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Samyang AF 12mm f/2 E Review

John Riley reviews the new Samyang AF 12mm f/2 E lens for APS-C E-Mount cameras, an ultra-wide-angle lens, with Autofocus, and a bright f/2.0 aperture. Find out how it performs in our review.

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AF 12mm f/2 E

It is good to see that the new lens from Samyang, the AF 12mm f/2 E is proof that the crop sensor APS-C format is still firmly with us and attracting interesting new offerings. 12mm is a definite ultra-wide, having a “35mm equivalent” field of view similar to a full-frame 18mm lens. It is also fast, with a bright f/2 aperture. So with plenty going for it, let's take a close look, using the 24mp Sony A5100 APS-C camera body.


Samyang AF 12mm f/2 E Handling and Features

Samyang AF 12mm F2 On Sony A5100 Front View

The lens is small and light, weighing in at just 213g without caps or hood. It seems well made using high-quality plastics and has a solidly made metal lens mount of high precision. It fits onto the camera body smoothly. The lens is quite fat though compared to the A5100 body and this results in two handling quirks. The first is that the lens/camera does not sit flat on a flat surface and is not stable. It wobbles about, making use of say a tabletop as a lens support impractical. The second is that the lens can foul the tripod and really a spacer might be needed in some cases, or the camera may need to be mounted quite far forwards on the tripod platform. This shouldn't be an issue with larger APS-C cameras, such as the Sony A6000 series.

There is a provided petal lens hood and this clips nicely into place. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a standard 62mm filter thread. There is a broad control ring that adjusts manual focus, be it in DMF setting where the focus point can be manually tweaked in AF or in the MF setting. This is an electronic ring and as usual, is utterly smooth in operation. Focusing is down to 0.19m or 0.62 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.09x.

The lens is weather-sealed, protecting against moisture and raindrops, and a rear protective glass adds to the level of sealing. The Linear STM motor results in fast and virtually silent AF.
Samyang AF 12mm F2 With Hood On Sony A5100

Optical construction is 12 elements in 10 groups, including 1 Hybrid Aspherical, 1 aspherical and 3 ED (Extra Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 7 blades. Flare resistance is enhanced by the use of Samyang's well-proven UMC multi-layer coating techniques.

12mm in APS-C is definitely ultra-wide and merits some practice with composition to give proper impact to the foreground in particular. In general, getting close and then closer will give the required dramatic effects. Depth of field is less of a problem in the sense that the format ensures more DOF than full-frame for a given aperture. If out-of-focus backgrounds are required that is another matter, but with the f/2 aperture and quite close focusing, it can be achieved.

There is little for the lens itself to do to aid handling, no controls, no input as the camera controls everything. Herein probably lies the weakness as the small A5100 camera body can be quite fiddly to use and controls are easily moved accidentally. Bright daylight also kills the back screen image, so composition can be quite difficult as it is almost impossible to see what is there, however, this will not be a problem with A6000 series cameras. The lens is compatible with In-Body SteadyShot if your camera has it, although that is perhaps not so critical with the 12mm focal length.

Applications for a 12mm lens would include astrophotography, landscape, architecture, and interiors. Portraits are generally too distorted by the close viewpoint to endear the results to the sitters, but as always never say never as some creative portraiture may be highly effective.
Samyang AF 12mm F2 Rear Oblique View

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