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Samyang Lens Simulator Review

Samyang has released a new lens simulator that is designed to provide a virtual experience of Samyang lenses from the comfort of your own home and John Riley has been putting it to the test to find out how easy it is to use and, more importantly, how useful it is.

| Samyang Online Lens Simulator in Interchangeable Lenses
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Samyang Lens Simulator Review: Samyang Lens Simulator Screenshot Revised 8

The newcomer to photography can easily be totally bewildered by the mass of technical terms thrown at them. Some of it is downright confusing and contradictory, such as having a 35mm lens on an APS-C camera that has a "35mm equivalent" of 50mm on 35mm format full-frame... it could sound like jibberish to someone trying to make sense of it all for the first time.

So anything that can help ease the beginner into more sensible lens choices has to be a good thing, and Samyang has created a simple online tool that aims to do just that. The Samyang Lens Simulator allows us to dial in the focal length, format and focusing distances for both generic and specifically for any available Samyang lenses. We can, in theory, see the effects of focal length and depth of field and perhaps this can guide us into more sensible lens choices beyond the first "kit zoom" that we are likely to have bought with the camera body.

Traditional advice would be to learn the use of that first lens thoroughly and then become aware of what we were wanting to achieve. This learning process would reveal its limitations. So, if we constantly were seeking to shoot interiors and wide landscapes, that would indicate that the next lens should be a wide-angle. If we wanted to shoot wildlife and sports then we would need a telephoto. But of course, the question would still hang there as to how wide a wide-angle and how long a telephoto, so perhaps Samyang's new online tool can help to make the advice a little more specific?

Let's have a close look and see how it fulfils its objective.


Samyang Lens Simulator Features

Samyang Lens Simulator Review: Samyang Lens Simulator Screenshot Revised 1 |
Screenshot 1

Screen 1 shows the opening screen of the simulator. We can enter Background 1, 2 or 3 depending on taste. We can also select full-frame, APS-C or MFT format. The other choices are focal length, aperture and distance. Finally, the search function will bring up any appropriate Samyang lenses and clicking those will reveal more information about that lens.


Samyang Lens Simulator Review: Samyang Lens Simulator Screenshot Revised 2 |
Screenshot 2

The first anomaly we see is regarding the distance setting. Screen 2 shows the distance being changed from 5m to 10m and sure enough the depth of field indication changes accordingly. However, our model shrinks alarmingly whilst the background remains a static backdrop. Perspective is a function of our distance from the subject and therefore the background should change as our position changes. The simulator doesn't do this, but then again perhaps that is expecting too much sophistication from a simple idea.


Samyang Lens Simulator Review: Samyang Lens Simulator Screenshot Revised 3 |
Screenshot 3

Changing to a crop sensor camera setting and also changing the focal length to an appropriate standard lens for the format, 35mm in this case, we find as on Screen 3, that we get more depth of field at the original 5m distance, which is what we would expect. That seems to work out and continues to do so when set for MFT format as in Screen 4.


Samyang Lens Simulator Review: Samyang Lens Simulator Screenshot Revised 4

Screenshot 4


Samyang Lens Simulator Review: Samyang Lens Simulator Screenshot Revised 5 |

Screenshot 5

Going back to a 50mm lens on full-frame, Screen 5 shows Background 2 which is just strange. Changing the parameters to a 20mm lens, Screen 6, reveals the full stature of an apparently miniature model and this is probably unhelpful as an aid to lens choice.


Samyang Lens Simulator Review: Samyang Lens Simulator Screenshot Revised 6

Screenshot 6

Selecting, for example, full-frame 50mm lenses, the search function brings up four choices as shown in Screen 7. Selecting any of the lenses then brings more information and scrolling down reveals full technical specs plus MTF graphs. A neat idea indeed.


Samyang Lens Simulator Review: Samyang Lens Simulator Screenshot Revised 7 |

Screenshot 7

Samyang Lens Simulator Verdict

This is absolutely a brilliant idea, no doubt about that, and in a simplistic sense, it could be very useful to show the different magnifications of different lenses or to give an idea of the field of view. The problem arises placing the model over the backgrounds and this probably confuses more than helps. It is a laudable objective to try and show various parameters of lenses in a simple simulator, but the result here is not always quite right.

If anything, perhaps this should have another layer of sophistication as some of the resultant images show some very strange relationships between model and background.

In our lens reviews, we show various aspects of how a lens behaves, for example showing sequences that illustrate the bokeh at all apertures. This also shows the depth of field effects. The real-life images are of course exactly that, so we don't end up with tiny models seemingly dwarfed by huge grasses.


Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8 FE Aperture range


The reviews also make sure to include images that are appropriate to the lens being tested. For example, a macro lens would need close up shots and a portrait lens would explore people photography.


Samyang Lens Simulator Review: Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Portrait

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Portrait


However, Samyang's Lens Simulator, whatever its imperfections may be, does have a place and kudos are due to Samyang for creating a tool that with perhaps further development could be a powerful assistance to novice lens buyers.

We're told that Samyang are already working on V2 of the Lens Simulator, so we hope to see further improvements.

You can try the Samyang Lens Simulator out for yourself over on the Samyang website. There's also a tutorial on how to use it available on YouTube by John Sison.

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