Announcing the Lens Database

We have been incredibly busy during the last few months, working on building our very own Lens Database. As of today, the database contains 400 lenses and we are continuously working on adding more lenses from different manufacturers. You might be wondering about why there is a need to have our own database at Photography Life, when there are plenty of them on the Internet. After I went through a dozen different sites about a year ago, I realized that most sites contain very little information about lenses. While manufacturer specifications are mostly there, such important data as lens construction and MTF charts is typically missing. On top of that, very few sites provide image samples from lenses – images are often too small to look at even on a mobile device.

Photography Life Lens Database

Thus, we decided to create our own bigger and better lens database, with all the information we can find and provide. We handle a lot of gear every day, so having our own little place where we can place our short reviews and ratings before we start working on big multi-page reviews can be valuable for our readers. In addition, we want the database to grow and expand overtime and at one point we will start inviting you, our readers to post your opinions on lenses you use for your photography needs.

Take a look at a complete lens, the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G, for example. On top of the page you will find an image of the lens and a “Lens Summary”, which will also contain star rating from our lens reviews. Next, you will see a quick description of the lens from the manufacturer, followed by our review summary, with a link to the full review. Next, there is a big table with full lens specifications. After that, you will see a full rating table, followed by images of lens construction and MTF. Lastly, you will see image samples from the lens and purchase links. As you can see, there is a lot of information here.

Obviously, not all 400 published lenses have such depth of detail today. But as we test and use more lenses, we will be adding a lot more information to the database. This idea does not stop with lenses – at some point in the future, we will also add a camera database and possibly even more sections.

As of today, we have most of the lenses from the following manufacturers published:

  1. Canon
  2. Fuji
  3. Nikon
  4. Olympus
  5. Panasonic
  6. Pentax
  7. Sigma
  8. Sony
  9. Tamron
  10. Tokina

Within the next 3 months, we will have more lenses in our database from:

  1. Bower
  2. Hasselblad
  3. Kenko
  4. Leica
  5. Mamiya
  6. Rokinon
  7. Rodenstock
  8. Rollei
  9. Samsung
  10. Samyang
  11. Schneider
  12. Vivitar
  13. Voigtländer
  14. Zeiss

As you can see, this will be a very large lens database with hundreds of lenses – from mirrorless to large format.

With the lens database, we are able to categorize and catalog lenses with specific criteria. For example, from the main Lens Database page, you can browse lenses by brand, format, lens type, focus, price range and level, as shown in the screenshot below:

Lens Categories

We have not developed methods to search and browse the database by multiple criteria yet, but advanced search functionality will be added to the database in the future. We have other ideas, like being able to sort all lenses by their rating, price, etc.

The lens database is still in beta, so if you find any errors or problems, please report them to us via the Contact Us page. If you have any questions or feedback, please use the form below. Your feedback is always greatly appreciated!


  1. April 26, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Brilliant initiative! You people are making things better and better everyday!
    Keep it up!

    • April 26, 2013 at 12:42 am

      Thank you Tarun! Let us know what you think and if you have any ideas, please let us know – feedback is always appreciated!

      • April 26, 2013 at 5:25 pm

        Hey Nasim !
        I like the idea of being able to check out all the lens out there in order to choose one.

        the link to your review
        the way it’s display

        Ideas for a better viewing:
        1) Classify them by dates created/lens type or even price (original price announced)
        2) Link to other reviews that you haven’t tested or will never test (even if it’s not from your site…. could be nice… even if it might take people out of your site… trust me we will come back haha)
        3) have a text listing that fits on one page to view them all

        I don’t know if you can manage to do any of the above but the viewing isn’t really ideal as it is now :(

        Thanks for your work

  2. April 26, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Thanks and extremely useful. A common reference is a great idea.


  3. 3) Diego
    April 26, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Good job!

  4. 4) David B
    April 26, 2013 at 12:48 am

    Nasim I wrote a comment to a Fuji 60mm lens but this applies to all lenses. Please include magnification as one of the specs for all lenses, magnification plus minimum focus distance are two essential specs in my opinion. Canon, and Nikon (in most cases) and other manufacturers always include magnification in their specs. Thanks

    • April 26, 2013 at 12:56 am

      David, thank you – we will be updating lenses that are missing that data!

  5. 5) Merog
    April 26, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Great database, finally. Thank you Sir.

  6. 6) Tomurai
    April 26, 2013 at 1:08 am

    This is brilliant Nasim! Any chance of a mobile app version in the future?

  7. 7) Pascal
    April 26, 2013 at 1:09 am

    Absolutely brilliant, Nasim!
    I’m looking forward to the multi search capabilities. This is an important one to navigate easily through the database. Also, once you made some criteria selections, it would be useful to have an easy way back to the selected criteria (for example to make some changes to the criteria).
    Anyway, great job!

    • 7.1) reid wolf
      April 26, 2013 at 7:51 am

      I agree, some sort of search function would be helpful

  8. 8) MJohn
    April 26, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Great initiative.

