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Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC Lens Review

Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme puts the Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC manual focus telephoto lens to the test.

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Samyang 135mm f/2.0 ED UMC in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Samyang 135mm F2 Lens (6)
 

This manual focus telephoto lens offers a fast f/2 maximum aperture for a price of around £380, which seems very good value for a 135mm lens with an f/2 maximum aperture.

This lens is available to fit many different types of cameras, including Canon, Nikon, Pentax SLRs, and Micro Four Thirds, and Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras. In this review, we'll take a look at how it performs.

Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC Handling and Features

Samyang 135mm F2 Lens (3)

A mix of high quality plastics with a lightly textured finish and metal 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. This lens isn’t overly heavy for one sporting a fast f/2 maximum aperture either, tipping the scales at 830g. As a result, it balances well with the Canon EOS 5D MkIII camera body used for testing.

Smooth damping makes the focus ring a pleasure to use, with it having just the right amount of resistance for applying fine focus adjustments. Closest focus is 80cm, which is fairly typical for a lens of this focal length and aperture. 77mm filters can be used with this lens and the filter thread does not rotate, which makes it ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. A deep circular hood also comes supplied with this lens as standard.

Samyang 135mm F2 Lens (4)

This lens has no electronic coupling with the camera, so stop down metering has to be used with the Canon camera used for testing. The camera reverts to centre-weighted metering and some automation is available in Aperture Priority mode. As this particular model of Canon camera does not give focus confirmation in the viewfinder when used with a lens with no electrical contacts, live view is the best way to ensure accurate focus. Other cameras, such as many of Nikon's high-end bodies have an electronic rangefinder, which makes focus confirmation easier through the viewfinder.

A useful and clear hyperfocal distance scale is included, but there is no hard stop included for infinity focus due to the use of ED glass in the optical design.

Samyang 135mm F2 Lens (9)
 

Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC Performance

At f/2, sharpness in the centre of the frame is excellent, and towards the edges of the frame, performance is very good. Stopping down improves sharpness even more, with peak performance being realised between f/5.6 and f/8. Here clarity is outstanding in the centre and excellent towards the edges of the frame.

 
MTF
MTF  

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 Canon EOS 5D Mark III using Imatest.

 

Chromatic aberrations are kept under control, remaining well under a quarter of a pixel width in size at all apertures. These low levels of fringing should be difficult to spot, even in very large prints, or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.

CA
CA  

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 minimise the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III using Imatest.

 

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is quite strong, as is typical of fast standard lenses. The corners are 2.07 stops darker than the image centre at f/2 and visually uniform illumination isn't achieved until the aperture is stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond.

Imatest only detected 0.112% pincushion distortion, which is an extremely low amount and should very rarely need correction in image editing software afterwards.

There were few issues with flare with this lens during testing as the multicoatings applied to optical surfaces seem to do a good job of keeping this under control, as does the supplied circular hood. When shooting into the light, you may encounter a loss of contrast, but only in extreme examples of this kind of lighting.

Samyang 135mm f/2.0 ED UMC Sample Photos

Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC Value For Money

With a price of £380, this lens is just about the least expensive 135mm f/2 lens available. Canon’s 135mm f/2L USM lens costs around £740, but sports fast, silent autofocus with full-time manual override. Nikon’s AF DC 135mm f/2 lens has been around for years, but still costs over £1000 to buy new. This lens has screw-driven autofocus and includes an interesting defocus control feature that provides control over the appearance of out of focus areas.

Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC Verdict

Those interested in a fast 135mm, who are either on a budget or don’t need autofocus for their work, should certainly consider this lens. It’s more than capable of delivering sharpness on a par with high-end lenses, but at a fraction of the cost. This, coupled with the excellent build quality and smooth manual focus action make this lens an excellent buy overall.

Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC Pros

Excellent sharpness from maximum aperture
Smooth manual focus action
Good build
Low CA
Low distortion
Good value

Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC Cons

Lack of autofocus may be enough to put many off this lens
Loss of contrast when shooting into the light

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC delivers sharpness on a par with high-end lenses, but at a fraction of the cost making it an excellent buy. 

 

Samyang 135mm f/2.0 ED UMC Specifications

ManufacturerSamyang
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon F
  • Canon EF
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
  • Pentax K
  • Sony E Mount
Lens
Focal Length135mm
Angle of View18.8
Max Aperturef/2
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size77mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus80cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements11
Groups7
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens hood, Lens cap, Rear lens cap, Case
Dimensions
Weight830g
Height122mm

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Comments


ChrisV Plus
12 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
20 Mar 2015 4:45PM
Makes you wonder what would happen if Samsung were to buy out Samyang and start producing autofocus versions of these excellent optics. The lenses appear to be a bit of a weakness for the South Korean giant's otherwise very strong offering with the NX1, with its Pro lenses just not seeming to get the best out of its capability.

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7 Oct 2015 5:09PM
This lens is simply amazing!
I can shoot this lens next to the might FE 55mm 1.8 and my legendary Canon FD 300mm F2.8 without feeling any drop in quality, sharpness etc...
Would really like to use this with a 1.4x teleconverter. Any suggestions about which one would work best with this lens?

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