This review is not about MTF charts and graphs. This is a real world review based on my experience with this lens for over six months of extensive usage. I have used this lens in almost all kind of setup, paired with my Nikon Full Frame D750 DSLR, so I have tried to share my opinion through this post. I would not consider using this lens on APS-C format sensor camera like D7xxx, D5xxx etc. Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 is a much better choice for that.
If you are on the verge of deciding whether to buy this lens or not, then this review would definitely help you in making a informed decision and setting your expectations right.
- Prime Ultra Wide Angle Lens
- Field (or Angle) Of View – 115°
- Aperture range – f/2.8 to f/22
- Weight – 530gm
- Internal Construction/Blades – I told you this is a real world review. Nothing matters whats inside, if it works well.
- Price – Bought mine for 548 S$ (~ 387 USD). Yeah, camera equipment’s are bloody expensive in Singapore. Remember this is the cheapest fast UWA lens you can buy.
- Brand – Bower, Rokinon, Pro Optics or Samyang are all same brand known with different names in different parts of the world.
- Aperture Control – Camera can control aperture. So you can dial in aperture setting from camera, as in other AFS lens.
Two biggest FEARS associated with this lens
Lets face it!
This lens suffers from mustache distortion not easily fixed in post processing. There is a slight bulge in the center of the image, which make straight lines look curvy. This kind of distortion may make it unusable for professional architectural photography. Distortion becomes more prominent when clicking frames with straight lines or architectures.
If you manage to tilt the horizon while clicking be ready to return home with skewed pictures.
Though later is true for all UWA lens.
I use Lightroom for processing my pictures and I have not found any Lens correction profile for this lens yet. I can create one myself but trust me, I haven’t really felt the need. I have heard DxO has a lens correction profile for this lens but I am not going to switch my processing workflow. Further I can live with indistinguishable distortion, as far as I limit my usage.
I clicked a few pictures just for this post. Generally I would avoid clicking such frames with this lens as I know its limitations. Notice vignetting at f/2.8 and how it diminishes as we get to narrower apertures.
This was the sweetest surprise! Within few days I was able to know how to get focus right. From focusing to infinity or to nearer subjects, I have never really faced a problem with manual focus. In-fact now I am so used to of focusing on this lens that I can focus to infinity just by looking at distance scale on my lens. I do not usually turn the lens to hard stop for infinity focus. I feel my images are sharp when shot just before the infinity mark. For all other uses I use focus confirmation. My version of lens (one with Red ring) comes with Focus assist chip. So when subject is in sharp focus a circle appears in bottom left of viewfinder. Otherwise a small arrow informs in which direction one should turn the focus ring to achieve focus. Most of the time when clicking landscapes I would keep focus at infinity with apertures near to f/8 so almost everything is in focus. Focusing ring has been nicely damped and has a quite long throw to achieve precise focus. Focusing ring is wide and rubberized to provide enough grip.
Wait, did i tell you this is the first manual focus lens that i have used ever?
The Good Part!
This lens scores best on sharpness. All images so far i have clicked from this lens are tack sharp. Sharpness in center is great as expected, corner sharpness is also fairly acceptable. Only pixel peepers will be unhappy with the sharpness in corner. By the way, do you know how this Samyang’s sharpness compare with other lens of this category?
Edit: Alistair has pointed that this comparison is for old Non AE chip version. Newer lens has better optics and sharpness.
Lets compare center and top right portion sharpness (1:1 crops from SOOC) from above images.
D750 || f/2.8 || ISO 100 || 1/2500 sec
D750 || f/4 || ISO 100 || 1/1600 sec
D750 || f/8 || ISO 100 || 1/400 sec
I am quite happy with the build quality of this lens. It is an all metal construction with a plastic petal shaped fixed hood. Unfortunately this lens can not take screw on filters. I would have loved to use ND filters on this lens. Lens has a distance scale with hard stop for infinity focus. Scale on my copy is quite precise. Anyways i do not rely on lens scale for focusing, neither should you. Its better to mark infinity focus with a permanent marker on the lens for future uses. Overall a pretty solid build. Lens doesn’t really look cheap by exteriors and feel.
I found this lens has really low levels of coma distortion. This makes it ideal for shooting astro and wide aperture makes it even better.
I would not recommend using this lens for any other purpose but no harm in experimenting I would say. Remember being creative is up-to you.
How about using this lens for clicking a group shot?
Or a perhaps a Portrait?
Or may be a Selfie?
Atleast now you can decide on your own? You have all the required info. Make an informed choice and have fun shooting with this gem of this lens!