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Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the new Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC prime lens, with a bright f/1.4 aperture, the lens is available for full-frame and APS-C cameras.

| Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Lens Review: Samyang 50mm F1 4 Lens (1)

This manual focus standard lens, offers a fast f/1.4 maximum aperture for a price of around £379, which is a little surprising, as Samyang lenses are traditionally pitched in at the budget end of the market.

This lens is available to fit many different types of cameras, including Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and Four Thirds SLRs as well as Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras. In this review we'll take a look at how it performs, and whether this lens is worth the extra money this lens costs over some manufacturer's standard 50mm f/1.4 lenses.

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Handling and Features

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Lens Review: Samyang 50mm F1 4 Lens (13)

Build quality is very good. 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 bit of weight to it, but isn't overly heavy at 575g, so it balances perfectly on the Canon EOS 5D MkII used for testing.

The manual focusing ring is a pleasure to use, with damping that is smooth and neither too stiff, or too light. Those who shoot video on a DSLR and tend to use manual focus anyway, may find this lens ideal due to its excellent manual focusing action and ability to isolate a subject through shallow depth of field. Closest focus is 45cm, 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.

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Lens Review: Samyang 50mm F1 4 Lens (3)

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. A lightweight plastic hood is provided with the lens, which fits snugly on the bayonet fitting around the filter ring on the lens.

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Lens Review: Samyang 50mm F1 4 Lens (10)

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Performance

At f/1.4, sharpness in the centre of the frame is good, although typically for a lens of this type, performance towards the edges of the frame at maximum aperture is only fair. Stopping down improves sharpness dramatically across the frame, with sharpness approaching excellent levels in the centre by f/2 and excellent clarity being achieved across the frame by f/4.

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Lens Review: Samyang50mm 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 II using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are kept under control, remaining under half 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.

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Lens Review: Samyang50mm 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 Canon EOS 5D Mark II using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is quite strong, as is typical of fast standard lenses. The corners are 2.52 stops darker than the image centre at f/1.4 and visually uniform illumination isn't achieved until the aperture is stopped down to f/4 or beyond.

Imatest detected 2.29% barrel distortion, which is a fairly typical for a wide aperture standard lens like this, but may still become visible in images with straight lines close to the edges. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so should be relatively straightforward to correct in image editing software afterwards.

The multi coatings applied to this lens seem quite effective, suppressing flare and keeping contrast levels reasonable. Strong point sources of light shining into the lens will cause a loss of contrast and plenty of ghosting, but only in extreme examples of this kind of lighting. This lens tends to give a noticeable warm tone to images, and contrast is muted, when compared to other modern lenses, which sometimes produces a look associated with vintage manual focus lenses.

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Sample Photos

Value For Money

With a price of £379 (£419 in Nikon AE fit), this lens seems quite pricey for a basic lens that does not have electronic coupling to the camera. For example, Canon's standard EF 50mm f/1.4 lens can be picked up for around £270, and Nikon's AF-S 50mm f/1.4G lens is priced at around £280.

However, Sigma's 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM A lens is more expensive, being priced at around £640, so this Samyang lens isn't the most expensive third party option, at least.

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Verdict

There is no doubting that this is a good lens, capable of producing images with outstanding sharpness. However, for a basic lens, that offers no electronic coupling with the camera, to be more expensive than the equivalents on offer from the manufacturer doesn't make a lot of sense. It may be that those who prefer the handling of  a proper manual focus lens may gravitate to this as an alternative, but even then, there's nothing to stop them focusing manually with the manufacturers offering.

It may be the case that the price will drop in time, as the lens becomes more available. If that's not the case, then this lens may represent poor value for money for those who are simply after a lens to take great quality images. As a specialised lens for enthusiasts of manual focusing, the case for this lens is slightly stronger.

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Pros

Decent sharpness, especially when stopped down
Smooth manual focus action
Good build
Low CA

Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Cons

Performance from this lens is on a par with manufacturers own lenses, but nothing special
Pronounced falloff at f/1.4
Seems like poor value for money at current price
Lower contrast than other modern lenses



Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Nikon F
  • Canon EF
  • Sony Alpha
  • Sony A
  • Pentax K
  • Sony E Mount
  • Sony FE Mount
Focal Length50mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/1.4
Min ApertureNo Data
Filter SizeNo Data
StabilisedNo Data
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min FocusNo Data
ElementsNo Data
GroupsNo Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
WeightNo Data
HeightNo Data

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dannyr Avatar
dannyr 14 49 United Kingdom
16 Oct 2014 9:07AM
Too expensive! Samyang make good lenses but without autofocus not too sure it's worth this cost.
Chris_L Avatar
Chris_L 9 5.5k United Kingdom
17 Oct 2014 1:44PM
Probably aimed at DSLR video guys who are more likely to focus manually with follow focus etc
pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 451
31 Oct 2014 11:42PM
Hm... would there be an adapter so it fits onto Samsung NV or NX mirrorless cameras?
TronixSage Avatar
28 Dec 2014 3:30AM
The initial pricing for this lens is definitely too high.

However, I can't complain because a major online retailer (the one that started as an online bookstore) just had the cine version of this lens for under $200 USD (Sony a-mount version). I don't mind a slightly uncomfortable geared focus ring while taking stills.
shaolin95 Avatar
13 Aug 2015 4:43PM
I have been thinking about the Rokinon as an upgrade to my current FD 50mm 1.4
While this FD is the sharpest 50mm I have gotten at 1.4 after many tests, its still is a bit too glowy for my test when I want to do a 1.4 environmental portrait.
The choices are a LOT though.
First I thought about the FD 50mm 1.2L as well, the L lenses have that allure to them and I love FD lenses for the most part (all but one lens I own are FD lenses).
Still the 1.2L seems pretty glowy as well and CA plus bad corners.

Then we got something like the Mitakon 50mm .95 which has that crazy aperture which could be fun and I am assuming at 1.2, 1.4 it should be pretty sharp hopefully.

Then we also have something like the Sony FE 55mm 1.8 which is a lot more money but people claim is as sharp as it gets for lenses....but somehow paying so much for such a slow 50mm (slow in the 50mm world that is), just seems wrong to me unless it is REALLY that good.

Hope you have some experience with all those so you can comment about it. Smile

The main issue I have with the Rokinon is that there are some awesome reviews that show it comparing and beating lenses like the FD 50mm 1.2L and similars and then the are some like this one that basically consider it to be good/average but nothing special.
Please comment Smile

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