Samyang Optics recently announced a new lens in their line up of Auto focus lenses for Sony mirrorless cameras, the new lens is the AF 35mm f1.4 FE lens, a fast f1.4 aperture lens for Sony full frame and aps-c cameras. This takes their Auto focus lens lineup to four lenses, fantastic for Sony users looking for an alternative to Sony’s own lenses.
I have had the pre-production model for quite a while now and have been using this lens in a variety of different situations, the following review is based on my hands on experience when using this lens with the Sony a6500, Sony’s flagship aps-c camera.
From the Samyang Optics website.
“This new AF 35mm F1.4 FE works in harmony with full frame mirrorless cameras in Sony E mount such as Sony α7 or α9 series. It is designed to appeal to enthusiasts and professionals who are ready to take the next step up in photography. It is the excellent companion to create artworks from everyday moments”.
High Performance beyond Expectation
Absolute resolution across the entire image field is the key feature of Samyang AF 35mm F1.4 FE. The lens includes 11 elements in 9 groups and features 2 aspherical lenses and 2 high-refractive lenses, plus Ultra Multi Coating. The optical design minimises various aberrations and unnecessary light dispersion to deliver outstanding resolution. Fast, precise and quiet autofocus performance meets Samyang’s exceptional optical technology to capture any moments clearly. The bright F1.4 secures fast shutter speed and creates shallow depth of focus images in wide-standard angle of view. The new 35mm F1.4 lens is ideal for professional photography including low-light events, landscapes and portraits with expressive characteristics.
My first thought’s.
On opening the plain white box sent to me from Samyang (don’t worry you will get your lens in proper retail packaging) I immediately Identified the lens as a Samyang AF FE lens. Samyang has created a certain look/style to their AF FE lens line up, that look has now become unmistakable to Sony camera users. It’s modern, clean and looks great. It was also apparent the lens is well built in the same fashion as the Samyang AF 14mm f2.8 FE and Samyang AF 50mm f1.4 FE, great work Samyang! I’m really hoping that if Samyang decide to make Auto focus lenses for other cameras they stick with this look or similar, I like it.
Versatile Focal length
In my last review of the Samyang AF 35mm f2.8 FE (review here) I mentioned how I felt the 35mm focal length is pretty versatile, I can see people buying this lens for a lot of different reasons and uses, environmental portraits, travel, street and a general walk around lens.
Personally while testing the AF 35mm f1.4 FE for this review I used the lens on a family trip to the zoo one week, a seven hour mountain bike ride through the Victorian High Country the next, I used it as a general walk around lens, I used it for Astrophotography (Full Astro review to come soon ), I shot portraits to test eye AF, I used it to shoot product shots for other reviews, yep it’s versatile, light and reasonably small.
Popular little guys at the Melbourne Zoo
No I didn’t go diving. I shot this through the glass at the Melbourne Zoo in very low light, f1.4, 1/320’s, iso1600
Selfie in a mirror at McMichaels hut, in the Victorian High Country, access at this time of the year is by foot or mountain bike.
You are not at the top of the Mountain until you are really at the top.
That is snow in the background, yes I had to ride through it, it was cold and wet. The saddle bag on the back of the bike, behind the seat, is where I carried the Sony a6500 and Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE lens it was a good place to carry the camera for this trip as I could just open the bag and grab the camera out to take shots when I wanted to.
The fast f1.4 aperture makes it very easy to isolate your subject even in the busiest scenes. Left over spray cans from graffiti artists.
An old SAAB I came across while walking around town.
Milkyway core, pretty good coma performance.
This shot is actually a “product” shot for a couple of gear reviews, Bike Bag Dude the company that makes the bags attached to my frame and a review of the big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent that is packed on the handlebars, (review here).
The Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 handled Enduro Mountain biking fine.
Another Mountain bike shot.
As you can see from the images this lens can be used for so many different subjects and different uses, I find it is a more versatile option than the Samyang AF 50mm f1.4 FE when mounted on the a6500.
As a walk around lens the AF 35mm f1.4 FE allows you to fit more in your scene, show more of the surrounding environment, it allows you to shoot hand held in really low light and you can really isolate a subject with it’s f1.4 aperture.
What I particularly like is it’s size, its not as small and lightweight as the AF 35mm f2.8 FE but for such a fast lens that can really isolate a subject or shoot in very low light it’s a nice option when mounted on the Sony a6500, a similar dslr combo would not really be an option on a seven hour mountain bike ride or longer as I like to do.
I found the image quality to be great, there was some flaring when pointing at light sources, in most cases it didn’t cause a problem and it was predictable, I didn’t run into and major issues with fringing or anything else. The lens was very sharp as we have come to expect from Samyang lenses.
