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Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE Lens Review - Performance

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Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE Performance

Sharpness is almost perfectly even across the frame, the edges vying with the centre for the highest figures. Centre and edge, sharpness is excellent from f/2.8 all the way through to f/16. Diffraction slightly reduces sharpness at f/22, but not by much and it is still very good. Again, that holds true from centre to edge. This is a very impressive result.


Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE MTF Charts

How to read our MTF 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 and sharpness 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 A7 III using Imatest. Want to know more about how we review lenses?

CA (Chromatic Aberration) is well controlled and not much of a problem, but it can be reduced further in software.


Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) 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 A7 III using Imatest.


Barrel distortion measures -1.99%, which is certainly visible, especially on architectural subjects or anywhere where we see straight lines near the edge of the frame. But of course this is normal for ultra-wide designs and it is better in this respect than most zooms. Corrections can be applied in software.

Bokeh is not really the raison d'etre of such wide lenses, but it is apparent that it is as smooth as could be expected. An 18mm may well be used more at smaller apertures, so everything could well be within the depth of field and in that case bokeh becomes less relevant.

If there is an Achilles heel then for this lens it is flare. In normal use, with front lit or side lit subjects then flare is not a problem, but with bright lights shining straight into the lens then contrast dives and a multitude of artefacts cascade right across the image.

Vignetting is present, as in all lenses, and for such a wide lens is actually well limited. At f/2.8 we have -2.3 stops of corner darkening, reducing to about -1.5 stops from f/4 through to f/22. This can produce pleasing darkening of the corners for landscape and other subjects, where traditionally prints would be darkened at the edges to concentrate our eyes on the centre of the field. This can be reduced in software if desired.

In summary, the lens produces lovely, crisp images and any limitations on that can be further reduced by using software solutions.


Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE Sample Photos


Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE Aperture range

You can view additional images in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

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Why do you still use a 24mp camera for testing? It's a focal range that many people will use for landscape photography and these people often own an A7R model. And as the lens is so small, many people will buy it for their aps-c bodies with their very demanding sensors.
Christopher Frost (on YT) tests all lenses on the A7R2 and the A5100, and I think that makes sense...

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18 Sep 2019 10:54PM
It depends upon the availability of camera bodies at the time of testing. We have used the A7R when possible, but unfortunately it isn't always possible. The ratings such as "excellent" or "very good" do take the different sensors into account, but I agree that the more MP the better and it would be nice if there was a standard body that could be used for all lenses. Of course a lens that is available for several makes of camera would only be reviewed using one of them, but still a lot of valuable information can be gleaned.
zechs New Member
19 Sep 2019 2:38AM
is this lens support in-camera correction for distortion?
19 Sep 2019 8:07AM
Corrections for JPEG capture can be switched on in camera, but for the purposes of testing all corrections are switched off. That is, as much as they can be, because sometimes even RAW files have in-camera corrections applied that cannot be switched off.
6bq5 6
21 Sep 2019 6:34AM
Is 3500 LW/PH the theoretical maximum that can be achieved with the 24 MP sensor in the A7 II?
21 Sep 2019 11:16AM
No, the y-axis of the graph is set at 3500 purely because the values exceed 3000 and the graph works in steps of 500, so it needs to show up to 3500 to prevent the column projecting beyond the graph.
6bq5 6
23 Sep 2019 4:39PM
Thanks for the reply, John! Is there a known theoretical maximum for a given sensor? It would be nice to know how close the lens comes to 100% of what the sensor is capable of resolving.
23 Sep 2019 5:20PM
Yes, but which sensor? Every camera will have a slightly different result, even when we strip out all the in-camera adjustments that are accessible to us. Apart from experimental error, which we always try to minimise, there are variations in sensor from camera to camera so there is no uniform measurement. That doesn't mean to say the figures don't have value, but they need to be analysed carefully and there's more to it that just a percentage. We can still tell that this is a lovely lens that delivers the goods.
13 Oct 2019 11:17AM
Bring this out in Z mount please Samyang!

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