- Excellent sharpness
- Very low CA
- Flare free
- Good handling
- Well made
- Smooth bokeh
- Manual focus only
- No weather resistance
Samyang are well established as a manufacturer of well made, reasonably priced lenses. The new 14mm f/2.4 and 85mm f/1.2 lenses are a new venture, forming the start of a Premium Lens range where the objective is to produce the highest quality optics. Let’s look first at the 14mm f/2.4, put it through its paces and see how it lives up to the intent.
Handling and Features
Ultra wide lenses are easily spotted, with their huge front elements and domed glass. In this instance the petal lens hood is fixed and offers substantial protection to that vulnerable front element. There is no possibility of fitting filters. The large plastic lens cap clips on precisely and is unlikely to accidentally fall off. The bulbous appearance of the front of the lens is rather unusual, but the smooth contours are an attractive design. The lens is full frame, covering the 35mm-format. It is manual focus only, but it does have electronic contacts to control the aperture via the camera. The diaphragm has 9 blades, giving a rounder aperture to improve bokeh. The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV used in this review reported the f/2.4 maximum aperture as f/2.5, which seems to be a limitation of the information exchange between camera and lens. It is of no real detriment.
The focusing ring is wide and comfortable, being made of a rubberised material. The grip it affords is excellent, but this also means that dust and debris can easily attach themselves. This is not easy to remove. There are clear markings in feet and metres, but no depth of field scale. The latter is a pity as manually focusing ultra wide lenses can be tricky at best and some indication of the depth of field available would be useful. Focusing is down to 0.28m, a maximum magnification of 0.08x.
The metal mount is well made and bayonets firmly and smoothly into place. Available mounts are Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony E. The lens weighs in at 791g, but as it is well balanced on the camera body it does not seem to be overly heavy in use.
Optical construction is 18 elements in 14 groups, a highly complex formulation. There are 2 aspherical,1 hybrid aspherical, two ED (extra low dispersion) and 1 high refractive index elements.
All of this optical complexity would be for nought if we could not focus accurately and that may be a problem for some users. There is so much depth of field that judging the point of focus can be very tricky indeed. One solution is to use a small magnifier on the live view display. Another is to set the hyperfocal distance and not focus any further after that. It is essential that the dioptre adjustment on the camera eyepiece is correctly adjusted, but once it is then manual focusing is difficult but possible with care. For subjects that move it may be more appropriate to set an approximate distance and rely on depth of field to cover any small errors.
The view of the world that a 14mm lens offers is expansive and full of potential for wide, sweeping vistas. If used close up, then steep perspective adds a surreal look to our view. Being rectilinear, as opposed to a fish-eye, there is the opportunity to shoot wide interiors as well as exterior architecture. The Samyang 14mm f/2.4 handles very well for all these subjects and more.
Central sharpness is rather impressive, being excellent from f/2.4 through to f/11. Results are still very good at f/16 and f/22, so that smallest aperture is worth having for the extra depth of field it offers. The edges are excellent from f/2.4 to f/11, very good at f/16 and good at f/22. This is a performance worthy of a premium lens.
How to read our charts
The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.
The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.
Chromatic aberration is beautifully controlled, approaching close to zero at the centre and almost as well at the edges. There should be little need for more CA reduction in software.
How to read our charts
Chromatic aberration is the lens’ inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.
Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.
Flare resistance is excellent, even in the most extreme conditions. There is no tendency to lose contrast and in most circumstances the lens can be described as flare free.
Barrel distortion measures at -3.77%, certainly visible where straight lines are at the edge of the composition. This can be reduced in software as needed, although some barrel distortion can be very acceptable in ultra wide images.
Bokeh is the quality of the out of focus areas in an image. This tends to be more noticeable in telephoto lenses, but here it is still of some benefit as the bokeh effect is smooth and pleasant.
Architectural Distortion | 1/30 sec | f/11.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
CA Test | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Autumn Colours And CA Test | 1/125 sec | f/8.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Derelict Corner | 1/40 sec | f/8.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Stormlight | 1/500 sec | f/8.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Bokeh At F2,4 | 1/500 sec | f/2.5 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Bokeh At F4 | 1/160 sec | f/4.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Bokeh At F5,6 | 1/80 sec | f/5.6 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Bokeh At F8 | 1/40 sec | f/8.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Bokeh At F11 | 1/20 sec | f/11.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Bokeh At F16 | 1/10 sec | f/16.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Bokeh At F22 | 1/5 sec | f/22.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 400
Value For Money
The Samyang 14mm f/2.4 lens is priced at £899/$1348. It is similar in design and handling to the Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone lens, priced at £568/$852. The less expensive Irex Firefly version, with the same Irix optics, is £428/$642.
This compares with the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC at £299/$448. Zeiss also offer the Milvus 15mm f/2.8 at £1999/$2998.
Canon users have the EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM (£1999/$2998) and Nikon users have the Nikon 14mm f/2.8D AF ED(£1389/$2083).
Considering its quality, the Samyang 14mm f/2.4 looks the part and delivers the performance
|Angle of View||114.12°|
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The Samyang 14mm f/2.4 lens proves itself to be a high class performer and also a very exciting lens to use. Manual focusing lends itself to use on a tripod with critical focusing, and when this is done the sharpness of the results can be stunning.
The alternative technique of setting a reasonably small aperture, say f/8, and using depth of field to ensure sharpness throughout, can be very liberating and also yields excellent results. Whatever the technique chosen, this is a versatile lens delivering high class results.