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THROUGH THE CITY WITH MY 'KOREAN MATES'

Through the city with my “Korean mates”

Let’s clear this up first, by Korean mates I mean Samyang lenses and for those that don’t know who they are, I would like to give you some background history. Samyang Optics Company Limited is a Korean company founded in 1972, manufacturing optical equipment, CCTV and photographic accessories. All Samyang lenses are produced in the company’s plant in Masan, South Korea. Samyang is known for producing verifocal and monofocal lenses, autoiris and fixed iris lenses, interchangeable lenses that are compatible with cameras produced by other companies. In 2004 it was merged with the Japanese CCTV optical devices makes Seikou.

Samyang produces lenses to fit cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Pentax, Samsung, Yashica, Olympus and Panasonic, plus a wide range of T-mount lenses. On May 2016 Samyang announced their first two autofocus lenses: the 14mm f/2.8 and the 50mm f/1.4 full frame lenses. On June 5, 2017, Samyang announced their third autofocus lens: the 35mm f/2.8 full frame pancake lens. The fourth autofocus lens is Samyang 35mm f/1.4 which was released on 17th October 2017 and similar to the other three is full frame mirrorless camera compatible and it comes in a Sony E-Mount fit. Within this review I was challenged by LCE Horsefair to do a field test with all of those lenses. I will go through the technical part but not too much as the purpose of the review is to tell and show how these lenses act in the real world.

Samyang 14mm f/2.8

The Samyang 14mm f/2.8 was the first lens I wanted to start with because I love wide and ultra wide lenses where I can get almost everything I want within the frame. This lens is specifically designed to work in harmony with full frame mirrorless cameras having the Sony E mount and recently Canon fit. Based on Samyang Optics’ exceptional optical technology, Ultra Multi Coating and three aspherical lenses have been included among 14 elements in 10 groups to minimise aberration and unnecessary light dispersion, delivering high resolution from the centre to the corners of the image. This is the first autofocus lens in over 40 years that Samyang produced. Samyang has captured the essence of world leading image technology with their manual focus lenses and reinterpreted it into autofocus lenses. Photographers now can enjoy the combination of prime manual lens image quality and autofocus accuracy. The Samyang AF 14mm F2.8 FE is compatible with both phase detect and contrast detect sensors to operate fast and accurate focus. A very common issue with most of the wide lenses is the distortion of the corners, well with this one I couldn’t see this at all which surprises me and I hope it will surprise you as well.

Features:

  • Image Sensor size: Full frame 35mm
  • Focal length: 14mm
  • Maximum aperture: F/2.8
  • Filter Diameter: N/A
  • Angle of view: 113.9 degrees (full frame sensor), 89.8 degrees (APS-C sensor)
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.2m
  • Focus type: Auto-Focus
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 7 (rounded)
  • Lens construction: 14 elements in 10 groups (3 Aspherical)
  • Dimensions (max): 86mm Dia x 97.5mm L
  • Please find below an unedited jpeg straight of the camera and as you can see the distortion is very low.

    According to Samyang, they said that the latest lenses are very high quality so I decided to take several shots with different apertures so we can see how they perform.

    Top Left f/2.8 | Top Right f/4.0 | Bottom Left f/8.0 | Bottom Right f/11

    From f/2.8 to f/8 we can clearly see a difference, diffraction steps in at F11 which is a little before F16 that I’d hoped for. As I said at the beginning I had only a couple of hours but I would like to test that out in more depth.

    Conclusion:
    Samyang 14mm is definitely a game changer because it’s the first Samyang lens with AF. Regarding the lens, it’s very nice, well built and has a premium finish. It’s also lightweight  which is also a plus, I believe it’s relatively low cost of  £599 for Sony fit and £649 for Canon (which just been released) makes it the most cost-effective Samyang AF lens within the range comparing with Canon or Sony own lenses.

