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Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE Review

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE Review - John Riley reviews this new Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens for Sony E mount cameras.

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Samyang AF 35mm F2.8 FE in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Samyang 35mm F2,8 Vertical View

Samyang has an enviable range of manual focus lenses at reasonable prices and has been expanding this into the world of autofocus. The AF 14mm f/2.8 FE and AF 50mm f/1.4 FE lenses are joined here by the new AF 35mm f/2.8 FE optic, again designed for use on the Sony full frame mirrorless and crop frame mirrorless cameras. Reviewed here using the new Sony A9 full-frame body, we can see how this classic and versatile focal length performs.

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE Handling and Features

Samyang 35mm F2,8 On Sony A9

We start our tour of the lens at the unusual bayonet fit lens hood. This is a very compact hood that fits around the 49mm filter thread and is basically also a lens cap. However, in common with a couple of similar designs from other marques, the centre of the “hood” is a small 40.5mm miniature lens cap. This is a better design than the screw thread versions seen elsewhere, in that the cap has clip fastening, which is much faster to use. Although the effective hood seems quite shallow, in practice it works very well in shielding the lens.

The only other feature on the lens is the manual focus ring, which is very much of a similar size to many classic 35mm lenses. It is electronic in operation and works smoothly. The AF of the lens is so good though that the need for manual focus is probably much reduced. AF locks on reliably and is fast and very quiet. Focusing is down to 0.35m (1.15 feet), giving a maximum magnification of 0.12x. This is around the norm for a lens of this specification.

Samyang 35mm F2,8 On Sony A9 Top View

The overall finish of the lens is excellent. It also balances very well on the Sony A9 body, making a fairly compact full frame camera, perfect for street photography and general travel. Weight is a very modest 85g.

Optical construction is 7 elements in 6 groups. There are 2 Aspheric and 1 High Refractive Index elements, plus UMC (Ultra Multi-Coating). The 7 diaphragm blades are rounded for improved bokeh.

In use, this proves to be a beautiful lens. The image is crisp and the handling so straightforward that it is refreshing to have such a simple design, without any of the “bells and whistles” that some lenses have. There is nothing to get in the way of the photography, something that may well please many involved in street photography and photojournalism.

Samyang 35mm F2,8 Rear Oblique View

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE Performance

Sharpness is of a high order. At the centre, the lens is excellent from open aperture all the way through to f/16. It is still very good at f/22, which makes the inclusion of this small aperture useful. The edges start off fairly sharp at f/2.8, becoming very good at f/4 and then excellent from f/5.6 to f/16. F/22 is again very good. The sharpness is also very even across the frame from f/5.6 onwards.

Samyang AF 35mm F2.8 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 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 A9 using Imatest.


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is well controlled, some being visible but nothing too excessive. If necessary, further correction can be made using software.

Samyang AF 35mm F2.8 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 minimise the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony Alpha A9 using Imatest.

 

There is a small amount of barrel distortion, which measures at -0.45%. This probably needs no further correction for most subject matter, but again, if needed, software can be used to reduce it further.

Flare is very well suppressed and is not evident in images shot against the light, even in quite challenging conditions. That this is achieved with such a minimalistic lens hood is very impressive.

Bokeh is the quality of the out of focus areas in an image and the lens delivers a very smooth and pleasant result. The balance between sharpness and smoothness of bokeh has been very well judged.


Samyang AF 35mm F2.8 FE Sample Photos

 

Samyang AF 35mm F2.8 FE Aperture range

 

Value For Money

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens is priced at £279.99. Also on offer from Samyang is a full frame manual focus optic, the 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC costs £427.

The Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 (£979, MF), Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* (£1244) and Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon T* (£1244) are also available.

For more options have a look at the Top 15 Best Samyang Lenses, and Top 15 Best Sony E / FE Mount Lenses

 

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE Verdict

Some lenses are a real pleasure to use, and the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE falls into this category. The technical quality is excellent, the AF is fast and accurate and the results look punchy with superb colour rendition.

In terms of value, it's hard to argue with such a modestly priced lens when it performs so well. Weather resistance would be nice, as would full-time manual focus in AF mode, but apart from that the lens pretty much hits the spot. It is certainly an excellent match for the Sony mirrorless range for which it has been designed.

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE Pros

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Low CA
  • Low flare
  • Fast and accurate AF
  • Compact and light
  • Pleasant bokeh
  • Well priced

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE Cons

  • No full-time manual focus in AF mode
  • No weather resistance

Features4/5
Handling5/5
Performance4.5/5
Value5/5
Overall Verdict

 

Samyang AF 35mm F2.8 FE Specifications

ManufacturerSamyang
General
Lens Mounts
  • Sony E Mount
  • Sony FE Mount
Lens
Focal Length35mm
Angle of View63.1
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size49mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalent35mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnification0.12x
Focusing
Min Focus35cm
Construction
Blades7
Elements7
Groups6
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight85g
Height33mm

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