PRODUCT REVIEW

AF 18mm F2.8 FE

The Samyang AF 18mm f2.8 FE is an autofocus focus wide angle lens that can be used with any of the Sony mirrorless cameras (E or FE). As such, you get 18mm on the A7 or A9 models, and a near 28mm (equivalent) on the apsc’s models. Mirco Zancanella 2019-09-05
The Samyang AF 18mm f2.8 FE is an autofocus focus wide angle lens that can be used with any of the Sony mirrorless cameras (E or FE). As such, you get 18mm on the A7 or A9 models, and a near 28mm (equivalent) on the apsc’s models. 

The Samyang line is a lightweight and small lens that possesses a very nice and balanced AF system (LINEAR stm) - similar and a bit better, maybe due to the focal lens, than older models (85mm and 45mm).

The 18mm F2.8 FE is really small for its focal length - significantly smaller and lighter than the Batis 18mm Zeiss I used in the past. At 145g, you can enjoy it on trips and as a mountaineer I can say that weight and dimensions count. Also its dimensions are noteworthy: my idea of travel will be based on a double lens trip - I would bring with me a normal zoom and this little 18mm which is relatively weightless.

So what’s the real size and weight? Compared to the Batis 18mm (95mm in length, 100mm in diameter and 330g), the Samyang is smaller and lighter (60.5mm in lenght, 63.5mm in diameter and 145gr). That’s wonderful! 
Internally, the lens design presents 9 elements in 8 groups, with a few asph lenses. That’s the only way to do a perfectly sharp and light combo.
On the top, we have a 58mm filter head, perfect for light and quality filters (and also to save money). Samyang supplies a lens hood that fits on the front of the lens. 
You can count on a 110,1° angle of view: amazing! 
The price? Trust me, you will be surprised by Samyang. It is really cheap if you consider the quality it can provide.




Hands on feelings. 

Short answer - too plastic in my opinion (like its older brothers) but it will not affect the file quality. I think that if the quality is there, I can seriously shoot with a piece of sheet. I’m not a huge fan of metal and heavy lenses. 
Actually it’s really similar to the Samyang AF 45mm F2.8 FE, a bit smaller and lighter. That was a surprise for me as I was waiting for a lens similar to the Batis 18mm Zeiss.

There are no focus indicators on the body and that’s an issue for me. Actually they have never been absolutely perfect but it’s a feature I can expect on a modern lens. I think that this kind of choice was made because it’s a lens dedicated for Sony bodies where the AF system is superb and the focus peaking can work extremely well. With a view to guarantee savings that’s not a bad choice.





Quality and performances.

All in all, this is not better than the Batis 18mm Zeiss I used in the past but you have to consider that the Samyang is designed with very different purposes. That said, it is lighter, cheaper and with different a quality to its materials.

Wide open, the Samyang is sharp, but not terribly so. This kind of sharpness is excellent in the center, but there’s slight degradation at the edges, even on the apsc’s and experiences much stronger loss as you move to the full frame corners. Corners are pretty soft even at f/5.6. you have to close at least at f8 to get the best sharp lens.
Overall I’d judge edges to be good wide open, and very good stopped down. 





There are some lateral chromatic aberrations but they are controlled and you can easily correct them with different software, as you can see in the sample images. 
Astigmatism and coma into the corners are well controlled. This lens is nice for astrophotography.




Linearity is good, not perfect in my opinion: there’s very little linear distortion at the edges. That’s pretty common in wide angles lens (maybe Laowa works better but it’s again heavier and it’s also a manual focus lens). 
Vignetting on an full-frame’s bodies is visible and needs correcting if you dislike it (about 1.5 stops worth), but stop down to f/5.6 and it becomes mostly negligable. Personally, I like a bit of vignetting, it’s more “moody” I would say. 

Vignetting never quite goes away at non-diffracted apertures, by the way. For such a wide angle lens, the vignetting performance is decent, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t vignette. Wide open, without correction in raw files, you’ll absolutely see the corner fall off. 


Bokeh features.

As a portraitist as I am, I would like to consider the bokeh feature on this lens. Bokeh in not the main feature you consider on a wide angle lens but, if you get close enough to your subject wide open, it might start to come into your scene in a very nice way. The bokeh you can get is really similar to the Samyang AF 45mm F2.8 FE, which is progressing and accurate, different frome the Sigma art 20mm F1.4 FE. The out-of-focus areas are regular with different distances from the subject. 




Overall, just like the 45mm and the 85mm which I had the good fortune to try and use, this lens is another Samyang winner. Sharpness and contrast are good and the other features don’t really detract from that, though some of them have to be corrected in post-production.

 

 

 




So…
That’s really cute as a wide angle light lens, a best buy in my opinion. 
Why would I not like this lens? Materials are the worst thing but read another time the review, you will find the answer.
The good news is that if you want an autofocus 18mm lens that covers the full-frame’s cameras and delivers performance that looks good even at 42mp ( I also tried it on my sony a7rII), then you’ve found a cheap candidate lens in this Samyang, despite to the little materials quality. 

This is a good companion to the Sony A7r series for when you want to go wide and get the best quality. I suspect that travel, street and landscape photographers will be the ones that most respond to this lens. But it’s not bad for night photography, either.

The resullt i salso good in video, it has warm colors as the other Samyang and you can do the best VLOG you are thinking about.
I certainly can recommend it, looking also at the price. 



 


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