Monday, 23 October 2017

Samyang AF 35mm F1.4 FE (Part 1 - Resolution & Image Quality)

Samyang are really taking the camera lens world by storm at the moment – their Xeen cine lenses are revitalising the filmmaking world, the high quality XP lenses have been very well received and that line has just expanded to support Nikon. The AF line-up has also gone from strength to strength. First in the autofocus roster came the excellent AF 50mm f1.4 FE (review HERE), shortly followed by the AF 14mm f2.8 FE (review HERE) and then earlier this year they released the ‘Tiny but Mighty’ AF 35mm f2.8 FE (review HERE) which travels with me everywhere. I’ve been fortunate enough to test all of the AF lenses and provide sample images for Samyang so far. When I was told that there was another lens coming and I would be testing it I was naturally very excited to see what focal length it was, the specs and the design of it.

Samyang's brand new AF 35mm f1.4 FE will be going head to head with the Sony Zeiss Distagon 35mm f1.4 which retails on Amazon for £1299. Samyang is following suit with their other AF lenses by offering great quality optics at a much more affordable price point. This lens will retail at just £599, less than half the price of the Zeiss. Unfortunately I was unable to get hold of the Zeiss to do a comparison.

Lens Specs
This brand new Samyang weighs in at 705g (including lens hood and cap). It comes with a plastic lens hood and has a 67mm filter thread. For the interior construction of the lens there are 11 elements in 9 groups, 2 aspherical lenses, 2 high-refractive lenses, plus Ultra Multi Coating and it features a rounded 9 blade diaphragm which creates silky, smooth ‘Bokeh’ (out of focus areas of the image). It has a minimum focusing distance of 0.30m (1.47 feet), a maximum magnification of 0.17x. The lens features an aperture range of f1.4 through to f16. This lens is designed with full frame users in mind but as with all of Samyang's AF lenses this lens is still compatible with cropped sensor bodies. On a full frame camera you get a 65.5° angle of view and a a 45.2° angle on a cropped sensor. It's worth noting that this lens is not weather sealed.

The brand new AF 35mm f1.4 FE from Samyang comes with the tag line "Absolute Resolution" and will have many photographers excited due to it's wide f1.4 maximum aperture which will allow faster shutter speeds or lower ISO values in low light conditions. This lens produces stunning bokeh which allows the photographer to separate their subject nicely from the background/foreground with shallow depth of field.

From my time beta-testing the pre-production model I found that the lens resolves really well even at wide open apertures. It delivers crisp, sharp images throughout the aperture range as you can see from my selection of images below. There was some slight vignetting in the corners when shot wide open. Chromatic aberration (CA) is kept to a minimum due to the number of elements in the lens' construction and as such I didn't notice any during my time with it. However, as mentioned in my previous reviews CA is quite an easy fix in Lightroom with a click of a mouse. I've used this lens on a couple of food shoots so far and love the bokeh it produces. A good example can be seen in the burger shot towards the bottom of the review which I shot for Wildwood Restaurants. This lens is more than capable of capturing beautifully detailed images at a versatile focal length. The affordability makes this a great alternative to the otherwise expensive Zeiss 35mm f1.4. I wonder what will be next for Samyang.

All test images were taken with my Sony A7R.

1/100th sec, f1.4, ISO 400

1/160th sec, f8, ISO 100

1/320th sec, f5.6, ISO 100

1/800th sec, f2.8, ISO 100
1/2000th sec, f1.4, ISO 100

1/5000th sec, f1.4, ISO 100

1/160th sec, f3.5, ISO 100

1/640th sec, f5, ISO 100

1/2500th sec, f2, ISO 100

1/400th sec, f5.6, ISO 100

1/6400th sec, f1.4, ISO 100
1/5000th sec, f1.4, ISO 100

1/2500th sec, f1.7, ISO 100

1/800th sec, f2.5, ISO 100

1/320th sec, f1.4, ISO 100

1/125th sec, f1.4, ISO 100

1/60th sec, f4, ISO 50

1/5th sec, f2, ISO 50
1/320th sec, f1.7, ISO 200

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for part 2 of the review where I look at AF performance of the lens.

I'd like to once again thank Karin and all involved at Samyang Korea for sending the lens out to me for testing.

