Reviews |Sirui Sniper series f1.2 lens kit review

Sirui Sniper series f1.2 lens kit review

Sirui Sniper Lenses: Affordable, Creative Imaging for APS-C Cameras

Sirui Sniper

Our Verdict

Specially designed for APS-C format cameras, the new Sirui Sniper lenses set a standard that has, until now, never been achieved. Design-wise, the lenses are instantly striking with their relatively small form factor, reminiscent of the compact sizing promised by mirrorless cameras.

The design and finish are also different, with our white edition lenses for the Nikon Z mount having a ceramic look and feel. It’s a finish that I’m completely new to, neither feeling nor looking like plastic or metal. But it’s a look and feel that you quickly get accustomed to.

In use, the AF is of decent speed when coupled with the Nikon Z30, but takes a step up with the Z6 and Z7. However, while the AF from a manufacturer who usually produces manual focus lenses should be the big selling point, that accolade actually goes to the f/1.2 maximum aperture.

Overall performance is good; there’s a bit of slowness with the AF, edge-to-edge sharpness is OK, and there’s some visible chromatic aberration with the 50mm lens. But at $699 for three f/1.2 AF lenses of this quality, I won’t complain.

What are the Sirui Sniper lenses?

These lenses change everything for APS-C users, offering high-end abilities in lenses that anyone serious about their photography or filmmaking should be able to afford.

The set comes with three lenses: a wide 23mm, a mid 33mm, and a 56mm. Depending on your camera’s crop factor, let’s say 1.5x for Nikon and Sony to keep things simple, which equates to 34.5mm, 49.5mm, and 84mm, offering a very nice range of focal lengths for anyone starting out or deeply into creative photography.

Several features make this set of three stand out. Firstly, you can buy the set for a modest sum of money – $699 for the set or roughly $299 each at present. For a manual focus lens, that would be a decent price, but for AF, it’s unprecedented. Then there’s the f/1.2 maximum aperture that enables ultra-shallow depth of field. Finally, they all have the same filter diameter and physical size, making them an ideal choice for filmmakers.

Really, if you were to draw up a wish list for three fixed focal length lenses in a kit to get you started, this set would hit the mark spot on.

Sirui Sniper


SIRUI 23mm F1.2 Lens:
Focal Length: 23mm
Lens Format Coverage: APS-C
Aperture: F1.2-F16
Lens Structure: 12 Elements in 11 Groups
Aperture Blade: 11
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.3m
Filter Thread: M58*0.75
Rotation Angle of the Focus Ring: 360°
Lens Mount: E/X/Z
Length: E Mount: 92.5 mm, X Mount: 92.2 mm, Z Mount: 94.2 mm
Weight: E Mount: 381 g, X Mount: 380 g, Z Mount: 386 g

SIRUI 33mm F1.2 Lens:
Focal Length: 33mm
Lens Format Coverage: APS-C
Aperture: F1.2-F16
Lens Structure: 11 Elements in 10 Groups
Aperture Blade: 11
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.4m
Filter Thread: M58*0.75
Rotation Angle of the Focus Ring: 360°
Lens Mount: E/X/Z
Length: E Mount: 92.5 mm, X Mount: 92.2 mm, Z Mount: 94.2 mm
Weight: E Mount: 400 g, X Mount: 398 g, Z Mount: 404 g

SIRUI 56mm F1.2 Lens:
Focal Length: 56mm
Lens Format Coverage: APS-C
Aperture: F1.2-F16
Lens Structure: 12 Elements in 11 Groups
Aperture Blade: 11
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.6m
Filter Thread: M58*0.75
Rotation Angle of the Focus Ring: 360°
Lens Mount: E/X/Z
Length: E Mount: 92.5 mm, X Mount: 92.2 mm, Z Mount: 94.2 mm
Weight: E Mount: 422 g, X Mount: 419 g, Z Mount: 427 g

Build and Handling

The Sirui Sniper range currently comes in three focal lengths, three manufacturer lens mountings, and three different colours. A great feature commonly seen in cine lenses is that a lens range tends to have the same dimensions and filter diameter. This simplifies the process of switching lenses without needing to rebalance rigs and gimbals or change matte boxes.

In cine lenses, apertures are marked as T-stops rather than F-stops to ensure consistent light transmission through the lens, whether it’s 100mm or 24mm. For instance, at T1.4, the light transmission should always be the same. This differs from stills lenses, where switching from an 85mm to a 24mm f/1.4 can result in a noticeable change in light transmission, necessitating exposure adjustments.

The Sniper lenses are marketed as video lenses for APS-C, matching the quality of more expensive cine lens families in size and dimension. However, Sirui is also highlighting their proficiency as stills lenses, thanks to the AF feature and the large f/1.2 aperture.

