Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Review

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Introduction

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE is a new moderate wide-angle prime lens for full-frame Sony Alpha cameras. The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE is comprised of 11 elements in 9 groups including two aspherical elements and two high refractive index elements and features a rounded 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image. It’s the latest in a growing range of Samyang lenses to feature auto-focusing, incorporating a stepping motor for smooth and accurate autofocusing, and there’s a UMC Super multi-layer coating to reduce flare and ghosting. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 30cm/0.98ft and a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.17x The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens retails for £599.99 in the UK and $799 in the USA, where it’s known as the Rokinon AF 35mm f/1.4 FE.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 645 grams and measuring 11.5cm in length, the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE is a big lens given its focal length. It’s similar in stature to the Sony Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA lens. As seen in the photos below, it rather dwarves the full-frame Sony A7R II camera, especially with the lens hood attached.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lensmounted on a Sony A7R II

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens alongside a Sony A7R II

Build quality is excellent. The lens has a metal housing and a metal mount too. The optical elements are made of high-grade glass and aspherical lenses have been included to minimise aberration and unnecessary light dispersion. The focus ring is pleasingly wide and ridged for easier grip.

 Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Side of the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Front of the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Rear of the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens

Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set on the camera body. Full-time manual focus override is also available, but there’s no distance and/or depth of field scale.

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens has a wide focus ring. There are no hard stops at the ends of the range, making it more difficult to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 67mm filter thread doesn’t rotate on focus.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Side of the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Side of the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE is a fairly quick performer, taking about 0.25 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Sony A7R II that we tested it with.

We didn’t experience too much “hunting”, either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It has quite a noisy focusing mechanism, though, which makes this lens less well-suited to video recording.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens in-hand

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens with the supplied hood fitted

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE ships with a soft drawstring bag and a large plastic petal-shaped lens hood. It accepts 67mm filters.

Focal Range

At the 35mm focal length the angle of view is 65.5 degrees.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, were quite prevalent in our test shots, as shown in the examples below.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/1.4, there is significant light fall-off in the corners. Stopping-down to f/5.6 virtually eliminates this.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Macro

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE isn’t claimed to be a macro lens, with a minimum focusing distance of 30cm/0.98ft and a magnification reproduction ratio of 0.17x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens, Samyang employed an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we’ve included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Sharpness at 35mm

For this test, the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens was attached to a Sony A7R II body, which in turn was mounted on a sturdy tripod. Exposure delay mode was activated. Tonal and colour variances across the crops are due to changes in natural light during the session.

The full frame at 70mm

The full frame at 35mm

Centre sharpness is acceptable when shooting wide-open at f/1.4, very good at f/2, and outstanding from f/2.8 onwards. The edges aren’t quite as sharp as the centre, with f/4-f/11 producing the sharpest results.

Aperture Centre Crop Edge Crop
f/1.4 f1_4.jpg f1_4.jpg
f/2 f2.jpg f2.jpg
f/2.8 f2_8.jpg f2_8.jpg
f/4 f4.jpg f4.jpg
f/5.6 f5_6.jpg f5_6.jpg
f/8 f8.jpg f8.jpg
f/11 f11.jpg f11.jpg
f/16 f16.jpg f16.jpg

Specifications

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Conclusion

The new Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE is a very fast and relatively affordable classic 35mm lens for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras that’s a viable alternative to the much more expensive Sony Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA optic.

Sharpness is acceptable when shooting wide-open at f/1.4, very good at f/2 and outstanding from f/2.8 onwards, although the edges aren’t quite as sharp as the centre, with f/4-f/11 producing the sharpest results. As with the Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 lens that we’ve tested previously, there is lots of evidence of chromatic aberrations plus vignetting at wide-open apertures, admittedly something that other fast lenses also suffer from.

The build quality is excellent, with the metal lens mount and housing adding to the high-quality feel, and Samyang have also included a very good petal-shaped lens hood. Auto-focusing was acceptably quick on the A7R II that we tested the lens with, although the AF mechanism is pretty noisy, so it’s not great for video use.

The asking price of the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE is certainly very competitive given the cost of its main rival, especially when you consider that the Samyang’s image quality is not that far behind the Sony. If you don’t need the f/1.4 maximum aperture, then the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE and Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA are much more compact options.

(photographyblog.com, https://goo.gl/MHYF73)

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