The new Samyang lenses for Canon´s R-mount: the MF 14mm f2.8

April 20, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Background of the Review

For those ones who read my first blog about the new Samyang lenses may skip the first 2 chapters....

 After my first experience with the Canon EOS R the lens choice seems to be too heavy to travel with... The combo of Canon´s great EF 85_L-IS monster and the even heavier Milvus 15mm f2.8 let me ask Samyang: will you come up with something light being designed for Canon´s RF mount? The reply was astonishing: Yes we do, we checked your profile on social media: would you like to review the lenses. Since I like to test glass -you always learn from it- I agreed. I took quite a bit and some communication with German customs I finally got the lenses from Samyang, the 85mm f1.4 as well as the 14mm f2.8. 
 

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My first reaction: disappointment

My first reaction was disappointment. These lenses do not looks being originally designed for mirrorless cameras. I just looks like a simple mechanical adapter - and even worse- without any EXIF chip build in. Therefore no exif data transferred,  no focusing aid (an awesome tool on the EOS-R!!!) and no focusing wide open and automatic aperture closing. I communicated with Samyang, the replied properly and asked to give it a try. So i did. And please read to the end!

So I made some first tests at home which were astonishing and later I took them on a little trip to South of France to shoot with them there, too.

But let's start with a topic which is important for these kind of lenses:

Manual focusing on the EOS-R without communication to the lens

or: where mirrorless cameras are shining...

Today many people believe that autofocus is essentiell. Well having autofocus can be helpful, but can be annoying, too. I skipped my Sigma 85mm f1.4 because of Autofocus inconsistency. it is no fun if a lens while open doesn't deliver sharp images where it should be sharp. And honestly: on a DSLR shooting manually through the viewfinder without focus confirmation and special focusing screen build in the camera? No fun at all... 

But the EOS R has one feature build in which makes it easy to focus: focus peaking. It was the first time I had to use it exclusively to work with this feature. I was astonished how well it works. The accuracy range was really comparable to autofocus (!)...

The other advantage of focusing with manual focusing lens is the possibility to use the 5x or 10x magnification in the viewfinder. This methods gives you the highest level of focusing accuracy. But in low light you will suffer from the noise in the viewfinder as well...

Generally spoken after using mirrorless cameras since almost 10 years now this type of cameras is much more suited for manual focusing than anything else. Mirrorless cameras - and especially the implementation of Canon - Is really joy to shoot manual focusing lenses. This opens opportunities especially on the budget side - but using lenses like the Milvus or Otus from Zeiss also in the very high end site...

Comparing the 2 Samyang 14mm f2.8 lenses

In the first look these 2 lenses are pretty similar. It just looks like Samyang had designed an RF adapter to the original design. But if you look in detail there is more....

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Even the lens hoods are identical....

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Here you see the EF mount on the left and the RF on the right: the main difference between the 2 lenses are the weather seal on the RF mount...

What is interesting to compare the weight of these 2 animals...

  • The EF mount lens incl. the control ring adapter weights 720 g incl. lens hood
  • The RF mount lens weights 800g.... 

It looks that the weather sealing contributes quite a bit of weight... 

The lens itself

Build quality

When you take the lens in you hand: it feels pretty solid. For me the Samyang lenses does not feel cheap, the do have a solid all metal body. In case of the RF mount 14mm f2.8 lens the weather sealing ads substantially some weight to the lens....

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The lens has a huge front lens.  It is protected by a lens hood. It is necessary to be pretty careful with the lens on one side. But in the other side I use the sibling of it since quite some time.... And never had an issue...

The lens does n to stop at infinity. You have to look for maximum sharpness yourself, even if you just want to make a landscape shot...

On the other side the throw has 225º which is pretty long. Astonishingly much longer than on the 85mm f1.4 which has only 110º. The 225º there and the 110º here would make more sense to me.

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The lens has no front filter ring. Adapting any filter is quite a complicated... 
 

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But there is another little advantage as well: the new RF mount lens shows indicators for the depth of field depending on the aperture choosen. This is nice and handy - a real advantage...

Focusing is quite smooth - just fun to work with. 

The aperture stops typically 1/2 stop, only from f2.8 to f4 it is just one stop.

And again: i guess a mark for the top of the lens when m bunting to an the camera body...

The camera including lens weight a bit above 1400g - so it is still a pretty handsome package

Image Quality

In this case I compared it mostly with its EF brother. Unfortunately I dropped my Zeiss Milvus 15mm f2.8. This lens has some failure now - I have to send to to repair to be able to use it again. I made some comparison shots with my Canon Zooms (17 -40mm f and 16-35mm f4 IS) and it performed pretty well.

