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Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE Lens Review

Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE Review - John Riley reviews this new FE-mount lens for full-frame and APS-C Sony E-Mount mirrorless cameras.

|  Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE in Interchangeable Lenses
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Samyang AF 18mm F2,8 Front Oblique View

Samyang have a fine reputation for producing reasonably priced, excellent lenses, initially manual focus only, but for some time now with a rapidly expanding AF range. This new 18mm f/2.8 ultra-wide is a welcome addition to the range, offering a very useful focal length for Sony FE full frame mirrorless cameras. It can also be used on the APS-C format cameras, where the “35mm equivalent” field of view would be around 27mm. Here we review it using the full frame 24MP Sony Alpha A7 III. Let's see how it performs and handles and if it makes a good companion to the rest of Samyang's AF range.


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Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE Handling and Features

Samyang AF 18mm F2,8 Without Hood On Sony A7III

The lens is light and compact, weighing in at a svelte 145g without caps. Construction is of high quality, using appropriate plastics that reduce the weight.

There is a provided petal lens hood that bayonets securely into place and shows no sign of being likely to dislodge accidentally. The bayonet fit surrounds a standard 58mm filter thread. The front element is relatively small, not like the traditional ultra-wides that needed huge domed glass front elements. Coatings are Samyang's UMC multi-coating.

The only control on the lens is the manual focus ring. It is electronic and therefore ultra-smooth and its function is controlled via the camera menus. Sony offers various choices regarding focus – AF-S, AF-C and AF-A are the AF options and are single shooting, continuous shooting and automatic selection between the two. The MF options are DMF and MF. DMF is Direct Manual Focus and enables manual tweaks after AF has been performed. MF is of course just manual focusing. The focusing range is down to 0.25m, or 0.82 feet, which is a maximum magnification of 0.09x.

AF is driven by a linear STM motor and is precise and fast. It is also virtually silent.

Samyang AF 18mm F2,8 With Hood On Sony A7III

Optical construction is 9 elements in 8 groups, including 3 Aspherical, 2 HR (High Refractive Index) and 3 ED (Extra Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 7 blades. It is interesting that the rear element is concave rather than convex, not unheard of, but unusual. In the performance section we will see if this enhances the edge performance.

Handling is just spot on, there is nothing to the lens to cause any grief and it operates slickly and sweetly in every respect. 18mm is actually quite wide, so the biggest danger would be in not getting in close enough to subjects; to fill the foreground. Ultra-wides are lenses that cry out for dramatic compositions, as well of course enabling sweeping interior shots. For most subjects we need to get in close, and then closer still.

Samyang AF 18mm F2,8 Rear Oblique View

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18 Sep 2019 3:25PM
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...
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 3
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 9
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 9
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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