Review: Samyang 75mm AF f/ 1.8 for Sony E-mount
Last week I was able to test the new Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8. This lens is part of Samyang's Tiny series. These lenses are, as the name says, really small, light, and have a lot to offer. Because this lens is so light and small, it is much more attractive for me to put in on my Sony A7III as a compact kit. Which makes it a lot easier to take my camera on a normal day.
An affordable, lightweight lens that offers great quality and is easy to carry around.
This lens costs around 419,- euro at the time of reviewing. Which makes this lens even more attractive to me. The dimensions are (ø x L): 65 x 69mm and the filter size is 58mm. I don't have a lot of experience with prime lenses in this focal length but would compare this lens to the sony 85mm f/1.8 or the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 which are both a lot bigger and heavier. The extra 10mm range you would get on the competitors isn't a big deal to me, I would just crop in a bit in post and lose a bit of resolution. I never plan on using all 24mp for a big print anyway. As for the aperture, it's nice to have a bit of extra light but again, to me, it is fine to shoot with 1.8. Of course, if you want the most professional and money is not an issue, I would choose the Sony 85mm f/1.4 I haven't tested the Sony so I can't say anything about the image quality.
When I first got my hands on this lens I honestly didn't think it could deliver such great quality photos. But after putting this lens on a Sony A7III and shooting some portraits really surprised how good this lens is.
With this lens, you have to be a fan of prime lenses. I only use a wide-angle prime lens for landscapes. I do notice that I am often inclined to see what the image would look like with different focal lengths, just because I love experimenting. A complete set of this series would be perfect. For example a 24mm, 35mm, and a 75mm. Because all these lenses are so light and small, I see no problem putting a few lenses in my bag.
The autofocus is fast and accurate. It is not the fastest I've seen but it's fast enough for the shoots I tested it on, it is comparable to the autofocus on the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8.
Sharpness & Bokeh
This lens is really sharp, way sharper than I expected it to be. At f/1.8 it is sharp in the center but a bit less sharp in the corners. There is a little bit of color deviation in the corners. At f/2.8 the photo is razor-sharp and the color deviation is mostly gone. Most of the time these corners are background anyway so I don't mind using f/1.8.
Exposure: f/2.0 | ISO 100 | 1/160s
Scroll down to see some more examples
It is very nice to be able to play with depth of field. Either for isolating details, creating some nice out of focus backgrounds, and put some emphasis on the model. With an aperture of f/1.8 and a focal length of 75mm this just works really well. The bokeh is soft and pleasant to look at.
Custom mode switch
The Samyang has a switch with two modes on it. Mode one will make the ring a focus ring in manual focus. Mode two will let you control the aperture with the ring. More functions could be added in a future firmware update. For me, this addition is not necessary and I tend to accidentally twist the ring and changing my aperture.
In the field
I have used this lens on location on several occasions
Fashion and portrait
Fashion and Portrait
This is what this lens is made for, and you notice that immediately. Portraits just look amazing instantly with this lens. I was shooting with this Sony / Samyang combo for a while and after that used my friend's Nikon APSC with an 18-55mm f/4 lens. I just wanted to switch back to the 75mm right immediately. It just makes photographing a lot more fun.
ISO 1250 | F/2.2 | 1/125s
Exposure: f/2.0 | ISO 100 | 1/125s
As you can see here, the fore- and background are completely out of focus and really soft, while the model is super sharp.
Besides portraits, it is super fun to capture details with this lens. a focal length of 75mm is great for this. It would be nice if the minimum focus distance had been a bit shorter, but for most subjects, 69 centimeter is enough. The choice of many aperture values also gives a lot of freedom. This way you can have everything in focus in a photo, or choose to have a small part in focus.
Even though I would normally not use a 75mm prime lens to photograph landscapes and forest scenes, it surprised me what I was able to capture with the lens. Here, the fast aperture came in really handy because of low light and a little bit of wind. So to freeze the leaves I needed a fast shutter speed. For some scenes, I needed to crop in a bit to get the composition I wanted (as zooming with feet is not the same as cropping). But ending with a 12MP picture still made me really happy.
Photographing cityscapes with this lens is not my favorite. I'd rather have an extreme wide-angle for this. This way I can show way more of the city. For street photography and some night scenes, this could actually be a really good lens though.
This lens is made for portraits and that is what it is best at. Shooting detail is also really fun to do with this lens. This 75mm is really unique as you would normally see either a 50mm or 85mm for portraits. Combining that with the quality and price, this is a really good option for a portrait prime lens. It's tiny, so easy to bring on a shoot or use it as a small kit with the Sony A7III or even an A6600. If you are a fan of prime lenses and want an affordable lens that offers a lot of quality, definitely consider the Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8.