  9. 9) Saiful Zaree
    April 26, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Wow! Excellent! Very useful especially to newbie like me…

  10. 10) Niki
    April 26, 2013 at 1:42 am

    Great job!

    Suggestion: it might be an idea to add a criteria to filter by mount. I have a sony e-mount camera (and happy about it!), but there are only a few lenses for it. Doing research before buying another one is crucial for me, so one place to find them all would be awesome!

    Keep up the good work!

    • 10.1) David
      April 26, 2013 at 3:22 am

      Thanks a lot, very helpful! A option to filter by mount would make this nearly complete. I have K-Mount and lods of sigma/Tamron lenses are not available for that but not all. So just navigating through the ‘Brand’ section does not tell me alot…

      • May 22, 2013 at 3:27 am

        David, I have just completed this request. Please take a look and let me know if you have any questions!

        • David
          May 22, 2013 at 11:28 am

          Hi Nasim! Cool, that is exactly what I was talking about, well done :) Thanks a lot, this is very helpfull.

    • May 22, 2013 at 3:26 am

      Just implemented your request :)

  11. 11) Raju
    April 26, 2013 at 1:49 am

    Dear Nasim,
    A very big work you people took up., putting together all the data and posting it browse and search and sortable format is very very tough and time consuming job., congratulations to you and your team for the effort. i always look for your review if i have any doubt regarding a wide variety of issues., you discussed almost everything regarding camera’s, lenses, and other important accessories.
    Your Deals section is really helpful where we save time and money.
    There are many other sections where your website is a reference guide for me.
    good luck to you
    and thankyou verymuch;

  12. 12) Amir Asyraf
    April 26, 2013 at 1:55 am

    Similar website which has existed for far

    Just sharing…

  13. 13) Arun D
    April 26, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Great work and much appreciated, much much useful page. Should make it as Bookmark/Home page. Hope we will get much information about all the lenses under one roof :)

  14. 14) menka
    April 26, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Great stuff, as usual.

  15. 15) eric
    April 26, 2013 at 2:32 am

    Wow!! It must be a lot of work!! Good idea! You are the best!

  16. April 26, 2013 at 3:33 am

    That’s great!
    On the fly search and at least 3 comparison columns with specs ,price and best use for what kind of PGy would be nice too :)

  17. 17) Gabriel
    April 26, 2013 at 4:03 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Check the tamron lens database, there is a Tokina lens in the second page.


    • May 22, 2013 at 3:28 am

      Thanks Gabriel, we fixed this one a while ago. Implementing some new search/filter functionality now :)

  18. 18) Agallon
    April 26, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Great job!
    It would be great if the database had the option to display only reviewed lenses.

  19. 19) David Ahn
    April 26, 2013 at 5:45 am

    Awesome! I look forward to referring to this database often.


  20. 20) Russ Talbot
    April 26, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Job well done!! Thanks for all the work you have put into this database for us.

  21. 21) Phoenix
    April 26, 2013 at 6:48 am

    Nasim, Outstanding! You and you rteam are brillant! thank you for your constant efforts to bring us the best.

  22. April 26, 2013 at 7:19 am

    I have been waiting for this announcement for a very long time. Thank you all for your hard work in putting such a comprehensive database together!

  23. 23) Steve
    April 26, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Great project. A critical component is camera compatibility. Some great lenses (Nikon 70-300) and some mediocre lenses (24-120) do not perform well will high meg cameras such as the D800. Also, a search feature would be helpful as lenses are not in order. Thanks so much for your incredible work that is such a help to non-pro photographers!
    Steve Sanders
    Orenco Photography Club

  24. April 26, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Filtering is very poor. For example, I want to find Nikon lenses released in 2012 and 2013 years, but it’s not possible.
    I would suggest create custom website for this, using WordPress is not the best option for such database.

    • May 22, 2013 at 3:31 am

      Alex, I have just added some filtering tools to the lens database. Please take a look and let me know if you have any further feedback.

      You are right, WordPress is not optimized for such things. However, it would be a huge effort to build a new site just to keep a lens database, which is why I decided to use some of the built-in functionality of WordPress…

  25. April 26, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Nasim, do you have plan to release lens database app for iPhone? I believe it will be extra worth app to have.

    • May 22, 2013 at 3:31 am

      Suryo, great suggestion – we will evaluate the need once the database is complete. Appreciate the feedback and I apologize for a late response!

  26. 26) Chris
    April 26, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Hi guys great job truly outstanding work!! Respect

    Ive got a small problem though all my lenses are quite old what would you say the similar lens performers are to these:-

    Nikkor 35-70 f2.8D AF
    Nikkor 70-210 f4 AF
    Tokina 20-35 f3.5-4.5 AF

    Or is there any MTF for these i can find anywhere


    • May 22, 2013 at 3:33 am

      Chris, we will be adding the older lenses to the database within the next few weeks.

      The newer/current versions of your lenses are:
      Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G
      Nikon 70-200mm f/4G
      Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-5.6G

      • 26.1.1) Chris
        May 23, 2013 at 8:14 pm

        Thanks for the reply :-) That would be truely very useful when you add my old lenses and others just to see the performance increase.

