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Sirui Sniper 33mm F1.2 X-Mount Review

Dustin Abbott

December 15th, 2023

It is always interesting to see new lensmakers entering the market. Sirui started with cine (video) lenses (all manual – no autofocus or electronics), but they are now releasing their first autofocus lenses – called the “Sniper” series – and I’ve done an overview of the series here. The Sniper Series is (at least initially) made up of 3 APS-C specific lenses – a 23mm F1.2, 33mm F1.2, and 56mm F1.2 lens, with rumors . These can be purchased individually for $349 USD each (though in the first month a 15% discount will drop the price to $299 USD per lens) or as a set for $999 USD that comes in a custom designed case. These lenses will be available in Fuji X-mount (reviewed here), Sony E-mount, and Nikon Z mount configurations, though in all mounts they are designed to cover the APS-C and not the full frame image circle. Today’s review focuses on the Sirui Sniper 33mm F1.2 AF lens. Find out by watching my video review below…or just reading on.

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Thanks to Sirui for sending me a set of review samples of the lenses.   As always, this is a completely independent review.  All opinions and conclusions are my own. I’m doing this review on a 40MP Fujifilm X-H2 camera.


I’m doing this review on Fuji X-mount today, as that is what Sirui had available to send me. In many ways this is jumping right into the fire, as there is no platform more optically demanding than the 40MP sensor on my Fujifilm X-H2. This is the equivalent of over 90MP on full frame, a resolution point that is currently 30+MP higher than what is even available on full frame. That creates an extremely demanding optical test that will push this new series to the limits. Is this 33mm F1.2 Sniper lens up to the challenge? The answer really depends on your priorities and expectations as a photographer. One thing is certain, however, and that is that you can create beautiful images with this lens.

33mm is a popular focal length on APS-C, as once you apply the 1.5x crop factor of the camera you mount it on (whether Fuji, Sony, or Nikon), you have a full frame equivalent focal length of roughly 50mm. That “normal” angle of view is perhaps the most popular focal length in a prime lens. What’s different here is that rather than having a maximum aperture of F1.4 like competing lenses, the Sniper 33mm pushes the envelop to F1.2, which is about a half stop faster/brighter than F1.4. In my quick illustrative test, my X-H2 metered at 1/90th second at F1.2, but 1/60th of a second at F1.4 with the Sniper 33mm F1.2 mounted. That’s an obvious advantage for the F1.2 in two ways: 1) when shooting in low light conditions that large aperture can suck in more light 2) the depth of field will shallower at F1.2 than F1.4, allowing for larger, softer bokeh highlights and a more blurred out background.

The Sniper series ambitiously will come in three different finish styles: a black/grey finish with carbon fiber accents (the lenses I’m testing come in this finish), a white finish, and a silver finish. Each is available for the three different mounts that lens is sold for.

We’ll explore the design more thoroughly in the next section, but I want to congratulate Sirui on forging their own design philosophy. These lenses don’t really look like anything else I’ve tested, but the design works and the lenses in person look quite premium. So, does bright F1.2 autofocusing lenses for a reasonable price sound interesting? We’ll explore that in this series of reviews. Here’s a quick link to the individual reviews of each lens:

Sirui Sniper 33mm Build and Handling

The Sniper series all share a common outer shell and exterior dimensions, though their weight varies due to the fact that the glass elements inside are larger and heavier in the 33mm and particularly the 56mm renditions. *This section will have a certain redundancy to my review of the series and other individual lenses because so much is shared in common, but I will give specifics in the few areas where the lenses vary from one another. The lenses share a common dimension of 72mm (by my measurement) or 2.83″, and in X-mount they are 92.2mm (3.6″) in length. They all share a common 58mm front filter thread, making it easy to share filters across the set. Here’s a look at the individual specifications of each lens.

As noted, the weight varies according to lens and mount. The X-mount that I’m testing is actually the lightest (by a few grams), due to the X-mount being the smallest of the three in diameter. Nikon’s Z-mount is the largest in diameter, with Sony E-mount in between. The 23mm weighs in at 380g (13.4oz), the 33mm at 398g (14oz), and the 56mm is 419g (14.7oz). That makes these lenses larger and heavier than similar 56mm lenses from Sigma (280g) or Viltrox (290g), though those lenses are F1.4 rather than F1.2. Sirui has taken a bit of a gamble here. Going to a bright F1.2 aperture allows their lenses to stand out from the competition, but those looking to travel small and light might shy away.

