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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  1. Hello Nic! Thanks for the part 1 review & the sample images. When can we expect the AF test review?

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