Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE Review

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Introduction

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE is a moderate wide-angle prime lens for full-frame and APS-C Sony mirrorless cameras. The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE is comprised of 7 elements in 6 groups including 2 aspherical glass elements and 1 high refractive lens, and employs an iris diaphragm with seven rounded aperture blades. It’s the third Samyang lens to feature auto-focusing and has a minimum focusing distance of 35cm/1.14ft and a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.12x. The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens retails for £279 in the UK and $399 in the US, where it’s known as the Rokinon AF 35mm f/2.8 FE.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at just 85 grams and measuring 3.3cm in length, the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE is a very small lens given that it’s designed for a 35mm full-frame system. As seen in the photos below, it’s perfectly suited to the full-frame Sony A7R II camera that we tested it with.

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lensmounted on a Sony A7R II

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens alongside a Sony A7R II

Build quality is very good. The lens has a aluminum alloy 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/2.8 FE

Side of the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

Front of the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

Rear of the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens

Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set on the camera body. Full-time manual focus override is not available, and there’s no distance and/or depth of field scale either.

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

Side of the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

Side of the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE ships with a very nice protective case, but there’s no lens hood. It accepts 49mm filters.

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens in-hand

Focal Range

At the 35mm focal length the angle of view is 63.1 degrees.

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

35mm

Focusing

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE has a wide focus ring given the overall size of the lens. 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 49mm filter thread doesn’t rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE is a fairly quick performer, taking about 0.15 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 a pretty quiet focusing mechanism, too, which makes this lens well-suited to video recording.

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/2.8 FE Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE
Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE
Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/2.8, there is significant light fall-off in the corners. Stopping-down to f/8 virtually eliminates this.

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

Light fall-off at 35mm

Macro

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE isn’t claimed to be a macro lens, with a minimum focusing distance of 35cm/1.14ft and a magnification reproduction ratio of 0.12x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

Close-up performance

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/2.8 FE lens, Samyang employed an iris diaphragm with 7 rounded blades, which has resulted in quite 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/2.8 FE Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE
Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 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/2.8 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 very goodwhen shooting wide-open at f/2.8, and excellent from f/4 onwards, with f/22 being adversely affected by diffraction. The edges aren’t quite as sharp as the centre, with f/5.6-f/16 producing the sharpest results.

Aperture Centre Crop Edge Crop
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
f/8
f/11
f/16
f/22

Sample Images

The thumbnails below link to full-sized samples taken with the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens mounted to a Sony A7R II camera.

1/125s · f/2.8 · ISO 160 – 35mm (35mm)

1/125s · f/8 · ISO 100 – 35mm (35mm)

1/1600s · f/2.8 · ISO 100 – 35mm (35mm)

1/160s · f/4 · ISO 100 – 35mm (35mm)

1/125s · f/5.6 · ISO 200 – 35mm (35mm)

1/125s · f/11 · ISO 125 – 35mm (35mm)

1/1600s · f/2.8 · ISO 100 – 35mm (35mm)

1/1000s · f/2.8 · ISO 100 – 35mm (35mm)

Specifications

Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

Conclusion

The new Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE is a very affordable, high-quality wide-angle lens for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras.

In terms of image quality, sharpness is good when shooting wide-open at f/2.8, becoming even better from f/4 onwards, but the edges aren’t quite as sharp as the centre, with f/5.6-f/16 producing the sharpest results. There’s also lots of evidence of chromatic aberrations, plus vignetting at wide-open apertures, admittedly something that other wide-angle lenses also suffer from.

As with Samyang’s previous AF lenses, the build quality is again excellent, with the alloy metal lens mount and housing adding to the high-quality feel. Samyang have also included a very good lens case, but sadly there’s no lens hood. Auto-focusing proved to be quick and quiet on the A7R II that we tested the lens with, although we missed having manual focus over-ride at any time.

The price of the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE is undoubtedly very attractive given the fast f/2.8 aperture, great build quality and the quick and quiet auto-focusing.

The Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE does have a natural competitor in the form of the almost identical Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA lens, which was released along with the very first Sony Alpha E-mount camera back in 2013. The Samyang AF 35mm is significantly cheaper and slightly lighter, while the Sonnar T* FE 35mm additionally offers dust- and moisture-resistantance, includes a lens hood and doesn’t suffer so badly from chromatic aberrations. There really isn’t much else to choose between them, though, so unless you’re prepared to pay handsomely for the Zeiss name and a certain level of weather-proofing, we’d definitely recommend the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE instead.

(photographyblog.com, https://goo.gl/7mb4ej)

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