While the “world’s fastest lens” may seem like a title reserved for big name brands like Nikon, Canon, or Sony, a relatively unknown company recently announced what’s considered the fastest 35mm full-frame lens for DSLRs. (The Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.2 might be a rival, but it’s only available for the Leica M). The Kerlee 35mm f/1.2 lens will work with the Pentax K, Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sony E mount cameras.
Kerlee is produced by Shenzhen Dongzheng, or DZO Optics, a 10-year-old company based in China. While the company has produced industrial lenses, the Kerlee is its first photographic lens.
Despite being from a relatively unknown company, the Kerlee lists some pretty impressive specs. With 11 lens elements in 10 groups, the lens can focus as close as one foot from the front. The lens is only a manual focus lens, however. The lens also uses ED coatings to help minimize color distortion.
The Kerlee also boasts a few features for video as well, with an optional aperture lock and smooth manual focusing. Image stabilization is not included though.
The lens is a bit large for a prime wide angle, weighing in at about 24 ounces (690) and accepting 72mm filters.
New Zealand photographer Richard Wong, who received a pre-release model to try out, said the build, image quality, and price looked very good, though he is working with the manufacturer to correct a few issues.
As the company’s first photographic lens, photographers may be hesitant to try out the new brand, but the wide aperture could convince some to take that risk. Smaller companies like ZY Optics and Laowa have taken a similar approach, introducing fast primes to entice photographers away from the comfort of big-name manufacturers.
While the lens has been officially announced, there’s no word yet on a release date or price.