For more information on Samyang products please take a look at their website - and subscribe to their newsletter to keep up to date with product news.

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Monday, 14 August 2017

Samyang AF 14mm f2.8 FE

Samyang AF 14mm f2.8 FE

Having already tested, reviewed and supplied sample images for several of Samyang’s lenses including both AF 50mm f1.4 FE and the brand new AF 35mm f2.8 FE lenses, Samyang sent me a copy of their other AF lens recently to test out during my trip to New York. I had in the past also tested their 14mm f2.4 XP lens (which was simply superb – review HERE) so I had previous experience using such wide focal lengths.

Samyang AF 14mm f2.8 FE mounted on my Sony A7R

The AF 14mm f2.8 FE follows suit with the other AF lenses and is built for use on full frame Sony A7/A9 series camera systems but can also be used on APS-C (cropped sensor) Sony bodies such as the A6500 or A6300 but would give a 21mm relative focal distance.

Design and construction is similar to the 50mm f1.4 with a high quality metal alloy build. However, whereas the 50mm has a detachable lens hood, the 14mm does not. This helps to protect the bulbous glass front element but prevents the ability to use standard filters as there is no filter thread. Maybe a filter manufacturer such as Gobe could someday produce a filter adapter to be used with this lens so that landscape photographers can use their array of filters when out in the field.

Size in hand (I don't have the biggest of hands)
The lens has 14 elements in 10 groups (3 of which are aspherical) to minimise aberration and unnecessary light dispersion, delivering high resolution from the centre to the corners of the frame. Angle of view is a very wide 113.9° on full frame cameras and 89.8° on APS-C cameras. Aperture ranges from f2.8 at its widest all the way to f22 - pretty standard range. Minimum focus distance is 20cm. Size-wise the lens is fairly compact and weighs in at 505g so during my New York visit while mounted to my A7R it wasn’t at all cumbersome compared to other lenses in my bag.

The Competition
Looking at the other full frame rectilinear lenses which feature a similar focal distance for Sony E-mount cameras it's easy to see that this lens is capable of producing stunning images while offering great value for money. Although not an exact match, the new ultra-wide zoom that Sony has released themselves not so long ago - Sony 12-24mm f4 G lens costs around £1650 compared to this Samyang AF which costs around £600. There's also the older, manual focus Samyang 14mm f2.8 which can be bought for around £375 brand new but isn't as good as this updated AF version. There's also the even wider Voigtlander 10mm f5.6 which is available at around £800 and the Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D lens also available for around £1000.

Samyang AF 14mm f2.8 FE mounted on my Sony A7R

Autofocus on this lens seems to be the fastest out of the three autofocus lenses that I’ve tested for Samyang with very little AF motor noise. Looking at the test images that I've shot below it's easy to see that this lens performs well giving high quality, sharp images throughout the frame. The lens copes well when shooting directly into the sun with little flare (as seen below) which will be great news for landscape photographers. Images are crisp with the optimum aperture around f8 -f11. It offers a great ultra-wide option and is a welcome addition in the range for any shooter with a Sony A7/A9 series FE mount camera or even the cropped sensor A5000/A6000 series cameras.

All test images were taken with my Sony A7R.
1/200th sec, f8, ISO 100

1/40th sec, f9, ISO 200

30 sec, f11, ISO 100

1/400th sec, f10, ISO 100

1/320th sec, f10, ISO 100

1/200th sec, f8, ISO 100

1/640th sec, f13, ISO 100 

1/15th sec, f22, ISO 50 

1/30th sec, f4.5, ISO 320

1/250th sec, f8, ISO 100 

1/200th sec, f10, ISO 125 

1/400th sec, f8, ISO 100

1/320th sec, f2.8, ISO 100 

1/25th sec, f22, ISO64

Below is a comparison of the image quality throughout the aperture range. The same composition shot at various different apertures from f22 right up to it's widest aperture f2.8.








Thanks for reading. I hope that you enjoyed my short review and test images.I kind of left it quite short to leave the images do the talking.

I'd like to thank Jane at Intro 2020 for sending the lens out to me for testing, Karin and all involved at Samyang Korea for the top quality work going into making these fantastic lenses.

For more information on Samyang products please take a look at their website - and subscribe to their newsletter to keep up to date with product news.

Follow me on my social media channels: