Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Review

Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Review - John Riley reviews the new full-frame Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 FE for Sony E-mount cameras.

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Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Samyang 14mm F2,8 Front Oblique View

Samyang have long been recognised as a manufacturer of inexpensive, high quality and interesting lenses. The only caveat is that they were all manual focus, not a problem for some but nonetheless the first AF lens, the Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 FE, was warmly welcomed and reviewed very favourably. Now we have the second AF lens, the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 FE, and the opportunity to review it using the same camera body as the last time, the Sony Alpha A7R II. This looks to be a fascinating prospect so let's get under way and see what the new lens can do.

Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Handling and Features

Samyang 14mm F2,8 On Sony A7r II

Firstly, the new lens is a rectilinear design, not a fish-eye. That is, straight lines remain as straight lines, making such lenses suitable for architectural subjects.

Designed with the Sony CSC range firmly in mind, the design allows for the short back focus of the E mount. This means the rear element of the lens can be placed much closer to the sensor plane than would be possible with a DSLR, where allowance has to be made for the space taken up by the mirror box. There is no such constraint here, although the sensor design will still mean that the lens should be as telecentric as possible and avoid delivering light rays that are too oblique at the edges. Such are the problems with ultra-wide lens design and Samyang tackle this with a complex internally-focusing design of 14 elements in 10 groups. Three of these elements are aspheric. The lens weighs a noticeable 500g, which adds to the feeling that it is solidly made. However, it is relatively compact and easy to use for prolonged periods.

Starting at the front of the lens there is a substantially made permanently attached petal lens hood. This not only shields the lens against unwanted light but also offers a degree of protection to the large, fairly vulnerable front element. There is no possibility of fitting screw-in filters as the angle of view is so wide that vignetting would result. In any event, for this reason there is no filter thread.

The diaphragm consists of just 7 rounded blades, rather less than is becoming the norm where bokeh is a major consideration, but in terms of an ultra-wide lens arguably satisfactory.

Samyang 14mm F2,8 Top View

Focusing is virtually silent and goes down to a usefully close 0.20m (0.66'), giving a maximum magnification of 0.12x. There is a manual focus ring on the lens, operating electronically, and it is well placed, having also a beautifully smooth action. Some may find manual focus easier than others, but the extreme depth of field of a 14mm lens does not, I suspect, make it an option for many photographers. Fortunately the AF system is spot on, being fast, accurate and silent.

The instruction leaflet warns that the SteadyShot system should be set to manual for this lens and the 14mm value entered accordingly. In any event, camera shake is much less of a problem with ultra-wide lenses than with telephotos, but it will still no doubt make a useful contribution.

General handling of the lens is absolutely fine. There is very little to get in the way of the photography. The viewfinder image is bright and clear, there are no issues whatsoever. The manufacturing quality is also excellent, from the general finish to the positive metal mount than bayonets smoothly and firmly onto the camera. There is no play in the mount once fitted.

This is of course a full frame lens, marked FE to signify this, but the lens can also be used on the APS-C E mount cameras, in which case the “35mm equivalent” will be around 21mm, in itself a very useful, classic focal length. In full frame terms a 14mm lens is very, very wide and to gain the most benefit from its perspective we need to move in close, and then closer. There is huge potential for a very distinctive view of the world, as well as the architectural applications.

Samyang 14mm F2,8 Rear Oblique View
 

Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Performance

The lens returns an excellent set of figures, showing a very high level of sharpness. Images look crisp.

Centrally, sharpness is already very good at f/2.8 and f/4 and reaches an excellent level from f/5.6 through to f/16. It remains very good even at f/22.

The edges are very good from f/2.8 to f/8, excellent at f/11 and f/16 and very good at f/22. This is especially pleasing for an ultra-wide lens, resulting in a very even crispness from centre to edge.


 

 
MTF Chart
MTF Chart
 

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 and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony Alpha A7R II using Imatest.

 

CA (Chromatic Aberration) is highly corrected and the results are impressive, especially for such a wide lens. In most images there is no intrusive CA even at the edges. It can be seen, but is creditably well corrected. If required, any residual CA can of course be removed in software.


 

 
CA Chart
CA Chart
 

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 A7R II using Imatest.

 

The quality of design and the lens coatings result in a very clean image even against the light. Flare does not intrude and has little effect either in terms of loss of contrast or the creation of image artefacts.

Barrel distortion, measuring at -3.66%, is very obvious. This is really to be expected and we have become used to seeing such distortion in very wide images. Pincushion distortion would not be visually tolerated in the same way. In many situations, even some architecture, the barrel distortion could perhaps be left in, but if needed then it can be easily removed in software.

Bokeh, the smoothness and quality of the out of focus areas, is probably less dramatic than with a telephoto lens, but is very satisfactory. Gradation is pleasant and the lens avoids any sign of a ragged transition from sharp to out of focus. For many applications an ultra-wide lens will be used at small apertures and here the depth of field is such that bokeh becomes a secondary issue. The lens does focus close enough that at wider apertures we can see some very attractive bokeh, which offers many creative possibilities.

Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Sample Photos

Value For Money

The Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 FE lens carries a price tag of £599. This compares to the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC manual focus lens, which comes in at £299. However, the AF lens is a very different proposition and the benefits of AF are very considerable.

There are no real competitor lenses as such, the alternatives around this focal length being fish-eye lenses and/or APS-C format. If we look at how full frame DSLR marques fare, then Pentax have nothing in their range, Canon have the EF 14mm f/2.8 L II USM (£1599) and Nikon have the 14mm f/2.8 D AF ED (£1389).

Clearly this makes the new Samyang AF lens look very good value for money by comparison. For more options have a look at the Top 10 Best Samyang Lenses, or Top 15 Wide-angle Lenses.

 

Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Verdict

14mm is an exciting and powerful focal length for both a wide range of creative photography and for architectural record shots. Given the high quality of the results from Samyang's second AF lens and the relatively modest price it makes the Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC a very attractive proposition.

 

Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Pros

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Low CA
  • Resistant to flare
  • Fast, silent and accurate AF
  • High quality manufacture
  • Fair pricing

Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Cons

  • Obvious barrel distortion

Features4/5
Handling5/5
Performance4.5/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Specifications

ManufacturerSamyang
General
Lens Mounts
  • Sony FE Mount
Lens
Focal Length14mm
Angle of View113.9
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter SizeNo Data
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnification0.12x
Focusing
Min Focus20cm
Construction
Blades7
Elements14
Groups10
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight505g
Height97.5mm

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Comments


12 Sep 2016 12:02PM
Given the high MTF graphs, I'm unpleasantly surprised by the softness of your samples in the edges/corners, even at f/8 for distant subjects...

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I agree with Ayoul.
Looking at the "high resolution" version of the photo of the full house in garden, considering it is at f8 ! :
Looks really like a very bad performer to me. Not crisp in the middle, and rapidly unsharp to smeared towards corners. Chromatic aberration is much present about everywhere.
Needs to be compared with shots made with the same camera, same conditions etc with other lenses
(why not the Samyang's own previous 14mm, the 12mm f2.8 that I like, Zeiss 15mm, Canon 11-24mm @14)
only then we will be settled to know what we get - I hope it turns out to be much better then what this particular photo that looks real bad to me.

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