Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE Review
The new Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE is an affordable, high-quality wide-angle lens for Sony Alpha full-frame mirrorless cameras that will of particular interest to astro-photographers thanks to its innovative new Astro-Focus mode. For APS-C shooters, it also makes for a very nice classic 35mm lens.
In terms of image quality, sharpness across the frame is slightly lacking when shooting wide-open at f/1.8, requiring you to stop down to f/2.8 to produce acceptably sharp results.
There's also clear evidence of chromatic aberrations, particularly when shooting wide-open at f/1.8, plus some obvious vignetting when used wide-open and and barrel distortion, which is admittedly something that other wide-angle lenses also suffer from. While the vignetting and distortion can be easily corrected in post-production, the chromatic aberrations are a little more difficult to remove.
On the plus side, flare is well controlled even when shooting directly into the sun, especially with the supplied lens hood fitted, and it does produce very nice sunstars at f/16 and f/22.
As with Samyang's previous AF lenses that we've reviewed, the build quality is again very good, with the alloy metal lens mount and high-quality plastic housing adding to the premium feel. The addition of anti-dust and water-protection weather-proofing is a great touch on a lens that will be used outdoors in all weathers.
Despite the affordable asking price, Samyang have also included a very good lens case and a decent petal-shaped lens hood.
Auto-focusing proved to be very quick and virtually silent on the A7R IV that we tested the lens with, although we missed having manual focus over-ride at any time.
The new Astro-Focus mode is a little complicated in use but will no doubt become second nature if you use it a lot, and it does provide a quick and reliable way to set and visually confirm the focus point to infinity.
The low price of the Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE is undoubtedly very attractive given the fast f/1.8 aperture, sharp results from f/2.8, nice bokeh for a wide-angle lens, good build quality, weather-proofing and the quick and quiet auto-focusing.
In terms of its main rivals, this lens is almost twice as large and heavy as Samyang's other 24mm FE lens, the AF 24mm f/2.8 FE, but obviously has a much faster maximum aperture, as well as the useful custom mode switch, focus hold button and weather-proofing.
The main alternative from Sony is the FE 24mm F1.4 GM, which at at £1450 / $1400 is 3.5x the price of the new Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE.
The Sony 24mm f/1.4 is an altogether different lens, though, being slightly larger and heavier than the new Samyang lens but offering a faster maximum aperture and being capable of producing incredibly detailed, very sharp images and also lovely bokeh when shooting wide-open.
Overall, we'd recommend the Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE as a small and lightweight wide-angle auto-focus lens for Sony Alpha photographers, especially if you'd benefit a lot from using the Astro-Focus mode.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4.5|