Michael Topham samples Samyang’s latest manual-focus prime lens, which is designed with today’s mirrorless users in mind
Samyang 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS review: Image quality
The lens backs up its robust build with impressive image quality. The edges of images appear very slightly softer than the centre at f/1.4, but there’s an increase in sharpness, both in the centre and at the edge, at f/2 and f/2.8 to where it plateaus between f/3.5 and f/5.6. The best balance between centre and corner sharpness is recorded at f/5.6, and it’s only when the lens is stopped down beyond f/11 to the smaller apertures of f/16 and f/22 that the introduction of diffraction starts to take its toll on sharpness.
Corner shading is apparent when the lens is used at its widest aperture, but it quickly starts to disappear when the lens is closed towards f/2.8. Our distortion chart flagged up minor barrel distortion, but as my real-world images revealed you’d be hard pressed to notice it and therefore it shouldn’t be of concern. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled too, with only minor purple fringes of colour appearing along high-contrast edges when shooting towards the sun.