Samyang AF 35mm F1.8 FE lens Review
Another tiny but mighty lens from Samyang
that finds it place as an all-rounder or daily driver.
Out of the box, the Samyang AF 35mm f/1.8 FE comes with a large lens good and nice protective case that comes with the f/1.8 FE lens in Samyang’s tiny lens line. With a compact lens that’s 35mm, this lens is truly an all-rounder as a go-to lens for different situations. Weighing in at just 210g (without lens caps and lens hood), the weight of this lens really helps with all-day shooting.
Comparing the 35mm f/1.8 FE to both the Samyang 45mm f/1.8 FE and 18mm f/2.8 FE, you can see a shift in the design of the lens hoods as well as size. The lens hood on the other lenses are slimmer and in the case of the 45mm circular, you can see a shift to a more petal design comparing the 18mm to the 35mm. The lens hood on the Samyang 35mm felt by far the most studier and fit for purpose in terms of protecting the camera and blocking unwanted light. It’s a welcome improvement from the previous designs on some of the older lenses.
As you can see in the Image above without a lens hood, the Samyang 35mm looks very similar to the previous lenses in this range with slight differences that are noticeable. The most noticeable visual difference is the custom switch which adds a bit more length to the lens 35mm however it’s only 63.5 mm long.
Speaking of the custom switch, It’s the 2nd Samyang lens for Sony mirrorless cameras to incorporate this feature, with the first being the 75mm f/1.8 FE.
As of now, mode 1 acts as a normal focusing ring whilst mode 2 will change aperture settings with the focus ring. I’ve found the setting of mode 2 most useful with video for smoother aperture changes. With future firmware updates, the custom modes will incorporate more setting and features.
The build quality of the lens is very good with a mixture of metal and plastic as the construction of the lens. It feels like it has a good quality build in your hands and has a metal lens mount that’s also weather-sealed to prevent dust and moisture. It’s great to see Samyang implementing some of the developments of their premium lenses onto other lens lines. The focus ring is ridged to give more control for when making changes with the ring. Paired up with a Sony A7III, the lens feels very balanced in your hands and is compact and light.
I tested the autofocus with some skateboarding shots, shooting in burst mode as an opportunity to see how well the autofocus tracked a subject. For this test, I left the focus mode on wide to focus on my composition as the GIF was handheld rather than using a tripod. I fired away and let the autofocus do the work across the whole frame of the autofocus points. I was really impressed with the autofocus as each Image in the GIF was accurate and sharp, the focus was consistent in tracking the subject and was fast in catching the movements of the skateboarder in each frame. I didn’t experience focus hunting and would feel quite confident in trusting the autofocus. In addition to the fast autofocus, this lens is really quiet and would be well suited for filming due to Samyang’s linear STM technology.
A 35mm focal length is a very versatile focal length for capturing different subjects, and a compact lens such as this draws strengths in street photography where you need to blend into the environment. When exploring, London, looking for new perspectives in hotels, shopping malls or interiors there is usually security that tends to approach photographers with large lenses as they’re not keen on the “professional photography” associated with large lenses. I didn’t attract any attention at all when using this lens in a busy shopping mall which really helped me to concentrate on isolating detail in the environment. This is such a great lens for practical everyday use and is now my walk-around lens. The photos below are examples of what I captured walking around and exploring.
The out of focus area of the Image is commonly referred to as Bokeh which usually lies in the realm of pleasing or distracting. The difference is mainly attributed to the number of blades that make up the aperture of a lens with more blades being a positive factor. In addition, the capacity to shoot wide open at F1.8 for shallow depth of field produces pleasing Bokeh by isolating the subject. Although bokeh is subjective, the shot above shows how appealing the bokeh can look, especially for a wide-angle lens where bokeh is harder to be noticeable in comparison to a telephoto lens. Regardless of the focal length, the lens produces really smooth and beautiful bokeh which is a testament its 9 blade aperture.
Another tiny but mighty lens from Samyang which certainly finds its place as a go-to lens to capture different subjects. Samyang have certainly updated the IQ of this lens from the advancement in technology they’ve had with their older lenses. This lens has really good build quality with weather sealing. The mode switch and the option for aperture control is useful and will have further applications in the future with more firmware updates. The autofocus is fast, accurate and quiet with application to video uses where audio can impact the shot. From my experience, a lightweight and compact lens such as this really has huge strengths in situations where I needed to be incognito in order to get the shot, like street photography or exploring. After all, “you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.”