As noted, the look of the lenses is unique. There’s not much here in terms of features, but the lenses do have an upscale look with a variety of textures and finishes. I’m reviewing the lenses labeled as being “black”, but black (at least in the typical lens sense) is not the vibe I get off these lenses. There are two metal sections (one near the lens mount and another in the middle of the lens) that has a traditional anodized satin black finish, but in between there is a section of genuine carbon fiber that looks very cool. Carbon fiber is a more upscale material and it definitely sets these lenses apart.

There are two badges in this section. One is a plate with the Sirui banding in raised metal lettering.

The second is on the left side, and there is a another smaller badge that says AF and APS-C. Interestingly the word “Sniper” appears nowhere on the lens.

There are no switches on the lens barrel nor an aperture ring. That’s more noticeable here on Fuji, where aperture rings are fairly standard. The similarly priced Viltrox AF 23/33/56mm F1.4 lenses have aperture rings, and obviously Fuji’s own 23mm and 33mm F1.4 lenses along with the 56mm F1.2 lens have aperture rings, though, to be fair, those lenses cost nearly as much as the whole Sniper series, not one lens.

That middle anodized metal section includes an interesting projection over the carbon fiber section that has the lens designation there, including the mount (X, on my review samples), focal length, and maximum aperture value. Keeping that section facing forward in the lens case is important as it allows you to easily distinguish which lens is which – important, since they all look the same.

Next comes a manual focus ring with a diamond pattern akin to Canon’s control rings rather than a typical ribbed finish. It’s one more area where the lenses maintain their own unique look.

The manual focus rings move smoothly and the weight is fairly light. Not so light that you can’t accurately focus, but a bit lighter than what I personally prefer. There is no obvious stepping when manually focusing, though I do find (as per usual on Fuji!) that large manual focus changes require a number of rotations. This is particularly true if you are trying to focus towards minimum focus; I counted 6 full rotations to get from 1 meter to minimum focus.

After the focus ring is a blue accent ring that is nearly turquoise in color. Once again it is little different than other lens that I’ve tested, and it works. The final section at the front of the lens has a titanium colored anodized metal finish, so less than half of the lens surface is actually purely black. Each lens color has some unique ingredient: black = carbon fiber, silver = aluminum alloy, white = ceramic baked paint.

A look at the front of the lens shows the 58mm filter threads (in metal), along with a front façade that has the lens designation and the filter size on the opposite side.

The included lens hoods are not quite as special. They are made of plastic and feel considerably cheaper than the lens itself, which feels quite premium. The hoods for the 23mm and 33mm are petal shaped while the hood for the 56mm is deeper and without the scallops. I do appreciate the ribbed section in the hood which gives a little more grip.

It’s worth noting that both the front pinch cap along with the rear cap are quite low profile. The front cap is just a few millimeters thick, and the rear cap too feels slimmer than usual. These little details stood out to me as nothing about the lenses felt generic or “by-the-numbers”. Sirui is doing their own thing here, and I like the attention to detail.

At the rear of the lens we have a metal lens mount complete with the appropriate electronic contacts; aperture will be controlled from the camera. There is a USB-C port there that will allow for future firmware updates. That’s a really important move by Sirui, as they are new to autofocus design. The ability to update the focus algorithms in their lenses will help them to focus better in the future and also allows the lenses to be futureproof.

The aperture iris is made up of a higher-than-average 11 rounded blades. That’s a great choice in a lens with an F1.2 aperture, as it helps assure that the aperture iris stays circular as the lens is stopped down. Here’s a look at the aperture stopped down to F4:

The minimum focus distances varies from lens to lens, with the 23mm focusing as closely as 30cm, the 33mm focusing as close as 40cm, and the 56mm jumping to 60cm. The magnification for each lens looks pretty similar, however. Sirui has not listed the maximum magnification, but it looks to be in the very low 0.10x range. Here’s a look at the 33mm’s maximum magnification.

The large maximum aperture will allow you to strongly blur out backgrounds if you get close, but some competing lenses will allow you to get closer and get a higher level of magnification. You can see from this shot of a lock that I can’t get particularly close to the subject, but the big aperture blurs out the background pretty well anyway.

There is no weather sealing gasket on the Sirui Sniper lenses or internal seals. These are not weather resistant lenses.

There are some pros and cons for the design and handling. On the positive side, the lenses look and feel great. There are some premium materials being used in the design and the attention to detail is excellent. On the negative side, there are no real features on the lenses outside of the USB-C port for firmware updates and the lenses are the largest and heaviest in the class. But also worth considering is that the lenses have a larger maximum aperture than competing lenses and also carry a bargain price tag for autofocusing F1.2 lenses.

