Monday, December 15, 2014

My Review on Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC for Nikon Mount

I have sold my Tokina 12-24mm f/4 DX lens in order to trade for this FULL-FRAME compatible lens for its wideness. I have a mix feeling on getting this lens. Before I talk more about it, lets show you some lens images, and general specs.

First of all, I'm only tested the Nikon mount, which is the ONLY mount that I've been told to have auto exposure (AE), and focus confirmation (not auto focus!!!). You can tell by looking on the mount, where it contains electronic contact points in order to communicate with the body. This means you can use Program, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority modes, where as, the rest of the mount you can only use manual and have to judge the exposure using live-view. Another advantage is you can control aperture value from your body command dial, rather than fiddling the aperture ring. The EXIF value is stored automatically into the photos as well. This thing is 550g and its the most affordable full-frame ultra wide angle, fast aperture wide angle in the world, but only with some drawbacks - no autofocus, and no electronics contact for non-nikon mount. 

Compared to the Nikon 50mm 1.8 G, the barrel is slimmer, but the front element is significantly bigger. It does not takes any screw-in filters. 

The big front element makes any screw in filter not possible, and the hood is build in and can't take off.
This is how its look by mounting to D600 body. It is well balanced on the body, and yet is not too bulky. However, the big vulnerable front element makes you want to cover it with hood all the time.

The top down view.

As you can see, if you set the aperture value to f/22 marked with red, then you can adjust the aperture value directly from the body aperture command dial. You can overwrite the aperture value by twisting the aperture ring any time (useful during d600 video mode). The focus ring is smooth but super long to focus from 0.28m to infinity (about 240 degree turn).

Front view

Side view.

Compared with Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G

Comparing the front glass element of both lenses.

First I would like to point out the barrel distortion about this lens. It has a very pronounce and complex barrel distortion.
Notice how the distortion bend the cabinet in the middle but the sides are ok.

The same image I have applied the profile correction. It does not completely fix the distortion but it is still better than original.

I use Adobe Lens Profile Downloader to get the Samyang lens profile here. Follow the instruction and after install, search for "NIKON D700 (Rokinon AE14.0 mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC". There are profile for crop sensor as well, namely "NIKON D7000 (Rokinon 14.0 mm f/2.8 AE)". Once you have install the required profile, when you are editing photos in Lightroom, you can now check the enable profile correction and it does all the distortion and vignetting correction for you. 
Just checked the Enable Profile Corrections
Next I would like to talk about flare. This is extremely vulnerable to flare due to the big front element and relatively poor coating. If you are careful enough, and not picky about it, then you may consider it. Otherwise is a deal breaker.
Worst case scenario with flare. It produce 6-points flare on moderate aperture. 
Last I want to talk about image quality and usability. Image wise, wide open at f/2.8 the image is generally soft when you zoom in, not much detail but its all right if you look on a wide perspective. However, generally ultra-wide angle, if you use moderate aperture such as f/5.6 or f/8, everything "seems" to be in focus anyway. I use the word "seems" because the photo will appear to be in focus, but when you zoomed in, the details is just not there. I focus usually between 3meters and infinity on the scale. Unless I'm doing some intentionally close-up. Otherwise I would not fiddling with the focus too much. I would say for the price, the sharpness is adequate.
This is the first outdoor image I captured as soon as I step out from the camera shop. The wide-ness really amuse me.

You can create dramatic scene by exaggerate the distance between subject. This is what ultra wide angle do best! 
You would not really notice the distortion unless you are shooting straight horizontal line closely.

I almost fell into the pond because I recompose while looking in the view finder. It appears further than it really should be! DO NOT MOVE AROUND BY LOOKING INTO THE VIEWFINDER!

Wide Open Close Focus. Sharp enough for you?

try look-up for more dramatic effect with ultra-wide angle.


The new IOI City shopping mall Christmas decoration.

Mid Valley Centre Court

with care, you can use it on portrait. Manual focus and shooting toddler is difficult!

I try my best to exclude my own feet when look down, but My feet still appear at the bottom right! Its that WIDE!!!

Last but not least, the wide aperture means you can use it for astronomical purpose. Since now its not the milky way season yet, it will come back with better picture next time!!
the shy milkyway above the horizon
KLCC, Tallest building in Malaysia

Milkyway with Samyang 14mm

Milkyway with Samyang 14mm
To conclude, this is a lens meant for advance amateur and leisure use only. You never see professio4nal using this funky lens. Yet, the performance is sufficient to satisfied a lot of audience, especially the lower budget people. If you only shoot crop-sensor, and did not plan to upgrade to full-frame any time soon, I would not recommend this lens. Get the awesome Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 with autofocus, used for about the same price. For me, I would ONLY recommend this lens for Nikon, Full-Frame and if you can accept all the drawbacks I mentioned, such as complex distortion, flare and so on. For me, this lens is incredibly "FUN" to use!

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