At $299 for the launch and $349 after that, the lenses are budget-friendly. Yet, the build quality, casing, and optics all seem solid and akin to the quality seen in Sirui’s other lens ranges.

Our review samples, finished in Ceramic White for the Nikon Z systems, also come in Carbon Fiber (Black) and Aluminum Alloy (Silver). The white ceramic finish, initially unusual to me, grew more appealing over a month of testing, especially when paired with the small Nikon Z30.

Sirui Sniper

The lenses are simple and compact, balancing well with the camera. A red dot at the mount end makes it easy to attach the lens, and the large, knurled focus ring rotates smoothly.

Each lens features a 58mm diameter filter thread, allowing for the use of one set of filters without needing adapters, a common issue with other fixed focal length stills lenses.

Supplied with each lens is a lens hood; the 23mm and 33mm feature a petal design, while the 56mm has a standard round hood. These attach and click onto the lens in the usual manner.

Overall, the design of the lenses is extremely neat, with no on-lens AF/MF switch or aperture control ring, just the focus ring, keeping the design clean and simple.

I’ve included information about the lens structure and aperture blades in the specifications. Still, it’s worth noting that the 11 blades create a pleasingly smooth bokeh when the aperture is fully open.


The lenses currently available are for the Nikon Z, Fuji X, and Sony E systems, all APS-C rather than full-frame. This is significant as the APS-C sensor format is more popular among enthusiast users of these cameras than their full-frame counterparts.

A key selling point is that all three lenses have a maximum aperture of f/1.2. This is substantial, particularly evident when the lenses are in use. For both stills and video, this large aperture allows for a blurred background, enhancing Bokeh effects, and in still photography, it enables faster shutter speeds in lower-light environments.

These lenses are all autofocus, which is noteworthy since Sirui has traditionally focused on high-end manual focus cine lenses. While these remain cine-friendly, they effectively bridge the gap to stills photography, likely appealing to hybrid shooters.

Appealing to videographers is the fact that all three lenses are the same size, with a 58mm diameter filter thread and a length of 92.2mm. The focus ring for each is positioned identically, facilitating ease of use with gimbals and other rigs due to consistent weight distribution and focus motor positioning.

The final feature is aesthetic; Sirui’s lenses are distinctively designed, and these come in three colours: Ceramic White, Carbon Fiber, and Aluminum Alloy. There is no technical or optical difference between the lenses in these different finishes.


While each lens in the set is distinct, they share many common features. In this performance section, I’ll cover those features and aspects that are similar or identical and then delve into the specifics of each lens.

Before examining the lenses, it’s important to re-emphasize the effect of the crop factor. For instance, the 23mm lens, which might seem wide on a full-frame camera, equates to a narrower 34.5mm on the Nikon APS-C sensor, considering the 1.5x crop factor. This factor also narrows the effective focal lengths of the 33mm and 56mm lenses.

The design of these lenses is not overly complex, embracing simplicity. There’s no MF/AF switch; this function is controlled through the camera’s interface. Similarly, there’s no aperture ring; this, too, is managed by the camera’s electronics. What you do get is a large, textured focus ring that is straightforward to use.

As all lenses have the same diameter, they fit uniformly with a matte box, facilitating easy swapping—much like cine lenses. This uniformity in size and weight simplifies positioning and exchanging lenses on a rig, a feature particularly advantageous for videographers.

For many of these shared features, the benefits are more pronounced for videographers than for still photographers. However, the uniformity in filter thread size across all three lenses is undoubtedly beneficial for all users.

Sirui Sniper f/1.2 23mm

Starting with the widest range, 23mm (34.5mm equivalent), the standard build and handling of the lens match that of the other two in the series. Control from manual to autofocus is handled through the camera, in this case, the compact and excellent Nikon Z30.

The ceramic-style finish gives the lens an unexpectedly high-quality feel, and the smooth focus ring enhances both the tactile experience and functionality.

Checking the filter thread, its quality is evident, with B+W filters screwing in smoothly, avoiding the grinding issues sometimes found in lower-quality lenses. In use, the lens’s AF speed matches that of the camera; the Nikon Z30’s performance in low light affects the lens’s speed and accuracy to some extent. However, as contrast levels increase with better lighting, the lens’s speed improves. Switching to the Nikon Z7, despite it being full-frame, enhances low-light performance.

Sirui Sniper 23mm

In normal light conditions, the single-shot AF performs well, allowing the camera to work effectively with the lens’s AF system. The overall AF performance for both cameras is good, with the Z30 showing improved AF speed with the latest 1.10 firmware.

Reviewing the images, the results are impressive, especially considering the cost of other f/1.2 lenses. Optically, the lens performs best at f/5.6 and f/8, offering excellent sharpness and a good balance throughout the image. Chromatic aberration is minimal, and detail handling is excellent.
At f/16, the image remains good, though there is some softening of tone and detail. The optimal balance between image detail and depth of field is at f/11.

