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Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS Lens Review

Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS Lens Review - John Riley reviews the bright Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS prime lens for mirrorless cameras, with a Sony Alpha A6000.

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Samyang 50mm f/1.2 in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Samyang 50mm F1,2 Mounted On Sony A6000
The Samyang 50mm f/1.2 is a compact and well made manual focus prime lens, priced at £299. A typical cost for a marque 50mm f/1.2 might well be approaching £1000, so this is an interesting alternative if the performance is up to the job. In 35mm terms, this lens is an equivalent of 75mm assuming a 1.5x crop factor. In other words, a short telephoto.

Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS Handling and Features

Samyang 50mm F1,2 Front View

The lens is clearly well-made, with a metal chassis and an outer shell of high-quality polycarbonate. The focusing action is silky smooth, just like the best traditional manual focus lenses. The aperture ring is smooth with light click stops, with no play at all in the action. The mount is a good quality metal mount, this version looking substantial in its design and mounting smoothly onto the Sony Alpha A6000 used for this review, with additional sample images on the Fujifilm X-A1.

This is for APS-C sensors and a wide variety of mounts is available. The lens does not look out of place on the diminutive Sony E Mount body and the balance is good. There is a very well made bayonet circular lens hood provided, to reduce any chance of flare. In any event, the lens is remarkably free from flare.

An f/1.2 lens is very bright indeed and the first question has to be is it necessary. The increase in transmission between f/1.2 and f/1.4 is very small, but maybe the reduced depth of field is more to the point. In practice, it is very difficult to guarantee sharp focus when using the lens at f/1.2. The point of focus is so sensitive that a portrait, for example, leaves only the slightest part of the face sharp, which is maybe a bit too selective, the difficulty being compounded by the movement of the model.


Samyang 50mm F1,2 With Hood

In controlled circumstances, on a tripod, with a stationary subject, the f/1.2 aperture does enable amazing selective focus. It does have creative possibilities, but I suspect for many an f/1.4 lens would be quite fast enough. The bokeh in the out of focus areas is certainly beautifully smooth and creamy.

The lens is totally manual and there are no electronic contacts between it and the camera. This means that there is no EXIF data from the lens, no automatic diaphragm, but equally well it means that depth of field can be directly viewed on the camera screen as we are always at working aperture.

The quality of construction is high, although economies have been made in various ways. For example, the various markings on the lens are surface printed, not engraved and filled. There is no AF. There are no electronics. There is no automatic diaphragm. Everything is manual. Some may consider this to be a breath of fresh air, others may be less tolerant of the extra work that this will entail.

Samyang 50mm F1,2 Rear View

Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS Performance

The lens is very usable for many different types of photography, including portraiture, landscape and any usage where a short telephoto is suitable. The f/1.2 aperture is an added bonus in that it makes possible creative use that is not available with smaller apertures.

The lens starts off with a very high degree of sharpness centrally, with the edges not far behind. Performance is excellent from f/2.8 through to f/8, with the edges being impressively close to the central sharpness. This only starts to fall away at f/11 and f/16, with even the edges at f/16 maintaining a good level of sharpness. An impressively even lens, performing at a high level throughout.


 

 
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. 

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

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony Alpha A6000 using Imatest.

 

CA is actually controlled very well, and at the centre of the field is insignificant. The edges do show some modest fringing, for example in tree branches against sky, but this can be dealt with using software.


 

 
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 minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony Alpha A6000 using Imatest.

 

In a pictorial sense, the lens produces very attractive images, with creamy bokeh. Images are bright and contrasty, which also helps to give an impression of good sharpness.

There is a small amount of barrel distortion, -0.156%,  but nothing that would intrude in any normal shooting, including architecture.

Samyang 50mm f/1.2 Sample Photos

Value For Money

50mm f/1.2 lenses are traditionally expensive marque optics. The Canon 50mm f/1.2L lens is around £995. The Nikon 50mm f/1.2 AI lens is manual focus and costs around £699. These are of course only for Canon and Nikon fit, so the Samyang does offer a wider range of choices for formats up to APS-C. There are plenty of other 50mm f/1.2 manual focus lenses on the second-hand market, as most marques have offered these at some time or another. Prices may be similar to a new Samyang.

In reality, there is very little difference between f/1.2 and f/1.4 and the choice of f/1.4 lenses is very wide. Unless f/1.2 is considered necessary then the f/1.4 lenses could be worth thinking about. For more options have a look at to Top 10 Best Samyang Lenses of 2015.

Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS Verdict

Samyang are to be congratulated on a very interesting and relatively inexpensive lens. Sacrifices are made in terms of handling and convenience, but the results are there for the taking and with practice the success rate will definitely improve. An excellent lens for anyone who wants to work totally manually and is prepared to make the necessary effort. The reward will be some very fine images.

Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS Pros

f/1.2 aperture
Excellent construction quality
Creamy bokeh
Bright and contrasty images
Reasonable cost

Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS Cons

Slow handling as totally manual
Difficulty focusing at f/1.2

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Samyang 50mm f/1.2 is an excellent f/1.2 lens at a reasonable cost.

 

Samyang 50mm f/1.2 Specifications

ManufacturerSamyang
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
  • Sony E Mount
  • Fujifilm X Mount
  • Canon EOS M
Lens
Focal Length50mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/1.2
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size62mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus50cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements9
Groups7
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight385g
Height74.2mm

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Comments


AlexandraSD 6 706 United Kingdom
6 Nov 2015 7:06PM
Its only a matter of time before samyang release an autofocus lens surely? Or will they now go the supertelephoto route and give us a 400mm f6? Possibly the latter, the market is becomming saturated with fast manual prime lenses from third parties, and autofocus seems something not worth considering to these lens builders right now which does help keep costs down but...

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