Lens review

Samyang 50 mm f/1.4 AS UMC

3 December 2014
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

The resolution test of the Samyang 50 mm f/1.4 AS UMC was based on RAW files from the Canon EOS 5D MkIII. That camera is a successor of our old, run-down EOS 1Ds MkIII. Fortunately the pixel density of both sensors is almost the same so the MTF values remain almost identical. In both cases the decency level is situated near 30-32 lpmm and the best fixed-focus lenses can reach as high as 44-47 lpmm.

The graph show below presents the performance of the tested lens in the frame centre, on the edge of the APS-C/DX sensor and on the edge of full frame.

Samyang 50 mm f/1.4 AS UMC - Image resolution

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The new Samyang is perhaps closer to the older 50 mm devices than those new ones at the maximum relative aperture and in the frame centre. Anyway its result is notably under the decency level set by us. Still you have to admit the MTFs increase very quickly on stopping down the aperture: by f/2.0 the lens gets to 35 lpmm and by f/2.8 its result is already over 42 lpmm. The maximum results of more than 44 lpmm you see near f/4.0. These are hardly record values but nevertheless they remain worth of a very good “prime”.

The performance on the edge of the frame is interesting. Near the maximum relative aperture the resolution minimum is reached close the rim of the APS-C/DX sensor but not on the edge of full frame. That trend reverses only around f/2.8 where the image becomes completely useful.

The Samyang didn’t come close to the level of the Otus and the new Sigma; however you have to keep in mind the fact that it is much cheaper than those instruments and it is not supposed to rival them. The Nikkor AF-S 50 mm f/1.4G, not so old and a bit less expensive than those two, fares worse than the Samyang. The same can be said about a few other older 1.4/50 class instruments. The old Sigma 50 mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM can be the most troublesome for the tested lens as it costs practically the same and its MTFs are similar (it fares a bit better by f/1.4 and a bit worse by f/2.0 but then its results are almost the same as those of the Samyang).

At the end of this chapter we present crops taken from photos of our resolution testing chart; they were saved as JPEG files along with RAW files we used for the analysis above.

Samyang 50 mm f/1.4 AS UMC - Image resolution