The primary appeal of this lens is its ultra-shallow depth of field at f/1.2. At this aperture, distant details are limited, and image quality appears poor, but adjusting to f/5.6 – f/8 results in sharp images. Close up, the centre of the frame is sharp at f/1.2, but sharpness drops off quickly with depth, as expected.

In normal lighting, the lens is enjoyable to use, creating beautifully smooth backgrounds. The creative effects from f/1.2 to f/5.6 are superb, though careful focus is essential with the Z30 to avoid errors.

Switching to video, the lens provides smooth focus transitions and silent continuous AF motion, thanks to the STM motors. At f/1.2, the video captures incredibly shallow focus, but precise focusing is crucial. The video quality is excellent.

Sirui Sniper 23mm Sirui Sniper 23mm

For both stills and video, the lens impresses with its large aperture, enabling soft backgrounds and smooth tones. The highlight is the large, round Bokeh, reminiscent of much more expensive lenses.

Check out the full review of the Sirui Sniper 23mm f/1.2 here

Sirui Sniper F/1.2 33mm

Sitting in the middle is the 33mm, which is essentially the 50mm equivalent (actually 49.5mm), making it a key lens in any photographer’s kit. A modern AF lens with an aperture of f/1.2 would typically cost over £2000/$2000, so at $349, this lens is a real bargain.

Again, when fitted onto the Nikon Z30, the lens is longer than what one might expect for this focal length. However, like the 23mm and 56mm, this consistency is essential for the new wave of image creators and users.
The balance between the camera and lens is well-considered, with a slightly retro feel to this body-lens combo, despite the absence of a viewfinder.

Sirui Sniper 33mm

The 49.5mm focal length is ideal as an everyday lens for around-town photography, and the Sirui Sniper 33mm captures this essence. Using the large LCD touchscreen of the camera is enjoyable, and being able to preview the depth of field on the large articulated screen simplifies composition and shooting.

The performance of the 33mm is excellent, though care is needed when using the large f/1.2 aperture. The depth of field is even shallower than with the 23mm, making precise focus crucial.

Sirui Sniper 33mm Sirui Sniper 33mm

At f/1.2, the subject needs to be relatively close to maximize the lens’s quality; subjects at a further distance will lack detail. For more standard images, closing the aperture to f/5.6 – f/11 captures sharp, detailed shots.
Switching to video, this lens is ideal for interviews, with the 49.5mm focal length providing a suitable subject distance. At f/1.2, the depth of field is too shallow, but adjusting it to f/2.8 – f/4.5 offers a perfect effect.

Sirui Sniper 56mm f/1.2

The final lens in the kit is the 56mm, which translates to an 84mm equivalent. This focal length is ideal for portraiture, offering a well-controlled depth of field. The ability to preview the effect on the Nikon Z30’s LCD screen greatly enhances usability, ensuring you capture exactly what you need.

At 84mm, being mindful of camera shake is important, but the f/1.2 aperture allows significantly more light into the system compared to many other lenses.

Like its counterparts, the 56mm lens is optimized for subject work, creating beautiful soft backgrounds and central sharpness rather than edge-to-edge sharpness.

Sirui Sniper 56mm

One point to note is that this lens is slightly more prone to chromatic aberration on high-contrast edges, which is something to be aware of in certain situations.

Sirui Sniper 56mm Sirui Sniper 56mm

Switching to video, the 56mm lens excels with its 84mm focal length, offering ample creative control for to-camera video. The ability to manage background blur and the stunning Bokeh enhances the overall effect.

Final Thoughts

Evaluating the three Sirui Sniper lenses has been intriguing, as they diverge from the usual design ethos of edge-to-edge sharpness for stills or video. These APS-C, AF lenses are Sirui’s first venture into f/1.2 lenses at this price point.

The overall quality of the lenses is impressive, boasting solid build quality. The ceramic white finish, while not my personal preference, has garnered positive reactions from others, making it a surprising hit.

Initially, I had reservations about the image quality, but thorough testing in various settings revealed their true potential as creative tools for modern photographers and videographers. The f/1.2 aperture is technically challenging to execute, and Sirui has admirably succeeded in delivering its intended effect. These lenses excel in subject-focused photography or videography, where the foreground is crisp and the background is softly blurred.

However, if you expect these lenses to be versatile for both portraiture and landscape photography, you may be disappointed. They perform well at apertures of f/5.6-f/11, with f/8 being the sweet spot. Landscapes shot at f/1.2, though, tend to lack detail and clarity.

Concluding the test, I’m impressed with the build quality, large aperture, stunning bokeh, and background blur. The lenses integrate seamlessly into video rigs, and the AF, particularly in continuous mode, is effective thanks to the STM motor. For a first foray into AF lenses, these are remarkable. However, it’s essential to understand that they are specialized for creative, not general-purpose, use.

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