Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE Review
The Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE is a fast wide-angle prime lens for full-frame Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras.
It can also be used with APS-C models where it provides a 36mm equivalent focal length.
This compact new optic is comprised of 11 elements in 8 groups including two extra-low dispersion elements, three high refractive lenses and 2 aspherical glass elements. It employs an iris diaphragm with nine rounded aperture blades.
The Samyang FE 24mm f/1.8 lens features a Linear STM motor with an internal focus design for quick and quiet auto-focusing and it has a minimum focusing distance of 19cm / 7.48" and a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.21x. There's an Ultra Multi-layer Coating to help reduce flare and ghosting.
It has a focus hold button which keeps the lens locked to the current focusing distance. There's also a new function available called Astro-Focus Mode which automatically moves the focus point directly to infinity, complete with an LED indicator to confirm if it has been successful.
There's also a custom mode switch with two different settings which can be configured to select various functions such as Aperture Control Mode or MF Mode.
The Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE lens is priced at £459 in the UK and $499 in the US.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 230 grams / 8.1 oz and measuring 7.15cm in length, the Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE is a relatively lightweight and compact wide-angle lens considering that it's designed for a 35mm full-frame system.
It does weigh about twice as much and is almost double the length of the tiny Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE lens, but that is the smallest 24mm lens for Sony cameras that we've ever seen and also has a much slower maximum aperture.
As shown in the product photos below, the new Samyang 24mm F1.8 is perfectly suited to the full-frame Sony A7R IV camera that we tested it with, even with the petal-shaped lens hood fitted.
Build quality is very good. The lens utilises a high-quality plastic housing and a metal mount.
The optical elements are made of high-grade glass and aspherical lenses have been included to minimise aberration and unnecessary light dispersion.
This lens is sealed in five different places to help protect it from light dust, rain and snow.
The focus ring is pleasingly wide and ridged for easier grip.
Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when the MF mode is set on the Sony camera body.
Full-time manual focus override is not available, though, even if you choose the DMF focusing mode.
There is a brand new Astro-Focus Mode, though, which can be used to automatically engage manual focusing and also set the focus point to infinity.
The process of engaging this innovative new mode is a little complex and depends on whether the camera is turned off or on and whether the lens is already attached to the camera or not.
If the camera is turned on, you have to press and hold the Focus Mode button and attach the lens to the camera. As soon as the lens is fully attached, the Astro-Focus Mode is automatically activated, indicated by the small LED on the side of the lens barrel flashing red once and then turning to green.
If the camera is turned off and the lens is already attached, you have to press and hold the Focus Mode button and then turn on the camera. When the camera is turned on, the Astro-Focus Mode is automatically activated, again indicated by the small LED on the side of the lens barrel flashing red once and then turning to green.
When you enter the Astro-Focus Mode, the camera is automatically set to manual focus mode and the focus point is set to infinity, once again indicated by the small LED on the side of the lens barrel flashing red once and then turning to green.
If you then move the focus ring to change the focus point, the LED changes to red to indicate that it's no longer at infinity. You can then choose to press the Focus Hold button once to return the focus point to infinity, with the LED changing to green.
You can even set and store the saved focus position by turning the focus ring to achieve infinity focus and pressing and holding the focus hold button for three seconds. The camera's LCD screen will blink once and the LED will change to green, whereupon the new focus point is registered and permananently stored in the EEPROM of the lens itself.
There's no distance and/or depth of field scale available on this lens.
The Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE has a wide enough focus ring given the overall size of the lens.
There are no hard stops at the ends of the range, though, making it more difficult to set focus at infinity.
Polariser users should be pleased that the 58mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
When it comes to auto-focusing, the Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE is a quick performer.
It takes about 0.15 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Sony A7R IV that we tested it with.
It's also completely silent in operation thanks to its Linear STM auto-focus motor, making it very well suited to both stills and video use.
This is the latest Samyang lens to feature a Custom switch on the side of the lens barrel.
This allows you to set the function of the focus ring to your own preference, which is particularly useful if you always shoot using auto-focusing, as the ring then serves no purpose.
By default it sets the focus ring to manual focus in Mode 1 and to aperture control in Mode 2.
Both modes can be further customized using Samyang's USB Lens Station (more functions will be added in a future firmware upgrade).
The Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE ships with a very nice protective case and a petal shaped, plastic lens hood (SH-D2). The lens accepts 58mm front filters.
The Samyang AF 24mm F1.8 FE's 24mm focal length provides an angle of view of 83.7 degrees.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, were quite prevalent in our test shots, especially when shooting wide-open at f/1.8.
With the Samyang AF 24mm F1.8 FE lens set to its maximum aperture of f/1.8, there is significant light fall-off in the corners. Stopping-down to f/5.6 virtually eliminates this.
There's some fairly obvious barrel distortion evident in both the JPG and RAW files - at present the Sony Alpha A7R IV camera doesn't automatically corrections to the JPG files.
Sunstars and Flare
The Samyang AF 24mm F1.8 FE is capable of producing quite nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/16 or f/22, as shown below, and flare is very well controlled even when shooting directly into the sun.
The Samyang AF 24mm F1.8 FE isn't claimed to be a macro lens, with a minimum focusing distance of 19cm / 7.48" and a maximum magnification ratio of 0.21x, but it's still possible to isolate subjects like flowers and throw the background out of focus.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc.
In the AF 24mm F1.8 FE lens, Samyang employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh in our view.
We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several examples below for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp the Samyang AF 24mm F1.8 FE lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.