Monday, 18 December 2017

Samyang AF 35mm F1.4 FE (Part 2 - Autofocus & Performance)

Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE mounted on my Sony A7R

I recently had the opportunity to test out the autofocus and overall performance of the final production version of Samyang’s new AF 35mm f1.4 FE lens while shooting the current Cage Warriors Middleweight Champion, Lee 'The Butcher' Chadwick during a brief training session at a local boxing gym. The lens while mounted on my Sony A7R provided me with some highly detailed action shots despite being shot wide open at f1.4.

Sports photography is something that I'd like to shoot more of but just haven’t had the opportunity to dedicate much time to so this was my first time shooting boxing. It quickly became apparent how fast a shutter speed is required to freeze the action. As such I had to use a higher ISO than what I would have liked so some of these images have more grain than what I'm used to seeing.

Size comparison - (from left to right) Samyang AF 50mm f1.4, Samyang AF 35mm f1.4, Samyang AF 35mm f2.8

Now, I know that the Sony A7R (mk1) is pretty much renowned for its slow AF speeds due to its lack of phase detection autofocus technology so I guess shooting sport with this camera and whatever lens I had was going to be a challenge. What has always frustrated me when using my A7R is the slight delay between when you press the shutter release button and the shutter actually closing. Timing my shots was pretty difficult but I quickly got used to it and managed to capture some great action shots with this lens. Attached to a Sony A9 or the brand new Sony A7RIII I'd imagine that the autofocus performance of this lens would be very fast, reliable and accurate.

The focus system is ‘focus by wire’ which means that the manual focus ring is not physically coupled with the focusing mechanism. Instead, rotating the focus ring sends an electronic signal to the focusing mechanism.

Autofocus on this lens is near silent - something which will please a lot of video makers after they were left a little frustrated with the slight noise emitted from the AF motor of Samyang’s inaugural AF lens - the AF 50mm f1.4 FE (review here).

The focus ring has been made larger in the final production copy I received from Samyang making it a little easier and more pleasant to focus and compose a shot manually. I love using this lens as it is capable of capturing stunning images with a shallow depth of field, beautiful bokeh and sharp details and punchy colours. Since Samyang sent me this lens I've used it on quite a few food shoots with superb results as can be seen at the bottom of this short review. It's frequently becoming my go to lens for a lot of different types of photography.

Check out my test images below.

1/2000th sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

1/500th sec, f1.6, ISO 1000

1/1600th sec, f1.4, ISO 1000

1/1250th sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

1/800th sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

1/2000th sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

1/1000th sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

1/4000th sec, f1.4, ISO 100
1/1250th sec, f2.2, ISO 100

1/1250th sec, f1.4, ISO 100

1/800th sec, f2.5, ISO 250

1/320th sec, f1.6, ISO 250

1/1000th sec, f1.4, ISO 100

1/60th sec, f2.2, ISO 320

Thanks for reading. Don't forget to check out my other Samyang lens reviews throughout this blog.

I'd like to once again thank Karin and all involved at Samyang Korea for sending the lens out to me for testing. Thanks also to Gary at Forge Fitness Rainhill and Lee Chadwick for allowing me to shoot him while training. Food image taken at Dim T in London.

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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Check out further reviews of this lens by Australian photographers Hanna Saba and Daniel Gangur

Hanna Saba – Samyang 35mm f1.4 AF for Sony E Mount – First Impressions

                       Samyang 35mm f1.4 AF vs Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4 AF         

Daniel Gangur – Samyang AF 35mm f1.5 FE – Lens Review

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.

Follow me on my social media channels:

Samyang AF 24mm f1.8 FE