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Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8 FE Review

John Riley reviews the new Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8 FE, a brand-new full-frame prime lens with autofocus for Sony E mount cameras.

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Samyang AF 75mm F1,8 Front Oblique View

Lenses have been getting steadily larger and heavier, particularly those for DSLRs. True, there are some compact alternatives, but the main trend has been towards increasing bulk. Compare today's lenses with those from the 1960s and it can be quite a dramatic difference. However, the large number of mirrorless system cameras on the market now removes one of the constraints on lens design, the SLR flipping mirror. Released from the need to design lenses that have a long back focus to accommodate this mirror, the opportunity is there to reduce the size of lenses considerably. This is not always particularly evident, but now Samyang have taken the lead from rangefinder lens designs and produced a compact, light and fast AF 75mm f/1.8 lens. 75mm lenses are somewhat unusual but have been a staple offering from Leica for many decades. So let's have a close look at the new Samyang lens and find out if this is the focal length we've been waiting for and, of course, how it performs.


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Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8 FE Handling and Features

Samyang AF 75mm F1,8 Sony A7R III Front View

Relatively compact, the lens sits well with the 42MP Sony Alpha A7R III camera body used for this review. It weighs in at a very reasonable 230g, measured without caps or hood. There is a deep petal lens hood provided and this bayonets into place securely, with no need for a locking catch. Within this bayonet is a standard 58mm filter thread.

The control ring is electronic in operation and is as smooth as we would expect. Just behind the ring is a mode switch that selects the function of the ring. Mode 1 makes it function as a focusing ring, but only when the camera is set on DMF (Direct Manual Focus, for MF tweaks whilst in AF) or M (Manual Focus). Mode 2 makes it an aperture ring and it is always useful to have this option for those who prefer the handling, or perhaps for videography. The aperture and indeed the STM AF motor are virtually silent in operation. Focusing is down to 0.69m, or 2.26 feet, a maximum magnification of 0.13x.

Other than that, there are no other controls on the lens. The bayonet mount is a good quality metal that bayonets firmly but smoothly into position with no residual play.

Samyang AF 75mm F1,8 With Hood On Sony A7R III

Optical construction is 10 elements in 9 groups, including 2 HR (High Refractive Index) and 3 ED (Extra Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 9 blades, promising improved bokeh. The lens uses Samyang's UMC coating, already well-proven across their lens range.

All of this stacks up pretty well, and the 75mm focal length is actually very easy to get along with. It works well for portraits as well as for a wide variety of short telephoto applications. Perhaps it would be a little long as a “long standard” lens, but then again it depends very much on the photographer's style and preferences.

If there's any handling negative then it has to be the lack of weather sealing. Perhaps we're becoming spoiled, but it is starting to be more remarkable to find a lens without weather-sealing than one with. Otherwise, it is a dream, an utterly smooth and efficient lens with no vices.

Samyang AF 75mm F1,8 Rear Oblique View

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