    PROS
  • A very good price
  • Weather sealing
  • Excellent bokeh
  • Accurate AF
  • Great sharpness
  • CONS
  • No distance scale
  • No depth of field scale

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    Samyang 35mm f/1.4 FE

    Samyang says: “Aim high” and this is what they did with this beautiful 35mm f/1.4 FE which is fully compatible with full frame mirrorless Sony cameras such as the a7 or a9 series. The lens has been designed to appeal to enthusiasts and professionals who are ready to take the next step up in the photography. It is no doubt the best companion in creating a piece of artwork on a daily basis. It’s high performance is beyond my expectations and it will surprise even the most demanding users. This lens includes 11 elements in 9 groups and features 2 aspherical lenses, 2 high refractive and Ultra Multi Coating. The optical design minimises aberrations and unnecessary light dispersation. The bright F/1.4 aperture secures fast shutter speeds and creates shallow depth of focus images in a wide-enough angle of view. When you get your hands on the lens you will notice the weight which is generous but very solid.

    Features:

    • Full Frame 35mm compatible
    • Focal length: 35mm
    • Maximum aperture: f/1.4
    • Filter diameter: 67mm
    • Angle of view: 65.5 degrees (full frame sensor), 45.2 degrees (APS-C sensor)
    • Minimum focus distance: 0.3m
    • Focus type: Auto-Focus, manual focus
    • Weight: 645g

    Unedited JPEG straight from the camera:

    Top Left f/1.4 | Top Right f/2.8 | Bottom Left f/8.0 | Bottom Right f/11

    As with most lenses around the maximum aperture they get very soft and it is less likely that you will get a sharp image. The same applies with the 35mm where at f1.4 it is very soft and small aberrations can be found around of high contrast zones. F/2.8 or more it gets very sharp which I recommend to use unless you really need f1.4 for light gathering.

    Conclusion:
    Absolutely this is the best quality/results value anyone can get, it is very attractive proposition for anybody who wants a fast 35mm. Also ideal for street photography lovers.

    PROS
  • Excellent sharpness
  • Great build
  • Good price
  • Low chromatic aberrations
  • CONS
  • No weather sealing
  • No distance scale
  • No depth of field scale

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    Samyang 50mm f/1.4 FE

    The Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 identical to the other lenses has been specifically designed to work in a perfect balance with full frame Sony FE cameras. With a f/1.4 aperture, it is by far one of the brightest full frame mirrorless lenses, giving a very beautiful bokeh with the best image quality. Ultra multi coating and three aspherical lenses have been included among the nine elements in eight groups to minimise aberration and unnecessary light dispersion, delivering high resolution from the centre to the corners of the image. As the previous lenses, 50mm feels like a premium product with a red and silver metallic band design next to the finely ridged manual focus ring.

    Even though this is a beautiful designed lens, autofocus isn’t as quick the other Samyang AF lenses but it is still quick enough for me, an Ideal partner for a street photography, landscape, portrait or even travelling and a good match for the Sony A7 II.

    Features:

    • Full Frame compatible
    • Focal length: 50mm
    • Maximum aperture: f/1.4
    • Filter diameter: 67mm
    • Minimum focus distance: 0.45m
    • Focus-type: Autofocus
    • Lens construction: 9 elements in 8 groups (3 aspherical)

    Unedited JPEG straight from the camera:

    Top Left f/1.4 | Top Right f/2.8 | Bottom Left f/8.0 | Bottom Right f/11

    Conclusion:
    Definitely this lens is a perfect match for a Sony A7 series with a great image quality and nice bokeh apart f/1.4 which is a bit soft, however this is not noticeable unless you view at 100% crop. This lens targets all the users who would like a modern, reasonable fast autofocus prime at a sensible price.

    PROS

  • Good optics
  • High quality construction
  • Accurate focus
  • CONS
  • No weather sealing

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    Samyang 35mm f/2.8 FE

    A tiny lens with a mighty performance, ideal for daily photography as well as travel photography. Despite the lens compact size with just 3.3cm long and 6.18cm diameter, Samyang has managed to fit an optical system that includes 7 elements in 6 groups, including 2 aspherical elements and one made of high-refractive index glass. Specially designed for full frame mirrorless cameras and also APS-C type sensor like Sony A6000-A5000 series, the lens is equivalent to approximately 52mm on an APS sensor camera, which is one of the most popular focal length among photographers. The only thing I didn’t mention is the lens weight, only 85g, very light or the lightest lens ever which means you’ll hardly notice that is on the camera. It’s true that it’s body is not metal but plastic but it still feels well made, Samyang managed somehow to maintain a very similar build quality to the AF 50mm f/1.4. No need to be worried, the lens is still robust enough.

