Lens review

Samyang AF 14 mm f/2.8 EF

2 October 2018
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

The resolution test (resolution meaning MTF50 function values) of the Samyang AF 14 mm f/2.8 EF was based on RAW files from the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. In the case of that reflex camera the decency level is situated around 30-32 lpmm and the best fixed focal length lenses can reach as high as 45-49 lpmm. Not so long ago the resolution record on that sensor belonged to the Zeiss Otus 1.4/28 (49.2 lpmm), but it’s been slightly improved by the Sigma A 85 mm f/1.4 DG HSM, and then by the Sigma A 135 mm f/1.8 DG HSM; currently it amounts to 51.6 lpmm.

Now let’s check how the Samyang AF 14 mm f/28 EF compares – its performance in the frame centre, on the edge of the APS-C/DX sensor, and on the edge of full frame presents a graph below.

Samyang AF 14 mm f/2.8 EF - Image resolution

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The frame centre is really excellent. Already at the maximum relative aperture you get a very high result, reaching almost 40 lpmm and, on stopping down, the MTFs get near 44-45 lpmm. It is a better performance than that of the much more expensive Canon EF 14 mm f/2.8L USM II, but still a bit weaker than the results of the manual Samyang 14 mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC. Also you have to admit faster lenses, aperture-wise, like the Sigma A 1.8/14 and the Samyang 2.4/14 Premium perform better but their task is easier, they have more space to maneuver; small wonder their results are higher, especially near f/2.8, after all the maximum relative aperture in the case of the tested Samyang.

The performance on the edge of the APS-C/DX sensor should also be described in superlatives only. The image is completely useful, even at the maximum relative aperture, and on stopping down you are able to reach a good level, with MTFs near 37 lpmm. Once again the tested Samyang fares much better than the expensive Canon. What’s important the difference between the lens and faster 14 mm rivals is diminished at that point; in fact at many apertures the results are quite similar – even the same, within the margin of error.

An angle of view of over 116 degrees on full frame combined with f/2.8 aperture sets the standards pretty high when it comes to optics. Many lenses of this class face problems here. For example the Canon EF 14 mm f/2.8L USM II had to be closed down to f/8.0 in order to get useful images. The fast Sigma A 14 mm f/1.8 DG HSM provided similar performance only near f/4.5. The Samyang AF 14 mm f/2.8 EF offers you the same usefulness by f/5.6-8.0 but it’s worth emphasizing that its resolution results by f/2.8 and f/4.0 don’t lag especially behind. Many people who think our usefulness levels are too demanding might find out that the lens fares sensibly well even on the very edge of the frame.

The summary of our resolution chapter can be only positive. The tested Samyang provides an excellent image quality in the frame centre, good on the edge of the smaller APS-C/DX sensor and quite sensible for most of useful apertures on the very edge of full frame. Still, it is an interesting fact that, despite being a newer construction, with more elements inside, it didn’t manage to outperform the cheaper, manual Samyang 14 mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC. The older model features more lens groups (12 instead of 10) and have one low dispersion glass element more, perhaps it is an important difference. The question remains: why Samyang decided to construct a new lens, instead of adding an autofocus unit to the old manual one.

At the end, traditionally, we present crops taken from photos of our resolution testing chart saved as JPEG files.

Canon 5D MkIII, JPEG, 14 mm, f/2.8
Samyang AF 14 mm f/2.8 EF - Image resolution
Canon 5D MkIII, JPEG, 14 mm, f/5.6
Samyang AF 14 mm f/2.8 EF - Image resolution