Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Aspherical - Full Format Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews -
Canon EOS (Full Format)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published July 2010
Wide angle enthusiasts just can't get enough - the wider it gets the better. Usually this desire ends once they realize the rather exceedingly high costs for really extreme wide angle lenses. The Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 USM L II sells for around 2100EUR/US$ for instance which is usually enough to abandon this pursuit for most users. To be fair - so far the least expensive alternative was the Sigma AF 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX HSM at around 750EUR/900US$. However, the situation isn't as hopeless anymore as it may appear. Just fairly recently a "new" player emerged - Samyang, a korean company. They didn't really come out of nowhere but during the last years they released three interesting new lenses - a 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye (APS-C), an ambitious 85mm f/1.4 and the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Aspherical ... and guess what ? The latter is available for just over 320EUR/420US$! The lens is co-branded by many companies including Bower, Rokinon, Walimex and a couple more.
Upon first contact you will experience two immediate drawbacks - the lens does not offer AF nor any "native" coupling apart from the Canon EF-compatible mount. Consequently you have to focus manually either by checking the viewfinder image or by using Live-View. You may think that focusing should be a non-issue but we struggled at first during our field tests. Infinity focus is actually way "beyond" infinity - at least on our test sample. Consequently the initial field attempts were pretty bad but during our 2nd session we used settings at slightly less than 2m (which is a good idea anyway) for wide, open scenes and the results improved drastically.
The aperture is not controlled by the camera but directly on the lens using an aperture ring just like back in the old days. The camera is naturally unable to display the selected aperture so both the viewfinder as well as the EXIF data will only show f/0.0 here. The aperture will also stop down immediately so the optical viewfinder will darker image according to the selected setting. This may sound a bit discouraging for some but it's mostly a non-issue in field conditions.
The build quality is surprisingly high for such an affordable product. It is made of a tightly assembled combination of metal and good quality plastic parts. The focus ring operates as smooth as silk (dampened). The plastic aperture ring has distinctive clicks in 1/2EV steps. The lens features an internal focusing (IF) mechanism so the physical size remains constant during focusing and the big front element does not rotate.
The front element has a "bulb"-like shape, a fairly popular approach these days. It seems to help to control the rather tricky optical problems inherent to ultra-wide angle lenses. On the downside it's not possible anymore to mount front filters for obvious reasons. The lens is supplied with a deep snap-on lens cap (rather average plastic quality) and it's certainly a good idea to use it during transport in order to protect the vulnerable front element. The petal-shaped lens hood is fixed.
|Optical construction||14 elements in 10 groups inc. 2x aspherical and 2xED elements|
|Number of aperture blades||6|
|min. focus distance||0.28 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:?)|
|Dimensions||96 x 117 mm|