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Samyang 35mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Lens Review

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Lens Review - This manual focus wide angle lens, offers a fast f/1.4 maximum aperture for a budget price of around 380, Gary Wolstenholme reviews.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC
Price : £380
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Samyang 35mm Lens

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. Nikon users have a choice between the basic model, which has no electronic coupling and the AE model, that has electronic contacts for transferring exposure information to the camera. In this review we will be testing the AE Nikon version.

Samyang 35mm Lens

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Handling and features

£380 is peanuts for any lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.4, but even so, Samyang haven't scrimped on the build quality of this lens. High quality plastics with a lightly textured finish have been used for much of the lens barrel, with a metallic red ring placed just after the aperture ring, denoting this is one of Samyang's premium lenses. The lens has a good weight to it, but isn't overly heavy and it balances perfectly on the Nikon D700 used for testing.

The smooth manual focusing ring is a pleasure to use, with damping that is neither too stiff, not too light. Those who shoot video on a DSLR and tend to use manual focus, may find this lens ideal due to its very good manual focusing action and ability to isolate a subject through shallow depth of field. Closest focus is 30cm, which should be ideal for shooting in cramped environments or even for the occasional close up, where the wide angle will allow your subject to be placed in its surroundings. Focusing is performed by moving the rear group of elements, so the lens doesn't change length and the 77mm filter thread does not rotate, which is ideal for use with polarising and graduated filters.

A metering chip with electronic contacts is included on the version tested, so matrix metering is supported on all Nikon cameras. The lens has to be set 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.

A useful and clear hyperfocal distance scale is included, and a hard stop is provided for infinity focus, which should suit those who wish to use this lens for astronomical photography. A lightweight plastic hood is provided with the lens, which fits snugly on the provided bayonet fitting. Unfortunately the rotation of the bayonet fitting is in the same direction as the lens needs to be turned to remove it from Nikon cameras, which often results in the hood coming loose when changing lenses.

Samyang 35mm Lens

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Performance

Don't let the budget price tag fool you, this lens is an excellent performer optically. At f/1.4 sharpness in the centre of the frame already approaches excellent levels and the clarity towards the edges of the frame is very good also. For a lens with an f/1.4 maximum aperture, this performance is outstanding at any price point. As the lens is stopped down, sharpness levels reach outstanding levels in the centre by f/2 and across the frame between f/5.6 and f/11.

Resolution at 35mm
Resolution at 35mm
 

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 are kept well under control, only exceeding 0.5 pixel widths in size towards the edges at f/11 and beyond. This low level of fringing should pose few issues, even in very large prints, or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.

Chromatic aberration at 35mm
Chromatic aberration at 35mm
 

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 typical of wide angle, fast aperture lenses. At f/1.4 the corners are 2.63 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/5.6 and beyond.

Imatest detected 1.53% barrel distortion, which is a very mild amount, even for a lens of this type. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so should be relatively straightforward to correct in image editing software afterwards.

This lens can be quite prone to flare, and especially loss of contrast when shooting into the light. The petal shaped hood provided does a decent job of shielding the front element from extraneous light that may causes issues, and should be left on all the time, if possible.

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC Sample Photos


Value for Money

Considering price versus performance, if you can live with focusing manually, this lens is the bargain of the century. £380 for a 35mm f/1.4 that is sharp at f/1.4? That's crazy!

To put this into perspective, even though all the major manufacturer's 35mm f/1.4 lenses offer autofocus, Canon's costs around £1150, Nikon's costs around £1380 and Sony's can be picked up for around £1080. Even the manual focus Zeiss ZF 35mm f/1.4 costs around £1500. All these alternatives are around three or even four times more expensive than the Samyang lens.

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Verdict

If you're looking for a sharp, moderate wide angle with a fast aperture and can live with focusing manually, you need look no further.

The performance at f/1.4 is amazing for a lens that costs under £400, and this is with good build quality, low CA, distortion and falloff that is typical of lenses with a fast aperture like this. Flare may be more of an issue than with manufacturer's own lenses, but so long as you take care in situations that may cause problems, this lens will reward you with sharp, contrasty images and money left for other things.

The Samyang 35mm f/1.4 has amazing performance at a very good price.

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Pros

Very inexpensive
Excellent sharpness, even at f/1.4
Even better sharpness when stopped down a little
Low CA and distortion
Good build

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Cons

Contrast suffers when shooting into the light

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC 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 Length35mm
Angle of View63.4
Max Aperturef/1.4
Min Aperturef/22
Filter SizeNo Data
35mm equivalent35mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus30cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades8
Elements12
Groups10
Box Contents
Box ContentsFront and rear Lens caps, soft lens bag.
Dimensions
Weight660g
Height111mm

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