Also against the Milvus it is a decent performer. It has advantages especially in pretty unexpected areas. I do have my 5DMkII adapted to a larger spectral sensitivity.  The actual spectral range is 300-1100nm - so it includes UV as well as IR. The Zeiss Milvus has a very strong weakness when it comes to lens flare @ 1030 nm....

Another topic is definetely distortion: This lens has a terrible distortion somewhat barrel and somewhat pincushion.. It is really weird... But we do have lightroom, and lightroom corrects it pretty good - at the end you get some really good images out of this lens...

190223_R_0010.jpg190223_R_0010.jpg For the image quality comparison I have chosen literally the same position that for the image quality comparison of the 85mm lenses... But you can see how mich wider the 14mm lens looks... 

On the left side I could not identify any difference between the 2 lenses. What you can see is that the sharpness is good, even in the corners - the resolution of the image is 1:1.


 

Also the center does not show significant changes...

But in the very right side off the image the image turned out to be significantly unsharp. It looks like a decentering of the lens - which I could see in all photos taken...

 


I stopped down the lens to f5.6 to check if this effect will disappear... again lower left side: no difference

In the center - no difference again.

 

And the right side has shown the the problem is fixed. So I had a workaround for the flaws of my copy....

 

 

Real World Shooting Experience

First of all: a 14mm lens is not a lens which will become your main shooting lens. It is an extreme wide angle lens. And it comes with a  pretty bright open aperture - for the focal range...

But on the other side the challenge to shoot with such a wide angle. And if you have only 85mm and 14mm with you: it becomes also fun to do it...

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This photo is one which i Like a lot. It shows the advantages of such a wide lens - giving you a complete view on the scenery....

Photos shot with the EF-Version of the lens....

One topic for this lens is panorama shots on one side and Astrophotography on the other side - and of course the combination of both...

In the following I will showcase some of the images which I shot with both versions of this lens to give some ideas where to use these images...

This Panorama was shot in Yosemite National Park California. Please note the Gentlemen on the right - he claimed that this is the tripod of Ansem Adams.....

This is another shot there... just 270º view angle... 

Yellowstone Glacier Point.... a panorama shot on 5D MkIII

This shot at the Grant Tetons was at 11 pm. It was pitch black... It was my first trip with the EOS 5D Mk IV and the final image got quite some noise , even when shooting with f2.8 and ISO 3200 and 30s exposure time...  But on the other side: I like this shot... a lot!

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Again Yellowstone river - looking downwards fro the viewpoint of the lower falls....  1610235D4_0662.jpg1610235D4_0662.jpg

The diamond spring.... this time mounted on the 7D MkII....  161024_7D2_0172.jpg161024_7D2_0172.jpg

And again the diamond spring... for me one of my favorite shots with this lens at all...  2017_02_15_1489.jpg2017_02_15_1489.jpg

This is one special shot: the main light comes from a thin disk laser set up. This purple-is light is 1030nm - infrared and taken with the EOS 5D MkII  180805_5D2_0001.jpg180805_5D2_0001.jpg

It is very interesting to see, what this camera delivers after sunset... the white dots in the sky are stars...

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But this set up really shines when the milky way is present.,...This shot was made on My 5D MkII. This camera has an extended spectral range....

Shots with the RF Version go the lens.

During the time I had the lens I had 2 mayor sessions. The first one was on a trip to south of France - The famous Cote d´Azur. In the early morning i went to the market and took a couple of photos... And later the lens came with me to Shanghai....

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But the first shot was a panorama. Taken with only 3 shots - represents an 180º viewing angle...  this is stuff where you really can love this lens...

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For me this image shows the difficulty of using such a wide angle lens.  190103_R_0012.jpg190103_R_0012.jpg

In  the extreme perspective the lens really draws you into the scenery...

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This image shows the advantage of such a wide angle.... It really gives you the whole  scenery....  190103_R_0017.jpg190103_R_0017.jpg

I do like this photo as well - but you have to go there very close...  190103_R_0018.jpg190103_R_0018.jpg

Yes you can shoot around corners....

  190103_R_0019.jpg190103_R_0019.jpg

This photo was tricky to shoot...  but finally it works since the car on the left is completely in the image....

