Does Samyang's fast prime for mirrorless cameras represent a bargain at under £300? Michael Topham gives it a thorough test
Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS review – Features
This lens has a different internal construction from the 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS lens we reviewed in February. Rather than employing an arrangement of eight elements in seven groups, this lens features a construction of nine elements in seven groups. The lens benefits from a nine-blade aperture to ensure out-of-focus points of lights (or bokeh) are portrayed circular. It’s possible to make out these nine aperture blades when you peer down the barrel of the lens and rotate the aperture ring across its f/1.2-f/16 range.
To minimise colour aberrations and ensure the highest contrast across the frame at all apertures, the Samyang features two aspherical lenses. These are abbreviated to AS in its product name. The UMC abbreviation that follows refers to Samyang’s ultra-multi-coating technology, which is applied to optimise light transmission and minimise unwanted artefacts such as internal reflections, flare and ghosting.
As mentioned earlier, the lens is manual-focus only and features no optical stabilisation to counteract the effects of handshake. The lack of autofocus and optical stabilisation won’t satisfy all users, but their absence does have the advantage of helping to keep the lens reasonably lightweight. On the scales it’s 95g heavier than Samyang’s wider 21mm f/1.4 prime lens, but still weighs less than 400g, which is impressive for a lens that feels solidly built with a fast f/1.2 aperture.
At the rear, the lens employs a good-quality metal mount, but there are no metal contacts to form an electronic connection between the camera and lens, meaning the EXIF data recorded by the camera won’t offer any information about the focal length or aperture used. If you’d like to keep a record of your aperture settings, you’ll need to put pen to paper much like I did throughout my testing.
The filter thread doesn’t rotate when the manual-focus ring is turned, but users should be aware that the front element does move back and forth. The lens comes supplied with a detachable circular- shaped lens hood that secures with a reassuring click, and it’s possible to reverse it when storing the lens in a bag. For those who’d like to know how close they can focus, it has a 50cm minimum focus distance.