brands would consider them, but we can at least try.

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Kursad Sezgin's picture

Minolta AF 80-200mm F2.8 HS APO G was a superb lens in every aspect. Minolta AF APO Tele 200mm 2.8 was also a great lens. Actually most of the G lenses Minolta had introduced were sharp with beautiful color rendering. This is why there was a term called "Minolta colors". These lenses had a screwdriver mechanism for auto focusing. I wish they could be reverted to E-mount with current focusing technology.

Mutley Dastardly's picture

I'd like to see the Minolta 200mm f2.8 High Speed, the 400mm f4.5, the 600mm F4 High speed - the Macro 200mmf4, the 85 F1.4 G D Limited, the 100mm f2.8 soft focus.
I'm having a few of those lenses - but not all of them - sadly enough.

Deleted Account's picture

It sounds like you want lenses updated for ML but I want the following lenses updated for DSLR:
Nikkor 17-35 f/2.8 (16-35?)
Nikkor 135 DC f/2
Nikkor 105 2.8 Micro
Nikkor 70-180 f/4.5-5.6 Micro (a wee bit faster?)

Tony Northrup's picture

+1 to TSE lenses. I also always wanted a Canon 50mm f/1.0.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

I've also always wondered why none of the third party brands ever made one of those. Except for Rokinon's 24mm tilt-shift which I hear had pretty bad glass

Deleted Account's picture

I had one with no complaints. The only reason I sold it was, I bought it for a particular use and when that ended, didn't use it. What had you heard bad about it.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

Just some friends saying it wasnt sharp enough. Never got around to testing it myself though so don't take my word for it.

Deleted Account's picture

I see. Well, for some uses, nothing is ever sharp enough and for others, a minimum will do. I found it to be somewhere in the middle.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

I might actually give it a try if I can ren6 one. Thanks!

Colin Robertson's picture

Canon made a 35mm tilt-shift for the FD mount, and while it's still a viable lens in terms of IQ, it's pretty outdated. In addition to a 35mm, I would love to see them move all of their TS-E lenses to RF, but what I would literally sell my kidney for would be something like a 17-40mm or 24-50mm ZOOM TS-E, physics be damned.

Colin Robertson's picture

If/when Canon announces a R5S, I would hope they start rolling out RF TS-E glass alongside it with incredible sharpness, even when fully shifted. Otherwise, adapting TS-E to RF is actually totally fine. I use the 17 and 24 on my R and they work great. The 24 and RF 24-70 are about neck and neck in terms of sharpness, although there's less distortion with the TS-E.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

That would definitely be a gamechanger. Not quite sure if it's possible but I would love to see that.

Reginald Walton's picture

The Canon 135 f/2.0

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

Thats such a legendary lens, too!

Momchil Yordanov's picture

I would like to see revamped the 20 f/2.8 USM, the 28 f/1.8 USM and the 100 f/2.0 USM.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

I had a 20mm f2.8 before and I loved it. Sony recently made a 20mm f1.8. I wonder if any of the other two full frame brands will follow

Deleted Account's picture

Nikon has 20mm f/1.8 lenses for DSLR and ML.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

Oh alright! Awesome! As I said in the article, Im not familiar enough with the Nikon lens lineups. Thanks for the info!

Marius Pettersen's picture

Would love a new Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. Would be great in the same type of package as the EF 35/2 IS, but I guess Canon would only create something like a RF 50mm f/1.8 IS.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

Come to think of it, thats one of those lenses that they never updated considering that there were about 4 versions of the EF 50mm f1.8

Leopold Bloom's picture

The Canon 40 mm Pancake. Optically much better than the 50/1.8, smaller, lighter, quieter and almost as affordable. A great, inexpensive lens that lends well to street photography.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

oh I really loved how small that thing was

S M's picture

I would much rather see a 35mm TSE lens hit the market than a new 17mm. I use the 17 when I have to, and definitely not because I want to. Yet adding the 1.4x to my 24mm always feels like I am losing too much sharpness, especially when logos are present in interiors

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

i totally get where you're coming from

Colin Robertson's picture


Tom Reichner's picture

I love my Sigma 300-800mm f5.6, but it was designed in 2005, and is desperately in need of an update.

The 300-800mm is extremely heavy, weighing in at just under 13 pounds. What makes it even worse is that the weight is almost all in the very front of the lens, making balancing and carrying awkward.

Between 2005 and 2019, Canon cut the weight of its 600mm f4 in half, and redistributed the weight so that the center of gravity is toward the rear of the lens. They made similar improvements to their 400mm f2.8 lens. If the same weight changes could be made to the big Sigma zoom, it would make it much more useful.

The 300-800mm has no Image Stabilization. If stabilization were added, as has been done to almost every other long supertelephoto, it would be more useful. Even without stabilization, it would benefit from use with the new mirrorless bodies, most of which have in-body image satbilization.

Another reason that the 300-800mm needs to be updated is so that it can be offered in the latest mounts, particularly the Canon R mount and the mount that Sony is using in their full frame mirrorless bodies.

An incremental reduction in minimum focus distance would be welcome on an updated Sigma 300-800mm. When Canon updated their 100-400mm lens, the new version had a much closer MFD. I am hoping that a similar improvement could be made on the big Sigma zoom, for times when we are photographing very small birds, and need to be able to get physically closer to fill the frame the way we want to. Unfortunately, extension tubes are not a viable alternative when using extremely long focal lengths, as their effect is greatly diminished with long glass.

Lastly, the 300-800 needs an update because it needs to be able to focus faster, to be able to keep up with the awesome new eye detect, face detect. and subject tracking focus capabilities that are on the latest Sony and Canon mirrorless bodies. New electronics and lighter glass elements should enable much improved focus speed.

Paul C's picture

The E-Zuiko AUTO-T 100mm f/2.0

It is a simple design with 6 groups, 7 elements, is small enough to need only 55mm filters,weighs 520 g in its original 1980s metal body yet today sells for about $800-1000 -- because it performs so well on FF cameras today.

So how about Olympus rescues itself by remaking affordable creative lenses from their back catalogue with alternative mounts?

Alternativly - since this lens dates from the mid 1980's, and a U.S. utility patent is generally granted for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed, there must be 3rd party makers who could step-up tp the task, and even add AF.

How many other would also like an affordable new version of that lens today?

Michael L's picture

I was unaware that these lenses would not work on FSLRs