In recent years, there has been a rise in the production of mirrorless lenses from smaller companies in China. The early efforts were sometimes a bit spotty, but over the years we’ve seen brands like Laowa, TTArtisan, 7Artisans and Viltrox produce more and more high quality lenses at reasonable prices. Pergear is a company that has acted as a distributor for the likes of Viltrox, TTArtisan and 7Artisans, and is owned by the parent company of Viltrox, but today I’m reviewing a lens that is branded by Pergear themselves: the 14mm f/2.8 II for full-frame mirrorless cameras. This is a budget ultra-wide manual focus lens that comes in at the very low price of just $289, and it’s available in Nikon Z (reviewed here), Canon RF, Sony E and Leica/Panasconic L Mount.
14mm ultra-wide lenses have been notoriously difficult to make in the past, but more recent designs have overcome early difficulties in this realm. 15 years ago, the only way to get a 14mm rectilinear lens was to buy Canon or Nikon’s 14mm f/2.8 offerings for a couple thousand dollars. The first versions of these lenses weren’t even very good optically either. The earliest budget 14mm lens was the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 for DSLRs, which was about the same price as this Pergear, but was larger, had pretty sloppy haptics, and while reasonably sharp for the price, had high complex distortion. While 14mm lenses aren’t that uncommon any more, quality optics are still usually rather expensive.
This Pergear 14mm f/2.8 aims to bring high quality optics while maintaining that budget pricing that Samyang first tried. I didn’t know what to expect before trying this lens, but I’ll give a little spoiler: I was very pleasantly surprised. Let’s find out why.
Disclaimer: Pergear was kind enough to provide the lens reviewed here. However, they had no editorial oversight or input, and are seeing this review at the same time as the rest of you. I am committed to providing fair and unbiased reviews, and have provided my true thoughts on this lens accordingly.
Construction and Handling
If you’ve used any of the recent manual focus lenses out of China, as well as the lenses from Cosina out of Japan, you’ll notice that companies have figured out that it’s not that much more expensive to build a high quality feeling manual lens. This Pergear 14mm f/2.8 follows that trend, and feels outstanding in the hand. The lens is constructed entirely of metal and glass. It’s a rather compact lens, but it’s very dense with a weight of 487g, or just over a pound. The lens has a built in small petal hood that helps provide very minor shading of the bulbous front element. There is also a second external hood available that I’ll discuss in a moment. The lens has painted markings and engraved and red paint filled focus scale markings.
There are two controls on the Pergear 14mm f/2.8 II, like on most manual prime lenses: a focus ring and an aperture ring. The focus ring is about an inch in length, with a finely ribbed texture, and it is heavily damped and moves extremely smoothly. As this is a lens that will often be zone focused due to its width, I like the choice to go with a heavier damping, which should help with accidental focus changes between shots. Unlike some of the more expensive manual focus lenses from, say, Voigtlander, the Pergear does not reverse the aperture and focus ring direction for the Nikon mount lens – the lens focuses the way everyone else does, so if you’re entrenched in the Nikon focus direction you may have to mentally adjust a little. Personally, having shot Canon and Sony for most of my life, I’m used to this direction.
The aperture ring is also smooth and well damped, with positive detents. It’s a wonderful feeling aperture ring, and a step up from a lot of lenses in this price class. There are two minor downsides to the aperture ring, though. First, the detents are a little odd – you get half stop detents between f/2.8 and f/5.6, but then full stop detents beyond f/5.6 to the minimum aperture of f/22. It’s not a big deal, but if changing aperture by feel, you need to remember that change. Second, I do wish the aperture ring was slightly larger in diameter, as it sits against the built in hood but is very slightly smaller in diameter, so it’s not quite as easy to grab as it could be.
14mm lenses with bulbous front elements usually have the downside of no front filter use, but the Pergear 14mm does not have that issue. Included with the lens is a rather substantial round metal lens hood with an integrated filter thread. This is a thick and solid lens hood that bayonets on to the front of the lens and enables the use of 82mm filters with the lens. My NiSi 82mm polarizer works great with no vignetting, but I’d imagine stacking filters would cause corners to darken. The lens hood locks solidly in place, but it is very tight to get on, requiring some force to push towards the lens and twist. The hood is reversible if you really want to do that, but the push-on lens cap won’t work in that position, and the hood barely extends beyond the built-in hood anyway. I do wish Pergear had included an 82mm lens cap to put on your filters or the hood, but if you want that you’ll need to buy a generic 82mm cap. The included cap is a metal push-on style cap that fits snugly.
Overall, the Pergear 14mm f/2.8 II is a very well constructed lens with the unexpected filter hood being a very nice perk for such a budget lens. And to think Canon still makes you purchase their cheap plastic hoods for almost all non-L lenses.
There is no autofocus, image stabilization or even lens contacts at all, but of course the lens will work with your camera’s in-body stabilization if it has it. Nikon’s bizarre settings only allow for certain focal lengths (largely based on manual focus F mount glass availability), but setting it as a 15mm f/2.8 lens worked just fine for me.