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Samyang AF 35mm f/1.8 FE Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the AF 35mm f/1.8 FE full-frame, auto-focus lens from Samyang to the test which is designed to be used with Sony's full-frame and APS-C E-Mount mirrorless cameras.

|  Samyang AF 35mm f/1.8 FE in Interchangeable Lenses
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1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 115.0 mm | ISO 100

An obvious companion for the Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8 FE lens, the 35mm offers a similar design ethos and gels well as a pair of focal lengths. For many photographers, the 35mm/75mm pairing could be very appealing, perhaps particularly for street/reportage work. The trend away from huge bulky lenses is a refreshing change, avoiding getting too bogged down with weighty kit, and taking advantage of the potential for reducing the size of lenses for full-frame mirrorless cameras. This light, compact optic continues a new tradition of smaller, lighter lenses, so let's match it up with the 42MP Sony A7R III and see what it can do. 


Samyang AF 35mm f/1.8 FE Handling and Features

0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 68.0 mm | ISO 100

The lens is compact and it is certainly light at 210g without caps or hood, thanks to the judicious use of high-quality plastics. It sits well on the Sony A7R III, handling superbly and without fuss. As well it might, as there is very little on the lens to operate.

Starting our usual tour of the lens, there is provided a well-fitting petal lens hood that bayonets securely into place. There is no need for a locking catch as the hood is highly unlikely to work loose. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a conventional 58mm filter thread. The lens has the usual Samyang UMC coating, which is highly effective at preventing flare. We also have weather sealing, almost an essential feature, and Samyang put a standard to this by defining that the lens has resistance to dust, light rain and snow.

The control ring is electronic in operation and operates totally smoothly, with just the right amount of moderately firm resistance. Behind the ring is a switch that controls the function, marked Mode 1 and Mode 2. Mode 1 and it is a focusing ring, operating in the same way as all others on Sony cameras. That is, we have AF options plus MF and DMF (Direct Manual Focus) where manual teaks can be made whilst in AF mode, controlled via the camera menus. Mode 2 turns the ring into a clickless aperture ring and this could be of huge benefit to video shooters. The aperture operation is as whisper quiet as the AF. Minimum focusing distance is 0.29m, or 0.95 feet, giving a maximum magnification of 0.17x. The AF operation is definitely close to silent, using a highly accurate and fast Linear STM motor.


1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 115.0 mm | ISO 100


Optical construction is 10 elements in 8 groups. There are 2 Aspherical and 2 Hybrid Aspherical elements. Hybrid aspherical elements are resin aspherical surfaces bonded to glass elements. All this bodes well for performance. To aid in creating pleasing bokeh, there are 9 blades to the diaphragm, offering a circular aperture.

The package of the Sony body plus the 35mm lens could be considered very close to the ideal for street photography, although obviously there are many other applications. For the street, although currently opportunities are limited because of lockdowns, the lens and camera are unobtrusive and really don't get noticed at all. It is also very versatile as a general-purpose lens, often preferred to the 50mm as a standard optic.

1/5 sec | f/16.0 | 115.0 mm | ISO 100

Used on an APS-C body it becomes a "35mm equivalent" of 52.5mm or a standard lens if you will. However, as we can see from the image of the lens on the Sony A5100 body, it does seem to dwarf the camera.

It is also worth mentioning that the lens is clearly very well made, with smooth controls and fine finish. The attention to detail is there, even extending to the incredible zipped lens case that is provided. There is no shake reduction as this is provided via Sony's excellent Steady Shot sensor-shift technology.


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OGee 4
23 Sep 2020 5:47PM
Thanks for the informative review. This Samyang or a used Sony FE 1.8/35mm for a few quid more? Thoughts?!
25 Sep 2020 7:41PM
Thanks for the review, as always one of the first (if not the first) to be published.
How it compares to the Samyang f1.4? Do you think the f1.4 it's worth the extraq size and weight over the f1.8 (and 100 more where I live)?
25 Sep 2020 8:46PM
@OGee - I haven't reviewed the Sony lens so can't really comment on that.

@MarcM - The cost difference is for 1/3 stop and the weight and bulk increase needs to be offset against that. It really depends on whether the individual needs the extra speed and that justifies the extra cost and bulk. I know what I would do, but that's not really saying anything about what your own requirements are. These things are such a personal choice.
25 Sep 2020 10:38PM
Thanks for your reply.
Well, if the image quality is about the same overall (specially bokeh quality), then i would have no doubt, i would go for the f1.8. I don't care for the 1/3 of stop difference. Thing is I don't want to trade too much image quality to go lighter... On the other hand, I'm assuming the autofocus is better in the f1. 8, am I correct?

I recently bought the Samyang 35mm F1.4, and I'm reasonably happy with it, but I still can return it and buy the new f1.8 if it's the better option.
26 Sep 2020 12:34AM
@MarcM - I doubt that you will see much difference in image quality between the two lenses nor do I think there's much difference in AF between the two. They are both generally excellent. Hope that helps you decide!

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