Autofocus Performance

The Sirui Sniper lenses are all equipped with STM (stepping) focus motors. There is a certain amount of autofocus performance that is camera and camera system specific, so I’ll try to distinguish between the lens performance and the system performance as much as possible. My experience is that third party lenses focus better on Sony (I don’t test Nikon) than they do on Fuji, and that’s largely because Fuji’s autofocus systems in their cameras are not quite as sophisticated as equivalent Sony cameras.

Autofocus speed is a little below average for a modern STM motor. When doing my focus speed tests with the Sniper 33mm from close to distance, I found that focus transitions were fairly deliberate. The 23mm was actually faster to focus. When I went outdoors focus speed picked up, though it still isn’t the instant focus I see with the better modern lenses. There is light clicking sound that I noticed during my focus tests, and the cause is pretty obvious with my outdoor test. Whenever I ease off the shutter button (I typically hold it halfway for these tests so that the camera is focusing but not taking photos) the aperture closes down to F5.6 or so, and opens up again whenever I depress the shutter button again. That clicking sound is the sound of the aperture blades snapped closed.

I took the shot above during my outdoor focus test, and, as you can see from the crop, while autofocus accuracy was fairly good, the lower contrast at F1.2 makes you question at times if focus is actually accurate.

You can see in the shot below what I’m talking about. I shot with a slightly smaller aperture of F2 to try to have both ladies faces in focus, which they are, but the lower contrast of the lens makes it seem that focus is a little off.

At least they don’t have the “dead eyes” of my previous subject!

When I look closely, I do realize that focus is accurately nailing these shots. The follow shot is a very good illustration of this. When I looked at the photo at large, it looks like it isn’t accurately focused.

But if I zoom in to a pixel and look at Nala’s iris, I see that focus is actually accurate.

The combination of the shallow depth of field and the low contrast just make it appear that nothing is in focus.

My conclusion is that while autofocus isn’t fast, it does seem to be accurate.

Turning to the video side of things reveals more contrasts and contradictions. The Sniper 33mm actually handled my video pull tests better than the other two lenses in the series. The 23mm focuses faster, but video focus pulls were a series of visible steps. The 33mm isn’t fast, but it does pull focus more consistently; focusing happens in a slow but consistent sweep of movement without visible steps. There’s still a bit of settling at the end, but I prefer this result to what I saw with the 23mm. The microphone did pick up some faint clicks and whirs during the focus action.

My hand test (where I alternately block and then unblock the camera’s view of my face with my hand) was also the best of the bunch. The lens is not reactive, so there’s a bit of a pause before focus transitions start after the hand is added or removed, but the focus to the next subject was fairly smooth. Focus accuracy on my eye seemed much more confident than during my focus pulls (no settling), but my experience with Fuji’s recent AF systems tells me that they function best when there is a trackable subject that AI recognizes. Focus isn’t nearly as good when there isn’t, which explains the difference here. That being said, if you want a reactive autofocusing video lens, this isn’t it.

On a positive note, focus breathing is quite low, and the slow but smooth focus transitions do look relatively little cinematic.

Autofocus does get the job done, but it isn’t nearly as sophisticated as what I’m seeing from some alternative brands. Not surprising since autofocus design is new for Sirui.

I wouldn’t be surprised if those testing the Sirui Sniper lenses on Sony and or Nikon have a slightly more positive autofocus experience, but I’m also comfortable in saying that alternative lenses on the Fuji platform like the Fuji 33mm F1.4 or the Viltrox Pro AF 27mm F1.2 are likely (at least at this stage) to provide a better autofocus experience…particularly for video. If your creative style is more focused on stills than video, you’ll probably be okay.

Sirui Sniper 33mm Image Quality

The Sirui Sniper lenses (surprisingly!) all share a common optical design of 12 elements in 11 groups, though they vary in the special elements in that formula. The 23mm has six HR (high refractive index elements). The 33mm has 1 ED (Extra low dispersion) and 1 HR element, while the 56mm has 1 ED element and 4 HR elements. Sirui claims that all three lenses have a uniform color tone, which adds to their value if you are using them as a set. I tried to get an MTF chart of the lens, but Sirui was a little coy about sharing their MTFs.

The Sniper 33mm is a lens with two different personalities. At large apertures it epitomizes the idea of a “dreamy” rendering, which is the euphemistic way to describe a somewhat soft, low contrast lens. At smaller apertures it drastically improves on the contrast and is able to provide detailed, contrast images. My current background on my computer workstation is this image which I took with the Sniper 33mm.

