First look: Samyang AF 50/1.4 FE for Sony E-Mount

If you're no stranger to photography, then you have more than likely heard of Korean lens manufacturer Samyang (branded Rokinon in other parts of the world).  For years Samyang has made affordable, manual focus only lenses for pretty much every modern camera mount out there. A very popular lens is their 14mm/2.8 and recently I have come to really like their 135/F2.  Owning both of these lenses I can say that I've been very pleased with Samyang's glass over the years.  The problem is that all of their lenses are manual focus and this puts a lot of people off.  I shoot MF quite a bit and focus peaking on Sony's A7 series cameras makes it a breeze and for video shooters, well it's preferred and majority of Samyang's lenses are cine lenses like their new XEEN line which look very impressive.

Well it looks like the folks in Seoul and Masan (where Samyang's plant is located) have decided to kick things up a notch and are offering their first ever auto focus lens for Sony's e-mount.  Sayang announced a 50mm/1.4 and a 14mm/2.8.  The 14mm is not yet available but the 50mm just hit the streets.  I didn't really need another 50mm lens and the world is not short of 50mm lenses by any means, but what the hell right?  I mean, can this thing compete with the covenant Sony/Zeiss 55mm/1.8 FE?  Based on today's exchange rate, the 50/1.4 cost me $555 with next day delivery.  

Lately I've been shooting a lot with the Zeiss Batis 85/1.8 and the size of the Samyang is compatible to the Batis.  It's slightly longer and slightly less round.  The feel of the body and focus ring is very similar to the other Sony lenses like the 55FE.  It weighs in at 560g.  It's not light...but doesn't feel overly heavy.  The added size and weight over the 55FE is not surprising, but of course there will be an outcry on the internet about it's size.  I mean, after all, even my 30 year old Canon FD 50/1.4 is half the size of the 55FE.  Below it's pictured with the e-mount adapter attached.  So yeah...the Samyang is bigger and heavier.  Is what it is...don't like it, don't buy it.

Compared to the Zeiss Batis 85/1.8

I'm going to include a couple of full res pictures on my Flickr page, link at the bottom.  This is all "day 1" stuff and I'll be updating over the next couple of days.  So far I can say that the lens feels great, it looks great mounted on the A7R2.  I took a stroll thru town today and definitely pleased with the lens.  I will do some "head to head" comparisons with the 55FE.  My biggest gripe is that it's focus by wire.  Same with the Sony and the Zeiss...I've just come to hate focus by wire more and more over the years.  The AF system works very well.  I didn't get a single missed focus all day today and shot at 1.4 all day (a couple at 1.6, that was an accident).  

Also, be sure to give my instagram a follow...

So here's some shots from today's walk....


Dried fish heads

Danger zone!

This kids is a phone booth.  The ancient people would put money in these and make phone calls.  

So I accidentally shot this at 1.6 instead of 1.4 like all the rest of the shots.  Sorry.  But click the image and check out the threads on the seat....That's pretty damn sharp if you ask me.

You can check out some full resolution jpeg's on my Flickr page.

At this point I don't really have anything negative to say about the lens other than it's focus by wire.  More to come as well as some comparisons so please check back...

If you have any questions or specific requests leave them down in the comments.  For now I'm absolutely nackered and need some sleep.  My initial thoughts on this lens are very positive.  Sharpness wide open is very impressive.  The AF works feels a little slower than the 55FE, but I haven't compared them yet.  The bottom line is it was accurate and didn't miss focus today.  I'll have to give the size difference to the 55 some thought over the next week or two.  If over time the additional size and weight don't bother me....we'll see if it's even worth keeping the 55FE.

Also be sure be sure to check out my 55FE to 50FD comparison from last year: