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Samyang Lenses

  • Author
    • JohnReid
      Post count: 183

      Hey everyone. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, mostly because I’ve been busy working – always a good thing.

      I’ve picked up 3 new Samyang lenses, the 35mm 1.4, the 14mm 2.8 and the 24mm TSE. I’m going to be testing them extensively during a 6 week shoot starting in July, but before then, I’ll be playing around with them and less important shoots.

      If you’ve ever thought of using Samyang lenses and you have any questions, fire away, I’ll get back to you based on my experiences over the next few weeks.

      By the way, I’m using Canon 5D Mark II/IIIs with a focus on architecture.

    • nicki_vallentgoed
      Post count: 6

      Ja, been wondering about those.
      Saw a review in April’s practical photography of the 85mm vs nikon/canon/Carl Zeiss(£1100 btw) and it scored the lowest.
      However I cannot see much difference in the shots compared to the other lenses and it is a good chunk cheaper.

    • Loyiso
      Post count: 38

      I am interested in your 14mm f/2.8 review → how the manual focus handles, bokeh, image quality, softness issues, vignetting, etc. I’m thinking of offloading the 17-40 lens for those odd ultra-wide moments.

    • Skyelark
      Post count: 215

      Very interested in the TSE lens performance, it’s quite a pricey lens though

    • JohnReid
      Post count: 183

      Thanks for the feedback guys – my delivery got held up in the post and will only be arriving today. Although I haven’t tested them, I have a few thoughts on your questions:

      Nicki – The 3 Samyang lenses I have ordered do not have autofocus or electronic connections to the camera, which means you set the aperture on the lens. For that reason, they are wonderful for wide angle work, but maybe the 85mm is not ideal. FWIW, I use the very cheap Canon 85 1.8 and its brilliant. I can’t think of any reason to shoot wider than 1.8.

      Loyiso, I’m expecting heavy vignetting and distortion (irrelevant for landscapes, but critical for architecture). I’m also expecting excellent sharpness from the center to the corners. As for Bokeh, I’m interested to see if any will show up at 14mm.

      Skyelark, this specific lens was the reason for me trying out Samyang. Its pricey, but a bargain compared to the Canon. I need a wide TS lens and the Canon version was too much. To put into perspective, all 3 lenses cost me less (R7000 less!) than the Canon 24 TS. The Canon 17 TS is even more pricey. I could have picked up a 2nd hand Canon 24 TS lens for the same price as the Samyang, but only version 1 of the lens which is a significant step down in quality from version 2.

    • JamGrey
      Post count: 8

      Just to let you guys know, I own the Rokinon 85mm 1.4, it is the Samyang but re branded. Let me say I love this lens, it is what lives on my camera. Before I got the lens, I went and read about the sharpness etc and the outcomes were mixed. Some praised it whilst others were disappointed. It is possible that it could be something equivalent to the sigma lotto, but I fortunately got a good copy. This lens delivers IQ so far beyond my expectations that I am left speechless and can only mutter the words “You don’t understand” to my girlfriend, she has actually come up with a new term to describe my reactions after reviewing the photos: “Photogasms”. This lens is so sharp that my eyes have started bleeding on countless occasions just from looking at the pictures, that is how sharp it is. Pictures are dry humor sharp even at 1.4 (granted you nail focus) and stopped down….., …… sorry…., ….photogasm… I am also not saying this because I don’t know any better, I have a 300 2.8 and 800 5.6. I am a wildlife nut and so my tendencies lie more towards the telephoto side of the mm spectrum. But I do have a 50mm 1.8g as I believe everyone should have a fast normal lens, but I was unhappy with the Bokeh of the lens. Bokeh on the 85 is so smooth that i find the image sliding off my laptop screen from lack of friction from roughness. I have the chipped version and so aperture is controlled from the camera. The focus ring of the lens is smooth but I still miss focus when shooting at 1.4 because of the tiny DOF.

      Build quality on a whole, is good, I feel it is superior and will last longer than my 50mm f1.8g. I bought mine second hand and my particular copy does suffer from a lazy aperture blade. From wide open to about f8, it is not noticeable, but past f8, the lazy blade is like you guys go ahead, I’m just gonna just chill here a bit, so it doesn’t close to the same point as the others. The result is that the aperture is not round, its kind of like a tear drop. The only drawback that I can think of for this lazy blade would be that out of focus light sources will take on an odd shape when stopped down. This doesn’t worry me because majority of my use of the lens is sub f5 to get the amazing bokeh, and blade is unaffected at these apertures. At wide open the out of focus highlights are perfect smooth circles of light.

      The lens does have some down sides:
      1. It has colour fringing when shooting wide open along lines of high contrast, at first i thought this is terrible and the sign of a terrible lens, but I noticed the fringing is worse with my 50mm 1.8g at 1.8. The fringing can be sorted out easy enough in Post.
      2. I find the focus throw is too small, it is extremely difficult to make minor adjustments to focus.
      3. The minimum focus distance is one meter, whenever I use the lens, i wish they could have made it focus a bit closer as I crop often in post to get the composition I wanted.
      4. Supplied front lens cap is terrible, immediately replace with a center pinch cap.

      As I mentioned earlier, I tend towards the telephoto side and to get another lens just for better bokeh was not justifiable for me. Then I saw this baby going for R2000 here on ODP, I thought what could I loose. I have not looked back and I LOVE this lens. I have not used any of the Nikon 85mm, but it is hard to think of how much better the IQ will be. In my eyes, you are paying for autofocus, but like I said, I have not used them, but with this lens, I never will.

      Sorry to have hi-jacked the thread, but seeing as this is dealing with multiple Samyang lenses, and this is not a well discussed lens, I thought I will throw my 2c at people.