        I’m genarally quite happy with these lenses for photo work and I paid around £550 for all of them but I’m always thinking the grass is greener with the new ones, you know how it is:-)

        Thanks Chris

  27. 27) nic
    April 26, 2013 at 8:32 am

    thanks for all your teams effort…by the way how about adding some leaf on best photographic places where our bloggers can also contribute.

    • May 22, 2013 at 3:35 am

      I have been wanting to do this for quite some time now. Hopefully will start working on it as soon as the lens database is done. Thanks for your feedback and I apologize for a late reply!

  28. 28) Zach Wong
    April 26, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Wow this is absolutely fantastic – thanks for the database! Must have taken a ton of work…

  29. April 26, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Nice job, thank you for this excellent initiative!

    A “similar lenses” section or lens comparison would be appreciated, of course in the future.

  30. April 26, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Would it be possible to add our own comments to a certian lens? Sort of like a 3rd party opinion?

    • 30.1) Rafael
      April 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Perhaps a review system like we see on online shops such as B&H? I like some well written third party opinions on lenses there.

      • 30.1.1) John
        April 26, 2013 at 4:23 pm

        Amazon (and I dare say other web shops) can verify a purchase (from them), but how to verify the competence of a user reviewer?

  31. 31) Rafael
    April 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Wow, Nasim, kudos to you and team. Great initiative!

    It was kind of awkward going to several different sites to build up a lens’ specifications in detail, including MTF and samples. Now you’ve condensed them all. That’s a great time-saver and together with your skills in photography, the readers win a lot.


  32. 32) Martin G
    April 27, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    I look forward to the collection of reviews growing. I currently check several web sites before deciding on lens purchases. I wonder what you think of complementary lens selections. The nikon trinity provide a balance. Lots of discussion about lenses is also about what else the photographer has, not just the lens in isolation. For the the nature photographer the range of lenses must consider: reach, weight, low light and flexibility. The objective quality must be as high as possible, of course but ultimately there many be several lenses with similar qualities. Price is also a factor. I have seen a lot of discussion about lenses which really comes down to different assumptions.

    Would you consider an article or even an adjunct to your database on lenses which put together a suggested set of combinations for different photographic needs.

    In the wedding photographer’s bag we have lenses which deal with portraits, group shots and low light. The aim is also to maximise flexibility so there are probably 2 bodies, one with a fast wide angle and one with a portrait lens. There is also likely to be a good quality zoom in there too. Nasim, you shoot weddings, so what is your favourite combination of lenses and bodies at the moment?

    Nature and landscape photographers ALS have specific needs, depending on how much birding is involved. I’d love to see a pro and enthusiast combination list.

    Street photographers, architectural, fashion, sports and travel photographers all have slightly different needs. At the moment it takes ages to work out what our collection of gear should be. Can you see a use for a link to suggested combinations being useful. I certainly can. It would certainly help to read about “favourite kit choices” and it may help some to avoid buying lenses which have great specs and test results, but are likely to go largely unused.

  33. 33) Irfan Kauser
    April 28, 2013 at 1:19 am

    With the categories as Brand, Format, Lens Type, Focus, Price Range, Lens Level, if you could add the one more category as RATING: so the people can find the lens with high rating with one click. Otherwise they have to check each lens to know the rating.

  34. 34) John
    April 28, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Maybe it’s there somewhere and I’ve missed it, but an option to sort by FX/DX/CX category then by ascending focal length within that would be much more useful than a collating order which runs 28mm, then 300mm, then back to 35mm, etc. as with the AF-S lenses at present.

  35. 35) Gerald
    April 29, 2013 at 10:59 am

    just as suggestion how you lens database could be enhanced by powerful filtering-possibilities – this is the (google-translated) most famous price-search-engine in the german area:

    and all the filtering options can be combined!

    regards Gerald

  36. 36) pj elbi
    May 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    thanks for this!

  37. 37) Hendrik
    May 3, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Many thanks for this important work, Nasim and crew. I probably have not searched hard enough but I find it impossible to determine if your MTF charts are produced at widest aperture for each lens or some constant aperture shared by all lenses, perhaps f/8. I suspect your measurements are done wide open. Having both sets of plots would, of course, be very useful and informative.

    Best regards, Hendrik

  38. 38) Toné
    May 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    May I suggest for sellers of used equipment at BHPhoto&Video they complete a questionnaire about the performance of the lens and ratings? This way your getting first hand experience on the lens they are wishing to sell on. BHPhoto can then supply you with this information to add to the database. The volume of information will hopefully speed up with discontinued lens that may not get updated in this forum.

    For Sony I already have a one stop location for everything on A-Mount Lenses which caters for all my needs.

    If this is already done then please excuse me.


  39. May 9, 2013 at 7:51 am


    One thing that is rarely published (but necessary for panoramic photographers) is the entrance pupil or no parallax point of the lens. This would be a great addition to your database if it could be measured and added for the most common lenses panorama photographers use (it varies based on focal length too on zooms). Measuring and collecting this data would be a significant project, hence why there are only a few scattered databases of limited information out there so far.

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