Testing Samyang 14mm f:2.8 - a cheap UWA lens
Some quick tests on the cheap Ultra Wide Angle lens from Samyang. 14mm f:2.8
Samyang 14mm f:2.8 ED AS IF UMC
What can I really say about this lens, that has not been told before in many other sites?! I hope many things!
As an old customer of **Samyang lenses**, let me say that this **14mm f:2.8 **comes in the usual horrible box, typical of Samyang style. To be honest, the external feeling is a bit nicer, with a better look and feel of the graphical part; the inner side, on the other hand, is ugly as usual.
But as soon as you take the lens in your hands, you will immediately forget this aesthetic goodies! The first feeling is sturdiness, no big writings, and very professional look. Precise focus ring, correctly tough. Nice!
Even if the new Samyang 14mm has no AE acronym on it (AE is to indicate that te lens has the microchip used to transfer to the camera all the EXIF data), the communication between the lens and my Nikon D610 is perfect: all you have to do is to choose "22" on the aperture ring (marked in red), and the camera will be able to transfer all the right information. Even more: on my old 85mm the aperture is read as "F0", "F1", "F2", but in Samyang 14mm f:2.8 the aperture is correctly displayed!
Speaking about the focusing system (remember, is a full manual focus lens!) you must use the green dot/arrows inside the ocular; alternatively, you can use the Live View mode to focus (by the way, this is my preferred way to achieve a perfectly sharp focus, whenever I have time to do it).
The lens cover.... well, it is quite a huge one: the lens hood is a fixed one, so the cover must be attached on top of it. Few weeks ago, I read about Nikon 14-24mm lens cover, and how it was easy to loose it. In Samyang case, it seems not to be a problem, but we will have to check it in the field..
I decided to test the usual things: sharpness, distortion, flare resistance, and overall quality.
I already spoked about the overall quality: taking into consideration build quality and price... it is very difficult to ask for something more. Oh, yes... maybe we could ask for a better soft pouch: the one that you can find in the box is really ugly! eheh..
Ok..it is a 14mm... it means an Ultra Wide Angle! You really cannot buy it, expecting a no distortion lens! Said that... I heard many different things about Samyang 14mm: someone even speaks about it as a non easy lens, that must be deep known before using it with success. In my humble opinion, this is not true: Samyang 14mm ED AS IF UMC has a strong distortion, but not dramatic at all. It's not a problem for my photographic genre (I'm mostly a landscape photographer): its distortion is not a big issue, and can be corrected in post production, with no big problems. Of course, for all architectural photography lovers, it is completely a different matter: this kind of distortion could be unacceptable.
At the end, I can say just one simple thing: Samyang 14mm behaves exactly as it is supposed to do, like a linear ultra wide angle.
The "lens flaring" behavior is quite an important aspect to consider. Mainly I shoot with filters on, so flares are always possible, and every time I have to think about them in advance. Anyway, there are moments in which you really wan to shoot backlight, for example just towards the sun.
Usually lens flaring is much more present in variable focal length lenses... for this reason, our Samyang 14mm should not be too heavily impacted. But we have to try.
I'm not a pro tester, so I will limit myself to report my own experience; take a look at the picture below: t was taken in backlight conditions, with the sun exactly in front of me; it is possibile to see a little flare in the lower right corner. It is not so evident, but definitely present.
I can say that it's quite acceptable, but it is something you will have to deal with, in difficult light conditions.
Well, there is not much more to say about Samyang 14mm sharpness: this lens is a true jewel, able to shoot sharp and clean images, above the expectation. It expresses a very good optical quality, especially when you think about its very low cost.
I'm not a technician nor a pro photographer, so I cannot use too complex approaches to evaluate the lens. I have no other lenses with equal focal lenght, nor optical systems to be used for MTF calculation. So, I decided to do my comparison based on the perceived quality, compared to the one from Nikon 16-35mm f:4. You know: that Nikon lens is definitely marvellous, nearly as sharp as the well-known 14-24mm, and perfectly built.
Samyang 14mm f:2.8 is a prime lens totally manual, very interesting and appealing from many point of view.
|great built quality||not able to use a standard filter holder|
|great luminosity||very very low packaging quality|
The main fault of this lens, at least fot the photo genre that I love, is that it's impossible to use a standard filter holder; Samyang has recently announced a square filter holder, specifically designed for this lens: SFH-14 (here the link). Obviously I didn't have the chance to try (or even see) it, but from what can be read on the web, there's a problem: from the tech specs, seems not possibile to use standard 150mm (6') filters, but only dedicated Cokin filters, just a little bit smaller. So, no way to use your already onwed, very expensive filters...you would have to buy new ones!
Another thing to remind if you want to buy Samyang 14mm lens is the distorsion: it depends on the kind of photography you are into... It can be managed for landscapes, but is can become a nightmare for architectural photography.
Said that, this great Samyang 14mm f:2.8 is a must-have lens for every landscape photographer! As sharp as many very expensive lenses (i.e., Nikon 16-35mm is more or less 900€ more expensive... ok, yes, it is not a prime.. ok), and with an outstanding color rendering and a good flare resistance. And, believe me, it could leave you breathless in night photography.
My personal suggestion? Buy it!