Some 100% crops,
About the following images. I mounted the a6500 and Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 on a solid tripod, my Benro Travel Angel (review here) a few meters away from the wall, I levelled the camera, auto focussed on the centre of the image then switched to manual focus. I then took images at different apertures adjusting exposure to suit, I only tested to f8 as this is generally where most lenses perform best and most would be buying an f1.4 for its wide aperture performance.. In Photoshop I created 100% crops by zooming in on each part of the image and cropping, the images have been unaltered and simply converted to jpeg. This isn’t lab testing but should give a realistic idea of lens performance.
Full image at f1.4
100% crop from the centre of the image at f1.4
Top left corner 100% crop at f1.4
Top right corner 100% crop at f1.4
Bottom left corner 100% crop at f1.4
Bottom right corner 100% crop at f1.4
Full image at f2.8
Centre of frame 100% crop at f2.8
Top left corner 100% crop at f2.8
Top Right corner 100% crop at f2.8
Bottom left corner 100% crop at f2.8
Bottom Right corner 100% crop at f2.8
Full image at f4
Centre of image 100% crop
Top left corner 100% crop at f4
Top right corner 100% crop at f4
Bottom left corner 100% crop at f4
Bottom right corner 100% crop at f4
Full image at f5.6
Centre 100% crop at f5.6
Top left corner 100% crop at f5.6
Bottom right corner 100% crop at f5.6
Bottom left corner 100% crop at f5.6
Bottom right corner 100% crop at f5.6
Full image at f8
Centre of frame 100% crop
Top left corner 100% crop at f8
Top right corner 100% crop at f8
Bottom left corner 100% crop at f8
Bottom right corner 100% crop at f8
So what can we see here?
At f1.4 the main image looks nice and sharp, if we look at the f1.4 crops we can see that the lens is showing a little less detail than at the other apertures, it looks to be pretty uniform across the lens.
At f2.8 the main image looks sharper with more detail, the centre crop looks very sharp with a little bit of a drop off in sharpness in the corners.
At F4 the main image looks very sharp with great detail, the centre and corner crops are also showing lots of detail.
At f5.6 the main image is super sharp and showing excellent detail the crops are no different the lens is performing fantastic.
At f8 the lens is better again, it’s really showing a lot of detail in the main image and the crops.
This is typical of most lenses with such fast apertures, it’s widest aperture being a little less sharp that other apertures. Having said that I’m pixel peeping these un-edited crops very hard on a big screen, I feel this lens is performing very well wide open at f1.4. The detail it is showing is great, as we stop down the aperture it just gets better, by f5.6 it’s pretty amazing the detail of the 100% crops. All in all I think these images show the lens is performing very well.
Here are a couple of “real life” images and crops
I couldn’t do a lens review without some examples of it’s Astrophotography capabilities, I will be writing another full Astro specific review of this lens so will not be too in depth here.
So how does the Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 perform when shooting stars? Well it’s f1.4 aperture allows you to pull a lot of light making it possible to shoot milky way images straight off a tripod without star trailing, stack multiple images and you can get more detail again. At f1.4 the lens also performs well with little coma, an important trait for an astro photography lens. In testing I also found the focal length quite good for shooting multi shot panoramics of the milkyway, I will share these in the Astro review but here’s some un edited shots to show coma performance.
Unedited, 35mm, f1.4, 6sec, iso3200. Looking excellent at f1.4.
100% crop from the centre of the frame. A little bit of star trailing no coma
100% crop bottom left of frame. Very small amount of coma.
Samyang are on a roll with new lenses for the Sony mirrorless system, the AF 14mm f2.8 FE, AF 50mm f1.4 FE and AF 35mm f2.8 FE lenses are all great lens options for Sony users at their price points and I think the AF 35mm f1.4 is no exception. It is a fantastic performer on the a6500 image quality wise and it’s fast f1.4 aperture allows you to isolate subjects, blur backgrounds and capture light in low light situations hand held.
One of the most common comments that come up when it comes to Sony’s own lenses is cost, both the Sony F1.4 G and Sony Zeiss F1.4 full frame lenses cost over $2000 here in Australia, the Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE will be between $899-$950 so it is considerably less, this and it’s great performance makes it a very attractive option.
I’d definitely recommend the Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE lens as an alternative to Sony’s lenses on the Sony mirrorless system.
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Review of the Samyang AF 35mm F1.4 FE on Sony full frame here at Nic Taylor Photography
More lens details on the Samyang Lens Global website here.
Samyang AF 35mm f2.8 FE review here
Samyang 35mm F2.8 FE Astrophotography review here
Samyang AF 50mm f1.4 FE lens review here