Samyang’s 35mm f/1.4 lens costs around £1,000 less than comparable optics on the market. Tim Coleman finds out how its quality fares
Build and handling
We tested the Canon-mount version and, compared with its rivals, the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 lens is the biggest and heaviest, measuring 111x83mm and a reassuringly weighty 660g. Its 77mm filter diameter is also big for its type. Made from a tough plastic with solid metal mounts, the quality of craftsmanship is evident.
With the exception of the Nikon-mount version there are no electronic contacts on the rear lens mount, which means that digital users will find limited metadata regarding exposure settings. If this data is a crucial reference point for your photography, then you will have to get used to making a log of your shooting information.
As a manual-focus lens, it is a relief that the Samyang’s manual-focus ring is a dominant part to the lens exterior and comfortably reached. It is dampened beautifully and operates smoothly. When focusing manually, the inner focus tube moves rather than the length of the lens.
The aperture range is from f/1.4 to f/22, which is clearly marked on the ring at the base of the lens. It can be changed in 1⁄2 stops except between f/1.4 and f/2, and between f/16 and f/22. The lens ring controls the aperture in all but the Nikon-fit model, which features aperture coupling so the aperture can also be controlled in-camera.
If you stop down the aperture, the viewfinder becomes darker. This makes viewing a little tricky, especially when stopped down all the way to f/22. Photographers who regularly use smaller apertures may find the darker viewfinder a hindrance. This will also be the case in live view, although some live view systems will brighten for composition.
The lens is supplied in a velvet-effect case and comes with a petal-type hood.