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Samyang MF 14mm f/2.8 MK2 Lens Review

John Riley reviews the new Samyang MF 14mm f/2.8 MK2 full-frame wide-angle lens for Canon, Nikon DSLRs, and Sony, Fujifilm, MFT and other mirrorless cameras.


|  Samyang MF 14mm f/2.8 MK2 in Interchangeable Lenses
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Samyang Mf 14mm F2,8 Mk2 Front Oblique View

All the recent Samyang lenses recently reviewed have been AF designs, but here we return to their roots with a Mk2 version of their manual focus 14mm f/2.8 optic. This is somewhat bulkier than the Mk1, but with more features and a new optical design. I was very impressed with the original lens, so much so that I actually bought one, so it will be very interesting to see if the new version motivates me to go for an upgrade. Let's take the Canon EOS 5DS R 50MP camera body and see if the new lens can give it a run for its money.

Samyang MF 14mm f/2.8 MK2 Handling and Features

Samyang Mf 14mm F2,8 Mk2 On Canon 5dsr

Although bulkier than the previous lens, this new one is still fairly reasonable, and certainly sits well on the Canon EOS 5DS R body. The Canon EF version weighs in at 649g, but alternative mounts are available such as the Nikon F (641g) Sony E (708g), Fuji X (694g), Canon M (695g) and MFT (692g). As can be seen, the lens is suitable for both full-frame and crop-frame formats.

Starting our usual tour of the lens, the large, curved front element is surrounded by a fixed petal lens hood. This affords some protection to the bulbous front element, but probably has little function as regards flare.

There is a new lock/unlock ring that allows the photographer to lock the position of the manual focusing ring firmly. This could well be an advantage if setting a fixed point to allow focus-free use in, say, reportage work or in street photography. There is a significant amount of depth of field with a 14mm lens and this opens up the possibility of using it with fixed focus. For example, at f/11 everything from 0.4m to infinity could be in focus.

The focusing ring is smooth and nicely damped. The diamond pattern on the rubberised ring gives a good grip and has a functional feel to it. The distance markings are clearly given in both feet and metres. There are plenty of markings, making the depth of field scale provided a viable prospect. There are DOF indications for f/5.6, f/8 and f/11, which will give a very good indication of the zone of focus that can be expected. For the most critical work, where big enlargements are needed, then setting, for example, f/11 on the lens and using f/8 as the DOF limits would ensure the maximum sharpness. Focusing is down to 0.28m or 0.92 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.08x.

The silver ring just behind this scale enables the aperture ring to be clicked or de-clicked, the latter being useful in videography where a silent aperture change is desirable. The aperture ring itself lies closest to the camera body and operates smoothly. On the Canon mount version, the click stops are at half stop intervals.

A small anomaly exists in the direction of travel of the controls. The focusing ring operates in the traditional Canon direction, but the aperture ring operates in the traditional Pentax/Nikon direction. This starts to matter when the manufacturer's own lenses are mixed with third party lenses, as the discrepancy causes a slight confusion and therefore slows down the photographic process. If this were to be the user's only MF lens, then it would not matter at all.

Samyang Mf 14mm F2,8 Mk2 Vertical View

Optical construction is 14 elements in 10 groups, including 3 HR (High Refractive Index), 1 Hybrid Aspherical, 1 Aspherical and 2 ED (Extra Low Dispersion) elements. The diaphragm has 9 blades, aiming to enhance the bokeh, the smoothness of the out of focus areas. The lens is also weather-sealed, a huge bonus.

In terms of handling the biggest bugbear is the focusing, which via the optical viewfinder is virtually impossible. The diaphragm is totally manual as there are no electronic contacts between lens and camera, so the aperture set is physically stopping the lens down and does not move. This also means that there is no EXIF data. Focusing even with a 14mm lens is still technically only on the plane focused on, although the area in front of that stays sharp enough for some distance. Hence a saving grace is the huge amount of depth of field. But for accurate focusing, then it's a tripod and magnification using Live View. This does work well, and using Live View for critical work means it is possible to obtain a very precise point of focus.
Samyang Mf 14mm F2,8 Mk2 Rear Oblique View
 


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