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If you look on the top of the image:.... The tree is behind you.... 190103_R_0032.jpg190103_R_0032.jpg

This shot was a difficult one - to get the right exposure time. If you shoot too long (15s) the water flow gets out of the image....  190103_R_0035.jpg190103_R_0035.jpg

So in the next shot  the exposure time was only 3 sec.... and now you see the water flow much better....  190103_R_0050.jpg190103_R_0050.jpg

I like the way how the lens shows the steam in the pot.... But I would like to have some more aperture blades....

 

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And here you see the advantage of the lens to capture the scenery again....  190103_R_0058.jpg190103_R_0058.jpg

Again: a prominent foreground....  190103_R_0061.jpg190103_R_0061.jpg 190103_R_0099.jpg190103_R_0099.jpg

Again - putting things in context.....

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The perspective of the lens is amazing: this is shot in a round circle- believe it or not.... 190103_R_0108.jpg190103_R_0108.jpg 190103_R_0111.jpg190103_R_0111.jpg

The foreground becomes really prominent.... 190103_R_0112.jpg190103_R_0112.jpg 190103_R_0097.jpg190103_R_0097.jpg

This was the last photo from my series in South of France. The next ones are from Shanghai in China...

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The view from top of  Shanghai. looking from the top down on a 480m high skyscraper.... called the bottle opener....

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This photo is from the bottom. I made a similar shot 2 years back - but with the 12mm f2.0 on the EOS M5. for me this image and this viewing angle gives the perspective an edge over the APS-C lens...

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I liked the way how the moon came into the picture..,...  190317_R_0550.jpg190317_R_0550.jpg

These wide places are hard to capture otherwise....  190317_R_0558.jpg190317_R_0558.jpg 190317_R_0584.jpg190317_R_0584.jpg

again: to get the whole scenery in one image?   190317_R_0585.jpg190317_R_0585.jpg

Bit the lens becomes even stronger when people are in the scenery... 190317_R_0588.jpg190317_R_0588.jpg 190317_R_0592.jpg190317_R_0592.jpg

I liked this work place of people who just left for a break....  190317_R_0595.jpg190317_R_0595.jpg

The image is on one side pretty sad: this part of Shanghai will change in the near future. But the people who owned this small houses became millionaires (in US-$!) and they got a new flat on top of this....

I hope I could give some ideas how to use these kind of lenses. Manual focusing is not that difficult but choosing the right viewing angle is much more tricky with such a wide angle lens. Definitely not a lens for all opportunities but definitely a lens I want to have with on all of my trips - just for the specialties where these lenses are shining....

 

Verdict: Highly recommended

After first slight disappointment: Knowing the lens since a couple of years this copy is confirming the good things I know about this lens - but I have to give the quality assurance department in Samyang the task to check the lenses they give out a bit better. This copy needs at least a readjustment.. And in terms of useability (nice buttery manual focusing) and weather sealing it is really step up against the original version..

On the other side: it is a very special lens - this is the nature of ultra wide angle lenses. It has some flaws but there are excellent workarounds.... finally what you get from the lens is surprisingly good...

For whom is this lens for?

  • It is made for owners of the R-Mount cameras - but the EF version shows similar results.
  • Everybody who likes a lightweight high performance lens.
  • When to take the RF Mount version instead of the EF mount? This is a very good question. For my taste: if you have decided to got with the R-Mount and/or you do discontinue with EF Mount: go for it. It is lighter and easier to handle.
  • It is more a lens for enthusiasts, for people who like to shoot manual focus.
  • But manual focus is so much fun to use on the Canon mirrorless cameras....

But the lens has a bit of weaknesses too:

  • It is not native RF: I guess a lens designed for the 54mm bajonett diameter and the short flange distance can be even smaller and lighter
  • I miss an EXIF chip - this would be even better
  • Not a real weakness but a wish to the designers @ Samyang: instead of a color mark please but something you can feel that you can mount the lens on the body without looking at it....

But if I look at the lens at a glance:  I give the lens a highly recommended!!!

Miscellaneous 

Most of the  Photos werde taken with the EOS R and the Samyang MF 14mm f2.8. I clearly marked the photos which were taken with the EF-Mount

Only the product shots were taken with the EOS 5DMkIV with the EF 100mm f2.8 L Macro IS USM.

The sample photos of the lens - and a couple more - you find here.

There is also a link te the image quality comparison

Please have fun and enjoy.

Disclaimer

I got the lenses from Samyang for testing for free. 

There is no money involved. Therefore this is my honest opinion about this lens....

 

 



 


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