28 August, 2016

Samyang 135mm for the Sony E-Mount


Samyang 135mm, f/2.0 - In the call centre [Click image to enlarge]

This isn't a full review of the Samyang 135mm (also sold under the brand name Rokinon). Its optical qualities have been reviewed by more qualified reviewers than me, so I've provided some links to those, below. But, my experience has been very positive and without reservation, I can say this lens is a high-quality bargain.

A couple of months ago I was photographing the work in a call centre. There were limitations: There were some workers I was not able to photograph, and on the walls of the cubicles and on the computer screens there was material that I couldn't show.

I shot everything wide open. At f/2.0 the lens allowed me to keep my shutter speeds up and provided the shallow depth-of-field I needed to keep the faces in focus but signs and computer screens sufficiently out of focus.

It's a big lens and (relatively) heavy. But a fast, full-frame 135mm is always going to have a lot of glass. It might be the longest focal length E-Mount prime at the moment.

But now the slightly bad news. The Samyang is a manual focus lens and that slowed things down. I lost some shots. It's also manual aperture, but I shot everything at f/2.0 so that wasn't a problem in that situation. 

The focus ring on the Samyang is relatively smooth, but has a fairly short throw — a little over half a turn. The build quality is really good for the price.

Focus peaking was not good enough to be the only guide. Happily, the focusing assistance on the A7RII helped to get the job done — even when I had to hold the camera up over my head. I don't think I could have done the work with the Samyang on a DSLR.

The Samyang does not report any EXIF data to E-Mount cameras, so the Sony stabilisation (on the A7RII and A7II, for example) is only 3-axis, rather than 5-axis; so you have to manually set the focal length. But the A7RII's stabilisation did its job. (I believe the Nikon version reports focus confirmation.)

If I could have found a used, Sony/Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 (A-Mount), I would have gone for that. But those kinds of used A-Mount bargains seem to have dried up. I'm sure that's because of the utility of the A7 line using Sony's LA-EA4 and LA-EA3 adaptors. 

There are rumours that there will be a Zeiss Batis (E-Mount) 135mm. I hope that's true. I'd be happy with f/2.0, but what a bonus it would be to have f/1.8.

A Sigma 135mm Art that would work with their MC-11 adaptor would also be very welcome.

Only time will tell.

Some Samyang 135mm reviews:
Dustin Abbott 
ePHOTOzine 
Patrick Murphy-Racey (YouTube) 
The Phoblographer 
Samyang 135mm, f/2.0 [Click image to enlarge]