Review: Samyang 14mm 2.8

Introduction

samyang walimex rokinon 14mm 2.8 uwa ultra wide astrophotography distortion sony a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Sony A7rII with Metabones adapter and Samyang 14mm 2.8

Despite the release of the native E-mount 14mm 2.8 AF lens by Samyang their older – all manual – 14mm 2.8 still has a significant fan base. It is one of the very few lowcost ultra wide angle options and well suited for astrophotography. But it is also a lens known for its ridiculously high distortion and questionable build quality, so let us find out what the whole package has to offer!

Most sample shots have been taken on Nikon DSLRs as in the last years I have pretty much exclusively used this lens for astrophotography on my A7 series cameras.

Sample Images

saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Nikon D800 | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/11
saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Sony A7s | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/2.8
saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Nikon D800 | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/8.0

You can find most of the shots in this review in full resolution here.

Specifications / Version History

There is a quite new FE 14mm 2.8 AF lens by Samyang, but I am reviewing the older DSLR version here, which comes in various mounts (e.g. Nikon-F, Canon EF, Sony-A, Sony-E, Pentax) and was released under various different brandings (Rokinon, Bower, Falcon, Walimex). I am reviewing the Nikon-F version which has the following specifications:

    • Diameter: 87 mm
    • Field of view: 115.7 (diagonally)
    • Length:  95 mm + adapter (from mount)
    • Weight: 535 g + adapter
    • Filter Diameter: –
    • Number of Aperture Blades: 6
    • Elements/Groups: 14/10
    • Close Focusing Distance: ~0.28 m
    • Maximum Magnification: ~1:15.1
    • Mount: Nikon-F

You can get the E-mount version used for 200$/350€ on ebay.com/ebay.de (affiliate links) or new for 280$/410€ on Amazon.com/Amazon.de (affiliate links).

Handling / Build Quality

samyang walimex rokinon 14mm 2.8 uwa ultra wide astrophotography distortion sony a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Samyang 14mm 2.8

The outer casing is entirely made of plastic while the inside seems to be partly made from metal. The broad rubberized focusing ring travels ~250° from 0.28 m to infinity and feels quite ok. The small aperture ring is very similar to the ones you find on manual focus Nikon lenses and features half stop click stops between f/2.8 and f/11 and full stop click stops between f/11 and f/22, which is absolutely alright.
My confidence in the construction of this lens is not very high (also see “Sample Variation” section below): the non removable hood is a bit of the wobbly type and the focusing ring needs some calibration. Luckily nothing moves externally when focusing, but still all in all it was not exactly a joy for me to use this lens.

If you intend on using a Canon EF or Nikon F Samyang lens on your Sony camera be aware you need an adapter with the correct length otherwise the corners will look very bad. A cheap adapter without tuning usually won’t cut it. You can have a look at this article for further reference.

Vignetting

Our usual approach for measuring the vignetting does not work with this lens because of the bulbous front element. The values other reviewers show are also conflicting. So I decided to show you a comparison to the Laowa 15mm 2.0 which I measured to have -2.9 EV vignetting wide open. By comparing these shots the Samyang has -3.6 EV vignetting at f/2.8 focused at infinity by my calculation.


Before: Laowa 15mm 2.0 @ 2.0 on Sony A7rII | After: Samyang 14mm 2.8 @ 2.8 on Sony A7rII

Sharpness

infinity
saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Wide open the lens is a little soft. Stopping down to f/4.0 increases the contrast across the whole frame a lot. Corners look best at f/8.0 to f/11, but keep in mind: the adapter has a huge influence on corner sharpness. I got best results (by far!) with the Rayqual adapter. Corner performance with Metabones and K&F adapter has been significantly worse. The “native” E-mount version might show better performance in the corners.

