- Excellent sharpness centre and edge
- Virtually no distortion
- Highly corrected for CA
- Compact and light
- Fast and accurate AF
- Quality manufacture
- Classic, useful focal length
- No distance or DOF scales
- Some flare with strong backlighting
There was a time when the only negative point about Samyang’s excellent lens range was that all were manual focus. No longer is this so. Already we have the very fine 50mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4, 35mm f/2.8 and 14mm f/2.8 AF lenses for full frame Sony FE mount. There is even an AF 14mm f/2.8 EF in Canon mount. Now the new Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE for Sony full frame mirrorless cameras has arrived, the widest offering yet. This is a truly classic focal length, so let’s see how it performs using the new Sony A7 III 24MP mirrorless body.
Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE Handling and Features
Our tour of this diminutive (just 93g without hood or caps) pancake lens is likely to be very short indeed. There is very little of it, although it fits in well with the A7 III body to make a very compact and light package. The bayonet lens hood is of necessity very shallow, and unlikely to make much of a difference to many shots. Nonetheless, it will help in taking any knocks and any lens hood is better than no lens hood for suppressing flare. Otherwise, we rely on Samyang’s UMC coating. The hood can be reversed for storage, but there is little point as it hardly takes up any significant room even in the active position. Within the bayonet for the hood we find a standard 49mm filter thread.
There is a very smooth electronic manual focus ring and this can be used in MF mode or in the DMF mode where MF can be used to actively over-ride AF. These functions are activated in the camera menus. Focusing is down to 0.24m, or 0.79 feet, a maximum magnification of 0.13x. Apart from the lens name engraved on the barrel, that is it. Small primes such as this could still benefit the user by having a distance and depth of field scale, enabling easy setting of hyperfocal distance, but sadly no room has been found to provide these. The upside is likely to be a more compact and more sophisticated optical construction is possible, along of course with AF.
Optical construction is 7 elements in 7 groups, quite conventional on the face of it, but in fact this lens has the hidden secret of 3 Aspheric and 2 HR (High refractive index) elements, making it rather more sophisticated. This is clearly reflected in the performance, as we shall see.
In use, the lens handles beautifully and totally reliably, snapping into focus without delay and with no sign of indecision. It feels very good indeed when used with the A7 III. It is especially suited to street photography, landscape and architectural shots. Groups can be effectively shot, but single portraits need a little care to avoid exaggerating the features. Some classic lenses have also had snapshot settings indicated, enabling a fixed focus approach to say street photography, but that is not possible here without the appropriate scales on the lens for distance and depth of field. There are plenty of compensations for this and of course plenty of alternative techniques to employ.
Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE Performance
Sharpness is crisp and precise and it is no surprise to see that centrally it rates as excellent from f/2.8 all the way through to f/16. Diffraction results in a slight drop at f/22, but even here it is still very good.
The edges are a close match, being excellent from f/2.8 to f/11 and still very good at f/16 and f/22. Even using the full frame image sharpness is really even across the frame and every aperture is totally usable.
Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE MTF Charts
How to read our MTF 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. For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony A7 III using Imatest.
CA (Chromatic Aberration) is virtually absent at the centre and still very well controlled at the edges. Even under the most arduous conditions CA will not be a problem.
Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE Chromatic Aberration Charts
How to read our CA charts Chromatic aberration (CA) 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. For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony A7 III using Imatest.
Distortion is remarkably low for an ultra-wide lens. It measures at +0.04% Pincushion, going against the expectation that ultra-wides tend to suffer from barrelling. However, at this low level of measurement to all intents and purposes this is a rectilinear design and straight lines will remain as straight lines, even at the extreme edges of an image.
The very shallow lens hood has been mentioned already and as expected it is possible for flare to catch out the lens. This presents itself as a haze and lowering of contrast.
Bokeh is not really a major expectation for an ultra-wide lens, but in fact f/2.8 is enough to make some selective focusing possible. The lens has pleasing out of focus areas and delivers smooth bokeh effects.
Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE Sample Photos
Arley Glasshouse | 1/50 sec | f/22.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Portrait 1 | 1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 200
Alium | 1/320 sec | f/8.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Glasshouse CA Test | 1/125 sec | f/16.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE Aperture range
Bokeh At F2.8 | 1/2500 sec | f/2.8 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Bokeh At F8 | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Bokeh At F22 | 1/60 sec | f/22.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Value For Money
*** Note : £1 = $1.34 (correct at time of post)
The Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE lens is priced at £279.99, a very fair and equitable amount to ask.
Looking at other full frame 24mm lenses, firstly for the Sony FE mirrorless cameras, there is not much else on the market. The Samyang MF 24mm f/1.4 ED AS IF UMC costs £529, sacrificing AF but gaining in speed. The Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 is a rather higher price, at £979.
Canon users have the EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM at £519 and Nikon users the AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.8 G ED at £629.
The new Samyang lens clearly finds itself in a fairly empty niche at a very fair price, making it excellent value for money.
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We seem to have gone full circle and classic prime lenses, once the only choice, are seemingly being rediscovered and once again becoming highly sought after. Compact, high quality and reasonable priced it is not difficult to see why. The optical designs have in some cases benefited from modern technologies and glasses and they can comfortably surpass the performance of their predecessors.
This is where we find the Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 lens – superb performance, compact size, excellent price and a compelling focal length to use. There’s nothing to dislike, everything to like and an obvious Editor’s Choice.