The Sirui Sniper 33mm F1.2 is not as sharp as either the Fujinon XF 33mm F1.4 (click hyperlink for my review) or the Viltrox Pro AF 27mm F1.2. It is more like the older Viltrox AF 33mm F1.4 in performance, which makes sense, as the Viltrox is the only one of the three similar in price to the Sirui. The Fuji lens is twice as expensive, while the Viltrox Pro lens costs about $200 more.

There’s more to lens performance than just pure sharpness, though, and this lens does have an advantage over the some alternatives in terms of the aperture. You have the opportunity to get a little bigger, softer bokeh out of the Sirui Sniper 33mm…but that bokeh is going to come at the cost of reduced contrast and some fringing.

Our optical deep dive starts with a look at vignette and distortion, and this is actually an area where the Sniper 33mm starts with a win. There is almost no distortion at all (I used only a -1 to correct manually for the tiny bit that was there). Vignette was also not bad at all, requiring a +53 to correct (about two stops). That’s really insignificant for an F1.2 lens.

Interestingly, there seems to be a correction profile available in Lightroom already and it seems to do a perfectly capable job of clearing up what little vignette and distortion there is. This F1.2 image shows no vignette, and there isn’t enough distortion to be seen in real world images anyway.

So that’s a win, but our next test is a giant fail. Longitudinal chromatic aberrations are a major issue here. You can definitely see some pronounced fringing before and after the plane of focus.

This shot with shiny surfaces is a mess of fringing at F1.2, with fringing on the shiny bits of the camera and noticeable fringing around the specular highlights (bokeh balls):

The heavy fringing issues definitely play a part in reducing the contrast.

Lateral chromatic aberrations show up near the edge of the frame in transitions from dark to light areas. These are much better controlled on the Sniper 33mm; I saw no real issue with them in either my tests or real world shots.

So how about resolution? The 40MP Fuji X-Trans sensor tends to make all but the very sharpest of lenses look a little soft under the microscope of my tests, so be warned, as this is NOT one of the sharpest of lenses. I examine results at a 200% magnification, and that’s a lot to ask of any lens. Here’s a look at the test chart:

And here is a look at F1.2 crops from the center, then mid-frame, and then extreme lower right corner:

Wow, that is bad!

Our real world examples to this point haven’t lied to us; this lens is very soft at wide apertures. And there is more to this story than just the demands of a 40MP APS-C sensor. I took a real world F1.2 shot into Photoshop and downsampled it to the equivalent of 24Mp (6000×4000 pixels), which is the most common resolution point of the APS-C mirrorless cameras on the market. But that does not magically fix the image; it still looks very soft.

If you want higher contrast results at large apertures, consider the Viltrox Pro AF 27mm F1.2 instead. It is a more balanced lens.

I’ve learned over my career as a reviewer that not all photographers value the same things. Some people prefer the “Sigma approach” where the lens design is highly corrected for aberrations and shows high contrast and detail at wide apertures. Others prefer the “dual nature” approach that is a little more old school: the lens is “dreamy” at large apertures (lower contrast and detail) and gets sharp and higher contrast when stopped down to small apertures. The classic Zeiss Planar 50mm F1.4 and the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm F1.2 are great examples of this approach, and they are both lenses that people still love. The Sirui Sniper 33mm F1.2 is definitely more similar to these lenses than to most modern lenses. Some people prefer the softer rendering on faces and the overall softer look to backgrounds that this kind of lens produces. It’s “kinder” by that logic. The fly in the ointment to that approach here is the amount of fringing. This is a lens that frankly will work better for those who both prefer “dreamy” and monochrome.

Things don’t change much at F1.4, though there is some improvement of contrast at F1.8 and F2…though things still don’t look great even in the center of the frame.

Real world images look better than this if you are looking globally and not at a pixel level, but if you get in close things still look pretty rough. Here’s an image and crop at F1.6:

F2.8 looks a bit better, and F4 a bit better still, but even at F5.6 the lens is not what I would call “tack-sharp” even in the center of the frame.

If we look over the corners, however, they look relatively quite good.

And that essentially sums up my real world findings. The lens gets acceptably sharp but never razer sharp for landscape type images.

Don’t get me wrong – I liked my landscape style images when viewed at a global level (like the one on my monitors), but I’m not wow when I zoom into them…and I LIKE being wowed when shooting landscapes.

That being said, I did happen to road trip with the Sirui 33mm and the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 zoom in my bag. I shot some of the same scenes, though without attempting to frame the scenes identically. But when I reviewed the photos side by side, I did instinctively prefer the shots from the Sirui. The combination of color and contrast looked a little better on the Sniper 33mm, and examining the images at a pixel level made me slightly favor the results from the Sirui.

