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Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens Review

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens Review - This budget manual focus ultra-wide angle lens, offers a diagonal angle of view of 114 degrees on a full frame camera and a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture, Gary Wolstenholme reviews.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Samyang 14mm f/2.8
Price : £260
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Samyang Ae 14mm

This lens is available to fit many different types of cameras, including Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and Four Thirds SLRs as well as Samsung NX mirrorless cameras and costs around £260. Nikon users can choose between the basic model, which has no electronic coupling and the AE model, which we are testing here, that has electronic contacts for transferring exposure information to the camera.

Samyang Ae 14mm

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Handling and features

Despite the budget price tag, Samyang haven't scrimped as far as build is concerned. High quality plastics, with a textured finish have been used for much of the lens barrel and the built in hood. The lens mount is metal and fits tightly on the Nikon D700 used for testing. The lens isn't overly heavy, and it balances well on the camera.

Manual focusing is a pleasure, thanks to the smooth and evenly damped action of the focusing ring. Using the focusing assist in the viewfinder is relatively easy, although the focusing system on the Nikon D700 occasionally confirms focus a little too readily. Closest focus is 28cm, which should be ideal for shooting in cramped environments.

The version tested here includes a metering chip with electronic contacts so matrix metering is supported on all Nikon cameras. This means the lens has to be left at f/22 to operate normally on modern Nikon cameras, but no lock is provided to hold the aperture in this position. No such issues should be encountered with the basic version, as no metering information is transferred to the camera.

Unusually for a manual focus lens, no hyperfocal distance scale is provided and there is no hard stop for infinity, probably due to the use of low dispersion glass in the optical design.

A huge rigid plastic bucket-type lens cap is provided, which clips into grooves on the integral plastic lens hood. No provision for filters has been made, not even a holder for gels on the rear.

Samyang Ae 14mm

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Performance

You may be forgiven for expecting poor optical performance for such an inexpensive lens, but that certainly isn't the case with the Samyang 14mm. Sharpness in the centre of the image area is already excellent at f/2.8, although the quality towards the edges of the frame falls behind somewhat.

Stopping the lens down improves quality across the frame, reaching excellent levels between f/5.6 and f/11. This would be very good performance for any lens, but this is quite incredible for such an inexpensive optic.

Resolution at 14mm
Resolution at 14mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D700 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations barely register across the frame at any aperture, which is superb for such a wide lens. No issues should be seen, even in very large prints.

Chromatic aberration at 14mm
Chromatic aberration at 14mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D700 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is quite severe. At f/2.8 the corners are 3.4 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination isn't achieved until the lens is stopped down to around f/11. Such a high level of vignetting can lead to exposure errors, as pictures taken at maximum aperture require a little more exposure to appear as bright as pictures taken stopped down. This can lead to overexposure when using small apertures.

Imatest detected 4.56% barrel distortion, which is quite strong, but the whole story. Images display quite a pronounced 'M' shaped wave to the distortion, which will prove incredibly difficult to correct in image editing software afterwards.

Contrast is lacking from the off, when this lens is compared to manufacturer's own lenses. Still this lens deals reasonably well with harsh light sources in the frame, especially when stopped down beyond f/5.6.

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 Sample Photos


Value for Money

As this 14mm from Samyang is available for around £260, that alone makes this lens amazing value for money, if you can live with manual focusing.

An extreme example of how inexpensive this lens is can be seen when compared to the Carl Zeiss ZF Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8, which is also a manual focus lens, with a chip for transferring exposure information to the camera. The Zeiss 15mm may perform better on the whole than the Samyang lens, but the lens costs a whopping £2,350. That's nearly £2100 more than this Samyang lens!

Autofocus 14mm f/2.8 lenses from Canon and Nikon also cost substantially more, ranging between £1200 and £1350. Third party manufacturers, such as Sigma and Tamron, also offer their own 14mm f/2.8 lenses, ranging between £600 and £800. Another lens covering the 14mm focal length is Nikon's well regarded 14-24mm f/2.8, which costs around £1250.

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Verdict

Although this basic lens may not be for everyone, those looking for an ultra-wide lens, which is capable of delivering excellent quality when used within its limitations can't go far wrong with this 14mm from Samyang.

Centre sharpness is excellent from maximum aperture, and the quality towards the edges of the frame improves to excellent levels with the lens stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond. Discerning photographers may find the wavy distortion and pronounced falloff of illumination towards the corners off-putting, but those on a budget should be delighted with the quality of images this lens can deliver, for a bargain basement price.

 
  The Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lens is capable of producing excellent results.

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Pros

Extremely inexpensive
Excellent sharpness in the centre at f/2.8 and across the frame when stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond
Good build
Relatively lightweight
Extremely low CA levels

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Cons

Wavy distortion
Falloff of illumination towards the corners
No hyperfocal scale or hard infinity stop

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 Specifications

ManufacturerSamyang
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Pentax KAF
  • Sony A
  • Canon EOS
  • Sony Alpha
  • Minolta AF
  • Olympus 4/3rds
  • Pentax K SMC-F
  • Canon EF
  • Samsung NX
Lens
Focal Length14mm
Angle of View118
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter SizeNo Data
35mm equivalent14mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus28cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades6
Elements14
Groups12
Box Contents
Box ContentsFront and rear Lens caps, soft lens bag.
Dimensions
Weight552g
Height94mm

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Comments


7 Jul 2012 11:50AM
I guess for full-frame users this is a reasonable option to very costly autofocus lenses of this focal length, but I would also guess the majority of readers are DX SLR users - and it's worth noting for both that wide angle lenses are somewhat difficult for many people to repeatedly focus accurately in manual mode.

I'm not aware of UK pricing, but here in the USA, one can purchase the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 autofocus lens for about $600, and I have heard reports that it can be used quite successfully in the 14-16mm range on full-frame cameras, due to the optical design needed to provide the 11mm range on a DX format. Its autofocusing on my D7000 and D300 is dead on every shot, and it is one of the 3 sharpest lenses I've ever owned (the others being my 50mm f2 Summicron and my 35mm f2 AF Nikon) (my 50mm f1.8 Nikon is probably as sharp, but I rarely use it except for available light basketball).

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josa 2 25 Czech Republic
11 Aug 2012 6:25PM
I love the sharpness!
19 Feb 2014 7:25AM
I bought this lens and I'm not happy with it. There were initially fingerprints or smudge on the rear lens that I had to clean and this lens is easily scratched even if using clean microfiber cloth. So this was just waste of money. If you need lenses to your DSLR, buy some real lens from Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Sony but not Samyang. This is just Korean junk.

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