Flare resistance

saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Nikon D800 | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/8.0

The contrast suffers quite a bit when shooting into the sun, but ghosts are not as bad as I would have expected from the bulbous front element.

saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Nikon D5100 | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/11

Coma

saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2

This lens is known for very good coma correction. While you can see slight coma in the city scene there is almost none when shooting actual stars:

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review coma
Sony A7rII | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/2.8 | 100% crop from extreme corner (upper right)

Distortion


Sony A7rII | Samyang 14mm 2.8 |  f/8.0 | uncorrected distortion (before) / “corrected” distortion (after)

This lens has some ridiculously high wavy distortion. Many people and reviews will tell you it is easy to correct by using PTLens or one of the many Lightroom profiles. Unfortunately for critical shots this is absolutely not true when you have straight lines running near the borders of the frame. Most corrections do a pretty decent job in the center of the frame, but all I have tested (even the ones I created myself) have problems near the borders and especially in the extreme corners. Take a look at the before/after example: in the center everything looks ok, but the lines near the top look really bad towards the corners.
If this matters for your shooting only you can decide. For astro- and landscape photography this might not be as big a deal as it is for shooting architecture.

Sunstars

saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Nikon D800 | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/8.0 | 100% crop

The 6 slightly rounded aperture blades will yield sunstars like the ones you can see in the 100% crop above, or in the “Flare” section. This is certainly not my preferred rendering style, but nevertheless the rays have the same length, which I think is quite favourable.

Chromatic aberrations

lateral


Sony A7rII | Samyang 14mm 2.8 |  f/4.0 | CA 100% crop before/after border

The lateral CA correction is quite good for a lens this wide. You can spot a small amount of CA, but this is easy to correct in post.

Sample Variation

Normally I don’t talk about this in my reviews as with every manufacturer it is possible to run into a bad copy of a lens. With the Samyang 14mm 2.8 this is a different story though: very often the focusing ring isn’t properly calibrated, so infinity can be at 1m on the distance scale. This alone wouldn’t bother me too much considering the low price, there are even instructions to be found on the internet how to properly calibrate the focusing ring.

What does bother me is the high level of decentering many lenses show. I myself had already 6 samples in front of my camera of which 4 (out of these 3 new from dealer) were so badly decentered, I can only describe them as unusable. And I am unfortunately not alone with such experiences.
I don’t say there are no good copies, there are, but if you are interested in this lens, I recommend only buying from shops with customer friendly return policies.

Alternatives

Laowa 12mm 2.8 Zero-D:
If I was still shooting Nikon DSLRs I would have replaced my Samyang with this lens. Coma correction is slighly worse but that’s pretty much it, anything else looks better (except for the price).

Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D FE:
This is a new contender in the fast wide angle business and it makes clever use of the short flange focal distance. Despite being a stop faster it is therefore smaller, lighter and takes standard 72mm filters. Coma looks slightly worse on the Laowa, pretty much anything else looks better (except for the price).

Sigma 14mm 1.8 HSM Art:
I did not yet get the chance to test this lens personally. From what I have seen so far it is probably better in most aspects, but I am not so sure about coma (so many factors play an important role here, only a side by side comparison can give viable information on what lens is better) and flare resistance yet.

Samyang 14mm 2.8 AF:
This is a real native E-mount lens with completely different optics, electronic contacts and even AF. I haven’t tried this one personally as I prefer manual lenses when it comes to ultra wide angles. From what I have seen this lens also seems to be optically worse. But it might not share the sample variation issues.

Samyang 14mm 2.4 Premium:
I did not yet have the chance to try this one, it might be the better lens.

Irix 15mm 2.4:
At first I was very much intrigued by this lens, but it turned out to be so big, and flare resistance looks so bad, that I lost interest. Neverthless: prices have gone down significantly lately and the “Firefly” version is only slightly more expensive than the Samyang reviewed here, so it might be worth a look in case you are on a tight budget.

Conclusion

good

  • coma correction
  • correction of lateral CA
  • price
average

  • flare resistance
  • sunstars
  • size/weight
not good

  • sample variation
  • distortion
  • vignetting
  • build quality

This time I didn’t include sharpness in the table as the performance depends more on sample variation and what adapter you are using than anything else. On my 36mp Nikon D800 one of the lenses I tried had quite decent corner resolution already at f/2.8. Maybe a good copy with “native” E-mount or a decent copy for another mount with a shimmed adapter will perform equally.

