The release of the new Samyang 35mm f1.4 autofocus lens for the Sony E mount system has grabbed everyone’s attention. Owning both this lens as well as the Sony Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4, I have been constantly asked to do a comparison review. In this comparison, I will go through everything showing the differences between the lenses.
- 1:00 – Build Quality
- 6:29 – AF for video and stills
- 11:40 – Bokeh
- 14:50 – Vignetting
- 16:03 – Sharpness
- 21:18 – CA & Lens flare
One of the main differences between these 2 lenses is the price. The Zeiss 35mm f1.4 retails for $2244 AUD and the Samyang 35mm f1.4 is retailed for $949. The Samyang is over half the price of the Sony Zeiss. The Sony Zeiss has a robust and weatherproof metal construction with a versatile aperture ring, smooth and silent AF operation and Zeiss t* anti-reflective coating. The focus ring is smooth with resistance which is great for those who use manual focus. The Sony Zeiss has 12 elements in 8 groups gving that great bokeh at f1.4 weighing just 630g, with a length without lens cap of 112mm. Accepting a 72mm filter thread and giving an angular field view on full frame of 63º.
The Samyang build is mostly metal with a bit of plastic, this lens doesn’t come with an aperture ring like the zeiss. The focus ring is smoother than the Zeiss lens and has a bit of resistance. With 11 elements in 9 groups also giving a great bokeh shooting wide open. The Samyang is a bit heavier and a bit taller than the Zeiss, weighing 705g and with a length without lens cap of 115mm. The filter size is smaller on the Samyang accepting filters at 67mm. The Samyang has a wider angle view to the Zeiss on a full frame at 65.5º getting more in frame.
All Images are straight from camera without any editing
Both Samyang and Zeiss shooting at f1.4 have an identical bokeh shape which I found was hard to tell, both have perfect circle bokehs in centre and on the edges it becomes slight oval shaped. The difference in their bokeh is the pattern inside it. Below are images shot at f1.4
At f2 the Samyang bokeh in the centre starts to have a slight change to a hexagon shape whereas the Zeiss still retains that circle in the centre.
At f2.2 the Sony Zeiss starts to change slightly in it’s shape, but once stopped down to f2.8 Both Samyang and Zeiss have an identical shape in their bokeh becoming more of a hexagon shape. The Samyang at f2.8 has a larger bokeh than the Zeiss.
Both Samyang and Zeiss performed really well with autofocus. Both AF are fast and accurate whether in great light conditions or in low light, it was hard for me to tell the difference in speed between the two. EYE-AF works like a charm with both these lenses and using Eye-AF in continuous mode it kept up with the moving subject.
For video, Both AF kept up well, but the difference where I noticed is the Samyang lens as a slight noise in the AF where you can hear it if you are not using a mic whereas the Zeiss is completely silent. Once you have a mic mounted on the camera I couldn’t hear any visible signs of the AF motor. I did on the AF test placed my wireless mic next to the lens during the AF test for still and could barely hear anything. There is definitely an improvement with Samyang lens with AF compared to their other lenses. It is faster and quieter than the others. Do check out my youtube video where I get in more detailed with the test especially with AF.
Both Samyang and Zeiss are both sharp in the centre, But when you look at the corners the Zeiss is sharper than the Samyang at f1.4.
Once stopped down at f2.2 the Zeiss becomes a lot sharper in the centre and also picks up on the sharpness in the corners whereas size is still a bit soft in the corners.
The Samyang gets sharper at f2.5 in the centre. While the Zeiss gets a lot sharper in the corner and the Samyang is still a bit soft.
At f4 The Zeiss gets extremely sharp in the corners while the Samyang starts to get the words in the corner in focus.
Shooting at f5.6 the Samyang gets sharper in the corners but once you go down to f8 the corners are extremely sharp for the Samyang. The zeiss is a tad sharper at f8 oppose to the Samyang.
Both Samyang and Zeiss have a slight vignetting when shooting at f1.4. The Zeiss starts to show no signs of vignetting at f2.2, the Samyang lessens with the vignetting at f2.2 but shows no visible signs of vignetting at f3.2.
Both Zeiss and Samyang have a bit of colour fringing/CA. I don’t noticed it in all my images but only some. It just depends on the highlights in the image. But that has not been an issue for me as you can remove it in Photoshop or Lightroom.
I have shot against the sun in the right-hand corner of the image to see if I can get any lens flare. This image is the first image that managed to get some sort of lens flare in the Samyang lens. Which I didn’t mind as I kinda liked the effect it did. The Sony Zeiss gives more rays of light opposed to that lens flare.
Both Samyang and Zeiss performed really well, with Autofocus and bokeh been really hard to tell. Both lenses do have CA/colour fringing but just depends on the highlights. Where the Zeiss wins is in its sharpness especially with corners. For over half the price of the Samyang lens, you are getting a great affordable lens at f1.4 that performs exceptionally well.
I have used the Samyang 35mm f1.4 AF lens during 2 weddings for the whole day and I have to say this lens performed really well. The AF was fast and accurate and not missing any shots. Love the image quality this lens produces. Below are some images captured from the weddings.
The Samyang 35mm f/1.4 FE lens for Sony E is available to buy now for US$799.
About the Author
Hanna Saba is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Australia. You can find out more about Hanna on his website, and follow his work on Facebook and Instagram.
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