Sharpness seems to peak at F8, and after that diffraction will start to soften the image again. This is the rare lens that is softer at maximum aperture than minimum aperture (F16), however.

I would say in general that purchasing the Sniper series will be more for the rendering and bokeh quality than the sharpness. If you can look past the fringing and low contrast, you’ll find a LOT of creamy bokeh. The second shot here is at F2.8, and it has less fringing and more sharpness on the subject…but less bokeh.

Those of you who are really enterprising can take two shots like this and layer them, taking the sharper, higher contrast shot on the subject from the F2.8 version and getting that wonderful, creamy bokeh from the F1.2 version. I did this and then did a little toning in Exposure 7, and got this lovely result.

That’s a lot of work, however.

This is a lens that works best for those that don’t pixel peep and just enjoy the nice looking images that aren’t technically perfect.

There is more to image quality than pure resolution, and I would say that the less than ideal contrast has a payoff in the form of bokeh quality. The bokeh is generally nicer than most lenses in this class, with the only real negatives being some fringing around bright specular highlights along with some geometric deformation near the edges of the frame. The bokeh looks pretty good most of the time.

The flare resistance is also pretty vintage. It’s clear that the Sniper lenses don’t have all of the high end modern coatings, as flare is pretty strong. This includes some veiling, streaks, and ghosting artifacts. The veiling is more pronounced at wide apertures, but the streaks and ghosting pattern becomes more defined at smaller apertures. I actually liked the various flare effects the most on the 33mm, however, as I often felt they looked artistic rather than destructive, like here:

Here’s a variety of images depicting these various flare phenomena at a few different apertures and positions.

Your opinion on all of that will largely depend on what you’re looking for from the lens – corrections or character. If it is corrections of flaws you want, then look elsewhere, but if you want some character, then the Sniper 33mm might just be your “cup of tea”. This personality of this lens is definitely weighted more towards “vintage” than “modern”.

There is definitely some give and take when it comes to the optical performance. This is not a “modern” perfectly corrected lens; it has aberrations and flaws, and you’ll either love it or hate it depending on your taste as a photographer. I’ve tried to accurately present the strengths and weaknesses so that you can decide for yourself whether or not it works for you.

You can check out the image gallery to see more photos and see if the rendering from the lens suits you.


The Sirui Sniper 33mm F1.2 AF lens has presented a real challenge to me as a reviewer, as it exhibits many of the things that I typically look for and criticize if they are present. And yet I also realize from long experience that there are photographers who prefer a deeply flawed lens like this one to an overcorrected modern lens. A lot of photography is subjective, and it is difficult as a reviewer to chronicle the issues while also leaving room for the artistic interpretation of them.

I probably enjoyed taking pictures OF this lens more than taking pictures WITH it, but because of the nature of my work I do tend to be more of a “pixel peeper” than the average photographer. I can appreciate the “personality” of a lens like the Sniper 33mm, but it’s difficult to turn off the part of my brain that sees more optical flaws and quirks than most modern lenses. Be sure that this is the style of lens that suits your own vision/style as a photographer.

The Sirui Sniper 33mm F1.2 AF is definitely the kind of lens that is designed for the person who cares more about the look of images globally than they do of pixel peeping, and, if that describes you, then the Sniper 33mm offers a fair amount of value at its MSRP of $349 (you can save another 5% by using the code DustinA at Sirui). It’s an autofocusing F1.2 lens, and there still isn’t a lot of those out there. There are lenses in and around this focal length that I prefer personally, but if the Sniper 33 ignites your artistic side…have fun!


  • Unique design that uses premium materials
  • Bright F1.2 aperture
  • Ability to upgrade firmware through USB-C port
  • Good focus accuracy for stills
  • Focus motor reasonably quiet
  • Low distortion and vignette
  • Nice bokeh and rendering
  • Good “look” and character to images
  • Option to buy as a set
  • Well priced


  • Larger and heavier than most competing lenses
  • Low maximum magnification
  • Video focus has some quirks
  • Strong fringing
  • Low contrast through F4
  • Fairly soft at large apertures
  • Somewhat flare prone



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Keywords: Sirui, Sniper, Sirui Sniper, 23mm, 33mm 56mm, F1.2, STM, Carbon Fiber, Review, Fuji X, Sony E, Review, Telephoto, Action, Tracking, Hands On, Dustin Abbott, Real World, Comparison, Sharpness, Bokeh, Flare Resistance, Autofocus, Image Quality, Sample Images, Video, Photography, Sony a6700, Sony a6600, Fujifilm X-T5, Fujifilm X-H2, let the light in, #letthelightin, DA

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