    Features:

    • Full Frame compatible
    • Focal length: 35mm
    • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
    • Minimum focus distance: 0.35cm
    • Focus type: Autofocus

    Unedited JPEG straight from the camera:

    Top Left f/12.8 | Top Right f/3.5 | Bottom Left f/8.0 | Bottom Right f/11

    The performance of the lens is incredibly good, which delivered more than I expected from something that weights no more than 85g. Again similar to other lenses, at the widest aperture it is not the sharpest but once you step down the lens produces sharp images.

    Conclusion:
    It seems that we have another perfect match to Sony full frame system. Since mirrorless has been released, everybody wanted a camera as small as possible with the smallest lenses but the physics doesn’t allows it all the time. Well, in this case it looks like Samyang didn’t care too much about that and designed in my opinion the world’s smallest and lightest lens for this system. It may not be as sharp as the Sony Zeiss equivalent, but it is a fraction of the cost (less than half the price) and it’s still capable of giving more that a decent image quality.

    PROS

  • Small and easy to carry
  • Comes with case
  • Good price
  • Pretty fast autofocus
  • CONS
  • Plastic build
  • Disturbing hood design

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    As an overall conclusion, I would definitely recommend any of these lenses (even the older version which are fully manual focus).

    What I like the most is that Samyang has built only fixed lenses, they have focused in my opinion on delivering high standards, well built lenses with very bright apertures at more that reasonable prices as alternative to other brands. Of course they cannot be compared to the Sony Zeiss equivalent lenses but at less than half the price they still managed to get pretty close.

    Sample Images

    Samyang AF 35mm f2.8 Sony FE fit

    Samyang AF 35mm f2.8 Sony FE fit

    • 35/2.8 AF Sony FE fit lens
    • Angle of view: 63.1 degrees (full frame sensor), 42.9 degrees (APS-C sensor)
    • 0.35m minimum focus distance: 0.35m
    • 7 diaphragm blades (rounded)
    • 7 elements in 6 groups (2 Aspherical, 1 High Refractive)
    • Ultra-Multi-Coating
    • 49mm filter size
    £279.99
    or pay £8.39 per month (10% Deposit / 12.9% APR / 36 Months)
    Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 Sony FE fit

    Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 Sony FE fit

    • Image Sensor size: Full-frame Sony FE and APS-C Sony E sensors
    • Focal length: 50mm
    • Maximum aperture: F/1.4
    • Lens construction: 9 elements in 8 groups (3 Aspherical)
    £499.99
    or pay £14.99 per month (10% Deposit / 12.9% APR / 36 Months)
    Samyang AF 14mm F2.8 Sony FE fit

    Samyang AF 14mm F2.8 Sony FE fit

    • Ultra wide lens
    • Full frame Sony E mount compatible
    • 14 elements in 10 groups
    • Autofocus
    £599.99
    or pay £17.99 per month (10% Deposit / 12.9% APR / 36 Months)
    Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE fit

    Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE fit

    • Bright 1.4 aperture
    • Autofocus lens
    • Compatible with Sony Full Frame and APS-C
    £599.99
    or pay £17.99 per month (10% Deposit / 12.9% APR / 36 Months)
    Samyang AF 14mm F2.8 CANON EF fit

    Samyang AF 14mm F2.8 CANON EF fit

    • Image Sensor size: Full frame 35mm
    • Focal length: 14mm
    • Maximum aperture: F/2.8
    • Minimum focus distance: 0.2m
    £649.99
    or pay £19.48 per month (10% Deposit / 12.9% APR / 36 Months)
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