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Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 FE II Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 FE II lens through its paces, paired with the Sony A7R III.

|  Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 FE II in Interchangeable Lenses
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If there should happen to be just one lens to be chosen, the 50mm prime lens would be very high on the list of obvious choices. It has a field of view that offers a very similar view of the world to the human eye, it can be fast and bright, it will no doubt be of the highest quality and it will stand all sorts of abuses with add on filters, close-up lenses and extenders. Samyang here offers the Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 FE II, an updated and improved version of an already very popular and well-regarded optic. Used for this review with the full-frame 42MP Sony A7R III body, it could equally well be coupled up with the crop sensor APS-C cameras, for a "35mm equivalent" field of view of 75mm. A standard lens on full-frame, a short telephoto on a crop sensor. This lens is a fast f/1.4 as well, so has a lot going for it. Let's see how that translates in practice and how the lens performs technically as well.


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Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 FE II Handling and Features

As 50mm lenses go, this one is squat, chunky and certainly much larger than older designs once were. However, it balances well on the A7R III and weighs in at a not unreasonable 420g. There is a provided petal lens hood and this bayonets neatly and positively into position. There is no need for a locking catch as once seated all is very secure. Within the bayonet, fit is a standard 72mm filter thread.

The wide focusing ring offers an excellent grip and is as smooth as any electronic ring should be. It is dual function, depending upon the setting chosen on the custom switch that lies just behind it.

Set to Mode 1 it acts as a focusing ring. All the usual Sony focusing settings are supported, be it DMF (Direct Manual Focus), MF or AF. Focusing is down to 0.4m, or 1.31 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.16x. Traditional 50mm lenses would focus down to around 0.45m, so there is a minor advantage with the new Samyang. Set to Mode 2 it acts as a silent aperture ring, a very nice touch for videographers in particular. There is also a focus hold button. AF is quiet and locks on quickly and reliably. It is driven by a Linear STM motor.

Optical construction is 11 elements in 8 groups, including 2 Aspherical, 3 HR (High Refractive Index) and 1 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 9 rounded blades. The lens is also weather-sealed, always a welcome feature, and the front element has a Fluorine coating to repel dust, dirt and moisture.

There is so little to distract from the pure photography that the lens really is an extension of the photographer's eye. Just having the one focal length we have to rely on our feet to do the zooming and it can be quite refreshing to go back to basics. It could be interesting to see if we shoot close to 50mm quite a bit of the time with a zoom lens.

Let's move on to see how the lens performs in the technical tests.


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6 May 2022 11:21AM
Hi there

Thank you for this review. What does "Closure focusing would be useful" mean?

It can't be a typo for 'closer focusing' since you praise the 0.40m minimum focusing distance: "Traditional 50mm lenses would focus down to around 0.45m, so there is a minor advantage with the new Samyang."
6 May 2022 11:27AM
The specifications on page 4 (filter size 67mm - maximum magnification 0.15x - min focus 45cm - 9 elements in 8 groups - 585g) are those of version I, not version II (filter size 72mm - maximum magnification 0.16x - min focus 40cm - 11 elements in 8 groups - 420g).
6 May 2022 11:39AM
Thanks for those Mistral75, we'll get that sorted ASAP. I did mean closer focusing, because although it does marginally focus closer than the traditional 0.45m it's a very small difference. Zoom lenses tend to trounce primes for close focusing and just a little more would have been nice. However, not a major point and certainly not a deal breaker.

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