Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published August 2020


During recent years, mirrorless lenses suffered from a disease - they got bigger and heavier. In fact, many mirrorless lenses are now more obese than their "former" DSLR counterparts despite all the marketing palaver promising the opposite. Of course, this happened for a reason. As a rule of thumbs in optical design, bigger and more complex is usually better - or it's at least easier to achieve certain goals.
While this was all cool for a while because there were simply too few mirrorless lenses available, most consumers are no longer demanding "any" lens but something that matches the size of the cameras. You may argue about who started "the" trend towards smaller lenses but Samyang embraced this trend more and earlier than most. As of the time of this review, they released no less than 5 small prime lenses covering everything from 18mm up to 75mm and there are surely more to come. In this review, we'll cover the widest of those lenses - the Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE.

The tiny size and low weight come with a few compromises. One of them is build quality. It's not 100% clear but the lens barrel seems to be made of plastic on a metal mount. There isn't anything wrong with this per se but it feels a little toy-like - maybe also because the lens barrel lacks any texture. That being said, the focus ring is smooth and the lens doesn't extend either. So maybe it's just yours truly who simply prefers that "carved from a rock" feeling - take it or leave it. A small petal-shaped lens hood is provided.

The AF speed is not a primary criterion for an ultra-wide lens but it is slower than expected. While it does find the coarse focus quickly you can hear some micro-adjustments thereafter. Typical for pretty much all Sony FE mount AF lenses, manual focusing works "by wire" so you drive the AF motor when turning the focus ring. The manual focus precision is pretty decent here.

Optical construction9 Elements in 8 Groups inc. 3x aspherical, 2xHR, 3xED elements
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.25m (max. magnification 1:11.1)
Filter size58mm
Hoodpetal-shaped, bayonet mount, supplied
Other features-

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