Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens Test & Review

Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens Test & Review

 

Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens Test & Review

I recently purchased a Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC lens mainly for use in astrophotography due to the wide angle & wide aperture.  It was purchased for a Sony A7, making it ideal for night shots.  If you own a Sony, you will notice that there are not a lot of lenses available for both mounts so finding this one, especially at a price is a bargain.  I have also read many reviews in the past about this lens not being up to the job as it emits decentering problems and softness in the corners, more on that later.

Below you will find some images taken with the lens.  Just for info, I exchanged the original lens I purchased as I felt it was too soft on the corners.  When the second one arrived, I tested it out and was an improvement.  It still gave problems though, and that is something I will explain a little later.

Packaging

When the Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens arrived it was very well packaged and also had protective linings inside to prevent it from getting damaged during delivery.  It also came with a convenient pouch which can be used to store the lens; however, I am using this to store my Formatt Hitech filter holder as it fits right without having to remove the 105mm polarising filter.  It also came with the usual paperwork such as instructions and a quality control certificate.  For a lens manufactured in Asia, the English is excellent and easy to follow.

Fitting

Fitting the Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens is pretty straightforward, it does not have any free play when securely attached to the camera.  The lens is also manual, this being manual focus & manual aperture.  If this has put you off already then do not purchase it, I can live with using manual settings while others prefer auto.

Operation

The operation of the Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens is pretty smooth.  I had no problem focusing while gaining infinity but it does take some getting used to.  Setting aperture is easy enough, precisely the same as setting focus except it clicks as you change the blades width and will stay there until you turn it again.  Now, the part where you get soft focus, yes it does suffer from a weak focus, and this is where you need to set up the shot right.  If you are shooting at a low level or not pointing it straight, then it will get distorted in the corners, this is where the old saying ‘it’s not the camera, it’s the person behind the camera’ comes into effect.  It does take some getting used to until you get it right.

Processing

Processing the images from a Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens is difficult.  The lens suffers from moustache distortion in the middle which is expected for a lens with such a broad angle.  This, however, can be easily fixed in Photoshop or Lightroom using the provided lens correction profile in Camera Raw.  Those programs are not my preferred choice of software, but i can live with it.  The images below have had the moustache distortion corrected.

Test Shots

The images below are a mix of the two lenses I received:

Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens review
The first image was taken at Carew Castle. Sharpness is excellent, however the more stringent among you will notice that it is slightly soft on the corners. Had i aimed a little higher i would not have had this problem. The colours also seemed to produce nicely too.

 

Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens Review
Second image from my trip to Carew Castle using a Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens. I purposely aimed so there would be sun flare which handled it pretty well. You will also notice that the corners are soft. I am putting this down to the focus not being right and the trees were to close. This lens is designed for landscapes, anything else and you will get problems.

 

Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens
The following evening I headed down to St Govans, one of the best locations in Pembrokeshire for capturing the night sky. This was a total of thirty seconds shot at iso 1600. I was quite impressed with the result even if there is a trail on the top left. My calculations using the rule of 600 works out at 36 seconds before star trail. This is what made me decide to return the first lens as I felt it was not right.

More Test Shots

Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens
Another shot from the same evening with a Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens, I just turned around this time. Again it handled the night sky well, but you will notice the corners of the image, especially where the stars are shot look slightly out of focus and trailing. What should be noted is the lens is being shot at f2.8, so there will be some softness especially for the price you pay for it.

 

Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens
Another session was taken from Fort Road with a Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens. I liked this one; it came out well. It did not show any signs of distortion in the corners.

 

Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens
On this image you will notice that the corners are beginning to get slightly out of focus with the Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens. This is where you learn from your mistakes and get punished so easily if your focus is not right. I must have been only a slight fraction out, but it still affects the final image.

Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens – Summing Up

So, I have taken the Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens out for a few shots, have had the original exchanged and tested another… what do I think of it?  I like it.  It took me a lot of umming and aaahing, but I guess I will stick with it.  It also takes practice to use this lens; you need to work out what angle you need to get a perfect shot with no distortion or funny corners.  Focusing was comfortable enough but again take practice, and as mentioned already, if it is not right, your images will suffer.

For the price (£275 at the time of writing) you cannot get any other lens like this unless you are willing to dish out over one thousand pounds for a brand name.  Stick with it, try to get used to it, find out how to aim correctly and focus correctly too.  If you are still getting problems with your Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens then return it.

More Images

If you would like to see more images taken with this lens, please read about my trip to Bosherston at Night.


 

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All images ©Chris Ball.  Copyright to the photos will remain with the photographer (Chris Ball), and therefore any reproduction without permission would be an infringement of copyright.  If you wish to use any images for publication or use, you should first obtain permission from me before using my work.

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