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Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Review

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Review - John Riley reviews the new Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE full-frame lens for Sony E mount cameras.

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Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Samyang Af 35mm F1,4 Fe Front Oblique View

For many years, Samyang have been building an impressive array of manual focus lenses. Reviews have been very positive, although often expressing the wish that the lenses were autofocus. Now we do have a range of Samyang AF lenses. Joining the existing 14mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.4, here is the new Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens for full frame Sony A7 and A9 cameras. Let's see if this new lens continues the high quality success story of the existing AF lens range.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Handling and Features

Samyang Af 35mm F1,4 Fe On Sony A7

The lens feels quite heavy at 645g, but reassuringly solid. It gives the appearance and feel of being extremely well made. There is actually very little by way of features to see, the lens presenting as a basically smooth metal barrel. Peering into the front element, the colours of the UMC multi coating and the rounded 9 bladed diaphragm are about the only things to observe. There is a generous bayonet petal lens hood that clips firmly into place. The filter thread is a reasonable 67mm, not too expensive to buy filters as it is a commonly used size.

There is a very wide and extremely smooth manual focusing ring that operates electronically. Focusing is down to 0.30m or 0.98 feet, a maximum magnification of 0.17x. The AF system is driven by a near silent ultrasonic motor. There is no distance scale and therefore no depth of field scale. Likewise, there is no aperture ring, as settings are all controlled by the camera.

The lens is also compatible with Sony's DMF – direct manual focus. Depending on the specific camera model, the lens supports AF-S (single shot), AF-A (auto selection), AF-C (continuous), DMF (Direct manual Focus) and MF focusing modes. Focusing using the Sony A7 supplied for this review is very fast and also very reliable. There is no tendency to hunt.

Samyang Af 35mm F1,4 Fe With Hood On Sony A7

Optical construction is 11 elements in 9 groups, two of which are glass moulded aspherical and two of high refractive index glass. The lens range as a whole has a three year guarantee.

The lens mount has the usual electronic contacts. There is a slight amount of rotational play when the lens is mounted on the Sony A7, but this does not seem to cause any particular problems. This has been noticed before on a few FE fit lenses, even Sony ones, but not on later camera bodies.

In terms of full frame cameras the 35mm lens is favoured by many photographers as a “wide standard”, particularly useful for street photography/reportage shooting. There are relatively few 35mm f/1.4 lenses, most being f/2.8 designs, so the Samyang just might hit the spot for quite a few photographers. Handling is absolutely fine, although as there are really no controls on the lens apart from the MF ring, its contribution is as minimalistic as its appearance. Suffice it to say that it does the job in a very unobtrusive and efficient way.  

Samyang Af 35mm F1,4 Fe Rear Oblique View

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Performance

It is very rare indeed to see such an even performance across the frame, and at such a high level of sharpness as well. The lens can be rated as excellent at all apertures, both centre and edge, which is remarkable. The variation within the band of figures is also very small, so it really does excel. This totally vindicates the statement in the instruction manual that tells us that “high resolution and high contrast images are produced from the centre of the lens as well as around the periphery”.  

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 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 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 using Imatest.


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very low centrally and still very well controlled at the edges. With little suggestion of fringing in the images, further correction may not be needed, but if it is then software will do the job.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 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 using Imatest.

 

Distortion is -1.86% barrelling, not excessive but potentially noticeable in architectural shots. Again, this is easily corrected if necessary.

Flare control is also very satisfactory, with few signs of internal reflections or loss of contrast, even with the sun in frame.

Bokeh, the quality of the out of focus areas, is helped by the circular bladed diaphragm and offers a smooth gradation from the plane of sharpness to a more diffused, out of focus background. With the fast, bright f/1.4 aperture the quality of the bokeh can of course be taken good advantage of. In fact, the bokeh of the lens is very impressive, especially considering the high resolution.


Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Sample Photos

 

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Aperture range

 

Value For Money

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens joins just one other optic in the Sony FE fit range, the 35mm f/1.4 Distagon T*. However, the Samyang is priced at £599.99 and the Distagon at £1369. If we can do without the AF, then Samyang also offer the 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC at £427.

DSLR users also have few options, but to put things in perspective there are the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM (£1799), the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (£599) and the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 G AF-S (£1649). 

All this makes the new Samyang lens very good value for money. For more options have a look at the Top 15 Best Sony E / FE Mount Lenses, or the Top 14 Best Standard prime lenses.

 

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Verdict

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens is a very attractive proposition for those seeking a fast 35mm lens. The quality is uniformly excellent and the price much lower than the marque alternatives. All in all, the lens is excellent value for money.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Pros

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Remarkably even coverage
  • Low CA
  • Not susceptible to flare
  • Well made
  • Well priced

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Cons

  • No distance scale
  • No depth of field scale
  • No weather sealing

Features4/5
Handling4.5/5
Performance5/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Specifications

ManufacturerSamyang
General
Lens Mounts
  • Sony E Mount
  • Sony FE Mount
Lens
Focal Length35mm
Angle of View45.2
Max Aperturef/1.4
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size67mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnification0.17x
Focusing
Min Focus30cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements11
Groups9
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight645g
Height115mm

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Comments


ChrisV Plus
12 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
23 Nov 2017 11:10AM
This looks like a real winner. The missing distance and DoF scales are niggling, but not that unusual - lack of weather sealing is a bit more of a problem. Given the fantastic build and optical excellence, these seem like strange compromises. Other than that it looks almost like the prefect lens and it begs the question if Samyang can produce it so cheaply [bearing in mind the AF design means it's suitable for Sony only] why do Sony's own lenses need to be so phenomenally expensive?

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4 Jan 2018 11:17AM
I have a question - after looking at the sharpness values I was struck by how uniform the graph was but was surprised how much lower the numbers were compared to the Samyang 50 1.4 you reviewed last year.

Looking more closely, I see you've moved from using the (much newer) 42MP A7Rii for last year's review, to using the much less demanding 24MP A7mk1. Is there a reason for this? I feel that this makes it hard to compare lenses between the same system, and makes it harder for me to draw conclusions from the graphs for these two lenses.

Thanks, and I so appreciate the work you guys put in, I don't mean to sound negative!

Matt
4 Jan 2018 12:19PM
Hi Matt

The only reason for the change was that this time around the only body available was the A7. That's why we still quote terms like "excellent" and so on when referring to the sharpness, so that some approximate equivalence can be judged, both from camera body to camera body used but also from old and new lens tests.

Hope that helps.

John

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