    • Jared van Bergen
      Post count: 16

      I am also quite interested to read your thoughts on the 14mm f/2.8 lens. Been tossing up whether or not to go for one to take astrophotography shots…

      Jared van Bergen

    • Fanie
      Post count: 944


      Look at the performances of the Samyang lenses in the above DXO comparison on the D800 in the company of some big name lenses, remarkable.

    • JohnReid
      Post count: 183

      @James, thanks for your thoughts – at no point did I feel that the post was hijacked.

      , quite exceptional!

      I played around with all 3 lenses yesterday and I’m taking them out for a proper shoot this evening. From my tinkering yesterday this is what I discovered:

      • Build quality is top notch for the 14mm and the 35mm. All 3 are solid and heavy. The build quality for the 24TS is good too except that the tilt/shift knobs and corresponding locking knobs could have been a bit more solid.
      • DOF on the 35 at 1.4 is very shallow, making accurate focusing critical.
      • The aperture rings are on the lenses which takes a bit of getting used to.
      • There is a bit of a learning curve on all 3 lenses (manual focus, manual aperture), but especially the 24 TSE. I would say that using a tripod for the 24 TSE is essential.
      • I haven’t had a chance to study the images to comment on the quality, but my initial impressions are positive for all 3 lenses.
    • Jared van Bergen
      Post count: 16

      Good to know they are built properly John, was always a bit of a concern…

      Where did you purchase your lenses?


    • Daniel Van Wyk
      Post count: 169

      I wanted to get an ultra wide angle lens, maybe the Nikon 14-24mm or ?, but was on two minds about it. I don’t use UWA very often and therefore the Nikon was just too expensive. So bought the Samyang 14mm a few weeks ago and absolutely love it! It’s the UMC version (chipped to communicate with the camera body for focus confirmation) although it’s not very accurate. I don’t mind the fact that it is fully manual as it used for landscapes most of the time.

      Image quality is mind boggling – for the price. Suddenly moire shows up more often in images, and that on a wide angle, it captures really fine detail. Colour and contrast is very good. CA is quite low. Very good build quality, even got a 3 Year Authorized Dealer Warranty. Did a truck interior shoot 2 weeks ago and it delivered very impressive results. Great lens for astrophotography, quite sharp at f2.8:
      Other images:

      On the downside: Distance meter is way out (can fix it yourself via youtube tutorials ;)), ugly difficult moustache type distortion (there are lens profile corrections available via Google), some quality control issues on optical consistency (you’ll have to test your copy to see if it’s sharp throughout). I find corner to corner sharpness a bit of a hit and miss, but it is more on the extreme corners. Seems like it depends mostly on Aperture size, but subject distance have an influence as well. When you get it right though then corner sharpness is really good when compared in the UWA lens arena.

      It’s understandable when some photographers try and compare it with the Carl Zeiss Distagon 15mm and Nikon 14-24 when it comes to optical quality. I also want to try and post a review in 1-2 week’s time. Would be nice to see your findings on them John!

    • JohnReid
      Post count: 183

      Jared, I bought my copies through lenstip.com who seem to be the European distributors. I’m a saffa living in London.

      Jaco, thanks for the feedback and for posting your excellent pictures.

      I went out last night to test the 24 TSE. After reading this review, I was very concerned about the image quality. Happily, the image quality appeared to be significantly better than the review version. There were plenty of blurry images, but all were down to user error. Sharpness compares favourably to my 24-105 at 24. To get the most out of this lens, I went through the following process:
      1. Switched to live view and used the electronic leveller to perfectly level the camera (essential for making the most of shift benefits).
      2. Still in Live View, switched to P (gives a nice, bright preview) and composed, shifting the lens as necessary.
      3. Still in Live View and P, I focused at 10x magnification.
      4. Switched to M and shot a series at different exposures – not for HDR, but because the camera meter isn’t accurate with the lens.

      I shot for four hours and only shot 150 images, which is way less than I normally would have shot. You really have to slow down with this lens.

      – the aperture ring on the lens is right next to the focus ring, which meant that I accidentally turned the aperture ring at times.
      – with everything manual, this is ample opportunity for user error. For the first half of the shoot, I hadn’t locked down the tilt and it moved, meaning all my images were shot with a tilt.
      – I would say handheld use is impossible.
      – There is wide angle barrel distortion.

      – Once I figured out a workflow, I started taking images that would not have been possible without a TS lens – this was the major. Using the lens made me seek out architectural scenes.
      – 24mm was wide enough. I really wanted the Canon 17mm TS for the extra width. When I needed the extra width yesterday, I used the shift function to shoot images for panoramic use which were very easy to stitch. For the majority of the subjects, 24mm was perfect, 17mm would have been too wide.

      Overall, I think I’m going to be in love with this lens once I’ve gotten used to it. I played around with the images a little in Lightroom and they needed far less work. Lastly, this isn’t my review, just an initial report back on my first shoot. I’ve only had the chance to process one image which I did to test the panoramic stitching.

    • JohnReid
      Post count: 183

      I’ve worked through a few more images taken with the 24TSE and 14mm 2.8 – Please note, for the 14mm, I’ve used a profile that I downloaded for Lightroom to correct distortion. With both lenses, I’ve used Lightrooms auto lens correction tool. When I do the actual review, I’ll left the images uncorrected.

      I’ve used the 35mm 1.4 quite a bit this week too. I used it for a commercial shoot with children, so unfortunately, I can’t share the images. I was shocked at how paper thin the depth of field is at 1.4. As it is a wide angle lens, I wasn’t expecting it. It seems to be the perfect lens for environmental portraits and for video in dark rooms.

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