Lens review

Samyang 14 mm f/2.8 IF ED MC Aspherical

6 October 2009
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

The resolution of Samyang 2.8/14 has been measured on the strength of RAW files from Nikons D200 and D3x. The measuring errors, in the first case, oscillated between 0.2-1.0 lpmm, and in the second case between 0.2-1.5 lpmm. Let’s start with discussing the performance of the tested lens mounted on Nikon D200 with a DX sensor. The corresponding image is presented below.

Samyang 14 mm f/2.8 IF ED MC Aspherical - Image resolution

As far as the center of the frame is concerned, there are hardly any reservations. At the maximum aperture we recorded a result of 30 lpmm, so we’ve reached our borderline of decency, in case of which we can talk of sharp images. What’s more, even slightly stopping down makes the image quality improve fast. At f/4.0 the measured MTFs reached over 42 lpmm. You might try to complain about the maximum results not being really high for a “prime”, as the best lenses tested on Nikon D200 can reach 46-47 lpmm. Once we remember, though, that we’re dealing with a lens costing 1000 zl, and the results over 40 lpmm mean really sharp pictures, any reasons to complain shrink.

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On a DX sensor, Samyang gives an angle of view of 90.7 degrees. That’s really wide and so we’re glad about the performance at the edge of the frame of the small detector. It is only at the maximum aperture, where we recorded the result of 25 lpmm, that we may find some reservations. Fortunately, stopping down by one aperture value enables us to enjoy fully sharp images.

Another graph shows us how Samyang performed in combination with the full-frame Nikon D3x.

Samyang 14 mm f/2.8 IF ED MC Aspherical - Image resolution

The behavior at the center of the frame is basically a reduced by 1-3 lpmm copy of what we saw in D200. We’re not surprised at all, as both the sensors are characterized by a similar density of pixels, and the results obtained on D3x are always a tiny bit smaller than those of D200. Here, then, we can rewrite exactly the same thing we wrote about Nikon D200’s performance at the center of the frame.

The situation at the edge is quite different. Here we’re dealing not with a 90.7 degrees angle of view, as it was with D200, but a huge angle of view of 114 degrees. We can rarely find lenses which, not being fish-eyes, give a larger angle of view (Sigma 12-24 mm is an exception here). We’re not really surprised, then, that Samyang had some problems here. Basically, at no aperture can the image quality at the center of the frame be called very good. In the range f/5.6-8.0 we get a decent level, but nothing more.

We don’t have a large enough set of wide angle lenses tests conducted on a full frame, to make an authoritative comparison. However, we can remind the results of Sony/Zeiss 16-35 mm that this lens recorded at 16 mm. Even though we were dealing with a zoom lens, we recorded noticeably higher values at all apertures. At the maximum aperture it reached a level of 27 lpmm, and at maximum of its capabilities, reached a level of 33 lpmm. We need to remember about two things, though. Zeiss is eight time more expensive than Samyang, and gives an angle of view narrower by 7 degrees.

So then, even the average performance of Samyang 14 mm at the edge of the full frame sensor doesn’t change our high evaluation of its overall results. It’s a very sharp lens at the center of the frame, good at the edge of an APS-C/DX sensor and almost decent at the edge of a full frame. With the price of 1000 zl it’s hard to expect much more.

Samyang 14 mm f/2.8 IF ED MC Aspherical - Image resolution