Above: Footage shot with the Samyang 35mm F1.4 on a Canon 550D.
Reviews have started to come in about Samyang’s promising 35mm F1.4 lens, which is a full frame lens that can be used on the 5D Mark II, APS-C and Micro Four Thirds.
Unusually for a Canon mount lens, the Canon EF version has a depth of field scale and manual aperture ring, so you can use it on a 600D and GH2 whilst being able to adjust the aperture on both even via the Micro Four Thirds adapter ring.
Samyang continues to surprise us regarding the quality of their recently released products. The full format Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC is capable of delivering a very high quality straight from f/1.4. Stopping down boosts the contrast whereas the resolution improves to excellent results at medium aperture settings. It may be a surprising news but this is somewhat superior to the mighty Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM L. The Canon lens has still a certain advantage in terms of contrast at f/1.4 though. There’s a some vignetting at max. aperture but it’s not an issue anymore at smaller apertures. Distortions are generally nothing to worry about. The quality of the bokeh is a bit on the nervous side but that’s a fate that it shares with the Canon L lens actually. The amount of bokeh fringing is typical for a lens in this class.
Currently, as was the Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0.95 upon release, the Samyang is curiously only available from their Polish distributor Foto-Tip on eBay. At the moment they have plenty available but I recommend securing one now because the price is sure to go up to match performance when quantities run low, and it’s been selling very quickly so far.
Samyang also do a 85mm F1.4 (also known as the Rokinon Digital) which is one of my favourite focal length / aperture combinations especially on the GH2 where it behaves like a super fast telephoto lens. On full frame it is more like a portrait focal length with dreamy levels of depth of field. I have found some under the retail price, you can grab those here for $299 each (in Nikon mount) and here in Canon mount for the usual price of $375. I’d go for the Nikon mount even if you have a Canon body since you can adapt it with a simple $10 adapter ring, and there are no electronic contacts or AF to worry about anyway. Like the 35mm, the 85mm has a manual aperture ring.