When this lens hit the market (around 2009) it became famous quickly because it was for many the first (fast) ultrawide angle lens they could afford. Compared to many older designs sharpness was on a very high level, a good sample could even surpass many times more expensive lenses like the Nikon AF-S 14-24mmm 2.8G.
Unfortunately where there is light there is also shadow. Distortion is not only very high but also very wavy and difficult to correct. Vignetting is – despite the bulbous front element – also higher than that of most of the competition.
But the biggest flaw is the sample variation coupled with the somewhat questionable build quality. Finding a decent one isn’t easy and what makes this even worse: I know some people (who actually used their lens frequently)  and the optical quality deteriorated over time.

As of today I have a hard time recommending this lens to anyone, as we have some alternatives now that weren’t available a few years ago. It might still have its place as a low cost lens for single shot or 360° panoramic astrophotography, but for pretty much anything else I think it has been surpassed by the competition.

You can get the E-mount version used for 200$/350€ on ebay.com/ebay.de (affiliate links) or new for 280$/410€ on Amazon.com/Amazon.de (affiliate links).

Sample Images

saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Nikon D800 | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/5.6
saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Nikon D800 | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/8.0
saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Nikon D800 | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/2.8
saymang 14mm 2.8 14 review ultra wide uwa wideangle sony a7 a7r a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a72 a7m2
Nikon D800 | Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF | f/8.0

You can find most of the shots in this review in full resolution here.

Further Reading

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My name is Bastian and for many years I have been mostly shooting Nikon DSLRs. As of today I have made my transition from Nikon to Sony and I am mainly using small but capable manual lenses. My passion is landscape photography but I also like to delve into other subjects from time to time.

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7 thoughts on “Review: Samyang 14mm 2.8”

  1. Hello Bastian,

    I recently tested 5 diffrent Samyang 14, two E-Mount and three Nikon F Mount on my A7R2. And I compare them to two IRIX 15mm Blackstone and one Firefly-Version.
    All of the Irix are prone to curvature of field.
    It looks like a “Donat of sharpness” in the Picture.
    The clear winner for me is Samyang with F Mount.

    The E-Mount Versions were not as sharp at the edges. I tested the F-Mount Versions and found one of them to be the sharpes lense, even at the edges.
    So I ask myself, where is the difference between the E-Mount Versions and the F-Mount Versions ?
    I own five F-Mount to E-Mount Adaper.
    I messure this Adapter and figure out that they are all different in the Flange Distance.
    I ask Google and found that the Flange Distance should be 46,5mm for the Nikon F. The Flange Distance of Sony Emount is 18mm, so the Adapter should be 28,5mm. My Adapters vary from 28,3mm to 28,76mm.
    I do some Tests and figure out that just a diffrence from 28,3 to 28,45 makes a huge diffrence to get a Picture sharpe from Edge to Center to Edge.
    I prepare my Adapter with some shime made of simple paper, calibrate the lense again to minimum focus of 28cm, which is then not exact focused to Infinity at the Infinity mark but I dont care about of cause it is sharpe as hell
    now from edge to edge.
    I seems that the Edge to Edge Sharpness of this construction depents extreme on the Flange Distance.
    My recomidation to Sony-Users: Do not buy the Emount Version. Buy a Nikon-F Mount Version and adapt them.
    Spend some time with calibration of the focus and maybe some tests with simple paper shims under the flange of the adapter
    and you maybe get a very sharp lense from edge to edge….

    1. Hello Franz,

      your story is intriging. Version in the native mount performed worse! Sample variation of this lens is just huge, and more sample may be required to have a clear picture!
      There are even reports that some sample of this lens do not manage to focus at the infinite while brand new! But this sometimes seems to be fixable by simply ajusting the lens:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtt9bcJDU2U

      Anyway, the fact that you improved corners by calibrating flange distance based on the minimum focus distance is very interesting!

      1. Yes in deed none of the lenses I tested are calibrated to infinity, but it is quite easy to do. The frontside Ring is responsible to manage the stop between the minimum distance 28cm and the few degrees turning after the Infinity mark. The rest ist done with removing a pice of duct tape, turning the focus measuring ring to the right position and fix it again with the duct tape.
        I love this lense of cause it is so sharp…see the picture I take last week.

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