UltraWideLife

Real Life Review : Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens (with samples)

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.

UWL-750_5426 UWL-750_5428

Specifications

  • 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.
Samyang14mm_review-750_8745

D750 || 14mm || ISO 160 || f/11 || 1/400 sec

Two biggest FEARS associated with this lens

Distortion

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.

 

Samyang_Review_5049

D750 || f/2.8 || ISO 100 || 1/2500 sec

Samyang_Review_5050

D750 || f/4 || ISO 100 || 1/1600 sec

Samyang_Review_5051

D750 || f/8 || ISO 100 || 1/400 sec

Manual focus

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!

Sharpness

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.

UWL-DxO-2

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

samyang14mm_review-750_5049 samyang14mm_review-750_5049-2

D750 || f/4 || ISO 100 || 1/1600 sec

samyang14mm_review-750_5050 samyang14mm_review-750_5050-2

D750 || f/8 || ISO 100 || 1/400 sec

samyang14mm_review-750_5051 samyang14mm_review-750_5051-3

 

Build Quality

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.

Best Usage

Landscapes
Samyang14mm_review-750_7598

Image was selected as “Best image in Long Exposure” by Nikon

Cityscapes
samyang_review-750_5015

“Mirrored Block” Tangjong Rhu Residential complex

Astro photography

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.

Samyang14mm_review-750_7950

Milky Way at Mount Rinjani

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?

Samyang14mm_review-750_3871

Or a perhaps a Portrait?

Samyang14mm_review-Flickr-750_9857

Or may be a Selfie?

UWL-750_8027

Conclusion

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!

9 thoughts on “Real Life Review : Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens (with samples)

  1. Chandrasekar

    Wonderfully written mate..it will be perfectly handy for anyone who is keen in looking for real world test samples rather than chart.. Keep going

  2. hackernewbie

    This is exactly the type of review for people like me love. Not much statistics, rather practical examples which give you a better picture of things and almost instantly.

    One question however, if you cannot screw filters, isn’t it a big minus, say while photographing waterfalls and the like?

    cheers,
    Rajiv

    1. Ankur Post author

      Rajiv, This lens can not take screw on filters. But for that matter Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 also can not take filters. Most UWA lens have front bulbous front element which makes make them less filter friendly. Unless you are ready to invest in expensive filter systems (with external holders)
      Inability to use filters may be a big turn off for people. Including myself.
      My 24-120mm lens can take filters, I am just able to manage few shits through it.
      Fortunately Tokina 11-16mm can take filters, so you are on safe side.

  3. Neale

    Nice review, Ankur. I got the lens for Christmas and have been delighted with it on my D810. I’ve used it with the Lightroom distortion plug-in, but found that there’s a $15 extension for my iMac Photos that does a pretty good job of correcting distortion. Samyang make a large filter holder which sits on the rear of the lens hood and extends in front of the lens and Cokin makes three filters to fit, but while the holder is pretty cheap the filters (graduated NF, ND and blue) are expensive and very hard to find. The holder is (from memory) around $Au50 shipped and the filters probably more like $150-170 + each.
    It’s a great little landscape lens – reasonably compact and lightweight.

    1. Ankur Post author

      Thanks for dropping by Neale and I am glad you liked my review.
      I have used a D610 LR profile for this lens and found results satisfactory. But gradually I have realized I have changed my shooting style a bit by not shooting parallel lines with this lens so as to avoid recognizable distortion while shooting itself. For landscapes i don’t bother fixing it as distortion is negligible.
      Thanks for sharing info about filter system from Samyang + Cokin. I just checked it in more details here
      But bulky holder system + expensive filters are a big turn off for person like me who already have screw on filter set. But definitely if one is in a buying phase, I will suggest to make a one time investment in buying a generic filter system to use with Samyang lens.

  4. Don Kuykendall

    I recently got the Rokinon 14mm version of this lens for use on my Nikon D750. If you pay close attention when you are shooting and keep the camera level in both directions and when shooting architecture also keep it square to the subject as best you can you will have no problems with distortion. I have a Tokina 11-16 for my Nikon D7100 and I really like this lens better.

    1. Ankur Post author

      Dear Don, Thanks for sharing your view with us. I totally agree to your statement. If Vertical and horizontal are kept straight while using this lens, there will be minimal distortion. And it save tons of time in Post processing. Fortunately D750 has virtual horizon feature which helps a lot in UWA compositions. Samyang 14mm is definitely much better than Tokina 11-16 in every aspect I must say.

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