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Lens review

Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC

10 February 2012
Szymon Starczewski

11. Summary

Pros:
  • very good image quality on stopping down the lens by 1.5 EV,
  • chromatic aberration well-controlled,
  • decent work against bright light,
  • well-corrected coma on APS-C/DX and smaller detectors.

Cons:

  • real aperture of the lens is much closer to f/1.8 than to f/1.4 or/and wrong conctruction of the diaphragm,
  • distortion level higher than in the case of its competitors,
  • slackened manual focus ring,
  • very high vignetting on full frame,
  • no contacts in the Canon mount version,
  • weak image quality by f/1.4 and f/2.0.

Our summary can be a simple parable about climbing to the top, which was too quick, and a very painful downfall. After several very successful launches Samyang assumed too hastily that they belong to the elite and they can offer a lens with professional parameters in every category for a price not much different from that of other professional products. In the case of the Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC neither optics nor mechanics are worth the amount of money Samyang put on the tag. Some minor flaws, completely forgivable in a device costing less than 300 Euro, become inexcusable in a lens which is 2-3 times more expensive.

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To be honest I am surprised a bit by such a strategy of Samyang. Every amateur photographer will think twice before spending 600 Euro on a lens which is not a necessary tool of their paid work; in other words it must be really a great device to tempt such customers. A professional won’t look at the Samyang at all – such people don’t want to risk and they will buy a brand name instrument. Amateur photographers of different ilk seem to be the natural customers of the Samyang company and most of them will come from less affluent markets - buying expensive, professional lenses just to play at photography is not common among them. Raising the price and enhancing forcibly the parameter is maybe not the wisest strategy for Samyang at the moment.

In such a situation many customers, interested in a lens with similar parameters, might start looking more favourably at the offer of the competitors. Those who appreciate high build quality might be tempted by the Zeiss Distagon 2/25; those who don’t like compromises will buy the Canon or the Nikkor 1.4/24. Other might choose the Sigma 24 mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro which optically is perhaps not better but when it comes to the build quality it certainly defeats the Samyang, tested here, and it features an autofocus system. Some others might consider a bit narrower angle of view as not a serious flaw and will buy the Canon EF 28 mm f/1.8 USM, quoting roughly the same arguments for the purchase like those in the case of the Sigma. As you see you have a wide choice. Samyang has always been able to persuade people with its great price/quality ratio but unfortunately here it doesn’t work anymore.

Finally the most interesting attraction. The tested lens showed many curious properties. To make formulating the final conclusions easier let’s sum them up here:

  • When taking photos in the aperture-priority mode I noticed that exposure times by f/1.4 and f/2.0 are very similar; the difference between them is not greater than 1/3 EV. Although it gave me something to think about it was nothing unusual because a different vignetting layout by different apertures can effectively cheat the light measurement system in a camera.
  • Passing from f/1.4 to f/2.0 the increase of lens’s resolution is negligibly small and basically it borders on the margin of error values. Such a performance is different than that of the Samyang 1.4/35 in which the increase of MTF values on stopping down was quite steep.
  • The photos of the autofocus testing chart, presented in the chromatic aberration chapter and taken by f/1.4 and f/2.0, don’t differ from each other almost at all no matter whether you take the aberration correction degree or the depth of field into account.
  • Coma looks practically the same, no matter whether we use f/1.4 or f/2.0.
  • Defocused diode images, positioned in the corner of full frame are practically the same by f/1.4 and f/2.0
  • Passing from f/1.4 to f/2.0 the vignetting decrease is slight, amounting to just several percent. In the case of the Samyang 1.4/35 and other rival lenses of the tested instrument it was more than a dozen percent.

If you put together these properties and add to it information that none of the effects, described above, can be noticed while passing from f/2.0 to f/2.8 there are two possibilities. Either the Samyang 1.4/24 has f/1.4 aperture only and solely on its casing and in the specifications, its real aperture being much closer the value of f/1.8 than f/1.4, or the aperture is set defectively and it doesn’t influence the path of light in the f/1.4-1.8 range. Perhaps the whole aperture scale is shifted so the lens, while stopped down to f/1.8, is really as fast as f/1.4 and, for example, while indicating f/4.0 aperture it is really set by f/3.2. However, the resolution graph speaks against that latter possibility – in such a case it should have been shifted by about 2/3 EV as well and the Samyang by f/16 should have had results near f/13 aperture so close to 37 lpmm. There are no such results here, quite the opposite – on significant stopping down we see exactly those values which we should so no 2/3 EV shift can be registered here.

We have to end our test on such an not overly optimistic note…



Sample shots

Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/8000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.85 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/8000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.71 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/60 s, ISO 400
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.9 MB
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/2500 s, ISO 200
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 6.36 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/8000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.33 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/1.4, exp. 1/8000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.32 MB
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/1000 s, ISO 200
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 6.27 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/6400 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.21 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/8000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.97 MB
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/8000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.31 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/80 s, ISO 400
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.34 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.0, exp. 1/5000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.05 MB
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/6400 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.75 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/5000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.75 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/40 s, ISO 400
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.86 MB
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/8000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.52 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/5000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 9.15 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/2.8, exp. 1/5000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.61 MB
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/2000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 9.22 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/3200 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.36 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/3200 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.12 MB
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/2000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.97 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/2000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.61 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/640 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 9.61 MB
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/1250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.84 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/1250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.89 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/1600 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.94 MB
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/1000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 10.44 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/250 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 9.88 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/500 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 9.26 MB
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Samyang 24 mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC - Summary
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/1000 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 8.56 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/640 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 7.89 MB
Camera: Canon 1Ds MkIII
Parameters: 24 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/400 s, ISO 100
File: JPEG, 5616×3744 pix, 10.07 MB



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